Pistols9

9mm Semi Shootout: DA or SA? We Like Stoegers Cougar 8000

We just learned that Charles Daly has discontinued its HP model ($550 MSRP), a close copy of the Browning Hi-Power. Used Browning Hi-Powers go for $750 or so. New, theyre $922 on up. The Daly HP commonly sells in the neighborhood of $350 on the street. So if you could get a decent version of the Hi-Power 9mm single action for that amount, it might well be all the Hi-Power you need. Weve had a Charles Daly HP (Daly never calls it a Hi-Power on the guns markings or in the manual) on hand, waiting for a suitable test matchup. Because of its recent discontinuation, we thought you might like to know what its all about while the Daly HP is still somewhat available, so we quickly came up with another high-capacity 9mm to test against it.The second test gun used to be made by Beretta as a smaller and lighter version of the 92, yet still is pretty much a full size DA/SA auto. It is now being made in Turkey, using Berettas machinery, and is sold under the Stoeger name (a Beretta subsidiary) as the Cougar Model 8000. As a Turkish gun, its price has come down drastically from around $650 to an MSRP of $449. Street price as we found it is $390. We didnt much like running a DA against an SA, because we thought theyd never compete. We were surprised at the results.We tested both guns with Fiocchi 115-grain JHP, with American Eagle 115-grain ball, with Black Hills 147-grain ball, and with 115-grain JHP by Ultramax. Loading the magazines for both guns was not easy. In fact we found it to be very painful on the fingers, from sharp edges and high forces needed against powerful springs, on both guns. We suspect many women will not like these two guns because of the extreme forces necessary to load their magazines by hand. A suitable loading aid would help immensely. Each magazine would fit the well of the other gun, but neither would latch properly.Heres what else we found.

Full-Time-Double-Action 9mms: We Like SIG Sauer, H&K, Glock

In this test we shot three double-action-only pistols designed for duty or personal self defense. Medium to large in size, they carry few levers, and this snag-free characteristic also makes them attractive for concealed carry. Two of the three guns, the $879 Heckler & Koch P2000 LEM V2 and Sig Sauer's $749 P250 Two-Tone, utilize a hammer and firing pin for ignition. The $599 Glock G17, arguably the gun that started the polymer DAO revolution, relies on the preparation and release of a striker to impact the primer. Despite any similarities between the guns, this test challenged us to master vastly different trigger techniques.

We began our tests from the 25-yard line supported by bench and sandbag. What better way to learn a trigger than limiting variables to grip, sight alignment, and a controlled press? We then added a second test. This would require landing rapid-fire hits on an 8.5-by-16-inch target from a distance of 5 yards, two shots at a time. Our shooter began each string of fire standing unsupported with a two-handed grip and sights on target but with finger off the trigger. We pasted a black 1-inch-wide dot in the center to provide a point of aim. Upon audible start signal from our CED electronic timer, we engaged the target as quickly as possible. Given that each stroke of the trigger both prepared and released the striking mechanism, we wanted to know how quickly and accurately we could land two hits on target one after another. We fired ten pairs and looked for a total of 20 hits on target. This test was performed twice. The second time we concentrated on applying what we learned from the first run. The rapid-fire test was performed firing one of our favorite practice rounds, Black Hills' 115-grain FMJ ammunition sold in blue 50-round boxes. From the benches we tried Winchester's new 105-grain jacketed softpoint Super Clean NT (nontoxic) ammunition; 124-grain full-metal-jacket rounds by Winchester USA, and 147-grain Subsonic jacketed hollow point Match rounds by Atlanta Arms and Ammo. Here is what we learned.

Full-Time-Double-Action 9mms: We Like SIG Sauer, H&K, Glock

In this test we shot three double-action-only pistols designed for duty or personal self defense. Medium to large in size, they carry few levers, and this snag-free characteristic also makes them attractive for concealed carry. Two of the three guns, the $879 Heckler & Koch P2000 LEM V2 and Sig Sauer's $749 P250 Two-Tone, utilize a hammer and firing pin for ignition. The $599 Glock G17, arguably the gun that started the polymer DAO revolution, relies on the preparation and release of a striker to impact the primer. Despite any similarities between the guns, this test challenged us to master vastly different trigger techniques.

We began our tests from the 25-yard line supported by bench and sandbag. What better way to learn a trigger than limiting variables to grip, sight alignment, and a controlled press? We then added a second test. This would require landing rapid-fire hits on an 8.5-by-16-inch target from a distance of 5 yards, two shots at a time. Our shooter began each string of fire standing unsupported with a two-handed grip and sights on target but with finger off the trigger. We pasted a black 1-inch-wide dot in the center to provide a point of aim. Upon audible start signal from our CED electronic timer, we engaged the target as quickly as possible. Given that each stroke of the trigger both prepared and released the striking mechanism, we wanted to know how quickly and accurately we could land two hits on target one after another. We fired ten pairs and looked for a total of 20 hits on target. This test was performed twice. The second time we concentrated on applying what we learned from the first run. The rapid-fire test was performed firing one of our favorite practice rounds, Black Hills' 115-grain FMJ ammunition sold in blue 50-round boxes. From the benches we tried Winchester's new 105-grain jacketed softpoint Super Clean NT (nontoxic) ammunition; 124-grain full-metal-jacket rounds by Winchester USA, and 147-grain Subsonic jacketed hollow point Match rounds by Atlanta Arms and Ammo. Here is what we learned.

9mm Polymer Pistols: Rugers SR9 Is Good, But Not Great

In this test our evaluation will include a new pistol that snuck up on everyone. On Tuesday, October 16, 2007, Ruger announced its SR9 9mm pistol, with an MSRP of $525. By Thursday, pistols began to arrive at retailers. By Friday, we had one to test.The keynote of this design was its grip similarity to the 1911, including ambidextrous thumb safeties and a choice of backstrap (flat, or palm swell design). Would sharing ergonomics and active safety features with the Browning design convince more traditional shooters to switch to a striker-fired double action pistol?Our second pistol was also a recent entry. The $939 Heckler & Koch P30 is a new vision of the P-series pistol that features the most adjustable ergonomics yet. Distribution has been limited but we found one at Fountain Firearms in Houston (fountainfirearms.com).Our third 9mm pistol was the $543 Springfield Armory XD9 Service Four-Inch. Lacking from a list of the XD9s features found on the company website (springfield-armory.com/xdfeatures.php) was an adjustable grip. Nevertheless, XD9 has been recognized as offering superior ergonomics, and like the SR9, the XD also shares some of the safety features found on the 1911.

9mm Self-Defense Autoloaders: CZs Rami 2075 P Is a Bargain

Shooters like 9mm pistols for many reasons, chief among them being their reputation for manageable recoil with at least minimum acceptable stopping power for a self-defense cartridge. Also, 9mm guns can be made small and flat, which makes them suitable for comfortable concealed carry.

We recently bought a trio of such guns at Fountain Firearms in Houston (www.fountainfirearms.com, 281-561-8447). They were of relatively similar size, but different in almost every other way—and these differences made an impression on our testers that affected how we graded the pistols.

Vintage 9mms: Walther’s P5 Outclasses SigArms and Astra

Buying a used gun presents a lot of trade-offs: The shooter probably saves money, but in the process, he might buy a gun thats worn out, rather than worn in. We recently tested three guns we bought used to see how they stacked up against todays pistols, and if buying one for target or self defense was a wise choice. Simply put, were they shooters or were they collectibles?

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.

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