Firing Line

Speedloader Enthusiasm

June 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

Readers have had a lot of challenges finding good wheelgun reloading devices. We were happy to help. Also, Reader Gail wonders about the 6.5 PRC, but not so much that a change is in the cards.

Enthusiasm for Pistol Carbines

June 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

I have a Canadian Non-Restricted version of the 9mm Beretta CX4. Barrel Length ~19.5 inches. The Restricted version here is ~16.5 inches. I did not see any mention in the review about needing “No Tools” to field-strip the rifle. When field-stripped, the two main parts are about the same size as the Ruger when taken down. In Canada, the Restricted version comes with a plastic gun case and no front rails, and the Non-Restricted version comes with the front rails and no hard case. The Non-Restricted version is too long to fit into the plastic case. With my big hands, I don’t have an issue with the mag release. I bought the CX4 because I already own a Beretta 92A1, and they use the same magazine.

Holster Help for the EZ380

May 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

Now once again, this holster is NOT actually designed for the EZ380, but it works great, and is real comfortable to wear. No issues with the holster catching on the mag release. Now, since I really only have one pair of jeans for IWB carry, I still wanted an OWB holster. For this I tried a different local gunshop, closer to home, and they let me try a few “universal” holsters off the shelf. The one they suggested fit the gun okay, but like you, when I pulled the EZ out of the holster, just with my hands, the magazine came flying out! So back on the shelf that model went.

Shockwaves Create Waves

April 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

Just finished your article on sub-gauge pumpguns. I have a Mossberg Shockwave in .410 bore and really enjoyed your article. One thing that I have done with mine is to install a blue laser. Mounted on the top of the receiver, it puts the push button directly forward of the safety. Group size with slugs is easily contained in a coffee cup during from-the-hip shooting. Thanks again for your great articles.

R1 Enhanced, Old and New

March 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

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.

Praise for ‘Penetrating’ Test

February 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

I really appreciate the heavy 9mm loads article. I don’t have the time or resources to buy and test a bunch of loads, even though I am very interested in selecting a load for my 9mm that fits my needs. You guys did all the work for me! I trust your opinions and appreciate your straightforward approach to testing and review. I now have a few options that I can try to see if they work for me personally. Case in point, I recently went on a hiking trip with my 12-year-old son in cougar, bear, and, unfortunately, now wolf country. I had to choose between a high-capacity 9mm and a 5-round 357 Magnum. I went with the magnum for better penetration potential. But after reading your article, I am definitely going to pick up some Buffalo Bore Outdoorsman Hard Cast Lead Flat Nose cartridges and see if I can get the best of both worlds. Thanks for the great magazine and keep up the good work!

Lever-Action Fans Comment

January 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine

I enjoyed your review of the 1873 from Uberti. I agree that the rubber recoil pad is distracting and probably unnecessary. I prefer a traditional brass or steel buttplate, but with checkering or texture. On my 1892, I added a leather pad for texture, but only because I couldn’t figure out how to checker it appropriately. If I were doing it again, I think I would use pin punches and stipple it. Keep up the good work and unbiased reviews.

38 Special Problem in 357 Mags

December 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

I enjoyed the article on 38 Special lever-action rifles, but I think you missed a very important warning. The 38 Special and 357 Magnum are not interchangeable, for reasons other than the strength of the action. I have a Marlin lever action in 357 caliber. I decided to sight it in with 38 Special rounds and then change to 357 and adjust the sights. After about 20 or 30 rounds of 38 Special, I switched to 357. When I tried to rack in the second round, it wouldn’t seat. The problem was that the 38 Special rounds carboned up the chamber, and when the 357 round was extracted, only about half of the cartridge came out. I had to have a gunsmith remove the front half of the casing. I only shoot 357 rounds in my rifle and revolver since then. I have never seen this in any article which discusses using 38 Special ammo in a 357 chamber.

What About the Ithaca Pump?

November 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

I received my copy and enjoyed the article. I was curious as to why you did not include the Ithaca Model 37 Defender? I have seen your past report for this gun. Your people evaluating the shotgun gave the Ithaca the very top choice. Yes, I know it’s more expensive - but the walnut stock, walnut corncob forend, the best trigger, and old-fashioned high quality build, when added to the home defense purpose, made it my choice.

Two Thumbs Up for EZ, 911

September 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Jackpot! You reviewed and gave an “A” grade to two guns that I am very interested in. First is the S&W M&P 380 Shield EZ. I am an NRA instructor and we are constantly faced with the problem of recommending a semi-auto gun for women and older students who have trouble loading the magazine, racking the slide, and handling recoil. I have felt that the S&W Shield EZ would be perfect for them, but haven’t had a chance to fire one. Your review solves that — I now feel that I can recommend it with confidence.

Reloading Advice from Veterans

September 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

I want to thank you for publishing the article on automatic powder dispensers. Although I think you may catch some flack for those who think Gun Tests should just test guns, and maybe ammo, I find that articles such as these are very helpful and informative for those of us who pursue reloading, gunsmithing or other peripheral “hobbies.”

Rifles Not Ready for 50 States

August 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

Please consider the following. The issue of gun control, regardless of degree, is a cultural issue — not a national safety issue. When the Constitution was written, less than 15% of our population lived in urban areas. Today, approximately 80% of our population is urban. However, cities account for only about 5% of the geographical landmass of this country. We now have two opposing gun cultures in this country — with urbans believing guns are only for killing people and rurals viewing them as tools, much as a rod and reel are for fishing.

The Price of Handgun Accuracy: How Much to Pay for 3/4s of an Inch?

August 2018 - Special Reports

Another handgun magazine recently ran an article praising the 25-yard accuracy of a 9mm 1911 Ed Brown CCO pistol ($3,585). It shot 2-inch groups using high performance ammo. Curious about how my used S&W 9mm Shield V1 ($269) with a drop-in stainless-steel barrel ($170) would do, I staged my own comparison test. Using SIG Sauer Elite Performance JHP 124-grain ammo, my Shield shot a 2.75-inch group from the rest. The question I have for you and your readers is this: Is the extra 0.75 inch in accuracy at 25 yards worth the additional $3146?

More On Self-Defense Insurance

July 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

Mr. Woodard: Thank you for the surprising but timely article on self-defense insurance. As a former insurance professional, I was aware of the “hidden” differences in insurance policies of all kinds, but I was unaware of many of the differences in types of self-defense insurance for gun-toters like myself — particularly regarding bail bonds. What a great and timely article for your readers who believe in concealed carry/home defense!

Reader Renounces Ranch Rifle

June 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

I was greatly surprised by the positive review that you gave the Ruger rifle. My example would not dependably feed from the magazine, was awkward to single load, frequently failed to fire Remington factory ammunition, and arrived with a stock so warped the barrel was not free floating. When I called Ruger, they read a prepared script, which among other things advised against the use of Remington or Barnes Ammunition. I then sent the rifle back to Ruger. They returned it to me unchanged, although they did include two additional magazines. Unfortunately, the new magazines were no better than the original, and none of the problems addressed. Disappointed, I traded the Ruger for a CZ 527 in 300 BLK. I note that Ruger is now producing a version of this rifle employing AR magazines.

Bad Luck with Ammunition

May 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

Hey Gun Tests, just finished reading the April issue. Another great issue. One thing I wanted to point out was the affordable ammo tests. I personally love those kinds of tests. It also shows me that I am in the minority on the Remington Thunderbolt 22 LR ammo. I’ve bought a few boxes of that stuff throughout the years and it hasn’t performed that well in any of my 22s. I’m the customer that gets the boxes with the duds in them. Or the bullets that do not cycle the gun at all. CCI Blazer is my affordable 22 ammo of choice. Shoots quite well in my rimfires. I also loved the home-defense section, too. Keep that kind of test coming as well. Thanks for making the best firearms magazine out there.

How About More 44 Specials?

April 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

Reader Andrew complained about the “apples to oranges” comparison of the GP-100 44 Special to two 44 Magnums. I have to agree. As a long-time fan of the 44 special (I prefer large holes), I would prefer to see a comparison of carry-worthy, relatively short-barreled 44 specials from Ruger, Taurus, Charter Arms, S&W or any other manufacturers still providing us with revolvers in this great caliber. While you have done comparisons in the past, I would like to see an updated and comprehensive comparison of 44 specials with cylinders dedicated to the caliber, and not including short-barreled 44 mags.

Touting a Blackhawk Holster

March 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

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.

‘Championing’ a Ruger GP100

February 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

I just read your review of the Ruger GP100 Match Champion compared to the Smith 686. I know the review is three years old, but I hope my experience will be useful to other readers. I dithered over purchasing the 686 or the GP100 for months. I dry-fired every one I could find of each. Every single 686 in single action had a nearly perfect trigger pull off the shelf. The GP100s ranged from as good as the 686 to almost as good.

Hurrah for Slide-Racking Effort!

January 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

Todd, thank you very much for starting to include the slide-racking forces on your pistol tests. As I age, I am starting to develop arthritis in my thumbs and find that it is becoming hard or impossible to rack the slides on some pistols. For example, I have no problem racking the slide on my 1911, CZ 75, TCP, and Buckmark; but I could not comfortably rack the slide on my buddy’s SIG. I still enjoy shooting pistols and hope to be able to do it for a few years before I have to switch to revolvers. Slide-racking force will definitely be one of my considerations when I consider purchasing pistols in the future. Keep up the good work!

We Wouldn't Buy Ruger or Howa Precision Rifles

December 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

When a firearm leaves the factory in a condition that precludes the buyer from using it as designed, that firearm deserves an “F.” I believe it is acceptable to point out whether the problem is severe or an easy fix. However, the evaluation needs to stress that the firearm should have never left the factory in the condition tested. Personally, regardless of the grades given, I would not buy the Ruger or the Howa. Keep up the good work.

A Special Revolver for 45 LC?

November 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

Editor: I read with interest your article about .410-bore ammo tests. Your pictures clearly show that the 45 Colt expands far better than the 45 ACP! The gun manufacturers are asleep. They should make a 45 Long Colt revolver with 4-,6-, and 8-inch barrels. Bet this would rival the 357 Magnum in knockdown power without the recoil!

Grading the Grades, Part II

October 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

Dear Todd: I sincerely hope you don’t change the grading scale to what is effectively pass/fail. Larry brings up an interesting point that would provide one way of comparing future evaluations, although comparing future with present and past scales could be unduly confusing. Personally, I thought the old scale was just fine, though I have adjusted to the new one.

Grading the Gun Grades

September 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

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.

Getting Brighter on Fiber Optics

August 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

In the technical module about the Dan Wesson Bruin Bronze 1881 10mm pistol, there is the statement, “The Dan Wesson front sight uses a fiber optic to charge up a tritium dot.” While it is true that some “glow in the dark” items collect light energy when illuminated and then glow in the dark for a while, that has nothing to do with how tritium sights work. The tritium sights glow because tritium gas (the radioactive isotope of hydrogen) is sealed in a small, gas-tight hollow glass bead, along with a substance that glows when struck by the radioactive particles given off by the tritium. The bead is not “charged up” by light; it continues glowing as long as the radioactivity lasts, regardless of outside conditions. I’m not sure what the fiber-optic element in the sight does, but is not there to keep the tritium sight charged. The article was quite good otherwise, although I doubt any article would get me to buy a 10mm pistol.

10mms: How About the P220?

July 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

Neat comparison of 10mms; kinda hoping you’d toss the SIG P220 in 10mm into the mix. I thought your comments on the Kimber TLE II grips were interesting. I haven’t shot that model, but I own a Kimber Custom Eclipse II in 10mm and have no such issue with my grips when firing up to 100 rounds in a session. For those who would like the edges less raspy, I use blue buffing on a buffing wheel mounted in my drill press to polish out G10 revolver and knife grips. It’s not too aggressive, and you could take a little edge off without substantially changing the grip’s appearance. Clean up with a little denatured alcohol and a toothbrush and you’re ready for the range.

22-Caliber Handgun Shoot-Out: Smith, TacSol, Beretta, Colt

June 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

In this installment, we are looking at some of the best 22-caliber pistols for all-around target shooting and training for marksmanship and personal-defense practice, with an emphasis on viability for personal-defense training. Some handguns are just fine for general plinking, but the modern shooter demands the ability to train with combat lights or even a red-dot sight. All 22s do not allow this type of versatility. Let’s look at four 22-caliber handguns and see how they stack up as modern trainers.

The 22 self-loading handgun is a great firearm that every handgunner should own at least one of. The 22 is a great trainer, and it is also a good small-game handgun, and it is even useful in some forms of competition. The absence of recoil and muzzle report compared to centerfire handguns is often touted, but recoil and muzzle blast are there, simply in easily manageable portions. The shooter is free to concentrate on trigger press, sight picture, sight alignment, and grip. Practice in offhand fire, combat practice, firing for extreme accuracy from a solid rest, clearing malfunctions and hunting game are just some of the practice that may be accomplished with the 22 pistol. For small-game hunting, excellent accuracy is demanded. For combat practice—and this is an important point—the handgun should be similar to the centerfire defense gun in accuracy. In that manner, the shooter isn’t given a false sense of security by a 22 that is much more accurate than the 9mm or 45 they use for personal defense. When practicing with the 22, the serious shooter should use the same grip and trigger press that he or she uses when mastering the 9mm or 45. Using a lighter grip or shooting fast just because the 22 is so controllable doesn’t cross over into personal defense skills; it is simply shooting for fun.

We collected two 22-caliber handguns and two 22-caliber conversion units for comparison. One of the handguns is a new model and the other, a relatively new and often overlooked pistol. The firearms tested included the Smith & Wesson Victory 22, Beretta Neos 22, Tactical Solutions’ Glock conversion unit, and a Colt 22 Ace conversion unit.

9mms: Just in the Nick of Time

June 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

Great article! I really liked the comparison of three 10mm pistols with different philosophies at work: a 1911, a striker-fired Glock, and a SIG. One thing that I don’t understand after reading the comments and the article is how an evaluator in a consumer magazine wouldn’t consider factors like price. It seems like testers were dissatisfied with the SIG’s rating. Some justification for the B grade might be the lower capacity, high bore axis, higher weight, and how the price is more than double that of other competitors with comparably performing pistols.

Browning’s Sweet Sixteen: Still Sweet After All These Years?

May 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

The popularity of the 16-gauge shotgun, in particular the Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen, has never waned among those select shooters with a streak of nostalgia in their genetic makeup. A common refrain of, “I’ve still got my granddad’s old 16 — best bird gun ever made,” is often heard whenever veteran shooters gather to share tales of old or create new memories of quality time in the outdoors.

Responding to a reader’s request, we decided to give the recently unveiled Browning A5 Sweet Sixteen that premiered at the 2016 SHOT Show a closer look to see what motivates the 16 gauge’s small, but very loyal, fan base. The new semiautomatic is built with a smaller, lighter receiver than the old-style Humpback and utilizes a different recoil system than the long-recoil creation of legendary firearms genius John M. Browning, so only time will tell if it has the lasting power of its predecessors.

The Light Twelve was added to the mix for a couple of reasons. First, the older Sweet Sixteen is built on the same-sized frame as the 12 gauge. Also, we wanted to see if the 16 gauge lives up to its reputation as a more sporting shooting tool. And, of course, 12-gauge ammunition is much more available than 16-gauge shotshells, and if the potential wingshooter is in the market for one of these Humpbacks, how much will nostalgia and pride of ownership of a “Sweet Sixteen” override the economics of shooting the bigger gauge, assuming similar performance?

Three More 10mm Autos: Kimber, Dan Wesson, Tanfoglio

May 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Last year we tested three 10mm Auto pistols and found there was a lot of interest in these big-bore handguns, so we decided to return to these powerful handguns for another look. Our most recent crop of 10mms includes two 1911 platforms and one based on the CZ 75 platform. The Kimber Custom TLE II and the Dan Wesson Bruin Bronze share the 1911 platform, while the Tanfoglio Witness is based on the CZ 75 design. We liked all three of these pistols and found that all three could serve multiple duties from hunting to self-defense. Since the 10mm has the power of a 41 Magnum, we feel it is a bit much for everyday carry. If we ever were in a shooting incident, it’s possible the overpenetration of the 10mm could be a liability. But in a self-defense situation where you are facing an angry bear in the back country, we think the 10mm Auto makes perfect sense. Also, as a hunting round, the 10mm offers a lot of power and is well suited for game like deer and pigs at short distances. We’d even use it in a tree stand to take black bears visiting a bait.

All three pistols ran exceptionally well with no malfunctions or jams, and we found they were accurate. Two-inch five-shot groups at 25 yards were the norm. For ammunition, we used SIG Sauer V-Crown Ammunition loaded with an 180-grain JHP bullet. The SIG ammo was loaded to velocities that 10mm Auto was designed for.

The other two loads were Federal American Eagle and Armscor USA labels, both using 180-grain FMJs. These two rounds weren’t as hot as the SIG load, as the table data reveal. The SIG ammo factory data shows a muzzle velocity of 1250 fps; we got very close to that muzzle velocity from the Kimber and Dan Wesson. The Tanfoglio produced less velocity. The Federal and Armscor ammo is factory-speed stamped at 1030 fps and 1008 fps, respectively. With the three pistols, we saw higher muzzle velocities than the factory figures.

For accuracy testing, we used a rest and open sights, firing at targets placed 25 yards downrange. For our speed stage, we fired at 10 yards. A fast and accurate follow-up shot was faster with the Bruin and Witness, which we will get into shortly. Remember that a 10mm Auto is not a learner’s pistol or for those who are sensitive to recoil. In our opinion, the Bruins and the Witness helped us manage recoil the best. Shooting this trio side by side at the range, we learned a lot about them. Here’s the skinny on all three.