April 2009

Reader Says Silver a $1000 Dud

Also, we got mail asking us why it took so long to test airguns.

Re "20-Gauge Semiautos: The 11-87

Beats the Silver and New SA-20," March 2009

I think the Silver was a $1000+ dud. I was very puzzled by the B rating given to the Browning Silver Mossy Oak Duck Blind 20 gauge. I would be very upset after spending $1064 and going into the field and having failures to feed and/or fire. I think I’d rather save $568 and go with the more dependable Mossberg. What gives, guys? You should have rated it no more than a "D" for dud.

—Bob Tamewitz
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Re "First-Ever Airgun Shoot-Off:

Gamo, Walther, and Norica," March 2009

Thanks for the air-rifle test. I was really surprised the 22-caliber was more accurate than the 177-caliber products. Since I was a kid I had been told the 177 was always more accurate. I would like to see how Falcon would fare in a test against some of the pre-charged rifles. Keep up the good work!

Walter Elam,
Washington, Illinois

Spring-driven air rifles such as those you tested in the March 2009 article are sensitive to the way they are held at the forearm of the stock. Shooting them from the Ransom rifle rest might not have been the best way to determine the accuracy of these air rifles. I understand that they are best fired from a rest with the rifle laying on the shooter’s hand, which is supported by the rest.

—Phillip Dean
Monrovia, Maryland

Re "Bolt-Action Shootout: X-Bolt Beats

Remington and Savage," March 2009

I always look forward to receiving each issue of Gun Tests magazine and have for over a decade now. With regard to your test of the Browning X-Bolt and Remington 700 in the March 2009 issue, I would like to point out that the bolt-lock button on the X-bolt rifle serves a very real and important function for the brush hunter, that is, it keeps the bolt from possibly being swept open unnoticed by heavy or dense brush and the bolt waving open in the air, perhaps also risking the loss of shells from the magazine or the accumulation of debris in the open mechanism. This is more likely to happen when the rifle is being carried slung over the shoulder. I much prefer the older Remington 700 safety design, which did lock the bolt in place when on safe. The absence of a bolt-lock safety on any rifle is a definite liability for the brush hunter in my view, a feature that seems to be underappreciated by your staff.

—Dennis Huett
Madison, Wisconsin

As stated in the article, the "button" is a bolt-unlock button, not a "lock" button. It is of no practical hunting value. —Randy Wakeman

Re "$1000 Carry Guns: Sig Sauer, Glock,

Springfield, and Smith," January 2009

We own a Taurus 608, so I was glad to see an 8-shot revolver included in your January carry-gun comparison. I agree that such revolvers are difficult to load quickly, but there is one available speedloader for these revolvers, made by Maxfire. Find it at www.speedloaders.com/.

It’s an unusual design. The speedloader is entirely made of rubber, and you load the gun by fitting the rounds into the cylinder and pulling the loader sideways. Not everyone likes them, but they are clearly faster than loading rounds one by one; with a little practice, I was able to load the revolver as quickly as my J-frame with Safariland speedloaders. We have had two of the Maxfires for several years, and they have held up well. Maxfire also offers a belt pouch to carry them.

—Bob Mitchell,
Bear, Delaware

When I read the sidebar article on "Pro Carry Reloading," it prompted me finally ask someone what I’ve wondered for many years—how can a progressive reloader produce consistent ammo?

I’ve been reloading for 41 years and have never used anything other than either a Lee Loader or my RCBS Reloader Special. Over the years I’ve read all I could find about reloading and learned and experimented but have never tried a progressive press nor watched anyone actually use one, except for my buddy’s shotshell press. For me, however, I’m only concerned with metallic cartridge reloading.

What I wonder is how you can leave out two critical steps in the process and end up with consistent, safe ammo? I learned many years ago with those 38- and 41- caliber Lee Loaders that you’d better have clean primer pockets before you go tapping that new primer in! Of course tapping a primer into a pocket as opposed to pressing one in makes a big difference, but how can you be assured the flash-hole is clean and/or the primer seated ideally for consistent ignition with all that crud still in the pocket?

Using new brass obviously eliminates this concern but I’m sure the majority of reloaders are like me and use more used brass than new. Sure you could decap and clean first, but your 400 to 1000 rounds per hour rate goes down the tubes fast.

The second step missing from progressive reloading is checking case length after the sizing process. Virtually everything I’ve ever read about reloading emphasizes this critical step, especially with a lot of auto pistol cartridges that headspace on the case mouth. Also, bullet crimp is greatly affected by case length in many cartridge/bullet combinations. I just can’t see how you could pump out 400 or 500 rounds an hour that will all chamber and fire reliably and/or safely, especially in the newer, tighter auto-loading firearms.

Maybe I’m just totally uninformed about progressive reloading, but I can tell you that I can’t recall a misfire or failure to chamber from one of my reloaded rounds in the past 30 years or so since I learned the proper techniques of metallic cartridge reloading. I’d be interested to know just what failure rates people have with the progressive reloaders. Might be a decent review for you folks to take on sometime in the future when you want something different for an issue.

Otherwise, I still think Gun Tests is great. I learn something every month, even on firearms I’m totally uninterested in. I read each issue cover to cover, so I hope you’ll listen to this customer, and I’m sure many others when I say I sure miss "Firing Line" when it’s not included in an issue.

—Phillip "Skip" Marcy,
Erin, Tennessee

Re "50-Caliber Inline Muzzleloading Shoot-out:

Buy The Savage," July 2008

I am finally getting around to writing a response to your July article on the Thompson Center Triumph 50 Caliber muzzleloader. I mounted a Nikon Prostaff BDC 3-9x40 scope and sighted in and practiced shooting the gun out to 200 yards. I then went hunting and made one shot on a doe at 90 yards and hit were I was aiming. This was using the Thompson Center sabot Shock Wave 250-grain spire point.

I did some research over the winter and found many people talking about the Barnes sabots and the performance they were having from their muzzleloaders. I chose the Barnes TMZ 250-grain sabot. I must agree to try and push that sabot down the barrel takes quite a bit of force, which is not good in any circumstance. But I have read lately that Barnes redesigned the plastic jacket to help that problem.

So, when I went hunting during the 2008 muzzleloader season in Kentucky, I made two shots, one at 30 yards and one at 147 yards. Both shots again hit the mark; therefore I must say I think this muzzleloader is better than you reported in your July 2008 evaluation. I find the gun very manageable, easy to carry, and extremely simple to use and clean.

—Tom Eigel,
Lexington, Kentucky

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