Packable 9mm Pistols: Walther, Smith & Wesson, MRI Compete

When we compared three recipes for compact pistols, including "traditional" double-action and a 3.5-inch barrel, MRI's Baby Eagle Compact earned a Best Buy ranking.

Good Buy or Gyp? We Check Out The Beretta Combo Kit Pistol

Beretta is selling a 92/96 Combo Kit Pistol, a $908 parts package that allows the shooter to get a double-action semiautomatic ten-shot pistol in both 9mm and .40 S&W calibers. For an extra $279 above the base price ($629) for either a Model 92 9mm or Model 96 .40 S&W, the Combo Kit owner gets one barrel, slide, and magazine in each caliber, and one specially made and marked aluminum-alloy receiver designed to accept them both. But is this a deal, or simply a way to thin out your wallet? We ran a test recently to find out.

What It Is
The Beretta 92/96 Combo Kit Pistol is built on a frame that differs from both the 9mm Model 92 and the .40 S&W Model 96. Thus, to answer the most...

Investing In A Shooting School: Thunder Ranch Versus LFI

Most of us got tired of going to school years ago, and the idea of voluntarily hitting the books again—and, in fact, paying handsomely for the privilege—is enough to make us laugh out loud. But what if the school in question was offering shooting instruction, gun-selection tips, and life-saving tactical advice? Would that entice you back into the classroom? We thought so.

We attended two well-known shooting schools to compare and contrast the quality of instruction, advice, and fun, they offered: Thunder Ranch, in Mountain Home, Texas, and Massad Ayoob's Lethal Force Institute. Though both services offer the shooter a lot of bang for his buck, Ayoob's LFI course taught us many sobering, e...

Firing Line 05/99

Slow Burning Powder Test
I have just finished reading the slow burning rifle powder test (January 1999) more than once, and I cannot find any reference to the specific cartridge being tested. I would conclude from the loading data and projectiles that the cartridge is 7mm Rem. Mag. Is this correct?

James B. Lewis

Since we were dealing with powders and how they respond—in what might be unsafe loads if duplicated—we deliberately left out any reference to the cartridge and bullet used to prevent the data from being used as actual loads. If you don’t have a pressure transducer, we suggest you start with a good handloading manual and work up from t...

Polymer-Bodied 9mms: Ruger Scores Surprise Victory

[IMGCAP(1)] When it comes to caliber and handgun design, handgun owners and manufacturers alike have taken cues from law enforcement agencies across the country. When police departments changed from the 4-inch .357 magnum to 9mm Parabellum, the market was soon flooded with semi-autos chambered for this round. The logic for the change was largely based on higher capacity, as many as 15 rounds in the mag plus one in the chamber. Once the legal limit for civilian-owned magazines was set at a maximum of 10 rounds, a new trend toward larger calibers began. We're not sure who moved first, but many police departments geared up to more powerful .40-caliber semi-autos, giving up capacity for power....

9mm Carry Semiautos: The Bad, The Good, and the Not-So-Ugly

[IMGCAP(1)] The 9mm cartridge offers great freedom of choice to the prospective gun buyer. It is available worldwide, is inexpensive to buy, comes in a variety of weights and design, and works reliably in many different-sized frames and actions. To get a broad sampling of smaller 9mm guns offered for self-defense applications, we went shopping and found six big chunks of steel and plastic at a variety of price points. As always, we were hoping to find a great gun for a low price, and toward that end, we examined the Miltex-imported Makarov 9X18, $225, and another product from Miltex, a Browning High Power copy named the Arcus 94. We recently saw as many as two dozen of these guns at a local...

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...

9mm Showdown: Can The Bull Outflank Pietro?

[IMGCAP(1)] Old sayings like "The original and still the best," or "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," can lead to self-admiration to the point of destruction. Witness what happened to Colt's Manufacturing, as clones stole the 1911 market out from under them. Could the same thing happen to other manufacturers as well?

For years Taurus International has been offering a Beretta knock-off that emulates the Italian firm's Model 92, a civilian gun cast from the same lineage as the U.S. M9 military 9mm sidearm. Beretta, of Brescia, Italy, began offering the series 92 in 1975, and in 1981 Taurus began producing its version of this pistol, the PT99, at the plant the company bought from...

Compact Alloy 9mm Sidearms: Too Heavy, Too Big, Too Slow?

[IMGCAP(1)] When we think of a compact pistol with an alloy frame, we tend to think of a gun that is light in weight and small enough to conceal without excessive compromise in grip area. However, some pistols that are advertised and categorized as compact are not necessarily diminutive nor are they especially easy to conceal. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines compact in terms of "automobiles smaller than intermediate but larger than sub-compact." In the world of handguns, the compact benchmark seems to be built around the 3.5- to 3.8-inch barrel.

Likewise, this same dictionary defines alloy ten different ways and never once refers to weight, but uses variations on the word mix...

Gun-Rights Rino Rollover Candidates

Last issue, I asked for your thoughts about what gun legislation might be forthcoming from the Biden Administration, and some of your comments appear...