July 2006

Firing Line: 07/06

Re "Cowboy .38 Specials: EMF Is Our Pick,
Ruger Gets A Buy Nod," June 2006:

Thanks for your great review of the Ruger Blackhawk and some of its competitors. Coincidentally, this same handgun was "reviewed" in another magazine in the same month. What a difference! While the competing article was basically an uncritical description (and complimented the transfer bar mechanism, which you found problematic in your test), it largely compared the new Blackhawk to the original. This might be of interest, were I to own an original, but in the context of considering a cowboy action pistol, your review and comparison was much more informative, and it identified a clear, better alternative (the EMF Great Western II) and gave all the reasons for making that decision.

Coincidentally, the same issue of the competing magazine "reviewed" the H&K P2000, which I have been considering as a personal defense weapon. I think I will wait for your forthcoming issue before I rush out and buy the H&K.

James Heimer
Houston, Texas

Our review of the H&K pistol is in this issue. —Todd Woodard


Re "270 WSM Bolt-Action Rifles: We Would Buy
Savage’s 16FSS," June 2006:

In your comments about the Browning A-Bolt Stalker on page 13, you stated, "At the range we found that the Browning would not stand for single-round loading unless we first pressed each round fully into the magazine." Perhaps if you would look into the chamber area of this rifle, you might find that this gun does not have a feeding ramp of any worth.

Last year I bought a similar A-Bolt rifle in 243 WSSM. This gun would not accept any cartridges that were not the exact same length (COL) and bullet type (pointy varmint tip) as factory varmint ammo. Anything different (such as being 0.030 inch longer or with a hollowpoint tip) would cause the bullet tip to jam against the 90-degree "steel wall" at the entrance to the chamber. The feeding ramp was almost non-existent. There was only a mild chamfer on the bottom half of the "steel wall" at the chamber entrance to serve as a feeding ramp. I had my gunsmith and a Browning certified repair-shop gunsmith look at it. They could not remedy the situation without reworking the gun at my expense. The rifle was still in warranty. Additionally, the removable box magazine would fall apart with any more than a light touch. I would rate my A-Bolt worse than "Don’t Buy"; "Pure Junk" would be the appropriate rating. The gun did not group that well either.

In future rifle tests it would be good if you would review the magazine and action for proper function with reloads. I believe many of your readers are reloaders and would appreciate knowing if the test rifle is suitable for reloads.

John Blanton
Carrollton, Texas


Re ".50-Caliber Muzzleloaders: The T/C
Hawken Beats Lyman’s GP," June 2006:

As a new subscriber I really enjoy your magazine. Had I only found your publication earlier, I would have saved considerable money! Regarding your T/C versus Lyman blackpowder test, customer service is everything. A number of years after buying my T/C Seneca, a really wonderful, fun-to-shoot firearm, the stock cracked. I was shooting heavy, but still in specification, hunting loads. I called T/C and explained what happened. One week latter I had a new stock, under warranty, and T/C had a customer for life. No reason to put up with the bad customer service you experienced with Lyman. Remember, any product you buy comes with the integrity of the company that produced it.

Gregory Pasiuk
Placerville, California


I love your reports and just finished reading about the blackpowder rifles in the June 2006 edition. On page 28, in the review of the Lyman rifle, the last paragraph states "We still had to file the front sight down to get the rifle to shoot low enough." Is this true? I always had thought that the front sight moved in the opposite direction of the bullet impact, and the rear sight in the direction you want the bullet to land.

John O’Brien
Dallas, Texas

You are absolutely correct in how to adjust the sights. In the article it was stated the rifle shot way low. So in a case like this the shooter has two choices: raise the rear sight or lower the front sight. Since the rear sight was fixed, we could only file down the front sight. However, the caption for the Lyman rear sight picture should have said "higher." Thanks for your interest in our magazine. It is nice to know people pay such close attention to what we write. —John Johnston


Re ".40 S&W Polymer Pistols: The Glock M23
Is A Proven Winner," June 2006:

You compare the HK, Glock, and SIG pistols. In the article title you describe the HK USP as being a Variant 9 LEM. This is not possible. In the body of the article you have it correct, but on the front page and HK USP inset you describe the HK USP as being a USP 40 V9 .40 S&W USPLEM, and this is not possible. There are 10 (9 common) variants of the USP, not including the LEM variant. The LEM variant was added much later than the first 10 variants, 9 of which are imported to the US. Ever wonder why there is no V8? The V8 is the same as the V7, but with night sights that are too powerful to be imported into the U.S.

The variants of the USP and USPC are:

V1=SA/DA safe/decock, RH
V2=same as V1 but LH
V3=SA/DA but decock only, no safe, RH
V4=same as V3 but LH
V5=DAO safe only, RH
V6=same as V5 but LH
V7=DAO, no controls
V8=same as V7 plus powerful night sights; not imported into the U.S.
V9=SA/DA safe only RH
V10=same as V9 but LH

Then there is the LEM (law enforcement modification), which is a lighter DAO trigger that uses a pre-loaded hammer spring and two-piece hammer assembly. This is the same system used in the P2000 and P2000 SK V1, 2, 4, and 5. V3 in the P2K/SK is SA/DA decock only.

So, you can see from the above history lesson, the V9 as said in your article is a SA/DA safe only, RH. It is NOT a LEM trigger, so the description as being a V9 USPLEM is not correct.

F. D. Fleming

After contacting HK I learned that the individual gun we tested arrived from Germany as an LEM model. It was then modified to V9 specifications, but the product code was not changed. The reason the code was not changed was so the manufacturer could better track the gun and its history. Of course, we list the product code to assist our readers in purchasing the same models we test. Interested readers should ask their dealers for a USPV9, but in my estimation shouldn’t be concerned if the box reads something different, so long as the HK pistol inside is what they wanted. —Roger Eckstine


Re "A Trio of Pocket .380 ACPs:
Steer Clear of NAA’s Guardian," April 2006:

Enjoy the publication, especially with no advertising to sway opinion. Having purchased but not yet shot a NAA Guardian in .32 NAA caliber (.380 necked down to 32), I was disappointed to read your evaluation of the Guardian .380. Last weekend I was able to make it to the range to shoot this gun for the first time. I put up a 25-yard pistol target at a paced-off 5 yards.

Based on your evaluation, I expected next to nothing in the way of hits. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to see the majority (but not all) hits in the black bulls-eye. All were on the paper. I then moved the target back another three to four paces and again managed to keep the majority of hits in the black and all but one on the paper.

I then moved the target back to 15 yards and tried the Guardian at this range. I was surprised to see that all six shots hit the target with two in the black and the other four spread around but clearly on the paper. Not target accuracy to say the least, but I would not want someone shooting at me at this range. I totally agree that larger sights would help. After an initial clip I started to not aim using the sights per se but looked over them with both eyes open. All shooting was done offhand with a modified Weaver stance.

During this entire time I did not see any indication of keyholing, and the gun functioned flawlessly. It could be the caliber made the difference. This is a hot little round, and use of the extended magazine is recommended for stability. The trigger is indeed long and heavy, but not unmanageable. One clearly needs to adjust to a long, strong pull that does hinder very fast shots. I did get faster with it as I became more familiar with it. It is clearly a very close-up defense/back-up gun. Very reliable, well-built weapon. I rate it at least as a Conditional Buy.

Also, I ran into a person at a gun shop who likes his Guardian in the standard .32 caliber and had no appreciable accuracy or keyholing problems.

Bob Vetter
Rochester, New York


Re "Low-Cost 9mms: Hi-Point’s C9
Vs. Bersa’s 18-Shot Thunder 9," May 2006:

The law enforcement and the gun salespeople I know and work with consider the Hi-Point 9mm to be junk, with a nickname of "Jamamatic." Of the many CCW instructors I know, only one has had a student make it through a full course of 150 to 200 rounds without numerous FTF and FTE issues. A person would be a complete fool to trust his life on this gun.

Name Withheld

You make it clear you personally have not tried the Hi-Point 9mm, but prefer to base your decision on the second-hand statements of others who most likely also have not have had actual experience with the gun. We don’t do that at Gun Tests. We base our reports on what we discover about each firearm, never on hearsay. The fact that the Hi-Point worked, and kept on working with the proper ammo, was enough for us. Our local gun-sales personnel have sold plenty of them with zero complaints. —Ray Ordorica


You did a review of the Hi-Point C9, to which you gave a Best Buy recommendation. Has Hi-Point made dramatic improvements to their design?

Also in the same 2006 article, you mentioned that you got 1-inch groups with the Bersa at 15 yards using Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP bullets. I looked at the Cor-Bon website and only found 125-grain bullets in 9mm +P rating. Since the Bersa doesn’t indicate that it is rated for +P ammo, do you feel that the gun is safe handling it? Keep up the good work!

I love your magazine and have binders of back issues going back to April 1994. I look forward to receiving new issues and especially like the fact that you don’t merely sing the praises of the big manufacturers except when truly warranted.

Richard Leya
Summerville, South Carolina

We don’t know what changes Hi-Point may have made, or not made, in its products since 1999, when we last tested the gun. Elsewhere, we’d have no worries about shooting the Cor-Bons in the Bersa. —Todd Woodard


Grip Circumference
Having many mathematics courses in college and graduate school, I was always bugged by your usage of circumference in your gun-specification modules (Grip Circumference). C’mon folks, every fourth grader knows that circumference refers to the distance around a circle. I decided to look up circumference on dictionary.com. To my amazement, here are the defintions:

n 1: the size of something as given by the distance around it [syn: perimeter].

2: the length of the closed curve of a circle.

Nice work. Seems like Grip Circumference is all ok!

John Palamaro
Jacksonville, Florida


Re "Short Shots," April 2006:

Your review of the new Browning products at the 2006 SHOT Show correctly listed the new caliber offerings for the A-bolt Mountain TI rifle. However, you failed to mention that all three of the WSSM offerings were dropped from this model and a couple of other A-bolt models. It seems that Browning has begun capitulating on the WSSMs by offering the .243 Win. rather than the .243 WSSM. With the Winchester Model 70 now a relic of the past, the remaining Browning A-bolt models are the only bolt-action factory rifles still offered in the WSSM calibers.

George Glendenning
Las Vegas, Nevada