March 2019

I'm Not in a New York State of Mind

A long time ago, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I worked at Field & Stream magazine in Manhattan, at 1515 Broadway, or 7th Avenue and 44th. At the time, New York City’s gun rules were just as crazy and un-Constitutional as today, maybe worse, and were difficult to accept when the articles I edited nearly every day concerned firearms that couldn’t be possessed in the city. But I shot in NRA smallbore matches on Long Island and upstate in a Friday-night quarter-course league at West Point (which was awesome), so the strongest anti-gun sentiment didn’t extend very far into the ‘burbs. But that seems to be changing for the worse again.   More...

R1 Enhanced, Old and New

I think the Remington R1 Enhanced Threaded Barrel featured in this article may not actually be the same model you tested and referenced in the past. Remington bought up the out-of-business carcass of Para, aka Para Ordnance, and is now selling 1911 versions of that company’s models with the same name as the (very good, actually) R1 1911s it has been selling for the last 10 years or so with its own designs.   More...

Perfect 10s? We Test a Trio Of Big-Bore Semi-Automatics

In the past few years there has been a renewed interest in the 10mm Auto. That is odd because the birth of the 40 S&W Auto cartridge nearly suffocated the 10mm Auto out of existence. Not only are there more pistols chambered in 10mm, there is ammo loaded to velocities the 10mm Auto was designed for. Ammunition manufacturers like SIG and others provide these big-bore semi-autos with cartridges that live up to the 10mm’s reputation. Two 10mm Autos introduced in 2018 are from Springfield Armory (SA). SA chambered both the XDM and 1911 platforms in the round and, back in 2015, Glock got the hint from handgun hunters that we wanted a full-fledged 10mm for hunting, and the company obliged with the G40 Gen4 with MOS (Modular Optic System). We liked all three of these pistols because they all offered good accuracy, excellent to good triggers, and they were easy to shoot well. But we preferred one over the others. How We Tested No jams. No failures. All pistols ran well and met our expectations of Springfield and Glock pistols. We averaged 2-inch five-shot groups at 25 yards using open sights across all three pistols. When we attached a red dot (actually a green dot), we found that the Glock pulled ahead of the group in ease of shooting. We like the G40 for its ability to mount an optic. And if you are paying attention, you may have guessed the RO Elite Operator offered the best accuracy with open sights. There is something to be said about the 1911 platform’s single-action trigger. SA tuned this trigger nicely. Some of us were shooting cloverleaf patterns with holes overlapping each other using a rest with the Range Officer Elite Operator. Ammo used during testing consisted of SIG Sauer V-Crown and FMJ cartridges loaded with a 180-grain JHP and FMJ bullets, respectively. We also had on hand some old Hornady Critical Defense 165-grain FTX ammo. All of these loads cranked out the muzzle doing a respectable 1200 fps on average. For fast, unsupported shooting, we found these pistols do serve up recoil, but the pistols allowed us to manage it. Could we shoot these 10mms as fast as a 9mm or 45 ACP? Sure we could, but our accuracy decreased. As a hunting round, the 10mm Auto can be effective on boar and deer if you know your limitations and those of the round. Maximum range with this round is 50 yards. With a muzzle energy of 550 to 600 foot-pounds with our test ammo, you could use these pistols as you would a 357 Magnum revolver. There are boutique ammunition manufacturers, such as Buffalo Bore, Grizzly, and Underwood, that we have experience with and have fired their hotter loads designed for penetration and expansion. Some of the larger ammo makers like Hornady and Federal also make rounds suitable for hunting medium-size game. Are these three pistols perfect 10s? In our opinion they are close, but one may be more suited to your shooting style. The devil is in the details, and we had a devil of a time wringing out these 10mms.   More...

March 2019 Short Shots: New Handguns for 2019

In celebration of the company’s 100th anniversary, O.F. Mossberg & Sons, Inc., has released a 9mm concealed-carry handgun: the Mossberg MC1sc (subcompact). Surprisingly, the company’s first firearm design, called the Brownie, was a 22-caliber four-shot pocket pistol. The MC1sc is available in five initial 9mm offerings: the standard MC1sc and an optional cross-bolt safety version; two standard offerings with sighting systems (TruGlo Tritium Pro Night Sights or a Viridian E-Series Red Laser), and a Centennial Limited Edition with a production run limited to 1,000 commemorative models. After 100 years in business, Mossberg has grown to be the sixth-largest U.S. firearms manufacturer with more than 100 design and utility patents to its credit. The MC1sc reflects three years of development. Important features in a subcompact handgun are size, weight, caliber and carryability. The MC1sc has an overall length of 6.45 inches, weight of 19 ounces (with empty magazine), and a barrel length of 3.4 inches in the popular 9mm chambering. It comes with two single-stack magazines (one 6-round flush and one 7-round extended), has a glass-reinforced polymer frame, and suggested retail price of $421 for the two standard models.   More...

Sub-Gauge Shockwaves Go Up Against Remington’s TAC-14

Subscribers Only — According to the ATF, the Mossberg Shockwave and Remington TAC-14 are classified as “other” firearms, meaning they are not handguns nor are they shotguns. It is not our intent to ignore ATF definitions, but it can be confusing to use the term “other” when describing these firearms. So, for less confusion, we will refer to them as firearms even though they shoot shotshells and slugs and have chambering descriptions in gauge and bore terminology. Back in 2017, we tested the Mossberg Shockwave in 12 gauge, giving it an A grade. We expected as much — and less — from these sub-gauge models. “Less” meaning less recoil. The 12-gauge variants offer heavy recoil depending on the loads used. We also had some specialty 410 defense loads that we have used in 45 LC/410 revolvers and wanted to try them in one of these weapons. We tested at 10 yards on plain cardboard sheets that measured 18 inches wide, the average width of a male torso. We fired slugs, birdshot and buckshot out of the 20-gauge weapons using Aguila 2.75-inch shells loaded with #2 buckshot, Federal Premium 0.75-ounce rifled slugs, and handloaded #8 birdshot shells, which one of our testers uses for skeet and sporting clays. For the 410, we used the same distance and target and loaded up with 3-inch Winchester Super X quarter-ounce slugs, 2.5-inch Federal Premium #8.5 birdshot shells, and Hornady Critical Defense loads with one 41-caliber FTX projectile and two 35-caliber round ball projectiles. We fired to determine pattern size and found that with specialty and buckshot loads, these tiny blasters were surgical, allowing us to easily keep patterns on the 18-inch wide target. Birdshot destiny patterns were pretty close to covering 18 inches, but we did note some shot flew at a wider pattern — something one should consider if you were to use these weapons for home defense. Note that using birdshot will more than likely cause a large shot pattern with not all projectiles hitting the target. We would stick with buckshot and specialty loads for home defense and leave the birdshot for dispatching large rodents and snakes. Our initial process was to accurately fire on the cardboard with birdshot, then buckshot/specialty loads, followed by slugs. Since the projectiles are of different sizes, it was easy to discern the different hole sizes. We also followed this process to quickly compare load types on our 18-inch-wide target. These three pump-action weapons feature a 14-inch barrel with a Cylinder-bore choke and use a Raptor pistol grip. All weapons functioned flawlessly, though we did find the 410 slower to reload. There was also a distinct preference for the Mossberg versus the Remington, or vice-versa, depending on what type of pump shotgun our testers had experience with. In our opinion, the Mossberg with the action lock lever behind the trigger guard allowed for fast manipulation without changing your grip. The ambidextrous safety on the Mossberg also gave it a slight edge over the Remington’s safety in the trigger guard behind the trigger. We’d feel empowered to protect our castle with any of these weapons, but we would lean toward the Mossberg. Here’s why.   More...

Which Cowboy Revolver? We Test Three 357 Magnum Guns

Subscribers Only — We recently tested three single-action traditional-style revolvers in the popular 38 Special/357 Magnum chambering to find which revolver would be best for Cowboy Action Shooting. We also considered the merits of each as a trail gun. While some may scoff, there are many single-action revolvers in use for home protection, including protecting the homestead against predators, so we had to consider this role as well. The three revolvers were from Traditions Performance Firearms: the Sheriff’s Model, the Liberty Model, and the Frontier Model. The qualifying difference between the three revolvers are their barrel lengths, though in this test, they are vastly different overall. The longer the barrel, the greater the weight of the revolver as well. The barrels were 3.5, 4.75, and 5.5 inches long. While we liked the 5.5-inch barrel the best based on balance, point, and fast-paced accuracy, the gun itself was the roughest revolver tested as far as the trigger action went and the only one that gave trouble. It wasn’t difficult to get it up and running, but this just isn’t welcome in a new revolver. On the other hand, the Sheriff’s Model was a fun gun to shoot, but not the most practical. We cannot recommend it for CAS competition, but it makes a good recreational handgun and perhaps even a personal-defense revolver for those skilled with the single action. The 4.75-inch-barrel Liberty revolver was the most accurate revolver and was well finished with beautiful laser engraving. It was more accurate than the longer-barrel revolver from the benchrest but not as easy to get a fast hit with on the action course. When you choose a single-action revolver for Cowboy Action Shooting, a sense of style and history are important. Reliability and good value are also important. When considering the single-action revolver, the 7.5-inch barrel length is regarded as too large and heavy by most shooters. A shorter-statured shooter may find the muzzle in his boot tops in a conventional holster. The fit, finish, and barrel length and balance, then, are important. For recreational use, one may be as good as the other. The greatest accuracy, velocity and handling advantages are more important in a handgun to be used in CAS competition. Considerations other than accuracy, such as heft and fast handling, are important. The speed of the draw is important. The so-called Tall Draw with a long-barrel revolver isn’t as fast as with the shorter handguns. This fact gave birth to the original SAA that came to be known as the Gunfighter’s barrel length. The barrel was cut right to the ejector rod, and this resulted in a 4.75-inch-barrel revolver. The compromise 5.5-inch barrel length was often called the Artillery revolver and issued to cannoneers. The short 3-inch-barrel revolver was called the shopkeep’s or, more popularly, the Sheriff’s Model. We tested all three to determine which has an advantage. The caliber wasn’t difficult to choose. While the 45 Colt, 44-40 and 38-40 may be more authentic to the time period, the 38 Special is the superior cartridge for competition today, we believe. The larger calibers are sometimes smoky when downloaded. The 38 Special responds well with Cowboy Action loads. If you desire, the 357 Magnum cartridge may be loaded for use as a trail gun or as a defensive handgun. Anyone who uses the SAA revolver well in CAS competition would be a formidable opponent in a home-defense situation. For ammunition, we chose three loads, one in 38 Special and two in 357 Magnum. We used a handload consisting of the Magnus cast bullets 200-grain RNL ($49.10 for 500 bullets from MagnusBullets.com) and enough Titegroup powder for 720 fps. This is an outstanding load with plenty of bearing surface for accuracy. It hits the steel plates hard. Next, we used the Black Hills Ammunition 357 Magnum 158-grain cowboy load ($30.30/50 rounds from AmmunitionToGo.com). Loaded to 805 fps on average, this load offers the ease of loading of the full-length Magnum case but is loaded to 38 Special velocity. Finally, we used the Federal 125-grain JHP as a general-purpose 357 Magnum load to determine how the pistols perform with Magnum loads. It costs $21.30/20 rounds. While Cowboy Action guns are seldom fired with full-power ammunition, for Gun Tests, Magnum loads were an important part of the evaluation equation.   More...