April 2001

Firing Line 04/01

Hi Power Hijinks
Regarding your evaluation of the .40 S&W Browning Hi Power in the September 2000 issue, while I agree this is a fine pistol, it does have one peculiarity that ought to be mentioned. At the risk of being wimpy here, I must say this pistol has the heaviest recoil spring I have ever seen on a handgun. I could only reassemble it with a lot of grunting, groaning, and swearing. The point is, if the prospective buyer is a woman or perhaps an older man such as myself, whose hand strength is not what it once was, unless you have a Sumo wrestler on hand to put the thing back together, don’t buy the gun! I traded mine off on a Sig 229.

You also mentioned that 13-round aftermarket magazines were available for this pistol. While this is certainly true for the 9mm Hi Power, the .40 S&W has always been a 10-round proposition, and I don’t believe 13-round mags are, or were ever, available for the .40.

Let me close by noting that I have been a satisfied subscriber for several years now. I ultimately throw away all other gun magazines, but never yours.

-Peter Osborne
Midlothian, Virginia


On the issue of the higher-cap mags, as stated in the September issue we contacted Browning, which directed us to GT Distributing, a police supplier. Thirteen-round magazines are available for the gun, but to law enforcement only. Contact GT Distributing at (706) 866-7624 for further details. Also, in order to accommodate the hotter round, the slide was beefed up and a heavier recoil spring became a necessity. We still like the HP40 (and Sumo.)

-Roger Eckstine


Titanium Handguns
I’d like to make a suggestion regarding the problems associated with the vicious recoil and the “bullet puller” effect associated with the light weight titanium revolvers—one that you haven’t written about.

Among other snubbies that we own, my wife and I have a Smith & Wesson 342Ti. (We bought it before the S&W/Clinton sellout.) We solved the problem of the jacketed bullet requirement and the recoil associated with most loads that are powerful enough to be effective. Try testing some .38 Special MagSafe loads, especially the “Swat” loads. They are designed with a very light pre-fragmented bullet shot at high velocity that still doesn’t exceed safe pressure limits and generates surprisingly low recoil. Although more effective than almost anything else in a given caliber, the bullet is lightweight and jacketed, hence controllable recoil and no problem with locking up a revolver cylinder from other cartridges having their bullets pulled out from their cases from recoil. Also, there is very little chance of overpenetration or ricochet. Essentially, they are “safety” loads that pose far less danger to innocent bystanders than conventional bullets.

Like everything else, there is a trade-off. The MagSafe loads usually shoot lower than the sights are regulated for, and they are not the most accurate loads around. Also, they are expensive, but how much value do you place on your life? Anyway, that’s what we carry in our .357 and .38 Special snub revolvers. Given the close distances at which civilian self-defense shootings usually occur, I believe the MagSafe loads are the best solution so far for making the lightweight titanium revolvers effective, controllable and reliable.

Back in the ’60s when I was in law enforcement, I would have given a lot to have been able to carry a snub titanium revolver with MagSafe ammo as my back-up revolver. Trouble was, they hadn’t been invented yet.

-Jeffrey J. Loefer
Olympia, Washington


Noncorrosive Guide Gun
I am a great fan of the Marlin Guide Gun, but feel it should have a non-corrosive finish. I cannot afford a Co-pilot, although I think they are great. When one applies hard chrome, is it possible to chrome the bore also? Is this commonly done? Does the barrel then need to be rebored? Can you suggest a cost effective method of making this gun into an all-weather firearm? I have heard rumors of a stainless steel Guide Gun in the works. Have you heard anything?

-Pete Lenz
via worldnet.att.net


I too have heard Marlin will bring out a stainless Guide Gun in the near future. You might contact Marlin about it. If you have to have one prior to their offering it, I’d recommend you contact the Robar Companies, (623) 581-2648, and ask about rust-prevention methods. I personally prefer NP3, which is an electroless nickel plating that includes Teflon, but Roguard is also excellent. A combination of the two can give a pleasant black/white effect. The use of NP3, by the way, gives an incredibly slick and easy-to-clean firearm.

I don’t believe hard chroming or any sort of plating is commonly applied to the bore. I have several 1911s done with NP3 and the bores are intentionally left unplated. If that’s a requirement for you (such as for Alaskan or coastal use), you’d better wait for the stainless version, or have a stainless barrel installed on your rifle.

-Ray Ordorica


Rimmed .45 ACP
I read with great interest GT’s November 2000 coverage of S&W’s fine 625 Mountain gun. What many of your readers might not realize is that many years back, both S&W and Colt made equally fine revolvers chambered for the .45 ACP.

In fact, I’ve been carrying (and shooting) my own Colt model for more years than I care to remember, and have only rarely used any sort of “moon” clips—because both of these older guns, and the 625 as well, will perform flawlessly using the .45 ACP rimmed cartridge! I’m not really sure who still offers this as loaded ammo, but every gun show I’ve ever attended turns up plentiful supplies of fresh brass for reloaders.

Sure, those military-issue half-moon clips may have been the first “speed loaders,” yet the abilty to digest this rimmed ammo, with the bonus of being able to replace one or two expended rounds at a time, really adds to these gun’s utility and value.

-Rev. Dr. J.D. Hooker
Kendallville, IN


We did not mean to imply that rounds could not be fired in moon-clipped revolvers such as the Smith & Wesson 625. The only reason a round might not ignite is if the primer is not seated correctly. The problem is ejection. The 625’s ejector rod is not machined to connect with the rims. After firing, they must be pried loose or pushed out from the front of each chamber. Only the .38 Special/.357 Magnum model 627 is fully operational with or without moonclips.

-Roger Eckstine


Magazine Safety Comments
First let me say that, overall, your magazine performs a valuable function in providing good information on the various firearms that are currently on the market. The Gun Tests issues from 1989-to-date occupy and important part of my reference library.

Too often, however, your staff gets carried away with private agendas and makes flippant and ill advised comments that appear to be based on ignorance, misinformation and flawed logic. I have noted such comments over the last few years and finally feel obligated to protest them.

The comments are most noticeable when commenting on various safety devices and in particular on the magazine safety.

The most recent examples can be seen in your recent October 2000 issue and the article on “Packable 9mm Pistols.” I think most unfortunate were the following comments on the Smith & Wesson Model 3913TSW: “save the magazine disconnector, which in our opinion is probably more useful in a movie scenario than real life.”

I would doubt that John Browning was swayed by a “movie scenario” when he designed the first magazine safety in 1910 and stated: “to insure absolutely against the dangerous accidental firing sometimes liable to occur if the trigger is pulled after the magazine has been withdrawn in the belief that all cartridges have been removed from the arm with the magazine, whereas the loaded cartridge last fed to the barrel still remains in the chamber.” I think he was more swayed by his years of experience with the semi-automatic pistol that predated his patent.

I am a forensic firearms consultant and I specialize in firearms accidents. I have personally investigated hundreds of firearms accidents. I have also personally investigated 28 cases in which a magazine safety would have prevented the accident. Many of the cases resulted in death of the victim or other severe permanent injuries such as spinal cord injuries. Many involved young people. I have also reviewed police reports and documentation on an additional 12 accident cases that clearly would have been avoided by a magazine safety. In addition to that, I have collected 45 newspaper and news media accounts of firearms accidents that would have been avoided by a magazine safety. This total of 85 cases are real world cases.

So my bottom line is a humble suggestion that your testers stick to the facts and avoid personal comments about subjects in which they are ignorant. Your readers will be far better served by this policy.

-Stanton O. Berg
Minneapolis, Minnesota


We have heard unverified reports that the magazine disconnector has been effective in saving the lives of police personnel when, in the midst of an attempted gun grab, the gun was rendered inert by pushing the mag release. We do not doubt these reports. However, we have been unable to find a trainer that teaches this technique. Instead, it is widely taught to reload with a round in the chamber whenever possible to protect oneself during this period of vulnerability. As John Browning may have stated, it can be a handy safeguard, but not if it lulls someone into such a false sense of security that they are willing to assume a gun is not loaded without proper inspection. Any number of safety devices are worthless without treating all guns as though they are always loaded.

-Roger Eckstine


Missing Information
In the March 2001 issue, we omitted some contact information in three sidebars. For more information on the Galco Meridian concealment purse and other Galco holsters and totes, call (800) 874-2526 for a catalog. For barrel porting information, call Mag-Na-Port at (810) 469-6727. For information on the Mossberg .410 Cruiser, call (800) 795-7893.