April 2018 - Gun Tests Magazine
Why are there so many snubnose revolvers being manufactured? There is no sign that big-bore snubnose revolvers are going away any time soon, especially with manufacturers introducing new snubnoses. Snubnose wheelguns have been and are still excellent choices for self-defense sidearms. Easy to use, no magazine to lose, and chambered in powerful calibers, revolvers are here to stay. So we took a look at four new snubnose revolvers: the Charter Arms Boomer, Ruger’s LCRx, the Kimber K6s CDP, and the Colt Cobra. These snubnose revolvers all proved to be reliable, safe, consistent, and accurate for self defense. What we experienced with these revolvers was a variety of grip sizes, some of which our testers said were too small for comfortable shooting or they were too big for ideal concealed carry.
The sights on three guns were very serviceable, while one didn’t have sights at all. The triggers separated the pack, as did the chamberings. Two used a double-action-to-single-action trigger and two featured a double-action-only (DAO) trigger. A revolver chambered in 357 Magnum offers convenience because it can shoot 38 Special ammo, too. After tallying the scores, in our opinion the Ruger LCRx is a good choice for concealed carry, though we would tweak it. The Charter Arms Boomer, Kimber K6s, and Colt Cobra are all pretty good choices, but as you will see, the devil is in the details on those three.
We tested at 10 yards because these snubnose revolvers are made for concealed carry and short-range encounters. But we learned 10 yards was too far if you don’t have sights, so we accuracy tested the Charter Arms Boomer at 7 yards. Not having sights is a liability as the distance between you and a bad actor increases. Though we typically test at 25 yards, FBI data shows that most gunfights between an officer and an attacker occur from a distance of 0 to 5 feet apart. We concealed-carry citizens can expect the same. The reality is these revolvers are made for up-close work. Short sight radii, smallish grips, and DA triggers do not make for tack-driving accuracy.
We also carried these revolvers in inside-the-waistband (IWB) and appendix-carry-style holsters. We took the time to practice our draw and dry-fire these revolvers at an imagined bad actor a few steps away. On the range, we tested for accuracy using a rest. The DA/SA trigger mode on the LCRx and Colt provided an edge over the DAO models. We also tested a variety of ammunition, and the K6s and LCRx proved to be more practical and versatile because they can fire both 38 Special and 357 Magnum cartridges. Here’s what we thought about each handgun in more detail.
December 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, and Ralph Winingham have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine’s testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year’s worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.
September 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
Most gun owners want firearms they can shoot and have fun with, even their life-and-death carry guns. Some of us also want the unusual because we like a walk on the wild side, irrespective of whether it has any use beyond messing around with or plinking. In this Special Report, we take a look at three wheelguns for which there are little or no match ups to find, so head-to-head testing isn’t possible. But even without something to shoot beside them, we can learn plenty about whether some unique, or nearly unique, handguns are worth the time and trouble to find and add to your collection as a real, firing item.
Herewith then, we look at the Nagant M1895 7.62x38mmR, the Smith & Wesson Model 929 9mm Luger, and the Chiappa Buntline 22 LR.
July 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
The argument for a .410-chambered handgun is moot if ammunition performance isn’t credible, so we tested the loads used in evaluating the three .410s, two handguns and a shotgun, using water, our standard ballistic material. For consistency, we used the same ballistic testing for the two revolvers and the pistol-grip shotgun that we have developed in testing all defensive ammunition. We tested four shotgun loads and two personal-defense handgun loads. The 45 Colt loading was fired in the Judge and the Governor, while the 45 ACP loading was tested only in the Smith & Wesson Governor because the Judge isn’t chambered for 45 ACP. In the end, the difference in performance was stark. We cannot recommend birdshot for personal defense. The buckshot and PDX loads are interesting and have some merit. The slug is speedy but very light in weight for personal defense. The 45 Colt is a heavyweight with good performance, while the 45 ACP load was below what we expected in velocity compared to a full-size 5-inch-barrel 1911 handgun.
Since the .410-bore handgun is often chosen for personal defense in the home based on a perceived lack of penetration, we conducted a modest test of penetration in the home. One of the raters spends his money on guns, but he recently replaced an aging door in his home. Not wasting anything, we subjected the hollow door to fire from the Remington birdshot load, the Winchester PDX, Winchester slugs, and Federal buckshot. The results (no table needed) were that all the loads penetrated. We were surprised that the birdshot penetrated both sides of the door, but it did. Every pellet exited. The Federal buckshot made clean holes, and so did the slug. The Winchester PDX penetrated fully, but the discs, in some cases, were found on the ground 4 to 5 feet behind the door, indicating they lost a lot of energy. If you wish to limit penetration among the A- and B-rated defense loads, the Winchester, with its lighter payload, seems to be the choice.
It is an odd coincidence, but as we were doing research for this report, we saw a newscast of two robbers, holding a man at gunpoint, who were subsequently shot with a shotgun by another person coming in from the second floor of the dwelling. While details are sketchy, it seems birdshot was used, lightly wounding the felons who fled, were treated at a local ER, and then were arrested at the hospital. Yes, it’s anecdotal, but we thought it was worth mentioning. Here’s how the various loads performed in these handguns:
July 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
The decision of which self-defense .410 firearm is the correct choice for up-close-and-personal situations encountered in the home often comes down to a handgun in one hand or a short-barreled pump-action shotgun in the other. Because of their ease of handling, two revolvers that are capable of firing both .410 loads and handgun rounds are becoming quite popular; and pistol-grip short-barrel shotguns remain a favored option in self-defense circles. The question arises about which type of close-range firearm is the most effective with the diminutive .410 loads, including those that have recently been developed with short-barreled revolvers in mind.
Acting on a reader request, we conducted a multitude of tests on a trio of readily available self-defense firearms that included a Taurus Judge (handles .410-bore shotshells and 45 Colt) that retails for $629; a Smith & Wesson Governor (handles .410, 45 Colt, and 45 ACP) that retails for $809; and a Mossberg Model 500 Cruiser that sells for $467 and fires .410-bore shotshells.
Each of the firearms (all have been examined in previous GT reviews) is specifically designed for close-quarters action, such as when an intruder has illegally entered a residence, placing the people living in the home in a potentially life-threatening situation. In such a life-or-death scenario, a reliable, easy-to-handle, and effective self-defense tool is essential.
In this part of the GT evaluation and match-up, our focus was on the handling ability of the three firearms and their patterning performance at close-quarters ranges. We attempted to walk the fine line that divides ease of handling with putting the pattern in the right place to evaluate the two revolvers and the pump-action.
We tested the firearms on the range with targets set at two ranges used in concealed carry courses to simulate typical home-defense scenarios. The close targets were set at 9 feet (3 yards) and the second set of targets was shot at 21 feet (7 yards). Here are our findings.
November 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, Rafael Urista, Ralph Winingham, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine’s testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year’s worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.
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.
March 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine
Like Grant said in last month’s letters section, I, too, lament the passing of the pride of custom-gun ownership and the common look of the Ubiquitous Black Gun. But, as was said, black guns are cheap and proven reliable. Also, I cannot justify carrying a nice custom pistol on the off chance that I might have to use it. In that case, I would have to surrender it to the police, and then it would be months at a minimum to maybe get it back by jumping through their hoops.
Yes, I would rather carry a “Rolex”-quality sidearm, but I often think that if I had to give up my Valtro, I’d don’t know what I’d do.
A black gun I can give up with no emotion, and go home and get another one. I always enjoy the magazine, from the editorial remarks to the last page. — Dave
February 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
In last month’s Firing Line, reader Winslow asks for advice on a 357 magnum lightweight snubnose revolver for a 75-year-old female cousin. I would appreciate a little help. I’m wondering why these two diametrically opposed 308s were chosen to oppose one another. While I am not in one of the affected states, I am from Vermont, and we do not require a permit for CC, and no state recognizes our not needing a permit! Whatever happened to the personal pride everyone took in their ownership of not only a working tool, but also a masterpiece of design and artwork?
I have read recent Gun Tests articles on various AR rifles, so I recently built an AR with a folding stock. I was attracted to this option because I drive a sports car, and even with a collapsible stock and 16-inch barrel, an AR will not fit in the trunk. The folding stock adapter I chose was one made by Law Tactical (LawTactical.com). It was easy to install, works fine to fold the stock, and adds just a little bit of fiddling when I have to separate the upper and lower. But it is very expensive and adds no additional operating functionality to the firearm, since it should never be fired with the stock folded. Anyway, I have not seen many options for folding stocks on an AR platform, and thought that a review of adapters for them might be in order.
February 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. has announced a new line of full-size duty pistols, new chamberings for its GP100 revolvers, new barrels for its 10/22 Takedowns, and new colors for its Lite rimfire pistols. Also, the company has added a Takedown rifle to its SR-556 line. The Ruger American Pistol will be available in 9mm Luger and .45 Auto. The two 9mms are Model Nos. 8605 (17+1) and 8607 (10+1) and the 45 is Model No. 8615, and all will list for $579 MSRP.
The Ruger American Pistol is built on a one-piece precision-machined stainless-steel chassis with integral frame rails and fire control housing. It has a black nitrided finish, Novak LoMount Carry three-dot sights, a stainless steel slide with non-reflective black-nitride finish, and a one-piece glass-filled nylon grip frame. The front accepts accessories on a mil-standard 1913 rail.
“The Ruger American Pistol is the most advanced semi-auto pistol we have ever produced,” noted Ruger CEO Mike Fifer.
The 9mm weighs in at 30 ounces with a 4.2-inch barrel and the .45 weighs in at 31.5 ounces with a 4.5-inch barrel. Both ship in a hard case with replaceable grip modules and two, nickel-Teflon plated steel magazines. Capacities are 17 rounds for 9mm and 10 rounds for .45 Auto. 10-round magazines are also available for the 9mm for those states which restrict round counts.
CEO Fifer said that Ruger polled law enforcement and military trainers throughout the country to determine the form, function, and features of this firearm. The new pistol combines a recoil-reducing barrel cam to spread recoil over time, a low-mass slide, low center of gravity and a low bore axis to provide better balance, less felt recoil and less muzzle flip.
February 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
I’m a long-time customer and would like to get three or more comparisons of 357 Magnum lightweight snub-nose revolvers. The index shows the captioned rifle being reviewed in November. When I go online for past reviews, I only find a 2007 review, and it was not from November, as stated in magazine. The Blackhawk GripBreak 421903BK holster seems like just the ticket for this coming year for those of us who are predisposed to reject Kydex and plastic holsters for reasons of them being ugly and inelegant. Problem is, no one has the GripBreaks. Check your Schmidt-Rubin for a possible Christmas present. Remove the buttplate and see if there is anything under it. Many original owners wrote a personal note or ID and hid it under the plate. - Winslow
February 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine
In a startling move, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring announced on December 22 that Virginia will sever concealed handgun permit (CHP) reciprocity ties with 25 of 30 states. This will affect hundreds, maybe thousands, of Gun Tests readers who reside in Tennessee and other states bordering the Commonwealth, and perhaps millions of people nationwide.
Effective Feb. 1, 2016, — about the time this issue arrives in your mailbox —Virginia will no longer honor carry permits from the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. The following permits will continue to be recognized: West Virginia, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah. The move also means several states will no longer recognize Virginia’s concealed-carry permits because they require mutual recognition of permits. Those include Florida, Louisiana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wyoming.
Speaking about this audit and update, Attorney General Herring said, “Virginia, and nearly every other state in the country, have recognized that carrying a concealed handgun is a significant responsibility that should be extended only to those who have gone through a process to prove a level of competency and responsibility.”
“The standards for proving competency and responsibility are up to each state,” Herring said, “and the General Assembly has established Virginia’s standards for whom it considers capable of safely carrying a concealed handgun. Those standards should be applied evenly, consistently, and fairly to anyone who wants to lawfully conceal a handgun in Virginia.”
November 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
Toward the end of each year, I survey the work R.K. Campbell, Roger Eckstine, Austin Miller, Ray Ordorica, Robert Sadowski, David Tannahill, Tracey Taylor, John Taylor, Rafael Urista, Ralph Winingham, and Kevin Winkle have done in Gun Tests, with an eye toward selecting guns, accessories, and ammunition the magazine’s testers have endorsed. From these evaluations I pick the best from a full year’s worth of tests and distill recommendations for readers, who often use them as shopping guides. These choices are a mixture of our original tests and other information I’ve compiled during the year. After we roll high-rated test products into long-term testing, I keep tabs on how those guns do, and if the firearms and accessories continue performing well, then I have confidence including them in this wrap-up.— Todd Woodard