March 2002

Firing Line: 03/02

Correction
In the January 2002 issue, text was missing from the review of .22 lever action rifles. The missing material is as follows:

To assess their accuracy across a range of ammo quality, we shot the guns with rimfire lots from PMC Zapper, Fiocchi Super Match, Eley Tenex, Federal’s Gold Metal Ultra Match, Federal Classic, and American Eagle. Here’s how each product performed:

Browning BL 22
The Browning Model BL 22, catalog number 12064, carries a suggested retail price of $345.95. Our test sample came with a Western-style straight-grain walnut stock with no checkering and a high gloss polyurethane finish. Wood-to-metal fit was excellent on the gun’s two-piece stock.

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Triple Locks Brass
Regarding the February 2002 article on S&W’s Triple Locks: the .45 Auto Rim ammo may be hard to find, but if you’re into reloading, new brass by Remington is available from Midway, www.midwayusa.com.

Click on the “shop” bar, then to reloading components, to brass, to handgun brass, then .45 Auto Rim.

I look forward to your magazine every month. Keep up the great work.

-Bob Foley
Brooksville, Florida

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Adjusting The 97
In response to your test of the Winchester Model 97 shotguns in your Feburary 2002 issue, you state that when purchasing a take-down model gun to check for the fit between the receiver and the barrel assembly, that it could be loose. On the takedown Model 97 I own, there is a very simple adjustment to take up the slack in the threads. Many people may find that by simply making this adjustment, a gun they thought was too loose to shoot may be restored to almost new condition.

-Captain J.R. Webb
Greene Cty. Sheriff’s Office
Springfield, Missouri

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Sistema Owner Responds
As a C&R license holder and Sistema owner, I read the “Foreign Surplus .45s: Bargains or a Waste of Your Money” article in the February 2002 Gun Tests magazine with keen interest. When several of us subscribers shared your findings with some seven hundred or so “crufflers” on the C&R mailing list (c-r-ffl@ns.shelfspace.com), at least 200 of whom own Sistemas as well as many “Ballerina Molesters,” quite a discussion ensued.

It’s fair to say that your testers’ experiences with the Sistema did not parallel our collective experience. Since the article appeared a couple of days ago, many times more words have been written on our list, largely debunking the article, than were written in the original article itself.

Although I by no means speak for the C&R list members, my reading of the comments on that list suggests that there is a consensus that the Sistema represents a real value at about $300 plus $25 shipping to a C&R license holder (and a good bit more if purchased through a gun shop). Further, the general opinion on the list holds that you could “modernize” the weapon with new sights, trigger and hammer for far less than the article suggests. The Sistema is a part-for-part clone of the 1911 .45, and this is what makes it so inexpensive to “upgrade” or repair it. Some of us have.

I do believe that you folks listen to your readers, and they are legion on the C&R list. I suggest that you join the list, and you can also read the archives to see in detail why we think the Surplus .45s article missed the mark.

I note that you plan on testing the Bulgarian Makarov against the FEG PA-63. Many of us own several Makarovs and at least an FEG Hi-Power clone (I also own the PA-63). So we will be watching this one with interest also.

I do appreciate your magazine, but reserve the right to occasionally disagree.

-E. Mayes Kendrick
Richmond Hill, Georgia

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Breaking Down The .44
Could you please explain to me how the Cabela’s .44 blackpowder gun breaks down into the three main parts for cleaning, as written in the October 2001 Gun Tests?

-Brent Stover
@buckeye-express.com


To take down the 1860, or almost any percussion Colt or clone, first remove all caps from the nipples. Then knock out the wedge, from right to left. Use a plastic or aluminum drift, and just give it a good whack. You don’t have to depress the little spring on top of the wedge. The wedge will come almost all the way out the left side, and it ought to stay with the gun, but may not. There is no need to remove any screws.

With the wedge free from the barrel slot, put the revolver on half cock, so the cylinder can be rotated. Then activate the loading lever, making sure it rests against the front of the cylinder, not inside the chamber. Pressing on the loading lever will force the barrel forward, away from the frame and cylinder. Be sure the wedge is not blocking it in any way. Once the barrel is off, the cylinder will come off the front of its axle, and you have your three pieces.

After you’ve cleaned and lubed it all, reassembly is straightforward. You may have to bump the barrel fully into place against the front of the cylinder before the wedge will go all the way back in. I bump the muzzle against the edge of a wooden table in my shop. Knock the wedge back into place, which secures the whole thing together. If your gun is old or worn, it may be possible to wedge the barrel too tight, which will lock up the cylinder. On a good gun, the wedge will protrude just enough for the “lock” on its spring to clear the frame, and the barrel/cylinder gap will then be right.

-Ray Ordorica

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Magazine Gotcha
I am writing concerning the January 2002 test of lever-action 22 rifles. I wanted to comment about one point in your article where you mention how quick you can reload. I know that you are usually a stickler about testing guns just the way they come from the factory. I am an FFL Dealer, and I shoot Ruger 10/22 rifles quite a lot. I was wondering how you could load the Ruger so fast if you used it with only one magazine, which is the way it comes from the factory. I think that in the test when you mentioned reloading the rifles, you should have had to remove the rotary magazine, load it, and then reinsert it back into the rifle. Most Ruger pistols come with two magazines, but the rifles only come with one.

-Art Clement
Carl Junction, Missouri


You’re right. We included extra magazines we have in stock. We should have mentioned that, and added another $10 to the base price of the Ruger for a second magazine.

-Todd Woodard

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Marlin Defended
Reference your evaluation of .22 Long Rifle lever action rimfires in the January 2002 issue of Gun Tests. You made much of the slowness of filling the magazine tubes on the Browning and Marlin rifles. There is a simple fix to this problem that I applied to my Marlin 39 many years ago. I disassembled the rifle and rotated the magazine tube so that the loading port is closer to the barrel. When positioned just right, the wide groove formed by the tube and the barrel acts as a chute. Just lay the cartridges in the groove and slide them down until they fall into the loading port. Reloading time is just about cut in half, and, equally important, fewer rounds are dropped in the dirt.

Considering the large capacity of these tubes, however, I feel that rapid reloading is overrated.

The all-up weight of my 40+ year-old Marlin with steel-tube Weaver 2.5X scope and loaded magazine is right on at 7 pounds 10 ounces. I find it very comfortable to carry and that relatively heavy barrel steadies quickly when I bring the rifle up to my shoulder. At 50 yards, it will keep CCI Green Tag and Winchester Power Points in an inch and a half all day long.

Finally, I do appreciate its all-steel construction.

-Gene Zutell
@aol.com

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9mm Carbine Debate
I have been a reader for years, and I must respond to the February 2002 issue article on 9mm carbine semiauto rifles. While participating in several “Urban Rifle and Shotgun” courses taught by John Farnam (Defense Training International, Inc., www.defense-training.com) through Midwest Training Group (www.midwesttraininggroup.com), the Hi-Point 995 was used by one of the students (female) and it did function well and the accuracy was more than enough to pass the “qualifier” at the end of the program.

I chose not to purchase either of these rifles, buying instead the Kel-Tec Sub 9 rifle. This is not the current Sub 9, which is now utilizing more “plastic” parts (priced at about half of the cost I paid) than the original unit that I purchased about four years ago. Because I severely traumatized both shoulders in a fall several months before the class, I found it almost impossible to lift a Garand, HK 93, FN FAL, or AR-15, let alone shoulder it and hold it still enough to accurately fire it. The Kel-Tec Sub 9 was perfect for a pair of broken-down shoulders. The gun functioned flawlessly, it was light, the ghost-ring sights were quick, making accuracy outstanding. Some of the unique things about this gun is that it folds in half, (16 inch barrel), has a great, smooth trigger from the factory, has many optional accessories (trigger boot, length of pull extension, extra magazine carrier, a flashlight that can be mounted in the forend, and magazine well inserts that can be changed out to allow this unit to be used with hi-capacity magazines from Glock, Beretta, S&W, et. al. This rifle was designed to allow police units to have a light rifle capable of 100 yard accuracy (4 inch), capable of using the same ammo and magazines as the issued side arm, and with a low shoot through possibility.

The breakdown of the unit is quick, with only several operating parts, making cleaning simple. I have my carbine in an attache with its companion (Glock 17 with night sites), Kytec holster, multiple hi-cap magazines, and several hundred rounds of +P ammo.

Is there something about this rifle I do not like? Honestly, yes. I need to use a chin weld to aim, otherwise my beard gets caught in the aluminum stock attachment, and the bolt is in an unusual position. It does take a good pull to activate. I am sorry that Gun Tests readers will not have the opportunity to read about this fantastic carbine compared to the other two carbines.

-Dr. LCP
Palatine, Illinios

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Civil Liberties At Risk?
Many thanks for your mag. I read it with pleasure and interest, but I must take issue with your recent commentary [in which you criticized gun control advocate Sarah Brady.] The NRA in its efforts to garner votes for the GOP and to arm every man, woman, child and felon in these United States has failed to mention that small arms would have done little or nothing to prevent the tragedy of 9/11.

Indeed, can you imagine what a policy of letting small arms on aircraft would entail? When you take issue with the Clinton administration, I must remind you that the Bradys are Republicans and that George Bush Sr. and Ronald Reagan resigned from the NRA because they disagreed with the group’s policies.

I would also suggest that if you are interested in supporting the Bill of Rights, you take a look at the current administration’s “USA-Patriot Act.” The name alone is scary. I’m reminded of Samuel Johnson’s remark that “patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.” There are provisions therein that make 2nd Amendment concerns small change.

My personal view of the 2nd Amendment is that it merely guarantees the rights of states to maintain a militia, aka National Guard. I may not like it, but that’s the way it is. If the Supreme Court eventually resolves the issue as a personal right, I’ll be delighted, but I don’t believe that’s what the founders intended.

I do believe that we have a right to keep and bear arms, but that it is rooted in tradition and common law. The NRA’s efforts to politicize the notion may eventually remove that right. But, this is a subtle point on which honest people can disagree. PS. I own and shoot over 30 small arms, and many of my shooting companions are liberal Democrats.

PPS. I have a concealed weapon’s permit, but am glad that I am not allowed to carry a weapon onboard an aircraft.

-Jerry Schroeder
Seattle, WA

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Soda Can Airplanes
Let’s stop all this ignorant crap about what happens to an airplane when you shoot a hole in it, reference the letter from Kenn Lawrence. Hasn’t anyone asked Boeing? Or a U.S. Air Force combat-experienced pilot like me?

Boeing builds the 747 to maintain pressure even if something like seven windows are blown out. What will a bullet do to one? The windshields and side windows are designed to survive the force of handgun-caliber bullets. As to comparing a plane to a carbonated drink can, next time you step on board any airliner, just thump the fuselage near the door. Drink can? Jesus. There are many places on modern airliners where pistol-caliber rounds will not penetrate.

I’m not sure how many times the NVA ventilated my aircraft over Vietnam. They made nifty holes, which were often noisy and somewhat distracting, but did not affect pressurization unless they were really large. I once had a hole the size of my hand blown in the fuselage just behind me. I didn’t even know it until I landed.

A British-made corporate jet was hit by a missile over Africa some years ago and landed safely, and a friend of mine had pieces of a disintegrating engine pierce the hull of his corporate jet without losing pressurization. The Learjets I flew would maintain pressurization with the entire door seal blown out, though it would scream like a Banshee.

Airliners are incredibly tough. Ask the Israelis. They don’t worry about their armed guards depressurizing the plane. They train to avoid shooting the crew, other passengers, and the aircraft’s systems, as do our Federal Air Marshals. Arm the pilots? As a former military combat pilot, and 13,500-hour Airline Transport pilot, most of it in jets, I know the correct answer is “Hell, yes.”

-Jan Gerstner
Delafield, Wisconsin