Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2006

Every December I survey the work Ray Ordorica, Roger Eckstine, Ralph Winingham, Jennifer Pearsall, Ben Brooks, Joe Syczylo, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns the magazine’s staffers have endorsed whole heartedly.

Mid-Grade Sporting Clays Guns: Beretta Versus Blaser/Sigarms

There are plenty of guns in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. When most shooters who have become serious about the sport look to upgrade to something fancier, they usually end up searching in the $10,000-and-up range. Why? Because there just arent a lot of offerings in the midrange price class.However, we found two 12-gauge sporting-clays guns in that midrange price zone-the Blaser F3 Competition Sporting, $5,195; and Berettas 687 EL Gold Pigeon II Sporting No. J687526, $5,495. Though both were worth the bucks, we favor the Blaser, for reasons we detail below.We shot several hundred rounds through the guns on several different sporting clays courses offering a variety of difficulty levels. The subtle differences we found in handling and balance are factors that experienced competitive shooters will appreciate (its hard to imagine a beginner competitor would start with one of these, so this line-up isnt aimed at them), especially those looking to get out of the Browning 525-class of guns without dumping $10K or more into a Kreighoff or Perazzi.For accuracy, we shot the guns standing at 40 yards as measured by a Bushnell rangefinder (as if for patterning) and from the Shooters Ridge Steady Rest on Midway USAs MTM portable shooting bench for point-of-impact tests, using the National Target Companys shotgun patterning target (both proved accurately regulated). Trigger pulls were measured by an RCBS trigger-pull gauge provided by Midway USA. Heres what we found:

Biggest-Bore Shootout: S&Ws

For those people who want the largest pistol on the block — and perhaps in town — the .500 S&W Magnum is your caliber.According to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) regulations, rifle and handgun bores are limited to one-half inch, unless the firearm is registered as a destructive device and a Federal $200 tax is paid and all other requirements are met. Translation: Don't plan on seeing .550 or .600 magnum revolvers in the near future. Some other manufacturer could make a longer cartridge, but the overall length on the .500 S&W magnum is already over 2 inches long, and it accommodates bullet weights from light 275-grain hollow points to heavy 400-grain platinum-coated bullets. Such bullets require big launching pads, and we recently acquired two guns that fit the bill, in shorter barrel lengths suitable to uses other than hunting. We acquired Taurus and Smith & Wesson 4-inch-barrel double action revolvers, namely the Taurus Raging Bull .500 Magnum No. 500MSS4, $934; and the Smith & Wesson .500 S&W Magnum No. 163504, $1256. These revolvers generated a lot of interest among shooters. The two most common questions we heard at the range were "Can I have a shot?" and "What do you use that revolver for?" We were more than happy to let a variety of shooters, ranging from teenagers to senior citizens, try out these guns, and we noted their impressions. However, we couldn't talk any women into shooting these monsters. Also, very few shooters wanted to take a second shot.

Our favorite answer to the second question was to say we'd use the guns for "concealed-carry self-defense," then we would all laugh. Of course we don't recommend these guns for concealed carry because of their large size and deep penetrating power. As witness to their punch, we handloaded the lightest bullet (Barnes X 275-grain XPB) with the lightest powder charge recommended (11.0 grains of Hodgdon Titegroup) and fired it into 1-gallon containers of water. Our load produced a velocity of 1,000 fps (400 fps less than Cor-Bon) and a muzzle energy of 600 foot-pounds (half the power of Cor-Bon's 1200 foot-pounds). This was the most comfortable and easily controlled load of all the ones we tested. The most recoil-sensitive shooters had no problem shooting this load.

All that in consideration, we recovered the bullet from inside the sixth jug, which equates to 33 inches of penetration, far exceeding our recommendation of 12 inches. The recovered bullet did not expand or lose any weight. Some people feel that this gun would be suited for bear defense, and based on what we experienced, that seems about right.

If you think the .500 S&W Magnum is simply a larger version of the .44 Magnum round you would be mistaken. The cartridge overall length (COL) of the .44 Magnum is 1.6 inches, whereas the COL of the .500 S&W Magnum is 2.085 inches. The muzzle energy is substantially different. Winchester's most potent load for the .44 Magnum is a 250-grain platinum-tip hollowpoint (#816160, $20.49 for 20 rounds) which has a listed velocity of 1250 fps and muzzle energy of 867 foot-pounds. Winchester's .500 S&W Magnum 400-grain platinum-tip hollow point (#361538, $40.49 for 20 rounds) has a listed velocity of 1800 fps and muzzle energy of 2877 foot-pounds — more than three times the energy of the .44 Magnum! The listed velocities were based on revolvers with 8-inch barrels. Our recorded velocities were approximately 300 to 400 fps less with 4-inch barrels.

Here's what we learned:

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2005

Which firearms offer the best combination of performance, price, and value? We look back at the previous 11 months of Gun Tests and tell you what we would buy for ourselves.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2004

Which firearms offer the best combination of performance, price, and value? We look back at the previous 11 months of Gun Tests and tell you what we would buy for ourselves.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2003

Which firearms offer the best combination of performance, price, and value? We look back at the previous 11 months of gun tests and tell you what we would buy.

Sorting Out Seven-Oh-Eights; We Test a Quartet of Bolt Rifles

The 7mm-08 Remington first saw the light of day in 1980. Touted to be the first "modern" 7mm cartridge designed for short actions, it was not. The more powerful .284 Winchester, chambered in the same "short" actions, beat it by 17 years. The 7mm-08 was a popular wildcat long before Remington made it official. The 7mm-08 wildcat would have been born the first afternoon of the first day that .308 cases were available to experimenters.

The 7mm-08 is 0.2-inch shorter than the ancient 7x57, which has always been one of the world's most useful cartridges. Despite its shorter length, the 7mm-08 essentially matches the ballistics of the 7x57 with 140-grain bullets, but only in factory loads. Handloaded, the 7x57, also known as the .275 Rigby, vastly beats it for pure horsepower. But that does not mean the 7mm-08 is useless. Far from it, as it has become quite popular in its 23 years of official life. Today we can find rifles made for it by at least nine manufacturers.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2002

Which pistols, rifles, revolvers, and shotguns offer the best combination of price, value, and performance? We look back at the past 11 months of test guns and tell you what we’d buy.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2001

Which pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns are worth your money? We sift through the year's best, and worst, products and pull together a Christmas shopping list we would like to see.

Gun Tests Guns Of The Year 2000

Here's our annual recap of top-ranked pistols, revolvers, rifles, and shotguns we've tested in the past year - many of which we've bought for ourselves.

Packin’-Size .45 ACPs: Robar, Wilson Combat, Kimber Face Off

The tuned Officer's ACP, CQB Compact, and Pro CDP portable powerhouses are all great carry-gun picks, but each has its strengths and weaknesses to consider.

Buying SKS Rifles: The Gun Tests Smart Shopper Checklist

Looking to buy a bargain-priced surplus rifle from China, Russia, or Romania? Here's what you need to know to find that gem.

‘Background Check’ Rule Is Coming For You

On April 11, 2024, the Biden Administration’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives issued a new rule to expand background-check requirements for private...