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Joe Friday’s Gun

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This old .38 is a formidable handgun. READ MORE

joe friday
This is a useful revolver with value beyond the fascination with Dragnet.

Heyward Williams

Among the first police procedural dramas was Dragnet. Dragnet was down to earth and presented the facts well. As a child I enjoyed the series very much. Dragnet still has much to recommend. Professionalism and results are valued. Later many of the prima donnas and flawed characters in TV shows were less interesting. Few would have lasted a minute in any agency I worked for. Some of the shows were basically good trash versus bad trash and the good trash wins. Then we had the original Criminal Minds. While they compressed a six month investigation into an hour show the original was very good. Then the show devolved into ridiculous plots and became basically a show case for personalities. The tired old plot of cop gets framed or cop gets divorce and a lack of originality seems to dog many shows after the first season. Kind of a soap opera. The point of my dialogue is Dragnet was a very good show and it set the pace for some of the better dramas such as Law and Order. As long as there are criminals and cases there will be fertile ground for police dramas. If you can read a file and get the facts then you can write a dramatization of it. And it doesn’t take a show of force akin to an Israeli police action against terror to get the job done. Joe Friday, like all LAPD detectives of the day, carried a .38 Special revolver.

joe friday
A four inch barrel Military and Police .38, above, compared to the two inch barrel revolver.

I began my reading and research in the firearms world with well written books by C B Colby. His work whetted my interest in firearms and most were written in simple prose that a nine year old could understand. As I progressed to reading Gun Digest I learned a great deal about handguns. By age eleven I had a Crossman air pistol and had fired several of my grandfather’s revolvers. I knew that Joe Friday carried a Military and Police .38 Special with a two inch barrel. This was one of the first short barrel .38 Special revolvers, introduced just before Colt’s Detective Special. The Military and Police revolver is a K frame revolver. It is considerably larger than the J frame five shot revolver. The Military and Police revolver features a full size grip that makes control good for experienced shooters. The sights are excellent for a fixed sight revolver. The action is smooth. While the smaller frame Detective Special has much merit the Military and Police snub nose is a fast handling and effective revolver.

joe friday
The Smith’s fixed sights are precise when properly aligned and fast to pick up.

I had wanted one of these revolvers after seeing Joe Friday draw and use his on Dragnet. Very seldom was the big Smith used but when it was Friday fired a single shot and got the job done. The lumbering old 200 grain Super Police load was standard for the LAPD in those days. While Friday’s gun fired blanks the LAPD fired many Super Police loads in the line of duty. I have owned a good number of J frame revolvers, primarily for use as a backup, and somehow I hadn’t added a full size Military and Police .38 Special revolver with two inch barrel to my collection. I kept my eye open for an example and actually ran across one about three years ago at a fair price. This was the first and last time I entered this shop. (It is now out of business.) I saw an older Smith and Wesson two inch barrel Model Ten with the desirable diamond grips. The revolver had a bit of wear, just like I like. A nice looking lady of perhaps forty years age handed me the revolver and we were within a few dollars of making the deal. A crusty overweight sourpuss (the owner) came to stand beside his daughter. I held the gun up to the light looking it over and remarked, ‘Hey this is Joe Friday’s gun.’ Sourpuss said, ‘I don’t care who in the hell pawned it it’s mine now.’ Seldom have I met such a solid combination of ignorance, disdain for a customer, and a lack of personality. I smiled at his lovely daughter and said ‘Let me think about it.’ I never graced the place again.

joe friday
A snubby barrel makes for fast handling.
joe friday
The revolver came with a chip out of the stock at no extra charge.

A few weeks ago I saw another of the now hard to find revolvers. The piece was in one of my favorite shops and it was marked at a fair price. I managed to whittle a few dollars off the price and took the piece home, cracked grip, worn muzzle and all. I didn’t want a new in the box example at all and that wasn’t in the budget. The action is tight and a check of the serial number showed the revolver left the factory in 1972. The bluing was decent and the chip off the bottom of the grip didn’t affect firing. Who knows — perhaps someone had used the gun butt as a kosh and buffaloed some deserving SOB. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a trouble free revolver. You could by pass every new revolver in the gun case at a well stocked gun shop and pick up a new Military and Police revolver and have a handgun that will last you for many years with heavy use.

joe friday
Several Remington .38 Special loads gave good results in the Model Ten.

I took the revolver to the range and loaded up the classic 158 grain RNL in the Remington Wheelgunner line. The revolver lines up on target quickly. Accuracy is good. The K frame really soaks up recoil. At 10 yards it was no mean feat to put six rounds into the X ring firing double action. Of course we don’t carry RNL loads. The Remington lead semi wadcutter hollow point is soft enough to plump up to .60 even at 820 fps, the clocked velocity from the Smith’s short barrel. There was more recoil with this 158 grain load but the big Smith and Wesson remained controllable. After firing a number of double action pairs I appreciated Sgt. Friday’s choice. This is a good handling revolver. The two inch barrel allows good concealment even when worn on the belt as a relatively short covering garment will conceal this handgun. I even tried a few shots at a long 20 yards. Bracing against a barricade and firing five rounds single action all five went into less than two inches- with three in 1.5 inches. These were among the most accurate revolvers to leave Smith and Wesson. Since the initial outing I have also fired a number of handloads using heavy cast bullets from Matt’s Bullets. A hard cast 200 grain bullet at 800 fps thumps the steel plates hard. Not recommended for J frame revolvers.

Joe Friday carried his Smith in a crossdraw holster. My research indicates this was a Lewis holster, a well made scabbard long out of production. I have on hand a spring loaded G Man crossdraw from the 1940s or so. The Smith and Wesson fit well and the draw was excellent. The holster has become loose with the years and that wont do. A modern Wright Leather Works crossdraw is superior to most anything Joe Friday would have owned. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a good fit for this holster, originally intended for a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum with 2.5 inch barrel. The Wright Leather Works holster holds the gun butt in the perfect position for a rapid presentation.

In the end I like this combination very much. I am certain I will be using the Smith and Wesson .38 when hiking or other low stress activity and probably carrying it concealed from time to time. I would rather have this vintage Smith and Wesson than perhaps half of the guns I see in shooting classes. And that’s the facts — just the facts.

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Wright Leatherworks offers first class concealment leather.

REVIEW/RETROSPECT: A Look At An Old Bullseye Gun

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There were giants in those days… READ MORE

madore
G. Madore’s Bulls Eye gun is a Colt in most regards but definitely not like anything that left the Colt shop during the previous century.
madore
The pistol’s appearance is period and the performance outstanding.

Heyward Williams

When we reflect, ruminate, reminisce, and muse on the past, we generally use images from the past in our thoughts. Few are able to think completely in the abstract. When I think of my younger years and getting into shooting I recall my fascination for the 1911 .45 at an early age. That is a long fifty years ago, and my interest has never waned. Early in my shooting and working years I owned perhaps four or five good guns and usually traded one to get another. Sometimes I traded a good gun and didn’t get a better gun in the trade, but we have all had such mishaps. I think a great difference in the shooters of that time and the shooters beginning today is that they expect a handgun to be ready for use out of the box. To some it is a great surprise that few if any 1911 handguns were ready for competition in the 1970s and 1980s. Les Baer and Bill Wilson were yet to come. Some of the finest work ever accomplished on 1911 handguns was the work done by Army gunsmiths between 1918 and 1935. The Colt National Match gave us a decent bullseye gun but the best examples were turned out by shops ran by craftsmen that mixed art and mechanics, and sometimes engineering. I grew up in the heyday of these makers but could not afford one of their guns. Today I own one of the best examples of the era.

madore
A GI Slide was the basis for the Colt’s modification.

Very often when looking at the work of artists in steel we discover past styles that influenced their work. The pedigree is traced to the instructor or gunsmith where the artists did their journeyman work. Sometimes we have very little to go on save for the surviving work. I have seen several 1911 .45s modified by George Madore. These pistols are credible examples of the gunsmiths trade. There were many gunsmiths that performed good work and a few that were exceptional. My examination of the handgun on hand falls into the exceptional category. Madore worked on many handguns prior to his death about fifteen years ago. Among these were Hammerli 208 handguns and quite a few 1911s. He worked, by my best information, in a shop at his home, as many smiths of the era did. He provided witness targets with the guns. Among his innovations was a tab on the barrel to snug up the barrel fitting. I have also seen a single example of what must have been his later work. A 1911 slide was fitted with an AimPoint sight. Not on a rail or a mount but fitted directly to the slide, among the first examples of an optic mounted directly to a moving part. Today I often fire and enjoy my factory red dot equipped SIG P 229 RX. I did not know the direct AimPoint mount on a 1911 existed until recently. Madore definitely had a forward looking bent.

madore
These old Colts are similar in concept, giving the shooter an advantage over any factory gun of the era. The upper gun is fitted with MMC sights and had a trigger job performed. It is a good carry gun. The Madore is a target gun.
madore
The Madore gun, lower, is slightly more accurate the modern Colt Gold Cup, above, with most loads.

I found my own Madore 1911 in a reputable used shop. I knew it was a bullseye Colt and did some research before returning to purchase the piece. This beat doing the research after the fact, and that is a hard lesson for many of us! The piece features what is probably a GI slide and a Series 70 frame. As I looked more closely I found modifications that were popular in the era. This marks the pistol as one of his early guns, but I have no certainty save my own experience and opinion. As one example — some shooters either miss the standard GI or Colt Commercial grip safety or do not because they can’t depress it sufficiently to release the trigger. There is a great difference between a competition gun and a carry gun, and blocking the grip safety was common a generation or two ago. A thin wire was sometimes ran through a hole drilled in the frame and grip safety. Some were simply taped shut. The Madore guns were sometimes modified by cutting the leaf spring that controls the grip safety. This eliminated the grip safety’s lock on the trigger. You are free to use the thumbs forward grip and allow the palm to rise off of the grip safety. The pistol will fire. Much later, Novak offered a backstrap that eliminated the grip safety, and it is quite well made. The Madore modification worked. I should stress I strongly prefer an operating grip safety for a carry 1911, but for Bulls Eye, the Madore solution is fine. The pistol has some of the classic upgrades of the time. The slide features a well done scalloped ejection port. The square front post was possibly hand cut, but it may be a King’s — I am not certain. The rear sight is a Bomar. The Bomar is far more rugged than the factory Colt sights of the day. The stainless steel barrel bushing is tight and was difficult to turn. It required a large bushing wrench with plenty of leverage to turn and a bit of tapping to remove. The slide and frame are a tight fit. Since they are a mismatch this indicates that some fitting of the frame to the slide was done. There was no lateral play at all. The trigger action isn’t light but very smooth at four pounds even. There is no creep or backlash. The grips are a set of Pachmayr double diamonds with plenty of adhesion. While the Madore gun seems to be set up for Bulls Eye, this handgun, with a few changes, could make a fine all around .45 for general duty, even personal defense. I would return the grip safety to operation and install a heavy recoil spring and go about my business.

madore
The slide is tastefully engraved. Note lowered ejection port.

These handguns were not particularly expensive at the time, costing perhaps twice as much as a factory Gold Cup. Compared to the present price of Wilson Combat and Les Baer guns, they were a bargain. And they are true custom guns, each being an individual. A word to the wise — caution is indicated when investing in older custom guns. Be certain you know your way around the 1911 and its safety checks. There is no guarantee someone not up to Mr. Madore’s workmanship hasn’t had their hands on the gun in the interval since he built it. In this case I was lucky and the workmanship and function remain flawless. Another caution — if you expect this gun, a Heinie, Novak, or Action Works build to bring a fair price, it should have the original build list outlining the parts used. This one did not have that. A trip to the range was planned with some excitement. I lubricated the long bearing surfaces liberally and loaded a couple of MecGar magazines with a proven handload. The classic accuracy load for the .45 ACP is a 200 grain SWC over Unique for 850 fps- at least in my book. From a solid benchrest firing position I put five rounds into 1.5 inches at 25 yards. Perhaps the accuracy potential is even greater with a bit of handloading and hard work. I also fired five rounds of the Remington 230 grain Black Belt JHP. The pistol not only fed well; the five rounds clustered into 1.75 inches. This is exceptional accuracy for any 1911. The G. Madore marked pistol has a sense of history and emotional attachment combined with excellent performance. I am proud to own this well turned out pistol.

madore
The Madore gun features a solid adjustable trigger.

REVIEW: Taurus 692 Multi-Caliber Revolver

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How about a 9mm, .38 and .357 in one package? READ MORE

taurus 692
The 692 is nicely finished and offers a relatively compact package.

Heyward Williams

The newest Taurus revolver is among the most interesting and innovative the company has manufactured. The 692 is a double action revolver with a swing out cylinder. There is a single action option, useful in a field and trail revolver. This handgun features a 7-shot cylinder, giving the relatively compact Taurus .357 Magnum an advantage over traditional 6-shot revolvers. While there are other 7-shot revolvers, the Taurus Tracker is among the most compact. There are longer barrel versions available suitable for hunting and competition. My example is a matte blue finished revolver with a three inch ported barrel and non fluted cylinder. The grips are the famous Taurus Ribber grips. These are rubber and give a bit during recoil. The grips also keep the hand separated from the steel frame. The result is plenty of adhesion and abrasion and great comfort.

taurus 692
The revolver features Ribber grips, fully adjustable sights, and a smooth action.

While the 692 is a credible choice for personal defense and field use as a conventional revolver a major advantage is a second cylinder chambered in 9mm Luger. This gives the use the option of using .38 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges in one cylinder and 9mm Luger in the other. (We could include the .38 Colt and .38 Long Colt but leave it at that.) Previously most dual caliber revolvers have been single action .22 Magnum/.22 Long Rifle types. The 9mm cylinder may be fired with 9mm cartridges but since the 9mm doesn’t have a cartridge case rim that extends to the ejector star spent cases must be picked out one at a time. Taurus supplies moon clips for easy loading and unloading. Many shooters will prefer to use the revolver as a 9mm as this is the most popular handgun caliber in America. There is no denying the power advantage of the .357 Magnum and for those willing to master the caliber it offers decisive wound potential.

taurus 692
The dual cylinders allow use of 9mm Luger, .38 Special and .357 Magnum ammunition.

In the past dual cylinder double action revolvers were not feasible for many reasons. Fitting each crane and cylinder to the revolver and preserving the barrel cylinder gap and timing seemed unworkable. Taurus got it right in a unique manner. Previously a revolver cylinder was removed by removing a screw in the frame. The Taurus features a plunger on the right side of the frame that is pressed to release the cylinder, allowing an easy change. Remarkably, each cylinder is properly timed and the barrel cylinder gap remains tight after each cylinder change.

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The ports seem to lessen recoil effect. The revolver functioned well.

The revolver is quite attractive with its all black finish and unfluted cylinder. Each cylinder is marked for the caliber, no mix ups there. The revolver features good quality fully adjustable rear sights and a bold post front. The trigger action is smooth in the double action mode. The single action trigger press is clean and crisp. I began firing the revolver with a number of .38 Special loads. These included handloads with modest charges of WW 231 powder. I also fired a good quantity of Black Hills Ammunition 158 grain lead ‘cowboy load,’ a pleasant, accurate, and affordable choice. The revolver is easily controlled. Firing double action, I hit man sized targets at 7, 10, and 15 yards. The grips, trigger action, and sights provided good results. Moving up the scale I also fired a number of Black Hills Ammunition .38 Special 125 grain JHP +P loads in .38 Special. This revolver is easily controlled with .38 Special loads and more accurate than most.

692 specs

Moving to the .357 Magnum things became interesting. I had on hand two loads from Black Hills Ammunition. One is the fast stepping 125 grain JHP and the other, the deeper penetrating 158 grain JHP. The 125 grain JHP retained 1340 fps velocity in the short barrel 592, a good number for personal defense. Recoil was increased but the revolver was not unpleasant to fire. The grips have a lot to do with this. Concentration on handling recoil and the trigger action is demanded. The .357 Magnum generates enough muzzle blast to startle shooters and this is what causes flinch, more so than recoil, in most shooters. The Taurus 692 Tracker is as controllable a revolver as I have fired in .357 Magnum. Results were good, giving a trained shooter a high degree of confidence in this handgun. Notably, the muzzle ports seemed to reduce recoil but did not add offensive blast.

692
The ports seem to lessen recoil effect. The revolver functioned well.

At this point the revolver gets a clean bill of health as a handy, fast handling, reliable and accurate .357 Magnum. But what about the 9mm cylinder? I depressed the plunger in the receiver and quickly snapped in the 9mm cylinder to explore the possibilities. I began with the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain FMJ. There was little recoil and mild report. Accuracy was similar to the .38 Special. I can see the 9mm cylinder as a good option for economy. Picking the cartridge cases out one at a time isn’t that time consuming for the casual shooter. The cartridge cases in 7-shot moon clips were much more interesting. A conventional revolver must be tilted muzzle up for cartridge case extraction. Otherwise spent cases may hang under the ejector start. Likewise in loading the muzzle must be as straight down as possible to facilitate loading. With the moon clips all cartridge cases are ejected smartly even if the muzzle isn’t straight up. Loading is less fumble prone than loading one at a time and with practice is sharper than loading with a speeloader — the clips are loaded with the cartridges in the cylinder rather than the cartridges inserted and the speedloader dropped. This system has much merit in a revolver intended for personal defense. I fired a number of the powerful Black Hills Ammunition 124 grain +P JHP with good results. While the loading clocked nearly 1200 fps, recoil is modest.

taurus 692
With the 9mm Taurus star/moon clips spent cases may be ejected even though the 9mm doesn’t have a revolver type case rim.

During the test I deployed the revolver in a Jeffrey Custom Leather belt holster. This is a well made, attractive, and well designed holster. Retention is good. This is a among a few holsters that rides high and offers good security, and will double as a concealed carry and field holster. Draws were sharp, getting on target quickly.

I find the Taurus 692 an exceptional revolver. The combination of loads makes for great versatility, from powder puff practice and small game loads to +P loads suitable for personal defense and finally full power Magnum loads for field use and defense against larger animals. This is the ultimate Tracker and my favorite Taurus revolver. A price check shows the revolver generally retails for just shy of $500.

taurus 692
The Taurus 692 is supplied with two cylinders, one for .38 Special/.357 Magnum cartridges and the other for the 9mm Luger.

VISIT TAURUS TO SEE FULL SPECS

REVIEW: Rossi R92 Lever Action .45 Long Colt

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This is among the best go anywhere solve any problem rifles. READ MORE

rossi r92 45
Short, handy, light and powerful the Rossi .45 Colt carbine has much to recommend.

Robert Campbell

For most of my life I have kept a lever action rifle handy for all around use. I have taken more game with the lever action than with any other type. During my time as a peace officer I kept a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 WCF lever action rifle in the trunk on more than one occasion. Such a rifle is capable of solving most of the problems encountered. I have the greatest respect for the AR 15 rifle and enjoy firing and using my .223 rifles. Few rifles are as versatile, accurate, and reliable as a good AR 15. Few rifles may be used for varmints and deer by simply changing loads- and then fired in a competitive match that weekend! I simply like the lever action and value its simplicity and ruggedness. I have seen lever actions in the hands of outdoorsmen, scouts and working cowboys that were beaten, battered, and even muddy. These things happen after a decade or two of use. But the rifles always work. When the likely profile is that you may need only a shot or two but that the rifle needs to hit hard, a powerful lever action rifle is a viable choice.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is available in several versions. This is a stainless steel version with the standard lever. For hard use this is probably the preferred version.
rossi r92 45
The lever action Rossi is also available with long barrels and even octagon barrels.

Recently I was in the market for a short handy lever action rifle. I did not seriously consider a Trapper model in .30-30 but sought out a pistol caliber carbine. There are many reasons for this choice. First, it is easier to find a range that allows pistol caliber carbines and this is a real consideration in many areas. Second, I am an enthusiastic handloader. As long as the brass holds out and I am able to obtain lead, primers and powder I will be shooting. I don’t hoard ammunition; I simply keep a reasonable supply. Ammunition is for practice, training, hunting and personal defense. My retirement portfolio contains other choices! While I like the pistol caliber carbine I am not sold on the carbine and handgun combination. When carrying the Rossi lever action rifle I am as likely to be carrying a .357 Magnum revolver as a .45, and more likely to carry my everyday 1911 .45 automatic. A long gun and a handgun are for different duties and compromise is evident.

rossi r92 45
While the combination of a revolver and rifle chambered for the same cartridge has some merit the author feels that they are a compromise and chooses his long and short guns on their own merits.

The lever action carbine slips behind the seat of a truck easily. It is flat, light, and may be made ready by quickly working the lever action. Once ready it may be made safe by simply lowering the hammer. Accuracy isn’t the long suit of the short pistol caliber carbine but it is accurate enough for most chores to 100 yards. Versatility is the long suit. It is a bonus that a good example isn’t expensive. I somehow found myself in the possession of Winchester 95 and Savage 99 high power rifles and a good Henry .22 rifle but no short powerful carbine. I addressed this deficit in the battery by purchasing a Rossi 92 carbine. These rifles are available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .454 Casull, and I have seen examples in .44-40 as well. The .357 is economical and the best choice for Cowboy Action. With Magnum loads it is a fine defense caliber and will do for deer. The .44 Magnum is a great caliber. I have used it to drop large boar hogs and it hits like Thor’s hammer. The .44-40 is a handloading proposition for real power. I happened along a .45 Colt example. The rifle looked good, with nice Brazilian wood and the popular large ring lever. Since I had plenty of .45 Colt brass the choice wasn’t difficult. I have reached that pleasant stage in life when every firearm doesn’t have to have a well defined mission to earn its keep, and where a specialized firearm that does a few things well is good to have. The Rossi was destined to serve as a go anywhere do anything rifle. For short range hunting, probably an opportunity rather than a planned hunt, to dispatch predators, pests and dangerous animals, and for personal defense on the road, the Rossi seemed a good fit.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine has a very short lever throw. It is fast, very fast. The saddle ring serves little purpose for most of us. The thong needs to be ditched for serious use.

Despite my Scot blood I am not the cheapest guy in the world but the rifle set me back less than four hundred dollars and I like that. This is the first example I have owned in .45 Colt, but the particulars of the rifle are familiar to me. The sights are pretty basic. There is a front post with a small brass bead and an open sight in the rear. The front post is adjustable for windage — with the proper punch — and the rear sight may be adjusted for elevation by use of the sight ladder. You have to know how to use these sights. I have heard more than a little grumbling concerning the difficulty of sighting in similar rifles. The front post must be set in the bottom of the rear notch for the proper point of aim. You do not hold it in the upper part of the rear leaf or you will shoot impossibly high. A tubular under the barrel magazine holds eight rounds. The lever action rifle was once referred to as a bolt gun — period literature is hard to read sometimes but interesting. The bolt is locked by rear locking wedges. The rifle is unlocked by working the lever. As the lever travels downward, the bolt moves to the rear and the extractor pulls the spent case from the chamber. The fresh round is fed from the magazine into a shell carrier. As the lever is closed the carrier feeds a fresh round into the chamber. Rearward travel of the bolt cocks the hammer.

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The bead front sight is surprisingly precise at moderate range.
rossi R92
The rear sight is a good example of lever action rifle gear, with a sliding bar or ladder for elevation adjustment.

This is a generally reliable and trouble free system. However, be certain you learn to properly use the lever action. The lever is pressed forward, not down, and a certain cadence of fire comes with practice. I have witnessed the occasional malfunction in which a cartridge jumps from the magazine and under the carrier. This is devilishly hard to clear. A pistol caliber carbine such as the Rossi 92 has more leverage than a .30-30 rifle and the action may be manipulated more quickly. If need be you may put out a lot of lead with the Rossi 92. If you keep extra rounds on the belt the Rossi may be topped off one round at a time. The rifle weighs about five pounds loaded. It is only about 34 inches long — that’s compact. With the 16 inch barrel this rifle handles quickly and tracks between targets well. It is no trick to keep steel gongs moving at 50 yards. To test the rifle, firing at the 50 yard line, I set up an Innovative Targets steel target. This target is a great training aid. Using the steel insert rated for pistol calibers I was able to ring the target on demand.

rossi r92 45
The hammer spur is nicely checkered and gives good purchase. Note the locking wedges and the controversial safety arrangement.

Ammo Options
As far as ammunition, the Rossi was fired for the most part with my personal handloads using a 255 grain cast SWC. With the .44 Magnum carbine I have had to crimp over the bullet shoulder in order to assure feed reliability- loads intended for use in a revolver sometimes did not feed correctly in the carbine. This wasn’t the case with the .45 Colt carbine. Most of these loads generate about 800 fps from a revolver. At 25 yards the handloads struck a bit right and low but this was easily adjusted. In factory ammunition there are several distinct classes of ammunition. These include cowboy action loads that are lighter than standard, standard pressure lead loads, and standard pressure personal defense loads. There are heavy hunting loads such as the ones offered by Buffalo Bore. I fired a representative sample of each class of load. I fired a quantity of the Winchester 225 gr. PDX JHP defense load and also the Speer 250 gr. Gold Dot JHP load. Each was mild to fire and accurate. The bonded bullets should be excellent for personal defense. I also fired a quantity of the Hornady Critical Defense. This 185 grain bullet struck below the point of aim but gave good feed reliability. It would have easy to adjust the sights if I wished to deploy this loading. I also fired a small quantity of the Buffalo Bore 225 grain all copper bullet. What struck me is that these loads are practically indistinguishable as far as recoil. Each was mild, with no more recoil than a .410 bore shotgun. Only the Buffalo Bore load was noticeably hotter. But you are getting serious horsepower.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is fully compatible with factory .45 Colt loads, from standard pressure to +P.

Here are a few velocity figures —
Winchester 225 grain PDX, 1090 fps
Hornady FTX 185 grain Critical Defense, 1180 fps
Buffalo Bore 225 grain Barnes, 1310 fps

rossi r92 45
The 255 grain SWC handload on the left will solve a lot of problems. The Hornady FTX, right, is accurate and mild shooting.

The .45 Colt was designed for black powder way back in 1873. As such it is sometimes smoky and not as efficient as more modern calibers when loaded with smokeless powder. However a good quantity of the Black Hills cowboy action load gave both good accuracy and a full powder burn. A tight chamber and 16 inch barrel increases ballistic efficiency. As an example the Black Hills cowboy action loading breaks about 780 fps from a 4 ¾ inch barrel revolver, but over 1,000 fps from the Rossi carbine. While the bullet doesn’t expand it will do whatever the .45 Colt has ever done. The cartridge enjoys an excellent reputation as a manstopper. As for the gain in velocity over a handgun when ammunition is fired in the carbine, the average is a 100 fps gain with standard loads while heavier loads may gain 140-160 fps. This is a useful increase in power over the revolver but the real advantage is in accuracy. It is much easier to quickly get a hit with a carbine than with the handgun.

The action of the Rossi is easily the smoothest lever action I have used including original Winchester carbines. Pistol caliber carbines have plenty of leverage. The action is both smooth and reliable. The wood to metal fit is good, if not flawless. A point of contention is the L shaped safety found on the bolt. I simply ignore it. I would not remove it, some may wish to use it. Another source of some discussion was the large loop lever. This large loop is a great addition for use with gloved hands, but otherwise it isn’t more efficient than the standard loop. It may be slower to use than a standard loop. Still, it is the same large loop that Lucas McCain and Josh Randall used in the cinema and some like the looks. It is fast enough but in the final analysis serves no useful purpose and makes the light and flat carbine more difficult to store. I would not have sought out a big ring carbine, it was simply what was on the shelf. I did not feel strongly enough about the large ring to let it interfere with my decision to purchase the rifle. The same goes for caliber. Much could be said for the .44 Magnum version. However, the .45 Colt is a proven defense loading. At moderate range it will take deer sized game cleanly. I had the ammo. As for the buckskin tong around the saddle ring, ditch it. It sometimes interferes with handling.

rossi r92 45
At 3 yards the shotshell pattern would do in a rodent or snake. The shot capsule cut through the paper.

Another option with the Rossi 92 is the availability of shot loads. I used a handful of Speer/CCI shot loads in the carbine with good results. I did not cycle the rounds in the action more than one at a time. I would load a single shot cartridge in the magazine, feed it into the chamber, then load another. You feel the cartridge crunch a little as it chambers. I have the impression that the shot capsule might crack and crumble in the magazine from the force of a metal cartridge head under spring pressure butting into the plastic shot carrier. You would have a mess! The shot pattern is useful to 5 yards or so in dealing with vermin and reptiles. I like the option in a go anywhere carbine.

rossi r92 45
This is a Barnes X bullet in the author’s handloads. The .45 Colt is a versatile number that works best inside 50 yards.

When the Rossi is taken as a whole it is a capable carbine for many situations. It isn’t particularly accurate but it is accurate enough. It is inexpensive and fires a proven cartridge, with a good reserve of ammunition. If saddle rings and the big lever appeal to you the Rossi has much to recommend. But it is also a good performer and this is an attractive combination. When you look past the cinema depiction of the rifleman you realize that Lucas McCain was pretty smart to deploy a rifle and it gave him an advantage.

rossi r92 45
The author and the Rossi carbine- this rifle is fun to fire! This may lead to more practice sessions.

rossi r92 45

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REVIEW: SIG P225A1 9mm

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

SIG P225A
SIG P225A1

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REVIEW: Ruger SR1911 Officers Style 9mm

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This is one of the fastest-handling 9mm 1911 pistols, yet it is also reliable and accurate. READ MORE

ruger officer model

Bob Campbell

A few years ago, Ruger introduced a well-made and nicely-finished Government Model 1911 .45 ACP. The SR1911 has earned a reputation as an excellent value for its modest price. But Ruger did not stop there.

A few years later, Ruger introduced a Commander version. The standard Commander type — as currently manufactured by more than one maker — features a 0.75-inch shorter barrel than the 5-inch Government Model. The 4.25-inch barrel uses a standard barrel bushing. The frame is the same size as the Government Model. This all-steel handgun handles well and clears leather faster than the Government Model.

ruger officer model
This is a formidable but lightweight and easy to carry 9mm.

The Lightweight (LW) Commander is a Commander length 1911 with an aluminum frame. This results in a considerable weight savings. A LW Commander weighs 28 ounces versus 40 ounces for the Government Model. Each of these variants uses a standard 7- or 8-round 1911 magazine.

ruger officer model
The Ruger proved to be controllable and accurate.

The Officer’s Style is an even shorter variant. This pistol features a 3.6 inch barrel and a shortened grip frame. The Officers Style is a truly compact 1911. Due to the short slide and differences in geometry, the barrel must tilt at a more severe angle. The result is the barrel bushing is eliminated and the barrel is a bull type that butts into the frame for lockup. This design often results in excellent accuracy.

The original Officer’s Model was developed for use by General Officers in the United States Army. Colt introduced commercial versions to compete with compact pistols such as the Star PD — an excellent design. Ruger’s offering, which they tagged “Officer’s Style,”  is chambered in 9mm Luger, banking on the immense popularity of the cartridge.

ruger officer model
The pistol handles well with a good natural point.

The new Officers Style 9mm SR1911 is an attractive handgun. The slide is satin finished nickel. The slide features Novak combat sights with a three-dot outline. The slide lock, safety, magazine release, and beavertail safety are finished in black. The cocking serrations are the same unique slanted style used with the Ruger Commander.

The bushingless barrel is well fitted to the slide. A reverse plug caps off the recoil spring. The pistol features a stylish stepped slide that looks similar to the Browning P35, but it isn’t quite as sharply shouldered. The pistol doesn’t have a firing pin block or drop safety. Instead, it relies on a lightweight titanium firing pin and extra power firing pin spring for drop safety.

ruger officer model
Rapid speed loads and tactical loads were no problem with the Ruger 9mm.

The frame is a dark gray hard anodized. The contrast with the slide is pleasing to the eye. The grips are among the best designed and feeling grips I have seen on a 1911. They are G10 material engraved with the Ruger logo. These thin grips allow the SR1911 Officers Model to maintain a low profile. I like the custom grade extended beavertail. This beavertail safety properly releases its hold on the trigger halfway into trigger compression.

The pistol is delivered with two, well-designed and well-finished magazines. Trigger compression is a crisp 5.0 pounds without any rough spots or creep and modest take-up.

ruger officer model
Winchester Ammunition provided the horsepower for this test.

During the initial work, I used a goodly amount of Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ ammunition. To test cycle reliability I also used the Winchester Defender 147-grain JHP loads. These loads have proven accurate and clean burning in a number of 9mm handguns. The Ruger 9mm was no exception.

I fired a box of each bullet weight without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. There were no break-in malfunctions or short cycles. After this initial 150 rounds, I switched to the Winchester 124-grain PDX +P. This load demonstrates 1,200 fps in most pistols and just slightly less in the 3.6-inch barrel Officer’s Style.

ruger officer model
Winchester PDX +P loads provide excellent protection.

This load offers excellent ballistics. This is a credible loading with good expansion and penetration. I fired these loads in rapid fire and the Ruger 9mm proved controllable, with well-centered groups at 7, 10, and 15 yards.

I field stripped and cleaned the pistol after the initial 260 rounds. There were no signs of eccentric wear. I returned to the range a few days later. To broaden the test I added a number of handloads using hard cast lead bullets. If the pistol isn’t reliable with cast lead bullets it may not have a place in my scheme of things. I also fired a number of Winchester’s 115-grain Silvertip, a popular load. I accuracy testing firing from a solid bench rest at 15 yards (in deference to the Ruger’s short barrel and sight radius). Accuracy was excellent as noted in the table below.

5-shot groups | 3-group average | 15 yards
Winchester 115-grain FMJ                       2.0 inches
Winchester 124-grain PDX +P                1.7 inches
Winchester Silvertip 115-grain JHP    1.8 inches

The 9mm 1911 Officer’s Style pistol makes a lot of sense. This is a reliable, accurate, and controllable handgun. It is light enough for constant carry but heavy enough to control recoil. It rides close to the body but maintains a good firing grip.

ruger officer model
The Officers Style is often carried in this Jeffrey Custom Leather EZ carry holster. Quality is excellent.

I have carried my example with the Jeffrey Custom Leather EZ Carry for some weeks. This holster is a great inside the waistband holster but also offers the option of carrying the holster between the belt and the trousers. It is rigid enough for such use. This is a good kit, and the Ruger Officers Style is among the best carry guns to cross my desk in some time.

ruger specs

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