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.
October 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
Pistol-arm braces for AR and AK pistols have been one of the more controversial issues in the shooting industry and public for the past few years. The ATF flipped-flopped its stance on what an arm brace is and what is does when it is attached to a pistol, confusing not only manufacturers but shooters as well. Is a brace legal to attach to a pistol? Can they legally be placed against the shoulder to shoot the pistol or does that make the weapon an SBR (Short Barreled Rifle)? Also confusing was the recent introduction of short-barrel shotguns that look like a Class 3/NFA firearm.
We decided to take a closer look at the ATF’s definitions of these exotic firearms and chose the Century Arms RAS47 AK Pistol and Mossberg Shockwave shotgun to see what the current status of these hybrids is. We also know that exotic does not necessarily mean practical, so we tested these guns for home-defense use. We naturally acquired an arm brace for the RAS47 and decided to throw in a 75-round drum magazine. Why? Because we can and it is legal in the state we tested the guns. With the Shockwave, we wanted to better understand why it does not need a special stamp to purchase it. Doesn’t a shotgun need an 18-inch barrel to be legal?
Please note that we are looking at these firearms from the federal/national level. We cannot provide legal advice nor do we profess to have the last word on the legal status of these firearms. Our intent is to understand current ATF statues so we can follow the law to the letter. Where you live—the state, county or city—may have specific laws pertaining to these firearms. It would be wise to check with your state police on the status of the Shockwave and an AR/AK pistol in your local area. Where we tested the Shockwave and the RAS47 pistol in North Carolina, both were transferred over the counter without any additional paper work. As responsible shooters, we need to know our local laws and abide by them.
As an example of how state and local laws can affect ownership of the Mossberg 590 Shockwave even though it was being sold elsewhere in the country, it took passage of House Bill 1819 in the 2017 Texas legislative session to make ownership of the shotgun legal on September 1, 2017. From a company release:
“Thanks to efforts by members of the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate, House Bill (HB) 1819 passed in May 2017, the Mossberg 590 Shockwave will be legal in the state of Texas, beginning September 1, 2017. The legislation was advanced through the combined efforts of Senators Charles Perry and Craig Estes, Representatives Poncho Nevarez and Drew Springer, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA) and clarified Texas state laws concerning the purchase of suppressors and certain firearms, including the 590 Shockwave pump-action. The change in the law hits close to home for Mossberg as the company proudly manufactures the 590 Shockwave at their facility in Eagle Pass, Texas, which is also the home district for Representative Nevarez.
“All of us at Mossberg recognize that this bill would not have passed without the efforts of many,” said Joe Bartozzi, Mossberg executive vice president and general counsel. “We were proud to add our small role in the effort and are pleased to recognize the tremendous efforts of Senators Perry and Estes and Representatives Nevarez and Springer, the NRA and TRSA.”
Mossberg introduced the 590 Shockwave firearm at the 2017 SHOT Show, accompanied by a determination letter from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), defining the pump-action as a “Non-NFA Firearm.” The 590 Shockwave comes from the factory with a 14-inch barrel, Shockwave Technologies Raptor grip and overall length of 26.5 inches. Because the 590 Shockwave is not capable of being shoulder-mounted and meets the overall length requirement of 26 inches, it is defined as “firearm” under the federal Gun Control Act (GCA).
Did we rest the arm brace on our shoulder when testing? How easy was it to shoot a shotgun with a 14-inch barrel loaded with 2.75-inch shells? All hype? Any substance? We’ll start by saying this match up caused a permanent grin on some testers because the guns were fun to shoot even if they might keep someone at ATF up at night.
August 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
Not long ago a reader asked for a feature on shotgun slugs. He asked for a report on not only the usual fare found in most sporting-good shops, but also the most powerful slugs for personal defense. The standard for many years has been the 1-ounce (437.5 grain) slug at 1500 fps or so. Then the reduced-recoil slugs were introduced for police use and found much popularity among civilian shooters. Some slugs are designed to limit penetration, and there are slugs intended for use in a situation when extra penetration is needed. There are areas in which only shotguns are allowed for hunting, and it is good to have a choice among slugs for long range and large animals. We focused on slugs for home defense and animal defense. As such, there was necessarily a dual rating system, which we noted in each segment. Limited penetration is desirable in most home-defense situations. For use against bears, the greatest penetration is needed. Some of these slugs are accurate well past 50 yards, even 100 yards in a rifled slug barrel. In a proper rifled shotgun barrel, we feel that Lightfield’s claims of accuracy to 150 yards would be borne out.
These are big chunks of lead. They produce a considerable wound track whether they expand or not. We took a hard look at these slugs and found interesting performance. We also found a great deal of recoil. As an example, the strongest Lightfield slug measured a 933 power factor. We debated including PF, as it isn’t the same thing with a long gun as a handgun, but kept the figures because they are useful for comparing recoil. The heaviest slugs have nearly twice the recoil of the average full-power 30-06 rifle load. Keep this in mind. The test ended with sore shoulders, one broken nail, and quite a bit of use of penetrating ointments! Most folks will not go to the range and fire 40 full-power slugs from a riot gun in one morning. As our former police firearms instructor noted, it isn’t about putting down a lot of lead, but you can do that with the reduced-recoil slug. If you need to stop one of the big cats, a feral dog, or a bear, then you need to get on target and make every shot count. The level of energy these shotgun slug loads displayed is impressive.
During the research, we also consulted some who had faced big bears, including grizzlies. One correspondent had not shot a grizzly, but as a young man was given the task of skinning one that has been taken down by Canadian authorities. He told us that they are nothing like a moose or a brownie. The attachment of the sinew, the ligaments, he noted, simply wore out knives and cleavers. It was quite a chore. Large, aggressive animals are very dangerous and very tough. While shotgun slugs have their place against a grizzly, a 375-caliber or larger rifle might be the better choice. Just the same, these slugs gave good performance. For personal defense, the reduced-recoil loads are excellent, while the full-power loads would be effective against cougars and brown bears, not to mention the ever-dangerous feral dog and, the most dangerous, criminals. As for our choice of shotgun for testing, the pump action shotgun is used by many of us for home defense. It is the type of shotgun that would be kept in a light plane in Alaska or the back of a truck just in case. The 18-inch riot gun delivered good performance, we felt, and while the recoil of some of these loads were doubtless more than many would like to handle, the performance on target was also impressive. Velocity was less than the rated velocity of most slugs, as they are designed for use in a 24- to 28-inch barrel hunting shotgun. As one of the raters noted, both the Remington 870 shotgun and a 165-pound rater were fighting out of their weight class firing some of these slugs.
Here’s what our shooters and the water jugs said about each round.
April 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine
At the 2017 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, versatility best explains the new offerings for this year. Manufacturers are building new pursuit-driven shotguns and tweaking current offerings to provide even more niche specialization of their products. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a duck-blind gun or a behind-the-truck-seat compact scattergun, there is no lack of diversity in the shotgun category this year.
January 2017 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
Dear Mr. Woodard: First, let me compliment you on the continued publication of your fine magazine! Just read your editorial concerning the presidential election. I don’t know how many people understand how clear the correlation between Ms. Clinton’s vehement anti-2A views and her loss of what should have been a slam-dunk win. If the numbers are remotely correct, there are 80 million gun owners in America. This number presumes that most of those folks are adults and not felons; therefore, they were potential voters. Another stat says that roughly 1 out of 20 Americans have a concealed-carry permit.
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.
March 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
At the 2016 SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Gun Tests staffers ran across many dozens of new products that we’re working to include in future tests. Following are some of the rifles, rifle ammunition, shotguns, and long-gun accessories we found interesting. If there’s something in particular you want us to test, please drop me a note at GunTestsEditor@icloud.com.
Barnes Bullets has added two new loads to the VOR-TX line of premium ammunition. The first is a 130-grain Tipped Triple Shock load for the 308 Winchester. It is rated at 3,170 fps, and it takes the 308 Winchester into a new realm of velocity. SRP: $45.69 for a 20-round box. The second load is an 190-grain LRX bullet for the 300 Winchester Magnum. This bullet’s ogive and cannelure design gives it a high B.C., and the nose cavity engineering ensures it expands reliably at lower velocities. It is rated at 2,860 fps.
The Woodsman rifle is new from Bergara. This bolt-action hunting rifle weighs 7.4 pounds in long action and 7.1 pounds in short action. It has a hinged floor plate and comes with a 22- or 24-inch, No. 3 contour barrel. The stock is American walnut, and available chamberings include 6.5 Creedmoor, 7mm Rem. Mag., 308 Win., 30/06, and 300 Win. Mag.
Browning’s biggest shotgun news is that the Sweet Sixteen is back. Like its most revered predecessor, the new A5 Sweet Sixteen is built on a smaller, lighter receiver for reduced weight and a sleek feel. The A5 uses kinetic energy to power the recoil-operated Kinematic Drive System for reliable function with any load and under the full extremes of weather, temperature, moisture, or grime. The A5 16-gauge receiver is constructed of aluminum with a black anodized bi-tone finish. The stock—shim-adjustable for length of pull, cast, and drop—and forearm are gloss finish walnut with a close-radius pistol grip and sharp 18 lines-per-inch checkering. The gun uses Browning’s Invector DS choke system; three chokes will be supplied with 2 ¾-inch chambered barrels in 26- or 28-inch lengths. Weight: 5 pounds 12 ounces.
March 2016 - Gun Tests Magazine - Subscribers Only
When a firearm manufacturer with a reputation of producing high-quality, durable semiautomatics ventures into the under/over market, a lot of shooters will take notice. Such is the case with the new Benelli Model 828U that made a big splash at the January 2015 SHOT Show. The company’s first attempt at offering shooters a stack-barrel, rather than a semiautomatic, prompted our readers to call for our shotgun test team to put together a match-up of the Benelli 828U with a comparable model made by another firearm manufacturer.
The recent release of the Browning Citori Model 725 Field seemed to be perfect timing for the head-to-head competition. We pitted the Benelli 828U, retailing for $2,500, against the Browning 725, retailing for $2,470, both at the clay-target range and on the patterning board to see if the new smokepole performed as advertised against a proven product sitting in the rack beside it.
While pump-action and semiautomatic shotguns are the overwhelming favorite field guns throughout the shooting community, over/unders are the kings of clay-target shooters. Because of reasons like their better handling ability, two-choke option, and the fact that most clay target shooting is limited to taking only two shots at a time, stackbarrels reign over clays. That truism may be one of the reasons why the release of a first-ever over/under produced by veteran semiautomatic manufacturer Benelli was greeted with such fanfare. Shooters of all ages seem to be fascinated with new toys from names they know — particularly if the latest and greatest will help break a few more clays or help fill up the game bag a little quicker.
When the new Benelli Model 828U was introduced, devoted fans of Benelli semiautomatics rushed to get more information. At the same time, and with a lot less fanfare, over/under manufacturer Browning Arms introduced a field version of its popular Citori Model 725, which is the latest in the Citori Model 25 line that dates back to the 1970s. A tweak here and a tweak there have been billed as making the new Model 725 Field a top pick for clays and birds.
We should note that the version of the Benelli made available to us was a 26-inch-barrel anodized-aluminum receiver model, while the Browning provided featured 28-inch barrels and a silver nitrite receiver. We made allowances in our testing for the slightly better handling characteristics that are generally attributed to longer barrels and a heavier gun, ensuring these factors did not influence our evaluation.
The ammunition we selected for our testing on the target range and at the patterning board was Winchester AA Extra-Light Target 2.75-inch loads packing 1 ounce of No. 71⁄2 shot with an average muzzle velocity of 1,180 fps. Also, we fired 2.75-inch Nobel Low Recoil Target loads with 7⁄8 ounce of No. 8 shot and an average muzzle velocity of 1,200 fps. Here are our findings.
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.
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
October 2015 - Gun Tests Magazine
There’s a whole lot of new products coming out at the end of 2015, well in advance of the massive outpouring that’s introduced every new calendar year at the S.H.O.T. Show. Here’s a look at just a few of the new products I’ve seen that may be interesting to gunnies:
ARES Defense Now Shipping MCR Sub-Carbine. ARES Defense Systems is now shipping its MCR Sub-Carbine. The ARES MCR Sub-Carbine is a lightweight, semi-auto 5.56 NATO-caliber firearm featuring gas-piston operation, a 3-second quick-change barrel system, and a left-side folding stock assembly that telescopes for adjusting the length of pull. The charging handle is ambidextrous and interchangeable with standard AR15/M4 charging handles, to suit user preference. Suppressor capable and able to be fired with the stock in any position, the MCR has an edge on many of the folding-stock and telescoping PDWs. The internals are billet machined from aircraft-grade alloys and heat-treated. Aluminum components are Type III, Class 2 hard-coat anodized to MIL-A-8625F for maximum corrosion and wear protection. Also available to complement the MCR Sub-Carbine is an optional SKB briefcase with custom-cut foam insert that holds the firearm, six 30-round magazines, a cleaning kit, operator’s manual and storage space for a suppressor or other accessories.