April 2004

Firing Line: 04/04

Praise for the .17 HMR
Re “Anschutz, Ruger, Marlin & Savage: .17 HMRs Meet Head-to-Head,” April 2003:

I have especially enjoyed your testing of .17 HMR long guns. I have a Ruger 77/17 with a 3x9 Bushnell scope that will print consistent 1/2 inch or smaller five-shot groups at 50 yards and was surprised to see there was no drop at 100 yards. I recently went with a friend to his lease to help him with their constantly growing hog problem. I took the .17 along to see if it would perform on something bigger than jackrabbits and coyotes. I took a 60- to 70-pound boar at about 105 yards with a Remington .17 round, about an inch high from being right between the eyes. He kicked two or three times and it was over. I realize the round is not intended for this size of game, but the proof was in the shot. I have enjoyed this gun more than any new gun I have purchased in many years. My rifle groups the CCI and Remington ammo at the same point of impact. The Hornady round groups equally well. Keep up the good work.

I have been receiving your magazine for a couple of years, and really enjoy your evaluations of “usable” guns. I own a lot of guns, but none that I don’t shoot regularly. In other words, I am a user and not a collector of firearms. I was a street cop with San Antonio PD for 33 years and saw several different types and brands of gun oils used during that span. We were never sure if the current brands used were because it was the best available or because it was “low-bid.”

I would be interested in your opinion of products like Rem-oil, Triflon, and others like them for lubrication, and if agents like Gun Scrubber are okay to use on polymer-framed guns or not. Also, if any bore cleaners and solvents are better than others for cast and /or lead bullets, primarily in handguns.

-Harold Schott
idworld.netbore

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Home-Defense Shotguns
Re “Winchester Super X2 Versus Mossberg’s Model 935 Magnum,” March 2004:

Not a bad article, but there is another shotgun in the same price range you could have/should have included. The Winchester Defender is well made, with double action bars for reliability. I don’t know about the Benelli, but I believe the Mossberg only utilizes one. I attended a law-enforcement armorers school some years back, and it was stressed there that action construction is what separates the best from the rest.

-Robert Blatz
Corona, CA


We previously reviewed the Defender in the May 2002 and February 2000 issues. -Todd Woodard

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.32 H&R Single-Five
Re “.32 Single-Action Revolvers: Navy Deluxe and Bird’s Head Shoot It Out,” February 2004:

You missed on one practical use of the Ruger .32 H&R “Single- Five.” I think it would make a wonderful farm carry weapon in locations where the biggest, baddest critter encounter is maybe a feral dog or a rabid ‘coon. I’m watching the used-gun market for one in stainless to replace my .22 mag Single-Six.

The .32s are lighter and quieter than a .357. With a Hornady XTP bullet, they should be lethal on anything I’m likely to find in Illinois. As for the budget-priced .45 ACPs, I personally would take one of the Mil-Sur Colt clones over either. I’d even prefer a good Mak! Keep up the good work and keep telling it like it is!

-Walter Elam
@worldnet.att.net

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Five Or Six Shots?
Re “.32 Single-Action Revolvers: Navy Deluxe and Bird’s Head Shoot It Out,” February 2004:

I just received my first issue of Gun Tests and enjoy it greatly, especially after seeing an article on the Ruger .32 H&R Magnum. I recently acquired one, and it is a gem.

I would like to clarify something in the article. The gun was listed as a five-shot capacity, but my model does hold six rounds. Mine is a stainless rather than blued, but other than those two differences, it seems to be the same. Is this the same model, or is there a five- and a six-shot model available?

-Don Dunham
Yakima, WA


Nope. We made a mistake. The gun holds six rounds. -Roger Eckstine

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FN-49 Data & Comment
Re “Vintage Semiauto Battle Rifles: We Test Three Proven Designs,” February 2004:

I just read the tests of military surplus rifles such as the FN-49. FYI: the ugly spray-paint finish was factory standard on the FN-49 series rifles. I admit that when I first saw one I passed on purchasing it because the finish looked like a cheap refinish someone did at home in their garage. After researching this, I found out the cheap-looking black finish is the correct one.

What was Fabrique Nationale thinking? Who knows? I do know that the 7mm Mauser FN-49 I have is a really nice rifle. I also have a Ljungmann, which is equally a good rifle. Thanks for testing some of the more esoteric rifles that are often seen but little understood!

-Warren LaHeist
@hotmail.com

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Model 1949 Argentine Navy
Re “Vintage Semiauto Battle Rifles: We Test Three Proven Designs,” February 2004:

Excellent review of a grand old rifle! I have owned a 49 in .30-06 (army of Luxemburg) for 30 plus years, and know them well. I thought you might enjoy a little historical background. The FN 1949 was actually designed in 1939, for the same reasons the U.S. adopted the Garand rifle. The 49 filed the same niche and is very much the Garand’s equal. Unfortunately, Dieudonné Saive (and others from FN) fled to England to escape the occupation of Belgium. Saive worked in a firearms factory in England that painted their rifles with a black enamel paint. This paint was the same paint used on stoves and is referred to as stoving. When the 49’s finally went into production after the war they were all Parkerized then stoved. By 1949 the design of this rifle was nearly obsolete!

Your Argentine model started out chambered in 7.65 mm with a fixed box magazine. The Argentine army had switched to the FAL in 7.62 NATO and supplies of the 7.65mm ammo had begun to run out. In the early 1960’s FN offered a conversion kit for the rifles, so these rifles are like the early M14’s. And then came the FALs.

-Dave Feola
Medina, OH

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Hi-Point Firearms
Re “Budget Polymer .45s: Hi-Point, Cobra Enterprises,” Feb. 2004:

Regarding your evaluation of the Hi-Point line of semiautomatic firearms, perhaps for the first time we’ve reached the need for a new Gun Tests rating: Don’t Even Borrow.

In my role as a CCW instructor in Arizona, I have had more students show up for their range qualification with these guns (they are, after all, “affordable”) than I care to recall. I usually try to politely convince them that such an undependable firearm may not be a good one upon which to bet one’s life. I bet the last two students who used them $20 that the gun would not feed a complete magazine without malfunction. They both applied my “winnings” toward replacement firearms. Thanks for always telling it like it is.

-Tim Forshey
Phoenix, AZ

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Hi-Point JHP 45
Re “Budget Polymer .45s: Hi-Point, Cobra Enterprises,” Feb. 2004:

I read your review of the Hi-Point JHP 45 and was expecting a fair review. Namely, the firearm is a reliable firearm and is on par with its competitors with regards to accuracy and reliability. Instead, you reported that you were unable to chamber a single round. I was able to replicate your “failure to feed” on every attempt to chamber a round. I did this by not fully retracting the slide when attempting to load the firearm. You will notice in your inset photo that the firing pin is protruding through the breechface preventing, the cartridge from rising into the chamber, not “the feed angle or some other obstruction.” Had you pulled the slide fully to the rear, the firing pin would have caught on the sear and the cartridge would have chambered correctly. In fact, you were told this by the manufacturer; “the company told us to make sure we were pulling the slide fully to the rear and letting the slide slam home hard.”

I find it disturbing that a group of folks as familiar with firearms as your staff could examine this firearm for two weeks and not diagnose something as obvious as a firing pin not being engaged. You went on to say that you cycled the action 200 to 250 times before the gun began working. It appears that it was working as designed, the only thing that wasn’t was your staff.

Accurate data regarding the materials of the Hi-Point would also be appreciated. The slide is made of zinc, not steel.

Last, your final paragraphs stated that, “We had some additional trouble with what we labeled Mag1, but Mags 2 through 5 fed and extracted a variety of unfired hardball and hollowpoints. Once we began firing live rounds, we had one additional failure to feed and two more unintended slide lockbacks, all occurring with Mag 1.” One bad magazine hardly makes for a bad firearm. Please tell me where to send my FFL and $20. I would like to do you a favor and take that broken gun off your hands.

-Chris Monturo
@hotmail.com


We double-checked with Hi-Point and indeed the slide is made from a zinc and aluminum composite and the system of fire is a modified blowback system. Neither of these facts were in the owner’s manual nor are they available on www.hi-pointfirearms.com.

Despite missing these points, we feel we did not steer our readers in the wrong direction. We are baffled why you or anyone else would clamor so desperately to purchase a firearm that would not operate out of the box without the consumer having to perform a tedious regimen after the sale. The fact is the HP needed repeated manual operation before the slide would move far enough to cycle; before the safety/slide lock would catch, and before the firing pin would move out of the way. If this product represents a level of quality that you find acceptable, so be it. We don’t. -Roger Eckstine

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Hard Case Extraction
Re “Practical Big-Bullet Revolvers: Steel and Titanium .44 Magnums,” January 2004:

You mentioned that “… spent .44 Magnum cases bound themselves to the chambers after ignition. This is sometimes an indication that the chambers are oversize, allowing the cases to expand past their point of elasticity.”

While this may be true, I rather suspect the more likely cause of difficult spent-case ejection is the use of titanium for the cylinder material. Titanium has a significantly lower modulus of elasticity than either stainless or other carbon steels. Therefore, when resisting the 35 to 40 ksi pressure of the .44 Magnum firing, the chamber 1) elastically stretches more than a carbon steel chamber; 2) the .44 Magnum brass case is stretched further plastically than it would have been if fired in a carbon-steel chamber with a higher modulus of elasticity; 3) the titanium chamber returns to its original size and now compresses the already plastically deformed brass case back toward its original size; and 4) the elastically deformed titanium chamber is now gripping the plastically deformed brass case.

In summary the titanium chamber stretches more than a carbon-steel chamber, the brass case is therefore stretched more than in a carbon-steel chamber, and the titanium chamber is now gripping the plastically deformed brass case tighter than when fired in a carbon-steel chamber.

If you get other postulated reasons for the difficult extractions from Titanium cylinders from your other readers, I would appreciate reading their explanations. Really love your magazine!

-R.D. Baggenstoss
@netzero.net

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State Carry Laws
Re “Downrange,” March 2004:

Your editorial reminded me of the experience this state had with the change in our concealed-carry law. Local politicians in northern Virginia, the most liberal part of the state, predicted the same things you mentioned were said in other states—gunfights in the streets, shootouts over traffic altercations, more crime, etc.

Of course, none of this happened. In fact crime has decreased, and most interesting, the number of persons issued concealed-carry permits in this county who went on to commit any sort of crime is simply nonexistent. However, since we have had the “shall issue carry permit,” those who voiced the earlier dire predictions of calamity are now trying to restrict the use of the carry permit from certain public buildings, parks, and other locations. It’s as if they just can’t accept the fact that some of us want to retain the rights granted by the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution.

Also, several issues back I read the excellent article on an original Colt SSA 1st generation. I’d love to have one of these fine weapons; however, I’ve heard so many stories of fakes and deceit that I’m now at a loss as to how to go about buying a nice original. My local gunshop (Blue Ridge Arsenal, Chantilly, Va.) just can’t help me. I live within 2 miles of the NRA National Headquarters and might go over there to see if they have any advice, including someone who could authenticate a SSA. Is there anything you could recommend, including a trustworthy dealer?

-Richard Hutchins
Oakton, VA


Certainly, the NRA has dealer leads. Or one well-known dealer is Ray Meibaum, (314) 837 5109, www.coltsaa.com. -Ray Ordorica

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Testing the new SIG GSR
Re “Short Shots,” January 2004:

My fiancee and I recently attended The Firing Range in Manchester, New Hampshire, to try out the new GSR.

Both of us put holes in holes, albeit only 15 yards away or so, but nevertheless, we liked this gun. I currently own a couple of 229s, but after firing this .45, I wanted one. However, I have no experience with a 1911 style. It was my first time.

Clips were $5 for two at the range. I had a weird experience though, on the second clip. I somehow must have knocked the safety lever up because the gun wouldn’t fire. The SIG rep came over and fired it, and I finished shooting. Do you think owning a 1911 for target and home defense makes sense? Or should I strongly consider the 220?

-Brian Lawrence
Ugh, MA


The 1911 is considered the self-defense standard. But the 220 is a great gun. You’re okay either way. -Roger Eckstine