May 2000

Firing Line 05/00

Dunk-Kit Questions
Your article in the March 2000 Gun Tests about the cleaning product called Dunk-Kit was of significant interest to me. I do, however, have a few questions. Is there an effect on polymer-frame guns. Will the solution affect their integrity? Can a fully assembled slide be submerged and cleaned with the firing pin intact? Will this process completely clean the bore, eliminating the need for scrubbing? Is the solution environmentally friendly and easily disposed of? What is the life of the solution? Will it have any adverse effect on finishes.

Jim Calderio
via American Online

In our testing of Dunk-Kit, we find it is especially effective on revolvers because there are just so many small spaces to clean. I have also used it on semiautos and find it is a good alternative to complete disassembly. As far as the effects on polymer frames, I use it once every 3 months on the polymer grip frame of my STI and only then for a short time. I have no problem letting a steel or alloy gun soak for up to 20 minutes, but with the plastic guns I’ll just dunk and pull it out repeatedly, using this action as a rinse. Still, it is reportedly safe for Glock and other polymer pistols. Check with Cylinder and Slide for complete information, (800) 448-1713,

I’ve also found a fully assembled slide can be submerged and cleaned, but you may want to brush the extractor groove. If you can remove the firing pin and inspect the channel, that’s even better. The same goes for the extractor if it is not mounted externally. Also, this process won’t completely clean the bore. The solution should be disposed of the same as motor oil.There is no claim as to the limit of repeat use, but it should not be stored in the same container for more than one year. According to the label, there are no adverse effects on any finish other than nickel. I feel it dulls the finish on the Glock slide, though. I perked up the finish by rubbing in a little Break-Free oil.

—Roger Eckstine

FBI Guns
I’m a devoted reader of your magazine since I discovered it some months ago. In the March 2000 issue, I appreciated the piece on the pistols approved for line agents of the FBI. But except for a passing comment on the changing balance of the Glock 22 as its magazine emptied, you scarcely addressed the question of ease of control, or more specifically the issues of recoil and muzzle flip, not to mention muzzle blast and flash. Ergonomics, yes. Control, not to my satisfaction.

Your premise was that FBI personnel are no longer people who commonly have experience and skill in the handling of weapons, and surely this is even more true of our increasingly urban general population.

Even people seeking good choices of weapons to carry daily for personal defense, or to keep in their homes for defensive use, vary widely in their tolerance for recoil, their ability to control muzzle rise, and their sensitivity to muzzle blast of something like the .357 SIG round. I’ve owned, and liked very much, a Glock 22—wish I still had it. But how would the SIG and Smith compare for an aging shooter with some arthritis? Easier or harder to control? I won’t even quibble about the relative lack of attention to concealability concerns.

If the piece was to help civilians as well as FBI agents choose among these three excellent weapons, more attention to shootability would be appreciated.

Mike Adkins
Louisville, KY

In our view, the SIG in .357 SIG was the easiest to control, a factor of the gun design as well as the cartridge ballistics. The .45 ACP-chambered Smith & Wesson 4586 and the Glock 22 in .40 S&W shoot bigger bullets with more powder, which makes them kick more. The SIG was also more concealable, a result of its smaller overall footprint (5.0 inches tall by 6.8 inches long, compared to the Glock [5.2 by 8.1 inch] and the S&W [5.7 by 7.9 inches]).

—Roger Eckstine

Baer, Wilson & Clark
I enjoy your fine publication every month and think you do a great job. Bearing in mind that it is much easier to criticize than to praise, I want to offer a few comments on your article about high-dollar M1911s in the April 2000 issue. I speak as a multiple Gunsite graduate and Thunder Ranch wannabe, and disclose my personal bias that the M1911 is the only real handgun worth carrying.

When describing the effect of the Wilson Shok-Buff recoil buffer, you correctly point out that the buffer restricts the rearward movement of the slide, meaning that the shooter cannot pull a locked-open slide rearward and release it to reload from a fresh magazine. Then you quit preaching and start meddling: “Tactically, that’s perhaps not the proper way to manage your .45 (the slide release is faster), but it’s sometimes necessary.”

I can’t speak for the other schools, but Gunsite doctrine is to emphasize gross-motor skills over fine-motor skills on the grounds that fine-motor skills will be enormously degraded by adrenaline during an actual confrontation. Hence, racking the slide to reload is preferred to using the slide release because it does not require locating the slide release and applying downward pressure after the support hand has been engaged in magazine manipulation, and is much faster for left-handers. Another advantage of the technique is that it uses the same motions as the “tap-rack-bang” malfunction clearance, minimizing the number of different manipulations that have to be imprinted in muscle memory by the shooter.

The article also mentioned that Clark’s 20-lpi checkering is too coarse and could cut hands during “an intense training session such as at Thunder Ranch or Gunsite, where you go through 500 rounds in a week.” I think 500 rounds per week was a typo; at Gunsite, the average is 500 rounds per day, 2,500 rounds per week. I make a living at a computer keyboard and have soft, uncallused hands. Any checkering at all, 20 or 30 lpi, will cut my hands when shooting 500 rounds a day. Based on sad experience with hands turned to hamburger, I’ve made sure that none of my M1911s has any checkering on the front strap or mainspring housing. Ed Brown makes a smooth, flat mainspring housing that I have used to replace the factory serrated mainspring housings on all my .45s. I would urge anyone considering attending one of the intensive training schools to avoid checkering on their pistol or else bring lots of Band-Aids and adhesive tape.

Finally, speaking of Ed Brown, I would like to have seen one of his Classic Custom pistols included in the lineup. Another idea for an article would be side-by-side comparisons of Kimber and Springfield Armory Custom Shop guns with Wilson, Baer, Clark, and Brown.

Those minor criticisms aside, you produced a fine article and I enjoyed your insights very much.

Ben Ballengee
Austin, Texas

There are two schools of thought on reloading, as I mentioned. With my quarter-century of experience with a 1911 as my prime self-defense handgun and as a competition product, I am well aware of the lack of motor skills one experiences under stress. Still, when I was in the middle of a shooting sequence at a week-long Thunder Ranch session a few years ago and ran the gun dry, I made a reload and grabbed the slide to let it fly, as I had done in the past. Instructor Robbie Barrkman yelled in my ear, “Use the magazine release. It’s faster!” I was able to comply the very next time I ran out of ammo. Admittedly, this was not a gunfight, but the stress induced at Thunder Ranch and, I presume, at Gunsite, is certainly immense, yet I was able to perform this supposedly delicate operation easily. For most right-handers, this action is, I suspect, not a fine motor skill. Rather, the weak hand goes back into position and as it convulsively grasps the gun, the thumb trips the release. Lefties ought not to do it this way, and are better served by working the slide. If I had heeded the teachings of Chuck Taylor, I would have already been using the slide release, for that is what he recommends in his book.

Bill Wilson, as I said in my text, also knows what he’s talking about, and would not put that buffer into his gun if it interfered with its use. Thunder Ranch and Chuch Taylor (who runs Chuck Taylor’s American Small Arms Academy) agree on reloading technique. Gunsite disagrees. If you don’t like the buffer, take it out. Concerning the number of rounds fired during a training course, things have changed since I went through the basic Thunder Ranch class in 1996. Then, students were required to bring 500 rounds. Today, Thunder’s basic course requires 1,000 rounds, and the more advanced classes require a minimum of 2,000 rounds for five-day courses. Gunsite requires a minimum of 1,200 rounds for a five-day beginner’s course, with more rounds needed for the more advanced classes. All that shooting is tough on the hands. One can, as you suggested, temporarily replace the mainspring housing with a smooth one, and many shooters can get by without roughness on the front strap. Also, it may be permissible to tape a too-rough grip during a training session. The point here, however, is that some checkering helps get a grip on the gun for the occasional shot, particularly when one is sweating—as when under stress. No checkering might be fine for training, but I’d prefer to train with the gun I carry. My number-one .45 has muted Robar stippling.

—Ray Ordorica

Revolver in .45 ACP
Great February issue; keep up the good work! A comment on the sidebar on the S&W 625-5 revolver therein:

You should mention that if anyone is really interested in this style firearm (.45 ACP in a revolver) they should also consider the S&W 625-6. The 625-6 is a Performance Center version of the same gun with replaceable nose pieces for a standard muzzle and a single-ported muzzle. It is a wonderfully accurate revolver with a really great trigger! Although it is around $800, it is truly the class act in this type of revolver! I think that this is the model that Jerry Miculek just used to set several rapid-fire records last fall.

Paul Lerner

Glock Misfeed Update
I have some good news to report to you about my Glock Model 27 with the feeding problems.

I read in Street Stoppers (Marshall & Sanow) about failures to feed. I refer you to pages 70-71, where they say “Most of these stoppages from the subsonic loads were failures to extract or eject, probably due to the decreased slide velocity caused by the low bullet velocities these cartridges produce.” I also found out (from reading this book) that the FBI/DEA load (165-grain Federal Hydra-Shok) is one of the poorest hollowpoints available in terms of stopping power specifically because the FBI asked for a medium-velocity load! So, rather than having a “normal” load for the .40 S&W, I am actually using a relatively underpowered load (though certainly not by choice).

Armed with this information, I contacted Wolff Springs and asked for a reduced-power (14-pound) recoil spring assembly, which I received and installed. I took the Model 27 out to the range. I fired ten rounds through the gun just to make sure the slide wouldn’t fly off and hit me in the head! No problems. Then I ran through two 100-round qualifications courses with not one misfeed! As you might remember, this is the same gun that would fail to feed two, three or four times per magazine. I used both the long magazines and those made specifically for the 27.

I really appreciate all the help you gave me, and your attempts to find out what the root of the problem was. It seems it is a combination of the medium-velocity ammunition and stiff factory recoil spring, which didn’t allow the slide to cycle fully that prevented the gun from functioning reliably.

Please note that I cannot endorse using the reduced-power recoil spring assembly for people not constrained by their departments to carry underpowered ammunition. With normal loads, the normal recoil spring assembly probably works fine. In fact, it might be advisable to change ammunition before changing springs, but I was unable to do that.

Name Withheld

Reader Edmund Grant also suggested using the Glock 23’s magazine in the Glock 27. He said, “I use the Glock 19 as my primary weapon on duty and the Glock 26 as a back up. My agency highly recommends the use of the Glock 19’s magazine to be used in the Glock 26. I have used the 19’s mag in my 26 and haven’t had any problems with misfirings or jams.”

—Todd Woodard