December 2009

XD Extractors, 9mms, Beck

Reader Porter says he’s put 3000 rounds through his Springfield XD and had no extractor issues; Dr. Maurer makes an elegant argument for the 9mm; praise and criticism of Glenn Beck.

Re "Firing Line," November 2009

Regarding Joe Meyer’s letter about extractor failures in the Springfield XD/XDM, I obtained a 40-cal. XDM in February and used it to shoot Practical pistol all this season. I estimate I’ve put about 3,000 rounds through it with a total of two failures to feed, both apparently ammo-related and both quickly cleared. I cannot speak for any other XD/XDM owners, but I would say that any rumors of extractor failure with these pistols are just that, rumors. —Andy Porter

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

Loses to Bulky 90-Two," September 2009

I read your recent review of the Beretta 90-Two 9mm with interest. As always, I find your reviews wonderfully thorough, incisive and thoughtful.

That being said, there were a few editorial comments that I do think merit response, beginning with "...for others who realize the limitations of the caliber, a 9mm.…" The actual scientific database, which I have spent many years reviewing in terminal ballistic studies, actually does not define a dramatic distinction in the terminal ballistics capability of other handgun calibers in comparison to current 9mm bullet design. While there is not question, based on the laws of physics as well as my experience of over 20 years as a neurosurgeon at a University Academic Medical Center, that other calibers do, indeed, have more capability, the actual scientific database to support a substantial distinction is meager. In fact, after several decades of terminal ballistics literature reviews, the actual factual database to support that, for example, a 45-caliber handgun round is dramatically more capable than current 9mm rounds is, at best, wanting and probably absolutely not available in the scientific literature. Anecdotal stories aside, which will always abound, the concept that one handgun round vastly outperforms another when similar bullet design (for example one gold dot caliber versus another gold dot caliber) generally offers very little in the way of dramatic distinction in terminal ballistic capability.

Additionally, it is, in my opinion, almost essential when commenting on caliber effectiveness with regards to terminal ballistics, to emphasize that all things in life are a "trade off." While 45 and 40 or other options may provide some marginal increase in terminal ballistic performance based on momentum, permanent wound track size, etc., the weapon dimension increases, capacity decreases and all these other variables as well as shot-to-shot follow-through capability will all be effected to differing extents in differing individuals’ skill envelope. To disparage the 9mm round without emphasizing its other potential assets is, in my opinion, probably something less than scientific.

While I do not own a Beretta 90-Two and I am not suggesting that the large size is necessarily an attribute, the feeling that "if one plans to miss a lot and make a lot of noise" probably would also be found wanting by some, particularly those who have served in the Middle East. During the course of my discussions about terminal ballistics with a number of people in very substantial combat positions who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the capacity, in their opinion, often was a very nice attribute and, several of them thought that the high capacity of the 9mm was a much greater asset than they might have imagined.

As to the utilization of the word "archaic" when reviewing the double-action/single-action design, while there is no question many individuals have moved away from such a system, as the years go by, both in surgical technology and instrumentation, as well as firearms technology, I come more and more each year to recognizing that each person finds something that works very well for them. While no one will probably dispute that double-action/single-action has lost favor in some large subgroups of individuals, the same could be said of a 1911 single-action style for most of law enforcement (whether that’s legitimate or not is immaterial to the discussion) and, probably the phrase "archaic" would be better to have been substituted with a phrase such as "less popular."

I always find your articles beautifully done and I always look forward to the reviews each month. Again, thanks so much very much for your attention and consideration. —Paul K. Maurer, M.D.

Professor of Neurosurgery

University of Rochester Medical Center

Rochester, New York

The debate over caliber is silly because it overlooks the basics: A single well-placed shot is fatal, regardless of caliber. Trying to overcome a bad aim with a large caliber is not likely to be successful. The letter from Mr. Mitchell ("Firing Line," November 2009) is saddening because it confirms the inadequacy of the training our troops receive and the success of the gun-control lobby in weakening this country. If exposed to firearms for the first time in basic training, how can one be expected to be accurate in combat?

A bad aim under stress is not a fault unless one has trained for shooting under stress. Adrenaline is bad stuff. It takes away small motor control, among other things. Shooting at a range is not the same as shooting under stress, whether one is in the armed forces or in law enforcement. Some people try to simulate stress with exercise; e.g. do 20 pushups and 20 deep knee bends, then try to fire accurately.

So, do you need 18 rounds? Yeah, if the extra weight improves your aim for the one shot. —Paul Wille

Subject: Collection Review

I spend a lot of energy trying to figure out what category of gun to buy next, to patch up the holes in my collection. GT reviews are great for readers who already have a lot of guidance in collection building, and can then leverage GT reviews to narrow the selection to a specific model. I know this is a very broad subject, and I don’t have a complete idea how to approach it, but I do know that I can’t be the only reader wondering: Do I have enough rifles for now? Should think about my first shotgun instead? Or should I buy that next-to-be-banned battle rifle while they are available? Or maybe a compact carry pistol that the wife can also shoot comfortably? The thought that goes into a four- or five-gun list that represents the most flexible and prepared and fun collection would be interesting reading. Help me figure out where the holes in my collection are so that the rest of your magazine is more useful.

—Karl Foose

Everybody’s different, and our interests are different. For instance, I personally own just a few firearms, including a bolt-action deer rifle, an over/under 12 gauge, a couple of semiauto 22 rifles, a custom 45, an AR-15, and a carry gun. But my want list is huge: a 28-gauge Remington 1100 Sporting, an S&W Model 41 22 pistol and a Model 617 10-shot 22 revolver, an FN Five-Seven, a Browning Medallion in 7mm-08, and on and on. But one way to organize a collection is to get good guns in the four major categories—pistol, revolver, rifle, and shotgun—then start breaking down the categories into their parts. For instance, the shotgun category would have room for a semiauto, a pump, an over/under, and a side-by-side in different gauges. Gun Tests’ editorial content is broken down that way, so if you see a gun that does well of a type you don’t own, start filling in the blanks. —Todd Woodard

Re "Downrange," November 2009

As a regular viewer of Glenn on Fox, I seem to recall hearing once that he had a CHL. You might want to check that out. —John P. Ashjian

San Antonio, Texas

I received the November issue in the mail, and your great praise for Glenn Beck has no place in the magazine. You might say it has to do with gun rights, but as a gun owner, I want to read the gun tests. I am an independent and find Beck to be like all the other right-wing nutcases out there. He, along with the likes of Rush, Hannity, etc., make money by spreading fear, hate, and lies. It must be nice to be able to spread lies and not have to back up anything they say.

The White House is not going to ban guns; in fact, they had to allow legislation permitting handguns in parks, because it was tied to another bill they wanted passed. When you worship Beck and pick up his cause, you are just spreading the lies and fear that make them richer than most people can imagine. I enjoy the gun tests, but not your politics. —from AOL

Coverage of politics and popular culture has always been part of Gun Tests magazine—but only under my signature, and contained on page 2. As editor of the magazine, I do have a single political bias that I disclose that dovetails with 99% of the readership’s opinion, your letter notwithstanding—toward more 2nd Amendment freedom, and the policies and people who support that. Who else in media supports gun rights, or even reports competently on gun-related issues? Lou Dobbs. John Stossel. And the "right-wing nutcases" you cite, including Beck. Beck said in an interview on July 23, 2009, that he has a CHL. Do you seriously think that Keith Olbermann does? —tw

Re "Patterning the Taurus Judge," October 2009

I was concerned that shooting pellets might damage the rifling for the 45 LC, so I’ve been using the 23⁄8-inch slugs. I have yet to read, albeit I’ve only been a subscriber for a short time, an article on how accurate slugs would be out to 40 feet and/or beyond that range. Have you even thought of using slugs instead of shotshells? Or have you dismissed the idea for safety reasons?

Isn’t it funny that some of the judges who carry the Judge are some of the judges who want us to be unarmed! I love your magazine! I’ve passed some issues on to other shooters, and I’m hoping to get them back!

—Jan Freeman

I have not written to you before now because I felt that my experience may have been an isolated one. However, the more I think about it the more I feel obligated to bring it to someone’s attention. I purchased a Judge through Cabela’s in Utah. I loaded it with half 410-bore shotshells and half 45-caliber cartridges. During the second shot the gun completely locked up and I was unable to release the cylinder or trigger/hammer (both jammed to the rear). I returned the gun to Cabela’s and they sent it in for repair. Several weeks later they called and said my gun was ready for pickup. Five rounds later the same jam occurred. I returned it to Cabela’s and traded it for a Springfield XD and have been very happy. —Robin O’Brien

Rimfire Pistols in "Coming Up in Gun Tests"

In issues going back to last summer, the "Coming Up in Gun Tests" box on the back page has mentioned rimfire pistol tests being conducted. However, the latest issue does not have same info. Does this mean that the project has been scrubbed? Hope not, I’m looking forward to it. What’s the scoop? —Bill Kalinak

Sun City West, Arizona

Unfortunately the Walther and Sig pistols have been recalled and returned to the store from which they were on loan. And I still do not have an ISSC M22. So, the story is on indefinite delay. —Roger Eckstine

Re "Firing Line," October 2009

[In a letter by Greg DiSabatino] I was disappointed to see the lack of a positive disconnector referred to as allowing a "slamfire." Slamfires are unintentional discharges due to gun failures, e.g. a broken Garand firing pin, or ammunition failure, e.g., a high primer, or a combination of both, e.g., a stiff or frozen extractor and ultra-sensitive primer in a 22 rimfire. By contrast, the lack of a positive disconnect can be a wonderful thing—pumping a shotgun empty that does not have a positive disconnector is often quite intentional.

Back during the Southeast Asia War Games of the 60s and early 70s, the lack of a positive disconnect on the issue Winchester Model 12 was a tremendous asset when jumped by Charlie at night while patrolling the camp’s perimeter. It not only put a lot of lead into the air quickly, but its reports also confused Charlie as to exactly what we were firing or might be starting up.

Even today for home defense, if a homeowner is up against a gang of intruders, the simplicity of yanking the trigger (in that situation you WILL yank the trigger, not "press" or "squeeze" it) and pumping the shotgun empty may well be the homeowner’s best tactic. Due to the intense stress of an attack, especially for those who have not experienced it before, only the simplest of mechanisms will be effective.

(The use of e.g., not i.e., above was intentional. Some of us understand the difference between "for example" [exempli gratia] and "that is" [id est], our two most abused and misused Latin phrases.)

—R.A. Jenkins


I am a long-time subscriber to Gun Tests and have some years neatly filed in binders. It is a marvelous resource that I enjoy reading and using to help me select guns.

Shortly, I will be moving permanently to my retirement home, which has much less space than my home of 30 years. As a result, many of my prized books will have to be sold, given away or destroyed. I fear it will be mostly the latter since there seems to be little interest in my collection of military and other history.

The real purpose of this letter is to ask if you have any plans to publish Gun Tests on CD, which would be a great boon for me. Because I would have room for a favorite resource. Robert W. Roth

Langhorne, Pennsylvania

Sorry, no GT DVD in our plans. However, the last 10 years of the magazine appear at, and the search function is particularly helpful in doing gun research. —tw


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