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Colt Versus Colt 45s: Series 70 Competes Against the 1991A1

When other makers put market pressure on Colt by introducing a bevy of inexpensive 1911A1 handguns, Colt responded with the 1991A1, replacing the expensive Colt high-polish bluing with a matte finish. Walnut grips were deleted in favor of plastic or rubber, although recent Colt 1991A1 production features good-quality wood-grip panels. Features these more affordable 1991A1-Colt pistols kept were the flat mainspring housing and long style trigger of the original 1911 handgun. The usually accepted justification for having a flat mainspring housing is that it is easier to fit a custom-grade beavertail safety. The 1991A1 also featured a scalloped ejection port and sights that are an improvement over GI-model handguns. There was no full-length guide rod, so the pistol was easily field stripped. In the eyes of many, Colt successfully turned out a basic 1991A1 that was affordable for those who would prefer to own a Colt rather than other brands.

However, there was a bone of contention concerning the 1991A1. If a company is going to make institutional LE or other agency sales in this century, the pistol must have a firing-pin lock or drop safety. The Series 80 firing-pin block used in the 1991A1 adds four parts in comparison to the Series 70. The parts are the frame-mounted trigger-bar lever and plunger and the slide-mounted firing-pin plunger and driving spring. Simplicity must be better for reliability, some said. The firing-pin block keeps the firing pin in place until the trigger reaches its rearward travel maximum and releases the firing-pin block and the firing pin. Also, shooters soon learned that care must be taken in disassembly and reassembly with this design so that the plunger is not damaged.

Why was the firing-pin block introduced? If the 1911 handgun were dropped on the muzzle from a sufficient height, the inertia of the firing pin could take a run forward against spring pressure and crack the primer, firing the pistol. This problem is not unique to the 1911; many pistol designs have been updated with firing-pin blocks. Some makers solve the problem with a lightweight firing pin and heavy-duty firing-pin spring. In fact, Para Ordnance (now Para USA) and SIG use the Series 80 firing-pin lock by license. Once Beretta and SIG incorporated the firing-pin block in production, competitors had to follow the same path in order to compete in the law-enforcement market. Even though the majority of accidental discharges are negligent rather than accidental and are caused by shooter error, the firing-pin block is here to stay in the 1991A1. And therein was the problem for many Colt fans.

In short, they feel that Colt ruined the trigger action by adding the drop safety, and that the resulting Series 80 designation was inferior to the Series 70. Others felt that the assembly could lead to problems if it malfunctioned. The fact is, a Series 80 design may malfunction if a trigger job isn't done correctly or if a lightweight trigger is added to the pistol and not adjusted correctly. In any case, many Colt shooters believe the Series 70 is a better set-up than the Series 80 design.

The way we see it, the only way to determine if the Series 80 design is inferior to the original Series 70 design is to shoot them side by side with a team of testers who love to nitpick. So we acquired a high-grade current-production Colt that is similar to the original Series 70 — that is, a pistol with good finish and excellent fitting but without the firing-pin block — and shot it against a 1991A1 Series 80 pistol. Each pistol was supplied with two Colt magazines. We normally use a good supply of 1911 magazines during testing, but to thoroughly proof each pistol, only Colt factory magazines, as supplied with the pistol, were used. Most important, there were no malfunctions of any type with either handgun.

So, beyond that, is it worth it for Colt fans to go to the gun show, cash in hand, searching for a Series 70 pistol, or for non-Colt shooters, a similar 1911 handgun without the firing-pin block? Side-by-side shooting determined just how great an advantage, if any, the Series 70 has over the 1991A1 with its Series 80 internals. Here's what we found:

22-Caliber Centerfire Self-Loader Shoot-out: FNH Vs. Rock Island

In an intriguing and extensive match-up, we pitted two handguns chambered for hot 22-caliber bottlenecks against each other. The 22 TCM and the 5.7x28mm cartridges are interesting on many levels, but also are not the most common or easily obtained rounds. Both handguns have a military heritage, but the Rock Island 1911 is pretty far removed from its 1911A1 45 ACP ancestor.

The Fabrique Nationale Herstal FiveseveN IOM (hereafter 5.7) pistol was designed as a personal defense weapon (PDW) for military use. The 5.7x28mm cartridge was designed with the ability to penetrate light armor. Good accuracy and low recoil were important attributes. Comparatively, the original 1911 was designed to stop a man or a horse. The 1911 was designed as an all-out fighting handgun in close quarters. One gets the impression the 5.7 was intended for use at a greater standoff distance. The adaptation of the 22 TCM cartridge to the 1911 gives shooters longing for a hot 22-caliber centerfire something to use in a familiar platform.

In this test we asked lots of questions, including what are the goals of a shooter purchasing either firearm. The handguns were tested for reliability, accuracy, and fit and finish. Which system is the most controllable and accurate? Finally, which is the more practical, better buy?

Suppressor-Ready Plinking 22s: Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Walther

Rimfire plinking pistols should be fun to shoot and easy to operate and maintain, and if they offer a little more for the buck, even better. We recently came across three 22 LR semi-autos we thought would be fun to shoot and which offered threaded barrels for suppressor use — a definite upgrade over the basic 22 LR tube. Our test candidates were the Ruger 22/45 Lite No. 03900 P45MK3ALRPFL, $499; the Smith & Wesson Model M&P22 No. 122000, $419; and the Walther Arms P22Q QAP22522 Tactical Pistol with Hi-Viz Sight and Threaded Barrel, $440. The sizzle on these steaks is supposedly their suppressor adaptability, so let's start there.

The S&W and the Walther pistols are both made by Walther, and both pistols feature the same suppressing solution at the muzzle. The Smith has a 4.1-inch blued-steel barrel with a threaded rifled sleeve whose muzzle thread specs are M8x.75. A barrel nut covers the threads when a suppressor isn't affixed, and is removed by a provided spanner wrench that fits into two cuts on the nut. The Walther came with an adapter, a half-inch long steel piece, that screws onto the threads exposed when the barrel nut is removed. It steps up the thread specs to the more common 1/2x28 U.S. designation, which accepted our test suppressor, a Silencerco Sparrow SP-1505 22 LR, which we shot at the site of and under the control of Tactical Firearms (TacticalFirearms.us). The S&W lacked the adapter, which would add another $45 to its price tag. In contrast, the Lite's threads were protected by a knurled ring that could be unscrewed by hand.

Underneath, the barrel was already threaded at 1/2x28. Externally, the ring was integrated into the Lite's lines. The shooter could choose to leave the adapter on the M&P22 or P22Q for faster switches between unsuppressed and suppressed firing, but the bulbous adapter isn't the most cosmetic piece we've seen.

There were other problems with the S&W and Walther muzzle treatments, we believe. The top of the Ruger polymer front sight sits 0.4 inch above the aluminum shroud and 0.875 inch above the boreline, more than enough to clear the 1.062-inch-diameter Sparrow (half its diameter being 0.531 inch). The tops of the Walther and S&W front sights were 0.565 inch above the borelines, making very little of the sight available above the suppressor. Were their sights visible and somewhat usable? Barely, but yes. A solution for the two Walther-made pistols would be to add a laser to their accessory rails, an option not readily available on the Ruger. But the Ruger's shroud top is drilled and tapped for a scope base, and the Q and M&P are not, so adding your choice of red dot to the Ruger would be easy if you preferred an optical sighting solution.

Because of the sighting disparities, we didn't shoot record groups with the suppressors on. But we did look at average velocities and found that most of our chronographed test rounds showed a small uptick in speed with suppressors on board (see table on page 9). It was an enjoyable experience to shoot without having to wear hearing protection. If any of the ammo had been supersonic, we would have worn protection to deal with the sonic crack. Most shooters who are new to suppressor use note that the devices are quiet, but not in-the-movies quiet — it is hard to meet the fictional expectations of Hollywood. Some other quick notes about the Sparrow. Because the 22 LR round is not copper jacketed, molten lead and carbon debris will explode into the silencer when the projectile exits the muzzle. It is possible for a 22 suppressor to fill with lead and become heavy and ineffective. To avoid this, 22 silencers must be disassembled for cleaning and regular maintenance.

Suppressor-Ready Plinking 22s: Ruger, Smith & Wesson, Walther

Rimfire plinking pistols should be fun to shoot and easy to operate and maintain, and if they offer a little more for the buck, even better. We recently came across three 22 LR semi-autos we thought would be fun to shoot and which offered threaded barrels for suppressor use — a definite upgrade over the basic 22 LR tube. Our test candidates were the Ruger 22/45 Lite No. 03900 P45MK3ALRPFL, $499; the Smith & Wesson Model M&P22 No. 122000, $419; and the Walther Arms P22Q QAP22522 Tactical Pistol with Hi-Viz Sight and Threaded Barrel, $440. The sizzle on these steaks is supposedly their suppressor adaptability, so let's start there.

The S&W and the Walther pistols are both made by Walther, and both pistols feature the same suppressing solution at the muzzle. The Smith has a 4.1-inch blued-steel barrel with a threaded rifled sleeve whose muzzle thread specs are M8x.75. A barrel nut covers the threads when a suppressor isn't affixed, and is removed by a provided spanner wrench that fits into two cuts on the nut. The Walther came with an adapter, a half-inch long steel piece, that screws onto the threads exposed when the barrel nut is removed. It steps up the thread specs to the more common 1/2x28 U.S. designation, which accepted our test suppressor, a Silencerco Sparrow SP-1505 22 LR, which we shot at the site of and under the control of Tactical Firearms (TacticalFirearms.us). The S&W lacked the adapter, which would add another $45 to its price tag. In contrast, the Lite's threads were protected by a knurled ring that could be unscrewed by hand.

Underneath, the barrel was already threaded at 1/2x28. Externally, the ring was integrated into the Lite's lines. The shooter could choose to leave the adapter on the M&P22 or P22Q for faster switches between unsuppressed and suppressed firing, but the bulbous adapter isn't the most cosmetic piece we've seen.

There were other problems with the S&W and Walther muzzle treatments, we believe. The top of the Ruger polymer front sight sits 0.4 inch above the aluminum shroud and 0.875 inch above the boreline, more than enough to clear the 1.062-inch-diameter Sparrow (half its diameter being 0.531 inch). The tops of the Walther and S&W front sights were 0.565 inch above the borelines, making very little of the sight available above the suppressor. Were their sights visible and somewhat usable? Barely, but yes. A solution for the two Walther-made pistols would be to add a laser to their accessory rails, an option not readily available on the Ruger. But the Ruger's shroud top is drilled and tapped for a scope base, and the Q and M&P are not, so adding your choice of red dot to the Ruger would be easy if you preferred an optical sighting solution.

Because of the sighting disparities, we didn't shoot record groups with the suppressors on. But we did look at average velocities and found that most of our chronographed test rounds showed a small uptick in speed with suppressors on board (see table on page 9). It was an enjoyable experience to shoot without having to wear hearing protection. If any of the ammo had been supersonic, we would have worn protection to deal with the sonic crack. Most shooters who are new to suppressor use note that the devices are quiet, but not in-the-movies quiet — it is hard to meet the fictional expectations of Hollywood. Some other quick notes about the Sparrow. Because the 22 LR round is not copper jacketed, molten lead and carbon debris will explode into the silencer when the projectile exits the muzzle. It is possible for a 22 suppressor to fill with lead and become heavy and ineffective. To avoid this, 22 silencers must be disassembled for cleaning and regular maintenance.

Pocket Pistols with Factory Lasers: Walther, SIG, and Ruger

Lasersights on handguns are common today. Scan the used-handgun case at a gun shop, and more than likely youll find a rig that the former owner customized with a laser sight. In the new-pistol case, you will also see factory-fitted laser sights on handguns. We were interested in how factory-fitted lasersights would affect our judgment of three previously tested 380 ACP pistols, the Ruger LCP, SIGs P238, and Walthers PK380. The Ruger earned an A- grade in the June 2008, and the SIG notched an A- in the June 2010 issue, and the Walther got a B-, also in the June 2010 issue. The lasered versions of those handguns are the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443; SIG Sauers P238 Tactical Laser No. 238-380-TL 380 ACP, $829; and Walthers PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP, $489. Would the addition of a laser sight change our mind about the pistol? Would the addition of a laser bulk up a pocket pistol with a gadget? Would the laser be an asset or a detriment to an already fine pistol? The three pistols spanned the spectrum of action types.The Ruger is a DAO (Double Action Only). The Walther PK380 is a traditional DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) pistol, where the pistol can be fired DA and subsequently fired SA. The SIG, SA only, was set up like a mini 1911. These pistols are made for close work, so we tested for accuracy at 15 yards with open sights, but were more interested in using the lasers in unconventional shooting positions, much like you might encounter in a real-life confrontation with a bad actor. Our goal with these lasered pocket pistols was to quickly project the red dot on target and punch holes in targets efficiently and effectively. We used D-1 tombstone-style targets with a 4-inch-diameter X-ring and an A-ring and B-ring at 8 inches and 12 inches, respectively. The rings are visible at close range - about 5 yards, but beyond that and depending on your eye sight, the rings are undetectable.All three employed red Class IIIa lasers. The warning label was blatantly affixed to each laser. Dont point the laser beam in eyes, as permanent eye damage can result. (Never mind the damage from a 380 slug.) Laser beams can reflect off certain surfaces like TV screens, mirrors, glass, etc. Make sure you test the laser of an unloaded weapon so you can experience how the laser beam can react. Also note that laser sights should also be removed when cleaning the weapon, as oils and solvents are not good for the lasers electronics.As in any test, we focused on the major areas of importance with these pistols, such as reliability, concealability, shooter comfort, and accuracy. But because of the lasers, we zeroed in on how the optics affected handling, printing, and other carry issues.

Pocket Pistols with Factory Lasers: Walther, SIG, and Ruger

Lasersights on handguns are common today. Scan the used-handgun case at a gun shop, and more than likely youll find a rig that the former owner customized with a laser sight. In the new-pistol case, you will also see factory-fitted laser sights on handguns. We were interested in how factory-fitted lasersights would affect our judgment of three previously tested 380 ACP pistols, the Ruger LCP, SIGs P238, and Walthers PK380. The Ruger earned an A- grade in the June 2008, and the SIG notched an A- in the June 2010 issue, and the Walther got a B-, also in the June 2010 issue. The lasered versions of those handguns are the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718 380 ACP, $443; SIG Sauers P238 Tactical Laser No. 238-380-TL 380 ACP, $829; and Walthers PK380 With Laser No. WAP40010 380 ACP, $489. Would the addition of a laser sight change our mind about the pistol? Would the addition of a laser bulk up a pocket pistol with a gadget? Would the laser be an asset or a detriment to an already fine pistol? The three pistols spanned the spectrum of action types.The Ruger is a DAO (Double Action Only). The Walther PK380 is a traditional DA/SA (Double Action/Single Action) pistol, where the pistol can be fired DA and subsequently fired SA. The SIG, SA only, was set up like a mini 1911. These pistols are made for close work, so we tested for accuracy at 15 yards with open sights, but were more interested in using the lasers in unconventional shooting positions, much like you might encounter in a real-life confrontation with a bad actor. Our goal with these lasered pocket pistols was to quickly project the red dot on target and punch holes in targets efficiently and effectively. We used D-1 tombstone-style targets with a 4-inch-diameter X-ring and an A-ring and B-ring at 8 inches and 12 inches, respectively. The rings are visible at close range - about 5 yards, but beyond that and depending on your eye sight, the rings are undetectable.All three employed red Class IIIa lasers. The warning label was blatantly affixed to each laser. Dont point the laser beam in eyes, as permanent eye damage can result. (Never mind the damage from a 380 slug.) Laser beams can reflect off certain surfaces like TV screens, mirrors, glass, etc. Make sure you test the laser of an unloaded weapon so you can experience how the laser beam can react. Also note that laser sights should also be removed when cleaning the weapon, as oils and solvents are not good for the lasers electronics.As in any test, we focused on the major areas of importance with these pistols, such as reliability, concealability, shooter comfort, and accuracy. But because of the lasers, we zeroed in on how the optics affected handling, printing, and other carry issues.

1911 Replica Rimfires: GSG, Umarex, and Browning Compete

One reason to produce rimfire replicas of military weapons is to help familiarize the shooter with how each gun operates at a fraction of the price of buying and feeding the corresponding centerfire model. If this isnt fun enough, then consider the history and the innovation that each rifle offers the shooter ahead of simpler rimfire designs. We last tested military-replica semiautomatic rimfire rifles in the February 2010 issue (Tactical-Style 22 LR Carbines: Ruger, S&W, Legacy Duke It Out), with the majority of the roster being taken up by the AR-15 design. In this test we will evaluate only one such rifle, Mossbergs $276 715T Tactical 22. Our second replica rifle represents a bygone era and the third a modern design. Our old-timer was the $399 Citadel M-1 22 Carbine made in Italy by Chiappa. The $609 German-made ISSC MK22 Desert Tan rifle with folding stock was a replica of the SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle). Both the MK22 and the M-1 Carbine are imported by Legacy Sports International of Reno, Nevada.For accuracy tests, we fired from the 50-yard line with support from the Caldwell Tack Driver sandbag rest. Test ammunition was the same 40-grain assortment we used the April 2012 test of more traditional semi-automatic rifles. Two rounds featured copper-plated bullets. They were CCIs Mini Mag and CCIs AR Tactical 22 ammunition. We also fired Federals Auto Match rounds, which launched a lead solid bullet. We also tried a variety of hollowpoint ammunition to assess versatility, but elected to fire shots of record with our roundnosed selections so we could compare results directly with our earlier tests.Each one of our test guns arrived with open sights. In fact, the MK22/SCAR offered two aiming solutions in one set of fold-down sights. We wanted to know how well all of these sight packages worked. In addition, each rifle offered a way to mount a scope. We wanted to know how efficiently this option could be accomplished and its effect on accuracy. We began our accuracy tests using only the supplied open sights. Then, we mounted the same variable power 1-4X power scopes used in last months rimfire rifle tests. Firing only the most accurate round per each gun, we then recorded additional 5-shot groups from the 50-yard bench. All three rifles fired at least 300 rounds over three days of testing with no more maintenance than an occasional spray of Rem Oil into the chamber and on the bolt. Lets see how they scored.

22 LR Semiautos: Walthers P22 Versus the Similar Ruger SR22

In a February 2006 test of four handguns, our Idaho staff called the Walther P22 22 LR No. WAP22003, $301, an "Our Pick." The test team said, "We liked this little .22 pistol immensely. It was completely reliable in our limited shooting, and shot very well, with many five-shot groups going around an inch at 15 yards. The impact could be fine-tuned as necessary by changing the front sight. The windage was slick and handy, we found, and adjusted with relative ease.… We think anyone in need of a fine little .22 pistol that works every time and doesn't bust the bank need look no farther than the short-barrel P22. We thought it was an ideal fun gun, one we'd take in the backpack and not even know it's there." Then, in the May 2010 issue, we wrote, "Our Team Said: The unanimous decision was that the P22 was the top performer in our tests.…"

This is a difficult trick to manage for any handgun, because differing ammo selections, test conditions, individual pistol variations, and matchups can magnify the flaws found in any product, making it hard to get a top grade again and again.

But when a gun does that well over time, it can serve as a benchmark against which to test newer products, which in this case is the Ruger SR22PB Model 03600, $399. Like the Walther P22 WAP22003, now $379, Ruger's SR22 is full of angles and bumps and slots, but not so many serrations. The top of its anodized slide was smooth and semi-gloss, instead of the Walther's dead-flat black with longitudinal serrations. What would have impressed us mightily is if Ruger (or Walther) had attempted to copy the original Walther PPK for the 22LR, and brought it off nicely at a good sale price. No one makes that gun today, so far as we know. (If Ruger or Walther decided to do it, we suspect a great many fans of James Bond would buy the guns just for the fact that they look like the famous PPK. And if this hypothetical gun were far more accurate than either of these two test guns, we'd beat a path to the maker's door and buy one for ourselves.) But that veers off our current topic, which is pitting the two similar 22 autoloading pistols head to head.

We acquired a new Ruger and borrowed a locally owned, new-condition P22 for this test. We tested with five types of ammunition. These were CCI Green Tag Competition, Eley's Match EPS, CCI Mini Mag solids, Winchester Power Point HP, and Federal Classic High-Velocity. How does the new Ruger stack up against the Walther P22? Let's take a look feature by feature:

Lightweight, Very High Capacity, Pistols from Kel-Tec and FNH

In March 2005 we looked at the FN FiveseveN IOM model pistol (hereafter referred to as the 5.7). At the time, there was nothing else on the market to compare it to, so Contributing Editor Roger Eckstine covered it as a one-gun "Range Bag" report. In that review, he said, "Designed as a companion to the FN P90 Submachine gun, the FN Five Seven pistol is a lightweight polymer pistol chambered for 5.728mm ammunition. The 5.728mm round features a necked-down case similar to but smaller than the 223 Remington round…." That report continued, "Initially, sales of the Five Seven pistol were intended to be limited to military and law-enforcement [IMGCAP(1)]personnel because the 5.728mm ammunition is available with armor-piercing bullets. However, the FN Five Seven pistol is now available to civilians.

"We loaded our 10-round magazines with the FN-supplied 31-grain open-tipped FMJ rounds and headed to the range. We found the FN Five Seven to be a very lightweight pistol, weighing only 21 ounces unloaded. To house the overall length of the rounds, the grip was longer front to back than those found on most pistols, making it a little harder to connect the hands when using a two-hand grip. Right-handed shooters had to work a little harder to get their thumbs around to press the magazine release. In fact, the safety release and the slide-release levers were in opposite positions from what we are used to. The slide release was to the rear, and the ambidextrous thumb safety was located above the trigger so that the shooter had to use the weak-hand thumb or trigger finger to operate the safety. All levers were polymer, just like the frame and top-end shroud."

And the money graf from the original report: "Buy It. We're not entirely settled on the fight-stopping capability of the civilian-issue 5.728mm ball ammunition, but we feel FN did an excellent job of bringing together design features such as a fine trigger, manual safety, a first-class accessory rail, ease of maintenance, and foolproof accuracy in an ultra-lightweight package."

Well, that was then, and this is now. In the last year, Kel-Tec CNC Industries of Cocoa, Florida, has brought out the PMR-30, chambered in 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, a gun influenced by Swedish designer and Kel-Tec founder George Kellgren's Grendel P30 22 Magnum autoloader. But even the P30 was predated by earlier 22 WMR autoloaders by AMT (the AutoMag II is now made by High Standard) and Excel Industries (MP-22, www.ExcelArms.com). All in, the PMR-30 is slightly lighter than the 5.7, and it has a 30-round magazine, 10 more than the FN's 20-rounder. They both fire 40-grain projectiles of nearly the same diameter, but at different velocities. Before we get to the guns, let's examine how the cartridges compare.

Smith & Wesson Vs. Ruger: 22 LR Wheelguns and Pistols

The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) recently instituted a new division aimed at attracting more shooters competing at a maximum distance of 100 yards or meters. As explained on the www. IHMSA.org website, the rimfire arm of the Practical Hunter division is open to 22 LR handguns only with open sights, optical, or red-dot scopes. Competitors can shoot from any safe position they choose, including prone. New shooters may use a sandbag or mechanical rest to support the gun.

We decided to review some of the guns that would be a good choice for competing in IHMSA's Practical Hunter rimfire division. For quick reference we opened up our DVD copy of the Firearms Guide 2011 database ($40 from www.FirearmsMultimediaGuide.com) and found almost 80 pistols and revolvers that would be eligible to compete, along with their specifications and schematics. Economy was the goal, but we didn't want to buy the least expensive gun and risk outgrowing its capabilities. We were also split over choosing a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol. So we chose two of each.

Our revolvers were the Smith & Wesson 617 double-action revolver with single-action capability and Ruger's New Model Single Six Hunter. The Smith & Wesson was a smallbore version of the L-frame 686 revolver, and the Ruger was the smallbore brother to the New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter single-action revolver. On the pistol side we decided to stay with the same manufacturers. The Smith & Wesson Model 41 has been in production since 1957. The Ruger Mark III Competition is the latest version of the popular pistol that often comes to mind when shooters talk about target shooting.

Since accuracy was the primary concern, our test procedure was simple. Firing from a bench we would shoot the best groups possible. For support we chose the Caldwell Matrix shooting rest with the rifle extension removed. Augmented with sandbags to support the shooter's head as well as his arms, the only thing moving was the trigger finger. Most full-size pistols are tested from the 25-yard line, but the nearest steel silhouette was going to be 50 yards away. Even with the fine target sights found on each of our handguns, it was our opinion that 50-yard shots would require a scope. All four of our guns came with accommodation for mounting a scope, but with the extraordinary winds that were blowing, we were afraid that conditions might trump even the best optics. Finally, we decided to test from the 25-yard line with the supplied open sights.

The first gun we tested was the New Model Single Six Hunter, and here is why. The Hunter is a convertible model that comes with two cylinders, one for chambering 22 LR and the other for 22 Winchester Magnum Rifle. The WMR bullets are a little bit wider (.222 vs. .224). According to a Ruger representative, the bore would favor the wider magnum rounds, but we should be able to find a number of 22 LR rounds that shoot very well in the Hunter nonetheless. After trying several different rounds of 22 LR in the Ruger revolver, we chose the three most accurate rounds. They were CCI's new high-velocity AR Tactical rounds, CCI Standard Velocity ammunition, and Lapua Midas Plus. All three were topped with 40-grain roundnosed bullets. Regarding velocity readings, the pistols were fired over the chronograph five times. The revolvers were chronographed according to their full cylinder capacity, six shots from the Ruger and 10 from the Smith & Wesson 617.

Shooting in the wind required us to wait for calm between gusts. Some of our hold periods took minutes, not seconds. Since both revolvers were shot single-action only, we lost time pulling back the hammer and reacquiring the sights between shots. The pistol tests didn't take as long to complete because during the periods of calm, we were able to put more consecutive shots down range without interruption. This could pay off at a match when trying to beat a time limit. Beyond accuracy, we looked for reliability plus how well each gun lent itself to being shot standing offhand and from other IHMSA-legal shooting positions. Let's start knocking them down.

Smith & Wesson Vs. Ruger: 22 LR Wheelguns and Pistols

The International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association (IHMSA) recently instituted a new division aimed at attracting more shooters competing at a maximum distance of 100 yards or meters. As explained on the www. IHMSA.org website, the rimfire arm of the Practical Hunter division is open to 22 LR handguns only with open sights, optical, or red-dot scopes. Competitors can shoot from any safe position they choose, including prone. New shooters may use a sandbag or mechanical rest to support the gun.

We decided to review some of the guns that would be a good choice for competing in IHMSA's Practical Hunter rimfire division. For quick reference we opened up our DVD copy of the Firearms Guide 2011 database ($40 from www.FirearmsMultimediaGuide.com) and found almost 80 pistols and revolvers that would be eligible to compete, along with their specifications and schematics. Economy was the goal, but we didn't want to buy the least expensive gun and risk outgrowing its capabilities. We were also split over choosing a revolver or a semi-automatic pistol. So we chose two of each.

Our revolvers were the Smith & Wesson 617 double-action revolver with single-action capability and Ruger's New Model Single Six Hunter. The Smith & Wesson was a smallbore version of the L-frame 686 revolver, and the Ruger was the smallbore brother to the New Model Super Blackhawk Hunter single-action revolver. On the pistol side we decided to stay with the same manufacturers. The Smith & Wesson Model 41 has been in production since 1957. The Ruger Mark III Competition is the latest version of the popular pistol that often comes to mind when shooters talk about target shooting.

Since accuracy was the primary concern, our test procedure was simple. Firing from a bench we would shoot the best groups possible. For support we chose the Caldwell Matrix shooting rest with the rifle extension removed. Augmented with sandbags to support the shooter's head as well as his arms, the only thing moving was the trigger finger. Most full-size pistols are tested from the 25-yard line, but the nearest steel silhouette was going to be 50 yards away. Even with the fine target sights found on each of our handguns, it was our opinion that 50-yard shots would require a scope. All four of our guns came with accommodation for mounting a scope, but with the extraordinary winds that were blowing, we were afraid that conditions might trump even the best optics. Finally, we decided to test from the 25-yard line with the supplied open sights.

The first gun we tested was the New Model Single Six Hunter, and here is why. The Hunter is a convertible model that comes with two cylinders, one for chambering 22 LR and the other for 22 Winchester Magnum Rifle. The WMR bullets are a little bit wider (.222 vs. .224). According to a Ruger representative, the bore would favor the wider magnum rounds, but we should be able to find a number of 22 LR rounds that shoot very well in the Hunter nonetheless. After trying several different rounds of 22 LR in the Ruger revolver, we chose the three most accurate rounds. They were CCI's new high-velocity AR Tactical rounds, CCI Standard Velocity ammunition, and Lapua Midas Plus. All three were topped with 40-grain roundnosed bullets. Regarding velocity readings, the pistols were fired over the chronograph five times. The revolvers were chronographed according to their full cylinder capacity, six shots from the Ruger and 10 from the Smith & Wesson 617.

Shooting in the wind required us to wait for calm between gusts. Some of our hold periods took minutes, not seconds. Since both revolvers were shot single-action only, we lost time pulling back the hammer and reacquiring the sights between shots. The pistol tests didn't take as long to complete because during the periods of calm, we were able to put more consecutive shots down range without interruption. This could pay off at a match when trying to beat a time limit. Beyond accuracy, we looked for reliability plus how well each gun lent itself to being shot standing offhand and from other IHMSA-legal shooting positions. Let's start knocking them down.

Colt Targetsman Versus Ruger’s 22/45: Which is the Bargain?

Over the past few months we have been asked to do matchups involving the great guns of the past. Wild Bunch pistols, the Browning Hi-Power, the Mauser Broomhandle and other types of handguns are always interesting. As a rule, you cannot paint the great handguns of the past with a broad brush, as some were designed to be the best possible, others were made cheaply, and others were made to sell, which always invites compromise. But there was a day when the goose hung high and Gun Valley America ruled the world. The great guns made in Gun Valley by Smith & Wesson, Colt, and High Standard were at the top of the heap, and these handguns of the past always have a following. One reason we are comparing these handguns is because many are still available. If you are motivated enough, you may find a Colt Woodsman, a Smith & Wesson K22, or an original High Standard 22 LR on the used market. The choice is limited, yes—you must take what you can get or what you are able to find.

A Blueprint To Take Your Guns

A document produced jointly by the Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the Giffords gun-control group, and the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence is raising...