July 2016

Gun Rights Advancing

I’m really bad about looking at the events in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Maryland, and other gun-restrictive states and getting pessimistic about the health of gun rights in the country. I was told recently that such pessimism is a sin, and though I’m not especially religious, I saw the truth in the statement. Devout folks should be optimistic as a part of their character, because they see and proclaim the Good News every day. A fellow named Rick told me that in the hot tub of the club I swim at. I’m usually resistant to being proselytized, especially when I’m not wearing pants, but we had a nice visit and parted friendly. His testimony prompted me to look around for some Good Gun News, which was remarkably easy to find and widespread.   More...

Snubbies, the Taurus Recall, and Trump on Guns

Subscribers Only — Regarding the Taurus settlement and the problems Lou had with his pistol: On August 4, 2015 I sent Taurus my PT-111 Pro and two magazines. Their website was very poor about updating progress of the return, but by 12/16/2015 I did have a new PT-111 G2 with two mags, all new in the box. I had to pay $25 for the FFL transfer fee, but I was reimbursed by 1/15/16. I am actually quite pleased with the new gun. To get reimbursed, I faxed an itemized receipt to Taurus at (305) 624-1126. I hope this helps Lou and perhaps others.   More...

Optics-Ready: M&P9 Ported, FNX-45 Tactical, G17 Gen4 MOS

Subscribers Only — If there is one new trend taking hold of pistol manufacturers, it is making optics-ready pistols. These handguns come out of the factory with the ability to mount a reflex-style red dot sight. The newest is the Glock G17 Gen4 MOS, which debuted in 2016. Kahr, SIG, and the Canik from Century Arms may also see optics-ready models in 2016. Custom gun makers have been crafting pistols with reflex sights for years, and back in 2012, both S&W and FN launched optics-ready pistols. Just like Picatinny rails have emerged as a widespread feature and laser pointers are being offered on many handgun variants, the optic mount is the next evolution of the handgun. We have seen this same scenario play out with AR rifles, where optics were once an anomaly and they are now the norm. Why? Ease of aiming and faster target acquisition. What, perhaps, has slowed the trend is cost. Reflex sights can add anywhere from $240 to $600 extra, depending on the sight. There may also be a need to purchase a new holster to accommodate the optic on the handgun and taller iron sights. This seems a little odd to us because many shooters might consider the cost to be excessive on a handgun, but we don’t think twice about mounting a high-quality optic on a rifle. There is no doubt that in the same situations, red-dot reflex sights allow users to aim faster and easier compared to iron sights. Also, reflex sights allow users to aim with both eyes open, peering through a small glass lens that the sight uses to project a reticle onto it via a light-emitting diode. The sight provides an unlimited field of view since there is no magnification and no tube, so tunnel vision is less of an issue when aiming. Also, there is also no need to align three planes — target, front sight, and rear sight — as with iron sights. However, during testing, we found that taller iron sights that co-witnessed with the red dot were preferred because they can help find the dot. Also, BUIS are there in case the optic fails or the battery dies when we need it most. A proper maintenance schedule can alleviate this concern. To see how various red dots could be mounted and used on factory optics-ready pistols, we acquired a Glock G17 Gen4 MOS, an S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported model, and an FN America FNX-45 Tactical FDE. The Glock and S&W were 9mm striker-fired pistols that are well known to us. We have reviewed numerous Glock G17 models over previous model generations, but this is first G17 Gen4 MOS that our testers have evaluated. The same is true with the S&W M&P9. We have tested other variants of the M&P9, but this is a first for the S&W M&P9 Performance Center Ported model. The 45-caliber FNX-45 Tactical is also new to our testers. What we were looking for with these optics-ready pistols was ease of installation, accuracy, ease of use, and durability.   More...

American AK-Mag Variants II: Century, RRA, CMMG Go At It

Last month, we began testing AK-pattern rifles built in the U.S., which itself is important to a lot of Gun Tests readers, but also because we wanted to take an in-depth look at the category of what we hoped might be “improved” domestic variants of this famous rifle. Over the years, we’ve admired various AKs for their reliability while we’ve criticized their accuracy, fit and finish, and shooter-experience packages, such as crappy triggers and uncomfortable stocks. That said, we were very pleased with three rifles we tested in the June issue, rating one as a Grade A gun (Palmetto State Armory AK-47 MOE Edition 7.62x39mm, $749), a second as a Grade A- rifle (Century Arms RAS47 Magpul-Zhukov 7.62x39mm, $800), and the third a B+ (Palmetto State Armory AK-47 Gen2 Classic Red 7.62x39mm, $849). This time we pit what are probably the two most significant military rifle actions of the 20th century against each other, the Kalashnikov and the Stoner. But there is a twist: All four rifles are American made, are chambered in 7.62x39, and use Kalashnikov-pattern magazines. The two Kalashnikov actions are made by Century Arms and look very much like standard AK-pattern rifles. The two Stoner actions, made by Rock River Arms and CMMG, for the most part look like the AR-15 platform familiar to many shooters but have some unique features. The Kalashnikovs have a well-deserved reputation for reliability, and the Stoners have a well-deserved reputation for accuracy. So, how would they do head to head? To find out, we fired all four rifles in both cold and hot conditions, and because we expect these rifles to be used both as plinkers and for hunting or rural self defense, we used four different types of ammunition for this test: 122-grain FMJs, 123-grain plastic-tipped hollowpoints, 124-grain soft points, and 154-grain soft points. Due to the fairly big groups shot with open sights at 100 yards last time, this round we fired five-shot groups at 50 yards and measured them from center to center. Here’s what we learned.   More...

New 308 Win. Bolt Guns: Howa, Mossberg Square Off

One can be spoiled by shooting accurate rifles, and accuracy typically comes at a cost. With the idea of finding a relatively inexpensive rifle that shoots accurately, is consistent, and is easy and comfortable to use, we looked into new rifles from Mossberg, the MVP LR, $945; and from Howa, the Alpine Mountain Package $1577. These two new rifles are both chambered in 308 Win./7.62x51mm NATO and are positioned by their manufacturers to do very different tasks. Even so, the shooter who prizes hole-in-hole performance will be challenged picking between these two because of the inherent trade-offs they present. The Howa was designed to be a lightweight hunter, and the Mossberg’s intent is to shoot accurately at long range. We feel both rifles accomplish their intended purpose, but as you will see, we found a potential pitfall in the Howa’s magazine release, and with the Mossberg, we found we wanted better accuracy and a little better set-up for long range. With that said, both of these rifles had sub-MOA accuracy. We were surprised at the accuracy of the Howa and actually expected better accuracy out of the MVP LR, but at the end of testing we were satisfied, but not elated, with the results we achieved with both rifles. We test-fired both rifles using a sandbag rest, mechanical rifle rest, and bipod in the prone and off a bench at target sets at 100 yards. The firing sequence consisted of five shots. Then we allowed the barrel to cool and changed ammo brand and fired another 5-shot string. Ammunition consisted of a range of bullet weights: Aguila 150-grain FMJ-BT, Hornady Match 178-grain BTHP, and Black Hills 168-grain BTHP. We also increased consecutive shot strings to 10 rounds to see the effect of a hot barrel on accuracy. The variables in the test were the scopes. The Howa came with a Vortex Viper 3-9x40mm scope. The Viper scope is a traditional hunting scope with screw-on turret caps. With the caps removed, the turrets are pulled up to adjust windage and elevation. The magnification ring is large and easily rotated without disrupting aim. A Dead-Hold BDC reticle is in the second focal plane, so the reticle stays the same size even when magnification is increased or decreased. Subtensions on the reticle can be used to judge holdover for elevation and wind adjustments, but the scope needs to be on the highest magnification setting. We saw a bit of parallax at distances past 100 yards, but for hunting purposes, we could easily live with it. This is a basic scope, and we thought it was a good pairing with the Howa. Initially, we also thought this scope might be a liability compared to the scope we used on the Mossberg, but the little Howa kept pace with the Mossberg from the bench, so the optic wasn’t a liability at all. On the Mossberg LR, we mounted a Meopta ZD 6-24x56mm RD ($2070; MeoptaSportsOptics.com), which is specifically designed for long-range shooting. The Meopta features an illuminated MilDot II reticle with an integrated range finder and is calibrated for tactical calibers like 7.62x51mm NATO/308 Win., 338 La­pua Mag. and 50 BMG/12.7x99mm NATO. The MilDot II RD reticle is located in the second focal plane, and when the magnification is set at 12x, the reticle subtensions can be used for windage and elevation adjustments and range finding. The scope has finger-adjustable windage and elevation turrets; one click for every quarter-minute. Clicks are tactile and audible. We used Weaver Tactical rings and the Picatinny style rail that came with the Mossberg. After bore sighting, the Meopta was easy to zero. We found adjusting the reticle for parallax to be simple, and it showed a clear sight picture all the way to the edges of glass. We really liked this scope, though some would have wanted the reticle in the first focal plane, but all agreed it was well suited for long range work. Here are the details on how these 308 bolt guns shot with these optics.   More...

Glock Night Sights: We Test Glow-in-the-Dark Aiming Aids

Subscribers Only — As a carry handgun, the Glock is rugged, reliable, and combat worthy. About the only modifications that actually improve the Glock are the addition of a better trigger and a set of aftermarket sights. We dealt extensively with the issue of trigger replacements in the April 2014. There, we installed a Zev Technologies’ GlockWorx Ultimate kit from Brownells.com ($250, #100-006-566WB, Mfr. Part: ZTFULULT4G9BLK) into our Glock 17. We gave the Ultimate Kit an A grade, saying it “was the upgrade that produced the biggest difference in performance all by itself, increasing the accuracy of the Glock 17 from an average grouping of 2.3 inches down to 1.6 inches.” Also in the April 2014 issue, we looked at two sight-upgrade kits, both from Brownells. One was the Brownells Glock 17 Sight Upgrade Kit ($200, #080-000-919WB), which included a Meprolight (Kimber) ML-10224 Tru-Dot Night Sight System for Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 37, 38, 39; an MGW Glock Sight Adjustment Tool, and an Ed Brown Front Sight Tool for Glock. Since we had the installation tools handy, we also ordered a set of TruGlo tritium fiber-optic Brite-Sites ($90, #902-000-107WB, Mfr. Part: TG131GT1Y), yellow rear and green front. We chose to put the TruGlo sights on the Glock 17 and the Tru-Dots on a G34 so that we could shoot them side by side. With the Ed Brown Front Sight Tool for Glock ($20 sold separately, #087-017-001WB, Mfr. Part: 952) and the MGW Glock Sight Mover ($100 sold separately, #584-045-017WB, Mfr. Part: MGW309) for the rear sight, we started the switch with a disassembly of the slide to get access to the front sight. With the Ed Brown front sight tool and a small crescent wrench, we loosened the screw beneath the sight and removed it, then replaced the white dot with the new TruGlo front sight and tightened with the crescent wrench. Once the front sight was swapped, we hooked the slide into the MGW. The device came with some thin plates to raise the slide up the right height. We did not need them. The old sight drifted out with relative ease, going left to right pointed away from us. The new rear TruGlo sight did require some minor fitting with a file and a little more strength to slide in, but with the MGW tool, leverage was not a problem. We used the same process to put the Meprolite sights onto a factory Glock 34. Despite the new TruGlo sights being fixed like the originals, we found them to be much clearer and easier to acquire and reacquire targets. We took to the range with the TruGlo sights installed, using all other original parts, and we cut our average group size down by almost half an inch, from 2.3 inches with the standard Glock to 1.9 inches with the TruGlo sights. We turned down the lights over the shooters, leaving the targets illuminated to check out how much the tritium would glow in the fiber-optic sights. The green front sight was quite bright, while the rear yellow sights were significantly dimmer, although still visible. The Meprolight Tru-Dots provided an even more impressive change on the G34. We shaved just over a full inch off our average group size at 10 yards once we installed them. Upgrading fixed sights can seem like a challenge to someone who hasn’t done work on pistols previously, but with these tools and the simplicity of Glock’s designs, this upgrade is a great place to start if you want to attempt a DIY project. You can drift the sights out with a punch, which will save $100 for the MGW tool, but you risk rupturing the tritium capsules. The MGW mover requires oil on the crankshaft, but it made drifting the dovetail sights in and out so easy we quickly misplaced our punch set. Overall, we found the TruGlo sights to be a nice upgrade and would recommend putting them in place of the standard non-tritium sights on any factory Glock. We gave them a Grade: A ranking, along with the Meprolight Tru-Dot tritium. Naturally, readers asked about other sights, so we began looking at more replacements we could test head to head, rather than as a general Glock upgrade. So, again working with Brownells, we assembled a sextet of night sights suitable for installation on various Glocks. Also, we believe you can broaden our recommendations to include other firearms of similar size — the visual presentation won’t be appreciably different on different platforms — though the installation process may differ gun to gun.   More...