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Stevens Model 320 Home Defense No. 19495 Pump-Action 12 Gauge, $270

In the October 2013 issue, Gun Tests magazine tested three new models of self-defense shotguns that carry low to moderate price tags against one of the popular veteran self-defense shotguns, the Benelli Super Nova Tactical No. 29155 pump-action 12 Gauge, $559. The less expensive shotguns were the recently introduced Stevens Model 320 Home Defense No. 19495, $270; the CZ Model 612 Home Defense No. 06520, $290; and the CZ Model 612 HC-P No. 06510, $349.

Bushmaster Cleaning System

he makers of Gunk and Liquid Wrench have taken to repackaging what proved to be one of the finest metal preservatives weve tested here in Idaho. Our tests (September 2012) on a bar of bare steel exposed to salt and rain for weeks showed the product, originally called Smith & Wesson Lubricant and Protectant, to be among the very finest at keeping rust off that steel bar. We had first tested that oil in July 2010, and it had been one of the best two preservatives wed tried, the other being Boeshield. Our steel test bar now has sat outdoors all last fall and winter, and it has yet to show any rust in that spot, though the rest of the bar has rusted badly. The accompanying photo of pistol and bar at right shows it as it is today, the oil having never been reapplied.That preservative oil was at first hard to find, and then became impossible to find. Along the way we published a few sources, but they dried up. Imagine our joy to learn that the oil is now being repackaged as a liquid, not in a spray can, and its readily available. Its called Bushmaster Firearms Master Lubricant & Protectant. The sample we got was actually part of a cleaning process that involves three fluids, called #1 Master Bore Cleaner & Polish, #2 Master Bore Rinse, and #3 Master Lubricant & Protectant oil.

Inexpensive Add-On for AR-15

We recently bought an inexpensive item for an AR that has delivered a lot of bang for the buck: the GG&G 45-Degree Offset Accessory Rail (CTD #2-GGG1526, $30.99)

Commanders vs. a Commodore: Who Outranks Whom in 45 ACP?

There are those who feel that the 1911 handgun is the finest defense pistol available. But this isnt the only reason for the 1911s popularity. The 1911 also caters to those with a sense of history and emotional attachment. This is why the World War I and World War II reproductions and GI guns are so popular. But when it comes to a deadly serious defense gun, only the facts and performance matter. The Commander-size pistol is wisely shorter and lighter than the long and heavy Government Model.The Commander is defined by a 4.25-inch barrel and a barrel bushing that is shorter than the Government Model. The pistol may be steel frame or aluminum frame. The Commander is easier to carry and faster from leather. By the same token, the Commander is easier to shoot well than the 3- or 3.5-inch-barrel 1911 handguns. The Commander features the full-length grip frame rather than the shortened Officers Model grip frame. All told, the Commander gives up little to the Government Model in terms of practical performance. All Commanders are not created equal, however.We realized some months ago that we needed to take a closer look at this 45 ACP pistol category because of the Commanders unique features. We had tested only a few of this type, by name: the Michiguns 45 Commander Custom (May 2009), Colt Lightweight Commander 04860 XSE 45 ACP (October 2003, January 2002), and the Colt M1991A1 Commander (October 1993). So in the November issue, we tested three Commander-size 45s: a Ruger SR1911CMD No. 6702, $829 (Grade B); a SIG Carry Stainless 1911CA-45-SSS, $1142 (Grade A- and a Best Buy); and a Kimber Pro Custom Defense Package (CDP) II, $1331 (Grade A), the only aluminum-frame pistol in that match up. Also, the CDP II had a 4-inch barrel that didnt give up much in velocity and was actually the most accurate pistol tested in November. We also liked the Kimbers ambidextrous safety.This time around, we were looking for a reliable personal defense Commander for less than the Rugers price. The first of our test handguns was a used Colt Commander Series 80 No. 04091U 45 ACP, $974 NIB, and $800 as tested. Gun Tests had not evaluated a stainless-steel-frame Colt Commander prior to this. We also chose a Para USA Expert Commander No. 96748 45 ACP, $799, and a new Shooters Arms Manufacturing (S.A.M.) Commodore 45 ACP, available from Century International Arms as No. HG1009-N. Our S.A.M. cost $429.We tested with three different cartridge brands, two of which had self-defense-style hollowpoints. The first was Speers 230-grain Gold Dot Short Barrel load, which developed 334 foot-pounds, 345 foot-pounds, and 339 foot-pounds of muzzle energy out of the Colt, S.A.M. Commodore, and Expert respectively. Thats slightly better overall than a 230-grain Fiocchi load shot out of 5-inch 1911s in the October 2012 issue, which averaged 828 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Average group sizes were on par with the full-size 1911s in October 2012 as well, coming in at 2.5, 3.3, and 2.25 inches for the Colt, Commodore, and Expert respectively.With Barnes 185-grain TAC +Ps, the Para Expert created the most energy (339 foot-pounds) and the best accuracy (2.3-inch average groups at 25 yards), bettering the Colt (331 foot-pounds, 2.5-inch average groups), and the Commodore (323 foot-pounds, 3.1-inch average groups). The order of results was a little different for the Fiocchi 230-grain FMJs, with the S.A.M. delivering the best energy numbers but the worst accuracy (329 foot-pounds, 3.2-inch average groups), followed by the Para pistol (321 foot-pounds, 2.6-inch average groups) and the Colt (310 foot-pounds, 2.7-inch average groups).Also, our shooters drew all three pistols for a dozen repetitions to check for sharp edges and snags. We used a Jeremiah IWB holster (JeremiahHolsters.com) with alligator trim, a tension screw, and dual belt loops. It proved well made and efficient.Shorter than the Government Model and fast into action, the Commander carries light on the hip but speaks with real authority. Heres what we heard from these Commanders at the range:

2013 Guns & Gear A List

Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Ray Ordorica, Robert Sadowski, John Taylor, Tracey Taylor, Ralph Winingham, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine's testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year's worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I've compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.

Two Big 45 ACP Pistols: Glock 21 Versus Rugers SR45

On our plate this month are two fairly big pistols. They are an old standby, the Glock 21 (about $600), and a newer Ruger SR45 with an MSRP of $529. Both were big, hand-filling handguns, capable of packing a devastating punch with anything from classic 230-grain hardball to the lightest-weight, super-expanding bullets. The Glock magazine held 13 rounds and the Ruger held 10. These larger-than-normal capacities gave the guns sizeable grips. The Glock offered the shooter a caved-in back strap to help get your hand around it, and the Ruger resorted to thin side panels. Both guns had polymer frames and steel slides. It looked to us like Ruger copied the Glocks trigger, but added an ambidextrous safety. The Glock 21 had only its trigger safety, which has proven effective for a long time now. We tested the two guns with Winchester 185-grain BEB, Lawman 230-grain hardball, and with Cor-Bon 185-grain jacketed hollowpoints.Both guns came with loading-assist devices that slip over the magazines. We didnt find them necessary with the normal magazines for either gun, but on the 26-round extended magazine that came with the Glock, wed have used it if we wanted to fully fill that long thing. Here is what we found.

308 Win. Bolt-Action Rifles: Should You Buy New or Used?

The quest for value is never ending in the hunting rifle market. Hunters traverse fields and mountains in search of deer, elk, moose, and other game, and they likewise amble through aisles of gun stores searching for the best game-getter for the lowest dollar possible. However, they may be overlooking the best deals by not considering used firearms available at gun shows, in online auctions, at pawn shops, and, yes, at those selfsame gun stores. But what is a good deal? Definitions vary. But most of us would agree that finding a secondhand, good-shooting gun for a couple of hundred dollars is a treat, so knowing what to look for is important.We recently stumbled across a Weatherby Vanguard Series 1 308 Winchester for only $300, and online searches showed many more of this older model are available for that plus another $50 to $75. At the same time, we also came into possession of a Ruger American Rifle No. 6903, also in 308, which has an MSRP of $449 but can sell at $50 to $75 off that, making the pricing of an individual gun pretty close between the two. Both rifles are hunting models fitted with synthetic stocks, blued barrels, sling studs front and rear, and rubber buttpads. We wanted to know which is the better buy - a used gun thats basically selling half-off its original price, or a brand-new gun that comes with the confidence that only the buyer has shot it? We endeavored to find out in a head-to-head match-up.We tested an American chambered in 243 Winchester in the February 2013 issue, and we said then that the pricing might make it a popular choice for deer stands. Also, it had a well-made stock with integral bedding blocks, a precise single-stage trigger, and was a generally well-thought-out, smoothly assembled rifle. Five years ago we tested a then-new Weatherby Vanguard Series 1 Stainless in 270 Winchester and found that gun lived up to its guarantee of three-shot groups of 1.5 inches or better fired from a cold barrel with premium ammunition.To get things going this time, we mounted a 30mm Leupold VX-R 3-9x40mm Matte FireDot Duplex scope (Leupold #110686, $456.24) on the Weatherby using Leupold 30mm medium-height rings (Leupold #49957, $35.30) and Leupold Dual Dovetail Weatherby Mark V 2-piece bases (Leupold #51706, $17.78.) The FireDot scope has an illuminated dot right in the center of the duplex reticle. Its intensity can be stepped down by a switch on the left side of the scope - a useful setup for low-light conditions. For the Rugers optic, we selected a Sightmark 3-9x42 Triple Duty Riflescope SM13016. Made in China, the Triple Duty is equipped with an illuminated red/green Mil-Dot reticle, which aids in range estimation and shooting in low light conditions. We liked the bright and crisp picture the fully multi-coated optics transmitted. The 3-9x42 features a one-piece 30mm tube that is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it fog proof and water resistant. This scope features oversized, locking windage and elevation turrets with -inch-MOA clicks. It came with a set of 30mm rings, but we used some Weaver Tactical Rings (No. 48351) mounted to Weaver bases to put the Sightmark on and rotated it 90 degrees counterclockwise so we could reach the illumination dial more easily with the left hand.To determine the accuracy of standard hunting ammunition, we selected the following test rounds: Federal Premium 308 Winchester 168-grain Matchking BTHP GM308M; Winchester Super-X 308 Winchester 150-grain Power Point X3085; and Freedom Munitions 308 Winchester 150-grain FMJ. As the accompanying accuracy table shows, the Vanguard shot within its 1.5-inch guarantee with two rounds, the Freedom Munitions FMJs and Federal Premium Matchking boattails, with the Ruger trailing in accuracy performance across the board. As we wrung them out, we noticed other pros and cons with both rifles, which we report below:

Two Big 45 ACP Pistols: Glock 21 Versus Rugers SR45

On our plate this month are two fairly big pistols. They are an old standby, the Glock 21 (about $600), and a newer Ruger SR45 with an MSRP of $529. Both were big, hand-filling handguns, capable of packing a devastating punch with anything from classic 230-grain hardball to the lightest-weight, super-expanding bullets. The Glock magazine held 13 rounds and the Ruger held 10. These larger-than-normal capacities gave the guns sizeable grips. The Glock offered the shooter a caved-in back strap to help get your hand around it, and the Ruger resorted to thin side panels. Both guns had polymer frames and steel slides. It looked to us like Ruger copied the Glocks trigger, but added an ambidextrous safety. The Glock 21 had only its trigger safety, which has proven effective for a long time now. We tested the two guns with Winchester 185-grain BEB, Lawman 230-grain hardball, and with Cor-Bon 185-grain jacketed hollowpoints.Both guns came with loading-assist devices that slip over the magazines. We didnt find them necessary with the normal magazines for either gun, but on the 26-round extended magazine that came with the Glock, wed have used it if we wanted to fully fill that long thing. Here is what we found.

308 Win. Bolt-Action Rifles: Should You Buy New or Used?

The quest for value is never ending in the hunting rifle market. Hunters traverse fields and mountains in search of deer, elk, moose, and other game, and they likewise amble through aisles of gun stores searching for the best game-getter for the lowest dollar possible. However, they may be overlooking the best deals by not considering used firearms available at gun shows, in online auctions, at pawn shops, and, yes, at those selfsame gun stores. But what is a good deal? Definitions vary. But most of us would agree that finding a secondhand, good-shooting gun for a couple of hundred dollars is a treat, so knowing what to look for is important.We recently stumbled across a Weatherby Vanguard Series 1 308 Winchester for only $300, and online searches showed many more of this older model are available for that plus another $50 to $75. At the same time, we also came into possession of a Ruger American Rifle No. 6903, also in 308, which has an MSRP of $449 but can sell at $50 to $75 off that, making the pricing of an individual gun pretty close between the two. Both rifles are hunting models fitted with synthetic stocks, blued barrels, sling studs front and rear, and rubber buttpads. We wanted to know which is the better buy - a used gun thats basically selling half-off its original price, or a brand-new gun that comes with the confidence that only the buyer has shot it? We endeavored to find out in a head-to-head match-up.We tested an American chambered in 243 Winchester in the February 2013 issue, and we said then that the pricing might make it a popular choice for deer stands. Also, it had a well-made stock with integral bedding blocks, a precise single-stage trigger, and was a generally well-thought-out, smoothly assembled rifle. Five years ago we tested a then-new Weatherby Vanguard Series 1 Stainless in 270 Winchester and found that gun lived up to its guarantee of three-shot groups of 1.5 inches or better fired from a cold barrel with premium ammunition.To get things going this time, we mounted a 30mm Leupold VX-R 3-9x40mm Matte FireDot Duplex scope (Leupold #110686, $456.24) on the Weatherby using Leupold 30mm medium-height rings (Leupold #49957, $35.30) and Leupold Dual Dovetail Weatherby Mark V 2-piece bases (Leupold #51706, $17.78.) The FireDot scope has an illuminated dot right in the center of the duplex reticle. Its intensity can be stepped down by a switch on the left side of the scope - a useful setup for low-light conditions. For the Rugers optic, we selected a Sightmark 3-9x42 Triple Duty Riflescope SM13016. Made in China, the Triple Duty is equipped with an illuminated red/green Mil-Dot reticle, which aids in range estimation and shooting in low light conditions. We liked the bright and crisp picture the fully multi-coated optics transmitted. The 3-9x42 features a one-piece 30mm tube that is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it fog proof and water resistant. This scope features oversized, locking windage and elevation turrets with -inch-MOA clicks. It came with a set of 30mm rings, but we used some Weaver Tactical Rings (No. 48351) mounted to Weaver bases to put the Sightmark on and rotated it 90 degrees counterclockwise so we could reach the illumination dial more easily with the left hand.To determine the accuracy of standard hunting ammunition, we selected the following test rounds: Federal Premium 308 Winchester 168-grain Matchking BTHP GM308M; Winchester Super-X 308 Winchester 150-grain Power Point X3085; and Freedom Munitions 308 Winchester 150-grain FMJ. As the accompanying accuracy table shows, the Vanguard shot within its 1.5-inch guarantee with two rounds, the Freedom Munitions FMJs and Federal Premium Matchking boattails, with the Ruger trailing in accuracy performance across the board. As we wrung them out, we noticed other pros and cons with both rifles, which we report below:

Extreme Gun Stock Repair

How many old stocks have you seen that were broken at the wrist, repaired and then broken again? If you have been around guns for very long I'm sure you have seen your share. Based on the number of badly repaired old stocks that I have worked on, most folks think all it takes is some glue and perhaps a few screws and a splint or two. When the gun breaks in the same place a time or two they give up the job and put stock repair into the black arts file.

Testing Three Short 1911s from Kimber, Ruger, and SIG Sauer

Some accuse 1911 fans of believing the sun rises and sets on the big 45 ACP. And it is a certainty that the full-size pistol has played an important role in many lives as a badge of office, tool of the trade, a lifesaver, a game taker, and a sporting instrument. Some claim that when their hands wrap around the 1911s handle, it says friend like no other pistol. The 1911 has prevailed in innumerable engagements because it fits most hands well and features well-placed controls. Also, the 1911 fires a powerful cartridge, but not so powerful that most of us cannot control it.Digging down further, another great advantage of the 1911 is a straight-to-the-rear trigger compression. No need to lay the finger above the trigger and swing it down in an arc as is necessary with the double-action first shot pistol. Also, the trigger resets rapidly, and the slide lock safety and grip safety offer a combination of safety features not found on many handguns. But the full-size 1911 has its downsides as well - mainly, it is big and heavy.So, to keep the advantages of the design and to mitigate its shortcomings, many civilian carriers have adopted shorter and lighter 1911s of the Commander size. The original Colt Commander featured a barrel and slide -inch shorter than the 5-inch Government Model. The Commander pistol also had an aluminum frame, making it lighter. Later, the steel-frame Combat Commander was introduced. Some stated that inch off the slide was pointless when the weight of the pistol was considered. We do not find this to be true for one specific reason: The shorter length is just right to prevent pinching the buttocks when seated. The shorter pistol is also faster from the holster, and though the short sight radius may limit absolute accuracy, the Commander lines up on target quickly at combat ranges.Some shooters also worry about the physics in the Commander-size pistols leading to more malfunctions. And it is true that the compact 1911 pistols with 4.25-inch-or-shorter barrels develop increased slide velocity because the same cartridge working on a lighter slide speeds things up. Therefore, a heavier recoil spring is needed for the short pistol to give it time to eject the spent case, then for the slide to race forward and strip a round out of the magazine. Because the Commander tries to run faster, Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat recommends 185-grain defense loads in these pistols, because the string of cartridges is about 315 grains less in weight than a magazine full of 230-grain loads, so the magazine spring has less weight to push up. Wilson also recommends a heavy hammer spring to control the slides velocity as well as a square-bottom firing-pin stop to change the leverage of the slide against the hammer in recoil. These recommendations show an expert understanding of the function of a short 1911. Of course, there are still more variables in a short 1911 that only hands-on testing can reveal, so we pitted a popular 4.25-inch barrel SIG Carry Stainless 1911CA-45-SSS 45 ACP, $1142, against the new Ruger SR1911CMD No. 6702 45 ACP, $829, and the 4-inch-barrel aluminum-frame Kimber Pro CDP. The results were interesting.

Hammerless Snubnoses: Ruger LCR vs. Smith & Wesson M42

In the 1950s, some revolvers were expressly designed and marketed for police detectives to conceal carry, though shooters had been cutting down the barrels of full-size revolvers to make them more concealable since Sam Colt was alive. Small, compact revolvers were called snubnose revolvers and have been and continue to be a staple defense weapon. They can be small and snag-free for easy concealment, and they can be drawn smoothly from pockets, purses, and ankle and belt holsters, among other conceal-carry modes. Of the more concealable types of snubnose revolvers, some are DAO (double action only), wherein the revolver is only able to fire with a double-action pull of the trigger. There is no hammer to thumb back and fire the revolver single action, and no hammer spur to snag and impede a draw.Rugers LCR has helped create a new interest in these compact five-shooters, so we wanted to see how a good, old S&W with comparable features - a Model 42 - would compare. If the LCR is the iPhone generations revolver, then the Model 42 would be the gun for those who grew up using rotary-dial telephones.

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...