March 2006

Short Shots: 03/06

S&W M&P (top) and S&W 1911PD Tactical Rail.

S&W’s Law-Enforcement Pistol Bonanza
Smith & Wesson has recently filled two big LE orders, one for the company’s new Military & Police (M&P) series of advanced-design polymer pistols and the other for its SW1911 pistols with tactical rails.

The Patrick County, Virginia, Sheriff’s Department ordered the M&P guns. Members of the Special Enforcement Bureau (SWAT Team) of the Riverside County, California Sheriff’s Department will get the SW1911s.

Smith & Wesson began shipments of the M&P 40, the first pistol in the series, in December 2005. David Hubbard, sheriff of Patrick County, Virginia, said, “We tested numerous products, and my professional opinion is that the M&P is the finest pistol I have encountered. The M&P 40 has extremely low recoil, and has already increased our officer shooting qualification scores by at least five points, including scores for those officers we consider our best marksmen. In addition, the M&P 40 conceals well and has a smooth draw, critical for plain-clothes officers.”

“We considered a variety of manufacturers in our selection process, and I am pleased with our decision to purchase the new Smith & Wesson 1911 Tactical Rail Series,” said Captain Bill Walsh, Commander of the Riverside Special Enforcement Bureau. “The combination of superior accuracy along with the high reliability of the external extractor made the SW1911 a perfect choice for our SWAT team and tactical forces.”

The M&P Pistol Series include a Zytel polymer reinforced with a ridged stainless steel chassis and a hardened black melonite stainless-steel barrel and slide; a passive trigger safety to prevent the pistol from firing if dropped; and a sear lever release that eliminates the need to press the trigger to disassemble the firearm. A loaded chamber indicator is located on top of the slide, and an internal lock system is optional for military and law-enforcement users. The pistol comes with three interchangeable grip sizes, an ambidextrous slide stop, a reversible magazine release, and an enlarged trigger guard designed to accommodate gloves. A universal Picatinny-style equipment rail allows the addition of tactical lights and lasers.

The new Smith & Wesson Model SW1911 now incorporates a universal Picatinny rail with its standard 1911 configuration. The pistol features a stainless-steel frame and slide and a non-reflective matte grey finish. Chambered for .45 ACP, the single-action pistol holds eight rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber. The Model SW1911 has a 5-inch barrel, weighs 32 ounces and features Hogue rubber grips. The firearms purchased by the Riverside Department incorporate Novak Night Sights.

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U.S. Repeating Arms Co. Closes New Haven Facility
U.S. Repeating Arms Company, maker of Winchester-brand rifles and shotguns, will close its New Haven, Connecticut, manufacturing facility. Effective March 31, 2006, the New Haven manufacturing facility will stop manufacturing the Winchester Model 70, Model 94, and Model 1300.

Winchester Firearms will build its current line of Select over/ under shotguns, the new Super X3 autoloading shotgun, the new Super X autoloading rifle and Limited Edition rifles. The company also plans to introduce new models in the future. There will be no change in Customer Service.

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Winchester Ammo, Hodgdon Announce License Agreement
Winchester-branded reloading powders will now be licensed to Hodgdon Powder Company. After a brief transition period, Hodgdon Powder Company will assume responsibility for all orders, shipments, customer and technical service, including loading data for all Winchester branded reloading powders.

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Remington Model 710

Model 710 Recall Notice
On the heels of the February 2006 Gun Tests review in which a Remington 710 .30-06 received a Don’t Buy rating, Remington Arms Company is voluntarily recalling a limited number of Model 710 bolt-action rifles. Reason: The company has discovered that some Model 710 rifles manufactured between July and October 2002 may have been assembled with an improperly made “Safety Detent Spring.” There is a possibility that the manual safety arm mechanism in such a rifle could fail to fully return to the “safe” or “on” position.

To determine if your Model 710 rifle is affected, log on to <www.Remington.com>, click on the red-lettered 710 notice on the right side of the page, and enter your serial number in the window that appears.

Anyone who currently possesses a Model 710 rifle subject to this recall, or who purchased one and gave it or sold it to another party, should call Remington immediately at (800) 243-9700 or (336) 548-8700. To expedite your repair, Remington will send shipping tags to each customer and will cover all related shipping and repair charges.

No other Model 710 rifles, or other models of Remington firearms, are subject to this recall.

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We Said, “Buy It,” But The Gold Label Wasn’t Our “Best”
Ruger’s Gold Label side-by-side shotgun was named by Gray’s Sporting Journal as “Gray’s Best” top choice for 2006’s “best shooting” firearm — a couple of steps beyond what Gun Tests said about the shotgun in the October 2005 issue.

Gray’s evaluation of the Ruger Gold Label shotgun: “A shotgun that you mount and swing — and that makes you just sigh.” The Gun Tests take was a tad less breathless: “For us, it threw its charges quite high, which some shooters prefer. It had zero cast, a 1.5-inch drop at comb, and a 2-inch drop at heel. We think it’ll satisfy nearly anyone who wants a good, light, side-by-side 12 gauge for whatever reason.”

But, bottom line, we agree with Gray’s: The Gold Label is a pretty good gun.

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M9: The Second Decade
As we noted in the previous 9mm ammunition test, at Gun Tests we tend to favor the .45 ACP as a self-defense round. But we noted that the 9mm is the U.S. military’s round of choice, chambered in the Beretta M9.

If you’re a big fan of the M9/92, then you’ll want to know that Beretta is selling a special M9 America’s Defender 20th Anniversary Edition of the gun, which features gold-filled slide markings, special serial numbers, brass medallions depicting five military service crests, and a Beretta grip medallion. The gun comes in a solid oak presentation box with red felt lining and glass top.

The M9 was introduced in 1985. The average reliability of all M9 pistols tested at Beretta USA is 17,500 rounds without a stoppage.

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Weatherby Brings Back the Mark V Ultramark
Weatherby’s Mark V Ultramark returns in 2006 as the company’s new top-of-the-line traditional-wood production rifle for big game hunters and shooters.

“Last seen in Weatherby’s line from 1989 to 1991, the Ultramark returns this year as the bridge between our Mark V Deluxe and a custom-built rifle,” said Brad Ruddell, Weatherby’s vice president of sales.

Ultramark features a stock of highly figured, exhibition-grade walnut. The high-gloss, raised-comb Monte Carlo stock sports 20-lpi checkering and double spacers of maplewood and ebony on the buttstock, forend and pistol grip cap.

Weatherby beds, fits, and finishes each of the Ultramark’s walnut stocks. Steel rods are epoxied in the action mortise and wrist to strengthen the stock. The rosewood forend and pistol grip cap are matched by color and grain. The gun comes with an trigger adjustable for sear engagement (factory set at .008 to .014) and let-off weight (factory set at about 4 pounds). The barrel is a Krieger Criterion No. 2 contour button-rifled 26-inch steel tube with a 1-10 twist. The gun weighs 8.5 pounds, measures 46.6 inches in overall length, has an LOP of 13.6 inches, a drop at comb of 0.9 inches, and a drop at heel of 1.4 inches.

The Ultramark is available in .257 Weatherby Magnum and .300 Weatherby Magnum. Manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $2,599.

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Bushmaster Wins Contract
Bushmaster Firearms will build 3,008 16-inch-barrel M4A3-type removable carry handle carbines for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Bushmaster will deliver 400 rifles a month beginning January 2006 and ending August 2006. Beyond that date, there is the possibility of a re-order for several hundred more rifles. Approximately 100 DPS personnel will be trained in weapons maintenance, repair, and future upgrades for the Bushmaster rifles. The DPS put the Bushmaster Rifle through intense testing. The weapons were dropped onto hard surfaces, dragged for 350 yards, submerged for 15 minutes in mud and water; and then fired (465 rounds) as fast as possible. Following those torture tests, the weapons were then fired for accuracy.