April 2003

Downrange: 04/03

BIG GUN, BIG NEWS. Smith & Wesson caused quite a stir when it unveiled its Model 500 five-shot revolver chambered for the new Smith & Wesson .500 Magnum cartridge. Anti-gun groups denounced the handgun as too powerful; it fires a round producing about three times the muzzle energy of a .44 magnum. Orlando-based TV crews scrambled to get pictures of it on the network feeds, even though area law-enforcement officials told them the 4.5-pound hunting firearm, introduced at the February SHOT Show, was hardly the sort of thing criminals would tote around. Then, Illinois Congressman Danny Davis made the curious observation that no one hunts deer with a handgun.

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GUN TESTS RATINGS. As new readers come on board the Gun Tests train, they often have questions about what our subjective ratings mean. Here’s a primer:

• Best Buy: This is our highest accolade. A gun with this rating functions well, shoots accurately, and costs less than others in its class.

• Our Pick: In a given test, we may prefer one gun over others based on its unusual accuracy, superior performance, unusual features, or nice cosmetics. We recognize such a gun for these positives without regard to its cost.

• Buy It: In a given test, we give this ranking to a gun that functions appropriately for its category.

• Conditional Buy: In a given test, we may have reservations about some aspect of a gun’s performance or pricing. We express those reservations clearly so the reader can decide if he agrees with our concerns, and can buy or not buy the gun as a result.

• Don’t Buy: In a given test, some aspect of a gun’s performance — in particular, safety, function, or accuracy — doesn’t meet our standards. As a result, we alert readers to these problems and recommend that they not purchase the product.

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GLOCK STATEMENT ON BALLISTIC IMAGING. A recent CBS 60 Minutes story about attempts to create a so-called “ballistic fingerprinting” system aired less than one minute of a two-hour interview with Glock, Inc. attorney Paul Jannuzzo, who is concerned that some viewers may have been left with the wrong impression about the handgun company’s position on firearms registration. According to documents posted on the Glock website, www.gssfonline.com, “Glock is not for gun registration, plain and simple.”

Furthermore, “A database of firearm characteristics that are captured at the manufacturing site would actually be an argument against registration. Glock is not for retrieving and capturing characteristics of firearms that have already been sold; but, rather, believes consideration should be given to capturing the characteristics on new firearms before sale.This way the characteristics are recorded to a serial number, not a citizen and his or her gun.”


-Todd Woodard