February 2005

Firing Line: 02/05

To comment on Gun Tests articles, please email us at guntestseditor@earthlink.net.


Tactical Shotgun Choice
Re January 2005, “20-Gauge Youth Shotguns: Are They Effective For Self Defense?”:

As a longtime subscriber, I’ve learned to trust your advice, and I need some now. I recently attended a tactical shotgun course taught by two police instructors at our local club. I discovered that under stress, the shotgun that I thought was ideal as a home-defense weapon was not the gun I needed. I took the course with my Remington 870, and it was a disaster.

The gun performed flawlessly, but I did not. I repeatedly forgot to pump the gun. Given unlimited time, I am sure that I could practice enough for this to become second nature, but at my age (61), I do not really want to invest that much time with one firearm. What I need is your advice for a semi-automatic tactical shotgun to replace my Remington 870. As long as the human half of the combination does not do its part, the combination does not work well enough for me to stake my life on it.

-Robert Gamalski

There are many options. Log on to www.gun-tests.com and click on the “Search” button, and type in 12 gauge. That will bring up a couple of dozen shotgun reviews you can order to narrow your search. Also, don’t forget double-barreled shotguns are worth a look, too. They’re simpler than semiautos. —Todd Woodard


Article Suggestion
Re March 2000, “Progressive Reloaders: We’d Buy The Pricey Dillon RL 550B”:

I would simply love to see an article evaluating progressive reloading presses, perhaps comparing Dillon’s 550 and 650, Lee’s 1000 and Loadmaster, Hornady’s Lock & Load, and Lyman T Mag.

-Chuck Wilson

I reviewed some of these units in the March 2000 issue. It’s probably a topic that’s worth a follow-up. —Ray Ordorica


A Vintage-Gun Fan
Re September 2004, “Mil-Spec .30-’06 Bolt Guns: ‘03 Springfield Vs. ‘17 Enfield”:

I really have enjoyed your tests of vintage and military weapons. I have an 03 MK-1, an intermediate-range-serial-number Remington, a Remington 03A3, an Underwood 03A3, and a National Match variant built on an intermediate-serial-number-range Remington, along with a Winchester 1917 Enfield with the original barrel. The stock is a Remington, and I bought the weapon several years ago when it was brought back from England. It had a broad red stripe painted around the stock/forearm, denoting that it was “the other .30 cal. rifle” because putting a .303 Enfield round in it would cause major problems!

All of the ‘03s came from CMP, except the National Match, and it came from a man who purchased it from the-then DCM program in 1972. CMP has a lot of ‘03 variants left, but buyers of those guns have their work cut out for them, because they have probably been in cosmoline since the end of WWII. When you get that stuff off, you find there is no finish on the wood whatsoever. It looks like an old broom handle that’s been out in the sun and rain for three years. It literally drinks stock finish for about four coats.

You get luck of the draw, but CMP will treat you right if the gun is flawed. My Springfield had a cracked receiver, and I didn’t find out about it for eight months. I sent it back and got another variant.

I have many other military weapons, including semi-autos. The problems you had with your L1A1s was that they were not properly fitted together. The gap you spoke about between the bolt carrier and receiver was caused from the locking block not being properly filed down to fit. It’s a wonder the case head did not blow out. I’ve seen some L1A1s whose fit was so bad that many makes of ammunition would not even go into battery.

I hope you’ll do an article on military handguns of the 20th century. Start with the P-08 Luger. I have one 8-inch artillery model that is so mint it probably knocks $1 value off the gun every time it is shot. Then go to the 1911A1; Broomhandle Mausers in both .30 caliber and .355 caliber; the S&W 1917; the S&W Model 10; the PPK family, notably the P-35 and P-38; and the CZ-52, TT-33, and Makarov. Then it gets boring with the Beretta and Glock.

Funny thing — you notice every U.S. special unit that has any say about its handguns has gone back to the 1911 variants.

Keep on keeping on with the best magazine on the market.

-A Gun Tests Reader


Valtro .45 Issues
Re July 2002, “Full-Size Fighting 1911s: Valtro Beats Wilson’s CQB”:

You have mentioned the Valtro .45 several times in Gun Tests, so I looked them up on the internet. I tried to call their phone number listed, and no one answers. I also called the other numbers on the website and was told they no longer sell the Valtro .45 in the U.S.

Say it ain’t so! Do you know where a fellow might get one? Want to sell yours?

-Ken La Forge

I just had an extended conversation with John Jardine of Valtro, and nothing has changed. The guns are still being made, though the current price is $1,895, and there is about a year’s wait for them. They are being very well received by our armed forces, which, by the way, have to buy their own guns. The demand for the Valtro is still mighty high, and everything on the company website (www.valtrousa.com) is 100-percent valid.

I don’t know where false information about the Valtro comes from. Perhaps some jealous vendor is responsible. I still carry my Valtro every day and it is still the finest 1911 I’ve ever handled or shot, in nearly 40 years of shooting .45 Autos. Place an order (phone 510-489-8477), sit back and wait. It’s worth it. —Ray Ordorica


I’m looking into buying a Valtro. In your closing remarks you said you were planning on shooting it a lot more to see how it holds up. Two years later, how do you feel about it? I do own two other handguns in that price range (a Kimber and a Sig), but it’s still a chunk of money to lay out for a pistol my local gunshop had never heard of.

I’ve been a subscriber for about a year now (after reading my brother-in-law’s copies for a number of years). I think Gun Tests is the only trustworthy gun publication.

-Warren Hannum

With the passing of time, it’s only gotten better. Its accuracy is on a par with the finest match .45 pistols I’ve tested, and reliability is 100 percent. I have not yet fired it as extensively as my Robar-tuned and self-engraved Colt 1991, but I carry the Valtro on a daily basis, not the fancy Colt. The Valtro shows some bluing wear from abrasion, but that’s entirely my fault. It is not from holster wear. As I mention above, there is a long waiting period for the Valtro, but I consider it to be well worth the wait. —Ray Ordorica


In our January 2005 issue, we used the wrong model designation of a test gun. The JLD Enterprises PTR-91 rifle was actually the Model PTR-91 K Carbine, with a MSRP of $1095.


Follow Up
Dave Beutler of Hagerman, Idaho, looked over a malfunctioning Franchi 48L 20-gauge shotgun tested in the August 2004 issue.

He wrote, “First, it was not ejecting the spent shell. I solved this problem by honing the brass ring that slides on the magazine tube. I also sanded the magazine tube with 220-grit paper. I kept this up until there were no more shiny spots on the tube.

“The second problem was the gun did not bring up a loaded round from the table and into the chamber. This was solved by flattening the lever inside the receiver that is operated by the release button on the left side. The first time I flattened it, I went too far, and the loaded round would drop out the bottom when the gun was fired. I bent it back slightly. I shot another round and every thing operated fine. I proceeded to fire seven groups of five shots each. I have had no malfunctions in the last nine to 10 boxes of shells I fired through the shotgun.

“I wish Franchi would finish the gun at the factory.”


Upcoming Test
Have you tested the FN 5.7 handgun? I am considering purchasing one, but I am concerned with the 5.7x28mm’s stopping power. It’s the usual: One camp swears it is an awesome weapon and has great stopping power, and the other camp says it’s no better than a .22 Hornet. So before I go out and spend $800, I’d like a level-headed opinion from someone I trust… which is Gun Tests magazine.

-Tony Orifici

A story on the FN has been in inventory for several months, and I’ll squeeze it in ASAP. —Todd Woodard