Home Handguns Page 131

Handguns

Semi-Automatics: Ported or Non? We Test Seven Guns To Find Out

[IMGCAP(1)] As heavily loaded defensive ammunition has become more widespread, so has customer dissatisfaction with the resulting stout recoil—in essence, we want to have our cake and eat it too. One way to head off muzzle flip is to port the barrel. That is, to cut holes in the barrel and slide so that some of the expanding gases that propel the bullet will be redirected to keep the muzzle down. This technology became refined in the ranks of bowling-pin shooters, whose game was to knock bowling pins off of a table in the shortest time possible. Since this required the delivery of a massive blow from a hot load and the ability to recover quickly and get back on the next pin, shooters were st...

.454 Casulls: Too Much Power, Too Little Real-World Utility

[IMGCAP(1)] Hunting with a handgun has its limitations. Handguns have less sight radius than long guns present when open sights are used, and suitable scopes tend to be limited compared to those designed to be mounted upon a rifle. Also, handguns cannot be braced against the shoulder, they have limited space for grip, and the shorter barrel will not produce the same velocities that even carbine barrels will, in part because of pressure bleeding at the cylinder gap (at least in the case of our three test guns, which are revolvers).

The physical limitations of a hunting handgun—that is, its overall size and weight—can be said to be advantages, but the corresponding lack of power compared to...

9mm Showdown: Can The Bull Outflank Pietro?

[IMGCAP(1)] Old sayings like "The original and still the best," or "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," can lead to self-admiration to the point of destruction. Witness what happened to Colt's Manufacturing, as clones stole the 1911 market out from under them. Could the same thing happen to other manufacturers as well?

For years Taurus International has been offering a Beretta knock-off that emulates the Italian firm's Model 92, a civilian gun cast from the same lineage as the U.S. M9 military 9mm sidearm. Beretta, of Brescia, Italy, began offering the series 92 in 1975, and in 1981 Taurus began producing its version of this pistol, the PT99, at the plant the company bought from...

SIG, Smith & Wesson, Glock: We Test Approved Pistols of the FBI

Current FBI regulations stipulate that three handguns, the double-action-only Smith & Wesson 4586 in .45 ACP, the Glock Model 22 in .40 S&W, and the SIG P239 chambered for .357 SIG, are approved carry guns for its field agents. Notably missing from this list, of course, are any number of 1911-style .45 ACPs, one of which Springfield Armory already supplies to the FBI's Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) agents. Why the disparity?

Bureau thinking has it that SWAT-force officers frequently train for high-threat encounters, thus, they fire many times more rounds a year in training and qualification than the typical agent. In this view, the 1911 pistol, with its short, crisp trigg...

Durability Test Results? Our Favorite Wheelguns Come Through With Flying Colors

[IMGCAP(1)] At Gun Tests we constantly seek ways to follow up on the service life of the guns we test. When possible, we track the very pistols and long guns that appear on these pages by keeping in touch with their owners, which in some cases are our testers but more often are readers who have bought actual test guns. Another way of tracking the reliability and satisfaction that a firearm can bring is to contact gunsmiths, retail outlets or the operators of public shooting ranges who add them to range rental-gun fleets.

We recently had occasion to test several revolvers previously reviewed and recommended in these pages with an eye toward gathering data about their longevity, a topic GT...

Four-Inch .357 Mag. Revolvers: Enduring Choices for Car or Carry

[IMGCAP(1)] Whatever happened to the old 4-inch service revolver? Take a look around and you will see they're on the hips of many uniformed police officers. Yes, the majority of peace officers today do carry the semi-automatic, but take part in your own survey and you will be surprised to find out how many rely on a 4-inch wheelgun.

The reasons for this gun's popularity as a duty weapon for officers or, correspondingly, as a personal self-defense gun for citizens are manifold. The revolver offers an on-demand choice of single or double action, it will run reliably on any load strength, and the .357 Magnum guns will also shoot cheaper .38 Special rounds to boot, mixing power and affordabil...

High-Dollar 1911 .45s: Wilson Combat Beats Baer and Clark

[IMGCAP(1)] Value is a difficult concept to pin down when buying a self-defense gun, because it means different things to different people. For one shooter, value means getting acceptable performance for the fewest dollars; for another, it means uncompromising performance, the dollars be damned. At Gun Tests, we generally lean toward the first definition—maximizing what you get for what you spend.

But there is another way to look at purchasing firearms, especially self-defense guns: Get the best. We admit this idea has strong appeal, because in a shoot/don't-shoot situation where your life is at stake, don't you want the best possible machinery in your hand?

In response to dozens of i...

Cowboy Concealables: Smaller Single Actions Are Fun To Shoot

The Cowboy gun craze is still going strong. But after you have filled out your minimum required battery of lever-action rifle, shotgun, and long-barreled revolver, what's next? Chances are you've been thinking of adding a revolver with a shorter barrel, such as a 3.5-inch model in the style that was purportedly favored by the local sheriff. Moreover, these single actions are increasingly favored in the .38 Special/.357 Magnum chambering, since those rounds are easier to shoot and cost less than many other specialty cartridges.

At Gun Tests we're not just cold-hearted data-hungry technicians. No, we have our romantic side, too, and we hoped our test of three short-barreled .38s—EMF's Hartf...

Compact Alloy 9mm Sidearms: Too Heavy, Too Big, Too Slow?

[IMGCAP(1)] When we think of a compact pistol with an alloy frame, we tend to think of a gun that is light in weight and small enough to conceal without excessive compromise in grip area. However, some pistols that are advertised and categorized as compact are not necessarily diminutive nor are they especially easy to conceal. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines compact in terms of "automobiles smaller than intermediate but larger than sub-compact." In the world of handguns, the compact benchmark seems to be built around the 3.5- to 3.8-inch barrel.

Likewise, this same dictionary defines alloy ten different ways and never once refers to weight, but uses variations on the word mix...

All-Round Utility .22LRs: Used S&W 41s Are Worth a Long Look

[IMGCAP(1)] No one rimfire pistol can do everything. If it's precise enough for serious NRA bullseye competition, it's too big and heavy for taking along on a hiking trip. If it's light enough for trail use, it doesn't have enough weight for steadiness on the firing line in serious competition. Sure, there are many more uses for .22 pistols, such as hunting, plinking, and the like, but these two extremes give a reasonable picture of the scope of rimfire semiautomatics. No single gun can do all these things … or can it?

Many shooters have asked us if the new SIG Trailside can satisfy these disparate needs, so we decided to compare it to a couple of established pistols that can also be used...

Pocket .22 Long Rifle Semiautos: Fussy, or Functional Firearms?

[IMGCAP(1)] When it comes to .22 caliber Long Rifle pistols, you can spend as little or as much as you want. For about $200 retail, there are a number of very good target pistols that provide valuable range time with this economical cartridge. However, if you want to take a .22 with you wherever you go, we found that downsizing the action costs a little more, both in terms of money and functionality.

Within the modern pistol, ammunition is the fuel that runs the gun, and the .22LR round's tepid power makes for chancy operation, even though it has to move relatively little mass and overcome less slide travel. This alone may account for the higher price of pocket guns that can serve as a la...

Five-Shot .44 Special Wheelguns: Powerful, and Sometimes Painful

The .44 Magnum's baby brother round doesn't get a lot of attention, but the .44 Special has a lot to recommend it. We see how it performs in the Taurus 445ULT, Smith & Wesson 396, and Charter 2000's Bulldog revolvers

Welcome, First-Time Gun Buyers

The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms industry trade association, surveyed firearm retailers recently, and estimates that more than 3.2 million people purchased...