Tag Archives: Handguns

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.

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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.

 

 

REVIEW: Bond Arms Bullpup — A Great Carry 9

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This may be the most advanced 9mm handgun on the planet.  READ WHY

bond arms bullpup

Bob Campbell

When we look at a new firearm we like to know where it came from and what operating principles it is based on. The Bond Arms Bullpup is a result of Bond Arms purchasing the rights and machinery to the Boberg pistol. Before that there isn’t a lot owed to anyone for this design. The pistol uses the proven locked breech short recoil principle but with a twist — literally. The pistol features a rotating barrel. A rotating barrel lessens the need for a heavy recoil spring and guide while controlling recoil. This is important in a very small 9mm handgun. Recoil energy is expended over a longer period of time. The barrel rotates 14 degrees during the recoil cycle as the slide unlocks and shoots to the rear. The recoil spring is pretty light, with its main function moving the slide back into battery after the spent cartridge case is ejected. As a result of this design the slide is very easy to rack. Easier than any other 9mm I am aware of.

bond arms bullpup
The mechanism is complicated but works well.

At first glance the pistol appears to have a very short barrel, when you realize the barrel takes up a lot of the slide. The 5.1 inch slide contains a 3.35 inch barrel. This means that the average velocity loss compared to a Glock 19 as an example is less than 40 fps average. That’s impressive and necessary as well as the 9mm demands good velocity to ensure bullet expansion. The Bullpup moniker comes from the pistol’s unique design. The magazine is loaded conventionally but the front of the magazine is closed and the rear open as the cartridge feeds from the rear. A dual tongued drawbar catches the cartridge case rim and pulls it from the magazine and feed it into the chamber. This is controlled feed at its nth degree. The cartridges must be carefully selected. The problem isn’t a blunt nose but cartridge integrity. A firm crimp is demanded. With this in mind, the company supplied a list of cartridges they have tested and which offer feed reliability. Included are inexpensive training loads and top notch defensive loads.

bond arms bullpup
Good sights are essential for combat accuracy.

I am particularly impressed with the grip design. The supplied wooden stocks are attractive and offer good abrasion and adhesion. The stocks are wide enough to soak up recoil and remain slim and trim for concealed carry. The sights are good examples of combat sights. As for improvements over the original pistol the primary improvement is in fit and finish. The Bond Arms Bullpup is as well made as any handgun. It isn’t inexpensive but it is innovative and it works as designed. A big reason the new pistol isn’t as finicky as the original — and the Roberg ran fine with good ammunition and proper lubrication — is that the reciprocating barrel and barrel block now feature a frictionless space age coating. This eliminates the need to keep the barrel and locking block coated. The take-down is the same as the original using a lever to remove the slide. This lever may be turned to the six-o’clock position in order to lock the slide to the rear. The slide does not lock open on the last shot, it simply isn’t practical with the Bullpup design. Be aware during combat practice of how the pistol behaves. Get a rhythm going and perhaps try to count the shots and practice tactical loads.

bond arms bullpup
Firing the pistol is a joy- this is a light recoiling and accurate piece.

When firing the Bullpup 9 I had a pleasant surprise. This is a very nice pistol to fire. It isn’t the lightest 9mm at about 22 ounces but recoil is decidedly light. The trigger action is very smooth. The Lyman digital scale measures 7 to 7.5 pounds on average. Press the trigger straight to the rear until it breaks cleanly and you have a good hit. During recoil allow the trigger to reset. The result is good control and surprisingly good combat accuracy. Most of the ammunition fired has been the recommended Winchester 115 grain FMJ, as well as Sig Sauer Elite 115 and 124 grain FMJ. The pistol is also reliable with modern expanding bullet loads including the Hornady Critical Defense and Critical duty and the SIG Sauer Elite V Crown loadings. Accuracy is exceptional for this size handgun. The pistol will exhibit a five shot 1.5 inch group with most loads at 15 yards, firing from a solid benchrest firing position. Of course this doesn’t have much to do with combat shooting.

Firing offhand it isn’t difficult to keep a full magazine in the X-ring well past 10 yards. I executed the 10 10 10 drill — modifying it to 10 10 7. Ten yards, ten seconds, and seven shots. The pistol stayed in the 8 and 9 ring. This is good performance. The pistol demands attention to detail, both in maintenance and in handling. The Bond Arms Bullpup comes with a hefty list of advantages foremost of which is its small size. Yet the pistol retains a full length, for a compact, pistol barrel and offers light recoil and excellent accuracy. This isn’t a handgun for the slightly interested. For the demanding shooter it is a top notch piece.

bond arms bullpup
This is a group fired from a solid rest at 15 yards.

Among a very few concealed carry holster makers offering a suitable concealed carry rig for the Bond Arms Bullpup 9 is Alien Gear. The soft backing coupled with a rigid Kydex holster makes for good comfort and a sharp draw. There isn’t another holster offering a better balance of speed, retention and comfort along with real concealment.

bond arms bullpup
The pistol carries well in this Alien Gear holster.

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REVIEW: Glock 48

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The Glock 48 just may be the ideal carry 9mm for Glock fans, and for the rest of us as well! READ WHY HERE

G48
The Glock 48 is a handsome handgun, light, and reliable.

Wilburn Roberts

One of the great revolutions in handgun manufacture is the polymer-frame striker-fired revolution. Glock led the way and still dominates the market. Arguably Glock remains first with the most. I should note that I am not the greatest Glock fan but I certainly am not a Glock basher. The Glock is in my opinion the baseline gun for personal defense and a great choice for many shooters. The Glock is as reliable as a handgun may be, easy enough to use well, and chambers popular cartridges. If you spend less money than the Glock then you should look hard at the pistol in question and determine what corners have been cut. If you pay more than the affordable price of a Glock you should be certain of the advantage. If you choose a more expensive handgun with a different trigger action or manual safety then be certain you are willing to master the handgun. When you take a hard look at the alternatives Glock looks good.

G48 sights

G48 sights
The standard Glock sights allowed good speed and accuracy at close range.

One of the new introductions is the Glock 48 9mm. I do not form an opinion of any handgun until I have fired it for myself. As an example I was interested to see the introduction of the Glock 19X, which some felt was not a good idea. I liked the 19X but I find the Glock 45 9mm a better fit for my preferences. When you fire the piece and work it out on the range the differences in handguns become more apparent. For some it may be the reliable and fast-handling Glock 19, others may prefer the longer Glock 17. All are good. When testing the Glock 48 I expected certain things regarding reliability, trigger action, and accuracy from any Glock but kept an open mind.

Glock 48 Specifications
Length                            7.3 inches
Height                            5.04 inches
Width                             1.1 inches
Weight                           19 ounces
Magazine capacity 10 rounds

The Glock 48 is about two ounces lighter than the Glock 19 9mm and otherwise similar in dimensions save for the thinner grip frame and slide. The pistol appears to have a stainless slide. The actual material is silver nPVD coating. The sights are the standard plastic Glock variety with white outline. These work well for personal defense shooting at ranges of 5 to 15 yards and are still useful for those that practice at longer range. The grip has an excellent feel to it. My hands are smaller than average but I have never had a problem handling and controlling the Glock 17, 19, 22, and 23 and similar frames (the Glock 21 is too much of a stretch). That said, I do feel more in control with the Glock 48. The grip frame is nicely pebbled and offers good adhesion when firing. Trigger action is standard Glock Safe Action. My Glock 48 breaks at 5.7 pounds. The pistol features forward cocking serrations. There is a lightening cut under the front of the slide. The barrel features a nicely countershrunk barrel crown. The interested shooter will find many good features on the Glock 48. The slim line grip holds a relatively thin 10- round magazine.

G48 magazine
This is the Glock 48 slim line magazine.

Performance
Next was to find out how it handled in firing combat drills and firing for accuracy. The pistol was lightly lubricated and taken to the range with an assortment of ammunition. I used Federal American Eagle 124 grain FMJ and Federal 124 grain Syntech for the majority of firing. I also had Federal 124 grain HST, Speer 115 grain Gold Dot, Speer 124 grain Gold Dot +P Short Barrel, and Speer 147 grain Gold Dot, and Federal 135 grain Hydra Shock. This mix included ball ammunition and both standard pressure and +P 9mm loads as well. This should give an idea of how the piece handles all types of ammunition.

G48 ammo
The Glock 48 was tested with a wide range of loads.

The Glock 48 proved to be fast from the holster and fast to a first shot hit. I burned up 100 rounds each of American Eagle and Syntech loads firing personal defense drills. The Glock is fast in use, very fast, and that means a lot in personal defense. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Control is little if any different from the Glock 19 9mm. I would rate the pistol a bit easier to use well than the Glock 43, however, since the heavier slide dampens recoil and the longer grip also helps spread recoil about the palm.

Moving to personal defense loads I found much of the same. Load selection is important for defense. While the 9mm offers good wound potential careful testing and research should be behind your choice. I prefer a loading with a good balance of expansion and penetration. I fired at least a magazine full of each JHP load, and two magazines with some of the other loads. The pistol is well regulated for a 6-o’clock-hold and 124 grain loads. The 147 grain load also strikes to the point of aim. Lighter loads may be used with the dead on the target hold. At 10 and 15 yards it wasn’t difficult to empty a magazine into the X-ring. Recoil is greater with 9mm personal defense loads but the pistol remains controllable and overall pleasant to fire.

The Speer 124 grain Gold Dot +P is a Short Barrel load with a projectile designed to open up at the lower velocities exhibited in short barrel personal defense handguns. It has performed well as far as expansion goes and is a highly recommended personal defense combination. I particularly like the 135 grain Hydra Shock, but to each his own. The Glock 48 will exhibit the same velocity as the Glock 19, Glock 19X, and Glock 45, but it feels like a smaller gun in the hand, is easier to conceal, and yet, as said, recoil is manageable. The pistol fired over 300 cartridges in the first range outing without complaint or sore wrists, spaced over a little more than an hour and a half. Some may find the thinner grip makes for a heavier push in the palm than the Glock 19. In my opinion the lighter Glock 43 9mm is a sweet shooting handgun for its size and the Glock 48 handles a bit easier. The longer grip frame allows a faster grip acquisition.

I also fired the piece from a standing braced barricade for maximum accuracy at 15 yards. I fired the American Eagle 124 grain FMJ and the Speer 147 grain Gold Dot in this drill. I shot several 5-shot groups firing quickly but regaining the sight picture after each shot. Firing a 5-shot 3-inch group wasn’t difficult with some 5-shot groups falling into 2 inches. The pistol is as inherently accurate as any Glock 9mm pistol.

g48
The Glock 48 is slimmer than the Glock 45, top, and doesn’t mount a combat light.

Where does the Glock 48 stand in the scheme of things? The Glock 17 is a holster pistol that a few dedicated shooters wear concealed. The Glock 19 is easier to conceal — and not a bad service and duty gun at all. The Glock 48 is a superior concealed carry handgun. I think that many shooters may find the Glock 19 a stretch for their hand size. I do not, but the Glock 48 may feel better for some shooters. Yet, you do not give up much in capacity the pistol is a ten-shooter. You do give up the ability to mount a light rail, so consider how important this is to you. The Glock 48 fills a similar niche to that once filled by the SIG P225. Although the SIG P228 holds more rounds many shooters preferred the slim line P225 for hand fit and also felt that it was faster from concealed carry. The Glock 48 is fast, very fast, and offers a good chance at a rapid first shot hit. The extra two ounces of the Glock 19’s weight may make for better recoil control but you cannot prove that easily. I find the Glock 48 a very neat, attractive and useful handgun. It may be the best Glock for concealed carry yet manufactured.

glock grips
The Glock 45, top, is a larger grip than the Glock 48, bottom, and both are nicely pebbled.

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A First Look at 2018’s New Guns

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With the SHOT Show at hand, here are a few brand new for 2018 firearms. Keep going…

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by B. Gil Horman

With national firearm sales leveling off, thanks to a gun-friendly administration taking office this year, manufacturers are dusting off some new and interesting models that have been tucked away for a time such as this. Here is a quick look at just some of the new guns for 2018:

BERSA PISTOLS

Bersa TPR Pistols
Eagle Imports is introducing the double action/single action Bersa TPR line of pistols to the U.S. market this next year. These pistols represent the next evolution of the Thunder Pro HC series originally developed for law enforcement and military applications. Available in Standard 4.25″ barrel and Compact 3.25″ barrel configurations, these semi-automatic pistols feature interchangeable SIG Sauer-type sights, an improved Browning Petter locking system, lightweight aluminum alloy frames, Picatinny accessory rails and loaded chamber indicators. The elegantly designed ambidextrous slide catch and thumb safety, along with a reversible magazine release, makes the pistol accessible to right and left handed shooters. Caliber options will include 9 mm (TPR9), .40 S&W (TPR40) and .45 ACP (TPR45). MSRP: $508-$528

caracal

Caracal USA Enhanced F Pistols
When the 4″ barrel striker-fired Caracal F 9 mm pistol first arrived on the U.S. market from the United Emirates in 2012, I was glad to be one of the writers who had an opportunity to review it. The pistol’s design seemed ahead of its time with its sleek reduced mass slide, lowered bore axis for reduced felt recoil and comfortable grip that fit a wide range of hand sizes. Just as Caracal was poised to give Glock, Springfield and Smith & Wesson a run for their money, the company enacted a voluntary safety recall that caused the pistol, much like its namesake, to slip quietly out of sight and off the market until now.

A new American-made series of Caracal USA Enhanced F pistols, with the safety issues resolved, will be shipping soon. These pistols maintain the positive qualities of the original models with three different sight system options, including the company’s proprietary Quick Sight System, 3-Dot and night sights. Customers will have a selection of new polymer frame colors to choose from including black, tan and OD green (shown). MSRP: $599-$699

Charter Arms XL

Charter Arms Bulldog XL
Charter Arms flagship five-shot Bulldog .44 Spl. series will be joined by the new Bulldog XL. The XL’s frame has been enlarged to handle bigger and more powerful cartridges. The Bulldog XL chambered in the popular .45 Colt offers customers a broad ammunition selection ranging from soft shooting cowboy loads to high-quality defensive hollow points. The real surprise of the show was the Bulldog XL chambered in .41 Rem. Mag. (shown). Considering what a handful the Bulldog can be when loaded with .44 Spl., it will be interesting to see how the XL handles when stocked full of magnum cartridges. MSRP: TBA

FIGHTLITE RAIDER

FightLite Industries SRC Raider Pistols
This year’s enthusiasm for Mossberg’s pump-action Shockwave 12-ga. has encouraged other manufacturers (like Remington) to look for ways to install a Shockwave-type grip on its guns. But who would have guessed that FightLite Industries would find a way to use this grip configuration on an AR pistol?

With an appearance reminiscent of a Star Wars movie blaster, the new Raider pistols are possible because they are based on the company’s SRC action system which was originally designed as the foundation for a 50-state’s legal AR platform. This configuration eliminates the typical AR buffer tube by attaching a hinged extension to the bolt carrier group, much like those found in some semi-automatic shotguns, that moves down at an angle into the shoulder stock. So, the same system that allows an AR lower to sport a traditional fixed hunting stock also works with an abbreviated Shockwave-style grip.

Raider pistols ship with a 7.25″ barrel chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. or .300 BLK with an overall length of 20.25″, an unloaded weight of 3.9 lbs. and the customer’s choice of a Keymod or M-Lok handguard. It will be interesting to see how these guns handle. I’m guessing a single point sling, attached to the grip’s QD sling port for added stability, will make a difference when shooting off the bench. MSRP: $865

HEIZER

Heizer PKO9 Pistol
Although we are still waiting to get our hands on the super slim 0.80″ thick Heizer Defense PK0-.45 semi-automatic pistol chambered in .45 ACP (which was announced last year), the company is preparing to launch a 9 mm version called the PKO-9. Featuring a proprietary aerospace-grade aluminum frame and a stainless steel slide, the recoil assembly is set above the barrel to lower the bore axis for reduced felt recoil. Other features include a single-action trigger, drift adjustable sights and a grip safety. These pistols will ship with a flush-fit seven-round magazine and an extended 10-round magazine. Color options will include all black, two tone and custom Hedy Jane finish options. MSRP: $699

IWI TAVOR

IWI TAVOR 7 Rifle
Israel Weapon Industries (IWI), has launched the newest member of the Tavor bullpup rifle family, the TAVOR 7 chambered in 7.62 NATO/.308 Win. with an overall length of 28.4″ and an unloaded weight of 9 lbs. The rifle’s body is built from high-strength, impact-modified polymer and has a hammer-forged, chrome-lined, free-floating barrel for enhanced accuracy and life cycle. Designed for military and law enforcement markets, this rifle is a fully ambidextrous platform. The ejection side and the charging handle can be switched from one side to the other quickly and easily by the user. Additional ambidextrous features include the safety lever, magazine release, and a bolt catch similar to that of the X95.

Two M-LOK slots are located at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions along with a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail at the 6 o’clock position for the use of multiple devices and accessories. Other features include a short-stroke gas piston with a four-position variable gas regulator, a rotating bolt system, and an interchangeable pistol grip. The Tavor 7 will be available in four colors: Sniper Gray, OD Green, Black, and Flat Dark Earth, with replaceable barrels available in 17″ and 20″ lengths. This rifle is slated to ship the first quarter of 2018. MSRP: TBA

JRC 9MM

Just Right Carbines JRC 9 mm Pistol
Just Right Carbines is known for its blow-back operated pistol-caliber takedown carbines and rifles designed to accept popular double and single-stack magazines produced for Glocks and 1911s. This year the company is expanding its line-up to include pistol versions of its platform that offer the same modularity and takedown features as the rifles. The Model 1 version of the pistol (shown) features a foam padded Gearheadworks Mod1 Tail Hook buffer assembly and takedown fore-end. Model 2 is dressed up a bit more with a Gearheadworks Mod2 adjustable arm brace and a quad rail fore-end. MSRP: Starting at $699

KEYSTONE CPR W

Keystone Sporting Arms PT Rimfire Rifle
Keystone Sporting Arms has blended the best features of a precision rifle chassis and an enjoyable .22 Long Rifle bolt-action rimfire into the new PT rimfire rifle platform. The Keystone 722 action is paired with the customer’s choice of a 16.5 inch or 20 inch threaded heavy bull barrel. The action is tucked into an American Built Arms (A*B Arms) MOD*X PTTM aluminum chassis. The chassis is made from 6061 T6 aluminum and treated with a Class 3 hard-coat anodized finish. The A*B Arms Urban Sniper shoulder stock provides an adjustable length of pull ranging from 10.5” to 13.75″ while the A*B Arms P*Grip is compact and comfortable to work with. The PT rifle ships with one seven-round Keystone 722 magazine. MSRP: $599.96

mossberg shockwave

Mossberg 20-ga. Shockwave Pump-Action
Released in January 2017, Mossberg’s non-NFA 14″ barrel Shockwave 12-ga. pump-action has been one of the hottest selling guns of the year. So much so, that it garnered the company two NASGW/POMA Caliber Awards at the NASGW Expo this year, including the “Innovator of the Year” and “Best New Overall Product.” So it shouldn’t come as much of a shock (pun intended) that Mossberg is expanding the Shockwave line up for 2018. Along with new finish (Flat Dark Earth) and package (JIC water resistant storage tube) options for the 12-ga. model, the company has developed a new 20-ga. 590 version.

The 20-ga. Shockwave is a more important release than some folks may realize. This is the first time the company has offered a 20-ga. in a tactical 590 configuration. All of the components have been properly scaled down to fit the smaller cartridge while preserving important features like the drilled and tapped receiver and the removable magazine tube cap. This makes the overall package slimmer and lighter than the 12-ga. model while providing a lower level of felt recoil. With all the hard work of resizing the 590 platform already complete, it’s likely that we’ll see long gun versions before too long. As for a .410 Bore Shockwave, we’ll just have to wait and see. MSRP: $455

desert eagle

Magnum Research Desert Eagle L5 .50 AE Pistol
I’m not sure why Magnum Research customers have been chomping at the bit for a Desert Eagle L5 lightweight pistol chambered in .50 AE. Trust me when I say the Standard XIX model, which weighs about a pound more, has a level of felt recoil that will still blow your hair back when chambered in this cartridge. Nevertheless, since the arrival of the .357 Mag. L5 about two years ago and the .44 Mag. version, folks have been asking for a .50-cal. option. This model sports the same reduced-weight aluminum frame, 5″ barrel, integral muzzle brake and accessory rail as the other two calibers. MSRP: TBA

troy slide fire

Troy Industries SideAction Rifle
In order to help shooting enthusiasts keep running their preferred AR-type platforms in as many states as possible, Troy Industries released the 223 National Sporting Pump-Action rifle a couple of years ago. Many of the state regulations that ban certain rifle features on semi-automatic platforms do not apply those same restrictions to pump-actions. This year the company is adding the SideAction rifle to the lineup which employs a bolt action instead of a pump. An A2 flash hider is pinned and welded to the 16″ 1:7 twist RH rifled barrel. The 10.5″ SOCC handguard features M-Lok accessory slots. The side-charging bolt handle is topped with a target knob. The pistol grip, controls and trigger are all mil-spec. The folding shoulder stock is machined from aluminum billet. MSRP: $899

WALTHER PPQ

Walther PPQ M2 Q4 TAC Pistol

Building on the award-winning PPQ platform, Walther Arms has announced the arrival of the new PPQ M2 Q4 TAC which is both optics and suppressor ready from the factory. “The Q5 Match has been very popular and we have had a lot of interest in a 4″ more tactical version. We are excited to combine a suppressor-ready and optics-ready pistol into a best-of-both worlds platform,” said Luke Thorkildsen, vice president of marketing & product development of Fort Smith-based Walther Arms, Inc.

The 9 mm Q4 TAC arrives with a 4.6 inch 1/10 twist polygonal rifled barrel and a muzzle threaded at ½x28 TPI. The gun arrives with a second recoil spring weighted specifically for use with sound suppressors, one 15-round magazine and two 17-round magazines. The optics-ready slide features an LPA sight system with a fiber optic in the front and competition iron sight at the rear. The Q4 TAC shares the same optics mounting plate system as the Q5 Match. The plates are compatible with a variety of popular optics including options from Trijicon, Leupold, and Doctor. The PPQ Quick Defense trigger provides a smooth 5.6-lb. trigger pull and a short 0.1″ reset. The Q4 TAC is backed by Walther’s lifetime warranty. MSRP: $799

winchester

Winchester XPR Sporter Rifle
Winchester Repeating Arms is challenging the modern-day manufacturing practice of producing moderately priced bolt-action hunting rifles with polymer shoulder stocks as the only option. The latest version of the XPR rifle line up, called the Sporter, is fitted with a classically styled checkered close-grain Grade I walnut stock that only costs $50 more than its polymer stocked compatriots. Offered in barrel lengths ranging from 22″ to 26″ (depending on the caliber), this rifle’s Perma-Cote treated milled steel receiver houses a nickel Teflon coated bolt body. The MOA trigger system provides zero creep and no over travel for a crisp, clean trigger pull. The three-round magazines are detachable. The XPR Sporter’s twelve caliber options include .243 Win., 6.5 Creedmoor, 7 mm-08 Rem., .30-06 Sprg., 7 mm Rem. Mag. and 300 Win. Mag. MSRP: $599

4 of the Coolest Pistols at SHOT Show 2017

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Niche Market

Across-the-board demand, especially for anything 1911, is spurring
some innovative designs.

By Richard Mann:
Just as in 2015, handguns remained the top-selling firearms in America last year. We are continuing to see suppressor-ready
variants, and these are not limited to center fire handguns. The demand for new and varied 1911s remains strong,
and one manufacturer has upped the ante with a high-grade line of custom revolvers. Although most of the innovation is
occurring with polymer-framed handguns, the real news for 2017 is the niche specialization of various models.

Browning

New Browning Pistol

➤ The Black Label 1911-380 Medallion Pro model, in full-size
and compact versions, features a matte-black frame and a blackened
stainless-steel slide with silver brush-polished flats. The grips are
made of intricately checkered rosewood with a gold Buckmark.
Barrel length on the full-size model is 4¼ inches; on the compact
model, it’s 3 5⁄8 inches. SRP: $799.99; $879.99 with night
sights. Black Label 1911-22LR Medallion full-size and compact
versions will also be offered with similar features for $669.99.
The New Black Label 1911-22LR Gray full-size and compact
models are available with or without a rail. The slides on both are
machined aluminum, and the barrel has a gray anodized finish. The
frames are composite, with a machined 7075 aluminum sub-frame
and slide rails. Sights are fiber-optic. SRP: $699.99; $719.99
with the rail. A Black Label 1911-22LR Medallion full size and
compact will also be offered with similar features for $669.99.
To keep up with the demand for suppressor-ready firearms, the
new Buck Mark Field Target Suppressor Ready 22LR model
will feature a heavy, round, 5 ½-inch suppressor-ready barrel
in matte blued finish. It also will offer an integral scope base with a
Pro-Target rear sight and front blade sight. Grips are Cocobololaminated target. SRP: $599.99. The new Buck Mark Lite Flute UFX model will feature a 5½-inch steel barrel with an alloy sleeve and fluting in a matte blued finish. Pro-Target rear sights and a Truglo/Marble Arms fiber-optic front sight are standard. Grips are Ultragrip FX ambidextrous. SRP: $559.99. Booth #15537.  (browning.com)

Ruger

New Ruger LCP

➤ Ruger’s LCP II features a short, crisp, single-action trigger with an inner trigger safety, improved sights, a larger grip surface, an easy-to-rack slide, and an improved slide-stop mechanism
with last-round hold-open. The LCP II comes with a pocket holster and holds 6+1 rounds of .380 ammunition. SRP: $349.
The striker-fired American Compact features a trigger with a short take-up and positive reset. It has a modular grip system, can be field stripped easily, and has an ambidextrous slide stop and magazine release. SRP: $579. The new Mark IV is a revised version of the ever-popular Mark III. The Mark IV is available in Target and Hunter versions, and its most notable feature is how easy it is to take apart. It has a simple, one-button take-down for quick and
easy field stripping. A recessed button in the back of the frame allows the upper receiver to tilt up and off the grip frame without the use of tools. Booth #11940. (ruger.com)

Remington

➤ The R1 10mm Hunter Long Slide is a handgun built with the
hunter in mind. From the accurate, 6-inch, match-grade barrel
to the match-quality, fully adjustable sights, picatinny rail, and VZ
Operator II G10 grips, this pistol will get the job done at distance.
SRP: $1,310. The Remington 1911 R1 Limited is a handcrafted version of the most trusted pistol platform in history, with all the features today’s top competitors demand. Accuracy and speed are key in competition, and with the Limited’s match grade trigger and barrel, wide serrations, and ambidextrous thumb safety levers, it is race-ready right out of the box. Available in 9mm or .40 S&W, the Limited has fully adjustable match sights, G10 grips, and a PVD finishCompact Remington Pistol. SRP: $1,250. As the name implies, the Remington R1 Tactical is a fighting pistol. It comes with a Trijicon rear sight, a beveled oversize ejection port, a PVD finish, a Trijicon front sight, an ambidextrous safety, checkered mainspring housing, a
stainless match barrel, a picatinny rail, VZ G10 grips, and two
8-round magazines. SRP: $1,250. Re-engineered and reintroduced,
the Remington R51 has the same appeal for personal protection
and concealed carry as it did two years ago. Its low-bore axis
helps tame +P 9mm recoil, and its snag-free profile makes it ideal for
covert carry. The single-action design allows for one of the best
triggers in its class, and at $448, it will not break the bank. A version
of the R51 with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard is available for $648.
The big pistol news from Big Green is the new RP high-capacity,
strikRemington Pistol 1er-fired polymer pistol. Available in 9mm or .45 Auto, with
a respective capacity of 18+1 or 15+1, this is a seriously sized duty
pistol with a very slim grip profile. At 26.4 ounces total weight, the
balanced slide helps control muzzle rise and makes the 9mm version possibly the smoothest-shooting duty-size pistol on the market. The RP is also affordable. SRP: $489. Booth #14229. (remington.com)

CZ-USA

The 805 Bren S1 Pistol is an interesting SBR candidate; the new version of the P-09 is suppressor-ready, with a threaded barrel; the unique Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Pistol; the SP-01 Phantom has been brought back due to popular demand.BREN S1
➤ The 805 Bren S1 Pistol with its 11-inch barrel has proven a popular SBR candidate for customers wanting to convert it into an NFA firearm. Those who don’t wish to register with the ATF can equip it with CZ’s adapter kit, which allows easy installation of aftermarket arm braces. Chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 NATO, and now 300 Blackout, the pistol uses the STANAG magazine from the AR15/M16. Picatinny rails top and bottom mean it easily accepts optics and lights, and an effective two-port muzzle brake helps keep the pistol solidly on target and reduces recoil and muzzle flip. SRP: $1,799 to $1,899.

ScorpionFalling somewhere between the
Scorpion Pistols and Carbine, the EVO 3 S1 Pistol is perfectly set up
for those who desire a two-stamp gun. The extended forearm will
hide most suppressors and offers M-LOK attachment points. With
a 7.7-inch barrel and a 5-inch flash can, the barrel is extended to just
past the forend. A factory folding stock is an aftermarket option for
this unique 9mm. SRP: $949. The latest addition to the CZ line of handguns is the P-10 C. This pistol is decidedly CZ, from
the way it feels to the way it shoots. With the CZ grip angle, the P-10
avoids that brick-in-the-hand feeling that has plagued many in the
striker-fired genre, allowing it to point naturally. Interchangeable
backstraps allow it to fit a wide variety of hands. Designed to minimize creep and stacking, the P-10’s trigger breaks at a clean 4 to 4.5 pounds and rebounds with a short, positive reset. It has a fiber-reinforced polymer frame, a nitride finish, a generous trigger guard,
and metal three-dot sights. Capacity is either 15+1 or 17+1, depending on the mag used. The CZ P10-C is available in 9mm
Luger or .40 S&W, and a suppressor-ready variant is available in
9mm. SRP: $499 to $541. Loaded with features, but without
all the flash of the Urban Grey series, the 9mm standard black
P-09 Suppressor-Ready now comes with high night sights and
extended magazine bases, in addition to the obligatory extended,
threaded barrel. SRP: $629.

CZ P-09A new addition to the P-09 is the Kadet
Kit. It is a scaled-up version of the P-07 kit to fit on the longer P-09
frame. Topped with the new Shadow 2 serrated target sight and
a rear height-adjustable-only sight, the P-09 Kadet Kit ships with two magazines. SRP: $249.

CZ SP-01Due to demand, CZ has brought back the SP-01 Phantom. This is essentially a polymerframed SP-01 Tactical, with interchangeable backstraps and mag compatibility with the standard 75 platform. The SP-01 Phantom has long been a favorite in the CZ community and has the distinction of being the current sidearm of the Czech Army. Starting from scratch, CZ engineers
took the best features of the original Shadow and improved upon them. The higher beavertail and an undercut trigger guard
bring the shooter’s hand closer to the axis of the bore. Increased
weight at the dust cover/rail helps keep the muzzle down during
recoil. The Shadow 2’s swappable mag release has an adjustable,
extended button with three settings to allow shooters to set it in
the most comfortable position. The new trigger components provide
a smooth DA and crisp and clean SA pull while drastically reducing trigger reset. Available only in 9mm. SRP: $1,299 to $1,399. Booth #11955. (cz-usa.com)

Why Nine?

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Why not? One of the most disrespected of all handgun cartridges, Dr. Fadala says there’s plenty of good reason the 9mm Parabellum is the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the world. Keep reading…


by Sam Fadala


Many cartridges from long ago rage on. My Professional Hunter (PH) rifle in Africa for eight seasons running was .45-70 Government (1865, standardized 1873) handloaded with a 500-grain bullet to 1,800 feet per second. It was replaced two years ago with a .416 Remington Magnum for longer-range shooting, not because of 45-70 inferiority. The 1902 9mm Parabellum (para-bellum, “for-war”), thrives in the 21st century for hardcore reasons: for military, police, self-defense, it is powerful yet manageable even in lightweight handguns, plus pure shooting enjoyment, which alone is a “good enough” reason to own a nine.

1911 9mm
Author Fadala carries a Springfield Armory Range Officer chambered in 9mm Parabellum. His on-target impact testing methods used for big-game cartridges convinced him the nine was right on target for defensive reliability. The FMJ 115-grain load (on right) is undeniably the most popular for 9mm pistols, and there are also very effective open-cavity defensive loads that pack a punch.

After consulting with my handgun instructor, a retired SWAT commander, I latched onto a pair of Springfield Armory Range Officer (RO) pistols, 41 ounces of reliable accuracy. My usual practice session burns five magazines, five rounds short of a 50-pack. And though I handload for many cartridges, the nine is not one. Considering today’s cost of fuel, grub, house, car, mandatory insurances, and just plain living, a box of factory 9mm is a “bargain.”

Factories worldwide produce a dizzying array of loads in two major bullet types, FMJ (full metal jacket) and “upset,” most often hollow-point. Bullet weights as this is penned, and as far as I know, run as light as 50-grains (that is not a typo) to 147gr. Most of my shooting is with 115gr FMJs, such as Russian Tul-Ammo with non-reloadable brass, okay by me since, as said, I don’t reload the nine.

The Russians say trust, but verify. I trusted information on 9mm performance, but also ran my own demonstrations in “Sam’s Bullet Box.” This device is as scientific as tossing monkey bones to tell your future, yet it works “tolerably well,” and the box is far cheaper than ballistic gelatin. While gelatin is the standard, I have proved to others as well as myself that the box reveals vital information. Projectiles that penetrate deeply in the box do likewise in other mediums. Those that blow “big holes” in the clay behave the same in “the real world.”

9mm ammo
The vast array of 9mm Parabellum rounds cover all needs and all price ranges. It’s plentiful! This is especially important if one is not a reloader.

 

The wooden box is simply long and narrow with open top and closed ends. It’s the “stuffing” that counts. For my 9mm demo, constants were two: water balloon and clay block, neither representing tissue of any kind. Water tortures bullets. Shoot into a swimming pool, even with high-power rifle, and watch bullets die quickly. Clay provides the performance channel, also known as “wound channel.” Test mediums were arranged in this order: entry into end of box (0ne inch thick), water balloon, quarter-inch plywood separating balloon from 50 pounds of damp modeling clay. Beyond the clay: compacted wrapping paper one foot thick, and finally the inch-thick box end. Backup was our winter woodpile.

When oak, juniper, and aspen were removed for the wood-burning stove, several 9mm bullets were collected. Some of these were FMJs (expected). But many were also self-defense-type with open-cavity noses. That’s a lot of penetration! Massive cavities in the 50-pound block of modeling clay displayed extreme disruption with self-defense ammo. Surprise: FMJs also did terrific “injury” to the clay.

After the bullet box, all test loads were directed into gallon-size water-filled milk containers. Devastation is the word. The little 50-grain copper monolithic, starting at around twice the speed of sound, blew the bottles into pieces of ragged plastic. The FMJs also splattered the water bottles. Any thoughts of lacking energy flew away as I picked up the debris. My wife, who is the woodworker of the family, had leftover plywood panels that I stacked close, again for demonstration only. The half-inch plywood boards verified the effective penetration of the 9mm round.

The “little nine” did “big work” with little more offense than shooting a .22 pistol. In a lighter handgun, this statement might not bear up; but my “full-size” 1911 ROs were easy-on-the hand.  I carry a nine daily in open carry. Scouting and exploring hikes, an RO rides on my hip in a Triple K Number 440 Lightning Strong Side/Crossdraw holster. Concealed carry, you bet. Not a compact, but my ROs fits neatly into a U.S. Army Tank shoulder holster under a coat. Home protection, obvious. Self-preservation of life and limb, as well as coming to the aid of an accosted innocent, no concerns. My big fist fit into the channels in the clay.

1911 shoulder holster
A full-size handgun chambered in 9mm Parabellum is a joy to shoot. The light recoil belies its effectiveness, according to the author.

When I went for handgun antelope not long ago, I packed my S&W Scandium .44 Magnum, same I carry along for hikes to fishing lakes in grizzly country, and twenty-two pistols remain my choice for small game and mountain birds. But it’s easy to see why the 9mm Luger is the most popular pistol cartridge in the world.


Dr. Sam Fadala has been a full-time author for 30 years and authored 30 books. Sam is a lifelong big game hunter, using bows and long guns, and is Professional-Hunter-licensed in Africa.

SHOT Show 2016 Special Edition: New Handguns

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Guest post by Richard Mann, courtesy of SHOT Daily.

Handguns remain the top-selling firearms in America. Even though manufacturers are having no problems selling revolvers and pistols, they have stepped up for 2016 to keep customers happy with new models and innovations, primarily in suppressor-ready variants with the inclusion of semi-auto versions of machine-styled pistols.

Cimarron

Cimarron offers firearms used to tame the frontier in Texas and the American West. Often regarded as the leader in Cowboy Action authenticity, Cimarron has supported Cowboy Action Shooters since 1987. For 2016, Cimarron continues that tradition with three new pistols in the Eliminator series. Cimarron’s new Eliminator Octagon features a 4.75-inch octagonal barrel, checkered Army-style grips, and a pre-war frame. It also has a 25 percent shorter hammer stroke for fast, easy cocking, which is a real plus for one-handed (duelists and mounted) shooters. It has a case-hardened/blued-frame/cylinder assembly and is available in .357 Magnum/.38 Special and .45 Long Colt. SRP: $778.70

Cimarron’s new Eliminator Competition features a 4.75-inch round barrel, checkered single-action grips, and a pre-war frame. Like the Eliminator Octagon, it has a 25 percent shorter hammer stroke and a Cowboy Comp U.S. action job. The Eliminator Competition is available in a color case-hardened/blued-frame/cylinder assembly or stainless steel. It’s also available with a standard or low, wide hammer. Available in .357 Magnum/.38 Special and .45 Long Colt. SRP: $713.70.

Cimarron’s new Eliminator Thunderstorm is available with a 3.5- or 4.75-inch barrel and checkered grips. Its specially designed Thunderstorm hammer is low and wide for comfortable no-slip cocking. The hammer—along with the 25 percent shorter hammer stroke and Cowboy Comp Thunderstorm action job—makes it an ideal competition gun for mounted shooters. The Eliminator Thunderstorm is available in standard blue or polished stainless steel in .45 Long Colt. SRP: $747, blue; $973, stainless.

Cimarron is also offering four laser-engraved revolvers from Pietta, Italy. All are great looking and affordably priced. They are available in two finishes: nickel and old silver frame (OSF). OSF is a two-tone finish, where the barrel, cylinder, and grip assembly are blued and the frame is left in white for a polished steel finish. There are also two grip options—a poly-ivory grip or checkered walnut. SRP: starts at $648.70. (cimarron-firearms.com)

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Coonan

Known for its unique 1911 handgun chambered in .357 Magnum, the company is introducing a new class of 1911s chambered in .45 ACP. This new .45 ACP Pistol utilizes all of the proven technologies from Coonan’s 1911 .357 Magnum Auto. These “Coonan Difference” features include a linkless barrel, pivoting trigger, and an external extractor. It has a Novak rear sight and a blade front sight. Night sights or an adjustable rear sight are optional. The Coonan .45 ACP package includes a 7-round single-stack magazine, a carrying case, and a lock. SRP: $1,375. (coonaninc.com)

CZ-USA

CZ continues to innovate and surprise, and for 2016, it has a full complement of new and exciting handguns. Following in the footsteps of its clad-in-black sibling, the FDE Scorpion hosts all the same features that have made the Scorpion Pistol such a hit. New for 2016 is a barrel that is threaded 18×1 to accept the factory flash hider, but also threaded 1/2×28 underneath the flash hider to allow for the easy addition of a suppressor or aftermarket muzzle device. The folding stock goes on quickly and easily, and is sold in a 922(r) compliance kit so you have all the required parts to stay on the up-and-up. CZ also sells an arm-brace adapter kit that allows the fitting of aftermarket arm braces or cheek weld devices. An 11-inch Picatinny rail rides on top, and aluminum adjustable sights are fitted from the factory. Chambered only in 9mm Luger.

CZ’s Bren 805 S1 Pistol has an 11-inch barrel and has proven a popular SBR candidate for customers wanting to convert it into an NFA firearm. Those who don’t wish to register with the ATF can always equip it with CZ’s adapter kit, which allows easy installation of aftermarket arm braces or other devices meant to help stabilize large-format pistols. Chambered in .223/5.56 and using the STANAG magazine from the AR16/M16, it easily accepts optics and lights on its top and bottom Picatinny rails.

In the last few years, there has been a huge spike in requests for suppressor-ready firearms, and for 2016, CZ has more than doubled its threaded-pistol lineup. Clad in urban-gray, CZ’s limited-edition Urban Gray Suppressor Ready Series of pistols come with a set of high suppressor sights equipped with tritium lamps front and rear. Extended-capacity magazines boost the capacity on all but the SP-01 by two rounds. Some models, like the P-01 Omega and the 75 Omega, are completely new. Variants include a P-09 with a 12+1 capacity, a P-07 with 17+1 capacity, a 75 SP-01 and a 75 B that hold 18 cartridges, and a 75 P-01 with a capacity of 16+1. SRP: $537 to $723.

Recognizing that practicing with .22 rimfire ammunition is less expensive and just plain fun, CZ has added a new Kadet Kit to the line. Designed to swap onto current P-07s and older P-07 Duty pistols, the P-07 Kadet Kit enables shooters to train using cheaper .22 LR ammo. With a 10-round magazine and fully reciprocating-slide function, shooting the P-07 Kadet Kit will be identical to shooting the host pistol in factory form. The CZ P-07 Kadet Kit ships with two 10-round magazines. SRP: $237.

Turning the Tactical Sport up a notch, the CZ 75 Tactical Sport Orange borrows a number of design features from the Czechmate and incorporates a few of its own. With the slimmer trigger guard, revised grip geometry, and finer checkering from the Czechmate frame, it adds a thumb stop and fully adjustable target sights. With the same long slide and full-length dust cover as the standard TS, it also shares the single-action-only trigger, giving it an incredibly light pull and short reset. SRP: $1,784. (cz-usa.com)

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Dan Wesson

With more folks than ever choosing to hunt with a handgun and the continuing resurgence of the 10mm cartridge, Dan Wesson decided it was time to bring the heat. Dan Wesson’s first long-slide 1911, the Bruin, was born to hunt. The long slide means a long sight radius, and the 6-inch barrel allows full-power 10mm loads as much time as possible to use their powder charge. Fully adjustable tritium sights ensure that when shooting hours arrive, you’ll be able to see the sights. Additionally, there’s a tritium/fiber-optic combo front sight to make sure the front glows day or night. SRP: $2,064, .45 ACP; $2,194, 10mm.

With suppressors becoming more and more mainstream, another interesting pistol from Dan Wesson is the Discretion. With its match-grade stainless barrel, which is extended and threaded, it is suppressor-ready out of the box. Its aggressively ported slide, serrated trigger, and competition-inspired hammer give it a radical look. High tritium sights allow for sighting over the top of most pistol suppressors. Available in 9mm Luger and .45 ACP. SRP: $2,142.

Dan Wesson has seen a steady increase in requests for a non-bobbed Valor Commander, and for 2016, it has delivered. What sets the Valor apart from the rest of Dan Wesson’s 1911 lineup is the sheer amount of time spent hand-polishing, hand-fitting, and finishing. Not only do they get the best quality parts, they get the most individual attention of any model Dan Wesson builds. It is arguably the best size .45 ACP or 9mm Luger 1911 for concealed carry. SRP: $1,688 to $2,012.

The Pointman series from Dan Wesson has been offered in limited quantities in the past, and demand has always outpaced production. Featuring a serrated rib on top of the forged slide, it has an adjustable target sight in the rear, a fiber-optic sight in the front, and front and rear cocking serrations. The frame is forged stainless with an undercut trigger guard and 25-LPI front strap checkering. The flats are polished to a soft, brushed finish, and the rounds are sandblasted for a nice contrast. Double diamond cocobolo grips finish off the Pointman, which is available only in .38 Super. SRP: $1,597.

Sharing the features that make the Dan Wesson Valkyrie one of its most popular concealed-carry 1911s, the Valkyrie Commander simply adds an aluminum Commander-size frame, making it ideal for those who need a bit more purchase than an Officer-size frame allows. The Valkyrie Commander is available in 9mm Luger and .45 ACP with a black duty/anodized finish. SRP: $2,012.

In Dan Wesson’s efforts to appease 1911 aficionados, it has not forgotten wheel gunners. The Dan Wesson 715 Pistol Pack is as it was before—designed and built to be the most accurate, rugged, and versatile revolver on the market. This year sees the revival of the Pistol Pack, famous for its swappable barrels. The Pistol Pack is shipped with 4-, 6-, and 8-inch barrel/shroud assemblies, in the modern heavy vent shroud profile. A custom Dan Wesson hard case, with compartments for the additional barrel assemblies and a factory-supplied barrel wrench kit, is included. SRP: $1,688. (cz-usa.com)

Dan Wesson Valor Commander
Dan Wesson Valor Commander

Kahr

Kahr has two new handguns for 2016. Part of the Value Series Plus product line, the .380 ACP CW380TU features a 2.5-inch conventional rifled barrel, a trigger-cocking DAO action, a locked breech, and a Browning-type recoil lug. Overall length is 4.96 inches, and height is just 3.9 inches. This pistol weighs 10.2 ounces without the magazine. It has a drift-adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight and a pinned-in polymer front sight. New for 2016 is the finish. It has a black polymer frame stainless slide with a Cerekote tungsten finish (dark graphite gray) on the slide, slide stop lever, and trigger. SRP: $419.

Also part of the Value Series Plus product line, the .380 ACP CT3833TU features a 3-inch conventional rifled barrel, a trigger-cocking DAO action, a locked breech, a Browning-type recoil lug, and a passive striker block. Overall length is 5.52 inches, height is 4.4 inches. Pistol weight without magazine is 11.44 ounces. New for 2016 is the Cerakote tungsten finish (dark graphite gray) on the slide, slide stop lever, and trigger on a black polymer frame with stainless slide. SRP: $419. (kahr.com)

Magnum Research

U.S.–based Magnum Research is introducing a new version of the iconic Desert Eagle, with the addition of its new Cerakote tungsten finish to the .44 Magnum and .50 AE Desert Eagle products. Cerakote is a multi-step process, which results in a high-temperature ceramic coating that holds up well under normal use. The tungsten model is complemented with attractive black appointments, which gives the pistol even more appeal. The new Cerakote Tungsten Desert Eagle is offered in either the .50AE or .44 Magnum. SRP: $1,696. (magnumresearch.com)

Magnum Research Desert Eagle Cerakote Tungsten Finish
Magnum Research Desert Eagle Cerakote Tungsten Finish

Nighthawk

The custom 1911 giant Nighthawk has several new finely crafted pistols for 2016. The Silent Hawk is a Recon-style commander with a Tri-Cut slide, custom cocking serrations to match an Osprey silencer, a threaded barrel, tritium tall suppressor sights, and mid-length grip-screw bushings. It has a total blackout finish and custom NH/Silencer Co. brand logo. SRP: $4,295, .45 ACP; $4,495, 9mm Luger.

The Summit Hawk is a Recon-style commander with a Tri-Cut slide, custom cocking serrations to match an Osprey silencer, a threaded barrel, tritium tall suppressor sights, and mid-length grip-screw bushings. It has an NP3 finish and a custom NH/Silencer Co. brand logo. SRP: $4,995, .45 ACP; $5,195, 9mm Luger.

The Heinie Kestrel is all black with stainless controls. This model includes a thinned scalloped frame and mainspring housing that is great for concealed carry and people with smaller hands. The build also includes custom features such as rear slide serrations, top slide serrations, a crowned barrel, a beveled and recessed slide stop, and thin Aluma Grips with the Nighthawk Logo. It is available in 9mm Luger or .45 ACP. SRP: $3,495. (nighthawk custom.com)

Republic Forge

Republic Forge manufactures world-class Model 1911 pistols, and it has announced the addition of blued and color-cased finishes to its all-­American 1911 lineup. Unprecedented in the custom 1911 market, firearms enthusiasts can navigate to Republic Forge’s website and build their very own Republic Forge pistol. Featuring user-friendly navigation and an unparalleled collection of customizable options, the “Build Your Own” application will transform the firearms purchasing experience. Now customers have a new case-hardened finish as an option. (republicforge.com)

Republic Forge Model 1911 Pistol Color-Case-Hardened Finish
Republic Forge Model 1911 Pistol Color-Case-Hardened Finish

Ruger

Never one to wait until SHOT Show to bring out its new firearms, last fall Ruger expanded its popular line of Lightweight Compact Revolvers with the addition of an LCR chambered for the underappreciated and very versatile .327 Federal Magnum. This 6-round LCR has an additional round of capacity compared to other centerfire LCRs. It’s a double-action-only revolver and also features a concealed hammer to minimize snagging during concealed carry. This new LCR maintains all the features of the critically acclaimed original LCR, and utilizes a compact Hogue Tamer grip with finger grooves, which is highly effective at reducing felt recoil. The LCR in .327 Federal Magnum has a 1.875-inch barrel, an overall length of 6.5 inches, and a weight of 17 ounces. It will also fire .32 ACP, .32 Short, .32 S&W Long, and .32 H&R Magnum ammo. SRP: $619.

Ruger also announced a polymer-stock 22 Charger and 22 Charger Takedown pistol. The Charger was first introduced in 2007, then re-engineered in 2014. Weighing just 3.1 pounds, the polymer-stock 22 Charger pistol is otherwise identical to the laminate-stock model. It has an overall length of 19.25 inches and features a 10-inch precision-rifled, threaded barrel with a 1/2-28 thread pattern that accepts most popular muzzle accessories. The new stock is paired with a standard A2-style pistol grip, making the platform easy to customize with a MSR grip. SRP: $309, standard model; $409, takedown model. (ruger.com)

Ruger LCR .327 Federal
Ruger LCR .327 Federal

SIG SAUER

SIG SAUER has returned the venerable P225 pistol to its catalog. The P225A retains the exceptional look and feel of the original P225, but it features an enhanced trigger and the precision manufacturing and quality from the state-of-the-art SIG SAUER facility. The P225A is a single-stack 9mm pistol with the time-tested double-action/single-action trigger system. A fully machined stainless-steel slide comes in the durable Nitron finish. A hard-coat-anodized frame sports two-piece grips with the SIG mark medallion. (sigsauer.com)

SIG Sauer P225A 9mm Luger Nitron finish
SIG Sauer P225A 9mm Luger Nitron finish

Smith & Wesson

Smith & Wesson Corp. is now offering its highly acclaimed M&P Shield pistol in both 9mm and .40 S&W, with a factory ported barrel and slide. These new Shield ported pistols, available exclusively from the legendary Performance Center, provide a host of premium features desired by the most astute shooters. Engineered on a high-strength polymer frame measuring .95 inch in width, the Performance Center M&P Shield is standard with a 3.1-inch factory-ported barrel. The new barrel, along with the pistol’s three precision-cut ports across the top of the stainless-steel slide, aid in reducing muzzle flip and improve the ability to remain on target after firing. The new M&P Shield pistols have been further updated with fiber-optic sights and an enhanced trigger. SRP: $490.

Smith & Wesson has also added greater versatility to its premiere line of M&P pistols by offering two new versions of the M&P with an additional threaded barrel included in the box. The new 9mm variants—which include the Performance Center M&P Ported and the Performance Center M&P C.O.R.E. (Competition Optics Ready Equipment)—allow owners to easily attach a sound suppressor without the use of additional tools. The additional threaded barrel included with both pistols brings an added retail value of $175 and feature a thread pattern of 1/2-28.

A custom-designed, machine-engraved SW1911 pistol is also joining the line this year. The new SW1911 features a scrollwork design created by Smith & Wesson’s Master Engraver and made possible by a highly precise diamond-tipped tool. The engraving embellishes the all-steel canvas and elevates the venerable 1911 platform to a new level of sophistication and beauty. Chambered in .45 ACP, the pistol showcases decorative machine engraving on the left and right side of the stainless-steel slide and frame. This intricate linework extends across the pistol’s 5-inch barrel, and when combined with its glass bead finish and rosewood colored grips, transforms this modern-day workhorse into a living piece of art. (smith-wesson.com)

Traditions Performance Firearms

For 2016, Traditions has introduced four new models into its popular blackpowder revolver lineup. All four feature laser engraving. While beautiful to look at and display, these engraved revolvers are also 100 percent functional. Models include two 1851 Navy revolvers. One is in blue with walnut grips, while the other is in nickel with simulated ivory grips. There is a blued 1858 Army with walnut grips and a blued 1860 Army configured similarly.

Traditions has also added two new models to the popular Frontier series of 1873 Single Action Revolvers. Like all Traditions single-action revolvers, these, too, come equipped with a transfer bar to give a high level of safety. One of the new introductions is an 1873 Single Action Sheriff’s model, with a 3.5-inch barrel and color-case-hardened frame. The other is an 1873 Single Action with an oversize grip frame and a 5.5-inch barrel. Both have color-case-hardened frames and are chambered for .357 Magnum. (traditionsperformance.com)

Walther

Designed for personal protection and recreational shooting, the PPQ .45 Auto is the first true production Walther .45 Auto in the company’s storied history. The gun is equipped with the Carl Walther quick-defense trigger and is fashioned with the traditional front and rear slide serrations. Like all PPQ models, it also has fully ambidextrous controls. This new .45 has a polygonal rifled 4.25-inch barrel and houses three separate safeties. Accessories can easily be mounted on the mil-spec Picatinny rail. (waltherarms.com)

Walther PPQ .45 Auto
Walther PPQ .45 Auto