9mm Sub-Compacts: Sigarms P239 DAK Earns A-Minus Grade

The 9mm pistolwas the breakthrough sidearm that ushered in todays massive popularity of the self-loading pistols. One of the ways in which the semi-auto has evolved is in its variation in size, making it possible to wear a full-size gun and/or conceal a smaller complement of the same make and model.In this test we will look at three 9mm pistols that are smaller and more concealable versions of full-size duty weapons. The Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm No. 209001, $624, fires from a 4.25-inch barrel and measures approximately 7.5 inches long by 5.5 inches in height. Our test gun here is the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Compact No. 209004, which has a shorter grip, 3.5-inch barrel, and sells for $624. Glocks standard bearer, the full-size Model 17, comes with a 4.5-inch barrel; our test gun here is the $599 Model 26, whose tube measured 3.4 inches in length. The Sigarms full-size duty pistol is the model P226. The $739 Sigarms P239 DAK tested here is the smallest in the line. It came with the Double Action Kellerman or, DAK trigger. The P239 is fed from a single-column magazine, unlike its bigger brothers that pile rounds into the magazine staggered side by side.Before shooting we removed the top ends of each gun, separating the recoil springs and barrels. We lubricated the slide and frame rails along with other obvious weight bearing points such as lockup marks along the barrel with KG-4 Gun Oil (kgcoatings.com). Our testers have noticed a level of improved accuracy in their weapons using KG-4 to coat the inside of their barrels, so we followed suit and swabbed the bores of each gun with KG. We also applied KG-5 Trigger Oil to the action. The difference in trigger pull weight was too small to measure in the Smith & Wesson and Glock pistols, but it did help lighten the action of the Sigarms DAK mechanism by as much as 1 to 2 pounds. Testing was performed indoors on the combat range at Top Gun of Texas (topgunrange.com) in Houston.As soon as we began firing, we noticed that each gun demanded a different technique for accurate shooting. Unlike the single-action 1911 or typical double-action revolver, learning to shoot a double-action semi-auto can challenge the shooter to master a different technique from gun to gun. So our first step was to practice with each gun and master the trigger. While the public rattled away on Bays 1 and 2 with handguns and rented machine guns, we calmly fired five-shot groups from a bench at targets placed 15 yards downrange. We followed this with an action test performed standing at a distance of 7 yards with the pistol beginning at low ready. With the office of Hoffners Training and Holsters (hoffners.com) just next door to Top Gun, were sure the HoffnerABC16 target felt right at home being assaulted with ten separate strings of two shots to the body and one to the head. The ABC16 target featured a humanoid silhouette marked with an A at the chest, a B over the cranial pocket, and a C over the groin area plus six 3-inch circles.Our test ammunition included two hollowpoint rounds and a full-metal-jacket target round. They were the Winchester USA 115-grain JHP rounds, Federals 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHPs, and 115-grain FMJ rounds from Black Hills Ammunition. We wanted to know if each gun would run reliably and if accuracy achieved from the bench would translate to accuracy in our stand and shoot action test. Here is what we found.

Pocket 9mm Concealables: Springfield, Kimber Get the Nod

In this test we will evaluate four small pistols chambered for shooter-friendly 9mm ammunition. All four of the pistols offer single-action fire and a thumb-operated safety to simplify operation.Matching short slides to the proper-strength recoil spring can be challenging. All four of our test guns utilized a two-spring plunger-style guide-rod system that seems to be the answer to providing the proper balance of compression and rebound. Despite this operational similarity all four pistols offered their own unique features.Three of our test pistols spring from the Browning 1911 design: the $1195 Kimber Aegis II, the $899 Para Ordnance Hawg 9, and the Springfield Armory EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol), $1253. The fourth gun, the CZ USA 2075 Rami, $576, can be carried cocked and locked and cuts about the same profile as the 1911 models, and it may also be fired with a double-action first shot.

High-Capacity 9mm Pistols: We Think CZ’s 75 Is a Best Buy

A member of our staff recently returned from an intensive training session at Bill Davison's 550-acre TacPro Shooting Center located about 65 miles west of Dallas. Davison is a former Royal Marine and British Special Forces instructor widely respected as a spec-ops consultant and provider of VIP protection. Coming as a surprise to students was Davison's preference for high-capacity 9mm pistols over larger-caliber handguns, even the 1911 45. "It should be noted," Davison said, "that the whole gun is in the fight, not just one round, so when we are looking at energy levels, we should look at how much energy is in each pistol.

"For example, if the pistol has eight rounds, then it has eight times the amount of energy of a single round. The same applies to a 17-round pistol having 17 times the amount of energy of a single round. How many rounds you have in your pistol is relevant to how long you can stay in the fight.

"Based on this point of view, we decided to put together a roster of high-capacity 9mm pistols and evaluate their potential for self-defense shooting. They were the Sigarms P226R DAK, the Para Ordnance Tac Five LDA, and the CZ75B SA. The Sigarms P226R DAK offered double-action operation only. The Para Ordnance Tac Five LDA operated with a "light double action" trigger, and the CZ 75B SA was a single-action gun. Each model, however, utilized a hinged trigger.

We shot for accuracy from the 25-yard bench. We chose three test rounds. They were Speer's 124-grain Gold Dot hollowpoints, the Black Hills 115-grain JHP rounds, and 147-grain JHP subsonic ammunition from Atlanta Arms and Ammo. We evaluated the guns' rapid-fire capabilities by engaging an IPSC metric target standing offhand from 7 yards. Our drill consisted of ten separate strings of fire wherein the first two shots were aimed at the 15-cm by 28-cm center-mass A zone. The third shot of each string was aimed at the 15-cm by 15-cm "head" of the target. Naturally, we expected all shots to be on target, but we wanted to know more about shooting each gun at speed. Our goal was to maintain a rate of fire producing an elapsed time between the first and second shot of approximately 0.15 seconds. In each segment of our test, the greatest challenge we encountered was mastering three very different trigger actions. Let's see what each gun had to offer.

Low-Cost 9mms: Hi-Points C9 Vs. Bersas 18-Shot Thunder 9

The 9mm cartridge continues to retain its immense popularity, and those with little experience with firearms take to it quite well. Those with more experience know there are better self-defense rounds, but not many will argue that you can get ammunition for a 9mm at a cost far lower than most, if not all other, centerfire handgun cartridges. The handguns that shoot it are a different story altogether. The more-costly versions can easily run well into four figures, but most decent 9mm autoloaders sell for under a grand. But we know many folks can't justify spending even half that on a decent firearm. So how low can you go?

To find out, we chose two full-size 9mm pistols that might appeal to the buyer looking for a bargain. The first handgun we chose was the Hi-Point C9 with a suggested retail price of $140, but commonly selling for around a C-note or even less. We found one listed at $92. Can you expect such a handgun to work, much less work well? Our second pistol was the High-Capacity Bersa Thunder 9, just recently available. It lists for $442, or less if you shop around. While not inexpensive, the Bersa has several desirable features that many higher-priced handguns don't have, most notably its 17+1-shot capacity.

We tested these guns with Black Hills 147-grain JHP, Winchester 147-grain SXT JHP, and with Winchester 115-grain JHP ball. We shot for slow-fire accuracy at 15 yards from a solid rest, and for simulated self-defense fire with fast, controlled pairs from seven yards, using two hands. We also tried several other types of ammunition including Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP and Ultramax 115-grain lead-bullet loads for function or potential problems, but didn't report them formally. Here's what we found.

Budget Practical Handguns: Springfield and Glock Compete

In the sport of Practical Shooting, the competitor who lands the best hits on target in the least amount of time wins. To this end competitors have found ways to wring out the most performance possible from their equipment, and many of the modifications first seen at practical matches have found their way into the design of modern production pistols. Features such as high-visibility sights, oversized control levers, and lightweight action parts are some of the innovations that were developed by competitors hungry for the winners circle.

Double-Action 9mms: Sigarms, Browning, & Magnum Research

The Sigarms P229R-9 is a tight shooter, and we liked it a lot. Browning's Pro-9 is consistent and light. Magnum Research's Baby Eagle needed work on its sights and trigger.

The Grand Old P38: How Good Is It? What About the P1?

With the zillions of 9mm pistols available today, why would anyone want an old P38? Fact is, they're pretty good guns.

9mm Pistols for Deep Carry: Kahr, S&W, Kel-Tec Shoot It Out

One of the oldest and most concealable ways to carry a handgun is to use a bellyband, a close-fitting elastic band that hugs the body and includes one or more holster pockets. This type of concealment could be called "deep carry," since the pistol is located in a place where it's not expected. But to work as a deep-carry gun in a bellyband, the gun needs to be flat and light weight.

We recently tested three pistols we believe are suitable for this type of concealed carry: the Kahr TP9, $676; Kel-Tec's P11, $368; and the Smith & Wesson 908S, $603. In this specialized test, we compared the guns on reliability and other factors in our normal tests, but we particularly examined their lack of edges, assessed their speed of deployment from deep cover, and looked at their operation when only one hand was available. Here's what we found:

A Pair of Tiny Pocket 9mms: We Pick the PM9 Over the R9s

Kahr's product was by "fahr" a better carry gun than Rohrbaugh's R9s, in our estimation.

Lightweight Carry Options: A 9mm, a .40 S&W, and a .45 GAP

Glock's new $640 Model 37 excels with a brand-new round. Smith & Wesson's titanium $812 4040PD opens new doors, but the $550 FN P9 comes up short.

Compact 9mm Pistols: Sigarms P226 Is Our Pick Over Taurus, FN

Taurus's new Model 24/7, $594, is a pretty good polymer pistol, but the pricey $830 Sigarms P226 shoots better. In comparison, the $450 FN 49 RSS is appealing on price, but it's average fare.

Two Surplus Pistols: Stars 9mm S.A. Model BM Shines Brightly

But we would advise you to leave the Mak P-64 9x18 alone. Though it looked new, we found substantial workmanship and function problems in our sample.

An Attack On The Civilian Ammunition Supply

If you live in one of the below mentioned states, please understand that the legal system in your area is attempting to restrict gun...