March 2001

Firing Line 03/01

STI Trojan Gets Thumbs Up
I enjoyed reading your article about guns for USPSA Limited 10 in your February 2001 issue. I agree with your assessment that the STI Trojan is a terrific gun. I’ve been shooting one for about a year.

For the benefit of others who own the Trojan, perhaps you could relay the information that there is a much easier technique for disassembling the gun than the one listed in your article (where you remove the slide first and then try to capture the spring and guide rod). I realize that is the recommended technique in the manual, but it makes the gun very difficult to break down and assemble. A couple of weeks of removing skin from the inside of my hands on the razor-sharp slide serrations motivated me to come up with a better method:

First, make the slave pin tool out of a paper clip starting with a piece about 2.2 inches long and put a right-angle bend about 0.2 inch up from the end.

To disassemble: Move the slide back just far enough to expose the hole in the guide rod. Hold the slide and frame in that spot with the right hand. Using your left hand, insert the tool in from the front of the gun under the guide rod. Put the 0.2-inch section of the paper clip into the hole from under the rod and release pressure with the right hand gradually to allow the slide to come forward and lock the pin in place.

The slide can now be moved to the position where the slide-retaining pin is removed. It can be done easily because there is no spring tension.

When the slide is off, turn it over and move the barrel link to the rear. The guide rod and spring come out as a captive assembly by lifting it up and moving to the back. You put it back in using the reverse procedure. You’ll find this method will make everything a lot easier.

About the Mec-Gar magazines: Where you said that because the base plate is not removable, “cleaning is by compress and swab only”. Actually, that’s not true. These magazines are very easy to take apart if you want to clean them thoroughly (I’ve done it dozens of times). Here’s how:

Use a pencil (the rubber eraser end) to push the follower down about one-third of the way. Put a small nail horizontally through one of the nine sets of holes in the magazine case. Pick the holes about 1/2 inch below the follower so it will capture the spring only. Remove the pencil and you should be able to reach in and lift out the follower with needle-nose pliers. Put your hand over the top of the mag case and pull out the nail to get the spring out.

Putting it together is fairly easy. Push the spring down with the pencil eraser and snake the follower in from the front of the magazine. Work the follower up and down to make sure the spring seats completely.

—Chester Simpson
Santa Clara, California

We Are All The Militia
Thanks for your column in the December 2000 Gun Tests magazine. I was already aware of USC Title 10, section 311. I would like to point out that this statute predates other legislation which forbids discrimination on the basis of age and sex, so the age limit and gender restrictions stated in the section may no longer apply. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever tested those restrictions in a court of law, so we don’t know if they apply or not at this date.

If those restrictions have been nullified by non-discrimination legislation, then all citizens who are not members of the organized militia and who are not government officials are part of the unorganized militia. When you think about it, that’s quite a statement!

—Bob Hale

Lower Shotgun Capacities
Enjoyed the January 2001 issue as always. You might want to be aware that some Remington 870s and the model No. 5549 specifically, are designed NOT to accept “Law Enforcement” accessories. (In this case, aftermarket mag tube extensions.) The tube is crimped to avoid having the user increase the mag capacity. This problem can be overcome with creative gunsmithing, but it may not be worth the trouble. Personal decision I guess.

I have used all three of these guns over time and feel that any would be fine for basic home defense. My personal choice, however, is actually a Winchester 1300 Black Shadow Deer (smoothbore). It has a 22-inch barrel, adjustable rifle sights, is tapped for scope mount, has a longer forend, and uses Win-Choke tubes. In actual use I put on a Williams peep site designed for this gun that mounts on the rear scope holes and a Choate extended mag tube to get capacity to seven rounds. Install the IC choke tube and you are ready to go. A bonus is that with a rifled tube one can do some reasonable slug shooting for deer hunting.

—Bob Kellner

Not Quite A Wildcat
When I read the November 2000 Gun Tests, I was pleased to read the article on .416 rifles. I’m intending to have a .416 Taylor built out of a Browning Pump Rifle. Starting with one in 7mm Rem. Mag., it should be a very straightforward conversion. For benefit of you and my fellow readers, the .416 Taylor isn’t quite a wildcat. A-Square makes correctly headstamped brass and loads ammo with their solid, dead-tough (controlled expansion) and lion load (rapid expanding) bullets.

—Dean McCormick
Cedar Creek, Texas

.416 And Other Comments
A comment or two about the November 2000 test on the .416s. As someone who has faced death in Africa many times, I would not even consider a heavy rifle that did not hold at least three in the magazine. No matter how powerful the gun is, there are times when you’ll wish you had ten cartridges in the magazine.

About the Ruger .416: A peerless heavy rifle, but the front brass bead is way too small. If you’re going to use iron sights on dangerous game, it’s going to be at very close range and often in poor light, and you need something you can pick up fast. A big Sourdough or ivory bead is just the ticket.

Also, your models are homely. Can’t you get some good looking womens to shoot them guns?

—David Petzal
New York, New York

Safeties We Might Have Missed
Your January 2001 issue of Gun Tests magazine makes the following comment in the review of the Heritage Rough Rider: “We think this is the only single-action revolver with a thumb-operated safety....” While safeties of this kind are not common, they are not exactly rare either.

Examples: FIE had a series of revolvers with thumb-operated safeties. The FIE Buffalo Scout single-action revolver had a manual safety similar to the one your article discussed. Also the FIE Texas Ranger and Little Ranger models had similar manual safeties. If you maintain a library of old American Rifleman magazines, I refer you to page 60 of the July 1983 issue for a detailed discussion of the FIE Texas Ranger single-action revolver and the thumb-operated safety.

A little earlier (1970s) the German Schmidt single-action revolver was imported by Herter as the Model 121S. The same basic model was also imported by Hawes as the 21S and Sportarms of Florida as the 21S. All had a manual hammer-block thumb-operated safety at top rear of the frame.

Going way back, the Germans had a single-action army service revolver in the late 1800s that had a manual lever safety on the left side.

Colt had a single-action revolver (the New Frontier) introduced in 1982 based on the Kennedy Patent of 1973. This gun had a manual safety that operated through the loading gate.

—Stanton O. Berg
Forensic Firearms Consultant

We should have said “currently available” as part of the description of the safety.

—Roger Eckstine

Fluting and Rigidity
I found your November 2000 article on fluting of barrels very interesting. In several articles I have read that fluting increases the rigidity of the barrel. As a mechanical engineer, I doubted that to be true so I decided to investigate it.

Using a CAD program, Solidworks, I calculated the moment of inertia of a fluted barrel and the weight per inch of length on a Ruger 10/22 that I own. It has six flutes. I also calculated the moment of inertia of the same barrel without flutes.

I used a program to calculate deflection of beams called Winbeam, and I used the barrel as a cantilever beam with 12 inches of unsupported length. The unfluted barrel deflected 0.00044 inch due to its own weight and the fluted barrel deflected 0.00051 of an inch.

This would indicate that fluting actually slightly reduces the rigidity of a barrel. I agree that there is not much of a difference, but the rigidity is slightly reduced.

—Gary Thompson,

We also had questions from readers about how well broken in the test barrel that was fluted had been. As we noted, anything done with respect to machining the outside of the barrel will affect the internal dimensions and surface. These problems would skew data to the side of the unfluted barrel’s performance. But the use of a barrel that is well broken in creates its own problems. Heat checking in the inside of the bore will produce a microscopic spalling of the bore surface. The barrel had around 100 rounds of break in. This would remove the majority of microscopic bore roughness. I believe that 300 to 400 rounds are best for complete break in. But in a .22-250, 1,000 rounds will erode the land area of the chamber around 2.5mm. The caveat was given to let the reader know that it is possible that the data could be slightly skewed by this. Since we were mainly looking at cool-down rate and the supposed increase of cooling with fluted barrels, I did not go to extremes to get total break in. Also, the Lothar Walther barrel used are very smooth and require much less preparatory firing than most other barrels. We had to work in a window of the barrel’s life because we did not want bore wear, throat wear, and other problems to interfere with the collection of the data.

—Tim Lewis

Blackpowder Reloads
Based on your review of the R&D Gun Shops conversion cylinder in the January 2000 issue, I got one for my 1858 Remington replica. R&D does nice work, and it’s everything you said it would be. I reload the Black Hills ammo with Pyrodex, and I’ve reloaded some .357 brass with Pyrodex for my Blackhawk. In the .357 the cases tend to jam against the recoil shield with the Pyrodex, but not with smokeless powder. Of course the R&D conversion is fine. I’m guessing that the gentler expansion of the Pyrodex doesn’t lock the case against the chamber.

I got an 1851 Colt from Cabela’s after your review in the September 1999 issue, followed by an 1860 Colt army, all Cabela’s (Pietta) and all work fine. The 1860 with the shoulder stock is amazingly accurate. Keep up the fine work with Gun Tests.

—Leighton (Bill) Dye

Reader Stanley Beck wrote to point out errors in a January 2001 article on pump shotguns. In the Accuracy and Chronograph Data table, the muzzle energy was labeled with fps instead of ft.-lbs. as indicated in other such charts in this issue. Also, the trigger pull in the individual gun modules listed pulls for 1st/2nd barrel, although all the guns had only single barrels. For the Winchester and Mossberg modules, the trigger-pull weights should have been listed in pounds, not ounces, as mentioned correctly in the copy.

Model 41 Kudos
Like you recommended in the July 2000 issue on .22 LR semiautos, I purchased a used S&W Model 41. I reached many of the same conclusions as your evaluators, and definitely believe I made the right decision. And it was especially interesting to note that I had undergone much of the same considerations that you documented in your article. This included the struggle with my principles, which would not permit me to make a new firearms purchase from Smith & Wesson, following their capitulation to the Clinton administration blackmail efforts.

But I strongly believed that the Model 41 was the ideal choice for me, from among the various competing models currently available. And, like your evaluators, I found the grip configuration on the otherwise entirely satisfactory Ruger models to be too “Luger-like” for my hands, while the Model 41 very closely approximates the Colt Model 1911, a configuration which has always fit my hands quite nicely.

I would like to mention, however, that I had been looking for and was able to find a 5-inch-barrel version instead of the longer 7-inch model, as I found the latter to be a bit unwieldy for a gun which I plan to employ for a variety of purposes, which includes the matter of portability when hunting small game, as well as other uses including target work. I just don’t believe I’ll miss those two additional inches of sight radius that much. Moreover, with the 5-inch barrel, I have again been successful in more closely approximating standard Colt 1911 dimensions in my purchase decision. I predict that the first company, either Colt or one of the “clone” producers, who puts out a Colt Model 1911 type pistol in .22 LR that achieves a high standard of accuracy, is going to have an immediate winner on their hands!

Finally, as a benchmark for those who may be interested in taking the same approach as I did, I must say I was pleased with my “deal,” as I only paid $550 for a virtually “NIB” condition Model 41, which included a total of four factory magazines. I doubt there will be many more deals like that left out there after your article, and I consider myself very lucky in terms of my timing.

Thanks for an article that happened to reinforce my own buying decision, as well as a great publication in general. I look forward to each and every issue of Gun Tests.

—William H. H. King
Arlington, Virginia

Hammerli SP-20 Fliers
Your review of the SP-20 came as a shocker, what with the “first shot flier” syndrome. Using the SP-20 this year in our Gallery 300 league, I have noted one or two fliers on each 10-shot target. Up to now, I have assumed it was me, and I haven’t paid attention to whether these fliers were the first from each mag. But now you’ve got me worried.

Hope very much that you can determine whether this behavior represented a “sample defect” in the gun you tested or whether there’s something inherent (and hopefully correctible) in the SP-20 design.

As always, “Gun Tests” is the only thing that gets read on the way back from the mailbox; keep up the good work.

—Dave Jones

Ruger SP101 Cylinder Gap
This is a comment on the March 2000 issue. You say that you measured the cylinder gap in the Ruger SP101 at 0.006 inches. You then say endshake in the cylinder was enough that you could shrink the cylinder gap to 0.025 inch. Someone left a zero out and that second number should have been 0.0025 inch.

—Tracy A. Arbaugh