November 2009

Can You Have Too Many Bullets?

Reader Mitchell says that in a war zone, his son found out there’s no such thing as too many rounds. Reader Meyer asks if we’ve heard bad things about the Springfield XD extractor.

Thanks for October 2009

I’ve already read this issue cover to cover. Again this month I found articles that I will refer to again and again (even my wife knows the Gun Tests filing system I use). When I teach CCW classes (mostly to military members) I get a lot of questions about specific guns for self-defense. If I haven’t used the specific firearm and you don’t have a review on-line, I generally suggest another firearm that you recommend or that I have used extensively. I received three such calls this weekend (we had a gun show in town), and two of the three resulted in firearms purchases and happy new owners. The third call was for a firearm I wouldn’t recommend (based on your tests), so the individual didn’t buy one. He was initially disappointed because he’d read good things in other publications about the same model. I read every gun magazine I can get my hands on, and I asked him how many negative reviews he’d read in the source he was quoting. After a short pause he’s decided to stay on the lookout for a model your publication recommended. I say play the odds, they usually pay off.

—Mark Forster

Re "Polymer 9mm Pistols: Green, Dark Earth,

and Black Beauties," August 2009

I have a Springfield XDM in 9mm, and I am very pleased with it. Part of my decision-making process was the fact that you generally gave the XDs and XDMs pretty good reviews. I have heard a rumor that the 9mm and 40 cals XDs and XDMs are experiencing widespread extractor failures (after 1000 rounds or so). It was put to me that there should be a recall, but Springfield will not acknowledge it. Have you heard any of these rumors? Have you experienced any of these failures? Have you done any long-term testing of the XD-XDM?

—Joe Meyer

We keep in loose touch with some owners of our former test guns in case they run into problems that long-term testing exposes. We haven’t heard negative feedback on the questions you raised. But we sent your letter to Dave Williams, a gunsmith in the Springfield Armory custom shop, and he responded, "Thanks for your inquiry! We have not had any such issues with our extractors. As a matter of fact, we have never encountered an extractor failure in any of our endurance testing, which is considerable. Nor have we experienced any chronic failures in the field. Thanks for getting with us on this matter!" —Todd Woodard

Re "Two Full-Size 9mms: Browning Hi-Power

Loses to Bulky 90-Two," September 2009

In your excellent review of the Beretta 90-Two, you ask, "Do you really need a huge 9mm that holds 18 shots?" My son’s experience serving in Apache Troop of 3-7 Cavalry may provide an answer. He was sent to Kuwait in late 2002 to drive his Abrams tank to Baghdad. Tank drivers were not issued an assault rifle, so all he carried into battle was his Beretta M9 (the military version of the 92). I surprised him with two 30-round magazines for his pistol, which reached Kuwait two days before they rolled out.

When he got home, the first thing he told me was, "You know, Dad, when you shoot a Fedayeen Saddam in the center of mass with a 9mm, it just makes him angry."

I asked, "So what did you do?"

"Remember those huge mags you sent me? I shot that *&!#/ 29 more times… calmed him right down!"

I will never trust a 9mm to do the job. I understand that modern hollowpoint defensive ammo is much better than what my boy staked his life on, but I don’t care: I carry a Glock 29 on my hip, and a Glock 20 in the center console, both stocked with DoubleTap full-strength 10mm rounds.

Folks who insist on shooting 9mm just might just need those 18 rounds… or more. —Bob Mitchell

Regarding the test of the 90-Two, Ray Ordorica stated that the DA/SA configuration is obsolete. Although I don’t share that opinion and am a fan of that configuration, I don’t take offense to that because I understand that to be a personal preference.

I do, however, take exception to the following statement: "Finally, do you really need a huge 9mm that holds 18 shots?" As a former police officer, I know that the average gunfight takes place at about 7 yards and consists of three rounds. But I have never heard of anyone who wanted fewer rounds. Though I knew a lot of officers who sacrificed rounds for a bigger caliber, usually 40 S&W or 45 ACP, or a particular gun that they shot well, such as a 1911, nobody I knew ever wanted fewer rounds. When you are in an altercation in the dark with a moving target, there is no such thing. I appreciate what I believe is your honesty and the fact that you don’t accept advertisements. —Jeff

Unfortunately most cops and servicemen have their handguns and calibers picked for them, and in many cases the guys doing the picking have no idea of what really works. If the cops or servicemen—or those who are in control of arming them—are first sent to a really good week-long training school to learn the limitations of a variety of guns and calibers, there will be very few who choose 9mm DA/SA handguns, nor will they tolerate safeties that decock the guns, and magazine disconnects like on the old Hi-Power. If you need more rounds, learn how to change magazines fast. You can best do that at a good training school, and while there you’ll learn a lot about the sad limitations of DA/SA shooting. CZ has shown you can make a DA/SA gun that provides either SA cocked-and-locked carry, or DA/SA. If your gun doesn’t give you that choice, it’s obsolete. Jeff, I didn’t limit the Beretta’s obsolescence to DA/SA, but included its safety location and the safety options as being not what the informed, skilled shooter needs. The purpose of shooting is hitting, and the setup of the Beretta doesn’t make that as easy as it could be. —Ray Ordorica

Re "Firing Line," October 2009

This is in reference to Mr. Eckstine’s response to Mr. Nipperus’s letter last month. If I remember my rifle ballistics training correctly, a projectile does not travel in a flat line as it leaves the muzzle. It initially climbs before gravity eventually takes over. As a result, I would expect to see, on a snub-nosed pistol with fixed sights, the front sight higher than the rear sight to compensate for ballistic trajectory, even at a short distance.

—Fred Prisley

Norm Nipperus is understandably confused by the fact that the front sight on his revolver is noticeably higher than the rear sight, so that the gun is actually pointing down when he fires at a target. The reason is simple, but your answer was confusing.

The reason is recoil, which begins the instant the bullet begins to move. No matter what some drawings show, the gun is actually recoiling while the bullet is still in the barrel. Since guns recoil around their own center of gravity, that normally means that the barrel moves upward. The result is that the movement of the barrel upward cancels out the effect of the front sight height, so that the barrel has moved in line with the target by the time the bullet exits the barrel.

If the barrel were perfectly level when the gun is fired, the gun would always shoot high, because recoil would move the barrel upward before the bullet exits.

Since the amount and speed of recoil will vary with the velocity and mass of the bullet, a fixed-sight gun will be "sighted" with only one load. S&W uses the old 38 Special standard of a 158-grain bullet at approximately 755 fps in making the sights of its 38 Special fixed-sight revolvers.

Some people mention 1911-type pistols, in which the sights are more in line, and question why the same is not true for them. The answer is that it is true, except that the downward-pointing barrel is covered by the slide. When the 1911-type pistol is in battery, the barrel is pointing downward just like that of a revolver, and recoil compensates the same way. —Jim Keenan

Re "Patterning the Taurus Judge," October 2009

Several magazines have carried articles or letters recently about finding a proper-fitting holster for the Taurus Judge. I got my Judge back when it was a new item in the marketplace, and wondered if I would ever find a holster to fit this odd-looking revolver. Mine is apparently somewhat rare, having a 4-inch barrel, while 3- and 6-inch seem to be the standards.

Eventually, I found the website of Rob Leahy of Wasilla, Alaska, who not only makes excellent holsters, but even makes one to order to fit the Judge. To make a long story short, Rob made me an excellent Judge holster to accommodate my 4-inch Judge and made it adaptable for either inside-the-waistband or outside, and with three belt slots to adjust the draw angle.

Like many shooters, I have a box full of cheap over-the-counter holsters that almost fit, meaning your handgun is about as snug as if you carried it in a plastic grocery bag, or stuffed in so tightly that you have to struggle to withdraw it. Didn’t take me long to decide that for security, for comfort, and for price, a custom-built holster is the only way to go. Those interested in Rob Leahy’s holsters can contact him at or call him at (907) 357-6521.

—Raymond E. Shaw, NRA Life Member

Merriam, KansasJust wanted to pass along some thoughts about the Taurus Judge. We purchased a Taurus Judge before the DA bait was emblazoned on the barrel. We purchased it for snake control in west Texas so that my lovely wife would quit breaking hoe handles. In this regard, the Taurus has performed beyond expectations. What has been the most effective for us is .410 shotshells loaded with No. 12 shot. As my brother noted, these are like throwing a handful of black pepper at the snake. Extreme coverage is obtained. They are made by Rio, and we obtained them from Cheaper Than Dirt. These fit very snugly into the cylinder of the Taurus. We use a dowel rod to remove the expired shells from the cylinder. This fit prohibits fast reloads, but as of yet, we only use one shot to accomplish the desired task. These same shells are easily extracted from actual .410s, such as the break-open Snake Charmer. Rio also makes a 12 gauge with No. 12 shot. —Allen Fox

An email to Rio got this reply: "The only retailer that carries those is Cheaper than Dirt. They have some on order and they should have them by the first of the year." —tw

Subject: New Gun

I am looking for a new gun. I am curious to know which you would prefer, the Savage Precision Carbine in 308/223 or the Remington SPS Tactical in those same calibers? Both guns have 20-inch barrels.

—Clint Brannon

Heckuva good question, and one which I can’t answer because we haven’t tested either one—which I’ll attempt to rectify shortly. The Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine (abbreviated PC, but it’s definitely not "politically correct") has, as you noted, a 20-inch medium-heavy barrel. That good tube and features like Savage’s AccuStock and AccuTrigger are reputed to provide 1⁄2-MOA accuracy out of the box with suitable ammunition. It measures only 40.5 inches in OAL and weighs 7 pounds. The SPS Tactical has similar dimensions and its own accurizing features, including a black synthetic Hogue Overmold stock, dual point pillar bedding, and a 20-inch heavy-contour tactical-style barrel. It also comes with the company’s X-Mark Pro trigger. In both cases, major benchrest accuracy features are built into the guns, so it’s hard to see how either one would fail. In particular, I look at triggers as an easy way to distinguish between competing guns, but these both have the companies’ top-of-the-line designs. I guess we’ll just have to get a couple and see how they shoot. Thanks for the tip. —tw

Re "Firing Line," August 2009

Ten minutes ago, I turned off my computer after another 14-hour

Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine

The Savage Model 10 Precision Carbine, top, and the Remington SPS Tactical, bottom.

day of work, tired and aggravated. I prepped for bed, got in and began reading your publication; it is a great way to end the day. I read C.E Voigtsberger’s comments regarding $1000 Carry Guns and about fell out of bed when I read his comment "start wearing your trousers around your waist instead of your nates." That is too funny. I just had to go back into my study, reboot the PC, and send this email to let you know how much I enjoyed that. Also, his comments regarding the revolver were right on. Too many people dismiss the security offered by a revolver, especially when auto pistols are paired with persons ill trained to manage their pistol’s malfunctions. Putting capacity and caliber aside, no handgun is more reliable than a revolver. I carry both types and fully believe that for most of us ordinary people, if you can’t manage your self-defense with five rounds, then what the hell were you doing in that part of town in the first place?

Anyway, thanks for all of your staff’s efforts in producing the best gun reviews out there. There is so much BS and hype in the world. It’s great to subscribe to a gun publication without penis enlargement and Viagra ads! —Charles Ashinoff

I will take that last compliment in the spirit it was offered. —tw

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