Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine’s testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year’s worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.— Todd Woodard
Rock Island Armory Tactical 2011 w/TruDot NIGHT sights 45 ACP, $590
GUN TESTS GRADE: A (BEST BUY) BEST IN CLASS PISTOL
Has a lot of features for its modest price: Light rail, good barrel fitting, a set of TruDot night sights, a quality beavertail safety, and an ambidextrous slide-lock safety.
|ACTION||Semi-auto single action|
|OVERALL LENGTH||8.5 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||5.4 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.5 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED (w/ mag)||39 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||43.5 oz.|
|BARREL LENGTH||5 in.|
|BARREL||Steel, 1:16 twist|
|MAGAZINE||8-rd. detachable box|
|FRAME||Parkerized steel, slab-sided, square dust|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||2.6 in.|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||3.2 in.|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.3 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||5.4 in.|
|SIGHTS||2-dot adjustable TruDot rear; TruDot single dot front|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||4.5 lbs.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.5 in.; skeletonized trigger shoe|
|SAFETY||Ambidextrous slide lock safety, grip safety|
|MADE IN||Marikina, Phillipines|
The Rock Island Armory Tactical 2011 w/Tru-Dot Sights 45 ACP is a monolithic steel-frame design that differs from previous Armscor models. The most noticeable difference between this handgun and the others is the weight. This is a true 5-inch barrel steel-framed pistol. The pistol features the subdued matte Parkerized finish of a typical Rock Island pistol. The Picatinny rail is nicely integrated into the frame. However, this rail is long on this pistol and will not fit into normal rail-gun holsters.
The sights are excellent all-around models, a TruDot self-illuminated iron sight combination that allows for clear sights in dim lighting. The sight picture during the range testing was excellent. The pistol features a flared ejection port. The barrel-to-slide fit is good, and the pistol features a standard barrel bushing paired with a full-length guide rod. The pistol includes a well-designed ambidextrous slide-lock safety that is supported by the right-hand grip panel. The beavertail grip safety is well designed and functions as intended, giving up its hold on the trigger about halfway into compression. The trigger is halfway between a long and short trigger and worked well for us. The trigger compression is a nice 4.5 pounds. A combination of front-strap serrations and a checkered mainspring housing provided excellent grip when firing.
We began the combat drill with a well-lubricated pistol and Fiocchi FMJ ammunition as well as a good mix of magazines. The pistol sailed through 50 rounds without issue. During the accuracy stage, a single cartridge failed to load into battery, which is either a short cycle caused by shooter error or a break-in malfunction. It didn’t recur.
The RIA pistol was drawn from a belt-slide holster. Combat shooting was excellent, and the pistol was comfortable to fire.
We also found this heavy pistol was fast to target, and the front sight simply hung on the X ring as we controlled the pistol and got good hits. The best group of the day with the Armscor was a 1.9-inch-wide cluster shot with the Hornady Zombie Max ammo, the critical-defense bullet with a green tip.
During firing, one tester came away with a moderately sore thumb. As most of us rest our thumb on the 1911 safety while firing, the sharp edges of the Rock Island slide-lock safety left a red line down the shooter’s thumb. This could be fixed by polishing and radiusing the edge, and that fix should be done.
Our Team Said: The Armscor Rock Island Armory Tactical pistol came out of the box running. The pistol looks good and has good features, including an ambidextrous safety. The modest price is appealing for this level of performance.
Smith & Wesson Governor .410, 45 ACP, 45 Colt Revolver 160410, $809
GUN TESTS GRADE: A BEST IN CLASS REVOLVER
Good feel, solid heft, nice trigger, and very nice patterning performance at close-quarter targets moved the S&W to the top of our list. We liked the way it pointed and how it could be quickly brought onto targets packing a variety of shotgun loads and two different handgun rounds.
|CHAMBER SIZE||2.5 in. (.410)|
|OVERALL LENGTH||8.5 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||30.9 oz.|
|BARREL LENGTH||2.5 in.|
|BARREL||Stainless steel; 1:15 twist|
|FRAME||Matte silver scandium alloy|
|FRONT SIGHT||Black ramp|
|REAR SIGHT||Fixed notch|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||4.75 lbs.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (DA)||11 lbs.|
We focused this review on the Smith & Wesson Governor’s handling ability and patterning performance in home-defense situations. Slightly lighter than the Taurus Judge we matched it against, the Governor was a better-balanced handgun. Featuring a six-shot cylinder rather than the five-shot cylinder in the Judge, which made the Governor just a touch wider, we found the feel of the firearm to be very nice. When a handgun fits the hand well and feels good, that really helps a shooter be on target.
We also appreciated the textured synthetic grip and the deeply rounded trigger of the Governor. During the range time, these comfort factors were a major contributing factor to the Governor’s accuracy with all the test loads.
With a 2.5-inch barrel, the Governor was a half-inch shorter than the Judge, measuring 8.5 inches in length. Having an overall height advantage of one half-inch (5.5 inches), along with a slightly larger width, we found the S&W to have a better heft of the two handguns.
We found no faults in the solid design and workmanship in the Governor. The trigger pull of the Governor was a crisp 4.75 pounds in single action and 11 pounds in double action. While the double-action pull was a little long for our tastes, it was very smooth. The cylinder also turned smoothly with a solid click as the handgun came into battery. The action was very similar to large-caliber S&W revolvers that have found favor with many handgunners.
Fired at targets set 9 feet down range, the Governor produced its best pattern of 10 inches across with the Remington No. 6 shotshells; a 5-inch group with the Winchester PDX1 Defender loads containing three plated defense discs and 12 plated BBs; a 1.5-inch group with the Federal Premium 000 (four pellets) buck shot; and a perfect center mass hit with the Winchester one-fifth ounce hollow-point slug.
Recoil with all the loads was surprisingly mild, which we attributed to the high quality heft and feel of the revolver.
Moving back to 21 feet, the spread of the No. 6 shot increased to an average of 16.5 inches; the Defender load spread was eight inches; and the 000 buckshot spread was 3.5 inches. The slug shot was still dead center in the chest of the target.
Once again, all were what we would consider an effective and deadly group for a home defense firearm. Since the Governor was also capable of handling both 45 Colt and 45 ACP rounds (three two-round moon clips and two six-round moon clips are included in the Governor package), we also sent a few rounds downrange to check out the handgun’s accuracy.
The best 45 ACP three-shot group of 1.5 inches from center to center at both 9 feet and 21 feet was considered exceptional for a short-barreled handgun. The 45 Colt three-shot groups came in at 1.5 inches at 9 feet and 3 inches at 21 feet, which was also considered above adequate for a revolver with a 2.5-inch barrel.
Our Team Said: Because of the variety of loads the Governor handles well, a 000 buckshot, followed by a Defender load, followed by two 45 Colt rounds, followed by two 45 ACP loads might be considered a hard combination to beat.
Thompson Center Compass No. 10071 22-250 Remington, $399
GUN TESTS GRADE: A BEST IN CLASS RIFLE
Simple, straightforward, and inexpensive. Delivered sub-minute-of-angle groups with all rounds tested.
|ACTION TYPE||Bolt, 3 lugs|
|OVERALL LENGTH||41 in.|
|BARREL LENGTH/TWIST||22 in.; 1:12 in. twist|
|OVERALL HEIGHT (w/o scope)||7 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||6.9 lbs.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||7.25 lbs.|
|MAGAZINE CAPACITY||5 rounds|
|MAGAZINE TYPE||Detachable rotary box|
|BUTTPLATE||Rubber, adjustable cant|
|LENGTH OF PULL||13.25 in.|
|RECEIVER SCOPE-BASE PATTERN||Weaver|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT||4.75 lbs., adjustable|
While Thompson hasn’t become a household word for their bolt-action rifles, T-C just about owns the world of handgun steel silhouette shooting, so we looked forward to accurate results. Inside the barrel of the Compass was the maker’s patented 5R rifling, designed to limit bullet deformation as it’s forced through the barrel. The barreled action was free floated, using pillar bedding. The synthetic stock offers an integrated trigger guard, an extended cheek plate that favors the right-handed shooter, and sling studs front and rear. The magazine was removable and designed to fit flush. The release was secure, yet easy to reach.
The trigger-pull weight settled in at about 4.75 pounds after break in, losing about one-third pound since its first shots. A little mushy at first, the trigger did improve with use. Trigger-pull weight was adjustable, but the process was more complex than simply turning a screw. After removing the action, adjustments are made by manipulating three different nuts. One nut modifies tension; another locks said adjustment in place; and a third sets overtravel. Tools required include a small screwdriver and two thin quarter-inch open-end wrenches.
The owner’s manual also suggests the use of clear nail polish to lock the adjustments. Taking almost three pages in the manual, adjusting the trigger would require a healthy dose of patience and some mechanical savvy, in our view.
If the stock was plain and understated, the bolt handle offered a contemporary tactical look. Bolt lift was short, describing an arc such as between 4 o’clock and 2 o’clock. A cocking indicator showed through a round hole on each side at the rear of the bolt shroud, with a three-position safety lever above.
Fully rearward, the safety lever seized the trigger and locked down the bolt handle. With the lever pushed forward so that it was perpendicular to the bore, the bolt could be manipulated to empty the chamber with the trigger remaining locked. The bolt was released by pushing in a lever located along the left side of the action.
Two sections of plain Weaver mount were supplied and already mounted in the drilled-and-tapped receiver. The Thompson Center Compass was the only rifle in the test to deliver sub-MOA groups with all three choices of ammunition. Our test shooters agreed that the actual measurements could have been mixed and matched to the different rounds, give or take a blink of the eye or a gust of wind.
Our Team Said: The Thompson Center Compass chambered in 22-250 Rem. made shooting tight groups look easy. The possibility of adding a suppressor for quieting highly effective rounds like the Black Hills Varmint Grenade makes us want to go hunting ASAP. The barrel was obviously better than its bargain price. We’d be willing to pay a little more for further refinement.
Mossberg 505 Youth Pump-Action Shotgun 57110 20 Gauge, $300
GUN TESTS GRADE: A (Best Buy) BEST IN CLASS SHOTGUN
The Mossberg 505 Youth is an overlooked gem. The fit wasn’t bad for most raters, and the pump action with the EZ Reach forearm is very fast. The rib, dual beads, and choke tubes were pluses. When capacity, reliability, and versatility are considered, the Mossberg is a winner.
|ACTION TYPE||Gas-operated semi-auto|
|CHAMBER SIZE||3 in.|
|OVERALL LENGTH||39 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||7.5 lbs.|
|BARREL LENGTH||18.5 in.|
|BUTTSTOCK LENGTH OF PULL||14 in.|
|FOREARM LENGTH||11.1 in.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT||7.5 lbs.|
The shotgun can be an important part of the home-defense firearms collection. The scattergun offers excellent hit probability and provides a formidable option for those concerned with home invasions. The problem is, many of us are on a budget and cannot afford a thousand-dollar tactical shotgun. Others are recoil shy or have a physical impairment that makes firing the mighty 12 gauge difficult. Even some who may be able to handle the 12 well will find the light and fast-handling 20 gauge has appeal.
The Mossberg 505 Youth Pump-Action Shotgun 57110 20 Gauge is a scaled-down Mossberg 500 with features intended to give short-statured shooters a good fit when handling the shotgun, such as the stock being a bit shorter than on a full-size shotgun. The best feature was the EZ Reach forend. This forend sits closer to the shooter than on most pumpguns. It actually took some acclimation to get used to. Shooters who have used standard shotguns for years had to adjust to the forend and the short stroke of this 20-gauge shotgun. After settling in, however, we found the action was short, fast, and very smooth.
Elsewhere, the Youth had the standard features of other Model 500 pumps, including dual action bars and dual extractors. The 20-gauge version we purchased also featured a rib with dual sighting beads, a nice touch for the money. This shotgun is a repeater, unlike the others, a term not used often today, but an ideal description for this shoot out. The Mossberg magazine held five 2.75-inch shells. If facing a takeover robbery or a team, this offers enough ammunition to possibly end the fight.
One thing we did notice when firing the Mossberg, we had to let the trigger positively reset. You cannot ride the face of the trigger; there is a solid reset with this shotgun. Nonetheless, get the rhythm correct, pump the action with its short stroke, and this is a very fast shotgun.
After working the shotgun in with birdshot and getting used to the action, we found the Winchester #3 buckshot’s pattern was nicely centered, and we had good control of shotgun. It was not difficult to sling out five shells in record time. More important, the second shot was fast.
Our Team Said: The Mossberg 20 gauge is a great all-round pump shotgun for the price, and we think it’s a Best Buy for the shooter who’s looking for a lightweight, shareable shotgun for home defense.
Springfield Armory Saint ST916556B 5.56mm NATO, $900
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
The Saint is one of the most user-friendly versions of this user-friendly platform. We’d prefer a free-float sling attachment, but the Saint is handsome and well made at a good price.
|ACTION TYPE||Semi-automatic direct impingement|
|OVERALL LENGTH||32.25 to 35.5 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT (w/o scope)||8.8 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||6.5 lbs.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||8.1 lbs.|
|UPPER RECEIVER||Forged 7075-T6 aluminum|
|LOWER RECEIVER||Forged 7075-T6 aluminum|
|BARREL LENGTH||16 in.; 1:8 in. twist|
|MUZZLE DEVICE||Birdcage-style flash hider|
|BUTTSTOCK LENGTH OF PULL||10.4 to 13.7 in.|
|REAR SIGHT||Flip-up, dual aperture|
|FRONT SIGHT||A1-type fixed|
|SIGHT RADIUS||14.75 in.|
|TRIGGER||7.75 lbs., single stage|
|CARTRIDGE CASE DEFLECTOR||Yes|
The visual theme of the Saint was that it looks to be one piece instead of an upper and lower, or as some say, it looks monolithic. The full-profile barrel creates a line that grows from a polymer handguard by Bravo Company that was flat on the sides, adorned with sections of pebbled finish for grip. The top rail was not really functional as a connection point, but it provided venting. One set of Keymod holes was located on the underside at 6 o’clock. Instead of being located at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, additional Keymod holes were located in a line upon the surface area that angled upward to the top rail (10 o’clock and 2 o’clock). Visually, this made them less obvious.
Two additional components from Bravo Company contributed to the Saint’s distinctive lines. The BCM Gunfighter grip offers an extended backstrap to shield the web of the hand and the knurled side panels that provided excellent traction. The BCM Gunfighter buttstock offered sleek lines with no protruding levers that might catch on gear, such as the straps of a chest rig. The buttplate had a thin rubber pad smoothly integrated; it was more friendly to clothing or bare skin for that matter. There was a slot for threading a sling and also a hole on each side for attaching a QD sling loop. One last more subtle upgrade was the trigger guard from Bravo Company that left more room for a gloved finger without necessarily having to unlatch the bottom panel.
The Saint’s trigger offered a subtle compression before reaching its breaking point. We think this made the trigger a little more user friendly in that there seemed to be more time for the shooter to completely refine a shot. From the 100-yard line, the Saint delivered 1.0-inch five-shot groups with the Black Hills 60-grain V-Max, 69-grain OTM rounds, and the 77-grain TMK ammunition. The Black Hills 77-grain OTM was best, producing 0.8-inch-wide groups, and the SIG Sauer 77-grain OTM ammunition produced an average five-shot group measuring 0.9 inch across. We noticed that across all choices of ammunition the Saint produced the most velocity from each round.
Our Team Said: Priced at $900 MSRP, the Saint should be extremely competitive for first-time buyers. Actually, there is little here that would put off the sophisticated shooter as well. Yes, we would have preferred a flat-top gas block with rail for attaching a folding front sight, and we’re not exactly sure how to connect a sling to the front end without pulling on the barrel, but we’re not sure there is much else wrong. If the buttstock was somewhat stubborn to move, it was nevertheless rock solid and more comfortable than most. So were the grip and handguard. The trigger was forgiving in any situation, and construction was first rate. This is a good gun for the money.
CZ-USA 75 P-01 $576
GUN TESTS GRADE: A (BEST BUY)
The P-01 offers good quality, faultless reliability, smooth operation and a good trigger action. Accuracy is good. The sights are adequate and the pistol features a light rail.
|ACTION||Semi-auto w/ decocker, DA/SA|
|OVERALL LENGTH||7.2 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||5 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.35 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||28 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||35 oz.|
|BARREL LENGTH||3.75 in.|
|MAGAZINE||14-rd. detachable box|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||2.35 in.|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||3.4 in.|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.4 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||5.4 in.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||5.5 lbs.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.75 in.|
|MADE IN||Czech Republic|
We found it interesting that the P-01 cost an average of $31 more than the very similar CZ 75D. Yet the 75D features a loaded-chamber indicator and improved snag-free sights not found on the P-01. In contrast, the P-01 features a monolithic dust cover with a light rail mount. And there is the difference — if you wish to mount a light on your combat gun, the C-100 and 75D cannot accommodate you.
The P-01’s frame-mounted decocker was easy to use well and was positive in operation. When the decocker is used, the hammer falls to a type of half-cock position. The DA trigger is slightly faster in this mode. We advise against manually lowering the hammer with any handgun that uses a decocker. There is a possibility of short-circuiting the drop safety, and the firing-pin block may not lock in place if you manually lower the hammer. One of the 1911 shooters rested his thumb on the decocker during the firing test and found the rest comfortable enough to keep the digit in place as if it were on the safety lever of the 1911.
We found the trigger action to be smooth, and its smooth-faced trigger gave good control in double-action fire. The double-action trigger breaks at about 11 pounds, while the single-action trigger felt crisp at 5.25 pounds. This is perhaps the luck of the draw because the action parts are likely produced on the same assembly line as the 75D Compact.
On the firing range, the P-01 gave good results. Combat groups with both the handloads and the +P loading were what we like. The grips gave good adhesion when firing, and the pistol was controllable. From the bench, the pistol gave a good showing, with the best group of 1.6 inches coming with the SIG Sauer 124-grain JHP. This was the best showing of the test.
Our Team Said: Among the pistols tested, the P-01 gave the best results in combat firing and in accuracy. Considering this performance and the ability to mount a light rail, we rate the CZ-USA P-01 as a Best Buy.
North American Arms 22M 22 Magnum, $220
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
The NAA revolver is small but well made. It isn’t our first choice for self defense, but it is a viable deep-cover hideout or backup.
|OVERALL LENGTH||5.1 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||2.9 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.06 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||6.5 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||7.5 oz.|
|BARREL LENGTH||1.6 in.|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||1.6 in.|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||2 in.|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||3.3 in.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||6.5 lbs.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.1 in.|
The NAA 22M came with a nice locking metal gunbox that is large enough to hold two mini revolvers. We liked this very much. There are several options with the North American revolver. One of these is to order a version with a spare 22 LR cylinder for inexpensive practice. This is okay as far as it goes, but we all agreed we would not be doing a lot of practice with this revolver. It isn’t difficult or painful to shoot, but the loading manual of arms simply doesn’t invite extensive range work. There are longer barrels and also larger and smaller grips.
The 22M tested is a type of default NAA revolver and the one we felt was most practical. The trigger is single action, which means the revolver much be cocked for each shot. The trigger is a simple spur type. To load the revolver, the cylinder pin is removed and the cylinder is pressed out of the frame. Five cartridges are loaded and the cylinder is replaced and the cylinder pin lined up and locked in place. Once the cylinder is replaced, the user determines how he wishes to carry the revolver. You cannot simply allow the firing pin to rest on the cartridge. There are two options.
One is to slightly bring the hammer to the rear and allow the hammer to rest in the safety notch. This isn’t a half-cock notch, but is instead a safety notch built into the hammer. This seems safe enough. The second one is preferred by our raters. There are notches between the chambers. The firing pin may be lowered to ride in this notch, preventing the hammer nose from riding on a cartridge. You have to remember to place the revolver in the safe mode, which is acceptable, but there is nothing to impede drawing and firing the revolver. You simply draw and fire; there is no manual safety as the revolver is transitioned from Safe mode to Fire mode. To unload the revolver after firing, the cylinder is removed and the spent cases are pressed out one at a time with the cylinder pin. We never had any difficulty pressing the spent cartridge cases from the cylinders.
The rear sight is a simple notch in a raised portion of the frame. The front sight is a half moon. Surprisingly, the sights were visible when the revolver was properly held.
The NAA 22M was fired offhand at an attacker-sized target at a distance of 5 yards. We used the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP, the CCI Maxi Mag 40-grain round, and the Hornady 45-grain FTX loads in testing. We were surprised to find that we could make a 4-inch group at 5 yards, sometimes a bit smaller with concentration. The front sight really stood out and helped in getting a solid aim on the target. We fired from the benchrest at 7 yards, printing a group with each load. There was no difference to speak of in accuracy, as the shooter simply had to try to manage the trigger. The trigger breaks at 6 pounds, which isn’t heavy but pulling much weight against a 6-ounce revolver is difficult. We fired several groups averaging 3 to 4 inches at 7 yards.
Our Team Said: The NAA 22M chambered in 22 Magnum does what it is designed to do and does it well.
Smith & Wesson Model 929 9mm Luger, $1189
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
The Model 929 offered all the bells and whistles one would expect in a S&W Performance Center competition revolver.
|OVERALL LENGTH||12.25 in.|
|OVERALL HEIGHT||6 in.|
|MAX WIDTH||1.7 in.|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||44.2 oz.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||47.4 oz.|
|CYLINDER GAP||0.006 in.|
|BARREL LENGTH||6.5 in.|
|CYLINDER MATERIAL/FINISH||Titanium/matte gray|
|FRAME MATERIAL/FINISH||Stainless steel/matte stainless|
|FRAME FRONT STRAP HEIGHT||2.2 in.|
|FRAME BACK STRAP HEIGHT||4.3 in.|
|GRIPS||Textured synthetic, finger grooves|
|GRIP THICKNESS (max)||1.2 in.|
|GRIP CIRCUMFERENCE (max)||5.3 in.|
|FRONT SIGHT||Patridge blade|
|REAR SIGHT||Adjustable notch|
|SIGHT RADIUS||7.3 in.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (SA)||4.3 lbs.|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT (DA)||10.7 lbs.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (SA)||2.6 in.|
|TRIGGER SPAN (DA)||3.1 in.|
|WARRANTY||1 year limited|
|MADE IN||Springfield, MA|
The M929 is a new 8-shot 9mm all-stainless-steel N-Frame revolver designed from the grip up for action pistol competition, and it comes with the Jerry Miculek signature.
Before any moon clips were loaded, we placed the 929 through our battery of tests and found all the tuning we expected from the Performance Center. This revolver was tight and well made, with no cylinder movement. The cylinder gap was 0.006 inches, which was within spec.
The 929 features a 6.5-inch barrel with a full-length, tapered underlug to help reduce the effects of felt recoil and a compensator to minimize muzzle flip. On top of the barrel was an adjustable rear sight with a plain, matte-black notch. The front Patridge sight was also matte black. On a black target, these sights did get lost. On cardboard and painted steel, they showed up much better. Under the rear sight, the 929 was drilled and tapped so a reflex or red dot sight could be mounted.
The 8-shot cylinder is constructed of lightweight titanium. The ejector was cut for use with moon clips, and all the chambers were chamfered. Although 9mm cartridges could be loaded into the chambers and fired, the ejector did not shuck them out. A rod was required to eject the case. We doubt competitors would ever load cartridges one at a time, so be sure to have plenty of moon clips on hand. The moon clips were easy to load and unload without the use of a tool.
The crane had a ball detent that snapped into a V-shaped groove in the frame. This set up locked up the 929 consistently tight and is a common gunsmithing modification for competition revolvers. The cylinder latch was the type cut for use with a speed loader, and since the 929 uses moon clips, it was out of way and did not impede a fast reload. We did find that it took slightly longer to load this 8-shot revolver compared to a 6-shot 45 ACP revolver because the holes in the cylinder of a 45 ACP are larger, with more space for metal in between the chambers.
Our Team Said: The 929 is a unique revolver, and if we were looking for a revolver for action shooting competition, we would consider the 929.
Mossberg 590 Shockwave 50659 12 Gauge, $455
GUN TESTS GRADE: A
The Shockwave was like all Model 590 shotguns—built to last and well made. We’d opt for the OPSol Texas Mini-Clip and pack it with Aguila Mini Shells.
|CHAMBER SIZE||3.5 in.|
|OVERALL LENGTH||26.37 in.|
|CAPACITY||5+1 (2.75 in. shells)|
|WEIGHT UNLOADED||5.2 lbs.|
|WEIGHT LOADED||6 lbs.|
|BARREL||14 in. long, heavy wall, matte blued steel|
|RECEIVER||Matte blued steel|
|GRIP||Bird’s head-style, textured polymer|
|FRONT SIGHT||Brass bead|
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT||6 lbs.|
|MADE IN||Eagle Pass, TX|
The Shockwave is manufactured with a 14-inch barrel and shotgun-type receiver fitted with a “bird’s head” style grip in lieu of the shoulder stock. It looks very much like a Class 3/NFA firearm, but is not. No tax stamp nor extra paperwork is required to purchase and own the Shockwave. Part of the legal definition of a “shotgun” means it must be made to be fired from the shoulder. Since Mossberg manufactures the Shockwave with a new receiver and pistol grip at the factory, it falls under the definitions in the Gun Control Act of 1968, which calls it a Pistol Grip Only (PGO) firearm. That’s why the Shockwave doesn’t fall under the National Firearms Act rules and doesn’t require a tax stamp. PGO firearms can include certain shotguns having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length. The final reason why the Shockwave can have a 14-inch barrel is the NFA definition of a “firearm,” the overall length must exceed 26 inches. The Shockwave, from muzzle to grip, measures 26.37 inches. Some state regulations prohibit the sale of such PGO firearms, so you must be mindful of your local regulations.
The Shockwave uses a receiver based on Mossberg’s robust Model 590 action. The Shockwave comes from the factory with the receiver fitted with the “bird’s head” grip and forend strap, which is manufactured by Shockwave. The polymer grip has a fine texture. Our sample is an early model, current models come with a sling swivel post in the grip butt.
The controls are like other Model 590 shotguns, including the ambidextrous safety button located at the top rear of the aluminum- alloy receiver. Left- and right-hand shooters find that the thumb of the shooting hand falls directly on top of it. It uses double action bars so the slide pumps smoothly, and the forend is coarsely ribbed polymer, which provides a good grip surface. The strap is helpful, as we found out during range testing. The Shockwave is equipped with a heavy-wall barrel like the barrels on Mossberg military 590A1 models. The plain barrel features a brass bead for rough sighting. In hand, the Shockwave is compact and very maneuverable, but we wondered how easy it would be to shoot.
Our Team Said: Loaded with Aguila minishells and equipped with the OPSol Texas Mini-Clip attached, the Shockwave offered a lot of firepower. We think the Shockwave is accurate and effective as a short-range defense firearm.