September 2008

Upgraded Handguns: Two Forties and a Super 38 Super

Kimber’s $1010 Pro Carry HD II 38 Super is a laser. Springfield Armory’s new $749 XDM is not just pretty. The $1100 Sig Sauer SCT should bolster fans of traditional double action.

In this test we will evaluate three handguns for self defense that we would regard as enhanced versions of more basic models available from their manufacturers. First up is the Sig Sauer P229 SCT, an $1100 40 S&W that "improves" on the $929 base model P229 in a couple of important areas. The P229 SCT is about a $200 upgrade of the model P229 that is popular with law enforcement in 357 Sig and 40 S&W. The SCT Super Capacity Tactical pistol offers upgrades in the form of a TruGlo tritium fiber-optic front sight, front cocking serrations on the slide, and a supply of four 14-round magazines. The standard magazines for the P229 pistols carry 12 or 10 rounds of 40 S&W or 357 Sig.

Next is Springfield Armory’s $749 XDM, wherein the letter "M" does not stand for "mystery." Instead, Springfield’s website explains that this gun contains several M-nomenclature upgrades from the base model XD, including Major Grasp Serrations, Model Contour Frame, Max Reach Magazine Release, Mega Capacity magazine, Mega-Lock Texture, Melonite Finish, Minimum Error Disassembly, Minimal Reset Trigger, Multi-Adjust Rail system, Multi-Use Carrying Case, Match Grade Barrel, and interchangeable Mould-Tru back straps. These "mupgrades" come in a gun chambered only for 40 S&W, and they create a $200 premium for the XDM over the standard XD40, which costs $543.

Kimber was among the few manufacturers that believed the onslaught of high-capacity 9mm handguns could be beaten back with a traditional American design. The lowest-priced 1911 we could find on the kimberamerica.com website was the $815 Custom II. This is a full-size 45 ACP. The Pro Carry series is based around a full-size grip capable of housing full-length seven- or eight-round magazines, but with a shorter 4-inch barrel. The lowest MSRP for a Pro Carry we found on site was an $850 45 built on a matte-black alloy frame. The Heavy Duty HD model is constructed of stainless steel with satin finish. Our Pro Carry HD II was one of the few Kimber models available chambered for 38 Super, and it runs $1010. Are the upgrades worth the extra money? If the answer is not obvious, then at least we will try to explain the purpose of each upgrade and leave it to our knowledgeable readers to decide.

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