February 2014

Where Is the Gun Tests Index?

Reader Phillips wants a more complete index of the magazine’s articles. Reader Feierabend’s arthritis makes working slides difficult. Reader Novack says chokes might improve the Judge.

What I Would REALLY Like
I’ve been a subscriber for 13+ years and enjoy the magazine immensely, however one (little) complaint is not having a complete index to all the tests for that year (or previous years).

S&W 500 Magnum

Now, you used to list the previous year’s tests in the January issue, and I was able to scan and print it out (somewhat a PITA, but doable). However, this year 2014, no index!

What I would really like (I mean really like) would be an alphabetical index, divided into long guns, hand guns and accessories of all your gun tests, either published as a separate book annually or available on line as a downloadable/printable PDF. Probably more cost effective for you after the initial time outlay to organize the data.

When I or a friend come across a used gun that looks like a good buy, but one does not know for sure, I have to search through 12 different indexes to see if it had been reviewed by your magazine and what the rating was. As I grow into Geezerhood, this is becoming another PITA.

Looking forward to upcoming articles on suppressor evaluations, since our great state of Texas has now allowed them for hunting.

Yours is the only gun-related magazine I subscribe to, since I found that 98% of other gun reviewers never shoot less than 1 MOA. (Makes me feel inadequate). —Grier Phillips Avinger, Texas

Yes, I overbooked the January 2014 issue with material and ran out of space. The 2013 index appears in this issue. I have made a few runs at categorizing the archival material along the lines of a printed book index (I think that’s what you’re asking for), and wound up getting nowhere. It’s faster, I’ve found, to look for a specific gun by doing a keyword search on the Microsoft Word version of the master index and hit “next” to pogo down the file. Or, on our sister news site GunReports.com, I open the “Gun Tests Index 2013-1989” file and do a browser search. We’re also looking for a place to store the master index on Gun-Tests.com for easier access. Better, perhaps, we’ve just about completed a rebuild of Gun-Tests.com, and its improved search function should make it a lot easier to find and link to specific articles for research.We realize our honest reviews are the basis for a lot of gun-buying decisions, and we’re working to make those reviews easier to find and access for all our subscribers. — Todd Woodard

Big Bore Fan
I own a 460 S&W Mag with an 11-inch-plus barrel. I am also an NRA firearms instructor, which has nothing to do with what follows. A close friend owns an Israeli 50 Desert Eagle, which he claims is the most powrful handgun ever. He is a proponent of large, slow-moving bullets. I, on the other hand, am a proponent of high-velocity medium to light bullets, thus intensifying the “shock wave” effect. I’m also a handloader with 46 years of experience. I did a comparison using manufacturers’ ballistics from their respective websites between his Desert Eagle with a 300-grain bullet and the 460 S&W with a 300-grain bullet and read him the comparisons. The Desert Eagle had a muzzle velocity of 1,380 fps with a muzzle energy of 1,847 ft.-lbs. The 460 S&W 300-grain bullet had a muzzle velocity 2,060 fps with a muzzle energy of 2,825 ft.-lbs. I explained to him that even though the 460 only has a bullet diameter of 0.452 inch, it achieves its butt-kicking difference because of the velocity between the two. In case I missed it, or if you have not already done so, would you run an article in Gun Tests on the 460 S&W Mag? I have duplicated the factory ballistics on my 460 with a 200-grain SST and a 200-grain Barnes XPB with a velocity of 2,115 fps. I have shot a 100-yard five-shot group with the Barnes XPB of 1.85 inches.— WDG

The top end of the handgun cartridge spectrum is populated by quite a few powerful choices. We haven’t covered the 460 S&W Magnum as yet, so I asked Contributing Editor Robert Sadowski to work on a lineup. He replied, “I guess I’m going to get carpal tunnel sooner than I expected. Ruger and Taurus offer 454 Casull chamberings in DA revolvers. I’ll see about getting an S&W X-frame, and then get back to you with a line-up.” We have covered other powerful handgun rounds, including the 475 Linebaugh and 500 Linebaugh (May 2001), the 454 Casull (February 2000, May 1998), 450 Marlin (May 2003), the 45-70 G’vt (May 2003), and the 500 S&W Magnum (October 2006). Smith & Wesson’s two biggest magnums are the 460 and 500 S&W Magnums. As an example of what the factory 460 can do, look at the Federal Premium Vital-Shok 300-grain #P460SA load, which pushes the Swift A-Frame bullet to 1750 fps MV/2040 ft.-lbs. ME. But for those who want the largest pistol on the block, the 500 S&W Magnum is your caliber. According to BATFE regulations, rifle and handgun bores are limited to one-half inch, unless the firearm is registered as a destructive device and a Federal $200 tax is paid and all other requirements are met. Some other manufacturer could make a longer cartridge, but the 500 S&W is already more than 2 inches long. Federal’s 500 S&W 325-grain Swift A-Frame bullet has a listed muzzle velocity of 1800 fps and muzzle energy of 2338 ft.-lbs. In the 2006 test, Product Coordinator Kevin Winkle shot Winchester’s 500 S&W Magnum 400-grain platinum-tip hollow point, which had a listed velocity of 1800 fps and muzzle energy of 2877 foot-pounds. — tw

Slide Retraction Effort
Gentlemen: I have a question regarding slides on automatics. Have you ever tested what amount of effort it takes to pull back various slides on different guns/calibers?

I would like to carry an automatic, but I can’t pull the slides back on all that I’ve tried because of arthritis. I’m sure that other seniors have the same problem. I have talked to manufacturers about this problem, and they say with a lighter slide spring, the handgun will beat itself to death. I see Glock is now making a Model 42 380, so is a good rule of thumb that the smaller the cartridge, the less effort opening the slide requires? If there is nothing available with an easy slide, I’ll carry my revolver. Thanks, —Bob Feierabend, Ohio

Ray Ordorica points out that large-bore locked-breech handguns often require far less opening pressure than small-bore blow-back handguns. And remarks we make in the text about the slide force are usually more informative than numbers in a table. So, we haven’t made a change in our reporting templates to incorporate slide retraction effort as a measured specification, but in the stories I’ve personally been helping with recently, I’ve added that measurement to the pistol specs because of repeated requests from seniors and women. The 22 LR pistols tested in this issue are examples, even though they are relatively easy to open. Using the proper technique, most people can open nearly all slides, but this is something I’m considering adding to our data collection, for exactly the reason you’re asking about. — tw

Re “Handgun Review: Almost a Lahti,” January 2014
I have been a subcriber to Gun Tests for many years. As a lifelong collector of Swedish militaria, I read with some amusement your troubles loading a Lathi mag. A little research on your part would have discovered that the Swedes (like on the Luger) issued a mag-loading device, which was located in a pouch on the issue Lathi holster. This device makes loading a clip a snap. Also, having owned and shot both pistols, I have found them equal as far as quality. The Finnish gun has more dollar value, as it was made in smaller quantities and is somewhat scarcer. Using a cartridge to load the mag was a recipe for problems. In summary: “Use the right tool for the job.” —Dwight Douglas

I had one of the mag-loading devices on hand (see adjacent photo), tried it, and hated it. The omission on my part of mentioning the gizmo that is needed to stoke the gun is, I believe, far less important than pointing out that this was a poor design for the man in the trenches to deal with. As I carefully noted, in actual warfare, in cold conditions, where that little tool was promptly lost, the owner of the pistol would have the devil of a time reloading magazines. Using an empty cartridge — easily found during wartime — made loading the mag easy. And, of course, the Swedes left out two of the original features of the Finnish design, one a potential safety device and another that might have prevented the failure to feed in the cold. In my view, the Finnish and Swedish pistols were not equal in quality. — Ray Ordorica

I was on my way to the local gun range when I grabbed my mail. There on the front cover of Gun Tests was an M40, just like the one in my range bag with several other handguns. I sat on the front steps and read your article twice! I purchased this pistol online, without the locking bracket, for $500 from a New England gun shop that took it in on trade. Numrich had the locking block for $17.60 and a holster with accessories for $35 that included two magazines, cleaning tool, and magazine-loading tool. Samco Global also has accessories.

Your test pistol was sold to Denmark to be used by the Rigspoliti, the Danish Police. It is marked as such on the right side, “Rplt. S 414.” It was inspected by Swedish Military Inspector Captain Sten Stenmo. The SS under Crown is his inspection mark on the end of the bolt. You have a third-variation slide without the slide accelerator. These have a square foot for the front sight and an outer nut on the barrel at the breech. The second variation slides were weakened because of three holes drilled into the slide dealing with the accelerator. These have no outer nut and a step foot on the front sight. This caused catastrophic failures and the guns were taken out of service. O. Jenson is the author of a very complete history of the M40 Husqvarna. Sadly, no buttstocks were known to have been manufactured. — Raymond J. Reiser, Florida

Thank you, Mr. Reiser, for your courteous and informative note about the M40. Your information and insight into the gun was most welcome, and I suspect our readers will agree.
We had found notes on the failures of the slides, but nothing definitive as to why they let go. I would guess the drilled ones are to be avoided. It’s a pity no stocks for the M40 were made.— Ray Ordorica

Re “Shooting the Rossi Circuit Judge,” January 2014
I have had a Taurus/Rossi Circuit Judge 45 Colt/.410 firearm in my collection since August 2010, so I took a more than casual interest in the review. Generally speaking, I found the review helpful and pretty much in agreement with my own impressions of the Circuit Judge.

One thing, however, stood out in my mind that you did not mention in your review. Perhaps the newer models of Circuit Judge are different, but with mine, I received two distinctly different choke tubes, along with a choke-tube wrench. One of the chokes is for use with 45 Colt ammunition, and it has essentially a smooth bore, thus having no effect on the spiral motion of a bullet as it moves from the rifled bore, through the choke tube, and out the muzzle. The other choke tube has straight, non-spiral rifling in it, to stabilize the shot charge, thus restricting the spin of the shot charge as it exits the muzzle of the piece. Presumably, this choke tube is an attempt to stop or restrict the spin of a shot charge fired through a rifled bore, thus attempting to keep the shot pattern as close as possible. That your review made no mention of the two choke tubes is sort of puzzling, but then, it might account for the comparatively poor accuracy of the shot loads when compared to the 45 Colt loads. I have not conducted comparative accuracy tests because I have the gun mainly for home defense, and I suspect that in-house ranges negate any test of shot dispersion using such loads as the Winchester PDX-1. — C.A. Novack Lt. Col., U.S. Army (Ret.) & Texas Educator (Ret.)

Thank you for the notice about the choke tubes. When we received the Rossi Circuit Judge here in Idaho with no manual or box, I saw what looked like threads for a choke tube at the muzzle, but the Rossi website does not mention chokes. The straight rifling in the Circuit Judge would act like a Paradox in reverse, stopping the twisting shot and most likely greatly helping the shot pattern. Pity we didn’t have the chokes. — Ray Ordorica