June 2003

Firing Line: 06/03

The Unsung CZ
Re May 2003, “Fine .22 Rifles — We Like The Anschutz 1710 Bolt Action”:

I thoroughly enjoyed the .22-caliber reviews of the Cooper, Anschutz, and CZ 451. Yes, we would all like to have the Cooper or Anschutz, but being practical, the CZ is more likely what we will end up with. I was not surprised to see the results of the CZ, however. I own a CZ 452 in .22 LR, and using Federal Gold Medal Ultra-Match ammo, I consistently have one-hole groups. To date, my smallest group measured 0.258 inch, and one-hole groups 0.5 inches or smaller are commonplace. This rifle is woefully under publicized, though it is stiff competition for rifles costing four to five times as much. I paid about $350 for mine.

-Jim Dunn
Port St. Lucie, FL

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Whither the 597?
Re April 2003, “Anschutz, Ruger, Marlin and Savage: .17 HMR Rifles Meet”:

I read the comparison of the .17 HMR bolt rifles and found it very helpful. But I am wondering if you plan to test the Remington 597 in .17 HMR. If the accuracy were on par with the bolts, it would seem that quick follow-up shots on large groundhogs that may move or otherwise receive a bad hit could be taken with the semi and no recoil.

-Name Withheld


We currently don’t have plans to test the 597 in .17 HMR, but we’ll reexamine that when another autoloader presents itself in that chambering. —Todd Woodard

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.32 NAA DAO Pistol
Do you plan to test the .32 DAO pistol from North American Arms any time soon? Their information seems too good, but if the pistol is reliable, I think it would be an excellent concealed carry weapon.

-Dewey Chastain
@erols.com


We have tested the 9mm Kurz/.380 ACP version of the North American Arms Guardian with good results in terms of function with non-hollowpoint ammunition only (see November 2002 issue). A test of a .32 caliber is a possibility. However, in my experience and the experience of most trainers, the smaller a gun is (or the easier a gun is to hide), the more difficult it is to deploy. Also, once in the hand they are prone to stoppages due to interference from the user’s grip, especially when drawn in a rush. Even if the gun will run on hollowpoints, do not expect it to stop anyone’s aggression. Also, keep in mind that the minimum-caliber weapon allowed for CHL tests in most states is the .380 ACP. —Roger Eckstine

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Clarifications & Corrections
Re May 2003, “Magnum Research BFR Revolvers”:

The Magnum Research BFR .480 Ruger/.475 Linebaugh is a standard production revolver available through normal firearms-distribution channels. It is available in two barrel lengths, 6.5 inch and 7.5 inch. It is a five-shot, all-stainless, single action (with transfer-bar safety) that will chamber and accurately shoot both the .480 Ruger cartridge and the .475 Linebaugh cartridge — both of which are loaded commercially by Hornady. The .480 has a 325-grain bullet, and the .475 has a 400-grain bullet. The .475 case is 0.10 inch longer than the .480 Ruger case, and as with other dual cartridge–capable revolvers (such as the .357 Magnum/.38 Special), proper cleaning of cylinder chambers is required.

The standard grip is an Uncle Mike’s rubber grip; an accessory wood finger grip by Hogue is also available from Magnum.

For more info, go to the website www.magnumresearch.com. Check out “What’s the BF Deal” and additional product info.

-Jim Skildum
President and CEO
Magnum Research
Minneapolis, MN

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Ammunition Selection
As stated in your gun reviews, a particular firearm will achieve better accuracy with one brand of ammunition. Does this mean that if I purchased that same make/model and caliber firearm as tested and used the same ammunition, would I receive the same results? In other words, do your tests pre-qualify the ammunition for a particular firearm so that I do not need to spend the time and money to find the more accurate ammunition?

-James Marlowe
Gilroy, CA


Ammunition lots vary from run to run, so there’s no guarantee your results would match ours. —Todd Woodard

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Subjectivity
Re: April 2003, “Pocket Pistol Pair-Off”:

Gun Tests does an admirable job (usually) of keeping its reports objective and facts-based, but I must draw attention to the comment, “a good .38 Special load is a whole lot more powerful than any .380 Auto load.”

That, sir, is a subjective statement and not one that holds up to scrutiny within the context of the article — a .38 snubbie versus a .380 Auto. In fact, there is not much difference between a .38 Special +P load from a 2-inch snubbie, and a +P load from a .380 Auto with a 3-inch barrel, which, after all, was the point of the comment. Open your reloading manual and note that those 1200-fps .38 Special loads are fired from 6- and 8-inch-barrel test guns. When those loads are fired from a 2-inch barrel, the powder is converted to muzzle flash rather than bullet velocity. Many people would rate that as a drawback rather than an advantage.

I’m sure we could open an endless debate about heavy versus light bullets, hollowpoints versus frangibles, and so on, but when all is said and done, a .38 snubbie and a pocket .380 are much the same thing — guns designed for concealment rather than ballistics. Take your pick and just remember; if one shot doesn’t deter your attacker, shoot him again!

-Keith Rogan
@gci.net

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Preferring the .38 Special
Re: April 2003, “Pocket Pistol Pair-Off”:

I read with interest your .380 pistol tests until I came to the part where you introduced a 2-inch .38 Special revolver that was not on the test schedule and said that it was much more powerful than the .380 and should be the preferred carry pistol. I don’t know what rock you have been under for the past fifteen years, but these unfounded and untrue statements are what made me drop Gun Tests some years ago. I see that you still shoot from the hip.

Citing Street Stoppers: The Latest Handgun Stopping Power Street Results by Evan P. Marshal and Edwin J. Sanow, copyright 1996, Pages 41 and 42, .380 loads have up to 57 ft.-lbs. more energy than the .38 Special, and if you move on to pages 151 and 163, the .380 has 3 to 4 percent higher stopping power than the 2-inch .38 Special. New bullets and new powder have changed the rules.

-Col. James L. McManaway
@shentel.net


Many years ago I read one of the first public “outings” of the reports of the two authors you mentioned. It was clear from their own data that their conclusions were not based on facts. They were based on issues they wanted to push, not on the truth. I dismissed them then, and still do today. I am not alone. My good friend Chuck Taylor stated in his book, The Gun Digest Book of Combat Handgunnery (which I edited), “Even a casual perusal of the book shows that its real focus is to lend credence to the pet theories of its authors....” In his book, Taylor also explodes the myth that “expanding” bullets always expand in human targets. They don’t. Finally, the fastest 90-grain bullet we got out of the .380s (Cor-Bon’s) went along at a rousing 909 fps. In a recent test report we found 125-grain .38 Special coming out of a snubbie at 930 fps. Do the math. New bullets and new powders apply equally to all cartridges, and I stand by the comment I made that the .38 Airweight Centennial is far superior to all the tiny .380s in that report. —Ray Ordorica

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Understating the Centennial’s Case
Re: April 2003, “Pocket Pistol Pair-Off”:

I was surprised that you compared the lightest .380 Auto pistol and the Centennial Airweight, since the subject of the article was comparison of .380 pistols. I have no objection to the editorial implication that .380 autoloaders are inferior as concealed carry solutions compared to the very light Airweight. I must, however, point out that you significantly understated the case for the Airweight. Let me state for the record that I am biased in favor of the Airweight, own one, and believe it to the best carry gun on the market.

My .38+P weighs less than 12 ounces fully loaded with Federal 129-grain Hydra-Shoks! You state that the Airweight “weighs just 1 ounce more” than the Pocketlite. You list the empty weight of the Pocketlite at 14.1 ounces. This means that my loaded Airweight weighs more than 2 ounces less than the empty Pocketlite.

To further sing the praises of the Airweights, you could compare the .357 model fully loaded with the empty Pocketlite. To carry a semi-auto .380 rather than a lighter weight Centennial with much more power would be ill advised, in my opinion. The .380 brings 165 foot-pounds at the muzzle, the .38+P has 220, and the .357 brings more than 500 foot-pounds.

Why carry a popgun when it weighs more than a serious firearm?

-John Grigg
Colorado Springs, CO

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.380 Auto History
Re May 2003, “Firing Line”:

Last month, a reader wrote in saying, “At the time, gun writers were stating, right or wrong, that Colt had contracted to manufacture a prototype .380 semi-auto they supposedly planned to market as the Pony.”

I can personally vouch for the fact that the one or more prototypes of the Pony did exist.

About 25 years ago, during the NRA Convention in Philadelphia, several friends and I met the Colt East Coast sales rep, William Judd. He and Bill Blankenship were tending the Colt booth. During the last night of the convention, we made plans to go to a local range the following day. Bill J. and Bill B. showed up with a suitcase full of samples, which included prototypes of two semi-autos, along with a lot of ammo.

One of the prototypes was a SA/DA Colt .45 ACP. The other was a .380 that was definitely named the Pony, and as I recall was stamped as such. I personally held both of the prototypes in my hands and shot them, as did others. I believe that both guns were blackened stainless steel.

Weeks later I asked the sales rep about the prototypes and was told that plans to market the prototypes were cancelled and that he had returned both to Colt. He later learned that both were missing. If anyone claims to have a Pony in his or her private collection, it could be genuine.

One of the memorable events during our day at the range was watching Bill Blankenship shoot a full cylinder of rounds from a 2-inch-barrel Colt revolver, keeping all the shots in the black at 50 yards.

-Bill Kinter
Hellertown, PA

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Stock Finishing Not For Amateurs
Re May 2003, “Fine .22 Rifles — We Like The Anschutz 1710 Bolt Action”:

In your review of the Cooper .22 rifle, you noted that the stock was not completely filled and stated, “The factory says it’s an oil finish, so it would be easy to complete the pore-filling at one’s leisure.” I too have a Cooper, and after noting the unfilled pores, I called Cooper and asked how I could go about filling the pores. They told me that it could not be done without incurring some damage to the stock, so I backed off. Tell me, how would you go about filling the pores and what would you use?

My rifle is a .223, and is everything you found with the .22. It is an incredible shooter and looks wonderful, but I do wish the pores had been completely filled.

-Name Withheld


Cooper’s website says: “Our stocks are oil finished all by hand.” One great benefit of an oil finish is that it can be very easily repaired or modified, including filling the pores, if desired, by the rifle’s owner. By oil finish, I mean one that generally includes linseed oil, or something very similar, as a main ingredient. An oil finish is not accomplished with epoxy, nor varnish alone, though good spar varnish can be used for pore filler. To fill the Cooper’s pores I would probably use Lin-Speed, an oil-based product sold through Brownells. Follow the directions, which basically tell you to rub on a finger-full very thoroughly. Then when the oil is dry (a few days at least), rub on a little more. Then after two or three coats, cut the whole thing down to the wood with very fine sandpaper or steel wool. Use a pad to ensure you don’t rub gouges into the wood, and do not rub out the sharp edges of the wood. Repeat until the pores are filled, the last coat being either a rub with Lin-Speed or boiled linseed oil. There is also artist’s quality linseed oil, which tends to dry a little faster, and is much more costly than common boiled linseed oil, which you buy by the gallon at your local paint store. I emphasize that stock-finish altering is neither for the totally inept nor for the beginning stock worker. If you can’t handle this, including avoiding damaging the wood contours or scratching the metal, do not attempt it. I speak as one who has refinished a great many stocks, and has put best-quality oil finishes onto bare stocks as well. This includes the complete refinish and recheckering of my best-quality Churchill double 470, which today is worth about $30,000. That’s my level of experience, and you probably won’t have it, so I’d suggest you experiment with inexpensive oil-finished rifles before you tackle the Cooper. —Ray Ordorica

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Dings And Things
Re: January 2003, “We Pick a Pair of M1 Carbines”:

Your excellent publication has taught all your readers about guns, including the ones tested. But in the carbine report, you note “various dings,” and the “stock had apparently been sanded,” and the “sling snap had slightly marred forend wood,” and so on. These are simple to repair without sandpaper.

A folded wet washcloth laid over the defect and a warm iron atop the cloth will drive steam-heated water into the wood and usually lift the ding to wood’s surface. No sanding.

From the 1400s a gun’s wood has been referred to as furniture. The wet washcloth plus warm iron will also lift dents in household furniture.

-Name Withheld

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Glock Safeties
Re May 2003, “Police Trade-Ins, Bargains or Busts?”

In the section of your article about the Glock 22 police trade-in, the following sentence could be misleading. The sentence is: “Disengaging the safety that sits hinged inside the face of the trigger can be done without even being aware of it.”

The Glock trigger is designed so that when you place your finger on the trigger, the safety is automatically removed. It is a design feature based upon the fact that the operator does not place his or her finger on the trigger until he or she is ready to shoot the pistol.

All three safeties on the Glock pistol operate automatically. The operator does not make any conscious effort to remove them except to operate the trigger when ready to shoot.

-Robert D. Ashley
Police Firearms Instructor
Rockledge, FL

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Kel-Tec Magazine Issues
Re February 2003, “9mm Carbines: We Would Buy Kel-Tec’s Sub 2000":

I had purchased a Kel-Tec Sub 2000, Glock version, based on your review. One thing you may want know as a follow-up is that there are two different grip designs for Glock/Sub 2000. One will fit the Glock 17 magazines, and the other will fit the Glock 19 magazines. According to one company, they mill down the Glock 17 grip so that it functions with the Model 19 magazines.

Unfortunately, none of this information seems to be available on the Kel-Tec website. In addition, their dealers and distributors aren’t aware of this and don’t have a method to order the different models.

-Tim Reed
@mindspring.com