May 2006

Firing Line: 05/06

Of Mausers, Pocket .380s, and So On
The April issue of Gun Tests was great (OK, so were all the previous ones), and I found several articles of particular interest.

Messy Old Mausers: I would be totally discouraged from buying one of the $99 rifles you reviewed, not wishing to acquire an expertise in cosmoline removal; however, I have seen Mitchell’s Mausers ( advertise “new” Mausers for $299 (collector’s grade).

The extra cost might be a good trade-off against the work you did to get yours to the point of testing. According to Mitchell’s, these were manufactured in Serbia during WWII on German tooling and have matching serial numbers on the four major parts. It would be interesting if you could get your hands on one of these for a comparison. These may be the “excellent condition, all-matching-number rifles” that you identify as a better investment — but are they?

Trio of Pocket .380 ACPs: A .380 Sig Sauer P230 was my wife’s first concealed carry gun (she has since moved up to a Glock 9mm). In size it falls between the Walther and the Cheetah, and it is a tad lighter. Although no longer made, I would put it up against the newer pistols you reviewed. It did have one drawback with my generally preferred defensive load (Federal Hydra-Shok JHPs) because due to the blow-back/fixed barrel configuration, a round would occasionally hang up on the ramp going into the chamber. Some gunsmithing or a little search for alternative ammo may have solved this problem; I had no problems with FMJ ammunition.

Instead of the Cheetah, my Beretta preference would be the 9000S in 9mm to get the larger caliber. These pistols are very similar in design, with the 9000S being slightly shorter and only couple of ounces heavier. It has the same decocking lever, which means (as you did not mention) that it can be carried decocked and the lever moved to the firing position with the thumb as the weapon is brought into action. This makes it possible to carry the gun “cocked and locked” with a round in the chamber, though of course the first round is double-action. In fact, this is required, as it does suffer from the very (make that VERY) hard effort required to rack the slide, as you discovered with the Cheetah.

Keep up the good work. If you need suggestions for future reviews, how about matching AR-15 carbines from different manufacturers and taking a look at tactical sights, like the Leupold CQT4.

James Heimer
Houston, Texas