February 2012

KimSon Grips Worth the Wait?

Reader Hoerst praises their beauty, but points out he waited for his for eight months! Several readers criticize our pricing of Ruger’s Single Six. Also, using the ‘Select and Compare’ tool.

Re “Handgun Grips for Self-Loading Pistols:
We Compare 17 Brands,” January 2012

KimSon Handicraft Co. grips from the Republic of Vietnam are great grips and always get noticed. However, it is noteworthy to inform your readers of my experience with KimSon. Worth the wait? Maybe for some, but not for most. I placed my order in March 2008 with a prepayment of $240 for four sets of grips. One was a custom set made from water-buffalo bone with abalone inserts. The work is exceptional, and the grips are beautiful. The only caution was the time of delivery. Even though they promised a delivery of 45 days, it took eight months and at least 45 emails to get my grips. Also, all four sets for different 1911 models had to be adjusted with a file to make them fit.

These are two of Reader Hoerst’s KimSon grips. At left is the “dust of life” pattern. At right are the “hit man” style.

— Dave Hoerst
DutyGearWarehouse.com
Cincinnati, Ohio

You guys outdid yourselves covering so many grips! I have fallen in love with my Hogue grips. Have them on my RIA 45 and Chiappa 1911-22. However, some 1911s that have wooden grips sometimes need a rigid inner surface to keep either the safety or plunger-spring tube from coming off. I used a feeler gauge to remedy this on my Chiappa. Others might have similar problems.

— Robert Brooks

I’m a long-term, happy subscriber. You produce a great magazine and source of information. Thank you. This is to bring to your attention one additional source of high-quality gun grips which you didn’t review. In 2011 I wanted I new grips to spruce up a Kimber 10mm, a Model 1911 that’s very similar to the Colt Delta Elite, but which was too plain. Exotic Grips by Esmeralda, http://www.esmeralda.cc/, offers good-quality color photos of each specific set of grips they have for sale. I also had the option of asking for a cutout for an ambidextrous thumb safety — important because I am left-handed and didn’t want to have to use my Dremel tool to make the new grips fit on my pistol. Each set has a serial number, and you order the set you want by its serial number.

Still, I was buying a pig in a poke to the extent that I could not know in advance how precisely they were made. Not only did I get the exact grain structure I wanted and had previously viewed, but they fit perfectly. No slop. No rough edges.

I immediately followed up by ordering another set for my Colt Officer Model 45, my carry gun. These two sets of ebonywood grips made by Esmeralda are easily the best, most beautiful grips on any of my handguns.

I got them in 3 days. Very fast and straightforward. On the other hand, they are not cheap. You want Wal-Mart prices? Then go to Wal-Mart!

I invite you to read the background about the company and Esmeralda O’Sheehan, herself. She is a true craftsman of outstanding gun grips.

— John Lamkin
Carson City, Nevada
 
Re “Single-Action 22 LR/22 WMR Duel:
New Frontier v. Single Six,” January 2012

Would you please tell me how you come up with the prices for guns in Gun Tests? The January 2012 issue on page 16 shows $325 for the Ruger Single Six. I phoned my discount gun dealer to get his price, and he told me that Ruger charges all dealers the same price regardless of how many guns they buy, and that the Single Six would cost me about $470. So where do you guys get that $325?

— David Getoff

This was a test of used guns. The theme of the story was, should we purchase a used Ruger or a used Colt? Of course, with the Ruger, you have the choice of the new gun, while with the Colt we do not. Note that the Ruger’s grips are well worn and the finish, while good, wasn’t new. The $325 was the actual price paid for the Ruger we tested.

— Bob Campbell

In your comparison of the Ruger Single Six and Colt New Frontier, you said, “The Ruger is actually the classic and the Colt was the upstart…” And said the Ruger was introduced in 1953 and the Colt in 1970. Really? My first Ruger was a 1953 Single Six with the flat loading gate. It was recognized for its high quality but it didn’t look quite like the six guns we saw every night in TV westerns. My next door neighbor Mike had the Colt 22 LR. So there were two schools of thought among my teenaged friends: Go with the not-so-realistic Ruger, or the more realistic Colt Frontier 22, which looked like a scaled-down Colt Army. It was like growing up in Alabama and having to commit to either Auburn or Alabama by the time you were five. We had to pick our future shootin’ iron at a young age and start lobbying Dad right then. In my neighborhood, everyone knew whether you were a Ruger .22 fan or a Colt .22 fan. It was like branding. Each had diehard arguments for and against. It was a lot like the later debates between fans of the original (oversized but sturdy) Ruger Vaquero vs the (correct) Colt clones from Italy.

This new Frontier looks a lot like the original Ruger. So what goes around comes around. Again.

— John Taylor
Show Low, Arizona

I just got and read the head-to-head test involving the Ruger Single Six. I have one of the older models (‘72) and love it, along with many other Ruger products I have. I think you missed an important safety concern with the older models — those built from 1953 to 1972 — are the subject of a safety recall. Ruger modifies these guns, free of charge, by adding a hammer-block safety. If you did not have the modification done, you were advised to carry only five rounds, with the hammer on an empty chamber. The mod is such that purists and collectors can remove the block to change the pistol back to its original configuration. It’s very easy to tell which guns require the mod. The older models have three screws in the frame, while the New Model guns have two screws. The newer ones also have a “New Model” engraving. I love the magazine and have relied on your tests to guide several gun purchases. Keep up the good work.

— Major Terry Galbreath (ret)

The article on the Colt and Ruger 22 single actions has me puzzled. If the Colt has a transfer bar, why can’t it be carried with six rounds? Isn’t the transfer bar exactly that? It transfers the hammer blow to the firing pin when raised between the two by the trigger, being all the way back. If the trigger isn’t back, like if it was dropped, the hammer can’t reach the firing pin. No?

— Greg Fischer
Allentown, New Jersey

This is a good question that applies to many of the modern single-action revolvers with the transfer bar. Those designs that continue to use a half-cock notch in the action are not considered as safe as the Ruger design, which does not use a half-cock notch. The Ruger is a hammer-forward loading-type single action. The others require the hammer be at half cock. The Ruger action is considered safer as regards “hammer snagging” and lifting the hammer just a tad and allowing it to fall. If the Colt were as safe as the Ruger all-round, Colt would not have attempted to add the crossbolt safety to some later-production Colts, as illustrated in the article. The bottom line is, these are recreational revolvers, and if you wish, loading five in all of these single actions isn’t a bad idea!

— Bob Campbell

I would like very much to purchase the Ruger Single Six in the January 2012 issue of Gun Tests. I would be more than happy to pay the list price shown in the article, since the best price I can get from my local gun store is $516. I also couldn’t help but notice that it had the exact same specs as the Colt, except no written warranty since it came from Ruger, and they don’t need one. Have a Happy New Year (or is it Happy April Fools Day?)

— Tom Bennett
Hesperia, Michigan

The Ruger and the Colt are in fact nearly identical in size, which isn’t an accident. Both, I believe, are three-quarter-size copies of the Colt Single Action Army. Both fit the same holsters, and while they differ in appearance, they are remarkably identical in size. I think that the price as tested was a fair and average one for a used Ruger. Prices paid for the Colt and the Ruger reflect the price paid for each as used guns, as this was a used-gun match up. $325 is average for an older blue Ruger Single Six in my area, but I recently saw a nice used stainless example go for $375. Forty percent off the new price is about average. As for the warranty, in my experience the Ruger is indeed less likely to go out of time than any other single-action revolver, regardless of the maker.

— Bob Campbell

Re “New Polymer Forties: Glock, Springfield,
Ruger Shoot It Out,” October 2011

Have you done a test of the S&W M&P 40 S&W? I would like to see how it stacks up against the 40s in the October 2011 issue.

— Steve

Sorry, we’ve haven’t tested S&W’s 40-caliber M&P. But your letter will put the wheels in motion to rectify that. Some other 40 S&Ws we gave “Buy” recommendations to include the Browning HP40, $608; Para-Ordnance P16-40 LDA, $760; and Glock Model 35, $775. In the September 2000 issue, we said of the Browning HP40, “For single-action-only fans, this would be our first choice.” Of the P16-40LDA, we said, “[It] has the potential for very high capacity…. If you always liked the 1911 pistol but feared cocked-and-locked carry, we’d take this pistol over the other two.” And of the Glock Model 35, we said, “Even the Glock doubters on our staff liked this gun.” On another note, you can always find guns we’ve tested on the www.Gun-Tests.com website by clicking on the “Compare Guns” tab in the upper-left navigation line (just under the logo), then narrowing the search parameters by type, price, and caliber. See the nearby window for a sample.

— Todd Woodard

What Constitutes “Tactical”?

The descriptive adjective for an ever increasing number of guns, knives, and accessories is that they are “tactical.” The Webster’s dictionary definition of tactical is, 1: of or relating to combat tactics. As,

  • of or occurring at the battlefront, such as a tactical defense or a tactical first strike.

  • using or being weapons or forces employed at the battlefront, such as tactical missiles.

  • of an air force: of, relating to, or designed for air attack in close support of friendly ground forces.

  • of or relating to tactics.

  • adroit in planning or maneuvering to accomplish a purpose.

It seems to me that the word “tactical” in the context of marketing firearms and related products is really meant to denote anything black and ugly.

— Bud Kessen

Methinks beauty is in the eye of the beholder. But yes.

— Todd Woodard

Re “2011 Product Index,” January 2012

I was looking at the 2011 index when I saw many items with an * in front. But I don’t know what the * means or refers to. Would you be kind enough to pop me a quick reply and enlighten me? You are the only magazine I still maintain a paid subscription to, even though it looks like I won’t be doing much (if any) gun buying in the near future. But I appreciate your honest reviews!

— David Moore
Phoenix, Arizona

My mistake. I inadvertently deleted the notation at the bottom of the pages. An * means the gun appeared in a Value Guide sidebar.

— Todd Woodard

New subscriber here. Please run a test on the Saiga AK-47, 7.62 Russian against a Romanian or Bulgarian WASR and the Saiga AK-74, 5.45 Russian against a Polish Tantal, same caliber. Also, please run a review on a Rock Island 1911 45 against a Springfield XD45. Finally, on your product listing index, why not include your alpha rating next to the gun model? It would help newbies like me.

— Ed

Good idea. We’ll try to include that in the product index next year.

— Todd Woodard

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