Firing Line 06/99


.32 Auto Fine Points
The article on .32 ACP pocket autos in the January 1999 issue was very interesting. However, you neglected to mention that the NAA Guardian has an extractor, while the Beretta Tomcat does not. I could not determine from the photographs if the Seecamp LWS-32 is so equipped, nor could I locate a specimen to examine. I suspect that it has an extractor because there appears to be no other way clear the chamber.

The lack of an extractor is a design feature that should be carefully evaluated by anyone considering the Tomcat as a back-up for a larger semi-automatic. The vast majority of semi-autos have extractors. In fact, the only currently produced, larger auto without one is the Beretta 86 Cheetah in .380 ACP. A shooter trained with a conventional self-loader who experiences a malfunction is likely to perform the tap-rack-bang Cooper misfire drill. If the malfunction has left an empty cartridge or loaded round in the chamber, performing this drill on a pistol without an extractor will only make matters worse. It is, of course, possible to train oneself to do just about anything with sufficient practice. However, learning two different misfire drills—one for the primary weapon and a second for the back-up—is an unnecessary complication, or so it seems to me.

On a different note, the test procedures you provide with each test are an excellent idea; however, they don’t usually state whether the test pieces were cleaned during the test. Information on cleaning, together with an indication of when malfunctions occurred relative to the last cleaning, would be a useful addition. For example, your test of .22 LR pocket autos in the July 1998 issue involved firing 200 rounds through the test pistols. 200 rounds without cleaning seems to be rather a lot for a small auto. The inability to fire four boxes of ammo without cleaning ought to be tolerable, although not desirable, in a back-up pistol, as long as the first two or three magazine loads feed reliably.

John F. Collins
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA

We generally clean all the test guns between batches of ammo.

Sigma Works with .357 Sig
I had looked forward to your March 1999 coverage of .357 SIGs because I had just bought the S&W Sigma series semiautomatic in that caliber. I think I would have preferred both the Sig’s Pro 2340 and Glock 31, except for the price. Still, I think your article suffers from judging a pistol or rifle in general based on the results of one specimen.

You start out by saying the bullet for the .357 Sig is .357. It is not. It is .355, in other words 9mm. (Editor’s note: the same diameter, not the same round. Don’t put 9mm shells in a .357 Sig). I would hate to see somebody go out and buy .357 bullets for their .357 Sig on your say so.

Your description of the S&W Sigma .357 Sig seems arbitrary and abrupt. You call it a poor imitation of the Glock with a trigger comparatively heavy and inconsistent. My pistol has an impeccable, easy, and consistent pull. The S&W Sigma has never failed to fire, even with use of a few different makes of ammunition, including handloads of my own. I have not tested it for accuracy because I bought it for defense, a double-action-only. The Sigma .357 Sig does have a second-strike capability, and I think I can call it that. The striker cocks in less than a half inch, so that I have recocked without feeding the round, not because it failed to fire, but rather that I wanted to see if I could do it. I did do it. It takes two hands, but it works, and very quickly. I found the muzzle jump surprisingly slight, compared with other high-power pistols I have fired.

To sum up, you gave your test specimen no room for having been an exception because of S&W’s quality control. I think that is unfair, although it probably is a necessary condition because of editorial schedules and deadlines.

I want to emphasize that I like this pistol very, very much. It is clearly the best defensive weapon I have ever owned. —

Mark Emond
Livermore, CO

That quality-control sword cuts both ways. How do you know your gun is any more representative of an “average” Sigma than ours?

Glock Model 31 Criticism
My friend and I are owners of Model 229 Sig pistols and are very familiar with the .357 Sig caliber. Because of the cost of this caliber, we have taken up the hobby of reloading and are very satisfied with the results. Yesterday we were shopping at Great Guns in Sacramento and we looked at the Glock 31 pistol that was rated in your March 1999 article as first choice. Upon examination of this pistol my friend and I were in agreement with your choice until we tried to eject the magazine. The ejection button was smaller than on our Sig but functional except that the magazine would not eject. The salesman took a closer look and found that the rubber grip was blocking the magazine. He commented that it would need to be trimmed to allow for better ejection of the magazine. We found this to be unacceptable for reliability during a tactical reload. My first thought was, could I depend on this pistol if I needed to perform a tactical reload? I’ll stick with my 229.

Name Withheld

Glock said the pistol you encountered obviously had a flaw. A spokesman added that Glock magazines usually aren’t blocked by the grip.

686+ Thank You’s
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I just received my April 1999 Gun Tests®, wonderful. I had asked Gun Tests® months ago to give the 686+ in the 2-inch barrel another look. And you did. After several months researching my choices for a carry gun, I picked the S&W 686+ 2-inch barrel. The seven-shooter .357 Mag. gives me 100 percent confidence in its accuracy and handling. It can hit a postage stamp six out of seven shots at 45 feet. I bet my life and my wife and boy’s life on that gun day and night. I may never use it in this manner. But if I had to, $550 is a cheap price to pay. It’s always loaded with Federal Hydra-Shok 130-grain JHPs. Momma, what a load!

Todd Hutcheson
Lynnwood, WA

The Doctor Is In
On behalf of Clint McKee and Fulton Armory, please allow me to thank you for the kind words about their work in the article “Semiautomatic .308s” in the April 1999 issue. They are much appreciated.

May I provide some additional information about the M14S rifles and Fulton Armory’s work with them? The current price for the Fulton Armory “Chinese Upgrade Package” (includes G.I. bolt handfitted and handlapped to receiver, G.I. chrome-lined barrel, G.I. hammer, trigger & sear, G.I. rear sight, N.M. op rod spring guide, N.M. front sight) is $499.95 installed. If one can find a Polytech or Norinco M14S for $500, which I have done several times, the total outlay for a very fine M14S would be under $1,000.

If one were to send Clint an M14S receiver and ask that a complete U.S.G.I. parts kit be installed (under $900 with labor), the total outlay would be under $1,400, roughly that which you quote for the factory M1A—but with all U.S.G.I. parts! The result is possibly the finest M14-type rifle one could acquire.

Of course, Fulton Armory’s primary focus in the M14-type rifle market is building custom M1As based on Springfield, Inc. receivers. However, the Polytech and Norinco M14S rifles have proven to be fine foundations as well. We must point out that while to date Fulton Armory has neither seen nor had a report of any problems with M14S receivers, in the future should a problem arise there will be no support from the manufacturer as it has left the US market, albeit under duress. Springfield, Inc., on the other hand, has a well-deserved reputation for standing behind its product. Consumers should weigh this consideration as part of their buying decision.

Walter J. Kuleck, Ph.D.
Fulton Armory Webmaster
Garand Collectors Association Board Member

Dr. Kuleck also invited Gun Tests® readers to visit the company’s website at for “everything AR-15, M14/M1A, M1 Garand and M1 Carbine.” He mentioned that he is not an employee nor an owner of Fulton Armory; rather, he’s a satisfied customer who was able to convince Clint McKee that he needed a website.

Taurus Criticisms On Target
Your March 1999 Gun Tests® impressed me, particularly your tests on snub-nose revolvers. Your evaluation of the Taurus 605 .357 Magnum is correct. Your critical analysis that the firearms action has a tendency to lock up is the same disconcerting problem I have experienced with the gun.Mine will lock up after it gets excessively dirty from prolonged firing. I have no problem keeping it by my bedside, since every time I use it at the range, I take it home and clean it thoroughly until it’s spotless. I know if I have to use it in an emergency, it will spit out at least its entire cylinder. Since it’s a .357 Magnum, I hope I won’t need more than five rounds.

Jerry Avalos

Buffalo Bore Contact
Your Gun Tests® April 1999 article on the .475 Linebaugh was very good. The article recommended loaded factory rounds by Buffalo Bore bullets in .45 Colt. I can’t find the address.

Steve Kernan
via Internet

We regret not giving out Buffalo Bore’s information. To buy .475 and .500 Linebaugh, or .44 HVY and .45 HVY ammo, contact Buffalo Bore Ammunition Co., 100 Freeman Creek Rd, Carmen, ID 83462, (208) 756-8085.

H&K Fan
I would like to agree with your April 1999 analysis of the M1A being a fine weapon and the Springfields being most desirable. I would like to take issue with a few of the comments about the H&K 91 and your suggestion to “pass” on purchasing it as a defense weapon.

I am the proud owner of an H&K 91 and have never owned a finer semi-automatic weapon. With an H&K you truly do get what you pay for. Mine is fully outfitted with 3.5 X 10 Leupold, bipod, and tritium front insert. I have never felt the recoil to be excessive or had it hit me in the face. Some of your concerns about weight and the stock are well founded. But if you want an extremely accurate, dependable .308, I will continue to recommend the H&K 91.

Daryl Johnson

Other readers asked for additional source information for products mentioned in the .308 article. The best source for the SUIT/L2A2 scope for an L1A1 has been DSA Inc., 27 West 990 Industrial Ave., Lake Barrington, IL 60010, telephone (847) 277-7258, For other items related to the M1A, contact, Springfield, Inc., 420 W. Main St., Geneseo, IL 61254, telephone (309) 944-5631, Also, the rear sight remains on the rifle when mounting a scope with the S&K mount.

Kudos For Jerry
The April spread by Jerry Miculek on how to grip a revolver was a revelation. Can he do the same for autos? Gun Tests® is great for its honest tests. It’s even better for the sort of basic, and often forgotten, instructions on how to best aim and fire a gun. Let’s have more of this.

Alfred Mayor


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