October 2005

Firing Line: 10/05

Re “M1 Garand Shootout: We Test Fulton, Springfield, and CMP,”
September 2005:

If you haven’t done an article on the Auto-Ordnance M1 carbine, please consider it. I’ve looked at CMP M1 Garands, and I just don’t think that’s what I want. Now, the Auto-Ordnance M1 carbine is around $600 MSRP, and I’ve found one as low as $539. That’s only $39 more than the maximum I wanted to spend. If I could only get Gun Tests’ blessing, I would be very grateful, as I greatly respect and put my faith in your magazine.

Dan Davis

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Steyr Autoloaders
I am a long-time subscriber and continue to use Gun Tests as the tiebreaker in all my purchases. So far I have acquired five of the guns in your Best of 2004 issue. My question is about the autoloaders offered by Steyr. They offer full-size autoloaders in 9mm, .40 S&W and perhaps .357 Sig. I own the S series compact in 9mm.

While I am still not sold on the triangle trapezoid sights, the trigger is a Glock takeoff but is crisper than the Glocks, I think. It has only a small (too small) slide release cluttering the left side of the frame. The safeties consist of an inside-the-trigger shoe lever that prevents the trigger from moving forward or firing if dropped. There is an internal firing pin block and a very handy inside-the-trigger M1 Garand–style safety. This pistol also has a visible and tactile loaded-chamber indicator located on the rear of the slide just below the rear sight. Mine came with two 10-round magazines and two keys that allow you to lock the entire mechanism. I have seen these pistols for as low as $375. The only problem I have is the same as many others, it’s a tad slick. I would love to see you check these out and get your opinion.

John Lofland
Aston, Pennsylvania


Thanks for the lead. I’ll look into adding Steyrs to upcoming tests. —Roger Eckstine

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Re “Three Sweet .243 Bolt Actions: Browning, Ruger, & Remington,”
July 2005:

One rifle was left out that would have made it Four Sweet .243s: the Savage Model 11. Four months ago I purchased the rifle; it’s a Wal-mart package. I was very surprised to see the gun shoot factory ammo into 1-inch groups at 100 yards. Then I worked up some handloads that shot very well, as the accompanying photo shows. The scope supplied with the rifle was removed and replaced with a 12-32X BSA. It’s a cheap setup, but it will put a hole in a coyote’s head 300 yards away. Love the magazine.

Frank Barbera

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Re “Downrange,”
September 2005:

By your logic both the M1 Abrams Tank and the B1 Bomber should be available for purchase, since neither has ever been used in an urban environment, nor been involved in a murder. They are even more unwieldy than the .50 caliber machine gun. Time for a reality check, please. The .50-caliber machine guns are not meant for any kind of recreation. They are weapons of war, plain and simple. Just as anti–gun law proponents sometimes go “over the top,” so too have you.

Steven P. Goldberg
Woodland Hills, California


I disagree. The .50-cals I wrote about aren’t machine guns, and owners of machine guns, whether .50s or .30s, must possess a specialized license already. The .50-cals are in danger solely because they’re big, noisy, and ballistically robust — not because they’re a real danger. Also, by your logic, we shouldn’t have access to .30-06 ammunition either, since it derived from a battlefield rifle. Ditto that for the .45 ACP. —Todd Woodard

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Re “Springfield Armory’s .45 GAP Takes On Glocks in .45 ACP,”
August 2005:

A longtime fan of Gun Tests, I receive it through my company, Accuracy Associates International (AAI). I was pleased especially by your call for a thumb safety on the Springfield XD .45 GAP and your allusion to the usefulness of one for the Glock 21, both on page 11 of the August 2005 edition.

Noting that for some time Massad Ayoob has been calling for manual safeties on both autos and revolvers, I hope Gun Tests will continue to highlight this question. With the exception of all the Taurus autos and a few others, SA/DA and DAO autos and all modern revolvers lack manual safeties, and it’s time they were introduced. So far as autos are concerned, I feel safer with a cocked-and-locked 1911.

As to revolvers, I’d like to have back my 1950’s grip-safetied S&W M-42. I’d send it to Ricky Devoid to see if he could install his manual safety as well!

I’m a former embassy security officer now working frequently on training foreign police teams. Frankly, the “all-you-have-to-do-is-pull-the-trigger” rationale leaves me cold. In my opinion, that’s a “Score one!” for the bad guys.

Lou Riggio

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Re “Best of ‘04: Handguns, Rifles, And Shotguns Worth the Money,”
December 2004:

This issue contains an article on Browning’s Gold Sporting. I agree with everything stated in the article. The comfort, fit, adjustability are all there. I had purchased one for my son (who competes in sporting clays) for the very same reasons you pointed out in your evaluation.

After about 2,000 rounds, the firing pin broke. Well, I thought, any gun can break a firing pin, and being a dyed-in-the-wool Browning fan, I purchased a new pin from Browning and replaced it. Three weekends later it broke again. To make a long story short, I replaced four firing pins, one trigger return spring, one hammer spring, and two extractors.

My son loved the gun and shot well with it, but he was becoming very frustrated, as it usually managed to break during competitions, once during the U.S. Open. Well, when it broke the last firing pin, we were at our local club, and we were disassembling the gun on the tailgate of the truck when two other fellows happened along and told us that they both had experienced similar firing pin and extractor problems and recommended getting rid of the gun because it was just going to keep on occurring.

We repaired the gun, but now it sits in the rack, replaced by a 391 Optima, which has been flawless in operation after at least 8000 rounds.

I do realize you cannot evaluate a firearm for thousands of firings, but if you ask around, I am sure you will find they have experienced similar problems. I do believe a retraction of your recommendation is in order. Browning refuses to acknowledge any issues with this model.

Brian E. O’Shea


Competitive shooters we talk to regularly are split on the firing pin problems Mr. O’Shea mentions. About half have had no problems with their Gold shotguns. We didn’t experience similar failures during our test. ­—Todd Woodard

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Safe Storage of Loaded Home-Defense Weapons
Some time ago, you asked for suggestions regarding how to keep a home-defense weapon safe from accidental firing yet quickly available for self-defense. One possibility is to keep a pump shotgun loaded with three live rounds (assuming local law allows), followed by two snap caps. The snap caps can be ejected quickly, but the chances of an accidental firing of a live round seems substantially reduced. In addition, obviously, the gun should be stored where it is unlikely to be discovered by children, etc.

David C. Fischer
Chappaqua, New York

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Re “Single-Stack Double-Action .45 ACPs: Sigarms Vs. Ruger,”
February 2005:

Where do you get a reconditioned Sig P220? I know Interstate Arms has some, but unless I overlooked it in the article, I never saw where you could get the reconditioned gun.

Thanks, and I really enjoy your magazine.

Mark Herring
Bryant, Arkansas


It is very easy. Go to the Sigarms website (www.sigarms.com/products/certified-pre-owned.asp). At the bottom of the page, there is a link to purchase one on-line. You fill out your name and address, then you receive a list of dealers in your state to pick from (in my case, there were 220 choices). You select the dealer, then a page comes up with a selection of different guns of different grades at different prices. You choose the gun you want, and another page comes up. You pay a $19.95 deposit on-line, and the rest when you pick up the gun at your local gun store (which may already have the gun in stock). Many local gun shops stock the pre-owned Sigs. You can also get them on www.gunsamerica.com, www.auctionarms.com, and www.gunbroker.com. —Kevin Winkle

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Re “Super-Light Wheelguns for Self Defense: Too Much Power?”,
February 2005:

I purchased the Smith & Wesson 625-10 from the Performance Center. While it does have some bite to it when throwing out 230-grain loads, the Federal 185-grain hollowpoint doesn’t hurt at all and provides a superior defense load that might help when firing the 325PD. I know that recoil can deter range shooting, and therefore diminish practice time, but if a weapon is defending your life, a little pain, supplanted with muscle memory, stance, and grip, allows the carrier to gain a lot of energy in its striking round. Do you feel that your review lends itself to the 625-10 as well? The reason I ask is that I am a shooter with small hands and the 625-10 really points and shoots well.

Jon Gold
Detroit, Michigan


In “Oddball Revolvers: We Test .45 ACP, .41 Magnum, and 10mm Wheelguns,” November 2000, we shot the .45-caliber Mountain Gun, which had a 4-inch barrel. In that review, we said, the barrel is “tapered at the frame and shrouds the ejector rod, but without an underlug. The result is that the Mountain Gun is subject to more muzzle flip than its fully under-lugged brothers are. But, the Mountain Gun is lighter, steers faster and points easier. What we liked best about this design, which harkens back to Smith & Wesson’s .44 Special-only Model 624, is the way it feels in the hand. With the light barrel, most of the weight of this gun appears to be in the palm of the hand. This gun decidedly favors double-action shooting.” Apparently, recoil wasn’t as much of an issue with the larger-frame gun. —Roger Eckstine

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Re “Youth .22 LR Single Shots: CZ, Henry, Rogue, and Savage,”
February 2005,

We purchased a Savage Arms Cub Youth .22 LR in the fall of 2003 for my daughter (then age 8) and son (then age 6). We paid about $125 for the rifle. My children are very satisfied with the ease of use, handling characteristics, and accuracy of this rifle (we shoot mostly round-nosed, jacketed 40-grain CCI Minimags in .22 LR).

We had been anticipating your review for some time. Given our satisfaction with the Cub and its economy, we were certain your magazine was going to give it a five-star Best Buy rating. Instead we were surprised to see it given the Don’t Buy rating. Needless to say, we have not had any issues with the trigger pinching fingers or had our trigger guard break, as on your test rifle.

I am a NRA-certified BB Gun instructor and run a BB Gun Range during the summer at a Cub Scout Day Camp. We have a mix of air rifles, some with open “U” semi-buckhorn rear with front post sights and the rest open fiber-optic sights, front and rear. Just as your young test shooters preferred the Williams fire sights on the Henry Mini Bolt, all my Cub Scouts want to shoot the air rifles with the fiber optic sights.

With respect to marksmanship, my shooters with fiber-optic sights typically are on paper sooner than those who shoot the open “U” semi-buckhorn rear with front post sights. By the end of the week, with continued coaching on proper sight alignment, the better marksmen are almost always the boys with the open “U” semi-buckhorn rear with front post sights.

I found instructing our children proper sight alignment with the peep sight on the Savage Cub to be much quicker than teaching it using open “U” semi-buckhorn rear with front post sights. In our experience, the small rear aperture paired with the long sight radius makes it easy to accurately aim this rifle. Our experience with peep sights seems to coincide with that of the U.S. military when training recruits marksmanship. They select peep sights for rifles such as the P17 Enfield, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, M14 and M16.

Additionally, given the group sizes your adult testers recorded using the Cub’s peep sights, I would hardly describe them a problem, as was done in your recommendations summation. The point being there is a significant difference between having a preference for fiber-optic sights and their being an actual problem with the peep sights. In my experience, the issue you reported with the front sight floating in the rear aperture is a training issue, e.g. poor technique, best addressed by proper coaching and practice.

A final note, an additional advantage of the front sight hood on the CZ 452 Scout Rifle is in the reduction of glare on the front sight caused by overhead lighting found at most indoor ranges. Had our children been a little bigger, the CZ would have been a top contender for our purchase as their training rifle. Still, I found your experience with the safety on your test sample of the CZ being extremely stiff to be disconcerting.

Robert Watson

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Re “Self-Defense .45 GAP Loads: None Have Everything We Want,”
February 2005:

I want to thank you for bringing back ammo testing. However, I have a complaint/suggestion pertaining to that matter. Please don’t try to tell me what the perfect load is for me. By excluding some of the ammunition as you conduct the test, based on what you consider to be acceptable, you are excluding information I consider relevant when comparing the various selections. The specific subject to which I am referring in the February issue is accuracy. I’m sure you know that the accuracy of various brands or bullet types varies from gun to gun, even with guns of the same make and model. So, just because the cartridge doesn’t shoot well in your test gun doesn’t mean it will not shoot well in mine. Also, setting the accuracy standard at a specific subjective level is also not practical, as the testers found in this issue. Glocks are not target pistols. They never claimed to be, and Glock representatives will admit that. Just put all of the cartridges through the same tests and let me decide what I want to purchase.

I do appreciate the opinions of your shooters, particularly with regard to things that can’t be put on paper, like perceived recoil. However, I have twice read articles where the testers failed to include ammo types because they felt that the ammo recoiled too severely. I do want to know when they feel the recoil is excessive, but please don’t exclude the ammo from the rest of the testing. I may be looking for ammo that will be fired in a larger, heavier gun that will dampen perceived recoil.

I was also glad to see you testing copper solvents and other gun-associated products. As you know, your magazine is the only one we can truly trust to be honest. So, even though I have taken issue with some of your procedures, I appreciate your efforts. Keep up the good work.

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Re “10X42 Binoculars Test, Part II: Zeiss Beats Swarovski, Leica,”
August 2005:

Canon has a new 10x42 IS binocular, listed as suitable for “wildlife” viewing. The company says it a step above the current image-stabilization models in optical quality. I own a pair of the Canon 12x36 IS II models. While I think the image-stabilization feature is wonderful, I don’t like the less than tack-sharp images, nor the fairly severe “color fringing” when looking at a high-contrast object such as the moon. Perhaps this new model will eliminate those two problems.

Also, any plan to test the Pentax series of ED spotting scopes (65, 80, 100mm models)?

Rod Stephens


Currently, we don’t have other optics testing in the hopper. But if we hear enough interest on the topic, you bet we’ll schedule it. —Todd Woodard