Three Lever-Action 45-70s: Winchester, Henry and Marlin

Up for testing this month are three 45-70 lever-action rifles. Two, by Marlin and Henry, are made in the U.S. and are fairly handy carbine-length firearms. The third is a huge, heavy, octagonal-barrel copy of the original 1886 Winchester, bearing Winchester's name but made by Miroku in Japan. The Henry and Marlin have dull finishes. The Marlin is matte stainless steel and the Henry, blued steel. The Winchester has a glossy blued finish that we thought was superb. The two carbines have appropriately padded buttstocks, but the classy-looking Winchester has a hook-shaped buttplate of steel, entirely appropriate for the era and for the weight of the gun. There were some design differences we thought were mighty interesting, including an unusual safety system on the Henry, and three different types of iron sights. We tested them using their iron sights with Remington 405-grain soft points and with Winchester 300-grain jacketed hollowpoint ammo. Here is what we found.

Remington’s New R51 9mm Pistol Is Recalled

Just before WWI, John Pedersen of Remington UMC designed a pistol of 45 ACP caliber that featured an outside hammer and a delayed recoil system that drastically reduced the felt recoil. A Navy Board recommended adopting it, but the arms factories were already geared up to make the Model 1911, so this Remington 45-caliber pistol never went into production. During the war the Pedersen Device was produced. It made the bolt-action Springfield rifle into a semi-automatic one, firing a low-powered 30-caliber round. The device did not have a locked breech, but the pistol did. Pedersens mechanism locked the round in the chamber as the chamber and slide moved rearward. When the bullet left the barrel and pressure dropped, the fired case was pulled out of the chamber, ejected, and another round put in. The system worked extremely well, and Mr. Pedersen used the same design for the Remington 51 pistol after the war. After WWI Remington entered the automatic pistol market with the innovative new Model 51 pistol in 380 ACP and 32 ACP. From 1918 to 1927 (some sources say into the 1940s) Remington manufactured the Model 51 semi-automatic pistol. Remingtons new pistol apparently didnt catch on that well, though the pistols were well thought of by those who used them. Today, Remington has essentially revised the old Pedersen pistol design in the new R51. We were able to acquire both a sample of the new R51 and one of the original Model 51s in 380. We took a good look at the two pistols, shot them, and liked a lot about the R51. However, the company has recalled all of the R51 pistols, so we assessed it a failing grade pending a warranty fix of its problems.

Mossbergs New 20-Gauge Defensive Guns

Want to start a good debate among your fellow shooters? Just toss out the question: What is the best type of firearm for home defense? Youll likely get as many answers firing back at you as different people in the room, and for the most part, most of the opinions will be (at least particularly) valid.

Certainly, those among the concealed-carry contingent will advocate the same sidearm they tote in public and practice with at the range, citing the familiarity developed with the handgun of their preference --- revolver vs. semi-auto, 1911 vs. Glock, 9mm vs. 380 vs. 45 vs. you name it is a whole other argument -- and this group of avid shooters makes a great point. Modern rifle fans will definitely dig the versatility and the visual intimidation factor of an AR. Compact when outfitted with a collapsible stock or in a carbine configuration and rigged with a tactical white light or laser sights and able to feed ample rounds in an extreme defensive situation (of course, isnt any defensive situation extreme?), its hard to argue against their choice. And of course, citing the minimized likelihood of pass-through shots in the walls and shot patters that reduce the absolute necessity for the precise aim of a single projectile, scattergun fans will espouse the benefits of the shotgun as the ultimate defensive gun. To a point theyre absolute correct as well.

From that latter option, I imagine there have been more than a few non-gun owning couples that have strolled into a gun shop in search of a firearm they can use for self-defense, particularly to put the womans mind at ease when the husband may be away, only to roll home with a hard-kicking 12-gauge that after the first shooting session, will leave the woman thinking, No Way! A local gunsmith friend of mine encountered just such an elderly couple who were looking to unload their recently purchased 12-gauge for that very reason.

My buddy suggested instead of giving up their hopes for defensive peace of mind, that they try a lighter 20-gauge. The kick is minimal, the guns are typically lighter and easier for smaller stature shooters to handle, yet available loads still deliver plenty of close-range knockdown mixed with mid-range aim forgiveness. Lets be honest. Most people who are not avid shooters, but still want a gun for home defense, are not going to practice as often as they should - if more than once or twice - and are going to require a gun that is easy to operate in an unnerving situation and offer a little insurance against an unsteady aim. In fact, it might help if the gun is visually intimidating and maybe even generates a universally understood, blood-chilling sound as it is taken to battery. That alone can sometimes mitigate a situation before a shot ever even has to be fired. Enter the 20-gauge tactical pump shotgun - two new models of which hit store shelves in 2013 courtesy of North Haven CT, gunmaker Mossberg.

The 68th edition of Gun Digest not only carries detailed round-ups of all of todays firearms, ammo and optics but dozens of articles and features on all types of shooting and firearms including the defensive guns like the Mossberg 20-gauge. To read more about this gun and others like this, purchase "Gun Digest 2014, 68th Edition" from Gun Tests.

Two Shiny Six-Shooters: Ruger New Vaquero, Traditions Frontier

Single-action-revolver purists cringe at the thought of a transfer bar in a six-shooter. The fact is, classic single actions are usually five-shooters rather than six-shooters. Reason: For safety, the loading regime for a classic single action is to load a chamber, skip a chamber, and load the rest, which allows the hammer to rest on the empty chamber. Some single actions have built-in transfer bars that are raised into firing position as the trigger is pulled to the rear. When the hammer falls in this design, it hits the transfer bar, which in turn transmits energy to the firing pin. Thus, these transfer-bar revolvers can be carried fully loaded without the risk of an discharge if the revolvers are accidentally dropped on their hammers. The ability to load six rounds appeals to plinkers, hunters, and home defenders, but to a Cowboy Action Shooting competitor, the advantage is moot — only five rounds are ever loaded at a time during CAS competition.

Accordingly, we evaluated two transfer-bar designs in 38 Special/357 Magnum chamberings more broadly than as pure competition guns. They were a Traditions Frontier Series 1873 Single Action Model No. SAT73-126, $609; and a Ruger New Vaquero No. 5108, $739. Here's what our mild bunch encountered with these transfer-bar single-action revolvers.

Tuning Your Glock: How to Turn A Good Gun into a Great One

Glock is renowned for building an always reliable pistol that has become the choice of many law-enforcement agencies and militaries across the world, and has already received a couple of top grades in Gun Tests. So, if Glock already makes a good pistol, why would we want to change it? First, we wanted to see if a Glock could be made even better with a few quick changes; second, to evaluate the aftermarket upgrades themselves and the bang for the buck they provide; and third, to see if personalizing a pistol is more an exercise in vanity than a measurable uptick in performance.

We took a look at a few of the upgrade and part options for Glocks, ranging from sights to triggers to a 22 LR conversion kit. The lucky Glocks to get the first-class treatment were one Gen 4 Model 17 and two Model 22s, one a Gen 4 and one a Gen 3 former police issue. We tested all of the parts individually to evaluate what difference they would make, considering ease of installation, performance difference, and price as the main grading points. All the parts were supplied by Brownells, and the stock numbers and pricing reflect recent citations rounded to the nearest dollar, but they could still vary.

Glock Mods: An M1911 Man Branches Out

Ive worked with the 1911 for many years, and sometimes that experience has been helpful with other pistols, such as the Browning Hi-Power, for example. Sometimes the differences between pistols are hard to spot, and other times we find similarities between handguns that at first seem very different. Another example: If you can work on the Savage 1910, you can work on the Astra 400, and you wont be confused by the H&K P7M8. But the Glock? Ah, the Glock is an altogether different creature. Sometimes my 1911-based reasoning produces positive results with the Glock, and other times it does not. With the Glock so popular with law-enforcement and now proving itself in competition-winning the first top-class award at IPSC-were going to see more and more Glocks turned in for improvement. And at the very least, we should be familiar with the similarities and the differences between the Glock and old Slabsides.

MG Industries Now Shipping a 9mm MARCK 15

MG Industries, manufacturers of the MARCK 15 AR 'Hydra' platform, announces that the complete weapon system configuration in 9mm SMG Hydra is now shipping. The suggested retail for the MGI 9mm SMG Hydra Modular Rifle is $1,299.

All-Purpose 357 Mag Stainless Revolvers: Taurus Versus Ruger

We wanted to take a look at 357 Magnum double-action revolvers with 4-inch barrels and adjustable sights because these handguns are so versatile. They can be juiced up with hot 357 Magnum ammo to hunt black bear from a tree stand or kept in the night stand drawer for home defense. They also allow for plenty of training with less powerful 38 Special ammunition, or they can be used competitively in an IDPA match.

Black 308 Semi-Auto Face Off: Rock River Arms Vs. Sig Sauer

Our Idaho test team is not that fond of the AR-15 rifle and its tiny cartridge, but our shooters really do like the 308 Win. versions of the "black rifle." Thus it was with joy that we unpacked four rifles in that caliber and selected two for this head-to-head test, the Rock River Arms LAR-8 Mid-Length A4 with accessories, which brought its price to about $1335 without sights, and a Sig Sauer Model 716 Patrol ODG, (the latter three letters indicating olive-drab telescoping butt, pistol grip and rail covers), list price of $2186. Here's what we found.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines: PX4 Storm Versus Kel-Tec Sub-2000

Two popular handy rifles shoot it out for a place in the home or the truck — the Kel-Tec is neat and compact, but the Beretta wins out on superior features and better accuracy.

More Dangerous-Animal Ammo: 45 Colt and 45 ACP Loadings

Grizzly Bear Shot and Killed By Hikers In Denali National Park and Preserve(May 31, 2010) — A grizzly bear that emerged from a thicket and charged two backpackers in the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve was shot and killed by one of the two who was carrying a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, according to park officials. [IMGCAP(1)] …

Pistol Lasers: Guide-Rod, Rail Models Tested Head to Head

Stance, grip, trigger control, and sight alignment are widely recognized as fundamentals necessary for accurate shooting. But what about when firing from a cramped position, where the shooter is not able to extend his arms and put the sights between the shooter’s eye and the target? One answer is to rely on a laser unit to project the desired point of impact. Other advantages to laser aiming would be maintaining full vision of the field of threat and not having to rely on one’s near vision to define an adequate sight picture.

News Nuggets

You may not have seen the very odd news that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published an Interim Final Rule...