December 2012

Was Marlin 39-A's Tube Bent?

Reader Petroski passes along advice on scoping an SA-22 and diagnosing the takedown Marlinís ills. Reader Terry likes an ArmaLaser on his P-11. And what the heck is a UTS-15?

Re “22 LR Takedowns:
Browning, Ruger, Marlin Go
Head to Head,” August 2012

I have just read Ray Odorica’s review of three takedown 22 rifles, including the Browning SA-22. Ray complained about the need to remove the rear sight in order to mount a scope, as well as the exorbitant cost of a scope base and rings for this rifle. Leupold makes a steel barrel mount base (Product #50014), which mounts over the existing iron sights and uses standard dual dovetail steel rings. Both the barrel mount base as well as the rings are solid steel. The total cost of rings and mount from Midway: $46.95. I do not think Ray will find fault in any Leupold product.

Mr. Petroskiís Marlin 39-A shows a downward bend.

Anyway, the most serious problem I have is with your review of the Marlin 39. Your own photos clearly show that the magazine tube is severely bent (most probably in transit, if my own experiences are any indicator). The angle of divergence of the magazine tube cap from the end of the barrel is a clear giveaway. Attached is a photo of a Marlin 39 showing the correct relationship of an unbent magazine tube to the end of the barrel. Clearly, this rifle has received a severe upwards blow in the immediate region of the forend cap, and now no clearance at all is showing between the magazine tube and the underside of the barrel. At least 1⁄16 inch of space should be visible at all points between the magazine tube and barrel. You can easily prove my assertion by drifting out the single magazine tube retaining pin in the magazine tube retaining ring below the barrel and then pulling out the outer magazine tube. Roll the tube across a flat surface like a table top or a sheet of plate glass and you will find a horribly bent assembly. It was far more than just rust, as Ray claimed that was causing the problem. I also suspect improper bolt fitting on this particular Marlin 39, possibly resulting in increased head space and therefore the bulges noted in the case rims of fired shells. This would also explain the light firing pin strikes encountered. A quick check with a no-go 22 LR headspace gauge will tell the story.

I have both a Marlin 39-A (pre-safety model) and a Browning SA 22. The Marlin has been fired about 269,000 rounds (yes, over a quarter million rounds) and the Browning SA-22 has been fired 155,000 rounds or so). Clearly, this sort of testing is unreasonable to expect in your reviews, given the time constraints to publication. However, I can assure you that the Ruger 10-22 will not go this distance. Mine certainly did not, even given the same care and cleaning as the Browning and Marlin. When steel parts wear against aluminum, which do you imagine wins the durability contest? I greatly admire your publication and mostly agree with your evaluations, but everyone misses things from time to time. I believe this review missed a number of them.
— Leo C. Petroski

Leo: The Marlin 39-A’s mag tube was most emphatically not bent. We said that after we treated the rust in the outer magazine tube with oil, the system worked perfectly. Any severe damage to the outer tube would also have bent the brass inner tube. The tube was installed so that it was not parallel with the barrel. We no longer have the rifle on hand, and frankly we wasted far too much time with it as it was, trying to find reasons why it didn’t work. As far as its headspace goes, that’s the factory’s job, not ours. If we had found that to be a problem, it would not have changed our rating of the gun except to lower it.

As for Leupold’s SA-22 scope base, it’s a dandy. Too bad I couldn’t find it after days of looking for a suitable base online. I, as will most buyers of the gun, had to resort to the parts carrying the Browning name. If I had not used that Browning base, our readers would not have learned what a piece of overpriced nonsense it is. And Browning could not improve on that in all the years that rifle’s been made?

Not one in ten thousand shooters will ever wear any rifle out. If they wear out a 10/22, they can buy another one and have money left over. Or they could upgrade it with aftermarket products to something that would never wear out.
— Ray Ordorica

Re “Three More Small Nines:
Ruger, Kel-Tec, And Sig Sauer
Complete,” November 2012

ArmaLaser TR1

First, I would like to say you are the number-one source for true and unbiased firearms evaluations, and I thank you for that. While reading the handgun comparison in the November issue, you state that the Ruger and the Sig have laser sights that fit them, but you do not know of a laser sight that fits the Kel-Tec. I have been carring a Kel-Tec P11 for several years with an ArmaLaser ( mounted and find it works great. As opposed to any buttons or switches for activation, it has a sensor strip that activates it. You might want to check them out.

I recently purchased a new/used Kel-Tec P-11 at a local gun shop. I was looking for an inexpensive 9mm trail gun to carry when I hike in the Sierras close to my home — mountain lions have become a real problem. I liked the compact, well-built nature of the P-11, but the trigger was so heavy that my wife could not pull the trigger. A quick trip to my local gunsmith fixed the problem with a spring change. It now has a 4.5-pound trigger pull and works great. It is also a very accurate firearm with the new trigger pull. — Gregory Pasiuk, Placerville, California

State Availability
Being a subscriber to your magazine for a couple of years, I have attempted to purchase a few of the pistols/rifles highlighted in your tests only to find out that they are restricted and cannot be sold in New York State. I was hoping, as many catalog sporting companies do, that you would show restrictions for various states if the weapon can’t be purchased in all 50 states. If you can include this in Gun Tests articles, it would be great. I know you can’t cover county or local exceptions, but on the state level would be a great help.
— RRR from Margaretville, New York

I empathize with your problem, but I’m leery of trying to do this. Catalog companies like Brownells or Cheaper Than Dirt! struggle to stay current on all regulations because they don’t want to wind up in jail by shipping an 11-round magazine to some jurisdiction that frowns on an evil extra round. — Todd Woodard

Re “New AR-15 Rifles:
Mossberg, Olympic Arms,
S&W,” November 2012

Just got the latest issue of Gun Tests with the review of the AR platform in the 300 Whisper/Blackout caliber. Since this follows a detailed discussion in the last issue of Guns & Ammo, it occurs to me to ask, what is the big deal? For several years now an AR platform chambered for a large-caliber round has been available in the 450 Bushmaster. Compared to the Whisper 30 caliber, the 450 BM will push a 250-grain 452-caliber Hornady FTX bullet (the only factory load currently available) downrange in the 2200 to 2400 fps range with excellent accuracy out to 200 yards (and beyond in the hands of a expert shooter). Furthermore, although Hornady’s Reloading Handbook (8th edition) specifies three bullet weights suitable for the 450 BM, a dozen handloads from 185-grain to 300-grain bullets from multiple manufacturers have been documented. And the cost of a 450 BM upper is in the $600 to $700 range in either 16- or 20-inch barrels.† They are fully compatible with all AR lowers and swap out just by pulling the two pins on the receiver. There is a lot of experience on the forum. Perhaps it is time for Gun Tests to look into this weapon?
— Jim Heimer, Houston, Texas

Perhaps you’re right. — tw

Better Comparisons
I wasn’t aware of your “Compare Guns” feature until you mentioned it in the November 2012. However, please put 223/5.56 in its own category. I don’t want to sort through a bunch of 22 LRs to find rifles chambered in 223/5.56. Thank you.
— Robert

Good suggestion. I’ll check with the boss and see what that costs. The database was originally set up on just a caliber basis. — tw

I have had trouble since the date of purchase with the laser sight on/off switch on my Bodyguard 380. It is almost impossible to turn on, requires the use of my off hand and two fingers to pinch it on and turn it off, and is fairly useless for anything like quick use. And I don’t much like putting my off hand near the muzzle of the weapon in that situation either. Have you had any other folks complain of this difficulty? I understand the issue of killing batteries if the switch is too easy to activate, but this is too hard to use. Think I should contact Smith? — Lou
Castle Rock, Colorado

Yes, might be a warranty fix. — tw

Re “Firing Line,”
November 2012

In a recent issue, a fellow reader was asking about S&W gun oil. Seems it has been discontinued. I don’t know how helpful it will be, but the home of Bass Pro Shops here in Springfield, Missouri, has quite a bit of it in the 1-ounce bottles. I don’t know if it’s available in all their stores or on line, as it’s in the catalog clearance store here. Thought this might be helpful.— Gary

Reader Gary pointed out that Grainger no longer has the lube mentioned in November issue. Reader Lou Baldi found the Smith & Wesson Premium Lubricant on Amazon in the .5-milliliter tube for $7. — tw

Re “High-Cap 12 Gauges: Saiga
And Kel-Tec Rule RJF and
Akdal,” November 2012

Good article, but I’m disappointed that the UTAS UTS-15 was not included in the review/evaluation. I own one (an early build), have 400+ rounds of varied 12-gauge shotshells (bird shot, slugs and 00 buck) through it, without problems other than a short stroke as I was getting used to it. All in all, it may be superior to the KSG. I hope that you will run a test in the near future, so that your readers can add your assessment into the mix.
— Paul Livingston

We didn’t know much about this gun, so we went looking. UTAS is a Turkish company specializing in firearms design, engineering and OEM manufacturing. The UTS-15 tactical shotgun is a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun with two 7-round alternately feeding or selectable magazine tubes. Measures 28.3 inches in overall length with a 18.5-inch barrel. Chambers 2.75- and 3-inch magnum ammunition. Constructed primarily of fiber-reinforced injection-molded polymer, the UTS-15 weighs only 6.9 pounds. Has a top-mounted Picatinny rail and Beretta-style barrel threading for choke tubes. Great recommendation. — tw


Two articles caught my eye, and I have comments about both. Shotguns: I’m a lefty and usually ignore bullpup designs because most ejection ports are at my left cheek when I shoulder one. I know some have reversible designs. Having a bottom eject will sell a lot of Kel-Tec bullpups to us lefties. On the small nines: I own a Kel-Tec P-11, bought from a preacher, and agree with you about the heavy, sharp trigger. I carried it for a while, but put it away because of those two issues.
—Mark Strussenberg
Henderson, Nevada

Mark: On the P-11, see Mr. Pasiuk’s note above. — tw

I was surprised to see the failures associated with the review of the Red Jacket-modified Saiga 12 entry. Saiga shotguns with shortened barrels, such as this one, frequently have issues with low gas pressure because the ports are now so near the muzzle. Typically, the ports are enlarged or even additional ports are added to allow sufficient pressure to reach the piston. Then it was mentioned that this particular Short Barreled Shotgun had been designed to use with a suppressor.

The absence of that suppressor effectively shortened the effective barrel length by probably another 6 to 10 inches — whatever the suppressor length is. I’d guess the variety of issues experienced with this gun would be cured if the suppressor were in place and the expected gas pressures were applied to the piston. — Tom Clark

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