March 2018

Gun Laws in the News

I hate to be a downer in these pages, but there’s crazy anti-gun stuff going on all over the country. It seems that because gun owners don’t have much to fear federally, gun-restrictive states are going their own way with new regulations, fees, and other infringements on the right to keep and bear arms. Here’s a sampler of a few things that you might devote a couple of brain cells to.   More...

Touting a Blackhawk Holster

I have owned and used quite a number of different Galco and Bianchi holsters, mostly for autos, and am quite satisfied with this one by Blackhawk. In fact, it is probably the best holster product I have seen coming from Blackhawk thus far, as I have owned others. Paid $54 at Cascade Farm & Outdoor where it was recently on sale there at 25 percent off!. I think it has pretty good retention and concealability. It’s the Blackhawk No. 420506BK-R (right hand model; left hand also available). Retention is adjustable.   More...

Hot Handguns and Cartridges From Springfield, Coonan, Glock

Subscribers Only — For more than a year, we have been testing and evaluating some of the most powerful and interesting self-loading handgun cartridges. These are the ubiquitous 9mm Luger, which we think has become the baseline against which all other handgun chamberings can be compared, and the far-less-common but still commercially viable 38 Super, 357 SIG, and 357 Magnum, the last of which is chambered in a Coonan handgun. The evaluation was the result of a reader request, and three of which, the 9mm, 38 Super, and 357 SIG, sometimes use the same bullets, but at different velocities. We began with a number of goals. First, as always, reliability has to be foremost because the handguns were competing as personal-defense choices. We also viewed them as outdoors-carry choices for defense against feral dogs and big cats. We wanted to see how efficiently each cartridge delivered its power, with the idea that the 9mm set the floor. Increased flash, blast, and recoil may be counterproductive in the others, and as it turned out, we got more horsepower with less recoil than expected. The energy difference wasn’t incremental; it was profound. We didn’t choose average 9mm or 38 Super loads, but instead picked those loads that had given good results in the past. Only the top performers in 9mm and 38 Super are in this report. With the 357 SIG and 357 Magnum, we were on new ground and chose a representative sample of bullet weights. The 357 SIG and 357 Magnum enjoy an excellent reputation for terminal ballistics. The 9mm, less so, and based on previous data, we expected the 38 Super to be as effective or more than a 9mm Luger +P+ load. The primary consideration was personal defense, so control was important. The larger guns may not be ideal for concealed carry, but would be good handguns for field use or home defense. For those wishing to deploy a handgun with plenty of power and accuracy, the 357-caliber self-loaders are easier to control than Magnum revolvers. The self-loaders demonstrate less recoil due to the smaller charge of faster-burning powder and the movement of the action and compression of springs as the handgun is fired. So how would they compare to the revolver? As it turned out, these modern powerhouses outclass the 357 Magnum revolver, in our opinion, on many levels. We collected a good supply of ammunition, five loads for each gun versus our usual three. We chose three powerful hollowpoint loads for accuracy testing, as is SOP for Gun Tests. We added a fourth load for ballistic testing to test penetration and expansion. We added an economical practice load for use in the combat-firing test phase. So, this was a thorough test requiring several months. We elected not to go lighter than 115-grain bullets in any chambering. The 357 SIG, 38 Super, and 9mm Luger are usually loaded with bullets in the range of 115 to 147 grains. We fired 125-, 140-, and 158-grain bullets in the 357 Magnum Coonan. Here are the results.   More...

Bolt-Action Hunting Rifles for Compact and Youth Shooters

Not every shooter averages 6 feet in height. Some people are physically closer to tank drivers than football defensive ends. With children and the increasing number of women participating in the shooting sports and in the hunting fields, there is growing need for rifles for more compact shooters. Therefore, we tested three compact centerfire hunting rifles in three short-action chamberings: the Browning A-Bolt Micro Hunter in 7mm-08 Remington, the CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62x39mm, and the Savage Axis II Compact in 243 Winchester. As usual, we shot each rifle with three different kinds of ammunition. After sight in and chronograph testing with the Magnetospeed V3 chronograph, we shot five 5-round groups with each kind of ammunition from the bench using a Caldwell FireControl rest. Our shooting panel was a little differently configured than usual. Along with some of the usual testers, we had a youth group ranging from 8 to 17 years of age participating. You can imagine our fun with this enthusiastic group of testers! We also included some experienced women shooters. These two groups provided useful and sometimes surprising input. As two very different types of shooters tested this rifle, we will provide two sets of recommendations to reflect the different needs and experience of each type of shooter. Let’s see if one of these rifles belongs in your gun safe.   More...

New Shotguns for 2018

Subscribers Only — Gun Tests reporters and editors on the scene at SHOT Show 2018 in Las Vegas scoured the show for new rifle, pistol, shotgun, and accessory entries for our readers to consider this year. Here’s a rundown on quite a few just-introduced scattergun choices for 2018, some of which we’ll be looking at for further examination later this year.   More...

Non-1911 Magazines: We Test A Passel of Them Head to Head

You can never have enough magazines. Modern pistol shooters practice hard; compete in IDPA, IPSC, and Three Gun matches. They need reliable equipment. Personal-defense shooters need reliable, functional magazines at a fair price. In this installment, we are testing magazines for fit, function, reliability and durability. In common with recoil, striker, and hammer springs, magazines should be replaced from time to time. While new springs may help magazines retain some function, there is a time when cracked or bent feed lips demand the magazine be discarded. In this test, we followed the same criteria we used in testing 1911 magazines, except this test was more diverse in both handguns and cartridges. The handguns used in the test were proven examples, with few function exceptions. Since the firearms had long-ago proven reliable, there would be no confusion as to which part was responsible for the malfunction, the pistol or the magazine. We also used good-quality ammunition to test the magazines. In each case, we used at least two magazines of each type to bang on. Using proven criteria and a team of experienced raters, we learned some magazines were durable and service grade; that is, we would be comfortable putting them into “service” in critical situations. We also learned others were okay for range use, but not critical use. In all of these cases, we recommend spending a little more for service-grade magazines across the board for all uses. We don’t think it’s advisable to mix low performers with high performers in this critical area of function.   More...