July 2003

Product Roundup Tests: A .410, a Handgun Accessory, a New Barrel

Need a reliable workhorse scattergun that won’t break the bank? Consider the Russian-made Saiga .410. Glock not shooting straight? How about a new Wilson barrel for about $150?

The Saiga .410 autoloader was rough, but we think it could take a lot of abuse and keep on working. For the low price of only $160 from CDNN, this is a bargain, in our opinion.

There aren’t too many .410s in the marketplace today, and even fewer autoloading .410s, and only one — to the best of our knowledge — .410 that is fed by magazine.

We recently tested a Saiga Semi-Auto .410 ($160), which we obtained from CDNN, P.O. Box 6514, Abilene, Texas 79608; (800) 588-9500; fax (915) 695-4898. European American Armory of Cocoa, Florida, imports the Saiga from Russia.

This gun came with a 19.5-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined barrel, and the stamped-steel receiver had a built-in side-mount rail for a scope. The bolt was a three-lug design, and gas powered the 3-inch-chamber semiauto action. It had a black synthetic stock and forearm and came with one four-round 3-inch polymer mag. Extra .410 mags are $18 from CDNN. The gun featured a threaded barrel muzzle adapter. It came with a wrench to remove the adapter. A cleaning kit was also supplied.

Obviously, price will sell this gun, because for only $160, we would overlook some of the Saiga’s shortcomings. At 7.1 pounds unloaded, it’s heavy for a .410. There are a lot of sharp metal edges on the gun, particularly the scope mount on the left side of the receiver. And the trigger is balky at 7.25 pounds. Also, the polymer magazine wasn’t easy to insert.

But this gun shot with very little recoil, and we can see it fulfilling a lot of roles that you wouldn’t want to subject a more expensive gun to. It would be great for sticking behind a ranch-truck pickup seat or in a gun rack. The action is robust enough that we doubt dust will affect its mechanism. Being able to shoot .410 shotshells and slugs out of the same gun would be a great advantage to the plinker/hunter/self-defense shooter.

Gun Tests Recommends
Saiga Semi-Auto .410, $160. Buy It. For the money, this is a lot of gun. —Todd Woodard


Maxfire Speedloaders
The Maxfire system is a molded rubber product that holds extra rounds in position, conforming to the placement of the chambers along the perimeter of a given revolver cylinder. The rounds are actually staggered in height so that they index to each cylinder in a sort of a reverse funnel effect. The recommended way of indexing is to apply the highest seated round to the inside most chamber, continuing to thrust straight into the remaining chambers. Then slide the speedloader directly away from the gun once the retaining pad has made contact with the ejector star. Unlike most speedloaders, the Maxfire system is available for nearly every revolver, including the 7- and 8-round models from Smith & Wesson and Taurus. The Maxfire system favors what is commonly referred to as the strong-hand reload, wherein the gun remains in the right hand after the cylinder is released. It is recommended that, if possible, the trigger finger reach through the frame to hold the cylinder from turning. The left hand then retrieves the speedloader and goes to work. One advantage is during carry the weight of the gun on the right hip can be marginally offset by the weight of the reloads held on the opposite side. However, the ability of the Maxfire speedloader to hang on to the extra rounds throughout the course of daily activity is in our minds doubtful.

Unlike most speedloaders, the Maxfire system is available for nearly every revolver, including the 7- and 8-round models from Smith & Wesson and Taurus.

Slipping each round into position we noticed that the width of the case rim is the determining factor. Winchester casings tend to fit more tightly than Remington, for example. For daily wear a solid non-flexible case is a must if one that will accommodate the finger loop can be found. One positive of this design is that by wearing the Maxfire on the finger like a ring, the revolver can be operated without obstruction while holding on to a speedloader in waiting. Therefore, we would think that in a situation where a confrontation is imminent, grabbing your revolver and a loaded Maxfire unit is a good idea. For home defense this could mean leaving a charged Maxfire unit next to one’s loaded nightstand gun. When child safety must be accounted for, the Maxfire unit can be loaded and stored separately from the unloaded revolver. In the event the gun is needed, loading a full cylinder takes only a second or two.

Gun Tests Recommends
Maxfire Speedloaders, six units for $20. Buy It. Just a little practice is necessary to become proficient with the Maxfire system. However limited in application, we do see some practical advantages. For more information, contact www.Speedloaders.com, (877) 546-8701. —Roger Eckstine


Rebarreling Your Glock. Is It Worth It?
The hallmark of the Glock pistols has always been ease of operation and reliable service. But what about accuracy? With a design that offers only minimal metal-to-metal contact between frame and slide, the opportunity to “accurize” a Glock pistol would seem limited. Lockup is achieved mainly at the barrel hood with help from the recoil spring adding tension to help relocate the barrel at the end of each cycle.

Wilson Combat (800 955-4856) offers replacement barrels for Glock with extra material surrounding the chamber so that it can be fit precisely to the opening in the slide. Additional advantages are an improved feed ramp with extra support and also rifling that will accommodate a wider variety of ammunition, even lead bullets, which heretofore were forbidden under Glock’s warranty.

We tried out a Wilson replacement barrel, starting with a Glock model GL22C on loan to us from a local police-training officer. The initial reason for the change was to make this gun legal for USPSA Limited division, the rules of which do not allow for a ported barrel. After ordering a replacement barrel from Wilson Combat for $149.95, we also ordered a spring and guide rod unit, which we received free of charge.

Carter Custom performed the rebarreling job, (870) 741-2265, rosscar@cswnet.com. In deference to the desire of the owner to use both the ported barrel and the Wilson solid barrel, installing a hand-cut front sight moderated point of impact (POI). Ported barrels cause a gun to print slightly lower, so Carter left the elevation just 0.33 inch low for the original barrel and about the same distance high for the new solid barrel (at 25 yards). The results were much better than expected. We tried three different loads with each barrel in place at 25 yards from a sandbag rest. With original equipment groups varied from 2.5-2.9 inches firing Black Hills 180gr JHP, 2.9-3.9 for the UMC 180gr FMJ, and as much as 3.5-4.2 for a handload of Hodgdon Titegroup and Montana Gold’s 180gr FMJ bullet. In each case at least one group was spoiled by a flyer. The 4+1 problem seemed at its worst whenever we shot with an emptying magazine. Groups fired with a full magazine were more consistent. This could indicate that the slide was relying upon pressure from the loaded magazine for additional support. Addition of the new recoil spring made recoil slightly easier to take but no measurable improvement in accuracy could be recorded. Average velocity overall was 936 fps.

With the solid barrel installed, average velocity increased only to 948 fps but standard deviation overall decreased from 13 fps to 10 fps. The most dramatic change was in group size and the aforementioned POI. The Glock now shot a best group of 1.2 inches firing the Black Hills ammunition. Averages were 2.6 inches for our hand load, 1.9 inches for the UMC cartridge, and only 1.3 firing the Black Hills JHP.

Inspecting the lockup with each barrel in place offered the key to this dramatic change in performance. A thin piece of paper could easily fill this crack between the stock barrel hood and the slide, but could not penetrate the tolerance of the hand-fit Wilson barrel.

Gun Tests Recommends
Wilson Combat Glock Replacement Barrel, $149.95. Buy It. Reliability was 100%. We highly recommend this upgrade. For more information, contact Wilson Combat at (800) 955-4856. —Roger Eckstine