August 2016

Court: Some Guns Not 2A Eligible

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a decision that upholds the exclusion of certain firearms from the protection of the 2nd Amendment. In 2014, Pennsylvania resident Ryan Watson filled out an application on behalf of a trust to make and register an M-16/style machine gun with the ATF. Despite a federal law prohibiting any individual from manufacturing or possessing a machine gun after 1986, the ATF inadvertently approved his application. Afterward, Watson had his machine gun manufactured. A month after that, he received a call from the ATF saying that his application had been “disapproved.”   More...

Has Gun Tests Praised Cooper Rifles?

We haven’t tested a lot of Coopers, mainly because of their expense. The last one was in May 2003, a Cooper Arms Custom Classic 22 LR priced at $1895. We said, “Opening the box on the Cooper was a sheer delight, and it takes quite a rifle to impress our somewhat jaded crew. Even at the end of our test sessions, everyone who picked up the rifle still had to say, ‘Man, what a lovely rifle!" Further: “The wood was really nice. The checkering was really nice. The ebony forend tip was really nice. The fit of the Niedner steel butt plate was really…. You get the picture. This was a looker. It reeked of quality… The balance was superb, belying the rifle’s weight of 6.7 pounds. It was slightly muzzle heavy, which we liked… Intricate high-quality checkering like this that is extremely well done is sometimes glossed over or missed entirely, but one of the people who saw this rifle was a stock maker, and he said he’d spend a long time getting checkering that good.   More...

Takedown ARs from DRD, Ruger, Windham: Who Takes the Cake?

Espionage novels and movies are filled with rifles that are transported in a brief case, quickly assembled, then used to fire incredibly accurate shots. But is the ability to transport a disassembled AR in a small case or knapsack more intriguing than practical? Couldn’t an AR already be considered a takedown rifle? Can’t you just disassemble the lower receiver from the upper receiver and tote the two pieces in a duffle bag? These were a few questions team members had as we started looking into takedown AR-15s.  On one side of the debate, a takedown AR can be discreetly carried without the normal gun case that announces to all what is inside. A takedown AR is something one might consider adding to his bug-out gear should flood, fire, or worse coming knocking on the door. Takedown ARs also have the ability to swap calibers, allowing a user to perhaps opt for 300 AAC Blackout on a pig hunt, use the 5.56mm NATO for home defense, and 9mm for low-cost training. This caliber-swap feature gives these ARs the ability to use whatever ammo is available at the moment. We’ve all experienced the ammunition shortages of the recent past, and there is no reason to think it won’t happen again. These ARs can feed whatever ammo is available. Another plus on the takedown AR side is easier cleaning. On the other side of the debate, parts that are assembled and reassembled wear faster than parts that are fixed, and the more complicated a design, the more likely it is to break and the harder it is to get spare parts. Also, we wondered how zero might shift when removing then replacing the same-caliber barrel? And, how would a different caliber affect point of impact? Of course, price is always a consideration, and the cost of these takedown ARs is high — more than four times the cost of an entry-level 5.56mm AR priced at about $550. Can’t a shooter just buy two rifles and set them up with optics at the same cost or less? To answer these and other questions, we gathered three models from DRD Tactical, Ruger, and Windham Weaponry. These manufacturers have taken the modularity characteristics of the AR to a new level, each offering its own unique takedown design. Operationally, the DRD and Windham are direct-gas-impingement models; the Ruger uses a piston system. All in, these takedown rifles get smaller by separating the barrel from the rail, which we estimate as a reduction in length of about 8.5 inches. With all three takedown ARs, the rifle is broken down into three main components. One thing to note: The rails or handguards on these rifles are not compatible with aftermarket parts. You must use the handguard the AR is shipped with because it is a key part of the takedown design. You can, however, customize these ARs with other aftermarket parts like stocks, pistol grips, triggers, sights, controls, muzzle devices, and so on.   More...

380 ACP Shoot Out: Ruger LCP Takes On Remington, Rock Island

Subscribers Only — New pistols chambered for the 380 ACP continue to flow out of factories because these generally smaller handguns feature reduced recoil firing the 9mm Kurz or 9mm Short, two other dimensionally accurate names for the 380 Auto cartridge. The 380’s case is about 2mm shorter than the popular 9mm Luger case, though their bullet diameters are the same. The advantage of chambering ammunition with a short overall length helps keep these guns concealable. One, the Ruger LCP, has sold in greater numbers than perhaps any other modern 380 ACP pistol, and with good reason, if the results in this magazine are any guide. In the June 2008 issue, we tested a just-released LCP and gave it an A- grade, saying of it, “This gun did what it was designed to do. Perhaps the grips could be more effectively textured, but we’d hate to spoil its looks. The Ruger LCP may be limited in its application, but could prove invaluable in its service.” Head to head against the Kel-Tec P3AT, we said that Ruger had basically refined the Kel-Tec, in our view. The checkering on the slightly wider LCP grip frame was finer, which resulted in the Ruger jumping around in the hand more than the Kel-Tec. In that first look eight years ago, we narrowly preferred the Kel-Tec. Then in 2009, Ruger issued a recall for the LCP because the company had received a small number of reports that the gun, “...can discharge when dropped onto a hard surface with a round in the chamber.” The company offered a retrofit of a different hammer mechanism to cure the problem, which was offered at no charge to the customer, and the little gun kept on chugging. In the February 2013 issue, we tested a variant of the LCP, the Ruger LCP-LM No. 3718, which mashed together Ruger’s tiniest pistol with LaserMax’s trigger-guard laser sight. The laser was nicely integrated into the pistol. In that test, we noted, “the female tester in the group had a hard time racking the slide. As pistols get smaller they can be harder to use and operate.” We also said, “More seasoned testers did not like that the slide did not lock open on the last shot, like it did with the SIG P238 and Walther PK380.” That pistol earned a B+ grade, and Our Team Said, “The Ruger was the best choice for deep-conceal carry” in that test. Then in the October 2015 issue, we tested a Ruger LCP-C Custom No. 3740 against a Taurus Curve and gave the upgraded LCP-C an A grade, saying of it: “We found the Ruger LCP-C Custom to be reliable, accurate enough for personal defense, and compact enough for concealed carry and pocket carry. The sights and trigger are improvements over previous versions of the LCP. The Ruger’s footprint is smaller than the Taurus, but the Ruger is lighter and developed more energy.” So, clearly, this is a capable, consistent handgun that has survived nearly 10 years because of its merits — simple operation, light weight, reasonable shooting characteristics, and affordability. Seeking to take some of the LCP’s market share, Remington officially introduced the RM380 Micro at the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits. The RM380 is a double-action-only pistol with second-strike capability. It operates from a delayed blowback action and has an aluminum frame. Remington produced an unusual marketing angle for the gun, claiming its slide-racking force was very low. That was something we asked the test team to evaluate in particular. Also introduced at the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in Nashville was Armscor’s Rock Island Armory Baby Rock 380 ACP 1911 51912, though it had been shown as a prototype as early as the summer of 2014. At introduction, Rock Island President and CEO Martin Tuason called the pistol a “mini 1911” and said it was a single-stack pistol with a seven-round magazine. We previously tested a similar concept (an 85% 1911) in Browning’s Black Label 1911-380 in the September 2015 issue, giving it a B ranking. Also in that test was the smaller, but still 1911-style Kimber Micro Carry Advocate Brown, which got an A- grade and was much better in the pocket. While we conducted accuracy testing with our standard three loads, combat firing and initial break in was accomplished with six different loads. In order of use, they were: Winchester USA 95-grain FMJs, HPR 90-grain JHPs, Fiocchi Shooting Dynamics 90-grain JHPs, Winchester Train & Defend 95-grain FMJs, Gorilla Ammunition 95-grain JHPs, and the Black Hills Ammunition 60-grain Xtreme Defense. Initial firing was done with Winchester FMJ loads, then we poured more than 100 rounds through each pistol for reliability testing and during combat firing at 5, 7, and 10 yards. Here’s how the Ruger LCP, the Remington RM380, and Rock Island Baby Rock did.   More...

380 ACP Loads Update: Choices Are Getting More Interesting

In the October 2010 issue we published a report on 380 ACP defense loads. The work was interesting and reader feedback intensive. During the tests, the loads proved accurate and reliable. The problem was the balance of expansion and penetration. We had either adequate expansion or good penetration but not each in the same loading. Some loads penetrated as little as 9 inches, with the average load at 12-13 inches. Expansion was modest in most cases. As a result, we felt that the full-metal-jacketed non-expanding bullet was a viable choice because there was a chance it would reach vital areas and create a stoppage. Surprisingly, even FMJ loads penetrated but 14 inches in water in that test. So, the search was on for a loading that might offer superior performance to the original test choices. This time, we tested ten different loads using the same media — water and water jugs — and came away with a couple of loads that showed good promise for personal defense. Since our initial test, many readers have continued to ask us about the effectiveness of the 380 ACP outside the ability to make highly accurate cranial shots. If the bullet cannot be counted on to reach the vitals, then it would hardly be of much use even if it did expand. However, FMJ loads do not necessarily solve every problem. A lightweight FMJ bullet is far more likely to stop short in penetration than a heavier bullet of moderate velocity. Often, a heavier-for-the-caliber-bullet will penetrate more even at lower velocity. In our experience, modern shooters tend to look at the 380 as a lighter alternative to the 9mm, but a better comparison is between the 38 Special snubnose and the 380. So, as a point of reference, we included a middle-of-the road 125-grain JHP 38 Special +P load fired from a 2-inch-barrel revolver to represent an average for performance with the 125-grain JHP. It makes a striking example of how the 380 ACP fares against what we believe is at least an adequate 38 Special load. Also, for your convenience, we’ve listed the performance of the first round of 380 ACP loads we tested six years ago. Also, the top-ranked loads from the first test were the Fiocchi FMJ 95-grain No. 380FMJB and Speer Gold Dot 90-gr. No. 23606.   More...

Ruger Aims to Expand Support For In-House Suppressor Line

Subscribers Only — Ruger is rolling out additional support for its new line of rimfire suppressors, the Silent-SR 22 line. The Ruger Silent-SR sound suppressor was designed and built by Ruger utilizing fluid dynamic simulation and computer numeric controlled (CNC) machining equipment. Based on samples we’ve handled, the Ruger Silent-SR is easy to disassemble and clean. Each piece snaps together to seal the baffles and keep the byproducts of combustion away from the tube and end caps. It is also strong and light, utilizing a titanium tube, aluminum rear cap, and stainless steel threaded mount, baffles and front cap. It measures 5.37 inches in length, 1.1-inch in diameter, and weighs 6.3 ounces. Of course, what matters is how it reduces sound pressure levels of 22 LR, 22 WMR and 17 HMR pistols and rifles by up to 40 dB. It features a standard 1⁄2-28 thread pattern for compatibility with most threaded rimfire firearms. The outer tube and muzzle mount are interlocked to prevent accidental disassembly when removing the suppressor from your firearm. A disassembly tool is included. Also, Ruger is making it easier to attach the suppressor to your existing SR22 pistol. The Ruger SR22 Threaded Barrel Kit 90520, $150, is a genuine Ruger factory accessory compatible with Ruger SR22 pistols bearing serial numbers 361-7XXXX and higher. The threaded barrel accepts any 1⁄2-28 (Class 2A) muzzle device, including the Ruger Silent-SR. This kit contains a factory-manufactured stainless steel barrel for optimal fit and function. Barrel changing is quick and easy with no gunsmithing required, and a barrel cap, adapter, and wrench included. Note that the replacement barrel does not fit the 4.5-inch-length barrel model. Worth noting: Ruger cannot bill to or ship to the following states and cities: California, Connecticut, Washington DC, New York, and Chicago, IL.   More...