December 2002

Firing Line: 12/02

Glock Test Correction
Re October 2002, “Compact Polymer .40 S&Ws: Glock, Springfield, and H&K”: You folks have the best gun magazine available. I really enjoy reading your opinions, which are not formed by high-paying advertisers.

In your test of compact polymer .40s, you incorrectly stated that the Glock has no “chamber-loaded indicator.” I refer you to your close-up picture of the Glock extractor printed on page 4, which shows the loaded chamber indicator on the Glock. I am a police officer and have carried a Glock on my hip every day for several years now. Get yourself a Glock, and lose that nickel-plated sissy pistol.

-Tom Martin
Murray, UT


Thanks for pointing this out, as did several other readers. I had noted there was something different about the extractor but didn’t follow up. I checked with Glock, and they said that in the last six months they have modified the extractor so that it did indeed protrude when the chamber is loaded. I haven’t seen this advertised or mentioned elsewhere. Props to Glock for this addition. —Roger Eckstine

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Wilson’s KZ45 Lives!
Re September 2002, “Firing Line”: I hope you can help me out with an issue that has come up recently in Gun Tests magazine. A subscriber wrote to you (Dan Vander Ploeg of Portland, OR) and said that we told him that Wilson Combat no longer produces the KZ45 model handgun. This is not correct. We are still making the gun in Full-size and Compact versions.

-Tyson Anderson, Sales Mgr.
Wilson Combat/Scattergun Technologies
www.wilsoncombat.com

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870 Express Cracks
Re October 2002, “Affordable 12-Gauge Pumps: How Much Is Beauty, Slickness Worth?” You review the Remington 870 Express as a budget pump and you remarked on the wood finish and wondered if it would suffer adverse effects from absorbing water. I am an officer with the N.C. Department of Correction, and our issue shotgun is the 870 Express. As a member of our Emergency Response Team, I was on an escape for two days in sometimes very hard rain, and yes, the wood did take on water to the point the forearm was swollen and prevented the action from cycling. The buttpad also enlarged around the back of the receiver, producing a noticeable protrusion on all sides.

After this experience, all our weapons were changed to synthetic stocks. It’s not as pretty as wood, but the swollen forearm is about the only thing that can cause the Remington to malfunction, operator error aside. They are robust and give good performance, even with the #1 buckshot we use.

-Kevin Campbell
@triad.rr.com

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We Can’t Hear You
Re October 2002, “Electronic Ear Muffs: Peltor Leads the Pack in Hearing Protection”: I love Gun Tests because you give me facts backed up with test data. That’s why I was so disappointed with the electronic ear muff article.

You can’t test guns by assembling a few buddies and seeing which gun everyone likes the best. That’s because we don’t care which guns you like, we care about which guns work and shoot the best. The guns must be loaded, shot, chronographed, and the accuracy results compared. Same goes for ear protection. The NRR for each pair was not listed. We don’t know if the testers put them on properly (not like in the pictures, with the ear muff over the top of the hat). Electronic ear muffs do a lot more than let you hear range commands. They clip or compress the loud gun report. It would have been interesting to see which brand provided the best clipping or compressing as measured with an electronic tester. Or, which amplified the loudest with ear plugs installed (actual value, not human opinion).

-Phil Smith
Grand Ledge, MI


We disagree on several points. The best test of shooting products identifies how products might actually be used— with hats, for instance, to check on fitting adaptability. In this case, a focus-group approach is actually better than a lab approach, in our view. The noise-reduction readings are useless if the cup fit isn’t malleable, for example. —Todd Woodard

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FAL Hold Open
Re September 2002, “FAL Rifle Test: Do Less Expensive Models Make Sense For You?”: I am not sure you are correct in calling the CAI FALs “defective” because the bolt will not lock back on an empty magazine. On the FAL, the rear of the magazine follower interfaces with a small pin in the hold open to raise the hold open when the magazine is empty.

Apparently, the CAI rifles are made with British Commonwealth parts and, for reasons unknown to me, the British removed the pin to eliminate the empty-magazine hold open feature, though the hole is still there.

So the CAI rifle is not really “defective,” since the original rifle did not have the automatic hold open; the CAI merely carries over a feature, undesirable or not, of the original rifles. I simply made and fitted a new pin, a rather easy job, and the bolt on my CAI rifle now stays back on an empty magazine, just like it should.

-Jim Keenan
Middletown, MD

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High-Stress Shooting
Re September 2002, “Firing Line”: I’m really enjoying my subscription to Gun Tests. I think given the limitations of judging a gun model based on one or two examples, you do a great job of uncovering problem areas to look at when handling an individual weapon at the dealer’s counter. Of course if you had twenty of each model taken from different manufacturing runs, the information would be more accurate, but we’d be paying twenty bucks a copy for the magazine and waiting months between issues.

-Kurt Sellers
West End, NC

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More Ammo Data?
Re September 2002, “Ported Vs. Nonported: Six-Way Revolver Test”: I enjoyed your review on the Taurus trio of revolvers (.44 Special, .357 Magnum, .38 Special ported and nonported models). A couple things: I would liked to have seen a test of identical .38 Special ammo in Models 617 and 817. In comparing the data on the various 125-grain .38 Special test ammo you employed in those two models, seems to me that if a person were going to shoot .38 Special and was more concerned with velocity than weight of the gun, they should going with the Model 617 .357, right?

Where did you find an 817 with a ribbed grip? Unless I missed something, the Taurus website doesn’t indicate the ribbed grip as being an option or standard on the 817. From the description at the Taurus website and elsewhere, the 817 is virtually identical to the 617 except in frame weight and chamber/caliber. Hence, it would also be nice to see a comparison review between the two models, both with hard rubber grip, non-ported (and/or ported), with at least one identical .38 Special ammo used in both.

-Dan Vaisanen
@perkinscoie.com

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Surplus Pistols
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up in Bargain Test”: I have been a Tokarev fan for 40 years and started shooting Russian TT-33’s with WW2 ammo. I have Chinese M54-1 copies and found them to be very reliable, accuracy matching your reported findings. I have 7,500+ rounds fired from Tokarevs with only five jams total. Of these, two were magazine related (threw it out) and three were from ammunition (1960s commercial .30 Mauser (7.63X25) that functions well in Russian pistols, but not well in tight chrome-chambered Chinese M-54s). China made two models of the Tokarev, the M-51 which is C&R FFL eligible and the newer Norinco imported M-54, which is not. The M-54 comes in a 9mm model as well and the high capacity M-213. All are very reliable military arms. The Chinese M54-1 7.62X25 comes with a manufacturer’s estimate of 3,000-round life, the 9mm with 2,000-round life estimate. I have 2,500+ rounds through one M-54 and it is as new, accurate and tight as can be. I had a Chinese M54-1 chrome plated years ago and carry it CCW. Strange maybe, but totally reliable (My safety is very tight). Newer guns and systems are not always better, I believe proven reliability is utmost. The Tokarev uses a tried and tested cartridge with utter reliability under all conditions. Thanks for a good magazine and accurate reporting.

-Fred Tetor
Mt. Pleasant, SC

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Handgun For The Lady
My friend and his wife stopped by to target shoot and discuss a “working outdoors” (they live in a rural area), self-defense handgun for her. It had to be compact, lightweight, reliable, powerful-and-accurate enough, and no more expensive than a Glock. They were considering a .40 S&W Glock, or a Makarov, or a CZ 52. When I mentioned Taurus and Kel-Tec, they preferred to stick with “brand” names such as Glock. I decided my Gun Tests reports could aid their search for “her working-defense handgun.”

I pulled out your test reports on Makarovs, the Taurus P-111, the CZ 52, and “manstopper” ammunition like Cor-Bon, etc. After scanning your articles (and firing my CZ 52 and 9mm Kel-Tec on my range), they decided:

1. The CZ 52 is overly powerful and heavy for her needs. She also prefers a “less complicated” double-action pistol.

2. The Makarov and other “military” pistols might not reliably chamber “manstopper” ammo.

3. A 9mm pistol (smaller, lighter, and less recoil than a .40 S&W equivalent) would do the job.

4. A Taurus P-111 is worth considering. My Kel-Tec didn’t “fail” their evaluation, but the trigger pull is v-e-r-y l-o-n-g!

Our next move was to visit a gun store, where she decided a Glock is too “top heavy” for her. She liked the Taurus P-111, but also became enamored with a Taurus Model 85 titanium “snubbie.” Well, whodathunkit! My wife Ruby’s favorite handgun is the Taurus Model 85 titanium. Ruby didn’t drag hers out for our friends to fire because he didn’t think she was considering a revolver, and I assumed they wanted the added firepower of an automatic. Now they are pondering buying either the Model 85 titanium or the P-111 (she wants them both).

Ruby isn’t surprised at all. She says women have “different hands” than men; and what works for men doesn’t work for women. So thanks, Gun Tests, for all the info. My friends may contact you to get their own Gun Tests because mine are “keepers.”

-Bob Easton
Lancaster, OH