January 2020

Ranking Guns by Groupings

Reader Don comes up with an interesting idea: Listing the top five or ten firearms by smallest grouping. Several readers also say, ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ and oppose universal background checks.

Re December 2019 Issue

Dear Mr. Woodard, I have to compliment you and your staff on another great year. The bigger photos really are much better. Your articles seem better too, all year long. In the December issue, the article on the 22-250s was beyond splendid. The explanation of barrel twist was worth the yearly subscription alone, and that article was tremendous all through. And so was the big magnum handgun article in the same issue. I really appreciate the ear muffs test. Several of us here also use Gordon Leight muffs, and in the wind hunting squirrels and rock chucks, they do cancel a lot of that noise. I could go on about other articles. Just know we appreciate your magazine.

One request: In your year-end summary, how about listing the best five or ten rifles that have the smallest groups in your testing, and this would be all time, best five or ten handguns with smallest groups all time, and best five or ten shotguns with best patterns all time. You would not need much text, just list the gun and the group size. I would appreciate that, and I bet others would as well. I very much look forward to next year. Thanks so much for all the info and for how good it is. — Don

Hey Don: The all-time best groups idea is great. I see the value, too. I’ll figure out how to package this data and where it can live on the website. Thank you. — Todd Woodard


Re “Thanks, But No Thanks,” December 2019

The only way “universal background checks” can be enforced is if all firearms are registered. That alone is reason enough to oppose it. — JamTins @GunTests.com

You missed the point about universal background checks. Some commenters have mentioned it in a very roundabout way. For UBC to work, every gun and every gun owner must be in a government database. — KLGalloway @GunTests.com

When universal background checks are required for all legal transfers, then eventually a Form 4473 will exist for every legal transfer. When enough 4473s exist, eventually “common sense” requires that all the information on every transfer form be digitized. When digitized, eventually every legal gun owner and every firearm they own will be in the transfer database. — David @GunTests.com

The purpose of universal background check (UBC) laws are to deter or make it increasingly difficult for honest citizens to acquire and posses firearms, participate in shooting sports, and defend themselves. Those who promote these laws know the regulations will not prevent crimes committed with firearms. UBC promoters know that if criminals obeyed the law, they wouldn’t be criminals. UBC promoters know that a person bent on committing mass murder is not deterred by the fact that he didn’t acquire or does not possess his weapon legally. UBC promoters also know that those who support these proposed laws aren’t critical thinkers. That’s why we have restrictive gun laws. They are justified by emotion, not logic. Emotional voters can be led to believe that restrictive gun laws will deter felonies. Logical voters know better. UBC promoters rely on the emotional votes. They don’t want folks realizing that some people already own firearms, first-time murderers might pass background checks, and others can easily get their weapons by other than legal means. The reason we prosecute felons in possession of firearms is because they are in possession of firearms illegally. Logical folks realize the law didn’t prevent them from carrying firearm; it only prevented them from carrying them legally.

Illegal firearms are just as effective as legal firearms. Whether or not a shooter can pass a background check isn’t relevant to the gun he is shooting. — Jack @GunTests.com

I saw a recent pre-session Virginia gun bill that will not only make AR-15s and other semi-autos illegal to transact, it will also make them illegal to possess. No grandfathering. How is such a thing going to pass Constitutional muster? In the face of such a law (likely) passing in The Old Dominion in just a few weeks, I normally would advise my Virginia readers to go buy all the ARs/AKs/M1As/they can afford, right now — that is, put this magazine down on the coffee table, stand up, and get thee to a Virginia gun store extra pronto. But if possession of already-owned semi-autos will be criminalized after the fact, what good would that do? It is always a bad legal strategy to be the one who’s a test case. — Todd

How would the folks who want “universal background checks” like the same thing for cars? More people are killed in car wrecks every year in the U.S. than in all gun-related deaths (including suicides, “righteous” killings by law-enforcement officers, and justifiable defense shootings by civilians). Would these people like to have to complete mountains of paperwork every time they let one of their kids drive the family car? I don’t think they would stand for that — and we shouldn’t stand for universal background checks for firearms, either. — Crash @GunTests.com

Registration is always followed by confiscation, 100% of the time. UBCs = registration. QED. Better to insist and require that current UBC databases be kept up to date by all states. Some states grudgingly participate, with lack of funding a reason often mentioned. — Podkayne @GunTests.com

Right on. I think U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s focus on enforcing existing gun laws is the right way to proceed. There are only 10,000 or so gun laws already on the books, so that should keep them busy for a while. — Todd

The passage of any local “universal background check” ordinance is abusive and unnecessary. We already have sufficient laws (both state and federal) that deal with background checks. In addition, criminals will not abide with any gun-restriction law; therefore, such laws significantly take away gun-ownership rights from law-abiding citizens. — Jayalan12 @GunTests.com


Re “Big-Bore Hunting Revolvers From Smith & Wesson, Taurus,” December 2019

I enjoyed reading the write-up on the big-bore hunting revolvers. I have two editing suggestions to propose. On page 17 on line seven, you reference a Grizzly 460-grain WLNGC, when it is actually 360 grains in weight. Also, weights in line one on page 17 reads “… from 200 to 360 grains….” but Cor-Bon offers a 390-grain WLNGC for the 460 Smith &Wesson cartridge. — Jeffrey

Thanks for passing these along. I’ll correct the digital version of the issue to fix the text mention of the Grizzly 360-grain bullet. I double-checked the tabular description and energy figures for the round, and they were correct. — Todd


Re “So Many Good Guns,” September 2019

As always, I disagree with the premise that guns are overall “getting better.” They are certainly getting cheaper — more cheaply built of plastic and cheap to buy — but certainly not “better.” You probably think that Kel-Tec makes good stuff. I just got my hands on a new-production Walther PPK/S, and it almost makes me sad when I compare it to a modern-design piece-of-junk plastic gun like a Glock, M&P, or many other guns made by Walther besides my PPK/S. Designs change, but quality and class never do. Polymer guns (pistols or rifles) are nothing but disposable junk. They’re no more than tools. They would inspire in me about as much pride of ownership as a toilet plunger. — Greg @GunTests.com

Yes, I agree guns are tools. That’s also how we evaluate them here, mostly, so when I write they are overall “better,” that largely means more functional. I owned a PPK/S back in the day, and I sold that little hand-biter with its horrible sights and heavy weight for the capacity. Perhaps the new production is better. I do own a Kel-Tec PMR-30. Love it. Light weight, good sights, massive capacity for the size. I also own other former test guns that are polymer, including an FN FNX-45 and an HK HK45. But all my revolvers are steel and aluminum, as well as a couple of other pistols. I get that you don’t like polymer; a lot of folks don’t. — Todd

Todd, I enjoy your unbiased Gun Tests. Regarding the quality of guns manufactured nowadays compared to years ago, the arms manufactured back in the 80s and 90s did not have a suggested “break-in period,” in which the owner runs X amount of rounds through the gun. Some manufacturers, as you know, suggest this now on new firearms, specifically handguns. My opinion only, the guns 30 years ago were better manufactured to tolerances then they are now. I’d take a gun from then over the ones being made today, especially the wheelguns. Guess I’m just an old-school guy.  — Texas Law Man


Re “More on the Bond Arms Bullpup,” December 2019

My father had a Beretta 22 Short with a tip-up barrel, and it seemed like a great idea. When Beretta came out with the 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 it is as large as many 9mm pistols. So, perhaps, Beretta should design a 9mm with a tip-up barrel.         — Jeffery

Awesome idea. — Todd


King Cobra Coming

Dear Todd: Did you, or have you planned, to do any gun tests on the new Colt King Cobra in 357 Magnum? Our family plans to buy a couple if it passes muster. — Joe

Hey Joe: Robert Sadowski has a new Colt Cobra in house, and it is queued up for the next range visit. — Todd


Re “Guns of the Year,” December 2019

You called the Springfield Armory XD-S 3.3-Inch XDS93340BE 40 S&W “Best In Class Pistol ‘19.” In the information box about the pistol you state, “Including a useful trigger action…”

I recently purchased a new Springfield XD-S 45 Mod.2 3.3. I find the trigger to be absolutely horrible. It has a mushy feeling during take-up, with a lot of creep, and it doesn’t have a noticeable “wall.” All of my other handguns have a noticeable wall before the trigger breaks. I thought it might be defective, so I returned it to Springfield to have them check it out. They said the trigger was within factory specs. They replaced the trigger anyway with another trigger assembly and noted that the new trigger was within factory specs. The trigger is still horrible!

What do you mean in your review that the XD-S 40 has a “useful trigger action?”  — Jeff

The trigger in the September 2019 issue had a break weight of 6.5 pounds. In combat firing, the Springfield gave excellent results, beating the other polymer-frame pistols and giving the SIG a run for the money. It was faster to an accurate first shot than the SIG, and while the SIG gave good, tight groups in rapid fire in the single-action mode, we did not have to work the long double-action SIG trigger with the XD-S. — Todd

Comments (4)

My best grouping firearms:

Handguns
S&W Masterpiece 38 (aka pre14)
S&W Victory semi auto
The above group better than my Glock 34 and my Colt 1911 Competition 9mm

Rifles
Remington 40X 22 LR
Remington 40X 7.62 NATO

Ed K.

Posted by: epka1949 | January 10, 2020 11:58 AM    Report this comment

While not germane to your current comments I did want to sneak in a comment, It would
be nice if, when reviewing a rifle, you might drop in a comment if the rifle is available in a
left handed version. As a leftie, this would really be of interest to me and the other left
handed shooters.

Other than that Gun Tests is a great magazine!

John Stine

Posted by: johnstine | January 9, 2020 5:33 PM    Report this comment

On the face of it, Universal Background checks sounds fine. Given the Government's track record on Firearm ownership, I can see a BIG push to use Background information as a Registry. So when the Progressive Socialists gain power again, it will be Very Easy for them to track down gun owners to confiscate their guns. I do not trust our Government on anything other than what is stated in the 2nd Amendment.

Posted by: MountieFan16 | January 9, 2020 3:41 PM    Report this comment

When you list your guns of the year could you give the grade of them? I think it might help shed some light on them dont want to buy a poor graded gun. Thanks Class 3 -4 All.

Posted by: class 3 4-all | January 9, 2020 1:54 PM    Report this comment

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