April 2003

Firing Line: 04/03

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

The article on Mike’s Truck Gun caught my eye. About 15 years ago Marlin made a rifle exclusively for K-Mart called the 30TK. It is almost identical. It had an 18-inch barrel, two-thirds length magazine tube, straight stock and lever and permanently attached sling swivels. Came with a camo sling. I purchased one, put a Williams peep on and have used it since. Very handy indeed.

-Robert Kellner
@hotmail.com

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Sig-Mauser M2 .45 Auto
Re February 2003, “9mm Carbines: We Would Buy Kel-Tec’s Sub 2000":

Okay, so you didn’t like my 9m Leinad Cobray; and you did like the Kel-Tec Sub 2000, which I thought was ugly. I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourselves by testing a Sig-Mauser M2 .45 Auto. I bought one, and I think it’s great for a SIG that costs 400 bucks! The trigger is one of those “pre-loaded” double-action types (like the Glock), but once you get used to that, it’s a lot of gun for the money, I think.

-Bob Easton
Lancaster, OH

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Light as a Feather?
Re February 2003, “9mm Carbines: We Would Buy Kel-Tec’s Sub 2000":

In my opinion the Sub 2000 is an excellent gun for the price you pay, but I still think the Feather USA Inc. RAV-9 9mm take-down carbine is a better rifle. I prefer it over the Sub 2000, even though it costs almost $200 more.

The Feather RAV-9 has several major ergonomic advantages over the Sub 2000, including:

• It is lighter than the polymer carbon-based Sub 2000, even though the feather is made entirely of aircraft strength aluminum and is also designed to take 9mm+P+ ammo;

• It also uses high-capacity UZI magazines, which are much cheaper and easier to find than the 30-round Glock mags;

• It is much easier to assemble and take down than the Sub 2000;

• It is much easier to point and aim and has better accuracy than the Sub 2000. Also, my experience has shown that some of the earlier production models of the Sub 2000 have flimsy front sights, which can be broken easily while adjusting them.

-Lance Browder
Bartlett, TN

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Glock 36 Thoughts
Re August 2000 online version, “Non-1911 .45 ACPs: Heresy, Or Are They Here To Stay”:

While I realize this article is old news, I feel compelled to share my own opinions on the Glock 36.

First, I’m relieved that if nothing else, you found the G36 to be reliable; that helps re-affirm my decision to make the pistol my next buy. But “uncomfortable, mushy trigger, poor sight picture, so-so accuracy?” Are you sure you and I fired the same make and model of pistol here?

While the recoil and muzzle flip are definitely noticeable, I couldn’t help but be amazed just how comfy the little darlin’ felt when I was shooting it. As far as the sight picture and trigger are concerned, no other pistol I’ve ever fired has given me the speed of target acquisition and faster center-of-mass hits than the G36. By contrast, the Kimber Compact that you love so much felt decidedly uncomfortable, its trigger felt less manageable, it gave me only adequate accuracy but not the tack-driving precision that I got out of the Glock, and it jammed on me.

The Glock was flawlessly reliable in the side-by-side test I performed. Mind you, I didn’t start off as a Glock fan. I couldn’t stand the trigger of the G17 when I first tried it a dozen years ago, and it didn’t balance right in my hand. What’s more ironic, I generally prefer full-size pistols to compacts (I don’t have large hands, but the Beretta 92FS feels just fine in my hand, thanks), yet when it comes to Glocks, I do better with the sub-compacts.

As for being “better served with a revolver,” no thanks. I carried a 2.75-inch Ruger SP-101 for awhile, and though it was a fine weapon, it was unpleasant to shoot and it dug into my hip bone and short ribs when carried in an Uncle Mike’s Sidekick IWB holster. The G36, in addition to being much more comfortable to shoot, feels perfectly comfy in that same IWB rig. “We’re not sure a 6+1 .45 ACP pistol is something every Glock aficionado really needs,” you say. Au contraire, this is just what the doctor ordered. I’ll take 6+1 rounds of my favorite .45 ACP over five rounds of .38 Special/.357 Magnum.

-2Lt Chris Orr
Tyndall AFB, FL

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Hi-Power Details
Re October 2002, “Firing Line”:

It was gratifying to read the response from Mr. Rick DeMitt, the FN director of marketing, to your test of the FN Hi-Power. However, his explanation of the cause of its stop pin coming out during firing doesn’t hold water.

1. The slide stop has a groove in its bottom that mates with a corresponding surface on the left receiver wall. Unless its finger piece aligns with the notch in the slide, this engagement, not the ball detent, is what holds the slide stop in place. This alignment occurs during approximately one-eighth of the slide’s travel.

2. It is impossible to assemble a properly adjusted Hi-Power with the recoil spring guide inverted. The rear of spring guide has a ring-shaped projection that mates with a groove in the barrel lug. This is what keeps the barrel, slide, recoil spring and spring guide together during assembly. This ring and its corresponding groove are machined about 0.017 inch off center. It appears that this feature was intended to prevent mis-assembly of the type described by Mr. DeMitt. The spring guide can indeed be inserted into the slide in an inverted position. However, the resulting assembly will be 0.034 inch wider than normal in the barrel lug/spring guide area — too wide to enter the corresponding groove in the receiver.

-John Collins
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

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Tell FN to Take a Hike
Re October 2002, “Firing Line”:

Gun Tests recently evaluated an FN-produced Hi-Power 9mm pistol. Your testing procedure went fine as far as I’m concerned. My problem is with FN’s blame-the-customer response. In his response to your test, Mr. Rick DeMilt, director of sales and marketing at FN, made four points. As a potential customer, I translated his points as follows:

• FN Hi-Power pistols are so likely to be defective or poorly assembled that only an expert should buy one;

• Forget common sense, it is okay to shoot an unsafe Hi-Power because, hey, it’s a “Hi-Power”;

• Any fool knows we’ve been making “Brownings” for years (so don’t bother buying a used pistol, it’s probably junk too);

• If some fool customer somehow buys one of our poorly assembled pistols and they aren’t a Hi-Power expert, just send the gun back (at $30 overnight shipping both ways) and we’ll fix it eventually.

Here is the response the managers at FN should have sent: “Thank you so much for choosing to buy an FN Hi-Power. We are so sorry you had a problem with your new pistol. Based on your test results, we evaluated the assembly and inspection processes for this pistol at the production-floor level. We made several significant changes that should prevent this problem from ever happening again (please call me personally for more details). Enclosed please also find a prepaid shipping label for the return and repair of your pistol. Again, we regret any delay in getting your new handgun up and running.”

Give FN the “Do Not Buy” rating they deserve and tell FN to take a hike.

-Rodney Robbins
@twave.net

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We the People
Re February 2003, “The Nutty Ninth Circuit”:

In all of the gun-related court cases I’ve read about, one argument always seems to be absent. What in the Constitution differentiates “the people” of the Second Amendment from “the people” of: The Preamble, Article 1 and 2, the 1st, 4th, 9th, 10th, or 17th amendments?

You would think that, if there were a difference, it would be clearly spelled out. Incidentally, notice how many uses of “the people” involve voting. Would a people not trusted to own firearms be trusted to vote? I’m not a lawyer. I don’t need to be. The Constitution was written in English, not Latin.

-Brian Beaumont
Geneva, OH

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Custom Lever Guns
Re October 2002, “Custom Lever Guns On A Budget”:

I enjoyed the article by Mark Pixler. I too am an “old-caliber-gun crank” and have built a number of obsolete calibers on both lever and single-shot rifles. In 1991, I decided I needed a lever action .38-55 WCF for a deer rifle. Like Pixler, I found the available .38-55s were largely in the collector ranks and in most cases were blackpowder frames and barrels. My first conclusion was I needed a frame intended for smokeless powder and not a collector item.

My second decision was driven by my old eyes. To be a hunting rifle, a scope was required. With all that in mind, my choice quickly centered on a Marlin. I started looking for a Marlin in .375 WCF with the intention of re-chambering over to the 38-55. Instead I found a nice old (1950’s) .30-30 336 with pistol grip stock and half magazine for $200. I bought a new unfinished fancy wood stock and forearm from Fajen and a 26-inch Douglas barrel blank. The gunsmithing to chamber, fit, and blue the barrel was $290. Nothing was required to change the cartridge elevator and feed mechanism. I had the smith install a tang-mounted Marbles peep and used the ramp front sight and hood from the .30-30 barrel. After some fitting and a number of hours rubbing on an oil finish,I had nice looking tiger-stripe walnut stock. Topping it off, I installed a black Pachmayr recoil pad. Using WW brass, Accurate Arms 1680 powder, Hornady 220-grain round nose and WW primer, I can consistently shoot a 1.25-inch group at 100 yards from a rest. Though I use a 4X scope on a Weaver base and rings, the tang peep remains a option should the scope fail. All in all, the rifle represents a lot of enjoyment for a total investment under $700 (1991 money).

-Ken Willis
Castle Rock, CO

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Revolver Problems
Re October 2002, “Eight-Shot .357 Magnum Wheelguns, Smith and Taurus Face Off”:

Have just finished reading online your article on the eight-shot Taurus and S&W revolvers. A big thing was made of adding a ball detent to the cranes of both guns. In the 2001 consumer guide, I was reading of problems with a Taurus snubby. It seems to me, while all this product shuffling between the two companies is going on, I am extremely curious that neither has figured out the one solution that is both cheap and definitive for crane problems. Colt’s solved it years ago. It is right-hand rotation of the cylinder. The rotational forces force the crane closer to the frame in this system, which is why Colt always used only a single cylinder lock at the back and it worked fine for accuracy. Left-hand rotation tends to force the crane away from the frame, witness the early .38 Colt Army DA revolvers, almost all of which, with any use at all, developed problems with the crane/frame gap. This was solved elegantly by reversing the rotation. It would seem to me to be somewhat redundant, but one could make the case, I guess, for the strongest lockup of a DA revolver with its cylinder on a side swingout crane, to be right hand rotation, rear lock, crane lock, front of ejector rod lock.

-James Nixon
Corpus Christi, TX

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White Dot Worries
Re October 2002, “Want to Win at Cowboy Action? Try a .357/.38 Lever Rifle”:

The white diamond under the rear sight notch of Marlin lever actions is not allowed in SASS competition. It is not strongly policed, but it is the rule, and I finally got tired of worrying about it and blacked out the white diamond of the Marble’s sight on my Winchester ’92. It slowed me down, but I am in compliance now.

-Jim Watson
@bellsouth.net

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Hornet Defended
Re October 2002, “Firing Line”:

My first year’s subscription is almost over, and I do intend to renew for another year. Gun Tests is a good, informative publication.

I just wanted to respond to Stephen Davis’s letter about the Ruger 77/22 Hornet. I’ve had mine for four years now, in the laminated/target-barrel configuration, and quite a few people have shot it here at my little range, and I have subsequently sold four of them! Everyone loves to shoot this rifle. I don’t know why Mr. Davis had so much inaccuracy with the Hornady 35-grain V-Max ammo. It is this rifle’s favorite load, grouping consistently 1 MOA or less at 100 yards through thousands of rounds. This has been the case with the four others I’ve sold too.

Keep up the good work with your magazine. We all need the real world off-the-shelf reporting as well as the feedback from readers. I learn something every issue!

-Skip Marcy
Waverly, TN

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More .30-06s
Re November 2002, “Semi-Auto .30-06s: Browning BAR Outshines the HK SLB”:

The .30-06 semi-auto rifle test had two major problems. First, you left out the Remington 760/7600, of which there are probably ten times as many in use as any other non-military .30-06 semi-auto rifle.

Second, you chose to test the BAR with those useless sights rather than the BOSS model. The BOSS model has redefined what a semi-auto can do and with either the brake (wear plugs and muffs) or the non-brake front end it will shoot better than any “out of the box” .30-06 I’ve seen you test. My wife’s 10-year-old BOSS BAR .30-06 with a Leupold Vari X II 1-4 X will shoot any factory load three shots into 1.5 inches or less at 100 yards. With careful handloads using bullets of superior accuracy (Nosler Ballistic Tips) and neck sizing, it will shoot five-shot sub-MOA groups out to 300 yards.

-Name Withheld

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Magazine Vs. Clip
Re February 2003, “Firing Line”:

Rich Kiselewsky is correct that a magazine (box or tubular) contains the cartridges while a clip merely holds them. But that’s not the real difference. A magazine has a follower, but a clip does not. This was taught to me by an infantry officer with World War II service, and I still remember it.

-David C. Stolinsky, MD
@prodigy.net

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CZ Pistol Fan
Re September 2002, “Pistol Showdown: CZ and Tokarevs Match Up in Bargain Test”:

I want to tell you that your articles and evaluations of surplus weapons are always good reading. I am an enthusiastic collector of surplus weapons. I agreed completely with your assessment of the CZ52 pistol. It is a remarkable sidearm, and a study of firearms design all by itself. I was also glad to see that you kept your commentary about the CZ52 in its proper perspective as a historical, military piece. In past issues you have tried to fit a surplus weapon into a modern role and the results haven’t been favorable. True, there’s some junk out there. Not every country bought the best for its troops.

I don’t know what your plans are for evaluating the SKS rifle. A little over ten years ago we saw a lot of Sino-Soviet (Chinese) specimens. Some of these were decent examples of the Simonov design; many more were pure junk. Presently, the market is full of Yugoslavian Simonov rifles. These rifles are sweet. Some of the initial imports had rotten bores, but the good ones are finally arriving, many in pristine condition.

-Jeffrey Emler
@columbus.rr.com

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More On Makarovs
Re March 2002, “9mm Surplus Pistols: FEG, Carpati, and a Bulgarian Makarov All Fail”:

You are sadly mistaken in your statements about Bulgarian Makarovs — $249 for a Makarov, I don’t think so. I recently bought two at different dealers and with tax, neither cost over $170. With inexpensive Wolf 9x18 ammo, I had no problem hitting steel plates at 25 yards consistently, with no failures to function or failures to feed with hundreds of rounds going through these two guns. This was with ball ammo. These are hard-hitting little guns with excellent bang for the buck. I also have Ruger 9mm pistols, Colt, and Springfield 1911 .45s and a couple of Ruger MK II .22 pistols. I have 20 years of federal law enforcement and military service shooting handguns. These pistols are some of the best-value guns I have ever owned.

-Clifford D. Wiser
@hotmail.com