Category Archives: Pistol

RETROSPECT: Smith and Wesson Versus Colt — What Happened?

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A lifelong fan looks at the two greats of the revolver world. READ MORE

colt vs smith and wesson
The Colt Cobra, top, and the Smith and Wesson Model 13, bottom are each fine all around defensive revolvers.

Bob Campbell

When Samuel Colt invented the revolver as we know it he turned the handgun world on its nose. Most handguns were horse pistols or pocket guns similar in design to rifles — simply shorter. The Colt revolver had to be designed to stabilize the firing hand to allow thumb cocking and to present the sights for proper aiming. The Colt revolver was an offensive firearm and a credible military firearm that hastened the western movement. In short it was an immensely important invention. Smith and Wesson’s original handgun was a lever action design that led to the Winchester repeating rifle, but that is another story. By the time of the Civil War both Smith and Wesson and Colt were manufacturing viable revolver designs.

colt vs smith and wesson
The S & W Perfected Double Action and Safety Hammerless are over 120 years old- and still function well, despite years of use.

After the war both companies manufactured distinctive revolvers. The hinged frame and later break top Smith and Wesson revolvers competed with Colt’s solid frame revolvers. The Colt sold better domestically while Smith and Wesson armed Russia and Japan among other armies. During the 1880s Colt began development of swing out cylinder double action revolvers that would bring the two companies products much closer in design and appearance. Colt’s revolvers such as the New Pocket featured a swing out cylinder, cylinder latch that pulled to the rear, and a smooth double action trigger. Smith and Wesson followed suit with the Hand Ejector, a similar size .32 caliber revolver. The Colt .32 Long is smaller in diameter than the .32 Smith and Wesson Long and will not interchange. At this point in time the companies were producing revolvers that in many ways were more similar than they differed.

colt vs smith and wesson
Once Colt perfected the swing out cylinder revolver the stage was set for revolvers for a hundred years to come.

In a few years there was another strong unifying movement in the handgun world. Preciously there had been proprietary cartridges for each maker. The .32 Colt, .32 Smith and Wesson, .38 Colt and .38 Smith and Wesson were among these. In general the .32 and .38 Colt cartridges were smaller and would chamber in the Smith and Wesson chambers but the cartridge case often split on firing. A big change was the introduction of the Smith and Wesson Military and Police .38 revolver. The .38 Colt was a dismal failure in action in the Philippines and at home as well. The US Army asked for a revolver more robust than the Colt 1892 and a more powerful cartridge. Smith and Wesson lengthened the .38 Long Colt cartridge slightly and improved performance from a 152 grain bullet at 750 fps to a 158 grain bullet at 850 fps. The .38 Special became the most popular revolver cartridge of all time. The older .38s were eclipsed.

colt vs smith and wesson
This Colt Army Special .38 had the barrel shortened many years ago.

While the Colt Single Action Army remained popular past its prime the primary spear point of competition for the two makers was in double action .38 Special revolvers. They traded in the top position in sales for some fifty years. During the 1930s the race was real with Colt having an edge. By the 1970s Smith and Wesson carried three quarters of the police market. Many felt that Smith and Wesson had the edge when they reinvested war time profits in new machinery and models after World War Two. Colt introduced some models such as the Python but Smith and Wesson introduced more models at more attractive prices. Eventually Smith and Wesson enjoyed a considerable price advantage over Colt for similar handguns. When I was growing up during the 1960s and beginning a life long interest in revolvers, my grandfather expressed a common opinion. He told me that he would not flip for the difference between the two. His favorite revolver was a Smith and Wesson Military and Police, but he liked the Colt Detective Special better than the Smith and Wesson Chief’s Special. I have pretty much the same preference.

colt vs smith and wesson
Top to bottom — A Colt Army Special, Colt .357 and a rare Colt Detective Special with 3-inch barrel.

I think that while the revolvers looked similar and handled the same there were differences in the grip and trigger action that had appeal to different shooters. The price point and good performance made Smith and Wesson the leader. There were many excellent revolvers manufactured during the heyday of this competition. The Combat Masterpiece, Shooting Master, Target Masterpiece, Trooper, Highway Patrolman, Python, Detective Special, Chief’s Special, Cobra, Python, and Combat Magnum were among them. Adjustable sights, ramp front sights, shrouded ejector rods, target triggers and hammers, trigger stops and red insert front sights were introduced. But just the same, the revolver manufactured in the greatest numbers was the plain vanilla Military and Police revolver.

colt vs smith and wesson
The Colt Army Special had the barrel cut at some time in the past — it was re-purposed as a snake charmer.

The differences in the revolvers were seldom based on quality of manufacture. While each may have had an occasional bad run this was rare. There were high points of production for each company. The Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum was probably the best balanced revolver of all time. Light enough for constant carry, durable in long use, accurate, smooth in operation, and firing the best man stopper we are likely to invent, this .357 Magnum revolver was a prestige revolver. The shrouded ejector rod and high visibility sights were important advantages. The K frame .38 has a skinny frame for use with Magnums but the development of target stocks and rubber recoil absorbing stocks went a long way toward taming Magnum recoil. The Colt action differed, and while smooth enough, the Colt was the more likely to go out of time after hard use. The Colt revolver cylinder rotates right into the frame, the Smith and Wesson to the left, and the rifling is also different. Today those who appreciate old iron are happy to find either revolver at a fair price.

colt vs smith and wesson
The Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum was the first Magnum and a classic handgun with excellent performance.

The heyday of the revolver may be over as far as law enforcement is concerned. But many of us find the revolver suits our needs well. Most are highly accurate and offer plenty of power. When I am hiking or traveling around Appalachia, the Blue Ridge and the Smokies I sometimes find myself in the vicinity of feral dogs and other dangerous wild life. The big cats are sometimes aggressive — I will never forget that my grandmothers’ cousin, a small child, was killed by a panther in the early 1920s. Fifty years later she recounted the story as if it were yesterday. I like something on my hip in the wild. A heavy loaded .38 Special or a .357 Magnum revolver just feels right. Will the revolver be a Colt or a Smith and Wesson? I own and enjoy both, more Colts than Smiths and would hate to part with either. Just the same, the gun on the hip is usually a Colt Python. But sometimes it is a Colt Single Action Army .45 or a beautifully smooth Colt Three-Fifty-Seven. I guess we know who won the battle with me — but lost the war.

colt vs smith and wesson
The author considers this 1917 .45 caliber Smith and Wesson N frame revolver among his front line working handguns.

REVIEW: Charter Arms Professional

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This is a great all-around revolver for personal defense and field use — and also a fun gun to spend a day at the range with! READ MORE

Charter Arms Professional
The Charter Arms Professional is a clean design with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell

I have used Charter Arms revolvers for more than 40 years. Charter was introduced in the 1960s and armed many Americans at a time when truly good affordable guns were scarce. The Charter Arms design features a transfer bar ignition for safety, among the first revolvers to do so. The frame is steel also it is enclosed by aluminum to save weight. The revolvers have always been available with well designed grips. The sights are wide and easily picked up quickly. Quite simply you get your money’s worth with the Charter Arms, and perhaps then some. The Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog is the most famous product but revolvers in .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 Smith and Wesson Long, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and perhaps a few others have been offered. The revolver illustrated is among the most interesting.

Charter Arms Professional
While light the Charter Arms Professional proved easy to use well.

The Charter Arms Professional is a small frame revolver with a 3-inch barrel, hand filling grips, a double action/single action mechanism, good sights, and a nice finish. Open the cylinder by pushing the cylinder release forward and you will see a 7-shot cylinder chambered in .32 H&R Magnum. The pistol uses the classic Charter Arms steel frame but the finish is a modern black nitride. I cannot see any problem with the durability of this finish. The rear sight is wide and broad like all Charter Arms revolvers while the front sight is a fiber optic insert. This green insert is high visibility and easily acquired for speed shooting. Despite the light twenty two ounce weight the Charter Arms Professional has proven a light kicker with standard loads. The action is as smooth as any modern production double action revolver. In single action mode the trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds. I like the revolver a lot and after firing more than four hundred cartridges I have formed a good opinion of the revolver.

Charter Arms Professional
A heavy underlugged barrel provides good balance.
Charter Arms Professional
The fiber optic front post is a good option for all of us but especially aging eyes.
Charter Arms Professional
The rear sight is broad and easily acquired for fast shooting.

My primarily loading has been the Black Hills Ammunition cowboy load, a lead bullet with modest recoil and good accuracy. I have also used the 85 grain JHP at 1055 fps. The revolver is very easy to use well and to fire quickly. A trained shooter will find a neat group of cartridges on the target, well centered at 7 yards. The revolver tended to fire slightly low. I accommodated this by holding the front optic sight slightly higher than the rear sight, resulting in the bullets homing in on target. The revolver is more than accurate enough for filed and camp use, exhibiting five shot groups of 2-2.5 inches on paper at 15 yards when carefully bench-rested. Frankly I went overboard on both time and ammunition budget goals with this revolver. It is simply a fun gun to shoot. As for a comparison to .38 Special recoil, the .32 Magnum kicks much less than the .38 Special. I can place seven .32 Magnums into a man sized target in the same time, approximately, I can place five .38s into the target. The .32 H and R Magnum isnt as powerful as the .38 Special but then accuracy can often make up for power. The reverse is seldom true. The .32 H and R Magnum offers reasonable power for the light recoil. As an example the Hornady Critical defense at 1040 fps penetrated well past twelve inches in testing and expanded well.

Charter Arms Professional
The Professional proved reliable and accurate in extensive testing.

It is difficult to separate the cartridge from the handgun and a look at the .32 Magnum is wise. The .32 Magnum it seems was originally intended as a crackerjack field round. For small game the .32 is a hand loaders dream- economical, accurate, and effective on small game. For personal defense it is more problematical. As we grow older we are more sensitive to recoil, the skin is thinner, and the joints ache. A .38 Special revolver, particularly a lightweight version, stings and may just be too much for many shooters. The .32 Magnum is a reasonable alternative. Most 85 grain jacketed hollow point loads will clock 1000 to 1100 fps from the Charter Arms Professional’s three inch barrel. This is approximately .380 ACP class, perhaps a bit more energy, but less expanded diameter. The .32 revolver with standard loads offers light recoil. It is a trade off but a reasonable one. The .32 Smith & Wesson Long, as an example, pushes a 98 grain RNL bullet to a miserable 690 fps!

Charter Arms Professional
The .32 H and R Magnum, left, compared to the .38 Special, right.
Charter Arms Professional
A 5- and a 6-shot .38 Special compared to the 7 shot Charter Arms Professional .32 H and R Magnum, on right.

I liked the revolver enough to experiment with a couple of loads from Buffalo Bore. We are introducing extra recoil into a package that was designed to offer lighter recoil, but we are also increasing wound potential substantially. If carrying the revolver for defense against feral dogs or the big cats the Buffalo Bore loads change the equation. The 100 grain JHP is surprisingly fast — 1220 fps. The point of impact is raised and the revolver is dead on the money at 15 yards. This load is closer to the .38 Special in recoil but offers excellent penetration and expansion. The 130 grain flat point hard cast load breaks 1190 fps. This is a stout load that sometimes offers sticky extraction and should be used sparingly. Recoil is there with this load. Buffalo Bore designed this loading to penetrate the skull of a bear in a last ditch effort to save your life. It will penetrate forty inches of gelatin or more. These loads offer another option in the field for those wanting a lightweight but credible protection handgun.

Charter Arms Professional
With both lead and jacketed hollow point loads available the .32 H and R Magnum is relatively affordable.
Charter Arms Professional
The author fired a Critical Defense bullet into soft mud, left, into water jugs, center, and that is a 100 grain Hornady XTP fired into water, a Buffalo Bore loading.

Loaded with standard loads seniors or inexperienced shooters have a revolver they can use well. Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true, and the Charter Arms Professional .32 H&R Magnum has plenty of power and accuracy.

Charter Arms Professional
Compared to the Colt Cobra, top, the Charter Arms Professional is lighter but has a longer barrel.

Read more HERE

 

Veteran Criticizes Police Practices, Gets Guns and Firearm License Seized by Chief of Police

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Watch what you say about local officialdom in Tisbury, Mass., or you may find Police Chief Mark Saloio knocking at your door to revoke your Second Amendment rights.

gun confiscation

SOURCE: NRA-ILA

That’s the harsh lesson 84-year-old Stephen Nichols learned last month when he was overheard criticizing one of Saloio’s employees for leaving his post as a school resource officer to drink coffee at a local convenience store during work hours. Nichols would later explain he couldn’t imagine someone whose job it was to guard kids leaving them defenseless.

Nichols knows a thing or two about fidelity to duty. According to an article in MV Times, he served in the U.S. Army as a Morse Code Specialist during the Korean War era and as a police officer in Tisbury for decades. After his wife died a couple of years ago, Nichols took a job in Tisbury as a crossing guard to stay involved in the community and because, he said, “I love the kids.”

Ironically, it was Nichols’s concern for those kids that caused him to run afoul of Chief Saloio.

As Nichols explained to MV Times, a school resource officer believed to be responsible for the children’s safety would go “to Xtra Mart to get coffee when children came to school in the morning.” He mentioned this to a friend while conversing at a restaurant on Sept. 18. Nichols expressed his concern about this to a friend, worrying that somebody could “shoot up the school” while the officer was away from “his post.”

A waitress at the restaurant overheard the conversation and reported Nichols to the police two days later as potentially threatening the school. “[O]n the strength of that,” according to the MV Times, “Saloio and another officer relieved Nichols of his crossing guard duties while he was in the midst of performing them and subsequently drove to his home and took away his firearms license and guns.”

Nichols indicated the firearm and license seizures occurred without due process or the opportunity to contest the process. There was no paperwork involved in either case, Nichols told MV Times. “No he just told me to hand [the firearm license] over so I took it out of my wallet and handed it to him.” Nichols likewise reported there was no paperwork presented to justify the firearm seizures and no receipts provided for the property that was taken.

Nichols emphatically denied that he meant any threat to children at the school or that he would ever hurt a child. As he explained to MV Times:

When I was in the U.S. Army, and it wasn’t just me, it’s anybody who’s in the U.S. service, if you are on guard duty for eight hours, you didn’t leave that position. … And I’m just so accustomed to that, that when I see someone who’s supposed to be protecting kids … leave the school unguarded — if you’re on guard duty, you stay there.

The friend with whom Nichols shared his concerns, and the owner of the restaurant, both defended Nichols.

The restaurant owner told the MV Times he has known Nichols for decades and called the situation absolutely outrageous.” He acknowledged that one of his restaurant employees “overreacted” to what was said.

Nichols’s friend characterized the city’s reaction as “absurd.” “He loves kids,” the man said. “It’s almost like of all the people …” He added that no one else at the restaurant where Nichols is a regular customer believes him to be a threat.

MV Times said its reporting of the incident “generated social media activity never before seen on the Martha’s Vineyard Times webpages, including links on gun activist and law enforcement pages, and tens of thousands of Facebook hits.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, Nichols has now been reinstated to his crossing guard duties. He said Chief Saloio met with him on Columbus Day, and, without explanation, offered him his job back. Nichols accepted.

The fate of Nichols’s guns and firearm license, however, remain unclear. An attorney who represents Nichols told MV Times confirmed his intent to file an appeal to secure the return of what Chief Saloio seized. Meanwhile, Nichols was informed that his grandson, who manages a Worcester gun shop, is “going to be allowed to come down and take the weapons and sell them for me.” As it stands, Nichols has yet to receive his license or firearms back.

Nothing in the MV Times reporting indicates that Nichols was ever found to be a legitimate threat; Nichols is said to have held a Massachusetts firearm license without incident since 1958, and nothing was ever adjudicated against Nichols by a court of law prior to the seizures of his property. Because there was no proven justification for depriving Nichols of his legally owned firearms, commentators are citing the situation as a cautionary tale against “red flag” firearm seizure laws.

Incredibly, the situation may be more insidious than the commentators suspect.

Even the worst “red flag” laws contemplate the involvement of a disinterested judge or magistrate; someone who would hear some evidence, even at the lowest evidentiary standard, before issuing a confiscation order. But because lawful firearm possession in Massachusetts requires a license, some officials — like Chief Saloio — are growing comfortable with treating your fundamental Second Amendment rights as a privilege to be revoked at their discretion.

This is patently unconstitutional.

Rest assured: The NRA will continue to monitor developments in this case.

Photo Courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Times/Rich Saltzberg

 

REVIEW: SIG P225A1 9mm

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Based on hand-fit and speed into action, this may be SIG’s best 9mm handgun. READ WHY

SIG P225A
SIG P225A1

Bob Campbell

Not long after the introduction of the SIG Sauer P 220 9mm, SIG began modifying the handgun for other duties. The pistol was chambered in .38 ACP Super and .45 ACP for the American market. It was also re-designed into the compact P225 for German police use. After years of carrying the ineffectual Walther PPK in .32 or .380 ACP, the German police were none too keen on packing the full size SIG P220 pistol. The compact P225 was a happy mix of excellent features including a smooth double action first shot trigger, good sights, excellent accuracy, and soon to be legendary reliability. This slim pistol was carried by plainclothes officers and a few uniformed officers here in the United States. While its niche was taken to an extent by the P 239 pistol, the P225 enjoyed a loyal following. The SIG P228, a high capacity version of the P225, was very popular and adopted by the military as the M11. The popularity of these handguns and the availability of West German police surplus P 225 pistols at a very fair price led SIG to phase out the P 225. A couple of years ago SIG reintroduced the P225 as the P225A. It is a very different handgun, perhaps a better handgun, and while not immensely popular is a sweet shooting and handling handgun.

SIG P225A
The grip frame and front strap checkering allow for excellent abrasion and adhesion when firing.

SIG watches trends and saw the popularity of the 9mm handgun and the vast market for concealed carry handguns. They felt that a revised P225 would be a good addition to the line. The new P225 is based upon the P229 and is arguably a single column magazine P 229. Since the P229 is among the best balanced and handling SIG pistols that is a good place to begin. The slide is machined stainless steel versus the stamped slide of the original P225. This slide was originally designed to handle the .357 SIG cartridge. Later P229 handguns were available in 9mm and .40 caliber. The new pistol is thicker in the slide than the original P225 but remains a compact handgun. This slide makes for what may be one of the strongest 9mm handguns on the planet. I feel that steady diet of +P or +P+ loads would not be daunting to this handgun. The old hooked trigger guard of the P225 is gone. The new trigger guard looks nice and is designed to allow the pistol to set lower in the hand, combating the typical double action pistol’s high bore axis. The pistol features G10 grip panels similar to the Legend series. The P225 A features the Short Reset Trigger. This is a shorter double action press and a faster reset. This trigger makes the pistol a much better shooter than the original. The grip is among the most ergonomic I have handled. This is a well designed and well thought out handgun. The P225A maintains the original frame mounted decocker, take down lever and slide lock. The test pistol’s DA pull breaks at a smooth 12 pounds. The single action trigger is a crisp 4.25 pounds. This is an excellent combination for all around personal defense use.

SIG P225A
The P225A magazine is slim and allows for a slim grip frame. SIG magazines are famously reliable and well made.

The double action and single action trigger system is a compromise that stresses simple readiness. Draw, press the trigger and fire. The slide cocks the hammer and subsequent shots are fired single action. The hammer is lowered by activating the frame mounted decock lever. While a striker fired handgun such as the Glock has only one trigger action to learn the SIG’s single action trigger offers excellent accuracy. The SIG demands time and effort- as well as ammunition- to master but once understood the SIG DA/SA guns respond well to those that practice. The long suit of the SIG is reliability. Government testing and extreme test programs worldwide have earned the SIG series the title of the world’s most reliable handgun. SIG’s accuracy is also worth the effort to understand as the pistol will respond well to a trained shooter. The P225A is also simple to field strip and maintain. The pistol is unloaded, the magazine is removed, and a takedown lever is rotated. The slide is removed forward off the frame and the barrel and recoil spring are pulled from the slide. My personal P225 A features self luminous iron sights. The tritium inserts have remained bright and useful for several years and provide an excellent sight picture.

SIG P225A
SIG’s night sights are a good addition.

The advantage of the P225A over other SIG handguns or any high capacity handgun is in hand fit and speed. This handgun feels right in the hand. The size is right; you can close your hand on the grip and be in control. Drawing from the Galco Stow and Go inside the waistband holster, the P225A is brilliantly fast on the draw and to a first shot hit. Those who practice will find a capable handgun. As for accuracy I have enjoyed working up handloads with this pistol, focusing primarily on the Hornady 124 grain XTP and Titegroup powder. At 1050 fps I have achieved accuracy on the order of a five shot group at 1.4 inch at 25 yards from the Bullshooters target rest. That is match grade in my opinion. I have achieved similar result with the Gorilla Ammunition 135 grain JHP and a 2.0 inch 25 yard group with the fast stepping Gorilla Ammunition 115 grain +P. Moving to +P+ rated loads the Double Tap 115 grain bonded core loading has given good results and remains controllable in this handgun.

SIG P225A
SIG’s take down is uncomplicated and makes for ease of maintenance. The SIG Sauer P225 A 1 features a handy de-cock lever for lowering the hammer and easy take down.

The P225A is among the finest handguns I have had the pleasure to use and fire. I own a good number of SIG pistols, each with a well defined mission. The P225A is easily my favorite to fire. It is a great handgun well worth its price.

SIG P225A
The P225A1 is a slim and fast handling 9mm. Firing offhand the P225A was comfortable to fire with all loads.

LEARN MORE HERE

SKILLS: Cold Weather Carry Tips

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Confident and effective concealed carry always demands planning and attention, and don’t forget the broad influence of environmental conditions. READ MORE

cold weather carry

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, Handguns Magazine

As a native Californian, I sometimes forget the whole world doesn’t walk around in T-shirts, shorts, and flip flops year-round.

Recent trips to northern Illinois and central Pennsylvania reminded me not everyone has it so easy when it comes to concealed carry. Clearing a baggy T-shirt to draw your handgun is a lot different than having to fish your handgun out from under layer after cold-blocking layer of garments. Add a pair of cozy gloves to the mix and getting to your gun in a hurry can be next to impossible. Even worse, if your gun snags on a garment during the draw stroke, it can be dropped with the muzzle pointing who knows where. If moving to a warmer climate isn’t in your plans, here are a few tips for cold-weather concealed carry.

Common Snags
Concealing a gun in cold weather is easy, but drawing it is surprisingly difficult. Obviously, the smaller the gun and the more layers of clothing covering the gun, the harder it will be to get to. On a damp, chilly morning at The Site in Mount Carroll, Illinois, I watched students struggle to draw from under a hodgepodge of garments. They might sweep their heavy unzipped jacket aside — only to fumble with a sweatshirt they try to lift over their holstered gun. This is way too much of a burden.

Whenever possible, wear clothing layers under your gun and a single garment (your coat) over it. Keep in mind your outer garment can present holstering issues. Heavy winter jackets, even those of the “tactical” ilk, have drawstrings that can inadvertently enter the holster after your gun is drawn. If one of these strings gets caught up in the trigger guard and snags the trigger as you holster, the result could be an unintended discharge. To remedy this, take a little extra time before holstering. Closed garments make it a little more difficult to holster, and the problem is exacerbated when your gun is worn behind the hip.

cold weather carry

Holstering Complications
Here’s where many shooters go wrong. While reaching across their body with their off-hand to move aside the concealing garment, they often inadvertently place a hand or arm in front of the muzzle. Safety concerns aside, reaching across your body while wearing a heavy winter coat can be difficult — especially when your gun is worn behind the hip. But with a closed garment you do need to use your off-hand to lift the garment and expose the mouth of the holster. To accomplish this, leave your gun pointed “downrange” and reach under the gun to lift the garment over the holster and pin it to your body.

Take a peek into the holster and, assuming it’s completely empty, holster your gun. If you’re using an open garment, you don’t have to deal with quite as much hassle. One holstering technique, taught by Gunsite’s Dave Hartman and others, is to orient the palm of your hand upward as you bring the gun to your body and hook the garment to sweep it aside and clear a path to your holster. Some instructors prefer to have you holster without looking at the holster, but since you shouldn’t even consider holstering if you have any doubt whether the fight’s over, I recommend taking a breath and a quick glance into the holster to verify there are no obstructions. Bulky clothing isn’t just problematic when drawing or shooting; it can actually induce a malfunction when firing a semi-automatic pistol.

Shooting From Retention
When shooting from a weapon retention position, with your gun held close to your torso, it’s possible for a garment to become entangled with the slide. If the slide can’t reciprocate, your pistol’s cycle of operations is disrupted. In other words, you’re holding a paper weight until you remedy the problem via the Tap, Rack, Assess protocol or something even more time-consuming. To keep the slide from snagging on their garments, many shooters are taught to cant their pistol outboard slightly. The top of the slide would be in approximately the two o’clock or three o’clock position to give the slide room to cycle.

cold weather carry

Alternatively, when shooting from retention, you could simply “flag” your thumb. With this technique your thumb is wedged between your gun and your torso to create just enough of a barrier for the slide to do its thing. Indexing your thumb to the same part of your body also promotes consistent orientation for enhanced close-quarter accuracy. Last but not least on the cold weather calamity list are gloves. Clearly, the thicker the gloves, the less dexterity you will have. This will affect your ability to grab and clear your concealing garment, grip your pistol, and manipulate the trigger. For these reasons, I would opt for the thinnest gloves you can get by with, and I would practice with them extensively. If not, your gloves will probably feel like mittens when you try to draw and shoot with them.

Originally appeared in Handguns Magazine.

Check out Handguns Magazine for more expert opinions and advice on concealed carry. The Handguns Magazine mission, as America’s only small-arms media property, is to emphasize the proper use and selection of handguns for self-defense and sport shooting.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

SKILLS: My Caliber Crisis: Do I Need A 10mm?

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Every gun owner at some time is compelled to test the waters with a new cartridge. Here are Tom McHale’s thoughts on his latest pursuit. READ MORE

10mm
The 10mm and the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator makes for a potent combination.

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Tom McHale

I’m having another caliber crisis.

Over the years, I’ve ventured into cartridge odysseys that include unusual chamberings like .357 Sig and 300 Blackout. More recently, I’m kind of developing a thing for 10mm. I’ve been testing out a Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator chambered in the big-boy version of the .40 S&W and I’m kinda liking it. There are definitely some benefits. Let’s discuss.

Weight and Velocity
We’re going to argue forever about whether the light, small and fast 9mm is as good as the heavy, fat and slow .45 ACP, so why not just choose heavy, moderately portly and fast?

The 10mm, when fired from the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator, launches 200-grain bullets in the 1,100 feet per second velocity band. That’s the mid-weight of the .45 ACP bullet family and the mid-velocity range of 9mm.

How Powerful is a 10mm?
Many stand in awe of the 10mm, likely because it has a simple, yet badass name. Then there’s the fact that the FBI moved to it (sort of) for a time. It’s hard to argue with credentials like that.

Being the inquisitive sort, I wanted to see how it stands up to all the other common cartridges and a few other kinetic energy-generating objects. So, I dug up my database from all the ammunition and guns I’ve tested over the years and looked up a pile of actual cartridge, velocity, kinetic energy, and momentum calculations for some representative samples.

10mm
The 10mm is the big-boy version of the .40 S&W, and offers a lot of punch downrange.

As a side note, I like to look at both kinetic energy and momentum to tell the whole story of how “powerful” a cartridge is. Kinetic energy is easy — we all know “foot-pounds” as a standard measure of “oomph.” However, kinetic energy emphasizes velocity the way it’s calculated, so a super-light bullet can have huge foot-pound numbers simply because it’s moving fast. The slow and fat projectile crowd likes to take bullet weight into consideration and that’s where the momentum calculation comes into play.

At the risk of insulting physics, you might think of kinetic energy as destructive power, like a power drill. And you might think of momentum as the ability for one object to move another. The more weight the “mover” object has, the more powerful it is. Think wrecking balls. They don’t move all that fast, but few of us would want to be hit with one.

Anyway, I fired several different loads from the Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Operator pistol you see in the picture above and recorded velocity so I could run the numbers. Just for fun, I did the math on a few other non-shooting moving objects and added in info on several other chamberings.

So, what does all this mean? Here are the important learnings —

The 10mm mostly tops the charts for “rational” handgun power levels. Sure, a .44 Magnum brings half again more kinetic energy, but unless you’re Dirty Harry, it’s not the most practical carry handgun.

If you’re a foot-pounds junkie, 10mm thumps 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

The 10mm and .357 Magnum are similar from a kinetic energy perspective. While the .357 Magnum uses a much lighter projectile, it moves a lot faster, hence the high foot-pound count.

A 10mm has about the same momentum as a PGA drive launched by Bubba Watson, although I’m pretty sure the 10mm projectile will win handily in the penetration and expansion tests. Sorry Bubba.

10mm

Capacity
There’s nothing to write home about here. Normal capacity for a 10mm is virtually identical to that of a .40 S&W. That’s because the case diameter is the same, although the 10mm cartridges are longer. Remember, the whole point of the .40 S&W “great compromise” was to offer more capacity than a .45 ACP pistol while launching larger bullets than a 9mm.

While 10mm is powerful, it’s by no means the uncontrollable “hand-cannon” that many have claimed. In a solid gun like the Range Officer Elite Operator, it’s more than manageable.

But What About Recoil?
I think the real recoil penalty (or lack thereof) is what makes the 10mm interesting. While it’s not as easy to control as a 9mm or .40 S&W, it’s not all that different from that of a .45 ACP pistol of the same weight. What you feel as recoil depends largely on the weight of the pistol, so if you’re comparing a steel 1911 chambered in .45 ACP to one packing 10mm, the numbers work out about the same.

I won’t bore you with the common-core math details, but the recoil energy of a .45 ACP 1911 and 10mm 1911 works out to 5.43 and 6.28 foot-pounds. To put those numbers in perspective, the same math on much lighter Springfield Armory XD-S pistols in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP works out to 5.07, 6.92 and 8.15 foot-pounds.

The Bottom Line
Here’s my take. If you want a gun that’s super-duper easy to control so you can deliver rapid-fire strings without the sights moving, buy a steel 9mm like a Range Officer or EMP. If you want more power in a semi-automatic package that’s as carry friendly as a .45, consider the 10mm. You might fit an extra round or two in a gun of similar size owing to the smaller cartridge diameter while fulfilling your need for speed.

10mm

Tom McHale
Tom is a perpetual student of all things gun and shooting related. He’s particularly passionate about self and home defense and the rights of all to protect themselves and their loved ones. As part of his ongoing learning, Tom has completed dozens of training programs and is a certified National Rifle Association instructor for pistol and shotgun. Tom is a professional writer by trade these days and has published seven books on guns, shooting, reloading, concealed carry, and holsters. In between book projects, Tom has published somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 articles for about a dozen gun and shooting publications. If he’s not writing, you can probably find him on the range.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

REVIEW: The Commander With No Name — The Rock Island Armory 10mm

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“This isn’t a two thousand dollar gun but it shoots like one!” Attention hard-hitting 1911 fans, here’s a 10mm Commander to check out. READ WHY

RIA 10MM

Bob Campbell

Some time ago the 10mm cartridge hit the ground running and enjoyed a flash of popularity. Soon after the 10mm was eclipsed by the .40 Smith & Wesson cartridge. The 10mm was kept going by a small but loyal base. But the 10mm is enjoying a credible comeback. I think that a learned appraisal of the cartridge is part of the reason. The 10mm isn’t a .41 Magnum but with modern loads it nips at the heels of the .357 Magnum with certain offerings. There are 10mm loads with modest recoil that are easily handled and others that breathe fire and recoil like a drum roll. We have rapidly expanding frangible loads, jacketed hollow point bullets with an excellent balance of expansion and penetration, and hard cast bullets that feature deep penetration for game hunting.

I recently tested a very expensive handgun called “The Gun With No Name.” That three thousand dollar 1911 was stylish with no scroll work to distract from the beautifully machined slide. It inspired the handgun reviewed here, the Rock Island Commander 10mm — yep, a Commander-length 10mm — has had the slide “wiped” of the markings some of us find distracting (although this pistol still has ‘RIA’ in the serial number). It’s the Tac Ultra MS.

RIA 10MM
Note scalloped ejection port and well designed beavertail safety.

The Philippine produced Armscor pistols are affordable but workmanlike handguns that enjoy a deserved good reputation. The company produces bare-bone bones GI guns and also target pistols. The ‘Rock’ is offered in 9mm, .38 Super, 10mm, .45 ACP, and .22 Magnum, as well as the .22 TCM caliber. The pistol illustrated is a Commander type with 4.25 inch barrel. The kicker is this is a 10mm Commander, a relative rarity in the 1911 world.

RIA 10MM
The bull barrel is a good feature. It is well fitted.

While the slide treatment and refinish are aftermarket and custom grade, the best things about the handgun were already in place. The pistol features a bushingless bull barrel. This means that the barrel dispenses with the typical 1911 barrel bushing but uses a belled barrel to lock up with the slide. This makes the full-length guide rod necessary. The pistol features a bold front post sight with fiber optic insert. The rear sight is a compact but fully adjustable version. The ejection port is nicely scalloped with a unique and attractive treatment. The beavertail grip safety is an aid in insuring the grip safety is properly pressed to release its hold on the trigger. Those that use the thumbs forward grip sometimes form a hollow in the palm and fail to properly depress the grip safety. The RIA beavertail eliminates this concern. The extended slide lock safety is an ambidextrous design. The indent is clean and sharp. Trigger compression is a tight 5.2 pounds on my Lyman Electronic Trigger Gauge. The grips are checkered G10. The pistol is supplied with two magazines, and I added several additional MecGar magazines into the mix for testing.

RIA 10MM
The pistol’s sights leave nothing to be desired.

For the test fire the magazines were loaded with SIG Sauer Elite FMJ 10mm. This load is clean burning, affordable, and accurate enough for meaningful practice. The pistol comes on target quickly and handles like a 1911. The low bore axis, straight to the rear trigger compression and hand fitting grip make for excellent handling. The pistol proved capable of center punching the target time and again at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The pistol is controllable but this isn’t a 9mm that you may punch holes in the target with at will. The much higher recoiling 10mm demands a firm grip and focused concentration. The mantra here isn’t a nicely centered group on target but a few solid hits with plenty of horsepower. Be certain you understand this before trying the 10mm. It isn’t something to be taken lightly. If you choose the 10mm you have a cartridge with excellent penetration, good wound potential, and, if need be, the ability to protect the owner against dangerous animals.

RIA 10MM
The pistol was fired with a variety of ammunition.
RIA 10MM
The pistol is controllable in rapid fire- but the shooter must expend some effort.

I also fired a number of first-rate defense loads. These included the SIG Sauer V Crown hollow point, the Buffalo Bore 155 grain Barnes X bullet, Hornady 180 grain XTP, and the Federal 200 grain HST. I fired a magazine full of each. No failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Even firing these loads the pistol remained controllable. I fired, allowed the trigger to reset in recoil, and fired again as the sights were returned to target. To test absolute accuracy I fired the pistol from a solid bench rest position at 20 yards. I used the Hornady 180 grain XTP and the SIG Sauer 180 grain FMJ loading. The results were good, with the average group at 2.5 inches. The Rock Island 10mm pistol is clearly accurate enough for personal defense and perhaps even hunting thin-skinned game or wild boar out to 35 yards or so.

RIA 10MM
The GALCO Stryker was used during range drills.

Learn more HERE

SKILLS: Why You May Want A Laser On Your EDC Pistol

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Great advice from umpteen time pistol shooting champion Rob Leatham. Take it! READ MORE

rob leatham

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Rob Leatham

The fact you’ve chosen to carry a firearm means you want to be prepared to protect yourself. Being able to hit what you shoot at — that’s what it’s all about. However, simply having a gun isn’t enough. You need to, among other things, HIT what you aim at. Otherwise the resulting use of your firearm may create more problems than it solves.

Unfortunately, to be blunt, most concealed carriers are not skilled enough to hit what they shoot at. I know I sound pessimistic, but I have seen it for decades — shooters who do not prepare for the realities of when, where and how real world situations occur.

Are You Ready?
If you want to do this right and have a chance of survival, you have to be as ready as you can be. Being ready is a byproduct of preparation.

Here is the beginner’s list:

First step — you need to have a concealable gun, like the Springfield Armory XD-S Mod.2 9mm.

XD-S Mod.2 9mm

Second step — you have to train and practice. And I mean doing it like it matters. You can’t just shoot 10 shots through the gun to see if it works and say you are good to go. The gun will work. You’ve picked one of the most reliable compact handguns possible. That’s why I carry one. I’m not worried about the gun working, I’m worried about you working!

Third Step — learn marksmanship. To train to protect your life, you need to look beyond just having the gun and knowing some tactics. You have to address the elements of marksmanship that lead to its effective use. If “IT” hits the fan and you have to shoot, you had better hit what you are shooting at. In regards to that, there are two points that standout as being the most important: Fire Control & Aiming.

In this article, I’m going to address aiming.

Front Sight Fiasco
The problem with aiming is that we have taught you all wrong. I apologize. We “shooting instructors” tend to focus on aiming in a clinical sense with little attention paid to how situations might really happen. Let me explain…

Scenario: You are in a fight for your life, things are happening around you fast and the distances are close. Too close. Like the really dangerous distances of contact and just out-of-contact range.

Action plan: You will likely need a better marksmanship goal than the old guidelines of, “Look for that crisp, clear front sight focus.” I have heard it explained far too often that you can’t hit anything if the front sight isn’t clearly in focus. This is absurd.

In a fight you will likely need to watch and monitor what is happening. Your gun may be in your hand. You likely will have it pointed at an imminent threat. You likely will be stressed and nervous. You likely will be scared. You will likely be reacting to events as they unwind. And, unfortunately, if national statistics are referenced, you will likely MISS when the time comes to shoot. Let’s try to avoid this by outfitting ourselves well.

Armed to Aim
You need to stack the odds in your favor. It’s already a day gone bad, so let’s not make it worse. You need to give yourself the best possible chance to not miss. You do this by training and preparing your mind and equipment.

While far more important than your equipment choices, training is a complex subject that needs to be addressed in a personal and physical manor. I just can’t do it very well from across the inter-web. I can tell you about which guns and holsters and calibers to choose. I can tell you what skills to work on and describe drills that test you. But I cannot train you. I need to be able to watch you to correct you.

But I can tell you about aiming:

Aiming is the process of recognizing and causing alignment of your firearm onto the target. This is unchanged regardless of context.

Aiming is simple and yet not easy, especially if you don’t shoot a lot, and especially under pressure or duress. Fortunately, there are products that can help if this is something you struggle with.

The sights that come on something like the XD-S Mod.2 9mm are excellent for quickly aiming that pistol. They are easy to see and allow you to accurately align your pistol on target. Fiber optic and/or night sights, they are as good as iron sights can be. Period.

But are they your best possible choice?

Let’s say you are an experienced shooter who has trained for decades and shot hundreds of thousands of rounds. Like me! You have learned simply by feel how to do most of the aiming/aligning process. You are what many would call a good “point shooter” too. I will likely never need anything as good as the sights that are on the XD-S Mod.2.

But what if you are not like me? And what if it is dark? And what if you have not practiced enough with your awesome new carry gun? How are you going to know where that gun is pointed in that moment of need? You won’t have the feel I do, nor the confidence. You may need something more.

Sharks With Laser Beams
Have you thought about a laser (If it’s good enough for a shark…)? #AustinPowers

A laser aiming device will show you, while allowing you to keep your eyes on your target, exactly where the gun is pointed.

Even if it is dark.
Even if you are not holding the gun in a manner where you can see the sights.
Even if you are knocked down and lying on the ground.
Even if you physically CANNOT see iron sights clearly.

Does that sound helpful? Beneficial? Favorable?

And how about this, do you wear vision correction like I do? While I can put on my fancy DECOT shooting glasses in preparation for a competition, they aren’t my daily wear. They allow my old eyes to focus on the sights, something I can’t do with my daily eyeglasses. And I don’t want to wear them for anything except shooting. Sure, they are magical. They have returned my ability to see standard sights like I did decades ago. They do this by making my eyes focus at the approximate distance of the front of my gun at arms reach. Kinda like if you have to wear “readers” to read, but everything past that is fuzzy. This is perfect in a competition, but in a fight I need to see what is “downrange” much more clearly than “fuzzy.”

So About That Laser…
A gun-mounted laser allows you to see where the gun is pointed, regardless of your vision or the distance or how you’re holding the gun. You can see where the gun is pointed in low light, and/or with the gun in a retention position. The list of benefits goes on. For many, if not most of us, a laser on your pistol solves many mechanical problems you may encounter in a fight.

The Viridian laser mounts perfectly to the XD-S Mod.2 9mm. It is quick to install, simple to use and fast when it comes to aiming. And most importantly, it will likely be a great tool for those who:

Aren’t able to train every day
Don’t have great hand-eye coordination
Have poor/substandard vision

It is by no stretch of the imagination a guarantee of acceptable marksmanship on its own, but a gun-mounted laser can be an excellent solution for your “aiming issues.”

I suggest you give one a try on your EDC gun. I can’t imagine a better compact self-defense combination.

Springfield Armory® recommends you seek qualified and competent training from a certified instructor prior to handling any firearm and be sure to read your owner’s manual. These articles are considered to be suggestions and not recommendations from Springfield Armory. The views and opinions expressed on this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Springfield Armory.

ROB LEATHAM
Rob Leatham, captain of Team Springfield, has been with the Springfield Armory family since the late 1980s. He is a world-renowned competition shooter and firearms instructor who is highly regarded as one of — if not THE — most-winning Practical Pistol Competitor in history. Rob’s sheer number of National and World Shooting Titles make him unique in the firearms industry. He has trained shooters from all walks of life — from IPSC World Champions to Military Special Forces Operators and from Law Enforcement Officers to civilians for Self Defense. In the competitive shooting world of IPSC, USPSA, Steel Challenge, IDPA and NRA Action Pistol, Rob’s competition career has spanned decades.

Keep up with Rob: 
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Suppressors: Beyond The Myth

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With the growing interest in this firearms accessory, what’s real and what’s not? Here’s the real… READ MORE

suppressed handgun

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Fred Mastison

There are few items in the firearms world with as much mystique and wonder as the modern day suppressor. These handy devices have seen an astronomical increase in interest as people begin to discover all of the benefits of owning and using a suppressor on their firearms. The first step in this conversation about suppressors is to get a quick look at how these little gems work.

When we press the trigger the gun fires and a chain of events is set into motion. The fired round produces hot and pressurized gases that force the bullet down the barrel. Once they launch the round out of the barrel they escape into the open and in doing so experience a dramatic change in environment which causes the explosive sound we hear. Suppressors work by chambering and controlling those gases to more efficiently funnel them and cool them before they leave the gun.

The suppressor is composed of several parts depending on the brand and design, but essentially all share some common parts. The main body or expansion chamber is composed of a series of baffles that efficiently funnel, cool, and spread out the gasses to reduce their noise once they do reach the outside. The number and design of the baffles is often a trademarked item as each company looks to find the holy grail of silence. The end result of this gas pinball action is a quieter shot with reduced recoil.

Contrary to popular belief, suppressors do not completely eliminate the sound of a weapon being fired. Some do an exceptional job but they are in no way truly silencers. The funny thing about that is that the ATF in the NFA division actually list suppressors as “silencers.” Why they do so is not known to me, but my guess is that it was a term in common use when laws were written and it simply stuck. Suppressors are also commonly referred to as “cans” because of their design. The ultimate goal of a suppressor is to make the weapon “hearing safe.” This means the sound is controlled and diminished to the point that hearing protection is not required. In some guns this is easy and made easier by the use of subsonic ammunition. Others, however, will never reach that level, but the percussion of the shots are less spleen damaging.

The perks of running a suppressor are many, but protecting your hearing is by far the most critical. This is especially true for shooters that put a lot of rounds down range each year. There is a cumulative effect and in time without superior hearing protection you will begin to notice the effects. Suppressors help to reduce and even eliminate that problem. Another benefit is a reduction in muzzle rise. This allows us to stay on target and in turn shoot faster. One last positive aspect of suppressors is their ability to diminish muzzle flash. This is very important to military and law enforcement that use night vision.

There are essentially three types of suppressors that we have access to. First is the thread on can. These devices attach to the threaded portion of your rifle or pistol barrel. Once the most common type of can, they are starting to become a little rarer as designs have improved. Our second can is the quick detach or QD can. These devices are sold with a host muzzle device that is attached to the rifle. The can simply slides on over the top of the device and then locks into place via the company’s chosen method. These are popular because they allow us to more quickly move our can from one gun to another. All you need to do is buy additional muzzle devices and you can share one can across many guns. The last type are integral suppressors. These are devices that are incorporated into the actual barrel of the gun. These are considered to be the quietest cans because they have larger chambers and are set up for a specific gun. To the naked eye, these guns simply appear to have just a slightly thicker barrel. A great example of this is an integrally suppressed .22LR bolt rifle with a port. When using subsonic ammunition this gun is as close to silent as a suppressor can get. In fact the mechanical sounds produced by the gun such as the trigger clicking are many times louder than the shot.

The downside to suppressors is that they fall under the National Firearms Act or NFA. This means that in order to get one, you need to file specific paperwork with the ATF and pay a $200 tax stamp fee. The approval process can run anywhere from 90 days to nine months or more depending on how many forms the NFA has to process. Once approved you literally will get a stamp. It looks like a fancy postage stamp and is your golden ticket to owning your suppressor. You need to go through this process for each can you purchase and many people have become “stamp collectors.”

Even with it being a pain in the caboose, owning a suppressor is a great idea. If you take a new friend shooting for the first time, using a suppressor is a good way to ease them into things. Once again, I will mention hearing protection as one of the major benefits. Overall, the benefits of having a suppressor far outweigh the downsides. More companies are making them and prices have dropped dramatically over the years. If you have been considering going quiet, I encourage you to make the jump. The quicker you do the paperwork, the faster you will get your can!

Fred Mastison is a national magazine contributor, professional firearms and combatives instructor and executive protection provider and trainer. He is also the host of the weekly firearms podcast Center Mass. He has written over 600 articles for 27 different magazines. He is a reserve police officer and has been training in firearms & close quarter combatives for over three decades. Additionally he has almost 40 years in the martial arts and holds advanced degrees in multiple arts. He currently holds 17 separate law enforcement POST course certifications around the U.S. and is a certifying instructor for law enforcement firearms instructors in handgun, patrol rifle, shotgun and sub machine gun. In addition to training in the US, Mr. Mastison has divisions in Germany, Ireland and Mexico.

 

REVIEW-RETROSPECT: Surplus Beretta 92S

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Here’s a retired 9mm with still a lot of fight left! READ MORE

beretta 92s
For a pistol manufactured in the early 1980s my example shows surprisingly little wear.

beretta 92s

Robert Sadowski

“Surplus” has different meanings depending where you are in the world. Surplus firearms in the U.S. means extra on-hand or dated equipment, in other countries it could mean scrap metal. I try to avoid the latter, but I am always on the look out for a diamond in the rough and thought I’d look at the Beretta 92S. I have seen these advertised by a variety of online gun sellers. This 9mm is an early generation of 92FS so it is more of a European gun than the 92FS which definitely has U.S. influence. This is what I found with this old pistol.

The Model 92S is basically a Model 92FS with slight differences.The original Model 92 was introduced in 1976 and had a frame mounted safety similar to the Taurus 92 pistol or a 1911 style pistol. Police and military in Italy wanted a slide mounted safety and in 1977 Beretta introduced the 92S, the second generation 92, and started to sell these pistols to police and law enforcement agencies around the world. Where the 92S differs from the 92FS is in the grip, hammer pin, receiver shape, and magazine release. The 92FS has an enlarged hammer pin to stop the slide from flying off the receiver if it cracks. This was done at request of the U.S. military after testing with high pressure loads. The 92S has the safety lever mounted in the slide. Rotated up it exposes a red dot and the pistol is ready to fire. Rotate it down and the trigger is disengaged but the slide can still be manipulated. The hammer cannot be cocked. With the pistol cocked, rotate the lever to allow the hammer to move forward. The safety is not ambidextrous.

beretta 92s
The 92S was the first of the 92 series to have a slide mounted safety lever.

The receiver has a rounded trigger guard and the magazine release is located in the butt. Press the button and the magazine falls free. If you have ever fired a pistol in snow or tall grass you will understand why the magazine release was located here. Using the support hand to manipulate the magazine drops the empty magazine into the palm of the support hand. Here in the U.S. we are used to dumping the empty magazine and while it is falling insert a full magazine. This is a European trait of the 92S. It’s really all in the training. Most magazines made for the 92FS are compatible with the 92S, so finding extra magazines — both factory and aftermarket — is simple.

beretta 92s
That button is the magazine release, which took some getting used to.
beretta 92s
That D-shaped hole in the magazine allows the magazine to be used in 92s with a magazine butt release. Many current manufacture 92 magazines have this cut out.

The front and rear grip straps are smooth and there is a lanyard loop attached at the butt. The 92S feels rounded in hand, different than the 92FS. The plastic grips were checkered on the bottom portion but not the top which is odd. I would have liked fully checkered grips to better grip the pistol.

beretta 92s
The 92S did not have any front or rear grip strap serrations. They were missed.

My example showed signs of holster wear but little actually firing. The bluing was worn and I would rate this pistol 80-75 percent by NRA standards. The slide had no wiggle — it was tight. The trigger measured 11 pounds in DA mode and felt like it. In SA mode there was a lot of take up and a bit mushy. Not show stoppers by any means, just a typical used service pistol. The sight were small, fixed, and without contrasting dots or lines. On a dark background the sights can get lost.

Since this is an older pistol I did not test with +P+ loads. This pistol was not designed for that type of high pressure ammunition, not that I am implying this is a sub standard pistol. The 92S is safe when used with ammunition originally intended. What I did want to find out was if performance would be affected if I fired different bullets types — meaning FMJs and hollow points. I used off the shelf 9mm ammo consisting of Hornady American Gunner with 115-grain XTP jacketed hollow points, Aguila 124-grain FMJ, and SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ.

beretta 92s
Sights are small and glare when used in full sunlight.

For accuracy testing I used a bench rest at targets set at 25 yards.

All ammunition cycled flawlessly through the 92S. Magazines seated easily. I would have liked more slide serrations to make the slide easier to rack.

Bench rest accuracy was good, averaging about two inches for five rounds at 25 yards. The 92S had a pleasant recoil. The pistol magazine release took some getting used to and slowed me down when it came to rapid reloads.

beretta 92s
If you’ve spent time under Uncle Sam’s tutelage you know a 92 field strips quickly.

The 92S is no 92FS but still provides an excellent example of Beretta’s 92 series performance, and is a little piece of history too. The 92S is about half the cost of a new 92FS.

92S92S