December 2019

More on the Bond Arms Bullpup

Re “Slim-Line 9mm Contest: Ruger, Beretta, and Bond Arms,” October 2019

Dear Editor: As an owner and frequent carrier of one of the first Bond Arms Bullpups, I enjoyed your thorough review of this interesting firearm. I started my law-enforcement career with revolvers, and the DAO trigger pull of the Bullpup reminds me of a really great DA revolver trigger. However, your testers gave it a one-half grade demerit because the slide does not lock back after the last round. As your description of the Bullpup operating system makes clear, the loading cycle begins with the slide closed when the device (called the “tongs”) grasps the rim of the top cartridge in the magazine. As the slide moves to the rear, whether by firing or manual operation, it extracts the round “backward” from the magazine and raises it to align with the chamber as the slide moves forward into battery. If the slide locked back, two slide movements would be required: first, the slide would have to be closed to start the reloading process, then the slide would have to be racked a second time to extract a round from the magazine and load. Overall, a great review of a unique gun that packs many outstanding features into a tiny size — and it’s made in Texas!

Full Disclosure: I am a lawyer, and represent Bond Arms from time to time. I bought my Bullpup with my own money, have no financial interest in the company, and will not be paid for this letter. — John Popham

Re “10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights,” November 2017

In the “10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights” e-article, I must contest the author’s contention about lightened trigger pulls in point #8 concerning gun modifications, particularly the mention of a 3-pound trigger pull, which is far too light for conscientious self-defense. While it is true that a lighter trigger pull may make a gun more controllable, and thus the shooter better able to hit their intended target, no less an authority than Mas Ayoob says this is not so. Mr. Ayoob recommends a trigger no lighter than the factory standard lest a lay person be confronted with a prosecutor or lawyer portraying the shooter as someone who knows more than the manufacturer, hence putting the shooter on the defensive.

But the liabilities of a lightened trigger extend much further. Light trigger pulls have long been associated with unintended or premature discharges. The adrenaline dump is a stressful situation that not only increases one’s strength tremendously, but also significantly diminishes one’s fine muscle control. In combination, these factors argue strongly against a light trigger. Both prosecutors in criminal cases and plaintiffs’ counsel in civil cases know that there’s no such thing as a “justifiable accident.” Negligence can sustain a manslaughter charge in criminal court, and a wrongful death verdict in civil court. Thus, even in a proper self-defense shooting, the shooter can be held liable. Please bring this matter before your readers; their freedom may be at stake.   — Russell

The original article appeared in the November 2017 issue and was written by former self-defense lawyer Michele Byington, pictured below. It appeared more recently as an e-blast on September 3, 2019. One of the “10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights” was “8. Gun Modifications and Choice of Ammo May Cause More Legal Liability.” The full segment read: “A lighter trigger pull, night sights, or a tactical flashlight are all popular modifications. These modifications can make a gun more comfortable and more effective defensive tools. Loading a handgun with full-metal-jacket bullets as opposed to jacketed hollowpoints does not make someone blood thirsty. Gun owners should not lose sleep stressing about the ‘increased’ legal liability of a modified handgun or the type of ammo used. It is not outside the realm of reality to imagine a prosecutor stating, ‘Your client is a killing machine waiting to happen with that 3-pound trigger pull!’ In a self-defense scenario where an individual used a modified handgun to protect himself, as an attorney, I would not be bothered by that fact. There are several safeguards that may be utilized to attempt to keep that information from the jury during trial. The argument made to a judge prior to the jury being seated is that the modified handgun had absolutely nothing to do with why the defendant used deadly force. The focus must be on the circumstances surrounding why the defendant used deadly force — not the tool used. Whether it be a baseball bat, a knife, or a gun, the only question that must be answered is: Did the defendant act reasonably, thus justifiably, in using deadly force in self-defense? It’s the use of deadly force that is on trial; not the gun. Even if it does come out to the jury that a person used a modified handgun, there may be gun owners on the jury who have made similar modifications to their own self-defense tools. Or, an expert may testify to the efficiency and other benefits of a modified handgun. At the end of the day, choose the weapon and ammo that is best for you and your hands.” — Todd Woodard

Re “Magnum Revolvers: 6-, 7-, and 8-Shooters from Taurus, S&W,” October 2019

I’m a long-time subscriber, but this is the first time I remember feeling compelled to write. I bought two brand-new Smith & Wessons in 2018, a 629 and a 642, both from the website GrabAGun. Both were delivered with heavy trigger pulls. The 642 would have the cylinder fail to turn 20% of the time, and on the 629, the trigger would stick to the rear during live fire.

I am an armorer on several systems (admittedly not S&W, but the skills transfer) and was able to get them squared away on my own. To S&W’s credit, when I called them they immediately offered to send me shipping labels and take care of the problem. My gripe is that for what I paid, I felt that I shouldn’t have to be an armorer to get the guns working when both had only four- and five-star reviews (I later found out why). Also of interest was the fact that I also dry-fired them around 300 cycles each to smooth them out and was promptly told by the tech at S&W that I should never dry fire their products. Surprised, I asked for some clarification and he doubled down and said I should never dry-fire any Smith & Wesson revolver.

On another disappointing note, I left two-star reviews on GrabAGun on those products, and the reviews were immediately taken down or never posted. I submitted them again and those also disappeared. I sent a message to GrabAGun asking why my reviews were never posted, and they did not respond. Clearly, they are only interested in top-tier reviews and will punt any dissenters.

I’m sad to see your Smith 27 was delivered with rust and a super-heavy trigger, and I’m starting to wonder about their quality control these days. I’m also sad to know that I cannot trust GrabAGun’s reviews and have to rely on other sources.  — Kevin

Thank you for including a 7-shot medium frame. Perhaps this is the best overall compromise of capacity, size, and usability in the panoply of 357/38 holster wheelguns — just enough more than a standard 6 shot, but not the wheel of cheese of an 8 shot. — AR on

Re “Downrange: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” April 2019

Could it even be possible, in a country this size, to find a pro-gun, pro-2nd-Amendment Democrat? Could we refine that, to one who is well educated, politically savvy, and determined to become our president? What an advantage he or she would have! — Slow Walker on

Well, the current crop of Democrat presidential candidates don’t qualify, but there are some D’s out there who aren’t reflexively anti-gun. A couple that come to mind are U.S. Senators Jon Tester (Montana) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia). I don’t know what their goals are regarding even higher office. — tw

The “Universal Background Check” law is more about gun registration than it is background checks. We already have a state universal background check law here in Washington state, and all our pistol and semiauto-rifle transfers, including private sales info, is kept indefinitely at the Department of Licensing in Olympia. Couple this to the fact that we also have a Red Flag Law in place, pretty much makes the Second Amendment null and void. — 2FINN on

Re “Firing Line, Lefties Sound Off On Holsters,” November 2019

Being an ambidextrous shooter, it’s good to hear that there’s more availability of left-hand holsters, and I definitely like the Kydex. — Original Tasmanian on

Whither a 380 ACP or 9mm Tip-up?

Todd: Those who grew up in the Age of Aquarius are now living in the Age of Arthritis. Tip-up pistols provide a solution for weaker arthritic hands, but are currently only available in 22, 25 and 32 calibers. The Beretta 86 in 380 provided at least a marginally effective defensive pistol. It has not been manufactured for years, and now often sells for more than $1,000 at auction. If some company could make a tip-up in 380 ACP or 9mm, it would find a large market. — Taylor, Hero’s Arms, South Hero, Vermont

The tip-up models from Beretta are indeed easy to operate. The 84 and 85 models are chambered for 380 ACP. The Model 86 is likewise chambered for the 380 ACP, but has a redesigned front end with a tip-up barrel that hinges at the muzzle to open the breech. This allows the shooter to load a cartridge directly into the chamber, and not have to operate the slide. I am happy to float the idea to the Gun Tests readership so they can pester Beretta to maybe reintroduce the 86 in 380 ACP or some other chambering. I’m thinking 22 Magnum might also be popular. — tw

Comments (8)

I purchased the S&W 380EZ for exactly this reason, when teaching firearms classes I've had older students with arthritis that just couldn't properly manipulate a traditional 9mm or larger caliber pistol which is required to pass the basic firearms safety class. I'm very interested in seeing Gun Tests do a review of the brand new 9mm EZ version - that would certainly be a more substantial self defense round and if they make it as easy to use as the 380 version, then it'll be another winner!

Posted by: Crush | December 14, 2019 8:18 PM    Report this comment

I own a Beretta Model 85BB .380, and the slide is very difficult - almost impossible - to rack due to the overly stiff recoil spring. I would definitely purchase a .380 or 9mm with a tip-up barrel.

Posted by: pigglett | December 14, 2019 3:03 PM    Report this comment

I believe people way over think things. No body will know or care with that level of detail about a weapon used in a justified shooting. It would be like caring about what engine modifications there were on a getaway car. The circumstances are all that matter.

Posted by: GA197th | December 13, 2019 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Re "10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights," November 2017

The response by Russell that "no less an authority than Mas Ayoob" has opined that lightened triggers are a legal liability waiting to happen may not hold as much weight with a judge and jury.

I have long admired Mr. Ayoob's skill at turning a part-time law enforcement career into a long term paying enterprise.

Over the years back when I would read Mr. Ayoob's writings I always was a bit put off by his declarations of experience and depth. Mr. Ayoob never worked the streets of a major city. As LFI grew he was later given access to cases to analyze after the fact. He never had to be the person in the moment. As a result even when I agree with him I am leery of thinking of him as an experienced source of information.

History has shown that his opinions may be based on his revenue stream. At one point after a negligent discharge of an officer's Glock pistol Mr. Ayoob publicly declared that Glocks were poorly designed and as such dangerous. A few years later I noticed with amusement that Mr. Ayoob was a paid endorser of Glock products. As an owner of Gen 1 to Gen 3 Glocks I can easily see the basic operating engineering has not changed a bit.

Even given that he has been successful with Lethal Force Institute, he is not a lawyer. For the time being unless proved otherwise I am going to recommend continued avoidance of the need for lethal self defense and if you cannot avoid that get a GOOD lawyer and maybe two. If you had to save a life let that be the issue. A weapon modified for accuracy is really not likely to be the issue.

(As a side note: when the Iron Curtain fell we heard reports from either Romania or Hungary that the Olympic team were using their competition weapons in support of the pro-democracy uprising against the falling government. I could never confirm that, but I like the story.)

Posted by: ArmyE7Ret | December 13, 2019 11:21 AM    Report this comment

Reader Russell is spot on, especially concerning unintended discharge. When fired with judicious intent it may be justifiable self defense. When fired unintentionally by startle reflex it will be criminal negligence. Your original writer/lawyer's opinion tells me never to hire him in a case involving deadly force.
Retired LE.

Posted by: Wilko | December 13, 2019 11:20 AM    Report this comment

Trigger pull- sights... any lawyer can make any claim in court. They have to prove it to the jury. I need a lighter trigger from arthritis. don't want a 'hair trigger' but a 6-7-10lb pull is painful. I use tritium sights to see them at night. In my CHL class, we were told to throw away our targets. So that a lawyer couldn't use them against us... all 10x's? - KILLER!! barely on the paper? INCOMPETENT!! Use what you need to be safe.

Posted by: Fatboy46 | December 13, 2019 11:03 AM    Report this comment

My father had a Beretta .22 short with a tip-up barrel, and it seemed like a great idea. When Beretta came out with their .380 Cheetah, I snapped one up because I thought it was such a niche item that it wouldn't be around forever. It's a great pistol though as large as many 9mm pistols. So perhaps Beretta should design a 9mm with a tip-up barrel.

Posted by: Jeffery | December 3, 2019 2:50 PM    Report this comment

Todd: As Taylor stated I'm also in the Age of Arthritis. I had to go to the S&W Shield 380 EZ and it is easy to load and shoot. I love the tip up barrel pistols so I'm onboard with the return of the Beretta 86. .380 and .22 Mag sound great.

Posted by: DMack54 | December 3, 2019 1:16 PM    Report this comment

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