Recently we received a letter from a subscriber who asked us to compare a small .45 ACP 1911 pistol to some of today's more popular options in the category of subcompact pistols. Keynotes of comparison were action design, similar size, and similar stopping power. Also, our reader wanted us to compare the speed and integrity of fundamental controls other than the trigger. A concealed-carry gun may never be reloaded during a confrontation, but you wouldn't want to drop the magazine by accident or fumble releasing the slide.
Your competition or hunting gun may be the love of your life but a powerful subcompact pistol is the one you are likely to spend the most time with. In this test we'll get up close and personal with three pistols small enough to blend in with your lifestyle and powerful enough to preserve it. The Springfield Armory Ultra Compact 1911A1 PX9161L, $952, represents the traditional .45 ACP single-action single-stack pistol. The Glock polymer pistol is another very popular option. The Glock 33 No. PI3350201, $599, is chambered for .357 SIG, which offers .357 Magnum power in a controllable high-capacity platform. Smith & Wesson's SW990L in .40 S&W is also a polymer pistol with a double-column magazine, but distinguishes itself from the Glock pistol by utilizing a Walther design. Our SW990L No. 120233, $729, like the others, employed approximately a 3.5-inch barrel, and all three were specifically designed for concealed carry.
What good is a defensive weapon without stopping power? "Not much," most self-defense handgunners would say in response. Thus, we all agree that an effective defensive handgun requires power, but the more nuanced question is, "How much?"
We recently treated ourselves to a head-to-head test of defensive handguns in an increasingly popular chambering, the .357 SIG. The round was designed to deliver the same amount of power as .357 Magnum ammunition fired from a 4-inch-barrel service revolver, which almost all shooters will agree is enough stopping power for a handgun. Moreover, the .357 SIG round provides more total firepower, because staggered-column "double-stack" pistol magazines hold much more ammunition than a revolver loaded with .357 Magnum rounds. Some agencies now recognize the round's effectiveness; notably the Texas Department of Public Safety has adopted the .357 SIG round in Sigarms P226 pistols for its troopers.
In this test we will look at two .357 SIG pistols that are small, light, and easy to conceal. The Glock 32 was one of the first polymer compact pistols chambered for .357 SIG. Our version of the model 32 was stock number KADO71, $599. Shooting against that was a Heckler & Koch P2000 Variant 3 No. 735203, $883. We picked this particular gun for our test because we were intrigued with the unique placement of the decocker.
In our view, these limited-capacity pistols have limited usefulness for most shooters. Reviewed: American Derringer DA 38 and Model 1, and Bond Arms' Texas Defender and Cowboy Defender.
We pitted three Glocks—the 31, 32, and 33 models—against three Sigarms products—the P229, the P239, and the 2340 Pro. One gun was so good we bought it for ourselves.
There are a number of firearms available that don't have any competitors. They are unique in one or more respects, such as caliber, size or design. Since it wouldn't be fair to compare dissimilar products, we occasionally evaluate them individually. This is the case for the Sig Sauer, Glock and AMT compact pistols in this article. The Sig Sauer P239 in this test is chambered for the .357 Sig cartridge. This bottleneck cartridge is based on a .40 S&W case that is necked down to accept a .357-inch bullet. Some of the ammunition in this caliber is touted as having velocities that are equal to the .357 Remington Magnum.
The Glock 29 is a compact 10mm pistol. Frankly, we are surprised Glock i...
Sig's P229 Sport pistol seems to us to be more of a ‘Make It and They Will Buy It' creation than one resulting from market pressure. We suspect it was designed to appeal to the recreational shooter who enjoys having something different to show off during occasional visits to the local club range. The P229 Sport, although not a mainstream competition pistol, is worthy of attention as an example of what a major player in the firearms industry can do to advance the art of gun making.
The standard Sig P229, with its aluminum frame and blackened stainless steel slide, was considered a pistol with a limited lifetime. The new P229 Sport, modified with a machined stainless steel frame and slide,...
When the .357 Magnum was introduced in 1935, it was the most powerful commercial handgun cartridge available. Since then, that title has been passed on to several other rounds, such as the .44 Magnum and the .454 Casull. Nevertheless, the .357 Magnum is still a very good round.
In our opinion, the .357 Magnum is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges. When loaded hot and topped with a 125-grain jacketed hollow point, it is an excellent self-defense round. With heavier bullets, it is capable of taking varmints and other animals smaller than deer. CCI even makes a shotshell round that can be used to dispatch snakes and birds.
The .357 Magnum utilizes a rimmed case and is intended for use in revolvers. Although there are several technical problems associated with feeding and headspacing a revolver cartridge in a semiautomatic handgun, a few companies currently make .357 Magnum pistols. Two such guns, the Magnum Research Desert Eagle and the Coonan Arms Model B, are the subject of this head-to-head test. Also, a separate evaluation of the Coonan Arms Cadet compact .357 Magnum pistol is included on pages 14-15.
The Cadet is Coonan Arm's response to those who have called for a compact version of the company's Model B pistol. The Cadet is about 1 inch shorter and 7 ounces lighter than a standard Model B, and has a 1-1/4-inch shorter barrel.
Like the original, the Cadet is a single-action .357 Magnum pistol made of stainless steel. Its 3-3/4-inch barrel has a fixed locking lug. There is no barrel bushing. Walnut grip panels and fixed sights are standard equipment. This $850 compact comes with one 6-round magazine.
The Coonan Cadet we acquired for testing looked like a beefy Officer-size 1911 pi...
The annals of gunmaking are filled with stories of hot, new cartridges whipped up by wildcatters, or in some cases mainline manufacturers, that have gone on to long histories of obscurity or indifference among shooters. The .41 Magnum comes to mind as a prime example of a round that when introduced had all the credentials of a world beater: speed, power, and accuracy. But, today, finding a .41 Mag. on the range is like encountering an old friend you've not spoken with in ages. You wonder what he's been up to.
With this backdrop, we wonder what the .357 Sig's "future history" will be. This chambering, sired from a cooperative effort between Sig Sauer and the Federal Cartridge Company, is b...
[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...
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...