His Makarovs Are Just Fine

Reader Terry has owned several Makarov pistols, none of which exhibited the problems we discussed in January 2023. Also, Reader Myron recalls the stout recoil of an H&R Topper he eventually sold.


Re: Firing Line, January 2023

I was surprised to find the negative comments about the 9x18mm Makarovs. Specifically, the safety becoming loose and actually falling out of the pistol. I have the East German, Bulgarian, and Russian models and have never experienced anything like this. I bought all three during the “Golden Age of C&R,” along with thousands of rounds of (then) inexpensive ammunition, both full metal jacket and hollow points.

I can’t recall one stoppage with any of the three, let alone a loose safety falling out. In fact, I was unaware of this happening at all. Maybe a defective gun? I don’t know, but I thought your readers should know that this is not a thing I have experienced, and neither have some other shooters I know, one who carries an East German one as a self-defense gun.

Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. I enjoy your magazine and look forward to every issue. Maybe a write up on the CZ TS 2 sometime? — Terry

Hey Terry: I wouldn’t call that venting. We appreciate your insights on the Maks. I suspect a lot of readers quietly carry them, perhaps for decades. They’re rugged and dependable. — Todd Woodard

Re “45 ACPs Compared: Garrison, Emissary, and LoadedOperator,” October 2022

Great article, because most of us will never have the good fortune to be shooting these fine guns all at the same time. — Ron

Hey Ron: Thank you. It is handy to be able to shoot them side by side. But that’s why we’re here. — tw

Re “Bug-Out Basics: Single Shots From H&R, Stevens, FedArm,” February 2023

Long time reader. Reading the article about single-shot shotguns and seeing that you had problems with the FedArm model wasn’t surprising. I have one of their 20-gauge semi-automatic shotguns. It cycles okay as long as you use high-power shells. But the first time I used it for dove hunting, the front sight flew off, never to be found. Contacted the company, and they said that they don’t replace or even sell parts unless the shotgun was purchased directly from them. My shotgun was sold by them through Gunbroker. — Matt

I just read February’s Gun Tests, and as usual, it was extremely informative and wonderful to read. In the late 1970s, I was in my local gun shop and saw an H&R Topper shotgun with rifle sights. I had to take a look at it. It was a smooth bore and had a 24-inch barrel. I could not believe how light it was. I had just taken up trap shooting and thought I might do better with the rifle sights. Well, that was the worst recoil I have ever felt in my life, and I have shot a Boys 55-caliber anti-tank rifle. I could not go more than 12 or 13 rounds of trap loads through the Topper. My shoulder was bruised for some time. I sold it at a gun show that fall. I guess they wanted it for deer season. I cannot remember how the trigger pull was because all I could think of was the mule kick of a recoil.

In the article, you said, “The shooter depresses a lever on the right side of the trigger to open the action and load a round.” I do believe it should have said hammer instead of trigger. I know I never make mistakes.

I know that unscrewing and rescrewing the forearm into place is time consuming, but if you aren’t going to use it much, just don’t screw it in. Just put the forearm in place and shoot. I hardly ever screwed mine in. Thank you such a wonderful magazine. — Myron

Thank you for the correction Myron. — tw

Re “Coming Up,” March 2023

Hi Todd, I see that you’re going to test/compare a few more 22 LR rifles, and I am thrilled to see my CZ 457 Varmint MTR among them. I added a Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 riflescope on mine for “long range egg shoots” at 50 to 125 yards, and it absolutely loves SK Long Range Match ammo. As my father used to say, “I can shoot a flea off a fly’s ass at 50 feet!” with that combo. Love the magazine, and hopefully you can score some SK ammo to add to the test. — David

Hey David: We did indeed score some SK ammo. It shot on par with the Eley Tenex and Eley Match we used in that test. — tw

22 Ammo for Self Defense?

Has there ever been a study of the 22 Magnum as a potential defensive round? The 22 WMR has a small projectile, but it travels at relatively high speeds with 38- to 40-grain bullet weights. I will admit that it would not be my choice, but for an elderly person or a small woman, it might be just enough to deter a would-be criminal. I used to assist at autopsies, and I can remember chasing the path of a 22 LR around the interior of a human body. One I recall in particular, a male was found dead in an alley in Minneapolis of no obvious causes. We used an X-ray machine to find a small 22 LR round that had entered his skull in the rear and bounced around a bit. If my memory is correct, we did some ballistic gel tests and found out a 22 LR bullet would penetrate to 6 to 9 inches of gel, but that was in the early 1970s, so my memory may be faulty. — Victor

Would you so kindly direct me to the archive issue which covered the comparisons of 22 Magnum ammo? — Steve

Hey Steve and Victor: We tested several 22 Magnum rounds in the July 2013 issue, “22 Mag and 32 Mag Loads: Are They Enough for Self-Defense?” on page 28. Our pick of the 22 Mag rounds was the 45-grain Hornady Critical Defense FTX 83200, which penetrated 13 inches in water, had 100% weight retention, and developed 118 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Also, “We want to be clear we’re not advocating 22 Mags for personal defense. But many people do use them for that, so it’s incumbent on Gun Tests to see what the rounds can really do in our tests.” If you buy one of the 22 Magnum pistols tested in this issue (page 6), you might consider checking out that test. We also have tested 22 LR rimfire ammunition in our comparisons. In the June 2019 issue on page 28 (“Twenty 22 Rimfire Loads Go Head to Head at the Range”), we looked at 22 ammo in a handgun for the penetration and expansion aspects. We don’t recommend people use 22 LR for self-defense, but we wouldn’t like to get shot with a round of it, either. The round with the most water penetration in that test (16 inches) was the Winchester M22 40-grain Black Copper Plated Round Nose, followed by the Federal Small Game Match HP 40-grain load (15 inches), and then six others at 14 inches of water penetration.

For more on the stopping-power topic, trainer Greg Ellifritz at ActiveResponseTraining.net has done a comprehensive study of handgun, rifle, and shotgun rounds’ performance in 1800 actual shootings, and the work includes data on how 22 LR cartridges perform. There wasn’t 22 Magnum data, however. Probably not enough incidents with the 22 Mags. It’s worth searching for and reading, and there’s also an interesting YouTube video on the topic. — tw

Re “More 10mm Pistols: Glock SF Versus Springfield XDM-Elites,” February 2023

I bought a Springfield XDM-E OSP 4.5” after reading your review. I found your review to be accurate, as usual. You should note that since your purchase of that pistol, Springfield has made a change. My gun did not come with the T10 wrench or any optics adapter plates. I called Springfield customer service and asked why. The rep told me that Springfield has stopped supplying the plates and wrench with the guns, but the original purchaser can get one free adapter plate of their choice by going to “OSPPlate.com.” There you will see a form to fill out for the free plate of your choice. Have your complete seller contact information at hand, along with your serial number and purchase date. You might have to register your purchase for warranty purposes first. Mine was already registered, so that potential issue did not come up. I quickly got an email conformation for my free plate, but it stated that delivery was four to six weeks. — Warren

Warren, thanks for the heads up on this change. Glad to see the review was accurate otherwise. — tw

Re “High-End 1911 Shoot-Out: We Test a Quartet of Stellar 45s,” January 2023

About the Springfield Armory 1911 TRP’s trigger pull. I am a longtime reader and refer to your articles before I make any purchases. I read the January 2023 article on high-end 1911s. I just wanted to say that I love my Springfield TRP that I purchased a few years ago. After reading that your test gun had a heavy trigger pull, I decided to test my trigger. Using a Lyman digital trigger scale, I averaged 4 pounds 1.2 ounces over 10 pulls on the gauge. The high was 4 pounds 1.3 ounces and the low was 4 pounds 1.1 ounces. The trigger came from the factory like that. — Tom

Hey Tom, thanks for sharing that. The trigger pull on that gun was high at 6.1 pounds, and that likely had an effect on its accuracy, too. We’re glad you got a good one. — tw

Slide Retraction Effort

Dear Todd, as an 83-year-old grandfather with arthritis and muscle loss in my hands, I appreciate that you include the Slide Retraction Effort (SRE) rating in your gun descriptions. Can you tell me what the SRE is for an S&W 380 EZ? I bought one, and everything on it was so easy that I bought a 9mm S&W EZ as well. I like them both. I bought a S&W Shield Plus in 9mm. However, I found it too difficult to rack the slide, and the slide stop and safety were just too difficult and troublesome to operate. I gave that gun to my son. I see that S&W brought out an Equalizer in 9mm that is supposed to be easy to operate also. I’d like to see a comparison test of the two EZs and the Equalizer. What do you think? I like the magazine, and I appreciate your honest evaluations. Keep up the good work! — Sanford

Hey Sanford: We shot a Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ 180023 380 ACP in the July 2022 issue, “Testing the 30 Super Carry Vs. 380 ACP and 9mm Pistols” on page 6. The slide-retraction effort for that pistol was 9.5 pounds. For the 9mm EZ, it was 10.5 pounds, and for the 30 Super Carry-chambered EZ, it was 10.2 pounds.

I originally thought the “EZ” nameplate on those Smith & Wesson guns was just hype, but we’ve tested several that make a real difference in how easy they are to operate. We’ve included the slide retraction effort number for a few years now, and the measurement came at the suggestion of a reader just like yourself, much for the same reason. It has turned out to be a valuable insight for many readers. — tw 


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