October 2013

A Simple Dust Cover Solution

Readers Price and Singletary point out a neat trick for popping up the ejection-port cover on an AR-15. Readers Troy and Steve worry about grade inflation with the Tavor TAR-21 bullpup

Re “Rock River, ArmaLite, and Bushmaster AR-15s Compete,”

September 2013

I just wanted to tell you that I read the whole magazine the day I receive it. I loved this article. It was very appropriate for me since I just bought the Bushmaster Carbon 15 Superlight ORC. I appreciate the advice on the scope. I have a Redfield Revenge 3-9x scope that I’m going to mount on it. By the way, a firearms/hunting store (Fort Thompson) in Sherwood, Arkansas (near Little Rock) has an all-month hunting sale every August. I picked up my Bushmaster AR-15 Carbon 15 Superlight ORC for $599. You gave it a “B” in your test. With your “B” and my price, I give it an “A+”. Keep up the good reporting.

— Harold Sadler

Cabot, Arkansas

Super shopping, Mr. Sadler. When you can buy an above-average gun for a below-average price, that sounds like a deal to us. — Todd Woodard

I read with great interest your review of three AR-15s. These are selling like hotcakes, so your reviews are helpful in making informed buying decisions. A question: When reviewing the Carbon Bushmaster, you state “we would never personally take any rifle of this type and of this cartridge into a war zone.” What would you take into a war zone? Perhaps something in 7.62x51? A FN-FAL or M1A? Or something else? I’m just curious and respect your judgments, so I want to know what you would choose for a proper battle rifle that a civilian could legally purchase.

— Martin

Ray Ordorica responds: Inasmuch as the opinion expressed was my own, I’ll give you my brief thoughts on fighting rifles. First, get a cartridge that has significant terminal power and can carry that power to long range. Practically speaking, that means 7.62 NATO, or 7.62x51, or 308 Win. I have extensive experience with the HK-91, the M1A, and the FAL, having owned and fired extensively several examples of each over the years. For a long time my favorite was the same as that of my late friend Jeff Cooper, the HK-91 with collapsible stock. I also had a FAL that Dave Selvaggio (DS Arms) built for me that was a dandy. But I gave both of those up for a custom M14S (built by Clint McKee of Fulton Armory), for several reasons. These include better accuracy and that it is a more comfortable rifle in all seasons. I prefer wood on my face in the cold and in the heat. The sighting radius is longer, and it’s easy to mount a scope if desired. But any of those three, M1A, FAL, or HK-91, are in my opinion far superior to the AR-15, and yes, I used to have a tight-twist Colt version of that rifle. And of course keep your battle rifle on semiautomatic, never on fully auto. The purpose of shooting is hitting, not spraying to keep the enemy’s head down. That’s the job of the machine gun.

Having read your review of the three AR-15s, I noticed you frequently commented about the inability to open the dust cover, commenting that it is most needed when at a range for safety purposes. Here is the most simple (and free) way imaginable! If the bolt is to be locked to the rear, and the dust cover closed, the bolt carrier group will NOT be blocking the dust cover from the inside. And since it is locked to the rear (for safety), there would not be a magazine inserted either. Solution: just slip your fingers up through the magazine well, and pop open the dust cover! And if you can’t get your fingers in, obviously, the bolt is not locked to the rear. I have performed this maneuver thousands of times without incident. The only issue some might have is their finger releasing the catch that locks the bolt to the rear. In that case, don’t stick your whole hand in there, and use the front portion of the magazine well.

— Kevin Price Sr.

Life Member, NRA

In your review of the Armalite M15A4 carbine, you say there’s no easy way to open an ejection-port cover on an M16. How about sticking a couple of fingers up through the magwell and popping it open from the inside? — Jay Singletary

Hot damn! It works like a charm! I tried it here on the test guns, and it’s easy, and seems safe too. I was concerned with tripping the bolt release, but to do that, you have to hook it and pull downward inside the mag well. One of the three test rifles required more force than the others to get the door open, but the finger need not be close to the bolt release. I would be interested to know if other Gun Tests readers have had any issues with this trick. —Ray Ordorica

Re “Tavor TAR-21: Bullpup Takes a Licking, Keeps On

Kicking,” September 2013

Really enjoyed the review of the Tavor. I got to see them up close at the NRA convention in May and was impressed, but to call it light weight might be a strech. My Colt 6940 with a micro Aimpoint, Surefire scout light and a Vickers sling only weighs 7.8 pounds. That’s less than the Tavor with no accessories.— Troy

GT Team: Just finished reading the review of the TAR-21, and it looks like a solid rifle. But I have to question a high rating for this bullpup. I say this due to the $2K price tag and a 11-pound stock trigger, for which the only fix is a warranty-voiding trigger-spring removal. Even in this market, $2K is well into the realm of the high end. And I have to rework the trigger right out of the box?

— Steve Nagy

Steve and Troy, you both make valid points. Would we buy one if we could afford it? Yes. Would we sell a well-set-up AR to finance, or partially finance, that purchase? No. Knowing the Tavor’s limitations, we asked the owner if he would buy another one? He unreservedly said yes. That was worth a half-grade bump from B+ to A- in our book. — John Taylor

Re “Inside-The-Waistband

Holsters: Kydex, Leather, & Hybrid Styles,” August 2013

I want to commend your savvy article in the August issue on IWB holsters. It was particularly clever to exclude CrossBreed SuperTuck holsters from your evaluation. This leveled the playing field for the also-rans to have a shot at a good review, without competition from the industry leader. We all know that CrossBreed led the way with its ugly but comfortable and affordable design, now paid the highest compliment through imitation by many other companies. Please keep up the good work. And remember never to include the Kel-Tec P3AT or PF9 in a comparison of popular Ruger clones. We want Ruger to have the same fair shake that your holster makers had against CrossBreed.

I trust you recognize the well-intended humor behind my email. As for Kel-Tec vs Ruger, I appreciate that you are one of the few (only?) publications that doesn’t fawn over Ruger. I own a couple of Rugers, and they’re fine. But I’ve been chagrined reading articles extolling the LC9, without any acknowledgment by the author that it is essentially a copy of the PF9, and one that isn’t quite as good. Thank you for straight talk.

— WJ DeVecchio

CrossBreed is a big name in the holster business, and we shouldn’t overlook them. I asked Bob Campbell to ensure we include them, as appropriate, in future comparisons that he’s working on. —tw

Re “Follow Up: 380 Pocket Pistols With Factory-Fitted

Lasers,” September 2013

I had to send my Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380 back to the factory for warranty repair. The gun was stuck out of battery, with the slide jammed all the way to the rear and unable to be cycled. My thought was that it was probably an issue around the battery cover for the integral laser sight. After contacting S&W about this issue, I was sent a return label to send the pistol back.

When the label was sent, I asked why I was unable to drop the weapon off at the factory, since it is a 15-minute drive from my house. However, customer service explained they’ve had some issues with the theft of weapons from the factory, so I was told that bringing it myself was not an available option. So I made a call to Federal Express to come and pick the handgun up and waited a number of days for them to arrive. When the driver arrived to pick up my firearm, he showed me the back of his delivery truck, which was literally packed with warranty returns to Smith & Wesson. The driver stated that he and another driver are on two days during the week, all they do is local warranty returns. I sent the gun off and waited almost three weeks for it to be returned.

The gun came back with no note as to what the issue was or how it was or would be addressed, should I have similar issues in the future. Now I’m finding I’m having issues with the integral laser even working on my everyday carry sidearm.

To me, just to be able to get a CCW here in Massachusetts is akin to winning the lottery. After jumping through all the hoops that the Commonwealth had put before me just to get this license, the thought of having a gun that may or may not function, when I need it to, is just ridiculous.

I do have a full-frame Wilson Combat-prepped Springfield Armory 45 ACP that I carry during the fall and winter when I have clothing to help conceal it in my IWB/OWB holsters. I purchased this Bodyguard obstensibly for the spring and summer when I typically wear shorts and a t-shirt, and this small-frame handgun is much easier to conceal.

As someone who has lived in the Springfield area my whole life, I’ve always wanted to own a Smith & Wesson. After going through this experience and talking to other Smith & Wesson owners I meet at the local gun range, I’m wondering if buying one of their products was such a great decision. Now I’m pondering if I’m better off just going to a good ol’ wheelgun and leaving the small-frame automatics out of the equation.

— Chris Hodges

We have reviewed a number of Smiths very favorably, so I’m not willing to denigrate the brand. But we have had a few S&W clunkers as well — nobody is perfect. You’ve obviously (and justifiably) lost confidence in the Bodyguard, so perhaps talk to your dealer and exchange it for a 442, 342, or even a 438 Bodyguard, a laser-equipped 38 Special we gave an “A-” in the September 2010 issue. Also, most S&W revolvers can be fitted with Crimson Trace lasergrips, which I’ve done on a Smith & Wesson Model 332 AirLite Ti in 32 Magnum. So you have plenty of options. — tw

Re “CIA Against Sig Sauer: AK-47 Takes On AK-47 Compatible,” May 2013

I just read your test of the Sig Sauer 556 Russian in 7.62x39. You guys lamented the lack of a front iron sight on this rifle.

I just bought a Sig 716 in 7.62x51 with Sig factory flip-up sights. These sights would not bore sight properly. At the range I had to screw down the front sight until it bottomed out to sight the rifle in at 100 yards. Of course, the rear sight has no elevation adjustment. Since then, I replaced the Sig sights with fully adjustable LMT sights, and all is well. I now see that Sig is including a small scope with the 716 rifles (a cheap scope). I cannot fault Sig entirely, as I had a Sig P556 pistol with iron sights that functioned just fine. It had a Sig fixed front sight and the same rear flip sight as the 556 Russian of your test, and these iron sights co-witnessed well with the included Sig red-dot scope. It would be interesting to see some discussion (a test perhaps) of iron sights in your magazine. Mixing and matching front and rear sights is a gamble.

— John Blanton Carrollton, Texas

Backup Gun Concerns

I’ve already read the September issue and filed it in its binder and am waiting for the next issue. You have a really great job. Your “movie pitch” column in the September issue was great. I shared it with my shooting buddies and it was great fun. They even tried some of their own. Thanks for that.

On a more serious note, I have some concerns on the “back-up gun” concept of a micro-mini pocket gun, of which there seem to be dozens of options. My thoughts are on the circumstances where the pistol might need to be used in a self-defense situation and the importance of a “second-strike” capability. So many of those on the market do not have that, and we hear too often that if you “hear a click you just rack the slide.” Well, I can tell you that racking the slide under attack can be impossible for a number of reasons. The off hand and arm can be disabled, blocked, burdened or otherwise occupied in a confrontation. Ask me how I know.

Therefore, I would appreciate GT’s evaluation of the various subcompact BUGs that do have a restrike capability. I am not interested in any that do not. Final thought: every time I read a glowing report of a firearm in any of the other firearms magazines, I end with a thought, “What would Gun Tests think?” I have GT issues going back at least 10 years and I treasure them.

— Richard Duree Costa Mesa, California

I’d love to hear more movie pitches. Have your buds send them along. Here’s a generic one for Lifetime movies, which inexplicably come on if I nap during ballgames. “Crazed husband (boyfriend, brother, father, uncle, boss, male neighbor) seeks to kill (imprison, torture, rape, beat, assault, bury) loving, thoughtful wife (girlfriend, sister, mother, aunt, maid, secretary, nosy female acquaintance). Snubnose revolvers never need to be reloaded and deliver amazingly effective one-shot stopping power.” Back on the topic of real guns, a test of “second-strike subcompacts” has merit. Thanks for the idea. — tw

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