April 2008

Firing Line: 04/08

Re "Full-Size .22 Long Rifle Autos:

We Love Ruger’s 6-Inch Mark III," March 2008

There is a specific reason why, two years ago, I selected a Beretta U22 over all of the other .22 pistols on the market. I’m left-handed, and the Beretta had an ambidextrous safety. I once had a Ruger MK1 target, and it did shoot beautifully, but it’s right-hand-only lever made it difficult for me to carry as a field gun. Your article was all too similar to other gun magazine articles—not one mention of the Beretta’s south-paw user friendliness and not a single reference to the other guns’ omission of an ambidextrous safety. You do the same thing when you review a bolt-action. You don’t tell the reader if the rifle is offered in a left-hand variant. 17% of us care about that.

Dave Hood

North Bend, Washington

I have both the Ruger and Browning guns and have some observations on both. First, you say the Browning sights are mounted in such a fashion as to maintain alignment with the barrel. The rear sight is attached to a "rail" that is held by two screws, one screw is attached to the barrel the other to the frame. The Ruger truly maintains the alignment, both sights are mounted directly on the barrel.

Second, the Browning Allen wrench may not be the issue. In the manufacturing process, the opening in the screw head may have burrs that require the Allen wrench be "tapped" into the opening. Both of my Buck Marks had this condition. The upside is a very tight fit, which is good considering the torque required to remove the screw. While on this subject, it is of note that by removing this screw, additional barrels may be purchased and mounted on the frame. If a scope base is used (from Wiegand, which comes with its own screws), a second scoped barrel assembly can be installed on the frame by removing/reinstalling two screws.

Third, about the grips. I clean my firearms by immersion (Cylinder & Slide Dunk-it), and I can attest there’s the issue with removing the grips. They hold several parts in place on both sides of the frame. With two-piece aftermarket grips, this is not an issue; with the factory wraparound grips, a third hand is needed. Of note, one of my Buck Marks actually had a Challenger frame and not listed as such. The aftermarket grips I purchased (Ajax) fit very well, except there is a quarter-inch gap in the front of the frame. When I contacted Ajax, they informed me I indeed had the correct grips for the gun I had.

Finally, I would much rather deal with a tricky single Allen screw than reassembling a Ruger.

Art Bouwman

I have owned and enjoyed shooting a Ruger MKI target bull barrel for many years. I just finished your test results in the March 2008 issue. I was pleased with your rating on the Ruger MKIII standard Model, an A+. I went to back issues and saw your tests in November 2006 (Ruger MKIII competition) and January 2007 (Ruger MKIII 22/45). I reread your test results on them. My feeling, your staff unfairly rated two of Ruger’s fine handguns. Your dislike of the disassembly-assembly instructions seemed to be the only drawback. Hey guys, it is the same system as the Ruger MKIII Standard model. I feel a "Don’t Buy" rating was not fair.

I look forward to the new issue of Gun Tests each month. Keep up the good work.

Dean Thomas

Arkansas City, Kansas

Re ".380 Autoloaders: FireStorm Beats Walther

PPK, Hi-Point CF," February 2008

I just got around to reading the article on the .380 ACPs. You comment that Hi-Point firearms "have always worked perfectly for our test crew." I wish I could echo your sentiment. I would give Hi-Point an F.

Here’s my story. In 2006, I purchased a Hi-Point 9mm. Before even firing a shot, I had problems with cartridges feeding into the chamber. On the firing line, I experienced a number of stovepipes and misfeeds. There were several times when I would pull the trigger and nothing would happen. I pull back the slide to eject the round, pull the trigger again and still nothing. I would then take out the magazine, clear the round, place the magazine back into the pistol, feed a round into the chamber and then pull the trigger.

This happened most frequently with standard "white box" Winchester 115-gr. FMJ ammo. It also happened with Blazer Brass ammo and to a lesser extent with Fiocchi ammo. Due to a large amount of frustration with the misfeeds and stovepipes, I shot fewer than 100 rounds.

I went to the range a few weeks later, using only the Fiocchi ammo. I had fewer problems, but I still had them. I shot about 100 rounds. Shortly after that I went to the range, and that’s when I had a major mishap. I was still shooting Fiocchi ammo. I had gone through maybe three magazines at a slow pace, since I occasionally stopped to assist a student. I had the pistol in hand and fired a shot. I then pulled the trigger for a second shot and nothing happened. I looked at the gun and felt sick to my stomach. The rail was distorted, and the slide was sticking up at a nasty angle. Fortunately, my hand was fine. After I got over my shock, I looked at the pistol and found a slug stuck in the barrel.

While I realize it could be the ammo that malfunctioned, I am inclined to believe it was the firearm. I use it as an aid with my students to drive home the point "you get what you pay for" in regards to a handgun.

I cannot with a clear conscience recommend a Hi-Point product. One day I’ll send the thing back to Hi-Point to see if they will give me my money back. I don’t want the thing replaced. I realize you reviewed a .380 and not a 9mm, but the two are close enough in specs (in my mind) for comparison.

Shawn Gage

Hi guys, I had to send this to you as it really did surprise me. We all know that the Hi-Point is ugly, but mine shoots like a dream! I have the .45 ACP, and it feeds all my reloads with no problems.

Well, even I can screw up, and I did. The rear sight screw could not handle the torque I put on it and it broke. Here is the great part. I shipped my .45 off on 2-26-08 and received it back on 3-4-08! Like new, and not only replaced the slide, but included a new magazine. No, this will not compete with my Gold Cup, but it will put all shots in 6 inches or less at 25 yards, which for home defense is more than acceptable. Al Nye

And the Winner of the Most Concealable

Award Is…

I’ve been a Gun Tests subscriber for about ten years now. I’m sure you get hundreds of requests/suggestions for articles for Gun Tests, but here’s one more. Concealed Carry is now an option in a majority of states. I have a concealed carry permit, and for me a primary element of consideration is easy and complete concealability and ability of the gun to function right out of my pocket/waistband.

I would really like to see you do a comparison of the "most concealable" pistols. Right now I carry a Kel-Tec .32 or Kel-Tec P3AT almost daily, due to the fact that they can be carried in my pocket without any trace showing through my pants, and they are extremely light weight, so they don’t tug my pants down. I’ve found they function reliably as long as I use Winchester Silver Tips. But I’d like to see how they stack up to other ultra-concealable pistols.

I know the hardcore types will say the calibers used in ultra-concealable pistols are too weak, but for me I want to be absolutely sure no one knows I’m carrying. Not because there are any rules against it, but in many of the businesses I deal with it’s just not socially acceptable to be seen carrying a weapon, so I want to make sure it stays hidden. I’d like to find a 9mm that is ultra-concealable, but have not found one yet.

Steve Flippo

Prattville, Alabama

Steve: Great idea, and I’ve forwarded your note to the staff for development. —Todd Woodard

More On Peter Capstick

Mr. Ordorica, let me say first that I’ve had confirmed your assertion that Mr. Capstick was indeed a far more accomplished bartender than PH by independent conversations with many PH’s who reported knowing and working with him prior to his launching his literary career. I’ve made over twenty trips to hunt Africa, and his works are topics of conversation during many a sundowner session. I would note; however, that your declaration that he couldn’t have been knowledgeable regarding rifles and hunting because he wasn’t a PH is specious. Those of us who engage in the shooting sports with commitment know that most PH’s don’t know the first thing about guns. Factually, most PH’s fire only a few rounds yearly. The personal and/or local resources to actively engage in a shooting hobby just don’t exist in most of Africa.

Incidentally, I love my double rifles and, of course, your literary works contribute to my indulgence of this fascination. Always looking for more from you.

Chuck Shannon

Anchorage, Alaska

Re "AR-15 Replacement Stocks:

We Choose the Magpul CTR," March 2008

You probably recognize the danger of doing an article on customizing an AR-15: you are likely to be swarmed with e-mails from AR-15 aficionados wanting to tell you how they did it, with photos nonetheless. Well, in case those other guys haven’t written in yet, here is my side of things.

My base position regarding my AR-15 (a Bushmaster XM15 carbine) was to make only changes that enhanced handling or performance—nothing that was purely cosmetic. My first addition was a rubber buttplate, in my case a model by SOG Armory ($19.95 in Brownells, although I got mine for $10 at a gun show). Since my rifle is an A2 model with a fixed handle that places the sights (iron or optical) about an inch and a half above the flat top, a raised cheek piece is indispensable. I added the snap-on CAR-15 made by DPMS ($34.95). This sounds similar to the item you got from Cheaper Than Dirt, except that it is made of a rubberized plastic material that has not cracked over many cycles of snapping it on and off the OEM collapsible stock. This model has a battery storage tube built into the top and also has a notch on the front. The charging handle slides underneath this notch, when it is drawn back, but as you noted, the stock should be extended to the second detent. If it’s not, and if the charging handle is moved vigorously to the rear, it rotates the cheek rest up and out of the way, but it will still remain attached to the stock by the rear clamping surface. I don’t know if it was designed this way, but it partially overcomes the problem you noted with both the tested items from Cheaper Than Dirt and Command Arms. This is my $55 solution to the OEM stock problem you addressed.

Other mods I have made include replacing the stock pistol grip with one from First Samco, which has a textured grip, finger grooves, and storage inside; adding a triple mount rail that fits around the front sight tower for attaching a laser, light, and side-mounted sling swivel; adding a Picatinny rail under the handguard to allow for a bipod or vertical grip (neither of which I currently have); swapping out the charging handle for a tactical latch with an extension to the side of the handle for extra leverage , and replacing the stock iron sights with tritium ones. Internally, after encountering consistent failures to eject after several thousand rounds, I replaced the extractor spring and insert with an upgraded version from Brownells, and I added an Accuwedge to tighten up the fit between the upper and lower receiver sections.

If you are considering additional articles on AR-15 accessories, please consider the subject of slings, bipods, and vertical grips. And since you mentioned Magpul, hopefully you will soon be reviewing their version of the AR-15 (though they would probably not characterize it as such), the recently released Masada.

James Heimer

Houston, Texas

Re "Long Barreled .44 Magnum Revolvers,

Bravo for the Bull," March 2008

Dear Todd: We appreciate that your staff testers liked the Ruger Super Redhawk revolver. In the above article, you stated that, while it was "an extremely consistent shooter," they thought it "needed a more suitable grip," suggesting that the gun should be shipped with a Hogue rubber grip.

Well, I believe we’re one step ahead of you. Beginning in January 2008, Ruger Super Redhawk revolvers are all being shipped with Hogue Monogrips, as our catalogue describes. I think your readers should know of this significant change.

Can we now up our score from a B+ to an A?

Steve Sanetti

President, Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

Perhaps GT’s readers will mentally supply the upgrade from B+ to A, since Ruger has already made the modification we wanted. —Todd Woodard


In the March 2008 .44 Magnum story, the first three lines of the Taurus Specifications table were incorrect. The right dimensions for the Taurus appeared beginning with the third line of the table, and were correctly listed as Overall Length, 14.2 in.; Barrel Length, 8.5 in.; and Sight Radius, 9.9 in. We regret the error.

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