December 2010

Include Critical Defense Ammo?

Reader Biby wonders why we’d go ahead with a 380 ammunition test without a particular round. Reader Stonecipher loves his Sabatti, but reader Lee worries about online ‘reviews’ of the gun.

Re "Firing Line," November 2010

In response to Bob Campbell’s reply in the November issue concerning the availability of the 380 Hornady Critical Defense load for testing, as a new reader to Gun Tests I am a little confused. I was under the impression that Gun Tests evaluated products to inform its readers of the best product on the market at the time of that particular testing. If so, how could you

Springfield Armory XDM 45
evaluate 380 ammo without including the Hornady Critical Defense load? With the popularly of the 380 for concealed carry, should not the test of the 380 be postponed until you had the best ammo to evaluate?

—Wayne Biby
Roseland, Virginia

Two things: We have a space (page count) and product budget that we have to live within, so we can’t test all rounds in a segment all at the same time, plus rounds are being introduced quarterly, so we’d never catch up. The maximum number of rounds we can compare is about 10 at a time. Otherwise, it gets unwieldy. Also, though readers are curious about the Hornady CD load, that doesn’t mean it’s the best, at least in our protocol. Still, based on the heavy response we got on the 380 story, we’ll test that cartridge again shortly and compare our current top-ranked rounds to the CD and other cartridges. —Todd Woodard

Re "Sabatti 450/400: Affordable Double Rifle,

Perfect Caliber," November 2010

Great article on the Sabatti Double Rifle. I purchased a Sabatti in 500 NE this past summer. I had this rifle sent to the best double-rifle gunsmith in the U.S. to have him modify it and give me his opinion on it. He felt that it was good for a production rifle, but recommended that we set the trigger pulls at 5 and 4.5 pounds. We also changed the recoil pad to a better-quality one and installed two mercury recoil devices in the stock. JJ also recommended that the surface of the safety tang be roughened so that my thumb wouldn’t slip off during a panic reaction to a charging animal. I also had him modify the front bead because I felt that it was too big.

I’m currently shooting light lead loads for practice rounds. I shoot five or six rounds each time I practice with it. Any more than that and a person could develop a bad flinch. Shooting 570-grain bullets will get your attention. This rifle will be used for elephant hunting next September. —Carl Stonecipher

Nice article. Truthful? Maybe. I started searching the ‘net on this model and most posts say "crap," "junk," "the Yugo of Italian rifles," and "stay away." Maybe the gun Ray Ordorica tested was fine, but I doubt it represents all the 92s out there. For $5500? At this price, plus all the bad publicity on the 92, I’ll pass. If there’s that much bad out there, then something smells. It’s pretty, though.

—Gary Lee
Cable, Wisconsin

The gun I tested may, or may not, represent many of the 92s out there, but I report what I find. Mr. Stonecipher seems happy with his as well. We all have to decide whose opinion we’re going to trust. I will say that when I’m researching guns online for eventual review here, I’ll look for problems described in forums, but I never trust what I find without verifying it for myself. I don’t calculate the accuracy of online comments, but I’d guess that less than 5% of the described problems show up in our test guns. —Ray Ordorica

Re "Laser Lightshow: Crimson Trace, LaserMax,

LaserLyte Compete," November 2010

I am an old pistol shooter and know about the front sight, but at age 76, I need all the help I can get. I totally agree with your conclusions, but you omitted some very important points. Using a laser in poor light when the front sight is difficult to see is the most important point omitted. I have a Crimson Trace on my 1911 home-defense gun and on my Model 37 Airweight snubby. In my experience, just grabbing the gun as you would normally—and having the laser turn on automatically—is a big plus for Crimson Trace. Both the 1911 and the snubby have a master switch, which I don’t use because it’s just one more thing to remember. The manufacturer says that the battery life will not be extended by using the switch. Also, I’ve learned this important tip: with the CT, the laser can be covered with the index finger, thereby not giving away your position.

—Joe Curzi
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Re "New Polymer 45 ACP Pistols From

Sig Sauer and Springfield," November 2010

The article concerning the Springfield XDM 45 and the SIG Sauer 45 was most informative. One question is, what is your definition of Trigger Span? For the XDM it is listed as 2.7 inch and for the SIG it is listed as 2.8 inch. Did you misplace a decimal point? My definition of Trigger Span would be Total Trigger Travel. Is this not correct? Please enlighten me. Your analyses are very detailed and informative, and I trust them completely.

—Larry Jawitz
Hobe Sound, Florida

Larry, Trigger Span is a static measurement taken from the front of the trigger face to the deepest part of the grip. See the accompanying photo for a visual description. —tw

Back Issue Report

I was trying to find an articles on the Smith & Wesson M&P9 pistol. I recently bought one and wanted to see if I made a good choice. I put about 50 rounds through it with various bullet weights, and it seems to be not very accurate. Can you tell me what issues I need to look at?

—Mike Montreal

In the April 2010 issue, we reviewed the S&W M&P9 Pro Series 9mm No. 178010. In the May 2009 issue, we looked at the Smith & Wesson M&P 209001 9mm, $679. We shot the Smith & Wesson M&P Compact 9mm No. 209304, $656, in the February 2009 issue. To find others, log on to and type in the model name you want to read about. —tw

Single Shot Shotguns

I am wondering if you would do an article on cheap single-shot shotguns. Those that come to mind are the H&R Pardner and those made by Rossi. Personally, I’m interested in the 12 and 20 gauges. After doing some reading on the internet, it seems they’re popular choices for a first shotgun. The major complaint about them is felt recoil, but they’re so affordable, they are attractive to many people. It would be great if you could provide some reliable information regarding recoil, accuracy, pattern, use of slugs, etc.

—Michael Wang

We reviewed the New England Firearms Pardner in the April 2000 issue. We said, if someone wanted to take this gun turkey hunting, he would have to learn how to aim it to put its charge where he wanted it, or modify the gun somehow to print its pattern considerably higher. In the January 2010 issue, we reviewed the H&R Topper Trap SB1-30T 12 Gauge, $360, but that’s probably too expensive for your needs.

But it’s a good idea to look at the simple, affordable field guns, so I appreciate the tip. —tw

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