March 2007

Firing Line: 03/07

No Results Up Front

I am a long-time subscriber and appreciate your publication very much. I donít buy a lot of guns, but have a few, including a Cabelaís .45 Long Colt after your test. A couple of comments:

I donít remember you putting the results of your tests on the front page in years past, but that bugs me. It certainly detracts from reading the particular articles! Tell us what you are testing, fine, we can read the article and find out your pick!

The other comment: I miss the letters from subscribers. To me, that is a major attraction, often other perspectives about certain firearms can be determined by those using them over longer periods of time. Whenever I receive an issue, I always look to see if there are letters; if not, I put the issue down and read it later (since I know what your picks are from the front page, I can wait) when I have the time. If there are letters, I start from the front, read the whole issue, then the letters.

Please make the letters a big part of each issue.

I very much appreciate your honest evaluations and the takedown procedures. There are a lot of guns out of my price range, but it is nice to know about them.

Bob Orrell

Ok. Here are letters. Will consider the coverline aspect of this, but I suspect the readership will be split between the "just tell me what to buy" guys and the "letís see what Gun Tests says" crowd. óTodd Woodard

Re "Pricey .22 Plinkers: We Favor Browningís

Buck Mark Sporter," February 2007

I just finished reading the evaluation of these .22s. I thought it was a great evaluation with the exception of you not including a southpaw in the shooting group.

Being a lefty, I couldnít help but notice that the Walther G22 would be a disaster for me to shoot due to the ejection-port location and bolt placement. So why bother with that nice ambi safety?

Iím always amazed by firearms manufacturers who preclude those of us who make up 27 percent of the population. Thatís also 27 percent of their potential market. The percentage of lefties climbs to about 40 percent in the technically skilled sector of the population. So there are lots of us who love mechanical toys, but who Donít Buy right-hand equipment.

Some manufacturers (like Stag Arms) are catering to lefties and are hopefully reaping the benefit. In this day of cadcam and CNC machining, can it really be that cost prohibitive to manufacture a mirror-image weapon?

Jim Morsch

Henrietta, New York

Re "Updates: S&W 22A-1 .22 Pistol; Gueriniís

Maxum 12 Gauge O/U," February 2007

Iíve been shooting a 22-A for several years and have found it to be a great gun in all the really important areas. However, your assessment of the 22A-1 applies equally to the 22A regarding the safety and the oversize grips. I finally learned to live with the stiff, and somewhat awkward, safety.

However, I never could get used to the big ambidextrous grips. The "left-handed" thumb rest and top swell prevented a proper hold for a right-hander. However, a half-hour with a rasp and sandpaper solved the problem. After removing the offending bumps, the laminated grip material polished out very nicely, leaving no hint of the surgery.

I have Brownings, Hi-Standards, Rugers, several other Smith & Wessons, and other .22 pistols and revolvers. I would rate the 22A among the best, in terms of overall value, accuracy, and being easy to live with.

As a long-time reader and subscriber, I have to confess that based on personal experience with some of your test weapons, I donít always agree with your assessments. The experiences you report are not infrequently quite different than mine.

However, we are definitely in the same pew concerning the Ruger assembly/disassembly sermon. I have a S&W Model 41, three Brownings, and three Rugers (MK I and II). I learned through bitter and frustrating experience not to disassemble the Rugers for cleaning. My wife also learned that I knew some words sheíd never heard me use before.

After my second trip to my friendly gun store with my MK II parts in a brown paper bag, Don, the store owner, agreed to reassemble it if I signed a blood oath never to disassemble it again! He, and others whose opinions I respect, said to "just shoot the damn thing, and swab the barrel occasionally."

If it gets really nasty, I put it in a pan, and douse it with Gun Scrubber. Iíve put a thousand or so rounds though each of my Rugers, and they still work just fine. In fact, they seem to get better all the time, as long as I leave them the way Bill and his boys built them to begin with.

Lee Fowble

Edmonds WA

Re "Heavy-Barrel .22 LR Pistols:

Buy Browningís Buck Mark UDX," January 2007

After reading your articles about the Ruger Mark IIIs, all I can say is I wish I had seen the Gun Tests articles before I purchased a Ruger Mark III Hunter.

It is lovely to look at and shoots reasonably well with the fiber-optic front sight. But the take-up on the trigger is a bit long, and most importantly, it is miserable to take down and reassemble for cleaning. That stands in marked contrast to the Ruger Mark I that I purchased 40 years ago. I can disassemble it in less than a minute and reassembly is just as fast. The Mark III is just the opposite! Calls to the Ruger customer service told me to do some honing of the pin that goes through the recoil assembly and hook to the back strap. I hadnít expected to get a pistol kit.

Knowing what I do today, I would not have purchased the Ruger Mark III. Iím afraid it may become a "safe queen." My wife said to just sell it if I donít like it. Maybe I get a Browning Buck Mark, but first Iíll want to check Gun Tests to see how it compares versus other nice plinking or target pistols.

Thank you for being a great resource. I look for each new issue to come with great anticipation.

Stephen Yabroff

Woodinville, WA

Re "Iron-Sighted Single Shots: Buy NEFís

Handi-Rifle in .22 Hornet," January 2007

This article on single-shot Hornets correctly notes that reloading the .22 Hornet increases its versatility and considerably lowers the cost of ammunition. But youíd better be prepared to trim cases frequently. Iíve had brass from fired factory loads measure over the maximum case length of 1.403 inches, without ever reloading the cases. So I got my Hornet converted to a K-Hornet. Itís even more versatile, and doesnít present the severe case stretching problems.

Marty Greenlee

Tucson, AZ

According to one source, , Ö "the "improved" .22 K-Hornet is the creation of Lysle Kilbourne, hence the K in its nameÖ." "As good as the Hornet was, and is, the blown-out Kilbourne version is significantly better for several reasons. First and most obviously is velocity. In rifles, the regular Hornet easily breaks 2,700 fps with 40- and 45-grain bullets. The K-Hornet can add 200 fps to that total, and some rifles get 300 fps extra for an even 3,000 fpsÖ." óTodd Woodard

Re "Firing Line," February 2007

Appreciate your publication as a subscriber for many months. Also, appreciate the varied articles and try to learn from each of them.

Last monthís issue contained comments in the "Firing Line" from Clayton Freeark, Alamosa County Sheriffís Posse. Mr. Freeark is correct in saying polymers are not specific compounds, but merely (paraphrasing) natural or synthetic substances consisting of giant molecules formed from smaller molecules repeating themselves and forming chains. Then, he goes very wrong when saying, "Synthetic polymers, commonly thermosetting and capable of being molded, extruded, cast or the like are plastics".

Whoa, dude!

There are two basic camps, if you will, in polymers, (1) thermosetting and (2) thermoplastic. Thermosets undergo a chemical change when they are heated, melted and formed that is irreversible. Thermoplastics (commonly plastics) are capable of being heated, melted, formed, reheated, remelted, reformed, etc. This is commonly demonstrated when you see outdoor furniture, for example, that is made by recycling thermoplastic bottles. Automobile tires, thermosetting rubber, on the other hand can not be reheated, remelted and reformed. That is why we struggle with finding an economical means to recycle them and other thermoset materials.

A telephone call to Glock engineering confirmed that they do use thermoset polymers. Naturally, the specific polymer is proprietary, but the key is "thermoset." I, for one, would find it extremely interesting to see an article from Glock, or another manufacturer of polymer guns describing the technique and basic material used to form the gun. This might help put to rest the misunderstanding of polymer guns and help eliminate the very misleading and incorrect term "plastic guns."

I own several handguns and confess to not having a polymer one.

Greg Smith

North Webster, IN

Re "High-Dollar 1911s: Wilson CQB Beats

Nighthawk, Rock River," November 2006

Just about every issue of Gun Tests reminds me of why I subscribe, and the November issue was no exception. Although I have absolutely no interest in spending north of $2000 for a 1911, I have been researching tritium sites for my H&K P2000 (purchased on the basis of your review a few months ago). Lo and behold, there in the middle of the article about expensive 1911s was a discussion of the sights you found on each of these pistols and the answer to two specific questions I had does the color of the sights matter?, and what about different colors for front and rear sights? You perceived quicker target acquisition with yellow on the rear sights and (brighter) green on the front, exactly the information I was missing after visiting a dozen web sites featuring orange, blue, green, yellow, and white sights with bars, double bars, boxed bars, dots, dots and bars, etc.

In addition, I didnít even know that I didnít know two other potential problems, which were illustrated by the clear photos of each of the rear sights: glare from one with rounded sides and the difficulty in getting a quick sight picture with the one with "ears."

Now, Iím ready to shop! Thanks again for a great publication.

James Heimer

Houston, TX

Re "Mid-Grade Sporting Clays Guns: Beretta

Versus Blaser/Sigarms," November 2006

I enjoyed your article on mid-grade sporting clays guns, but I think some essential info is missing. Competition shooters need to know what type of triggers such guns have. Are they inertial or mechanical? This can have a big impact on the long-term reliability of the guns, their versatility, including their suitability for sub-gauge tubes, and upon their ultimate cost (if a conversion is necessary, from inertial to mechanical).

In this regard, please do not think that skeet guns only get sub-gauge tubes. In my informal poll, a good half or more of the new guns on a skeet field are tubed "sporting clays" models (including my own), which the owners use for a wide range of competition.

William Reid

The Guerini triggers are inertial, and the triggers on the Beretta and Blaser F3 are mechanical. óC. Fergus Covey

Some of your comments on competition shotguns might mislead people to think you know about clays competition. Actually, youíre gun testers, not gun users. You are right about the Blaser F3; it is one of the ugliest guns Iíve ever seen. Two people at my club bought them when they first came out, and now they are for sale. They canít get rid of them.

We have a membership of 800, and all of the serious shooters use MX2000 Perrazis. My gang shoots sporting clays, trap, and skeet daily and consume 500 to 1000 rounds a day each.

When you compare quality shotguns you should test a Perrazi MX2000 Trap combo in an RS Oro persuasion. This is a nice looking gun. MSRP: $28,000. In Beretta, try a 687 EELL Diamond Pigeon. Now youíre talking nice-looking guns. I have both in my arsenal of competition shotguns.

Now that I got that said, most of your tests are right on. What puzzles me is why you sometimes compare apples to oranges. Oh well, no oneís perfect.

Robert Brownlie

Our test shooters for this particular feature have shot competitive sporting clays seriously for more than a decade, something we feel qualifies the opinions expressed in the test results. Beauty, of course, is strictly a matter of opinion, and really doesnít matter in the scheme of things if the gun puts more "Xs" on the score sheet; our tester has had ample positive feedback from new Blaser owners at several big shoots who are thrilled with the gun and their increased scores. We also never called it "ugly."

As for the "apples and oranges" comment, we specifically stated that this was a comparison of over/under 12-gauge shotguns designed for competitive sporting clays use and bearing price tags in the middle ground of the $5,000 range. Both met these parameters, whereas putting either the Beretta or the Blaser against your $28,000 Perazzi would have not.

The point is that we found much pleasure to be had in these two guns, and in a later followup with a Caesar Guerini, and find them to be good buys for those who canít afford or donít want to spend five figures on their competitive gun. óC. Fergus Covey

Yes, Go Have Fun

Gun Tests is the only firearms magazine for me. I am 54 years old, and a longtime Gun Tests subscriber. I have read about firearms for over 30 years, and until recently, have never bought one. A couple weeks back I went to Bass Pro and handled every pistol they had. On half of them I could not reach the slide release with my trigger hand. Because of Gun Tests, I was leaning toward a Springfield XD9. It fit, and I bought it.

My point is that with a good, reasonably priced pistol, some written instructions with pictures, and a little practice, even an older novice like me can have some fun. I should have sprung for the money long ago.

Gary King

Clarkston, Michigan

Re ".22 Semiautos Three Bullseye

Handgun Picks Miss The Mark," November 2006

A very good review of the three target .22s. I just wanted to say that Iíve been shooting my S&W 41 for 35 years and still love it. My safety is a stiff sucker also. I think they are all like that. However, Iíve only engaged my safety twice. Once, when I bought it and once at a match when the range officer actually inspected all the guns. Usually, it is a match rule that all safety devices work, but nobody ever checks. These are specialized target guns and are either unloaded or pointed downrange. They are carried in boxes, not holsters.

Bruce Krohn

Los Lunas, New Mexico

I just read with interest your article on target pistols. Just a couple of comments. I know very little about the Browning and Ruger, although I my first competition pistol was a Ruger, but I upgraded to a Smith 41 as soon as I could. I was a little puzzled about your choice of ammo. Federal and Eley are well known among bullseye shooters, but I have not heard of anyone using a hollow point in competition, although its average group size was the best of the four.

Incidentally, my 41s like Remington standard velocity the best. Years ago, I had to have the chamber enlarged slightly in order to shoot Eley reliably.

Your comments on controls, however, were what prompted me to write. Regarding the slide release, you give it a positive, but your comments suggest that you were releasing the slide with your firing hand. I was taught never to do that, but rather to use the non-firing hand. Two reasons: safety and accuracy. In terms of the latter, the shooter should get a grip which enhances natural alignment of the sights and arrange his body so that, in his most comfortable position, he is on target. This being done, the shooter should not change anything during the firing sequence, unless he has time (during the slow-fire stage, for example) to recheck the above. In terms of the former, a firm grip on the pistol should be maintained at all times. Using the firing-hand thumb to release the slide loosens the grip. This safety procedure is especially important for the center fire and .45 pistol stages, but for safety reasons also, one should maintain the same shooting habit throughout.

In terms of the safety, I agree that all the controls should function; however, I have two Model 41s (long barrel, like the one tested, and shorter heavy barrel) and have been shooting them competitively for almost 40 years, and I have never used the safety on either one. In competition, or even in practice, one never would. The weapon is loaded and ready to fire or cleared and placed in the box or on the table. Nothing in between.

I read Consumer Reports also and find they often downgrade items for reasons that are not important to me or are irrelevant.

Kenneth M. Taggart, Ph.D.

Professor Emeritus, Trinity University

San Antonio, Texas

We chose hollow point ammo to fire through our three test pistols for no particular reason other than we had it on hand and wished to see it if functioned reliably through the guns. We agree that one would probably never fire such ammo in competitive bullseye, but we are always curious to see what will work with guns that might serve cross-sport purposes, for instance, in this case, any of these pistols might do well for some small-game hunting pursuits.

Our main test shooter did testify that the slide release was activated during testing by the shooting hand. We do agree that because consistent and sure hand grip is important to a competitive shooter, activating the slide release in this manner may not be practical for all shooters due to differing hand size. However, we donít find an issue of safety--if the finger isnít on the trigger the gun wonít discharge, regardless of which hand operates the slide release.

As for the safety, we again agree with you that almost no one will use one in competitive use, but we maintain that if the gunís going to possess a mechanical safety such as this one, it should work when the shooter wants it to. óC. Fergus Covey