Reader Praise for Recent Items

Reader Don loved our coverage of wheelguns and varmint rifles, but he had different thoughts on the value of tiny shot. Reader William wants to know if we’ve had problems with what he calls ‘dumpster-fire’ guns.


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

Dear Mr. Woodard, please let me pass along my thoughts on your continued superb job on content. I am interested in all of these tests, like the Taurus 9mm/38/357 combo pistol, the Taurus Tracker 692 Multi-Caliber Revolver 2692031. Everyone should make one of those. All your articles are interesting and good. The article on the varmint rifles in November was wonderful.

Second, in the October issue on the 45 Colt ammo test, your guys said the No. 9 shot is almost worthless. Perhaps “useless” depends on the need. When I grew up in Idaho on the farm, we always had mice at the bottom of every haystack. Those last few bales from the bottom always had lots of mice under them. As we rolled the bales over, one at a time, we would try to get all the mice. We used a 22 revolver (5- or 6-inch barrel) and bird shot (I forget if it was No. 9 or No. 12 shot), and a 357 Magnum (6-inch barrel), and I don’t remember the shot size. We could hit all or almost all of the mice with the 22. With a 357, we would hit a few in the middle, and tear them up, but those on the outer edge of the pack often escaped. The 22 and small shot spread quickly enough to get all the mice in a quick two or three shots, maybe four. The magnum recoiled harder, so it might take two or maybe three shots, but even with one shot from each, we got more mice with the spread and more BBs contained in the 22 shot shells.

Third, I really would like a test on optics for long-range shooting. How good are the Celestron and Orion optics made for star gazing? They are about half the price or less for about equal power, though the star gazers often have more power, 20 or even 25, not just 15 or 18 power. But are they as clear as a good pair from hunting-optic makers. I also have a need for better glass now that I am older. When I was younger, I did not know optics could be poor. I saw clearly through every scope and binoculars I picked up. Now when we are hunting squirrels or rock chucks for farmers, when I look through a scope all day, or binoculars, if the quality of lens is not good enough, I get eye fatigue and then headaches. I had two Nikon scopes and used them a few years. Then as I aged, they started giving me eye fatigue. I got rid of them. I bought several scopes and also binoculars from Nitrex and a higher-end Weaver scope and pair of binoculars. I get no eye fatigue from Nitrex at all, even after viewing all day. Weaver is very good, and I can look through those all day, but the lower-end optics from Weaver do cause me eye fatigue.

I recently bought a 15-power set of binoculars from Vortex. I liked them, and they worked well, but I took them back and got a set of 15-power binoculars from Cabela’s, the Intensity series. The Cabela’s pair is clearer to me — but not by much — and they transmit colors more accurately. The Vortex bino seemed to me to show washed-out colors, and the Vortex did not appear to me to be as clear a glass. Both were high-definition glass.

This will be a hard test, with some subjectivity, but what is acceptable glass for young viewers, when most eyes work well to focus easily, and what is acceptable when we are older and our eyes do not focus well anymore? And what power is needed to see holes in paper at 100 yards, 300, 500, and 1,000? And do the spotting scopes outshine telescopes? Telescopes see things backwards, which would not be great for sighting in, but a guy can learn to figure in the backward picture if he can get great glass at half price or less, sometimes much much less, than a scope. Thanks. And thanks for turning out such a good magazine. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the information you guys produce. — Don

Hey Don: Those high-end scopes rival the costs of the rifles below them, and you’re right, the assessment is subjective. But we have a couple of PRS shooters who might be interested in getting down in the weeds. — Todd Woodard 

Re “More Legal Problems For P320,” September 2018

I have fired an enormous amount of rounds through my P320, and it is my daily carry weapon. It has been in and out of my holster a thousand times. If there was a defect, I would have found it. This is operator error. — Joseph

There are too many documented cases, including on video, of a P320 firing without anybody touching the trigger. Saying, “No it didn’t happen,” is not an argument, unless you prove each and every single case to be false, and demonstrate what really happened instead. SIG saying, “Our guns are safe,” is an invalid argument, just as above. SIG saying, “As a result, individual attempts to perform drop tests outside of professionally controlled environments should not be attempted” is nonsense. If a pistol fires when dropped by a user, this doesn’t count because it’s not in a controlled environment? Within the lawsuits related to the P320, is there one where experts show how an unintended discharge can happen, and demonstrate it? — Philip

Re “38 Special Loads: Federal’s Punch Is a ‘Best Buy’ Bullet,” July 2021

I must confess that I’m partial to the old standby Federal 158-grain Lead SWCHP +Ps. Maybe because I have about 600 rounds of it. Also, it works well in my Rossi R92 38 Special/357 Magnum lever gun. — Michael

Re “Firing Line,” November 2021

Gentlemen, in the November issue, Reader Clark celebrates the current admin’s Russian ammo ban. He mentions paying taxes to “the sleazy government.” The Russian government may garner some rubles from the sale of said ammo. But they are not the manufacturers, workers, shippers, small-business owners, magazine publishers, or even the shooters who benefit from the availability of the ammo. It seems obvious that buying any product is voluntary, and is in no way a tax. I wonder what would happen if everything with any parts of Chinese origin in Clark’s possession were to magically stop working? My guess is he would be disgruntled at best. If so, why the focus on Russia? Is China somehow more worthy than Russia? Regardless, it’s like a lot of things — if you don’t want one, don’t buy one. I can’t fathom why anyone would celebrate eliminating a choice for fellow shooters who maybe can only afford budget Russian ammo. America is all about freedom to choose. I bet Clark would agree. — Phil

Hey Phil: Good thoughts. I hold no love for Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping, and I try not to go too far down the rabbit hole in assessing the ethics of buying certain products based on where the companies do business. I prefer to buy American, but the truth is, I’ve got a Beretta shotgun, an FN pistol, Zeiss optics on my rifles, and Russian AK ammo, among other impure purchases. Also, almost all the work we do on the Gun Tests  editorial products are produced on Macs, and I dislike Apple’s domestic politics and the company’s sourcing of Chinese labor. So I try to keep our eyes focused on how product availability will affect Gun Tests readers’ abilities to buy and shoot firearms. Stopping the importation of Russian ammo will have a deleterious effect on some of my readers’ pocketbooks, and I don’t dig that. — tw

We’re Pretty Picky, Too

I’ve been a subscriber for a few years now, and I really enjoy your magazine and find the reviews extremely valuable. I’m a gal with small stature and hands, so I have to be pretty picky. I find most of the polymer guns are very light and thus have a harsher recoil, and that makes it harder to get back on target. I am a 1911 fan and find the Springfield EMP 9mm and the Nighthawk Lady Hawk fit the bill. The extra weight helps with the recoil, and the match-grade barrels make me look good at the range. — Gelie

Hey Gelie: Thank you for being a loyal reader and for passing along your thoughts on your handgun choices. Yes, the recoil on the small polymer handguns can be pretty peppy. I’ve had a chance to shoot a Lady Hawk as a rental, and I appreciated the handfit and size, of its Commander frame. The price, $3000, was something of a stopper, however. — tw

Dumpster-Fire Guns?

Have you guys done any recent reviews of the current crop of budget-priced 9mm pistols? I ask because I can name four that I have bought that failed to work right out of the box (well, actually I left out Taurus because I want to keep this letter short). The ones I am questioning are the FMK 9C1 G2, SCCY CPX-1, CPX-2, and DVG-1. My FMK repeatedly jammed with Geco 115-grain FMJs and failed to fire one round. I contacted the manufacturer and was told their pistols require a 500-round break-in period before they will work reliably. At current ammo prices, you might as well buy a Glock 19 and save a few bucks. As for the SCCYs, they all exhibited frequent failures to fire. SCCY was aware of the problem with the early production CPX-1 and CPX-2 and was offering free DIY upgrade kits or the option to send the pistols back to them for retrofit. I chose the DIY approach without realizing the pistols must be detail stripped to install the new parts. As for the DVG-1, it is even worse, failing to fire eight times out of ten so far. I contacted SCCY about the problem nearly two weeks ago, but have yet to receive any response.  Perhaps my pistols are simply the victims of Monday-morning manufacturing processes. Maybe other people have gotten stellar performance from theirs. I admit I’m jaded, so I’d be curious to see you do a test on these current-production pistols and offer an independent assessment of them. — William M. Kohnke

Paladin Armory, Elliston, MT

Good story idea, Mr. Kohnke. We have covered some budget 9mms, but no FMK so far, and it’s been a while since we reviewed SCCY pistols, the CPX 2 (Gen 2) in the July 2012 issue. In the September 2021 issue, we reviewed a Taurus GX4 1-GX4M931 9mm Luger, $398, saying, “Reliability was good, with no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. We found the Taurus to be a viable choice, and as the least expensive pistol by more than $150, it became a Best Buy.

In the February 2021 issue, we tested a pair of B+ guns that were affordable. Of the KelTec PF9 Blued/Black 9mm Luger, $358, we said, “Feeding and function were perfect…. This is an inexpensive pistol that functioned flawlessly.” Also in that article, we fired a Taurus G3C 1-G3C931 9mm Luger, $306, that was “an inexpensive offering that functioned flawlessly and shot well.”

But malfunctions aren’t the sole province of budget guns. In the June 2021 issue, we gave a D grade to a Zenith Tisas ZIG PCS9 9mm Luger, $549, mainly because of malfunctions. We said of that pistol (pictured), “…  at the range, we had trouble with the first magazine of FMJ ammo in the Tisas. The pistol fed, chambered, and fired normally, but the extractor failed to extract the fired case. Fearing an incompatibility with the SIG Sauer case rim, we tried the other loads. The same results followed. The Tisas failed to extract the spent case, causing a jam when the next round attempted to feed, at a rate of about 10%, or generally one round per magazine. In some cases, the empty brass wasn’t partially extracted — it wasn’t pulled out at all. This created a difficult jam to clear. We had to remove the magazine and rack the slide two to four times to convince the extractor to remove the case.”

In the May 2020 issue, we tested a Colt Lightweight Commander 9mm 04842XE 9mm Luger, $895 (pictured). We had problems with its extractor, saying, “This is the hook that pulls a cartridge (loaded or fired) from the chamber, back into the ejector (projection on the other side of the frame), which then pushes the cartridge or case out of the ejection port. Signs of an improperly tuned extractor include empty cases being left in the chamber after firing. While the other three pistols worked flawlessly, our Colt started leaving empties in the chamber, causing a double-feed. This virtually new pistol belonged to a member of our test team, so we felt a bit freer to experiment with his gun. We checked the extractor only to find that we could wiggle the extractor hook as it protrudes from the breech face. That is a bad sign. We removed the extractor and put some tension on it then reinstalled. It worked perfectly from that point on.” — tw

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