Tag Archives: Fiocchi Ammunition

REVIEW: Dan Wesson Guardian

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This Dan Wesson is a faultless performer with good features. READ MORE

dan wesson guardian
The Guardian is well made of good material and a formidable handgun.

Heyward Williams

For some time I have regarded the Commander size 1911 handgun as the perfect carry gun for my needs. A Commander is simply a Government Model 1911 with a slide ¾ inch shorter and an aluminum frame in place of the larger handguns steel frame. This makes for a packable handgun with plenty of power. The Commander retains the low bore axis, straight to the rear trigger compression, and excellent features of the Government Model. After a number of difficulties, fights for my life including a fall from a porch of some four feet with four hundred pounds of felons intertwined with me, car wrecks, and climbs in ancient artifacts of architecture I find my back isn’t what it once was. Just the same the 1911 does the intended job like no other and I am not one to compromise. The 1911 .45 is my handgun and the one that I will carry. There are modern choices using space age alloys that allow me to carry the 1911 in comfort. Recoil is greater with these lightweight handguns as there is seldom a free lunch, only tradeoffs. But thank God I am not yet troubled by pain in the wrist and hands and I am able to handle .45 ACP recoil in the hands. The .45 ACP has a push rather than a rap in my perception and the 1911’s low bore axis and well shaped grip helps to an extent with recoil. If you carry a lightweight .45 prepare for a greater investment in time and ammunition to master the piece. With that in mind I looked for the best combination of features, accuracy, and excellence of manufacture. The sky wasn’t the limit — the price must be reasonable for the quality. I have constantly upgraded my 1911s as better types became available. One of those types is the Dan Wesson Guardian.

dan wesson guardian
Dan Wesson’s LW .45 provided excellent results.

The Guardian features a 4.25 inch barrel and a full length grip frame. The shorter slide is much easier to conceal in an inside the waistband holster. A full size grip allows fast handling. The sight radius is shorter than the 5 inch barrel Government Model but excellent shooting may be done with the handgun by those that practice. Shorter handguns require a bull barrel and dispense with the barrel bushing. I prefer the original type and if we keep the barrel length at 4.25 inches we may retain the barrel bushing. The handgun is superbly finished. The dark blue practically black finish is evenly applied and flawless. There are no tool marks inside or out. The finish is non-reflective. The trigger features an over travel adjustment. Mine is sealed in place. The trigger breaks at a very clean 5.0 pounds with little take up and no trace of creep or over travel. The pistol features tight fit in the slide lock safety with a positive indent. This is the first thing I check on a 1911, before I press the trigger. If the fit is sloppy the pistol isn’t considered for personal use. The ejection port is scalloped for more efficient unloading of a chambered round and for positive ejection. The slide release is a re-design of the John Browning type and works well in speed loads. The steel hammer is skeletonized. The grip safety is the popular beavertail type. This type of safety lowers the bore axis slightly and aids in recoil control. The speed bump aids those that have a problem addressing the grip safety. When you use the thumb forward grip there are times when the palm may be raised off of the grip safety and this safety addresses that concern. When depressed the grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about half way into the grip safety’s travel, properly operating and offering a degree of safety as it springs back into position and locks the trigger when released. The fit of the barrel, barrel bushing and locking lugs is custom grade, as it should be on this high end pistol. The Guardian barrel features a reverse crown, a nice feature. A beneficial step is the dehorning and smoothing of all sharp edges. The pistol features low profile sights with tritium inserts. The Guardian pistol is simply ideal for concealed carry in every way.

dan wesson guardian
Front strap checkering is well done and effect.

The final advantage is the bobtail mainspring housing. This mainspring housing neatly chops away the square edge most likely to print on covering garments when the pistol is worn concealed. The bottom edge of the gripstrap is radiused. This treatment balances the good handling of the arched mainspring housing or the ease with which a beavertail safety may be fitted to the flat mainspring housing. It is one of the best features of the Guardian. The grips are well turned out with a smooth area that allows rapid adjustment of the grip while the checkered areas provide good adhesion. The front strap is tastefully checkered at twenty five lines per square inch. This checkering does more to keep the grip steady than checkered grips and makes for ideal gripping surface. In this type of handgun you are paying for fit and close tolerances. This type of fitting ensures less eccentric wear as the pistol returns to battery in the same manner time after time. The handgun is supplied with two magazines.

dan wesson guardian
Front strap checkering is well done and effective.

For this evaluation I loaded a range bag with a good mix of ammunition. The Guardian was lubricated along the bearing surfaces, barrel hood, barrel bushing and cocking block. A big help was the Butler Creek single column magazine loader. I have a loader for my high capacity handguns and also the AR15 and they are a real time saver. As of this writing I have fired just over one thousand rounds in the Guardian over a period of less than six months. Results have been excellent. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. One of the reasons I favor the .45 ACP is that its wound potential is based more on diameter than velocity. The .45 ACP operates at modest pressure. This limits wear on the handgun. Muzzle flash is limited. In training one of the best choices for economical training is the Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ loading. This loading makes for affordable practice but it is accurate enough for any chore. To evaluate the pistol with hollow point defense ammunition I used the Remington Ultimate Defense in 185 and 230 grain bullet weights and added the Fiocchi Extrema 200 grain XTP loading. All loads fed, chambered, fired and ejected properly. All are controllable by those that practice. While all are good choices marksmanship and shot placement mean the most, but these are formidable loads. I have also fired a good quantity of handloads with WW 231 powder and hard cast 200 grain SWC bullets.

Firing off hand first shot hit probability is as good as Commander length .45 and the Commander length 1911 is a bit faster to clear leather for the first shot hit. Control after the first shot isn’t as good as the heavier handguns. The pistol is controllable with the proper technique it simply takes more time to recover. The first shot is most important in a personal defense situation. In competition speed and control for a long string of shots is important. The Dan Wesson is built to save your life. Firing for groups at 25 yards produced several two inch five shot groups. While this type of accuracy may not be needed in personal defense it just might be if you need to fire across a parking lot at a felon that is firing from behind cover or if you have an active shooter at longer range.

dan wesson guardian

This dog will run. With a combination of reliability, power, accuracy and fast handling the Dan Wesson Guardian is a formidable carry gun.

Leather
For concealed carry I have used the Jeffrey Custom Leather EZCarry. This holster features a strong steel belt clip and is usually worn inside the waistband. The user has the option of wearing the holster between the belt and the trousers as well. This is a true custom grade holster that exhibits the finest workmanship and stitching. There was a modest break in period. The pistol exhibits a brilliantly fast draw with this combination. Another holster I have found useful is an Avenger style from the same maker. This holster may be concealed under a light covering garment such as a vest. The Avenger features a belt loop design that keeps the holster cinched in tight to the pants. When the weather allows this type of holster it is a good choice with a less complicated draw than an IWB design.

Check out Jeffrey Custom Leather HERE

Note that the Guardian is listed as a limited production offerering now. Read MORE HERE

REVIEW: Colt’s Cobra — A Great All Around Revolver

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The new Cobra is an outstanding personal defense and outdoors revolver well suited to most chores. READ MORE

colt cobra
The Colt Cobra .38 Special is an excellent revolver in every way.

colt cobra

Bob Campbell

Colt once ruled the revolver market. But that was a long time ago when the goose hung high in Hartford. Today Colt’s Official Police and Police Positive are things of the past. But Colt has jumped back into the revolver market with a double action revolver. I have added the Colt Cobra to my Colt 1911s, AR 15s and .357 Magnums as a front line personal defense gun and outdoors revolver. The Colt Cobra is a stainless steel double action six shot .38 Special revolver. The Cobra is a modern revolver in every way, and while it bears a legendary name, the new Cobra bears only a passing resemblance to the original Cobra. The Colt Detective Special was the original .38 Special snub nose revolver. Based on the Police Positive Special frame, the Detective Special was the lightest .38 Special revolver of the day and remained the lightest six shot .38 for many years. The Cobra was the aluminum frame version. It is even lighter. Each shared the same action and configuration.

colt cobra
Note fiber optic front sight and heavy barrel.

The new Cobra is a beefier revolver with a robust frame and action. It fills the same niche as the original. As a long time Colt fan and Colt shooter I have to say the Cobra does things better in the newer version. The short barrel Detective Special – along with a number of full size .45 caliber Fitz Special revolvers- was conceptualized by Fitz Fitzsimmons, a long time Colt employee and trainer. Fitz wrote that long barrel holster guns were fine for western use and for uniformed officers in some instances, but the modern mechanized means of transportation demanded shorter fast handling revolvers. The shortened barrel was easier to draw inside a vehicle and less likely to be interfered with by steering wheels and gear shifters. He was correct. There are many reasons Colt lost its place in the market. Some feel that Colt did not reinvest its war time profits after World War Two and did not introduce sufficiently interesting new models, other feel that Colt simply priced themselves out of the business. Whatever the reason Smith and Wesson at one time held more than seventy five per cent of the police revolver market. Eventually Colt dropped all revolvers from production.

colt cobra
The original aluminum frame Cobra, top, is shown with a Colt Detective Special, bottom.

While many obtain self loading handguns for personal defense and home defense Fitz Fitzsimmons ideas concerning simplicity of design, fast handling, and reliability hold true today. The revolver may even be pressed into an adversary’s body and fired time after time. A self loader would jam after the first shot. The revolver may be left at ready with no springs at tension and the smooth double action trigger is easily managed by those that practice. The Colt Cobra features a smooth action that offers excellent speed and reset. An advantage of the Colt Cobra is the wide rear sight groove and a bright fiber optic front sight. The .38 Special is a good choice for the average to experienced home defense shooter. The Colt Cobra is also a good choice for concealed carry. The .38 Special is the most powerful cartridge that the occasional shooter can handle well. In this size handgun the .357 Magnum is simply too much.

colt cobra
In most ways the Cobra handles much like a four inch barrel .38 caliber revolver.

Compared to the common five shot .38 Special snub nose the Cobra offers six shots but is only slightly wider- about .11 inch. The Colt grip is an ideal size for most hands. The Hogue monogrip is a recoil absorbing design that isolates the hand from the metal of the revolver. The geometry of the grips compliments the design of the Colt Cobra. While the Colt Cobra resembles the original the trigger isn’t in the same location and the action is tight and smooth with no loose motion. The revolver doesn’t feel like the original Colt but represents an improvement. It should prove more durable in the long term and smoother as well.

My initial shooting was done with Fiocchi’s affordable and accurate .38 Special loads. I used both the 130 grain FMJ and the 158 grain RNL loading. These loads are clean burning. I enjoyed firing the Colt Cobra very much, going through 100 rounds at man sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. Centering the front sight on the target resulted in a hit as long as the trigger was pressed smoothly. During recoil I allowed the trigger to reset. Groups were excellent. Moving to personal defense loads the Fiocchi 124 grain XTP provided good control. This premium ammunition exhibits the highest level of accuracy. I also carry revolvers when hiking and comping. Unlike the small frame five shot revolvers, the Colt Cobra is controllable and useful with heavy load. The Buffalo Bore .38 Special Outdoorsman, using a hard cast SWC, or the lead SWC hollowpoint are well suited to defense against feral dogs or the big cats. Members of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class would be another threat in the wild, and the Colt/Buffalo Bore combination is a good one. Recoil is stout but accuracy is good. As for absolute accuracy on several occasions I have fired a two inch five shot group at 15 yards. The Colt Cobra is plenty accurate. Like the original the Cobra is as easy to use well and as accurate as most four inch barrel revolvers.

colt cobra
Fiocchi ammunition exhibited a clean powder burn and provided excellent accuracy.

The Colt Cobra gets a clean bill of health. There really isn’t anything like it in the market. I think that you will find it well suited to modern problems.

LEARN MORE HERE

 

Accuracy In Handguns

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Bob Campbell is the author of Gun Digest ‘The Accurate Handgun.’ Here are his thoughts on this topic. READ MORE

handgun accuracy
The Smith and Wesson M69 .44 Magnum and SIG Elite ammunition are a good pairing.

Bob Campbell

Over the decades I have researched handguns and used the terms practical accuracy, intrinsic accuracy, and absolute accuracy. Firing from the benchrest is important and always interesting. But absolute accuracy isnt as important as the practical accuracy we may coax from a handgun. I think handgunners don’t take accuracy as serious as riflemen. Perhaps most cannot shoot well enough to take advantage of the accuracy in a superbly accurate handgun and don’t bother. Competition seems to place a premium on speed rather than accuracy. In personal defense the balance of speed and accuracy is important. If you don’t think accuracy isnt important in personal defense we have been to a different church. Shot placement is accuracy. The standard of measuring accuracy has come to be a five shot group at 25 yards, This is fired from a solid braced position from a bench. I use the Bullshooters pistol rest to remove as many human factors as possible. There is some compromise with shorter barrel or lightweight handguns and they are tested at 15 yards.

handgun accuracy
This is excellent practical accuracy.

The quality of the handgun, the fitting of the slide, the quality of the rifling, the sights, whether fine for target shooting or broad for fast results at combat range, are very important. The quality of the trigger press is important. The shooter is the most important part of the equation. There are those that may state that such testing of handguns is irrelevant as personal defense use almost always demands firing at less than ten yards. There is much validity to this argument. Not that combat shooting, drawing and firing and making a center hit, are not difficult. It may be reasonable to test an 8 3/8 inch barreled Magnum at even one hundred yards but a personal defense handgun with few exceptions will never be used past ten yards. Just the same those of us that test handguns like to take them to the Nth degree and test firearms accuracy. It is an interesting pursuit that is rewarding although there is some frustration in the beginning.

handgun accuracy
This group was fired with the Beretta 84 .380 ACP at 15 yards- accuracy is relative.

Service pistols, high end pistols and revolvers have different levels of accuracy. A revolver with five, six, seven or eight chambers that rotate to line up with the barrel for each shot is more accurate than it should be. As an example the Colt Official Police .38 and the Smith and Wesson K 38 are each capable of putting five shots into 2.2 to 2.5 inches at 25 yards with Federal Match ammunition. This is excellent target accuracy. When cops qualified with revolvers at 50 yards these handguns were up to the task. The Colt Python is easily the most accurate revolver I have tested and perhaps the most accurate handgun of any type. At a long 25 yards I fired a 15/16 inch group with the Federal 148 grain MATCH in .38 Special. This involved tremendous concentration and frankly it was exhausting. I have fired a similar group with the SIG P220, but this was unusual. The SIG will usually do 1.25 inch with the Federal 230 grain MATCH loading. The Python will group very nearly as well with full power Magnum loads. The Federal 180 grain JHP .357 Magnum is good for an inch at 25 yards, as an example. A much less expensive revolver is superbly accurate and nearly as accurate as the Python. The four inch barrel Ruger GP100 is good for groups about ninety per cent as good as the Python. It is also more rugged. As I have seen with 1911 handguns you pay a lot for the last degree of accuracy.

handgun accuracy
The Nighthawk 1911 is arguably as good as it gets in a .45 automatic.

In self loaders the Les Baer Concept VI is a solid three inch gun at 50 yards. The SIG P220 I mentioned may not run a combat course as quickly as a 1911 handgun but it will prove more accurate than all but the finest custom guns. The Nighthawk Falcon is a well made and reliable handgun worth its price. I am surprised when it fires a group larger than 2.0 inches at 25 yards with quality ammunition. The Guncrafter Commander with No Name is among the most accurate 1911 handguns of any type I have tested. So far the single most accurate loading has been the Fiocchi 200 grain XTP with a 25 yard 1.4 inch group. This takes a great deal of concentration to achieve. However- this pistol is among the most accurate of handguns in offhand fire as well. Firing off hand at known and unknown ranges the pistol is surprisingly accurate.

handgun accuracy
The Smith and Wesson Model 27 is a superbly accurate revolver.

When it comes to modern handguns it is interesting that there seems to be a race in both directions, to the top and to the bottom. Makers are attempting to manufacture the least expensive handgun possible that works. Someone buys it, and some of the handguns like the Ruger LC9/EDC types are reliable and useful defensive handguns. The same is true of revolvers. Even the inexpensive Taurus 450 .45 caliber revolver I often carry hiking will place five shots into less than two inches at 15 yards, reasonable for a revolver with a ported two inch barrel. I am unimpressed with the accuracy of many of the polymer framed striker fired handguns. I think that they are accurate enough and no more, but the trigger and sights are probably the limiting factory. Almost all fire five shots of service grade ammunition into 2.5 to 3.0 inches at 25 yards. High end handguns such as the Dan Wesson Heritage and Springfield Operator are more accurate than the majority of factory handguns of a generation ago. As an example thirty nine years ago I convinced the lead instructor and range master to allow some of us to carry to the 1911 .45. I barely managed to qualify with the Colt Commander Series 70 as qualification included barricade fire at 50 yards. With factory ammunition of the day the pistol would not group into ten inches at 50 yards, the military standard for 1911 handguns. Using a 200 grain SWC handload the pistol grouped into eight inches at 50 yards and I barely made the cut. The sights were small, the trigger heavy, and the grip tang cut my hand after fifty rounds. But the pistol was reliable, fast into action, and it was a Colt 1911. Later I added a Bar Sto barrel and enjoyed much better accuracy. Today a SIG 1911 Fastback Carry will group five rounds into 2.5 inches on demand at 25 yards and sometimes much less, and it is a factory pistol.

handgun accuracy
This is the kind of accuracy we dream of.

Other handguns are more accurate than most give them credit for. While the SIG P series is regarded as a very accurate handgun the CZ75B will give the SIG a run for the money. The CZ 75B is easily handled in off hand fire and very accurate. The Beretta 92 is also an accurate handgun as I discovered in instructors school when a veteran qualified with the Beretta 92. As a rule .40 caliber versions of the 9mm are not as accurate as the 9mm version but there are exceptions. The SIG P229 in .40 is an accurate and reliable handgun that makes an excellent go anywhere do anything handgun. My example will place five rounds of the Fiocchi 180 grain XTP load into 2.0 inches at 25 yards on demand. Accuracy is interesting. There are other considerations such as how quickly the pistol may be drawn and placed on target, and control in rapid fire is important. Reliability is far more important. But accurate handguns are interesting.

handgun accuracy
The handgun must be fired often to master the piece.