September 2016

The Backstory on Ruger's 'TD'

Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts, recently rewrote the state’s 1998 Gun Control Act to reinterpret what it had meant since 1998. Healey explained how she would now enforce the state’s gun law. The Massachusetts assault weapons ban prohibits the sale of specific weapons like the Colt AR-15 and AK-47 and explicitly bans “copies or duplicates” of those products. “Copies or duplicates” mean “state compliant” versions of Modern Sporting Rifles sold in Massachusetts, which might lack a flash suppressor, a folding or telescoping stock, or other features. The effect could mean that all AR-15s that have been modified to comply with Massachusetts law are now illegal purely because they are AR-15s.   More...

Folks Liked the 380 ACP Review

Subscribers Only — While you didn’t like the sights, short grip, or the long DAO trigger of the Kahr CW380, I loved all of them when comparing this gun to the others available at the time, especially the long smooooooth trigger. What a wonderful trigger the Kahr has! Once I bought it, I began adapting it to my own needs and use. First, I added two additional magazines and a pair of Pearce grip extenders, then added a Hogue rubber grip. The Pearce grip extenders allow me to get all three fingers on the grip, and the Hogue makes it extremely comfortable. Next I added a Crimson Trace laser for low-light situations. Now, I have what I consider to be a perfect pocket pistol. It is invisible in a pocket holster. Sorry to disagree, but IMHO, the LCP doesn’t come close to my Kahr. I suggest everyone adapt whatever they buy/use to their hands, eyes, stance, needs, and abilities to maximize its utility. Then practice, practice, and practice.   More...

Waterfowling Shotguns: We Like The Winchester Super X3 Best

Subscribers Only — Waterfowl sportsmen have greatly changed from the days of market hunters where the daily goal was simply to put huge numbers of birds on the ground in an attempt to satisfy the family dinner needs. Of course, today’s waterfowl hunters are strictly limited by migratory bird regulations restricting waterfowl hunting to non-toxic shot with very reduced bag limits on both ducks and geese. In a way, semiautomatic shotguns designed for waterfowl hunters are like little babies in a beauty pageant. While the parents may think their youngster is the cutest thing on the planet, the pageant judges always apply their own standards and personal preferences in selecting the best in show. This similarity was brought to our attention when a reader asked for a ranking of the best semiautomatic 12-gauge shotguns for bringing down ducks and geese. Without specifying some parameters — such as most used, best handling, affordability, reliability, and a variety of other factors — there can be no single best waterfowl semiautomatic. However, to provide our readers with some options in selecting their best smokepole, we were able to come up with a comparison of four popular, moderately priced semiautomatic waterfowl shotguns. The models included a Browning Maxus, listing for $1520; a Mossberg Model 930 Waterfowl, listing for $797; a Beretta Model A300 Outlander, listing for $845; and a Winchester Super X3, with a suggested retail of $1200. Each was found to feature both favorable and unfavorable elements that varied in importance with each member of our test team. In the end, the patterning-board performance and pocketbook impact proved to be the main separating factors in our ranking. Our selection of ammunition to test the functioning ability, patterning performance and felt recoil of the semiautomatics included both clay-target loads and a typical waterfowl load. For clays, we used the recently introduced Browning BPT 2.75-inch, 3 dram equivalent loads packing 1 1/8 ounce of No. 7.5 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1200 fps; and B&P Competition One 2.75-inch, 28-gram loads featuring 1 ounce of No. 7.5 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1160 fps. To test the shotguns with duck loads, we selected Federal Premium Tungsten 3-inch, 3 dram equivalent No. 2 shot loads with an average muzzle velocity of 1,400 feet per second. Here are our findings:   More...

Classy European Bolt Guns: Mauser M12 and Blaser R8 Pro

Subscribers Only — Germany has always been a leader in firearms de­velopment both for military and sporting use. The country also has a rich history of hunting. We wanted to take a look at two rifles with Teutonic hunting heritage, so we asked our dealers to wrangle up a Mauser M12 and Blaser R8. If there ever was an iconic bolt-action rifle on both sides of the Atlantic, it is the Mauser. Since 1871, Mauser has produced countless military and sporting bolt-action rifles. Mauser M98 rifles have been copied by many other rifle makers. Hallmark Mauser design features, like the action, three-position safety, and internal box magazine are built into rifles made by companies like Rigby, Winchester, CZ, Kimber, and others. The M12, however, is not a control-feed bolt action but is actually a push-feed bolt like a Remington, Sako, Weatherby, and others. The Blaser (pronounced BLAH-zer) is a unique take on the bolt-action rifle because it uses a straight-pull bolt and offers interchange barrels in a range of calibers for gophers to elephants. Blazer had made a name for itself as an innovator of luxury hunting rifles, and though it could be debated that this German rifle is over engineered, we found some innovative features on a hunting rifle we didn’t know we needed or wanted. Either rifle would make an excellent deer rifle, we found, as well as top choices to take black bears, wild pigs, speed goats, and other hooved North American game. They both performed well in operation and in accuracy and after spending quality time with them, we can see why they command such a high price. Both rifles were chambered in 30-06 Springfield, which is the benchmark caliber for American hunting cartridges. Our testers have a lot of experience with the cartridge, and we suspect that every bolt-action hunting rifle currently sold in the U.S. is available in 30-06. The round is versatile, easily found in stores, offers a range of bullet types and weights, and is at the upper level of tolerable recoil, especially when shooting the round out of lightweight hunting rifles. Both of these rifles hovered at seven pounds unscoped. For ammo in this test, we used Black Hills Gold loaded with a 180-grain Nosler AccuBond bullet and two hunting rounds from Hornady: Full Boar with a 165-grain GMX bullet and American Whitetail with a 150-grain InterLock bullet. We mounted the rifles with the same optic, a SIG Tango6 2-12x40mm ($1600; CheaperThanDirt.com). This is a first focal plane–reticle scope, so the reticle increases and decreases in size as the magnification is increased or decreased. Testers liked this FFP scope because the milling reticle can be used at any magnification to estimate range. The Tango6 is equipped with an illuminated MOA Milling reticle. We could adjust reticle illumination as needed, and if we forgot to turn it off, the scope automatically turns off the illumination after six minutes of rest and powers back on as soon as it senses motion. We would have liked a parallax adjustment knob to really fine-tune the reticle, since we noticed the reticle moved ever so slightly as we moved our head and eye. Not a lot of movement, but enough to note. The scope also features Zerolock turrets, which means you can’t lose zero if you rotate the turrets too much in either direction. Turret dials need to be pulled out to make adjustments then pushed back. Adjustments could be felt and seen easily, so getting our dope was simple after bore sighting. All adjustments were clearly marked, which we liked. The magnification ring used two fiber-optic dots that glowed to give the user a heads up on the magnification the scope was set at. Turrets and the magnification ring were toothy, with lots of texture, so rotating the dials was effortless. We could adjust the reticle easily while looking at it on target. For mid-range and typical hunting distances, we think the SIG scope would be a fine choice on these rifles. Where the bullet hits the paper is the real test of how well these rifles will do in the game field and deer stands. Here are the details on these luxury game getters.   More...

5.56mm Pistols from Kel-Tec, Spike’s Tactical, and CMMG

Subscribers Only — It could be argued that the AR pistol evolved out of a desire and need for shooters to own a legal short-barrel rifle-caliber weapon without having to jump through BATFE hoops or pay for a tax stamp to own an SBR (short-barreled rifle). The difference between an AR rifle and pistol comes down to the pistol not being compatible nor able to attach a stock. We wanted to take a look at these AR pistols for home defense and other uses where a compact firearm makes sense, because they offer a number of benefits over a conventional AR rifle, mainly, being more maneuverable while being chambered in a rifle caliber and being compatible with common AR-15 magazines. We acquired three examples, a Spike’s Tactical The Jack custom build, a CMMG Mk4 K, and a Kel-Tec PLR-16. The Spike’s and CMMG are true AR-15 mechanisms reconfigured to a pistol, while the Kel-Tec uses a different operating mechanism. All three are chambered in 5.56mm NATO/223 Rem. and all are compatible with AR-15 magazines. We tested these pistols for accuracy, performance, reliability, compatibility with a range of AR-15 magazines, maintenance, ability to be customized, and cost. We found that the Kel-Tec was inexpensive compared to the CMMG and Spike’s Tactical pistols. The Kel-Tec, however, needed to be operated differently. The CMMG and Spike’s were an easy transition from AR rifle to AR pistol. An AR pistol, as we found out, is nearly as effective as a full-size AR at close to mid range. With the right ammunition, they could be tuned to be a very capable home-defense choice for anyone in the family competent to operate a firearm. Namely, using frangibles to limit overpenetration through walls and doors while still supplying lots of pop. The AR pistol’s edge is its size, but it is also a disadvantage, as an AR pistol is not as easy to shoot as a rifle or a traditional handgun. They are large and require two hands to effectively deliver accurate shots. You could get off a few shots holding an AR pistol with one hand, but the weight of the pistol causes muscle fatigue. A typical full-size handgun may weigh more than 2 pounds loaded, compared to these AR pistols, which weighed from 3.2 to 6 pounds unloaded. Add a pound or more for a 30-round magazine, and you’ve got a sidearm that would wear out nearly anyone who didn’t transport them with a sling, just as you would with a rifle. We used one of the SIG SBX Pistol Stabilizing Braces ($149; SIGSauer.com) and found we liked to use the brace differently than intended, which we will get into shortly. We also fired the pistols using a Blackhawk Storm Sling ($33.95; Blackhawk.com), a single-point sling with a built-in bungee cord, which many team members felt was an excellent way to carry and control the pistol. We tested with three different AR-15 magazines, including a Brownells USGI CS (Brownells.com; $14) constructed of aluminum, and two polymer magazines, the Magpul PMag Gen2 (Brownells.com; $12.30), and the FAB Defense Ultimag (TheMakoGroup.com; $25). For fast reloads, we also used a Kydex AR magazine carrier from IBX Tactical (IBXTactical.com; $35). Building an AR pistol is not just a matter of installing a short barrel in a upper receiver and swapping out the receiver extension/buffer tube. Short barrels lose velocity and provide less dwell time for the projectile, so manufacturers need to tune and time the mechanism. A short barrel also needs to work on a range of loads from low- to high-quality ammunition. Reliability can be an issue. Hands down, the CMMG and Spike’s offered more customization than the Kel-Tec because they are compatible with a range of AR-15 aftermarket products — triggers, rails, pistol grips, BUIS, and more. The Kel-Tec is not as compatible. Also, for those testers already familiar with an AR-15, the CMMG and Spike’s were much easier to maintain. But there’s much more to consider, which we relate below:   More...

What About the 20 Gauge for Home and Personal Defense?

When a shopper is browsing the gun shop for a home-defense shotgun, they are often led toward the 12 gauge rack. The 12 gauge is the universal military and police shotgun and has plenty of power. However, the 12 gauge also has plenty of kick, and in some cases, too much kick for many shooters. Even burly males who do not practice often will find the 12 gauge startling when fired with full-power defense loads. In contrast, the 20-gauge shotgun is usually lighter, easier to maneuver, and offers less recoil. The question is — is it effective? We have previously tested the .410 bore for home defense and found it surprisingly capable, but the .410 is certainly not in the 12-gauge’s power category. The 20 gauge was expected to perform better than the .410 in this job, and it did so, we found. But we also wanted to gauge what happened to the shooter. While the 20 gauge has a greater payload than the .410, is the recoil acceptable for young shooters and female shooters who are smaller than most men. Your body shape, bone structure, and attitude affect how you perceive recoil. When we discuss the 20 gauge, those who benefit the most are shooters who would not deploy a shotgun if they had to deal with 12-gauge recoil. And the 12 gauge is brutal to some individuals. We are not going to take anything away from the 12 gauge because it is arguably the better choice based on power, but not on practical use, at least not straight across the board. If you find the 12 is controllable, by all means stick with the 12 gauge. But the 20 gauge gives the recoil-shy shooter a good break and heightens the ability to deliver a respectable payload on target. That is the advantage of the 20 gauge. However, there are practical disadvantages that must be discussed. As an example, when the primary rater was given the assignment to test the 20 gauge, it was several weeks before a suitable low-cost project gun could be located. Finally, a Mossberg Cruiser in 20 gauge was discovered at a small shop and was purchased at full retail because the shop owner would not budge on the price — because the 20 is in demand. By the same token, 20-gauge shells are not available in the wide range the 12 gauge is offered, and sometimes 20’s may be difficult to locate. Likewise, parts and accessories, particularly barrels, are more common for defense-related 12-gauge shotguns. A standard 20-gauge load is the 2.75-inch No. 4 buckshot with 27 pellets. Each pellet is .24 caliber. At about 20 grains each, that is a 540-grain payload. The 20-gauge bore is about 0.61 inch wide, so this is a big payload that creates a serious effect on the target at moderate range. No. 3 buckshot is .25 caliber, and there are 20 pellets. With No. 2 buckshot, you have a 29-grain buckshot at about .27 caliber and 18 pellets in the charge.   More...

Daniel Defense’s Integrally Suppressed Rifle System

Subscribers Only — Daniel Defense has taken suppressed weapons to the next level with the release of the new DDM4ISR rifle. This new rifle, designed for fulltime-suppressed fire and optimized for the .300 Blackout cartridge, features a fully integrated suppressor attached to its barrel, so it’s ready for suppressed service right out of the box. “This revolutionary rifle simplifies suppressor usage by eliminating variables and uncertainty,” said Daniel Defense VP of Sales Bill Robinson. “There’s no need to attach a suppressor and wonder if it’s mounted correctly and properly aligned. And no need to re-zero the weapon for suppressed vs. unsuppressed fire. The suppressor is literally part of the barrel.” The high-performance sup-pressor—constructed of durable, heat-resistant metal alloys and coated with a protective high-temperature Cerakote-C finish—features a user-serviceable baffle core that can be easily removed for cleaning and maintenance. It is permanently attached to a 9-inch Cold Hammer Forged fluted barrel with a target crown for superb accuracy and reliability. Because the suppressor is a permanent part of the barrel, extending the barrel to the NFA-required 16 inches, the firearm is not classified as a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) and only requires a single tax stamp, for the suppressor. Everything else about the DDM4ISR is classic Daniel Defense. It features a pistol-length gas system and comes standard with an MFR XL 15.0 modular handguard, which features a continuous 1913 Picatinny rail on top and Keymod attachment points at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. This longer handguard, in conjunction with a DD Buttstock and Pistol Grip, make this ergonomic rifle highly maneuverable and as versatile as the .300 Blackout rounds it fires. A resilient Mil Spec + Cerakote finish protects the rifle from the elements and adds to its overall aesthetic. Available in states where suppressor ownership is legal, the DDM4ISR has an MSRP of $3049.   More...