H&K USP45 Compact Beat Glock, EAA Polymer .45 ACP Compacts

Whether you love them or hate them, you've got to admit that pistols with polymer frames are becoming very popular. There are a number of good reasons for this trend. A polymer frame is lighter and more corrosion-resistant than a steel frame. Furthermore, it doesn't conduct hot and cold as well as metal. Have you ever picked up a gun that has been exposed to extremely hot or cold weather for a couple of hours? Ouch!

A polymer frame on a compact pistol makes a lot of sense. Carrying a lighter handgun is certainly easier than dragging around a heavier one. During the heat of the summer, sweat won't cause the polymer parts of your carry gun to start rusting. Also, a polymer-framed pistol's i...

Springfield Trophy Match A Better Buy Than Kimber, Colt .45s

An out-of-the-box 1911 pistol that shoots 3-1/2- to 4-inch groups at 25 yards might be suitable for personal protection. However, such a pistol isn't even close to adequate for formal target shooting, such as a bullseye match. To be competitive, you need a pistol that is at least capable of 2-inch groups at 25 yards. A handgun that will produce 1-inch or smaller groups at that distance would be ideal.

Several custom pistolsmiths make very nice, extremely accurate target pistols, but these guns are priced in the $2,000 to $4,000 range. What do you do if your checkbook can't take that big of a hit? The answer is simple. Buy a factory-made match pistol that will only cost you an arm, instea...

.45 ACPs: Springfield, Kimber Beat Colt; Glock 21 Surprises

Recently, a friend of Gun Tests named Bruce decided to buy himself a .45 auto. Although he had been a revolver shooter for several decades, Bruce recently received some intense instruction in the un-gentle art of rapid-fire shooting and handling of a 1911 .45 auto. His eyes were opened to the many possibilities of the caliber, so he went shopping and examined eight different .45s. Now, picking a .45 for some of us is a simple task because we impose a few personal requirements on the gun that greatly limit our choices.

However, there are many different kinds of full-size .45 autos available, and our friend didn't have our strict prejudices, so he had a harder time choosing. He considered...

Carry .45 Autos: Kimber Compact Custom Is Our Hands-On Pick!

Not many would doubt that the Colt 1911-A1 (or any good clone thereof) has been the premier self-defense handgun of the 20th century, nor is there much doubt of its continuing viability into the 21st. Only problem with the old warhorse, as many concealed carriers can tell you, is that it's heavy. It pulls your pants down on the side where it's carried, and makes your belt too tight. A woman who puts it in a purse has a lot of unwelcome weight on her shoulder. Further, the .45 1911 is not exactly tiny. Because of its weight and bulk, the grand old dame of self-defense pistols often gets left at home.

Many shooters who own the 1911 also own smaller and lighter guns for concealed carry. However, the ban on magazine capacity over ten rounds led manufacturers to replace great numbers of relatively small rounds (9mm) with fewer rounds of great power (.45 ACP). The result is that concealed carriers, or any shooters who want small guns with lots of power, have a new generation of .45 autos to choose from that are lighter and smaller than the old full-size 1911.

Jumbo Shrimp .45s: Factory, Factory Custom, or Custom?

When it comes to the argument over which is the best defensive handgun caliber, shooters bent on the survival of the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) will defend their favorite round's honor to the death. Even after the U.S. military switched to 9mm and word comes of electronically ignited firearms, it is likely that the .45 ACP will live on into the next millennium. In the next century, your grandchildren will likely read in their daily electronic newspaper about a battalion of lost soldiers found in a cave reloading this venerable round for their aging 1991A1s. Such is the strength of allegiance this caliber attracts.

Compact Defense Guns in .45 ACP: Smith, Sig and Beretta

[IMGCAP(1)] Reliability, accuracy, a fight-stopping caliber and adequate capacity. Add concealability and the facility for rapid, safe deployment. These are the keynotes of defensive pistol design, as exemplified by three products we tested recently: the Smith & Wesson 4553TSW, Sig Sauer's P245, and Beretta's Cougar 8045F. All three seek to address not only the prime directive of self defense but liability issues as well. All the guns offer a long double-action pull on the first shot. While the Smith & Wesson stays in the double-action mode throughout, the other two transfer the trigger to a short single-action movement for subsequent shots. How is this safer?

The logic comes from the fear of an accidental discharge while holding a weapon on a suspect. Police departments were looking for a way to reduce liability, and the manufacturers responded with a design that they felt would make the trigger less sensitive.

Does it really work? Is it an advantage for the average consumer? How do two separate actions in the same weapon hinder accuracy? How much extra training will it take to master these weapons? Is it possible to use alternative methods to shortcut deployment?

With more than one action on our test guns it would seem we had than twice the usual questions.

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...

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...

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...

Clones Take On Colts Stainless 1911: Subtle, But Significant Improvement

[IMGCAP(1)] For many of us, the first contact we had with firearms was the 1911 .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP) that our fathers brought home from World War II and Korea. Since then, this pistol has been both celebrated and maligned, depending on the shooter's viewpoint. For one, the quality of its function is directly linked to the quality of its components and the careful assembly thereof. The 1911 pistol is capable of both reliability and superb accuracy because it has relatively few moving parts. Why then did it lose out on the U.S. military contract and for a time all but disappear from holsters of self defense-minded civilians? Politics, both domestic and international, played a part,...

Non-1911 .45 ACPs: Heresy, Or Are They Here To Stay?

There's more than one way to skin the cat when it comes to launching the big .45 ACP round. We evaluate guns from CZ, Ruger, Charles Daly, Glock and S&W.

Gun News, Good and Bad

Over the past three years, historic numbers of Americans legally purchased a firearm. According to Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of...