April 2007

Porting Earns an ‘A’ for Better Control of Pistols and Revolvers

This simple aftermarket modi?cation makes handguns easier to handle. Also, Don’t Buy the Spring?eld PX9505L 9mm; and the dual-cartridge BFR may be the biggest, but not the ?nest, gun.

We’ve recently had a chance to shoot handguns, handgun modifications, and accessories against products we’ve tested in previous issues. In several cases, we’ve taken guns that were flawed in some way and tried to correct the problems we found because we thought the underlying products were sound.

In others, we simply tried to make a good product better. Here are follow-ups to previous articles that address these issues.

Porting Improves Shooting

Smith & Wesson Revolver

The business end of our 2.5-inch 7-shot Smith & Wesson 686+ revolver shows one side of the standard two-port Mag-na-porting job, which cost $89. Mag-Na-Port’s autoporting procedure cuts a trapezoidal port through the barrel and an oversized expan-sion vent through the slide (inset right) for $130.

In the February 2000 issue, we reviewed seven guns, four of which were ported, and three of which weren’t. Of the seven, we tested two Glock 9mms, the 19 and the compensated 19C.

At the time, we noted, "Though 9mm pistols do not have recoil as stiff as the .45 ACP or .40 S&W, many handgunners will appreciate the soft-shooting qualities of the ported model 19C. Though the shooting gap between the guns narrows significantly here, we still think the ported gun, $646, has the edge in shootability over its $616 non-ported stablemate, and we’d buy C-designation first."

Factory porting on a Glock 19C is a $30 upgrade over the 19’s price, and we noted, "…we don’t think you can have any more fun with a Glock pistol than we had with the 19C. Its ports allow even weak-handed shooters to yawn and stay on target. This kind of performance is too much to pass up…."

So what about the suffering Glock 19 users who don’t have compensation? For them, we went the extra mile and sent a stock 19 to Mag-Na-Port and had that company install porting on the factory gun. The company’s autoporting procedure (with holes cut on both slide and barrel) costs $130. Mag-na-port uses a trapezoidal port through the barrel and an oversized expansion vent through the slide.

At the same time, we also shipped a 2.5-inch 7-shot Smith & Wesson 686+ revolver. Our intention was to cross-check the results of a sidebar we did on porting a snubby .38 in the March 2001 issue with two additional products, one of which had much more recoil. We chose the standard two-port job, which cost $89.

The Results

Judging the effect porting had on accuracy wasn’t difficult with the 19 — we didn’t notice any major change that couldn’t be explained by shooter error, temperature, or dozens of other variables.

But we did notice that the 19MP (Mag-na-ported) was was more accurate from a bench with two out of three ammunitions. We didn’t notice a large flash of muzzle blast.

Comparing our Smith & Wesson revolver before and after Mag-na-porting could be considered a more exact science. It is a fixed-barrel gun with only a 2.5-inch barrel. We felt if the porting were disruptive, it would show up in our "after" test.

Result: On average, there was no change in the size of the groups before and after porting. Felt recoil was the least with the lighter, hotter rounds. The rounds topped with the longer 180-grain bullet naturally have less room left over for propellant. We didn’t feel much improvement in either comfort or reduction of muzzle flip shooting Federal’s big 180-grain hunting round.

But the 130-grain Hydra-Shock and even the 145-grain Silvertip were leaving the gun level as the porting counteracted muzzle flip.

With standard 158-grain .38 ammo, felt recoil was much the same with or without a ported barrel. However, felt recoil was noticeably reduced after Mag-na-porting when we fired standard-pressure 125-grain bullets, but virtually disappeared when we fed the ported gun the hotter 125-grain +P ammunition. The level of noise produced by this round was acceptable. Firing the hottest .357 magnum rounds in the ported 686+ produced a harrowing blast but little felt recoil.

Heavily plugged, a shooter can ignore the pyrotechnics and fire a relatively calm and controlled group.

Mag-na-porting, $90-$130

The option of a ported barrel, whether from the factory or after market, has many real world advantages. Introducing ports to a very short accuracy-proven barrel showed that the Mag-na-port design had no detrimental effect on accuracy, little effect on velocity and with the right ammunition, greatly increased controllability. We’ve now confirmed this with a magnum and a standard-pressure .38 Special

At the shooting range you can practice longer because repeated fire is less tiring or damaging to your wrist or hand. Firing from inside a car to avoid a car jacking may be damaging to your hearing, but weighed against survival the extra control a ported gun offers can be a huge advantage.

For more information on the process, contact Mag-na-port International, Inc., 41302 Executive Drive, Harrison Township, Michigan 48045-1306; (586) 469-6727, www.magnaport.com.

Gun Tests Grade: A-