September 2017

Surplus 1911s Might Be Back

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. Included in the bill is a provision that would make U.S. Army surplus 1911 45 ACP pistols available to the American public through the Civilian Marksmanship program (CMP), according to an NRA release. In November 2015, then-President Obama signed the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016 into law with language that authorized the Secretary of Defense to transfer 1911s no longer in service to the CMP for public sale. That language made the transfers subject to the Secretary’s discretion and capped them at 10,000 per year. Unsurprisingly, no actual transfers were made under the program while Obama remained in the White House.   More...

Grading the Gun Grades

Your reader asks who would want to buy a gun rated at C? About 12 years ago, I bought a new CZ 83 pistol. You would have rated this particular pistol an F because of constant Failure to Fire and Failure to Eject problems. But after CZ sent it back, the gun has been 100% reliable and has become a favorite because it perfectly fits my old, extra-large, and arthritic hands, and provides excellent accuracy with modest recoil. I was pleased to see your A rating on this gun years later. I’ve found giving each gun a second chance to be a worthwhile practice.   More...

Compact 9mms from Glock, Honor Defense, S&W, Walther

Subscribers Only — Our retailer friends tell us that the most popular carry gun in America is the compact 9mm self-loading pistol with a single-column magazine. These handguns are handy, concealable, and powerful enough for personal defense. They deliver acceptable ballistics without harsh recoil and are affordable. Most are based on service-size handguns. The engineering in downsizing the pistols has been faultless in many, but not all, renditions, so everyone wants to know if Compact Pistol “A” is as reliable for practical use as any full-size pistol. And if Compact Pistol “A” is that reliable, it makes it easier to narrow down the many choices to the best choice for you. We get a lot of questions about such handguns, and this lineup includes four handguns readers have asked us to test. The Smith & Wesson and the Glock are based on service guns, while the Honor Defense Honor Guard and Walther PPS are purpose-designed compacts with no service-sized big brother. When we first tested the Glock 43 Subcompact Slimline G43 two years ago (August 2015), it earned a B+ in our evaluation when it was paired with the Walther CCP head to head. In that evaluation, we noticed that the slide was narrow and nicely beveled. Glock did not simply stick a Glock 19 slide on a slim frame. The locked-breech operating system and trigger action are preserved. Anyone owning a Glock of any size or frame will be able to use this handgun in the same manner because the action is identical to all other Glock pistols. The sights were standard Glock, with a white outline rear and white dot forward, the same as the test gun this round. They proved adequate for combat firing and were reasonably good for accuracy work at 15 yards. We also noted then that there is a shelf under the slide on the frame that protects the slide lock from a finger contacting the slide lock during recoil. It is common for the support-hand thumb to bump the slide lock and lock the slide to the rear when firing a hard-kicking compact. The shelf seems to eliminate this problem, then and now. Also, the Glock frame does not incorporate a light rail for a combat light. In both guns, the Glocks featured a spring-within-a-spring guide rod that we feel does an excellent job of containing recoil. Once on target, however, the Glock was handicapped by a 6.75-pound trigger pull. This time around, the G43’s pull was more than a pound lighter. Two years ago, we also noted that due to its polygonal rifling, you should rule out lead-bullet handloads. In November 2016, we looked at a specialized version of the gun, a Glock G43 Limited Edition ProGlo TALO Edition UI4350501. TALO is a wholesale buying cooperative that creates special edition firearms, which have to be ordered from a local dealer. On this Glock 43, the pistol’s slide was standard save for the sights, which were made by AmeriGlo and featured a brilliant orange post around a white-insert tritium front. The rear sight featured a U-notch for rapid target engagement, and the rear face of the rear sight was serrated to reduce glare. Even with these upgrades, we gave the Glock a B grade. Our only time to have tested an S&W M&P9 Shield 9mm Luger was in the March 2013 issue, so this update is overdue for a handgun that so many people seem to like. Four years ago, we called it a pleasant, compact, slim, nicely made handgun. Then, as now, we said it was easy enough to get it into a pocket of reasonable dimensions. There was nothing sticking out of the Shield to get caught on clothing. The magazines were easy to get out and back into the gun. They had a somewhat staggered design that made them more compact for their capacity. The gun was matte black with semi-slick pebbly inserts on front and rear of the grip straps. The Shield had an external safety on its left side. The sights were excellent, dovetailed into the slide, and tritium is an option. The rear was secured with a screw so you could adjust the windage. The front was held solely by friction in the dovetail. The trigger pull was heavy and consistent at about 7.5 pounds, and the trigger rebound was short. Takedown required locking the slide back and applying manly force to the takedown lever to rotate it 90 degrees. Then the slide could be let down to its normal position, the trigger pulled, and the slide comes off the front. Removing the captive double recoil spring was extremely easy. There’s no danger of parts flying across the room, or losing an eye when you put it all back together. We noted a significant fillet on the hook of the S&W’s extractor. It also had a slight pocket to help catch the incoming rounds as they feed from mag to chamber. The striker-locking safety plunger inside the slide is cammed upward by the trigger arm, which actively forces the plunger out of the way.   More...

A Trio of Unusual Revolvers: Worth the Trouble and Money?

Most gun owners want firearms they can shoot and have fun with, even their life-and-death carry guns. Some of us also want the unusual because we like a walk on the wild side, irrespective of whether it has any use beyond messing around with or plinking. In this Special Report, we take a look at three wheelguns for which there are little or no match ups to find, so head-to-head testing isn’t possible. But even without something to shoot beside them, we can learn plenty about whether some unique, or nearly unique, handguns are worth the time and trouble to find and add to your collection as a real, firing item. Herewith then, we look at the Nagant M1895 7.62x38mmR, the Smith & Wesson Model 929 9mm Luger, and the Chiappa Buntline 22 LR.   More...

Pumpgun Showdown: Remington 870 Vs. Norinco’s Wild Bunch

Subscribers Only — The 12-gauge shotgun remains the most effective home-defense weapon available. While some prefer the handgun for convenience or the 223-chambered rifle for low recoil, all give a nod to the awesome power and simplicity of the pump-action shotgun. The shotgun is also the most common home-defense weapon for non-firearms-passionate individuals. Everyone should learn to use a tool well. But the home-defense shotgun is often treated with the same respect and purpose as the spare tire and jack in the vehicle. If we need it, it is needed badly, but otherwise we tend not to think about it. Non-gun folks, including far north aviators and sailors, keep a shotgun handy just in case they have to deal with angry animals or bad people. As long as the pump-action shotgun is in good repair and functions well, the exact choice may not be as important as the terminal ballistics. But there are differences in handling that are interesting, and every advantage should be taken. We decided to look at the subject of a number of reader requests for reports on affordable pump-action shotguns. Some used guns are out of production, and others are earlier versions of popular shotguns. Some are just used and only a few months old. We picked two popular shotguns, including one of the most popular ever made, the Remington 870. We counted this as a good deal. It’s very similar to a shotgun Remington still offers through its law enforcement side, the 870P Standard pump action. We also found a used Norinco Wild Bunch shotgun for $299 at the same outlet. It was as new and also counted a good buy. But that isn’t the whole story—they were purchased months apart, one for a backup truck gun and the other as a Wild Bunch Cowboy gun. Naturally, they were thrown together by the raters from time to time, and the question came up about how suitable the Wild Bunch gun was for home defense. The owner answered by saying it was already his favorite home defender despite a safe that held more-modern guns. When you are looking at older pump-action shotguns, the concerns include maintenance, supply of parts, and perhaps ergonomics. When you look at the handling of the shotguns and the sights, well, it is what it is. There are a few add-ons for the Remington, but we might as well purchase a more highly developed shotgun in the beginning if that is what is desired. So, we stuck with the shotguns as issued and took at hard look at each for personal defense. The results were interesting, and in the end we respect both shotguns, but have greater respect for just one.   More...

Springfield Armory Rolls Out New RO Elite 1911 Pistols

The new RO Elite line adds multiple premium components and details for both competition shooters and defense-minded citizens, in both 9mm and 45 ACP versions. Every new RO Elite series pistol wears a Black-T treatment specified on Springfield Armory 1911s built for the FBI’s regional SWAT and Hostage Rescue Teams. The Black-T coating is self-lubricating and highly corrosion resistant. RO Elite models also include: Springfield Armory’s newly designed Gen 2 triggers, ambidextrous thumb safeties, and custom thin-line G-10 grips designed. “The original 1911 Range Officer line remains a huge success with serious shooters,” says Dennis Reese, Springfield Armory’s CEO. “It made professional-level performance more affordable. The new RO Elite models are more of the same: premium features, high performance, affordable price.”   More...