November 2017

After Las Vegas

The first dreadful pieces of news coming out of Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, coalesced into yawning horror that would grip a nation and sadden our world. Fifty-nine people were dead and hundreds injured at the hands of a lone sniper, who had secreted more than 20 rifles and handguns on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. From that perch, the shooter had uninterrupted views of the Las Vegas Strip and the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music concert, that kicked off at the Las Vegas Village, a venue across the Strip from the Luxor hotel and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.   More...

A Special Revolver for 45 LC?

Editor: I read with interest your article about .410-bore ammo tests. Your pictures clearly show that the 45 Colt expands far better than the 45 ACP! The gun manufacturers are asleep. They should make a 45 Long Colt revolver with 4-,6-, and 8-inch barrels. Bet this would rival the 357 Magnum in knockdown power without the recoil!   More...

Big-Bore Autos: Two More 10mms and One 357 Magnum

Subscribers Only — Other than the 45 ACP, a big-bore automatic means a pistol chambered in 10mm Auto or a less-common caliber. In the recent past, we have tested a few new 10mm pistols and found we liked what they offered. For this test we went to Colt, one of the original manufacturers of the 10mm in the 1911 platform, and acquired one of the company’s new Delta Elite pistols. We also went back in time to the early 1990s when the FBI determined they were under-gunned and opted for the 10mm round. We found a used Smith & Wesson Model 1076, which is similar to the FBI Contract Gun, and shot it side by side with the Colt. Then we added a Coonan, which has been around for a number of years, with its claim to fame being a 1911-style platform chambered in magnum revolver calibers. We acquired one of the latest models, the Classic 1911 chambered in 357 Magnum, to pit against the two 10mms from Colt and S&W. Bottom line is, these are expensive pistols with expensive ammo appetites, but that wouldn’t stop us from owning any of these three tested pistols. Any of these pistols are well suited for short-range hunting and personal defense. These pistols are all full-size models with heavy steel receivers, and that is a good thing when firing hot 357 Magnum and 10mm loads. In addition to their weight, another similarity were locked breech actions, where a lug or pair of lugs on the barrel locked into grooves cut on the inside of the slide, similar to a 1911 set up. They also had single-stack magazines and fixed three-dot sights. The triggers on the Coonan and Colt were exceptional. The S&W was heavy, but it still kept pace with the newer pistols. We tested for accuracy using a rest at 25 yards and found these pistols were well matched in accuracy. Accuracy averaged about 2 inches for five-shot groups. We also practiced double taps at targets set at 10 yards. During that round, we found the 10mm pistols were easier to control than the 357 Magnum pistol. For ammunition, we used SIG Sauer V-Crown 180-grain jacketed hollow-point bullets and SIG Sauer full-metal-jacket 180-grain bullets. We also used Armscor USA rounds loaded with 180-grain FMJs. The Armscor clocked about 100 fps less than the SIG ammo. We’ve noticed that SIG is loading 10mm ammo hotter. Many factory loads in 10mm are light and do not bring out the true potential of the 10mm round. The 357 Magnum rounds consisted of SIG Sauer V-Crown 125-grain JHPs, Aguila 158-grain semi-jacketed hollow points, and Winchester PDX1 Defender 125-grain JHPs. We had issues with the Winchester ammo in the Coonan, which we will get into below. Here are details about how each gun performed.   More...

Options in Precision Rifle: We Test Desert Tech, Howa, Ruger

Subscribers Only — Trends in firearms sales reflect the needs and interests of the buying public. Whereas the AR-15 or “black rifle” market has slowed down considerably, the popularity of rifles that are capable of accuracy beyond the 300-, 600-, or even 1000-yard range is still going strong. Referred to as precision rifles, the traditional configuration of a barreled action bedded into a wood or fiberglass stock are being challenged by aluminum and synthetic chassis rifles. What’s more, the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge is rapidly becoming a favorite round. In this test, we decided to review three different types of rifles chambered to propel 0.264-inch diameter bullets that represent options to satisfy the long-distance enthusiast. In this test, the traditional bolt-action rifle was represented by a new offering from Ruger that has, to the best of our knowledge, received virtually no press. Our $1139 6.5 Creedmoor Hawkeye MkIV Varmint Target boasted a 28-inch-long barrel, the longest tube we’ve heard of in quite some time. Howa’s $1450 HCR (Howa Chassis Rifle) was next up, featuring a fully adjustable buttstock from LUTH AR. Finally, we tried a unique design by Desert Tech. The $4995 Stealth Recon Scout (SRS-A1) lives up to its name by offering a 26-inch-long barrel packed into a compact profile. For optics, our rifles shared a Steiner 4-16x50mm Predator Extreme scope. We also took turns looking down range with a Kahles 3-12x50mm scope supplied by Desert Tech. We painstakingly took time to break in the barrel of each rifle and then fired from the 100-yard line at American Shooting Center in Houston to collect basic accuracy data. For shots of record, we chose Winchester 140-grain Match, Hornady 143-grain ELD-X Precision Hunter, and the new 147-grain ELD Match rounds. We also shot a variety of rounds left over from previous tests to perform break in and for general comparison. What were the strengths and limitations of these three different platforms? Let’s find out.   More...

38 Super Loads: We Like Buffalo Bore’s Jacketed HPs

Subscribers Only — The 38 Automatic Colt Pistol Super cartridge isn’t our most popular handgun cartridge, but in the loyalty of a small following it is unique. The 38 ACP Super must be understood as to its potential. All modern loads are marked 38 ACP Super +P, but all loads are in the same pressure range of safety demanded by the SAAMI, despite very different performance. Many are loaded below the potential of the cartridge. The 38 ACP, introduced in 1900, is no longer in regular production. This is because the original 38 ACP, introduced in 1899, was later upgraded to the powerful 38 ACP Super. Though the cartridge-case dimensions are identical, the Super is the much hotter cartridge. Modern SAAMI standards called for the 38 Super to be labeled 38 ACP Super +P, which is confusing. While some of the modern loads are hotter than others, all are safe for a 38 ACP Super handgun in good condition. The old double-link Colt 38 ACP self loaders should never be fired with Super loads. The 38 Super was once a handloading proposition for maximum performance. Using 9mm JHP bullets and sometimes heavy hard-cast 38 Special lead bullets, handloaders upgraded the 38 Super. The 115-grain JHP was jolted to 1400 fps or beyond. Today Cor-Bon, Buffalo Bore, and Double Tap offer high-performance loads rivaling some of the hotter handloads of yore. The 38 Super may be enjoying an upsurge in popularity as both Federal Cartridge Company and SIG Sauer have introduced new JHP loads for it. We were able to find 12 personal-defense loads and four FMJ loads. For all the testing, we fired the rounds out of a Rock Island Armory 1911, a reliable and affordable 38 Super launchpad. It’s a standard Government Model steel-frame pistol with 5-inch barrel. First, we tested the full-metal-jacket loads for use in competition and general shooting. We recorded basic accuracy, velocity, and energy for these rounds, but as you’ll see in the accompanying table, their widths, weights, and penetration readings are all the same. The FMJs didn’t expand, didn’t shed weight, and shot through our water-jug lineup, putting them at +24 inches, penetration beyond what we recommend for self-defense. The Fiocchi 129-grain FMJ proved to be the most accurate by a margin, with a clean burn and excellent overall performance. It is the Best Buy for accuracy and economy. The SIG Sauer 125-grain FMJ loading was close behind the Fiocchi loading, with little real difference other than price. While the Prvi Partizan 130-grain FMJ was less expensive, it did not burn as cleanly nor was it as accurate. The Winchester 130-grain FMJ was the most expensive, and it was middle of the pack in terms of performance. Accordingly, we’d rate the Fiocchi as an A, the SIG an A-, the Prvi Partizan a B, and the Winchester a B-. We looked for what we always look for in personal-defense loads. This is reliability first, then accuracy, a clean powder burn, and a good balance of penetration and expansion. We prefer a load that penetrates and expands over a load that fragments. In the 38 Super, there were loads that penetrated well but also fragmented, and we had to give them a passing grade based on penetration. The full-power 38 Super is similar to the 357 Magnum with 110- to 125-grain bullets, but the Super is much more controllable and has less muzzle blast and recoil. Relatively small charges of fast-burning powder create less recoil energy than larger charges of slow-burning powder. Even the fastest loads did not create muzzle flash and blast as sometimes seen with the 357 Magnum. The 38 Super isn’t in the class with the 357 Magnum as far as heavy hunting loads, and the Magnum at its best will beat the 38 Super, but with factory defense loads, the two are comparable, with the 38 Super having the advantage in some cases. For your convenience, we have added the 357 Magnum results panel from earlier this year so you can compare the loads. We were able to test three loads from Buffalo Bore. These included 115-, 124-, and 147-grain loads. All of these used the Hornady XTP bullet, a proven projectile for obtaining excellent penetration and expansion. These bullets were designed for the 9mm Luger, and things get interesting when the bullet is supercharged by 200 fps. As an example, one rater noted he was no enthusiast concerning the 147-grain load, but that was before it was tested. Here are the results round by round.   More...

10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights

For six years, I was an attorney for a national firearms legal-defense program. I represented gun owners who acted in self-defense and traveled the country speaking on firearms issues. I’ve taken countless questions regarding a person’s legal right to self-defense. Over the years, I started to see a pattern — people have the same questions. From your brand-new gun owner to the seasoned carrier, the questions and misconceptions were the same. I’ve heard it all, and nothing catches me off-guard, so I’ve drawn on these experiences to put together the top 10 misconceptions gun owners have when it comes to their self-defense rights.   More...

Savage Introduces the 10/110 Stealth Evolution in Six Calibers

Savage has introduced the 10/110 Stealth Evolution chassis rifle chambered in six popular long-range calibers, including the all-new 6mm Creedmoor. The rifle is available in both right-hand and left-hand models. Shipments are currently being delivered to dealers. The 10/110 Stealth Evolution pairs a heavy fluted barrel with a monolithic aluminum chassis finished in rugged bronze Cerakote. The polymer-ceramic coating enhances resistance to abrasion, corrosion, and impact. The rifle also sports a factory-blueprinted 10/110 action, zero-tolerance headspacing, user-adjustable AccuTrigger and 5R button rifling. The company claims the rifle will produce sub-MOA accuracy at extreme range right out of the box.   More...