How Are Things in the Gun Biz?

Reader Cathy wonders if quality in the firearms market has taken a dive due to high production needs. Reader Clark is happy that Russian ammo has been banned for sale in the U.S. And praise for the Rock M200.


Re “Are 32 Magnums More Mousy Than Mighty for Self Defense?” August 2021

Thank you for answering my request with issue No. 8 of this year. That issue was important to me because I own two Charter Arms 32 Magnums and find them to be very good revolvers. I own the silver and the black one. It is one of my favorite models to shoot at the range. Of course I use the 32 Longs at the range because the 32 Magnum rounds are expensive and hard to find, even at a high price. I have a few boxes of 32 Mags, which I will save as emergency self-defense rounds until the ammo companies open up on stocking the retailers with more boxes. — Michael

Re Gun Quality

Todd, have you noticed or heard of any decline in the quality and/or workmanship in new handguns made by major U.S. gun manufacturers due to high production to meet the increased demand for guns? I am interested in a new Colt series 70 1911A1, 01970A1CS. Has the quality of this gun dropped since CZ bought Colt? I am also interested in the quality of new Smith & Wesson revolvers, specifically the J-frame Models 60 and 63.

I value your opinion on all gun things. Yours is the only gun magazine I know of that does not say good things about bad guns just to get big ad money to stay in business. — Cathy

Hey Cathy: If anything, the quality of handguns across the board is pretty good. We do still see a few build issues (unfinished areas that are out of sight) and some roughness here and there, but really, danged few problems as CNC machining has become more prevalent. On the CZ question, Colt has been mal-managed for at least 20 years, maybe longer, and has been in bankruptcy or flirting with bankruptcy for decades. We expect CZ to bring more-modern manufacturing techniques to the old firm, along with an injection of capital. So the future seems bright. On the Colt, buy one PDQ if you don’t want any CZ markings on it. There will be plenty of guns in the retail pipeline that won’t be marked “CZ” yet, if that’s important to you. S&W revolvers have been really good for a while. Buy and enjoy. Thanks for writing. —Todd Woodard

Re “Russian Ammo Ban Is Here,” October 2021

Great! I don’t want to spend my ca$h supporting an overseas sleazy government. I pay enough taxes to support the sleazy government here in the USA. Plus, perhaps this will be the wake-up call for the USA ammunition makers to grow their businesses to meet the ever-growing demand. — Clark

Re “Big-Bore Lever-Action Hunting Guns: Pass On the 450 Marlin,” August 2000

Who needs more than one shot? Don’t knock the 450 Marlin round. It’s a great gun. — Heywood

From left, the 444 Marlin, 45-70 Government, 450 Marlin, and 458 Winchester Magnum.

Hey Heywood: In 2000, we said the longer belt of the 450 Marlin case, compared to the industry-standard length of the belt on the 458 Magnum case, made the 450 Marlin an oddity. There is no performance-based reason that Marlin should have adopted this belt length. It does not add strength to either case or rifle, but it does keep the round from being fed into some older guns. Shooting the 444 Marlin and 45-70 Government with modern loads will do anything you’d need to do with a lever-action rifle, and do so in complete safety. We predicted a short life for the 450 Marlin cartridge, but it’s still hanging on in 2021, though in limited offerings. We could only find it currently loaded by Buffalo Bore and Hornady. — tw

Re “9mm Barrel Lengths Compared In Range Performance Testing,” September 2020

Great study, Todd. I always thought the 9mm had more velocity out of a 16-inch versus 4-inch barrel. In the early 1990s, I chronographed two different loads in a Glock 24L, a Glock 22, Glock 23, and my EDC, a Glock 27. I was shocked at how little difference there was in the 40-cal between the Glock 24L versus the shorty Glock 27. The 45 ACP is a popular choice, but only in the 4.25-inch barrels and up. If you want a 45 ACP in a 3-inch barrel, you need to go to the 9mm or 40 S&W. By the way, the 40 isn’t dead yet. I enjoy your magazine and was one of the first subscribers a long time ago. Keep up the good work. — Larry

Hey Larry: Glad you liked the ammo test. Thanks for hanging around. —tw

Re “Home Defense: Four Budget Imported Revolvers Square Off,” October 2021

I have the Rock Island Model 200. That’s the 4-inch-barrel version. No hammer-bite issues, shoots straight (I like 158-grain LWCHP +P’s), and it is dependable. Although I have more expensive revolvers and semi-autos, I find the Rock 200 to be a great truck/boat gun. — Michael

Hey Michael: We agree, the Rock 206 is a pretty good gun. It got a B grade, which is above average. We had a problem with the long hammer spur, which contacted the shooting hand of some testers. We adjusted our grip, and it did not cause a further problem. It is simply something you should know about. We liked the recoil-absorbing design of the large grips. They are a finger-groove design and are quite hard. The revolver is supplied with a much smaller set of grips for concealed carry or small hands. With the small wooden grips, we had a serious problem with the hammer spur. When the raters used the small grip, the hammer spur tended to contact the firing hand and tie the action up. We think the small grips would be okay with the spurless hammer version we mention above, but not the hammer-spur version. Also, a little work with a Dremel tool to reduce the spur would solve our major complaint with the M200. — tw

Gun Tests Report Card Grading

Gun Tests Grade: A

A gun with this rating functions perfectly, shoots accurately, and exhibits comfortable, easy use for its owner. We may prefer one gun over others based on its unusual accuracy, superior performance, unusual features, or nice cosmetics. We recognize such a gun for these traits without regard to its cost.

Gun Tests Grade: B

We give this ranking to a gun that functions appropriately for its category, but which might not do as well in major areas as an A-ranked gun.

Gun Tests Grade: C

We may have reservations about some aspect of a gun’s performance or pricing. We express those reservations so the reader can balance our concerns with his or her needs.

Gun Tests Grade: D

Some aspect of a gun’s performance — in particular, safety, function, or accuracy — doesn’t meet our standards and isn’t easily resolved.

Gun Tests Grade: F

Some aspect of a gun’s performance is dangerous, inappropriate for the category, or is likely to fail.

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