March 2003

Firing Line: 03/03

Sub Problems
Re February 2003, “9mm Carbines: Kel-Tec’s Sub Rifle 2000 Is Affordable, Reliable and Totally Trick”:

I read your article regarding the Sub 2000. I have to admit that it is an interesting gun, but I did have problems with mine. I shot it at the range with both Cor-Bon 9mm HP +P and Winchester WinClean. I had multiple failures to feed. The rounds would cock at a 45-degree angle (the bottom lip of the chamber would then take a bite out of the side of the round) or it would jam the bottom edge of the bullet straight into the bottom lip of the chamber and cram the bullet further into the cartridge. It did this with both types of ammo in the supplied magazine, Beretta stock mags and aftermarket hi-cap mags.

Looking at the feed area, I noticed that the lower collar and lower part of the chamber had a staggered notch cut into them that seemed to be interfering with the feeding of the rounds. Frustrated, I called and spoke with the Kel-Tec gunsmith. He recommended that I get a Dremel and polish the notched area of the feed ramp to smooth it out. The gunsmith stated that as long as I don’t change the basic setup of the gun, that smoothing out that notch wouldn’t void the warranty. I heavily polished the area to make one continuous feed notch and I hope that this will take care of the problem.

A friend who also purchased a Sub has had a problem in that when folding the two halves, they don’t line up. He has to move the barrel over about a half inch to engage the latch.

-G. E. Cook
@fpl.com

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Valtro 1998 A1 .45 ACP
Re December 2002, “Guns of the Year”:

I was surprised to see that the “best guns” issue did not include the Valtro. In your July issue you commented that the Valtro was “one of the finest 1911-type 45 handguns we have ever seen.” Did something happen in your extended testing?

-Bob Kearns
@aol.com


No. We just don’t have room to laud every gun in the December issue, so we have to make some choices based on space. Not including the Valtro was our oversight. -Todd Woodard

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Barrel Length Swap
Re January 2003, “Plinking .22s: Smith & Wesson, Beretta, and Walther Handguns”:

I purchased a 22A about a year ago and felt that a 7-inch barrel with a scope would be a lot of fun, and by golly it is! I have found that only one thing is wrong with the 22A. You have to make certain that the slide is back when you want to change barrels! If the slide is locked back, it is easy to change barrels from my 5-inch to the 7- inch barrel. I purchased a scope for the 7-inch barrel and have a blast firing it!

-R. Kempiak
@aol.com

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Walther’s Faults
Re January 2003, “Plinking .22s: Smith & Wesson, Beretta, and Walther Handguns”:

On the surface, the Walther P22 is a fun gun to own — it is small, appears well made, and accurate to shoot. Having said that, it is also the most unreliable handgun I own. Bought new in the middle of August 2002, it spent the better part of September/October with Smith & Wesson for repairs.

First, neither magazine was feeding properly. Evidently, the lips on the two magazines were set at a wrong angle or were too wide. When the magazines were filled to capacity (10 rounds), the top (first) two rounds were angled too high for proper feeding. The magazines worked fine, however, if short-loaded to only eight rounds. According to my gun dealer, at least two other purchasers had the same problem with the P22. Smith & Wesson replaced one magazine and adjusted the other one. This solved the magazine-loading problem.

Now, there is a problem with misfires. It took me awhile to figure out what’s happening. Evidently, after one or two rounds are fired, the manual safety starts to engage on its own. The ball-and-spring detent in each safety lever (there is one on each side) is insufficient to keep the safety levers in the upper (fire) position as the gun recoils and the slide retracts. As the safety levers work their way into the lower (safe) position, the hammer can no longer reach the firing pin, hence the misfire.

The problem occurs with all types of ammunition, regardless whether the pistol was cleaned or not. The misfires can only be avoided for sure if I use duct tape to keep the safety levers in the upper (fire) position as the slide retracts. The misfires can also be avoided if I raise the safety levers manually after each round is fired. Obviously, either approach leaves a lot to be desired.

-Name Withheld

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Other Truck Guns
Re February 2003, “Mike’s Ultimate Truck Gun”:

Nice work by Mr. Montgomery on the custom truck gun. Winchester also makes two models of short, lever-action .30-30 rifles that also would make great “truck” guns. The Trapper and the Ranger Compact models have 16-inch barrels, five-shot magazines and are available in two length-of-pull dimensions with overall lengths of 34.25 inches and 33.25 inches. The “brochure” prices of the Winchesters are $426 for the Trapper and $371 for the Ranger Compact. What is neat about the snubby .30-30 lever guns is that “gun-fright” people get a lot less upset when they see a cowboy gun than they do when observing something they think is an assault rifle. Another nice feature of lever-gun tubular magazines is the ability to “top-off” after a couple of shots.

-Steve Knight
Valdosta, GA

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M1 Carbines
Re January 2003, “We Pick a Pair of M1 Carbines: Choose Fulton Or A Surplus Winchester”:

A quick check of on-line firearms auction sites, such as www.guns america.com, will show the difference in price between a Winchester M1 carbine and a Fulton Armory carbine is much closer than you indicated in your article.

The average M1 carbine price is close to the $400 to $500 range, and the average Winchester is closer to $700 to $900. If you purchase a Fulton Armory M1 carbine, you are at least assured that everything has been checked within specs.

The vast majority of M1 carbines have been rebuilt so many times during their service life that finding an original is highly unlikely. Many M1 carbines were exported to the Republic of Korea for service and were later imported back to this country for sale. The purist would have you believe that one brought back with the importers mark on the barrel is less that one that never left the country. However, I feel such a weapon just has a greater story to tell.

-Robert D. Ashley
Rockledge, FL

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CZ-52 Barrel Conversion
Re February 2003, “Follow Up Tests — CZ-52 9mm Barrel Is a Winner”:

I just finished reading your article on the CZ-52 barrel conversion to 9mm. It just doesn’t seem worth it since you can’t shoot hollow points reliably, and that’s the only advantage the 9mm has over the 7.62x25. The bullets cost about the same, are just as easy to find, and the 7.62x25 is more powerful (510 foot-pounds from S&B ammo compared to 376 foot-pounds).

Another way you can fix the loose grips is to put on a Hogue Handall Universal grip. I put one on mine, and it not only keeps the grips tight. It also thickens the grip for people who think the grips are a little thin.

Also, you wrote in the November 2002 issue that the CZ-52 punch marks were for accuracy, but this has been proven not to be true. The punch marks were put there in the 70s or 80s when they were refurbished. When the guns were rebuilt, they were marked for the shape they were in before rebuilding. No marks, not rebuilt; one mark very good; and so on.

-Ryan Emrick
Berryville, VA


I agree it makes little sense to convert a fully functional .30 Tokarev to 9mm, unless of course you obtained a ton of 9mm ammo for little or no cost, and had no other 9mm to shoot it in, but did have a good CZ-52 on hand. I’d be very happy with an original .30 CZ. On both the guns we examined, we found no punch marks on the slide. -Ray Ordorica

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CZ-52 Dangerous?
Re February 2003, “Follow Up Tests — CZ-52 9mm Barrel Is a Winner”:

In this article Gun Tests wrote, “The cartridge was stuck tightly, and in the process of trying to remove it we discovered a serious condition about the CZ-52, of which all owners should be aware. With the slide nearly a quarter-inch out of battery, pushing upward on the safety lever will drop the hammer, but the firing-pin lock is not engaged in that position, and THE GUN WILL FIRE. Our pistol fired into the ground, and it was frightening to learn about this limitation of the CZ-52 the hard way.”

My question: Is this true of a stock CZ-52 or only of the CZ-52 that has been converted to 9mm?

-Name Withheld


Because we changed nothing on the gun except the barrel, I would guess the original gun will also fire out of battery as well, but we no longer have an original gun on hand to test this. Try it yourself with an unloaded gun and a wood dowel in the bore. If the dowel flies out when the hammer falls, the gun would have fired. -Ray Ordorica

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Kimber Type II Schwartz
Re March 2003, “Commander-Sized Polymer 1911 .45s: Kimber, Wilson, and STI Face Off”:

I’m an M1911 fan, own several, and have been shopping single stacks lately. I had narrowed my list to include a Kimber type II and then went to my back issues of Gun Tests to see what I could find there. In the January 2002 issue you dinged the Kimber pretty soundly for the Schwartz safety system they had instituted in all their type II guns to meet the California test requirements and said, “Don’t Buy.” I spoke to the Kimber Custom Shop and they said the safety system works fine, which is at least partially demonstrated by the LAPD SWAT selecting their pistols. He also said he had received the pistol you tested for that article and “it operated fine.”

Has your view changed or do you still recommend against the Kimber with a Schwartz-style safety system?

-Jerome Reid
San Diego, CA


Our view of the gun we tested in January 2002 hasn’t changed at all. We described exactly what happened with the gun during our handling of it. Based solely on that gun’s performance (it didn’t operate fine, despite what Kimber told you), we wouldn’t recommend a gun with the Schwartz-style safety system. However, other Kimber guns we’ve tested since (including one tested in this issue) haven’t exhibited the same problems, so we wouldn’t disqualify Kimbers based on that feature alone. -Roger Eckstine

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Marlin Rifle Sights
Re Dec. 2002, “Guns of the Year:

I’m an enthusiastic reader of Gun Tests, and for once can offer a helpful hint. You had a good write-up on the Marlin 1894CB in .38/.357. The text states in part that the rifle could use “perhaps an aperture sight [though] the tang is not drilled for one.” I own a “sister” rifle to this one — mine is the Model 1894 SS (stainless) in 44 Magnum. I found out that Marlin offers an aftermarket “ghost ring” aperture sight for the 1894 series, made by AO Sight Systems. This features a 0.100-inch-wide ramped front sight with a white vertical post, and an adjustable rear peep sight with two different apertures 0.191 inch and 0.230 inch. The rear sight fits neatly onto the receiver’s rearmost two scope drill/tap screws. This system is a little pricey, at about $100 for the set. Also, a word of caution is that the front sight requires some gunsmithing to install properly — which cost me about $40, but also included a very good boresighting job which required zero adjustment when I got to the field. The total of $140 may seem high, but is a lot less than a decent scope would be. Once installed, though, the “ghost ring” set up works superbly! Sight acquisition is very quick and easy, especially in heavy brush/low light/moving-target conditions. The “vertical stringing” phenomenon as a result of the original bead front/buckhorn rear sights (which I also encountered in my first uses of the 94SS 44) is eliminated.

-Louis H. Knapp
@aol.com

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Frank Hamer’s Model 8
Re November 2002, “Semi-Auto .30-06s: Browning’s BAR Outshines the HK SLB”:

You state that the Remington Model 8 Frank Hamer was carrying (and firing) at Bonnie and Clyde’s last confrontation was a .30/06. The Remington Model 8 was never manufactured in .30/06. The only cartridges it was made for were the Remington rimless .25, .30, .32 & .35 Remington calibers. Hamer’s Model 8 was a .35 Remington. He fired two times at the last confrontation: one round into Bonnie’s head and one round into Clyde’s head. I suppose he thought that was enough.

-Charles Asher
@fuse.net

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Bersa Thunder .380
Re November 2002, “.380 Pistols: Beretta’s Cheetah Wins Small-Gun Showdown”:

I recently purchased a new Bersa Thunder .380 at a local gun show. I bought it because of its small size and for the affordable price. I paid under $200 for mine. A week after I bought my gun, I received my new issue of Gun Tests. I was excited when I saw you had tested the Bersa. I was a little disappointed that the gun got a “Don’t Buy” rating because of a safety issue. I took my pistol to my shooting club and shot 250 rounds through the gun trying to duplicate the problem you described. My gun never malfunctioned once. The safety worked perfectly. When I moved the decocking lever down to cover the red dot showing the gun was “on safe” the hammer always fell and the trigger was disconnected. I don’t know if your gun might have a defect from the factory or if the tester didn’t move the lever all the way down to the “safe” position. If the gun has a defect, I am sure it would be covered under warranty.

-George Lamb
Chester, Virginia

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Lights On, Lights Off
Re November 2002, “.380 Pistols: Beretta’s Cheetah Wins Small-Gun Showdown”:

I’m having an issue with your rating on the Bersa Thunder .380 Auto. I’ve been carrying that gun now for about 18 months as a back-up to my main carry. You lost me when you started talking about the decocker safety and the 9 o’clock, 8 o’clock, 7o’clock positions. I’ve found this gun to perform flawlessly for me through the 750 to 1,000 rounds I’ve put through it.

As for the safety not doing what you feel it should do in all those different positions, well maybe that’s because it’s ON in the 9 o’clock and OFF in the 6 o’clock and as for what’s going on between 9 and 6, that’s not in the game plan. To me it was like saying my desk lamp works fine when it’s being feed 120 volts at 60 hertz, and it’s off when I cut off the power supply. But when I run the power through a pot and ramp it down to 85 volts and 60 hertz and then 47 volts at 60 hertz, the darn thing flickers and dims.

Do you see what I mean?

-Mark C. Carlson
@comcast.

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Love That Bersa
Re November 2002, “.380 Pistols: Beretta’s Cheetah Wins Small-Gun Showdown”:

I have owned both the Walther PPK and the Bersa Thunder .380. When I bought the Bersa at a gun show, I had three different people stop me before I got out the door and tell me, “You’re going to love that gun.” I’ve never, ever had that happen to me with any other gun. They were right. I really do like it. The Walther has such a strong spring that I could barely operate the slide, and my wife was never able to get the first round chambered. The slide always cut the web of my hand when I shot it. The grip was uncomfortable. The gun seemed too heavy, and the sights were hardly adequate. Also, the magazine only holds seven rounds. I could never get more than six in it. All this for what should have been a quality pistol for twice the cost of the Bersa.

The new Bersa DLX cost me $189. It holds 9+1 rounds, has a comfortable grip, and an adjustable rear sight. All the smaller ladies that have shot it like it because they can rack the slide. It is light, handles comfortably and is fun to shoot. I’ve never had it malfunction even during break-in. I like the Bersa so much that I’ve gotten rid of the Walther and bought a second one.

-Gene Wilson,
Fairfield, TX