Cartridge and Gun Tandems In .357 Sig, .38 Super, .40 S&W

It is reasonable to expect that any pistol-evaluation piece covering "options in self defense" would focus on a range of semi-automatics that combine power with portability. For this test, we chose the $1059 Kimber Stainless Target .38 Super, Heckler & Kochs $879 P2000 V3 .40 S&W, and a Sigarms factory certified pre-owned P226, which came with both .40 S&W and .357 Sig barrels, $699.We thought the use of the word "options" was suitable because each of our guns was distinctly different in both construction and operation:The Kimber Stainless Target is a full-size 1911 built on a stainless-steel frame. The single-action trigger requires only a short press for ignition.The HK P2000 V3 is a polymer-framed weapon with both double- and single-action trigger pull. A unique feature was the placement of the decocker on the rear of the slide. Furthermore, the P2000 offered interchangeable backstraps in an attempt to customize the grip.The Sigarms P226 utilized a stainless-steel slide and an aluminum frame. The trigger system also featured both a double- and single-action pull, but the decocker was mounted on the frame. And, as mentioned above, the gun was shipped with two different barrels for firing both the .40 S&W and .357 Sig rounds.

Three Winners in .45 ACP: H&K, Springfield, and Para Ordnance

The term "single-stack" is a popular nickname for the Browning 1911 pistol that feeds from a magazine, wherein the loaded rounds are stored directly one on top of the other. This vertical column is one of the elements that give the 1911 its narrow grip profile, a key element for stealth carry and a natural index. The flat grip provides instant feedback, telling the operator where the gun is pointing. The 1911 has been chambered for other cartridges, but the .45 ACP is by far the most popular choice. In this test we will evaluate three single-stack 45s that differ significantly from each other and in varying degrees from the original Browning design.

Of our three test guns, the $1011 Springfield Armory Loaded Champion Stainless Steel PX9142LP was the closest to the original 1911 design. But it operated with a plunger-type recoil system that, according to Dave Skinner of STI, was adapted from the patent that was used in the tiny Seecamp pistols. (Our first experience with this recoil system was our test of the STI VIP pistol in the March 2003 issue.)

The Para Ordnance Tac S DCX745E, $969, was designed in response to the perception that double-action pistols are safer than cocked-and-locked single actions. The Tac S featured the Para Ordnance LDA (light double action) trigger but still offered the advantages of 1911-style ergonomics, including a thumb-operated safety. Both the Springfield Armory and Para Ordnance pistols featured all-steel construction.

Our third gun was the Heckler & Koch USP Compact Tactical, $1179. This is an upgraded version of the $919 USP Compact that is now available to civilian as well as law enforcement personnel. Also referred to as the USP45CT, this gun may be carried as a traditional double-action pistol, wherein the first shot is double action, and subsequent shots are single action, or it can be carried cocked and locked for single-action operation. The HK USP45CT pistol was the only gun shipped with an eight-round magazine.

Porting Earns an A for Better Control of Pistols and Revolvers

Weve recently had a chance to shoot handguns, handgun modifications, and accessories against products weve tested in previous issues. In several cases, weve taken guns that were flawed in some way and tried to correct the problems we found because we thought the underlying products were sound.

Updates: S&W 22A-1 .22 Pistol; Guerinis Maxum 12 Gauge O/U

We've recently had a chance to shoot two guns one .22 LR pistol and a pricey over-under 12 gauge against guns we've already tested.

In the January 2007 issue, we reviewed Ruger's 22/45 Mark III KP512MKIII .22 LR, $398, and Browning's Buck Mark FLD Plus Rosewood UDX 051429490 .22LR, $417. Since then, we had a chance to shoot the Smith & Wesson 22A-1 107431 .22 LR, $427. Each of these guns featured a 5.5-inch heavy barrel. We shot the 22A-1 head to head against those other guns still in our inventory, and we wanted to update Gun Tests readers on how the third gun fit into the picture.

Likewise, we tested two midrange-price sporting-clays over/unders in the November 2006 issue: the Blaser F3 Competition Sporting, $5195; and Beretta's 687 EL Gold Pigeon II Sporting No. J687526, $5495. Against the two original test guns we pitted the Caesar Guerini Maxum Sporting, $4950, to see how it stood up.

Here's what we found:

Big-Bore Sub-Compacts: We Test a Quintet of Good Guns

Big guns may be the stuff of movie legends but in the world of the CHL (concealed handgun license), smaller pistols are more likely the stars. We recently tested five smallish guns that shoot big bullets: They were the $566 .40 S&W Springfield XD40 SC HC, Glocks $614 .45 GAP Model 39, and three others chambered for .45 ACP.

Heavy-Barrel .22 LR Pistols: Buy Brownings Buck Mark UDX

In this test we will look at two .22 LR pistols that are well within reach of the youthful beginner. The guns in question were the Ruger 22/45 Mark III No. KP512MKIII, $398; and Brownings Buck Mark FLD Plus Rosewood UDX No. 051429490, $417. We wanted to know if these guns were accurate and reliable enough to provide the beginner with valuable training and keep an experienced shooter interested.We tested each pistol for accuracy at American Shooting Centers, a public outdoor range in Houston (amshootcenters.com), and performed additional tests for endurance and reliability at Top Gun (topgunrange.com). Our choice of test ammunitions were Remington 36-grain brass-plated hollowpoints, CCI Green Tag 40-grain Competition Ammunition, and Federal American Eagle 40-grain solids. Both guns ran reliably with the Remington and CCI ammunition, but each gun had difficulty cycling the slower Federal rounds. Despite each gun suffering the same malfunction with the Federal American Eagle ammunition, we were able to record an adequate number of groups and complete our tests. Lets see what we learned.

Best Tested Firearms: Pistols

The Model 23 is the midsized model in the Glock lineup. It follows the same design and configuration as all the other Glock pistols, the majority of which feed from a double-column magazine.

A Trio of Pocket .380 ACPs: Steer Clear of NAAs Guardian

Whether or not the .380 ACP cartridge is your cup of tea, it exists in large numbers of available handguns today. Some of today's most modern ammunition make this cartridge a better one than it was, say, 30 years ago, but we would still not consider it for a main defensive weapon because we feel there are better caliber choices. Even the .45 ACP can be had in small packages.

We decided to look at a few of the .380 pocket pistols available, never mind the relative worth of the cartridge. After all, in a life-threatening situation any firearm is better than none, and a small, pocket-size gun is often more likely to be carried than anything bigger. We got a PPK Walther ($543), now being made in this smaller configuration by Smith & Wesson. The tiny North American Arms Guardian ($449) was the choice of one of our testers, despite the gun's being DAO. And the somewhat larger Beretta 85 FS Cheetah ($575) was also put up for consideration. Do these little .380s kick? How accurate are they? How easy are they to shoot fast? In this evaluation we looked hard at each gun's ability to make fast and reasonably accurate hits, but as always, we shot ‘em for group.

We tested with two types of hardball, CCI's Blazer and Brazilian Magtech, both with reloadable brass cases. We also used Cor-Bon's 90-grain JHP loads. We also tried a few groups with Federal's Personal Defense Hydra-Shok 90-grain JHP and Miwall's 88-grain JHP but didn't include these in the official results.

For the rapid-fire evaluations, we began with the gun in hand, and from a range of seven yards, brought the gun up and placed a shot onto a sheet of paper 8.5 by 11 inches in size. This was repeated until we got a good feel for each pistol, shooting each gun in the double-action mode. Then we tried each gun with two fast shots, which meant the Walther and Beretta were fired DA/SA, but of course the NAA Guardian was DA for both shots. We used these tests as a simple but practical evaluation of each gun's "combat" potential. We recommend the reader do similar testing if he buys such a gun with self defense in mind. Here's what we found.

1911 Hotrods: .400 Cor-Bon, .460 Rowland, and the .50 GI

Anyone who has a 1911 .45 ACP might well feel he has the ultimate self-defense handgun, and there is much evidence he may be right. But some will not be satisfied with that power level, never mind that it does the job most of the time.

For those shooters, more power is readily available. For instance, there are drop-in barrels that can turn your 1911 .45 into a hot .40 (.400 Cor-Bon), or a hotter .45 (.460 Rowland). How good are these? We didn't know, so we acquired some drop-in barrels from Storm Lake in .400 Cor-Bon ($130) and from Clark Custom Guns in .460 Rowland ($275).

Also, there is at least one complete gun that offers a purported step up in ballistics, the Guncrafter Industries .50 GI ($2895) Model No. 1 pistol, which is a 1911 dedicated to a .50-caliber cartridge with a rebated rim. The ammunition for all three test calibers was proprietary but easily obtained, as we discovered. Here are our findings.

Guns and Accessories Reviews: FN, Remington, and Others

The Five Seven pistol is lightweight and accurate, and we like it, though it shoots the small 5.7x28mm cartridge. For rifle-accuracy upgrades, check out Don Bower's handiwork.

We Test Two AR-Style Pistols from Bushmaster and OA

The $1020 OA 98 from Olympic Arms is a steady performer, but Bushmaster's $862 Carbon 15 Model 97 pistol stumbles.

Big-Bore Semi-Automatic Pistols: Desert Eagle, Wildey Face Off

For some people all that a gun needs is charisma, mainly due to its appearance in a number of Hollywood movies. If the Minneapolis-based firm of Magnum Research has achieved nothing else, then the Desert Eagle's place in history has been assured by its striking profile and big hole in the muzzle.

Halfway There

On April 12, 2022, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed Senate Bill 319, Constitutional carry, into law. Constitutional carry in Georgia goes into effect immediately....