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NICS Gets Attention, Good and Bad

January 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine

The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has been getting a lot of attention recently. If you’ll recall, a court-martialed Air Force veteran purchased a rifle illegally and used it to kill 25 people inside a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church on Nov. 5. Turns out that the Air Force had not provided the FBI with details of the court martial. The Air Force also missed the shooter’s initial arrest on domestic-abuse charges and his 2012 escape from a New Mexico behavioral health facility. Had NICS been properly updated, it’s likely the system would have blocked the sale of the murder weapon to the shooter.

10 Things Gun Owners Get Wrong About Their Self-Defense Rights

November 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

For six years, I was an attorney for a national firearms legal-defense program. I represented gun owners who acted in self-defense and traveled the country speaking on firearms issues. I’ve taken countless questions regarding a person’s legal right to self-defense. Over the years, I started to see a pattern — people have the same questions. From your brand-new gun owner to the seasoned carrier, the questions and misconceptions were the same. I’ve heard it all, and nothing catches me off-guard, so I’ve drawn on these experiences to put together the top 10 misconceptions gun owners have when it comes to their self-defense rights.

After Las Vegas

November 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine

The first dreadful pieces of news coming out of Las Vegas on Sunday, October 1, coalesced into yawning horror that would grip a nation and sadden our world. Fifty-nine people were dead and hundreds injured at the hands of a lone sniper, who had secreted more than 20 rifles and handguns on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. From that perch, the shooter had uninterrupted views of the Las Vegas Strip and the Route 91 Harvest Festival, a three-day country music concert, that kicked off at the Las Vegas Village, a venue across the Strip from the Luxor hotel and the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

Snubbies, the Taurus Recall, and Trump on Guns

June 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Regarding the Taurus settlement and the problems Lou had with his pistol: On August 4, 2015 I sent Taurus my PT-111 Pro and two magazines. Their website was very poor about updating progress of the return, but by 12/16/2015 I did have a new PT-111 G2 with two mags, all new in the box. I had to pay $25 for the FFL transfer fee, but I was reimbursed by 1/15/16. I am actually quite pleased with the new gun. To get reimbursed, I faxed an itemized receipt to Taurus at (305) 624-1126. I hope this helps Lou and perhaps others.

Gun Rights Advancing

June 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine

I’m really bad about looking at the events in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Maryland, and other gun-restrictive states and getting pessimistic about the health of gun rights in the country. I was told recently that such pessimism is a sin, and though I’m not especially religious, I saw the truth in the statement. Devout folks should be optimistic as a part of their character, because they see and proclaim the Good News every day. A fellow named Rick told me that in the hot tub of the club I swim at. I’m usually resistant to being proselytized, especially when I’m not wearing pants, but we had a nice visit and parted friendly. His testimony prompted me to look around for some Good Gun News, which was remarkably easy to find and widespread.

Replacement AR-15 Triggers From Ruger, HiperFire, and Rise

June 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only

Improving the trigger in an AR-15 can make a big difference in performance of the rifle. Whereas handgun triggers are generally retained and modified, the AR-15 lends itself more easily to replacement of its trigger group, such as we did in this review. Our test triggers were two from HiperFire, the $89 HiperTouch EDT AR-15/AR-10 Enhanced Duty Trigger and the $215 HiperTouch 24E Elite, Ruger’s new Elite 452 AR Trigger 90461, $159, and the $259 Rise RA-535 Advanced Performance Trigger.

Our test-bed AR-15 was the Bushmaster “preban” XM-15 carbine previously tested in the August 2003 issue of Gun Tests. The XM-15 featured a 1:9 twist 16-inch-long barrel chambered for 5.56mm ammunition. While its trigger continued to be extremely consistent, the pull weight measured at a full 8.5 pounds with little or no take up and a hard break. In terms of function, there was nothing really to complain about other than it being inordinately heavy, a characteristic we were looking to change. For optics we retained the Sightron S33-4R 1X-magnification red-dot scope that had been in place since about 2005. With four different illuminated reticles to choose from, we picked the single-dot reticle with a size of 2 minutes of angle at 50 yards.

We considered both ease of installation as well as performance in our judging standards. The Rise Armament trigger was a sealed drop-in module, but the other triggers required assembly. By working with both a neophyte builder and an experienced gunsmith, we were able to gain valuable insight on the process. Matt Suddeth of Katy, Texas — a brilliant knife maker with a reputation for exacting rifle work — advised us on aspects of the installation. Once the triggers were configured properly, we measured their pull weights 10 times immediately following installation then 10 more times after our range tests with a Brownells Recording Pull Gauge (174-025-250WB, $125).

Our first test was to make sure the safety remained fully functional. All four triggers passed this test. Then we tried an impact test with the selector in the fire position. With the gun empty, safety off, this consisted of crouching down so that our head was below the line of the muzzle and slamming the buttstock against a concrete floor three times. We wanted to see if we could get the trigger to release the hammer by means other than pulling the trigger. None of the units failed this test. In addition, none of the triggers exhibited common flaws such as creep, grittiness, or dead spots.

Live-fire tests were performed in two segments, each fired offhand (standing unsupported) from the 50-yard line at American Shooting Centers in Houston, Texas. The targets we chose were proprietary to the range, displaying a white 3.9-inch 10-point center containing a 2-inch-diameter X-ring. The 9-point ring consisted of an orange circle, producing an overall diameter of 8 inches. Segment one was a practice session consisting of 50 rounds performed with budget ammunition, American Eagle 5.56x45 55-grain FMJ XM193BLC100, sold in 100-round packaging. During this period, we experimented with different ways the shooter could work the trigger. We fired using the slowest, most controlled press, we could muster. We also moved the trigger fast. We shot strings of fire holding the trigger fully rearward after ignition and then practiced a slow release until the mechanism reset and fired again. We did this as rapidly as we could as well as with measured precision.

After a timed 3-minute rest period, segment two was fired for shots of record using premium ammunition. Limited to ten shots standing unsupported, we chose Black Hills 5.56mm 69-grain OTM (open tip match, featuring the Sierra Match King BTHP bullet). Did any of these triggers make our test gun easier to shoot accurately? Here’s what we found out: