June 2005

Firing Line: 06/05

I Would Like To See…
I am a long-time subscriber of your magazine and always appreciate your no-compromise reviews. I would like to see a Gun Tests comparison of new bargain-priced bolt rifles. I would suggest a shoot-out including the new Mossberg ATR 100 Series, the new Stevens Model 200 bolt gun from Savage, and the Remington 710. You might also include the Savage 11FXP3 package. Most all of these can be purchasedfor under $400, with scopes.

I would also hope to see an ammo test, focused on the best loads for 2-inch-barrel snubbies. I have always kept my S&W 442 loaded with the 125-grain Federal Nyclad load, which for years has been referred to as the “Chiefs Special” load. I am wondering if some of the newer rounds from Cor-Bon, Speer, and others would be an improvement.

Keep up the good reporting!

David Tierney
Winter Park, Florida


Thanks for the ideas. I’ve forwarded them to the staff for further action. —Todd Woodard

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I am a new subscriber to Gun Tests, and I thoroughly enjoy each article. Thank goodness there is a real magazine out there for gun enthusiasts. I would like to hear more about value-priced rifles and the new WSSMs that are attracting a lot of attention. I am a long-time fan of Mossberg and own just about everything they have manufactured. However, I own plenty of rifles and am interested in hearing how their new rifle stacks up against other manufacturers before I buy another rifle. I would like to see how the Mossberg 100 ATR does in comparison to Savage, the Remington 700, and a high-end rifle. Also, the WSSMs are really taking off. Any chance they are here to stay? Do you have any upcoming articles in reference to either of these topics?

Andrew Dean
Amelia, Virginia


We have a value-package rifle story in the works. We reported on the .25 WSSM in the March 2005 issue. —Todd Woodard

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I have received only two issues so far, but I was wondering if “hunting”-class rifle studies will be done and published in the near future. Although popular with a lot of folks, the handgun articles do not interest me, and I thought maybe you could squeeze a few short-mag testing articles in every once in a while.

Monti Gourley


There are .30-30 rifles tested in this issue and lightweight .243s slated for June, among other articles in the works. —Todd Woodard

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Laser Sights
Re “Short Shots,” April 2005:

Gun Tests is one publication I will not do without. Thank you for your honest opinion on gun products. I am a former NYC police officer. I have been involved in firearms use in the line of duty. I have also been a firearms instructor for 44 years. I hope to change your thinking on the use of laser aiming devices.

You stated that lasers are not all that useful or helpful in close, fast defensive work. Most of my gun battles were in close and fast, and I did not have the time to even bring the firearm up to eye level, nor did I want to. I did not want to use those micro seconds to bring the firearm up to eye level. I had to rely on what is erroneously called an instinctive point. I was successful due to the fact that as a firearms instructor, I had developed what I call the Geometric Firearms point. I tested the Geometric point with the use of a laser grip, and I had almost a clover-group hole as opposed to an 8-inch group with the Geometric alone.

My students had almost the same size group with the use of a laser, but what was most dramatic was some had misses using the Geometric point alone.

As for the use of a laser in dusty or foggy weather, you are right, it would reveal your position. That is why there is a shut-off switch on the laser unit. Of course, the user would be trained not to employ the laser during those conditions. I am convinced that laser aiming gives the user additional ability that he may need under certain conditions.

Jim Cirillo

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Copper Remover Help
Re “Getting Bores Clean: Copper Solvents Require Elbow Grease,” February 2005:

Ever since your great article on bore cleaning, I have been trying to find Western Powders Montana X-treme 50 BMG Copper Remover. My communication with Brownells only produced an email that they were trying to add it to their products. Your article said that all the products were obtained from Brownells, so my question is do you have an inside track to Brownells (good for you) or did you just get the products from a local Brownells store? This all boils down to where can I obtain some of this copper remover?

Dennis Simmonds
Los Alamos, New Mexico


Contact the company at Western Powders, P.O. Box 158, Yellowstone Hill, Miles City, Montana 59301, (800) 278-4129, www.montanaxtreme.com. —Todd Woodard

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Double-Action .45s
Re “Gun Tests Double-Action .45 Handgun Recommendations” sidebar, page 11, April 2005:

I was just thumbing through this issue and noticed that there was no mention of any variant of Para’s LDA 1911 design in the DA .45 summary. I haven’t searched all my back-issues or your website (access blocked at work), but do you remember if it’s ever been reviewed? I am about to buy a slightly used one from a member of my local club. It’s just too good a deal to pass up. I’ve talked with several members about them, and heard nothing but positive comments. I’d be curious to know what your crew thought of it, if it’s been evaluated.

Joe Kenwright


Try the February 2003 issue, “.45 ACP Fighting Guns: Heckler & Koch, Para Ordnance Shoot It Out.” The Para test gun was the 7.45 LDA single-stack 1911. —Todd Woodard

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Magazine Loading Question
Re “A Pair of Lightweight .308s: Kimber’s 84M Charms Us,” April 2005:

As they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I am puzzled by something in the article on lightweight .308s, but admit I am not an expert on these things and it may be basic ignorance on my part. Regarding the Kimber 84M, the article says the blind magazine holds four rounds and “another in the chamber as required.” It also notes that the action uses controlled-round feed. How does one get a fifth round into the chamber with controlled feed and four rounds taking up all the room in a blind magazine? I could understand if it were push feed. Thanks for any clarification.

Greg Yoder


Load the magazine full with four rounds, then press the fifth round down on top of those rounds with the left hand and hold it. Push the bolt forward with the right hand, making sure it catches only the “fifth” round, not the rim on the topmost round in the magazine. Push the fifth round into the chamber. —Ray Ordorica

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Cost-Sensitive 1911s
So happy to learn you plan to evaluate some lower-cost 1911 .45s. I was considering dropping my subscription since it seemed only the high-priced pistols were being reviewed, pistols costing far more than the average person can afford. Hope you compare a Charles Daly in your mix. Mine has more than 1100 rounds through it, including lead SWC and JHP with nary a FTF or FTE with factory ammo. I think it is a best-kept secret since they made the manufacturing changes in May 2002.

Bill Wallett

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Assembled In America
Re “Firing Line,” January 2005:

Paul Erhardt, director of marketing for Sigarms, professes that Sig pistols are made in America. I would like to state that he must mean that they are put together in America, and not all parts are machined there.

You see, I work in a CNC machine shop in Carleton Place, Ontario, which is very much in Canada. We have five CNC machines dedicated to producing the slide for the Sig P226 and P229. We are currently filling an order of 60,000 P229s that are earmarked for U.S. Homeland security. We ship finished slides to Exeter, New Hampshire, where Sigarms puts their logo on the gun.

Mr. Erhardt either needs a geography lesson, or he needs to concede that all Sig pistols are not American made.

S. Hayes


Mr. Hayes is a machinist for the manufacturer making the slides. —Todd Woodard

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Savage Surprise
Re “Varmint Cartridges: The .22-250 Still Reigns; Ruger’s .204 Is Hot,” and “Wringing Out Three 36X Target Scopes: We Pick Weaver’s T36,” June 2004:

I would like to tell you that I have been a reader of your magazine for the last couple of years. I have been looking for a good varmint rifle, and after reading your June 2004 article comparing the Savage Model 12 BVSS Varmint, Ruger, and Browning, and later in the issue scopes by Weaver, Leupold, and Bausch & Lomb, I ordered, sight unseen, the Savage and Weaver scope. I was going to spend more to buy the Leupold scope because of all that I’ve seen written elsewhere, but your comparison convinced me otherwise.

What a pleasant surprise. The Savage rifle and Weaver scope are everything your article said they would be. Thanks, and keep up the great work.

Barry Wheaton

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Why Pick The Taurus?
Re “Budget Self-Defense Revolvers: Taurus, Rossi, and Comanche,” November 2004:

In your comparison of the Taurus 605B and the Rossi R461, let’s take another look. The Rossi’s overall length is 6.8 inches compared to 6.7 inches for the Taurus. The Rossi’s overall height is 5.1 inches compared to 4.5 inches for the Taurus. The barrel length is the same (except the shiny muzzle of the Taurus was “impressive”? Have you always liked shiny toys? By the way, the Rossi fires six rounds and the Taurus only five. I might trade the shiny muzzle of the Taurus for an extra round.

You also wrote, “The Rossi revolver we bought was reliable only with .357 Magnum 110-grain bullets and .38 Special ammunition.” Neither of which, according to your own chart is correct, especially when compared to the Taurus.

When taken separately, with the 158-grain Hornady ammo, the Taurus shot an average group of 2.7 inches compared to Rossi’s 2.0 inches. With 110-grain Winchester ammo, the Rossi shot a group of 2.2 inches compared to Taurus at 2.7 inches. The only time the Taurus shot a smaller group than the Rossi was with the Black Hills .38 Special ammunition. The Rossi fired a group of 2.5 inches and the Taurus fired a group of 2.3 inches.

In fact, if you take the average group size for the three types of ammunition, you will find that the Rossi scored a 2.23-inch average group compared to the groups shot by Taurus, 2.53 inches.

I believe I would base my choice on “accuracy” and that “extra round” rather than a shiny muzzle. I wonder who made your publication’s choice?

Steve Riden
Knoxville, Tennessee


The accuracy chart in no way reflects reliability. Only average velocity, average power, and center-to-center measurement of shots on target. The Taurus 605B was the only gun in the November 2004 evaluation that was able to complete our test procedure of double-action-only fire.

Due to cylinder bind, which forced us to fire the Rossi and Comanche test guns single action only, we could have said that some of the Rossi and all of the Comanche’s performances at the range were invalid in this context when firing magnum loads. Five rounds versus six? When rapid fire becomes a necessity, we will trade an extra round for reliability. The shiny muzzle assured us that we were in fact getting a stainless steel barrel in for our money. There was no mention of the 605B being the most accurate gun in the test, but we still think the Taurus best fit the profile of a budget self-defense revolver. —Roger Eckstine