August 2009

Value Guides Get Thumbs-Up

Reader Edson uses them to speed his gun-shopping choices. Elsewhere, reader Corder wants the Mother of all Indexes, and reader Thrones asks for a 20-gauge self-defense semiauto test.

Re "Firing Line, ‘Reader: Why Not More Guns?’" May 2009

Regarding your response to John Lamkin’s letter, your decision to include a "Value Guide" sidebar… Bravo. The sidebar was executed perfectly with the name, issue, grade, and comments. I pulled out my past issues and was able to really expedite my buying decision. Keep it up, and please try to add more than just one an issue. The Value Guides increase the value of the magazine exponentially. —Paul Edson

Re "308 Semi-Auto Rifles: FNH-USA,

Springfield, Fulton, and DSA," May 2009

I have enjoyed Gun Tests for quite some time. I also very much enjoy cooking, and subscribe to Fine Cooking magazine. I have had a problem with both until Fine Cooking came out with an index to all back issues. When I wanted to look up an article I knew was in one of the issues, somewhere, it still took hours to find. With the index, I can go right to the article I want. Have you considered doing the same thing?

My inquiry is prompted by a recent search for a 308 and 223 semi-auto rifle that our dumb California politicians have not yet banned. The Springfield SOCOM and Ruger Mini-14 don’t look like "assault weapons," so they were overlooked in the ban—so far. Your publication was most helpful in making my decision on a limited choice. Thanks for the work you do. You are fortunate not to live in the California regime. But watch out: DiFi, Chuck, and the Messiah are "gunning for you." God help us all. —Bill Corder

Yes, we produce yearly indexes every January. Do you mean, have I created the Mother of all Indexes? No. But both and are keyword-searchable by gun name and by cartridge.

—Todd Woodard

Re "Coming Up," July 2009

Can you tell me if the article on piston conversion kits is close to coming out? I already know July does not have it, so I am hoping it will be soon.

—John Lofland

After further review, we decided to test piston-driven guns first, to establish the category, then followup with conversion kits, once we saw how the piston guns worked. Gene Taylor just got three piston-driven guns together: the Sig Sauer 556 SWAT, the Kel-Tec SU16, and the Ruger SR556. Those will probably take a month to test, a month to write and photograph, and a month to edit and produce, so it’ll take 3-4 months for the first look at the piston-driven ARs. —tw

Re "20-Gauge Auto Shoot-out: Beretta,

Browning, Remington," April 2009

I’ve been considering picking up a shotgun for range and home-defense situations and lean heavily toward semiautos over pumps. As my wife may also be called to use it, I’m considering a 20-gauge unit. I know that you tested 20-gauge semiautos in hunting configurations in March and April of 2009, but have you ever tested shotguns set up similarly to the "tactical" or home defense 12-gauges you’ve tested previously?

—Jack Thrones

Seems we’ve missed 20-gauge self-defense autoloaders. In July 2008, we tested two pumps, the Remington Model 870 Express Pump Synthetic 7-Round 3-Inch 20 Gauge No. 81100, $397; and the Mossberg 500 Persuader/Cruiser 3-Inch 20 Gauge 6-shot No. 50452, $388. In January 2005, we tested the Mossberg 500 Bantam, $316; the Winchester Ranger Compact, $367, and the Remington 870 Youth Express, $332. I’ll start looking for items to go in a self-loading 20-gauge matchup. —tw

Re "Ever evaluated the FNH Five-Seven USG?"

I was wondering if Gun Tests has ever evaluated the FNH Five-Seven USG (5.7x28mm)? I searched the computer archives and did not find anything. If not, is it possible to work it into your reviews? Thanks,

—Jim Yarbrough

Yep, in March 2005. Roger Eckstine wrote, "The FN Five-Seven pistol provided good accuracy with exceptional handling. Recoil was sharp, but over quickly, less than a featherweight’s punch. The lack of an expandable civilian-legal ammunition may be the only drawback to this 5.7x28mm pistol." —tw

We Appreciate That

Most times when I read a critique (complaint) of an article you have published, I hear a bean counter doing the complaining. We gunny types can be that way. Unless every letter on the page calibrates to the exact same "mm," we find fault. You do a bang up job.

 —John Middleton

Wants 380 ACP Comparison

I was wondering if you could do a comparison between the Colt Mustang Pocketlite and the Sig Sauer P238?

—Brian Hull

I could not believe we hadn’t tested the P238, but a check of the archives showed we had not. I’ve already begun looking for a P238—the issue will be getting ammo for it. As for the discontinued Colt Pocketlite, we reviewed it in April 2003. Ray Ordorica said, "Buy It. Because of its weight advantage, the Pocketlite would be our first choice of the two Colts for concealed carry.… We would carry the Pocketlite as backup to a more powerful weapon, and in such a capacity it could be toted in a pocket with the hammer down on a chambered round. The firing pin is rebounding, so this can be done with some degree of safety. Another potential carry method is in an ankle holster, and again its light weight makes it a better choice than its Mustang brother. Neither gun had objectionable recoil, so the lighter Pocketlite really gives up nothing to the heavier Mustang. Of the Colt Mustang, Ray wrote, "The all-steel Mustang had nothing to offer that the aluminum-frame version couldn’t do as well.… The initial cost of either the steel Mustang or alloy Pocketlite will be about the same, and we believe you’d get a more useful gun for your money with the Pocketlite." —tw

Re "Home-Defense 12-Gauge Pumps:

Ithaca, Remington, Mossberg," May 2009

I would like to add my comments as grist for the mill. Pitting a fixed-stock shotgun against two with folding and/or collapsible stocks was not right. Collapsible-stocked shotguns are completely different in their handling characteristics. Had you included an Ithaca with a folding stock, I suspect that the review would have read something like, "Kicked like a mule and handled like a stone axe." But then that pretty much sums up what you said about the Mossberg and the Remington. My suggestion to Gun Tests would be to obtain and evaluate a cross section of currently available shotgun folding stocks and pit them one against each other, preferably all on the same model shotgun.

Personally, I’ve been looking for a decent-handling shotgun folder for 30 years now, and have yet to find one that I liked. But that’s just me. A couple of the side-folders have caught my eye, but I have yet to make a quickdraw for the wallet. —Norm Fishler

Roswell, New Mexico

Re "Two Big 9mms: High-Capacity,

Full-Size Self-Defense Picks," May 2009

My eyes opened wide when reading the sixth paragraph into the article. It states the following regarding takedown of the CZ 75 B 9mm:

"Takedown was simple. Clear the gun, remove the magazine, and then pull the slide back slightly to align a mark on the slide with one on the frame. Then rap the right side of the slide stop with something hard, and it’ll come part way out the left side. Pry it out all the way, press the trigger to lower the hammer, and the slide comes off forward."

Two paragraphs later you note that: "We liked the fact that it could be fired with the magazine removed."

Perhaps it would be best to remove the magazine as the first step in the takedown process. This would remove the ammunition supply so that when you clear the action another round could NOT be loaded into the chamber when the slide goes back into battery. Remember, this solid pistol has a capacity of 16+1 rounds. That would be a lot of cycling of the action to clear your Liberty Device.

—Clifford D. Weiss, CPO

I thought given your review of May 2009 you might be interested in field results of regular use of the S&W M&P pistol and the decisions just made by our range staff and brass.

Here are a few points from an official LASD Bulletin decertifying the S&W M&P for use by sworn personnel of the L.A. Sheriff’s Dept as of immediately. The memo was signed by Leroy D. Baca, sheriff.

Quality of Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P pistols has become a concern because of a recent barrel failure on an in-service deputy’s pistol, coupled with additional extraction jams on deputy recruit pistols (46% of recruit class experiencing some degree of malfunctions—mostly phase-2 jam failures to extract spent casings).

A JDIC announcment canceling the authorization of Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P semi-automatic pistol models follows. Please brief your personnel.

Subject: Officer Safety Alert—Smith & Wesson M&P pistols

Recent developments have forced a departmental re-evaluation of the Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P semi-automatic pistol as an authorized optional handgun for sworn personnel.

Effective immediately, the Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P full-size pistol is no longer an authorized optional on-duty pistol. Effective immediately, the Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P compact pistol is no longer an authorized optional off-duty pistol.

Since first approval as an optional pistol on December 10, 2008, the full-sized and/or compact versions of the 9mm Smith & Wesson M&P pistol have been deployed by 49 sworn personnel on and off duty. One of these pistols was delivered new with an improperly machined barrel that would not eject spent cartridge casings. Another of these pistols experienced a barrel failure in mid-April of this year. After firing less than 10,000 rounds of training ammunition, this pistol barrel broke into two pieces just ahead of the firing chamber.

Additionally, a significant number of deputy academy class #377 recruits with issued new Smith & Wesson 9mm M&P full-size pistols have experienced phase-2 pistol malfunctions, caused by spent casings failing to extract from barrel chambers, during the past two weeks of training. Class #377 recruits will be issued Beretta 92FS pistols and their M&P pistols removed from service."

—Joe Horn

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept., (Ret)

Re "$1000 Carry Guns: Sig Sauer,

Glock, Springfield, and Smith," January 2009

You criticize the S&W 327NG for only having eight shots and no good quick-reload features. I don’t know about your neighborhood and what activities you indulge in, but I would suggest that if you need more than eight shots of .38 special +P or 357 Magnum for any self-defense action, perhaps you should reconsider your lifestyle—or spend more time at the range practicing with your firearm. Come on, the biggest percentage of situations that call for self-defense involve at the most, three baddies, only one or two of whom are armed and all of whom will flee like deer at the first crack of a round going downrange. If you think I am wrong, study the "Armed Citizen" feature in the NRA publications. Even in "bad neighborhoods" eight rounds will provide more than enough firepower if you are doing your part. Yeah, it would be nice, seeing that the weapon is already machined for moon clips, if you could buy them on the open market and even nicer if S&W threw in a couple with the purchase of the revolver, especially for $1082. Make it $1085 and throw in half a dozen full moon clips. But to downgrade the piece because it didn’t load fast, well, maybe you should start wearing your trousers around your waist instead of around your nates. Two inches at 25 yards is damned good, in my opinion. Center of mass hold will still put a significant hit on the bad guy.

—C. E. Voigtsberger

Ventura, California

The cylinder of the 327NG does not come machined and ready to accept moonclips, nor are the chamber mouths chamfered. The ejector rod is too short to assure rapid evacuation of spent cases, especially the longer magnum cases. Nobody knows how many rounds will be necessary in a gunfight, but to quote Rob Leatham, who is arguably the best pistol shot of our time and an exceptional LE and military trainer, "There is never a situation where having more rounds is a disadvantage." —Roger Eckstine

Gun Tests Report Card Grading

Gun Tests Welcomes Letters