February 1998

Firing Line 02/98

1911 Magazines
Thank you for a fine publication. After 25 years of the rest, your’s is the only gun book I pay for besides American Rifleman.

Onward to my reason for this letter. Applause is in order for your December 1997 review of 1911-type pistol magazines. I definitely hope more reviews of this kind are in your magazine’s future.

I, as well as many others, am relieved to know that I’m not the only one who has such variable results in my autopistols that is caused solely by faulty magazine design or execution. Even in the same make of magazines, some feed hollow point ammunition and some don’t. One of my 1911 aftermarket magazines, a very well-built and smart-looking sample, jams the slide forward on itself after the last round. The slide just sits there 5/6ths of the way rearward and won’t let the magazine drop until fully retracted. But it will do everything else just fine.

Keep emphasizing to your readers that the magazine is the heart of any semiautomatic pistol or rifle. Too many gunners, myself included, think just any old magazine will do until they find out it won’t, the hard way.

Beauty and high cost are no guarantees, as your report makes so clear. Odd though it may seem, the cheapest 1911 magazine I ever bought, probably a gun show refugee, always works perfectly in my 1911s. It looks like a factory second with dull motley bluing and a floorplate weld nearly buffed through, leaving a pinhole defect to set you wondering who was running the grinder that Monday in Fast Eddie’s magazine sweatshop. Doesn’t matter. It’s the magazine I practice with more than the other dozen I own. Go figure. The critical dimensions in the areas that matter must be OK.

Again, thanks for a fascinating test report.

Geoffrey Wilson
Richmond, VA


As a consumer and a firearms enthusiast, I am amazed that I have never read a letter in your magazine complaining of the lack of quality in such an expensive item as a handgun. It seems there is a defect in over 90 percent of the products that you test. Let’s face it. What we seem to accept most readily would produce torrents of protest if these defects existed in items such as washing machines, televisions, automobiles, etc. Could this be because our sport or choice of recreation is not Politically Correct? Do we fear to criticize it in any way so as not to give the anti-second amendment people any more ammunition?

Nobody can tell me in this day of computer modeling, C. N. C. machines, and such that we cannot produce a firearm that is both accurate and totally reliable. The basic principle of the actions in guns has been around for more than 200 years. The primary difference is in the materials, manufacturing process and such. Yes, double actions are relatively new, compared to the basic single action, but even these (single actions) are very far from perfect.

Also, with all the interest in Cowboy Shooting, we still have to rely on mostly Italian imports to fill the need, as most consumers cannot afford a Colt Single Action Army revolver. Thank God for Ruger’s Vaquero.

In closing, I would like to say that I find it most aberrant to have to get something fixed after I have paid a considerable sum for it. This seems to be the generally accepted procedure—buy a handgun, bring it to a gunsmith to make it work properly, or save for a long time and buy a custom from one of the notables (custom gunsmiths).

As an afterthought, why should any of these obviously non-perfect items cost so damn much? Is it because they follow the basic law of supply and demand or the ‘we have it and you want it’ criteria.

Joseph L. Sexton
Monroe, NY


We agree with you 100 percent. A person shouldn’t have to fix a new firearm. It should work properly right out of the box.


S&W Model 457
In reference to the Smith & Wesson Model 457 that the gentleman was inquiring about in the November 1997 issue letters section. I have owned this particular pistol for approximately one and a half years. I have literally “shot the hell” out of it with various types and quantities of ammunition. I would say that to date I probably have put at least 500 rounds through it. I not only have not had any hangups or misfires, I have found it a delight to shoot and accurate.

As an owner of a gun business, I could own any gun I want for personal carry. I own this one...that says it all.

Martin W. Neary
Keezletown, VA