May 2016

How About the .410 Derringer?

Reader Tom wants to know more about a shotshell-shooting pocket gun. Reader Bob would like to know about the results of a test before the test. Two readers share more Taurus stories.

Bond Arms?

Have you evaluated the Bond Arms handgun line? I am wondering about the effectiveness of a .410 shotshell in one of these weapons in terms of self defense? Any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated. I’m a loyal subscriber and big fan of your publication.
— Tom

Hey Tom: We evaluated the Bond Arms Texas Defender 38 Special/357 Magnum and the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender 45 Colt/.410 in the July 2002 issue. In that issue, we said, “In today’s world, derringers are indeed marginalized firearms for people seeking to protect themselves. Lightweight metals such as titanium and scandium have made revolvers not only pocket guns, but in some cases possibly even shirt-pocket guns (at least in terms of heft). Double-action wheelguns offer more capacity and easier handling than derringers, we found in a recent test. Ditto that with small-frame pistols.”

Of the Bond Arms Texas Defender and the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender, we said “Don’t Buy” either of them for self-defense. “There are simply better, more modern guns out there that make more sense than a derringer, in our view.” We added, “If we wanted a Cowboy Action derringer, the Texas Defender, whose trigger guard can be removed, would be ‘Our Pick.’” Another gun in the test, the American Derringer DA 38, earned a Conditional Buy (probably a B ranking today). We said, “If you have to have a derringer for self-defense, this double-action model is easier to use than the single actions. But it wouldn’t be our pick for this job.” In that test, we also looked at an American Derringer Model 1 in 45 Colt/.410. Of it, we said, “Don’t Buy.” We said, “For Cowboy shooting, we like the Bond Arms Texas Defender much better and the Cowboy Defender somewhat better. For derringer self-defense, we like the American Derringer DA 38 better.”

A look at the data from that test gives you some ideas about the efficacy of the .410 shotshell versus the other chamberings. A Winchester 38 Special 158-grain roundnose lead Cowboy load in the American Derringer DA 38 created muzzle energy of 178 ft.-lbs. and 169 ft.-lbs. in the Bond Arms Texas Defender. With a Federal Classic .357 Magnum 158-grain Hi-Shok JHP, we got muzzle energy of 464 foot-pounds and 439 foot-pounds, respectively, out of those derringers. A Cor-Bon 357 125-grain JHP produces 519 foot-pounds and 494 foot-pounds muzzle energies, respectively.

Shotshells weren’t in the same realm in terms of energy. A Winchester Super X .410 Shotshell 000 Buckshot (three pellets) produced muzzle energies of 229 foot-pounds and 217 foot-pounds in the American Derringer Model 1 and Bond Arms Cowboy Defender, respectively. A Rexio .410 Shotshell 00 Buckshot load (four pellets) generated 130 foot-pounds of muzzle energy in the American Derringer Model 1 and 126 foot-pounds of muzzle energy in the Bond Arms Cowboy Defender.

More recently (December 2015), we gave an American Derringer Co. Standard Model 38 Special an A grade, saying of it, “The American Derringer Company handgun is a very good upgrade of the original Remington design. The construction is robust, and the pistol is well polished. The grips fit well. The plunger to release the barrel lock is an excellent addition to the derringer design, and the hammer block really sold us on the pistol. While we question the viability of the derringer for personal defense, they are still popular handguns. If you must purchase a derringer, this is the one to have.” — Todd Woodard

New Ammo Tests

There’s so much new ammunition (SIG, Ruger, Browning, etc.) coming on the market. The question for defense, how do new brands rate/compare to Speer Gold Tips, Hornady Critical Defense, etc.? I think this would make a most interesting and useful article in your excellent publication.
— Chet

We agree. We’re working in some of the new choices as fast as practical. — tw

Re: “Firing Line,” April 2016

Lou doesn’t have to feel like the “Lone Ranger.” I, too, had a Taurus Millennium 45 ACP compact, which I treasured for its accuracy and its size. Then, one day last summer I took it to the range and it would not fire. A broken link in the firing pin block system had rendered it worse than useless. The gun was received by Taurus on August 22, 2015. I went through the phone call and the online chat venues and got cheery-voiced and “wanna-be-helpful” folks on the phone and/or net. As polite and kind as the reception was, the news on my weapon’s plight was dismal.
Over the months, I learned that Taurus in Miami gets shipments on about the first of each month and that the number of 45 ACP pistols shipped was not adequately meeting the need. When I made my March phone call, the situation had not improved. The (always) personable representative with whom I spoke apologized for the long wait I had been having, but could not give a time frame when my replacement 45 would be shipped. At this point I was offered (never pressured) a firearm in either 9mm or 40 S&W, in several different models, all of which were “in stock.” I caved and opted for a 9mm. I was told it could take up to four weeks to process paperwork, test-fire, and whatever had to take place prior to shipment to my friends at the gun store. Am I happy and was this an enjoyable experience? Hell, no. I am not angry at Taurus USA. They are in a legal quagmire such as the “Bloomberg mafia” envisions for all lawful gun suppliers.— John

The message from Lou regarding the Taurus quasi-recall mirrors my experience so closely that it’s eerie. I returned my Millennium Pro 45 ACP Compact the first week of September, after reading about the problem in Gun Tests. After 6 months, I followed up. The recorded message referred me to the Taurus website for “Repair Status.” It indicated that my gun had been received, put in for work, repair completed, but not shipped.

So I called again and held for customer service to ask when it would be shipped.

I was told to ignore the website (it was being redone, or something like that) and that Taurus had decided to replace my gun. I asked when they would ship me the replacement. Well, I had not had my local dealer fax them a copy of his FFL. No mention was made of when they intended to notify me that I needed to do that.

I got the FFL faxed ASAP, waited a few days and called to confirm they got it and ask when they would ship me the replacement. Yes, they got the FFL copy, but I had not chosen a model for the replacement. Again, no mention of when they intended to notify me that I needed to do that.

I told them I wanted the model closest to the gun I returned. We agreed on which current model that would be, and I asked the dreaded question: When would it be shipped? The reply was that the guns are back-ordered, and they don’t know when to expect a shipment. I pressed for an estimate and was finally told it could be a few months.

A week or so later, I tried again. This time, I was told that they expect a shipment in mid-April. At this point, in light of what I learned from Lou’s letter, I don’t trust anything they say. It all looks like a big runaround to me.— Walter

How About a Sneak Peak?

Todd, I am a long-time subscriber to Gun Tests — maybe back to the beginning — and many thanks for your laudable and honest efforts to better inform the consumer on often rather expensive purchases.
I have a favor to ask. My April issue just arrived, and I see an upcoming test for semiautomatic shotguns. I am in contact with gun shops and on the verge of buying either the Benelli M4 Tactical (over $2K with the Cerakote finish) or the Beretta 1301 Tactical (which apparently is experiencing double feeds, I read online). I may not be able to wait, however, for the respective issue to arrive. Could I possibly get a sneak peak on the results? Even just the grades — especially if an issue was encountered — would be immensely helpful and could possibly prevent a costly misstep. I have an S&W Performance Center revolver that I bought several years ago at over $1,000; well before your magazine tested it. It got an “F” when a crack in the frame was discovered after your testing. My gun went back to the factory when the finish literally peeled off the very first time I cleaned it. Uggggh. Please advise.— Bob

Hey Bob: Sorry, I can’t release the results prior to publication. But maybe the photo at right can be a sneak peak of what’s on the next page, where Ralph Winingham has given the 1301 a glowing endorsement. From left are the Benelli Model M4, a Mossberg Model 930 SPX, and a Beretta Model 1301. — tw

Re: “Over/Under Shoot-Off: New Benelli Can’t Beat Browning,” April 2016

Sir: The Benelli Model 828U shotgun is a real problem for left-handed shooters due to the cocking lever direction. It can be used, but not quickly or smoothly. Many manufacturers have come to realize that we happy few left-handed shooters do buy guns, and some companies make some effort to accommodate us, but we still have to adapt to a right-handed world. It would be nice if you could add a gun’s usefulness to southpaws in your reviews. Thanks for being the only objective gun magazine out there! Really enjoy reading it. — Donald

Thompson Review?

Todd & Team: Just received the April 2016 Gun Tests Magazine. I immediately flipped to the “New Long Guns Coming for 2016” article. Noticed the Kahr Thompson T1-14 45 ACP and felt that this would be a great purchase. Was hoping we could get your crew to do some testing on it. Really enjoy the magazine, keep up the great work.— Bart

Hey Bart: I have forwarded your request to the team for development. I imagine there will be some interest in this new rifle, if we can find one. If anyone has ideas about what else to match up in a “History Repeated” article with the Thompson, send them along. — tw

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