The author says the Colt’s is still the AR-style rifle by which all others are judged. READ WHY
There are several variations on the Colt’s AR 15 rifle. While I have my favorites any of the Colt’s will give long service in the harshest environments. It is like the old question of do you know the difference between an elephant and an ant? An ant can ride an elephant — many companies have done the AR 15 and some have done it well but the Colt’s is still the one that all others are judged by. On that subject the same may be said in spades concerning the Colt 1911. The pistol has been first with the most since 1911. While there are high grade handguns that are good examples of the maker’s art, those that cost less than the Colt are, well, cheaper guns.
I elected to go a field test of these guns. You have to get down and dirty sometimes. I appreciate my firearms but they are workers. I also love my shiny near new Jeep, but I took it across the Jeep Beach at the Outer Banks. That is what it is made for.
The Colt’s LE6940 was good enough to cause me to retire my long serving Colt’s HBAR. The LE6940 carbine is about as accurate in practical terms as the longer rifle and carries much easier. I like it better. With a flat top, a CNC machined 7075-T6 Aluminum forging, and Colt’s quality, this is a winning combination. A chrome lined bore, four position collapsible stock and the classic flash hider are all hallmarks of the carbine. It uses .0154 inch hammer and trigger pins so be certain to specify Colt when ordering an aftermarket trigger or parts. The chamber is a 5.56mm NATO, and the barrel twist is 1-7. The barrel is .750 inch diameter at the meeting of the gas block, slightly less the rest of its length. The trigger and safety are crisp in operation. One example is fitted with the XS sights rear aperture that allows using the conventional sight picture at longer range while using the sight notch at 7 yards. The Paul Howe designed CSAT makes for great utility for home defense use. The other sports a Redfield Battlezone optic.
I fired 80 rounds in each rifle, firing from 25 to 100 yards, firing at quickly as I could regain the sight picture. The iron sighted rifle was by no means hopeless at the longer range but very fast at close combat range. The scoped rifle is a joy to fire and use at longer range. Both rifles, using PMag magazines, were completely reliable. The rifles have been fired extensively but this was the first outing with SIG Elite ammunition. The combination proved a happy one. I used the SIG 55 grain FMJ loading with good results. There were no function problems of any type.
The next step was firing for accuracy. I used the Sig Sauer Elite Match .223 Remington Open Tip Match (OTM) 77 grain E223M1-20 loading. This load has proven accurate in a number of rifles and I thought now was a good time to qualify its performance in the Colt rifle. I fired twenty cartridges in the open sighted Colt first. While I am not quite as sharp as I was once with iron sights I did well enough at a long 100 yards, placing three shots into groups of 1.7 to 3.0 inches. I suppose that is good enough for government work. The other Colt, with its optical sight, made things much easier. This time I realize the full accuracy potential of the loading. At 100 yards the Colt/SIG Ammo combination posted an average group of .88 inch, measuring the group from the center of each of the most widely spaced holes in the target. That is good enough to ride with.
Neither rifle was cleaned during this test.
This may be the most advanced 9mm handgun on the planet. READ WHY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Many choose a pistol-caliber-carbine for the critical role of “home defense gun.” The author thinks this one is an outstanding choice! READ WHY
I am certain that I will never be accused of failing to make an honest comment when warranted. Some years ago a friend bought an Uzi carbine and thought it was the best thing in the world for home defense. I disagreed completely. The trigger action was too heavy to allow good accuracy and it was difficult to get hits with on the combat range.
The real thing — short-barrel, full-auto Uzi — is another matter. So is the Thompson SMG. They served a real purpose in house-to-house fighting. The semi-auto versions with 16-inch barrels are inferior to the shotgun for home defense and also to the AR-15 carbine. The purpose-built 9mm carbines such as the Beretta Storm and even the High Point carbine are also better choices.
Easy to use well and with decent triggers, these firearms are not collectible, but they serve a real purpose. Many shooters find a handgun a difficult firearm to master. Considerable time and effort, as well as expense, is involved. In the end, you’ll have a firearm that isn’t as accurate or powerful as a shotgun or rifle. The answer for many is a pistol-caliber-carbine.
The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 dispenses with virtually all of the problems of the semi-automatic SMG and is a neat trick compared to the best of the current competing 9mm carbines. The SUB 2000 isn’t heavy, has a usable trigger, and it is a feathery-light firearm that handles quickly.
You have to aim it carefully. You cannot use the “figure eight tactic” or the “shoot through” that were developed for fully-automatic shoulder-fired firearms. But it still has a much higher hit probability than a handgun, especially in the hands of the less experienced shooter. On a purely personal defense basis, the 9mm carbine is more effective than any 9mm handgun based on handling and accuracy potential. But there is more to the equation.
The 16-inch barrel carbine also develops greater velocity with a given load than the same chambering in a pistol. The powder burns more completely and the long barrel results in nearly complete combustion. I did not detect muzzle flash with any load tested in evaluating the Kel-Tec Sub 2000.
The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is a great carbine for carry in the vehicle for an emergency and practically an ideal home defense firearm. It isn’t as versatile as an AR-15 .223 carbine. The 9mm carbine isn’t well suited to long range shooting or hunting, and it certainly isn’t a varmint rifle. But what it can do, it does very well.
The SUB 2000 is hinged in front and pivots to fold to a neat 16 inches. Unfolded, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is at 30 inches with just over 16 inches of 9mm barrel. There are rails top and bottom for mounting a red dot or laser, plus adding a combat light on the lower rail.
The SUB 2000 is a straight blowback action like a .22; it isn’t gas-operated. Common sense would suggest that the heaviest loads would batter the rifle, but it never stuttered with +P loads. The Sub 2000 uses Glock magazines, and there are versions for other magazines. This makes for easy magazine availability and is a big bonus if you already own a Glock 9mm.
The SUB 2000 folds easily by releasing the trigger guard and folding the rifle into the storage position. When the rifle is folded, the front sight is snapped into a catch on the SUB 2000 stock. This catch must be released to return the carbine back to its firing position.
The polymer frame and grip are durable, and the grip is comfortable. The trigger action is spongy and would be difficult to control in a handgun, but presents far less difficulty in a carbine due to leverage. The magazine release is easy to use. The gun features a simple cross-bolt safety.
The Kel-Tec SUB 2000 uses a peep rear sight and bold protected front post. It takes practice to be able to quickly focus on the sight and align it. Perhaps the rear aperture could be a little wider. However, the sights are adequately precise and are regulated properly for 115- to 124-grain ammunition. The front sight allows windage and elevation adjustment. The rifle is supplied with a Magpul magazine but, as said, accepts standard Glock magazines.
I fired the Kel-Tec SUB 2000 for handling, speed, accuracy, and reliability. I put over 500 cartridges through without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I used SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ and also 124- and 147-grain SIG ammo. Personal defense ammunition included the Hornady 115-grain XTP and Hornady 147-grain XTP.
At 20 yards, I fired a magazine full of the 124-grain SIG load into a group that measured less than 4 inches. This group was fired as quickly as I could press the trigger after regaining the sight. In slow fire, firing from a braced position, I was able to fire several 5-shot groups of less than 2 inches. While there are handguns this accurate, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm carbine is much easier to fire with this degree of accuracy. Speed to a good first hit and follow-up shots were excellent; there’s very little recoil and sight movement during firing.
As I’ve been leading up to all along, this is a great choice for a pistol-caliber-carbine. The owner must consider the specific role the firearm will be placed in. For home defense, for those who have difficulty with the handgun or shotgun, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 carbine is an outstanding choice. For area defense on larger properties, the carbine is easily stowed and carried. The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is one of the neatest tricks on the market.
I have tested pistol caliber carbines in the past, and I am familiar with the advantages of a longer barrel when using standard pistol ammunition. However, the performance of the loads tested was exceptional. I tested the Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P first. A 5-shot group at 20 yards measured two inches. Fired in a Glock 17 pistol on hand, the Hornady load averaged 1,180 fps. In the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 velocity was 1,409 fps. This is excellent velocity putting the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in a different category than any 9mm pistol.
It’s limited in what it can store since it’s only 45 inches long and the opening is only 9 inches by 5 inches. That’s enough room for most shotguns, but it might be a tight fit if you’ve got a pistol grip.
An AR will most likely fit if there’s no magazine or optic attached.
One drawback to this safe is that there are no holes for cables or for mounting it to the floor.
However, this means you can easily move it around from under a bed or under a living room couch. The Fort Knox Security Box sells for $400.
Tactical Walls Rifle Length Shelf. Tactical Walls is a company that makes all different types of gun safes that look like ordinary furniture.
This is one of the fastest-handling 9mm 1911 pistols, yet it is also reliable and accurate. READ MORE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Glock 48 just may be the ideal carry 9mm for Glock fans, and for the rest of us as well! READ WHY HERE
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Ruger GP 100 Seven-Shooter may be the best combat revolver of the century. Read why HERE
The buying public is voting for revolvers and buying them in great numbers. Fueling the new trend, Ruger introduced a 7-shot version of its popular GP100. While there has been a previous 7-shooter in .327 Magnum, this new model fires the .357 Magnum cartridge.
Ruger offers longer barrel versions, but the 2.5-inch version is, in my opinion, among the finest combat revolvers ever manufactured. There are many who appreciate tradition, and others, who simply trust revolvers.
While modern self-loading handguns are as reliable as a machine can be, the revolver is more likely to fire after long term storage while loaded. You may leave the revolver at home, ready, and it will come up shooting. The revolver may also be placed against an adversary’s body and fired. On the other hand, a self-loader may jam after the first shot in this scenario.
In its best versions, the revolver is accurate and powerful, making it well suited to outdoors use. This latest from Ruger, the GP100 7-shot, is an exciting handgun. It is accurate, well-balanced, and fast-handling.
The GP100 was introduced in 1986. Police service handguns in .357 Magnum had not always held up well to constant firing and frequent qualifications with the Magnum cartridge. The larger and more robust GP100 solved a lot of those problems. For many years, the majority of qualifications were done with the .38 Special 148-grain target wadcutter. Problems with this oversight led to court decisions forcing agencies to qualify with the issue load. A hot 125-grain JHP was hard on small parts and sometimes the shooter as well. The 125-grain .357 Magnum hollow point at 1,380 to 1,480 fps was the most powerful cartridge fielded by police agencies — and the most effective. However, it was also difficult to master.
Today, the police carry self-loaders. However, the .357 Magnum cartridge remains relatively unequaled for wound potential. Those who train hard and master the cartridge have a powerful loading that is effective against both two- and four-legged threats, and against light cover.
The GP 100 is capable of absorbing the pounding of a steady diet of .357 Magnum ammunition without going out of time or self-destructing. The shooter will be tired long before the revolver shows any signs of trouble. The GP100 is not only among the most rugged revolvers ever designed, and it is among the most accurate as well.
The GP100 will accept heavy handloads that will literally lock up other handguns. As an example, I worked up a load using H110 powder and Hornady’s 125-grain XTP that develops 1,628 fps from my 4-inch barrel GP100. This load never sticks in the cylinder or exhibits excess pressure signs. When the .357 Magnum was first developed an adventurer wrote, after killing an attacking jaguar — the .357 Magnum was like “having a rifle on your hip.” I agree.
The GP100 has been manufactured in 4- and 6-inch barrel versions, 3-inch barrel fixed-sight revolvers, and a .44 Special version. The new 7-shot revolver is certain to be popular. As said, mine sports a 2.5-inch barrel. It is surprisingly compact and well balanced. The sights are the Ruger fully-adjustable rear, and a green fiber-insert front sight; this combination makes for a good sight picture.
The compact grips are an aid in concealment, and they offer good control when firing Magnum loads. When working the action, the 7-shot action feels different from the 6-shot’s trigger press. Some of the cocking force is used to move the hand and cylinder while the rest cocks and drops the hammer. The GP100 action has always been smooth, but the action feels a bit shorter than the 6-shot version. This results in faster shooting. The heft is excellent — neither handle heavy nor barrel heavy.
The muzzle blast is sometimes startling, but with most loads the GP100 isn’t difficult to control. The balance is similar to the Smith & Wesson Model 27 with a 3.5-inch barrel, but the GP100 is lighter. There are other short-barrel revolvers that are difficult to use well. They twist in the hand, and their excessive muzzle flip is uncomfortable. The GP100 is the fastest-handling, and most controllable, short-barrel Magnum I have fired.
I began my test program with .38 Special ammunition. I suspect many shooters will engage most of their practice targets with .38 Special loads. That is the proven path to proficiency and marksmanship.
I used three choices from Double Tap ammunition in the first evaluation. These included the 850 fps 148-grain wadcutter, a 110-grain JHP at over 1,000 fps, and the 125-grain JHP at 959 fps. With these, this revolver was actually docile. It wasn’t difficult to make fast hits using double-action pairs. Moving to .357 Magnum loads, I fired a representative number of self-defense loads. First came the Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense. At 1,215 fps, this load hits hard and expands well. Velocity fell from the 1,383 fps exhibited in the 4-inch revolver — par for the course with short barrel Magnums.
The Federal 125-grain JHP broke at 1,221 fps. I also fired a handload I consider my favorite in .357 Magnum. At 1,250 fps from the 4-inch barrel, this load — using Titegroup powder — retained 1,180 fps in the Ruger. A handloader may tailor loads to the handgun, and using faster-burning powder clearly paid off in this application. This load isn’t difficult to control and makes a good all-around choice. The balance of expansion and penetration is on the long side. All threats are not two-legged, so penetration is desirable.
I continue to be impressed with this GP100 the more I work with it. With a smooth double-action trigger press and good sights, the revolver is well suited to use by a trained shooter. With proper load selection, the GP100 makes an excellent all-around defense revolver.
For protection against the big cats and feral dogs, I cannot imagine a better choice. Against bears, I would load the Buffalo Bore 180-grain loading, or one of my own handloads using a hard cast 175-grain SWC. Ounce for ounce, the GP100 offers plenty of power for the street or trail.
Slow-fire accuracy fired from a solid benchrest firing position at 15 yards, 5-shot group —
Federal 129-grain Hydra Shok +P 1.25 in.
Double Tap 110-grain JHP 1.5 in.
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Outdoorsman 1.4 in.
Buffalo Bore 158-grain Low Flash Low Recoil 1.2 in.
Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense 1.5 in.
Hornady 125-grain XTP 1.0 in.
Although it’s fallen out of the mainstream, .38 Super is a formidable choice for a critical-use handgun, and it’s one any serious operator should consider. READ WHY
The .38 Super was introduced in the 1911 handgun in 1929 to arm peace officers with a hard-hitting round that offered good penetration against the new breed of mechanized thug. The .38 Super saw extensive use in the hands of the FBI and figured into the demise of dangerous fugitives such as Baby Face Nelson.
The .38 Super is dimensionally identical to the .38 ACP of 1900, and Colt’s offered this in the 1903 model pistol. The .38 ACP fired a 130-grain bullet at 1,100 fps. Colt’s upped the power of the cartridge but used the same length cartridge case and chambered the 1911 in .38 Super when it dropped production of the .38 ACP pistols. The .38 Super was a sensation, noted for its high velocity of 1300 fps and 9 fast shots. At the time, you had to know not to fire a .38 Super in the older Colt’s 1903 pistols.
The effectiveness of .38 Super cannot be argued. The penetration of the cartridge and reliability of the 1911 gave law officers an advantage. However, the .38 Super suffered in popularity after the introduction of the .357 Magnum. In those days, lawmen were revolver men. The question is this: Is the .38 Super a viable personal defense and tactical combination today?
The answer would be yes! Ammunition development continues. Federal Cartridge recently introduced a 115-grain JHP load in its American Eagle Line, and Double Tap ammunition offers excellent tactical-grade loads. SIG Sauer also recently introduced a new .38 Super load.
Rock Island GI Series
The 1911 is a good home for the .38 Super. The 1911 features straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, a low bore axis, a grip that fits most hands well, and excellent speed into action. Its lower recoil makes the .38 Super an an easier cartridge to master than the .45 ACP, and the .38 Super gives two additional rounds of magazine capacity.
Rock Island Armory offers a GI-type 1911 chambered in .38 Super. The pistol is well finished, offers a smooth trigger compression at 5.5 pounds, and, overall, the parts on my test gun were well fitted.
Federal offers a 115-grain JHP in the American Eagle line that breaks almost 1200 fps. This is a good practice load and is just a bit hotter than most 9mm loads. The SIG Sauer Elite 125-grain V Crown JHP breaks just over 1200 fps. Either is a good defense load for most situations.
For loads mimicking the .357 Magnum, consider this: The .38 Super uses relatively fast-burning powder that produces less recoil energy than the slow-burning powder used in the .357 Magnum. The recoil spring captures much of the recoil energy as well.
There are loads available that maximize the caliber. If you wish a rapidly expanding load for use in an urban situation the Double Tap 115-grain Controlled Expansion JHP offers that option. For those preferring an all-copper bullet, the Barnes TAC XP load is an option with greater penetration.
At over 1400 fps, the 125-grain JHP Double Tap would be an excellent all around service load. I normally load my .38 Super with the 115-grain load for home defense. If using the pistol for tactical use, I would deploy the 125-grain bonded core loading. The following table outlines the load’s performance. The Rock Island Armory 1911 .38 Super produced good accuracy with each loading.
The .38 Super fits my needs well. Modern loads put the .38 Super just where it needs to be — a high-velocity loading with good performance, excellent penetration and governable recoil.
Looking for a SERIOUS AR15 pistol? Check out this one… READ MORE
Last year Barnes Precision Machine (BPM) added AR15 pistols to its line-up. Being a long-term fan of BPM, and reasons for that will come out in this article — I had to have one.
WHY BARNES PRECISION MACHINE?
Generally, as a reviewer of a continuous stream of AR15 rifles, I have to strain a bit to understand the benefits X-brand delivers vs Y-brand…because in most cases 99-percent of AR15 manufacturers all use the same parts from the same OEM manufacturers. Barnes is one of those OEM manufacturers in the list who makes parts for the biggest names in the industry.
With nearly every part being made in-house Barnes has the ability to assure every part they use comes together in the most optimal fashion. The result is a tighter fitting and feeling rifle with a higher potential for accuracy.
Barnes has both the build and part quality down; however, what sets them apart is the 100-percent in-house production (excluding springs, trigger, and furniture). I know of four manufacturers in the US actually making a majority of the AR15 parts in house — LMT, Daniel Defense, Colt, and Barnes Precision — however there are a few others starting to pop up here and there.
BPM DOES NOT DO IT BECAUSE IT’S COOL
Many manufacturers are creating ARs and AR accessories because they look cooler than the original. Do they work better? No, generally it is about blinging out your AR versus increasing any real level of performance. Barnes Precision takes a different route with the belief that the overall AR15 platform and design is excellent as is, but some smart tweaks can make it exponentially better without huge cost increases — and still maintain the integrity of a Mil-Spec rifle. Little things make a difference like a captured take-down detent spring that doesn’t go flying when you remove the buffer tube, a tight receiver-to-receiver fit that can even be tightened with an internal receiver tension screw, a sub-MOA match-grade barrel included even in their least expensive rifles, and softer-shooting mid-length gas systems. BPM includes their own Barnes NiBo (Nickel-Boron) coated bolt carrier group and a nice lockable hard-sided Patriot Case with die-cut foam inserts.
There are other innovative design concepts BPM pioneered to improve reliability and durability of the AR15 platform. The in-house made bolt’s cam pin hole is reamed versus being peened which increases the strength of the bolt. BPM designed the first long extended barrel nut design for free-float handguards which does not require indexing, allows perfect torquing of the barrel, and delivers a significantly stronger rigid handguard (in my opinion it is the most solid in the industry). The design is so rigid that certain Military units are using the handguard to mount precision sighting systems. BPM was also the first in the industry to offer NP3 coating on AR15s not because it was cool looking, but because it protected all those typical phosphate coated parts from rust and corrosion in a marine environment. Of course all these great features are included in the BPM-15 Pistol as well.
NOT JUST ANOTHER AR15 PISTOL
Back in 2014, I had several discussions with Andrew Barnes (President BPM). His perspective was that he did not want to offer an AR15 pistol because everyone else had one, he wanted to assure it could be a tool for military, law enforcement, and civilians from a practical perspective. With the rise of the Sig Brace and civilian comfort with Trusts to register SBR — Short Barreled Rifles — he believed there was a niche. Input from his military and LEO contacts really wanted a fast AR15 pistol or SBR which could get in and out of vehicles fast with all the same features as the BPM-15 rifle, including good accuracy. College campus security wanted something light and fast which could address terroristic threat on campus, but be light and small enough to carry every day on the golf carts and Segways used on campuses.
The base of the pistol is exactly the same as their rifles, but with a shorter 7.5-in. barrel, shorter handguard, and Sig Brace with extended buffer tube. The result is a civilian-legal short, fast, and powerful defensive and sport pistol that is a tool versus a toy.
The handguard for instance is not the cool-looking extended-over-muzzle-length style because the handguard length is sized to assure clearance of any muzzle device or suppressor without worrying about handguard interference. Barnes also used a heavier barrel to assure it could satisfy the demands of sustained continuous fire versus a faster-heating skinny barrel. Instead of just slipping a Sig Brace on the back of a standard pistol buffer tube, BPM used a KAK buffer tube to provide a more comfortable shooter platform with the Sig Brace. The end result is a tight, well-thought-out AR15 pistol which is useable out of the box as a defense and sporting tool, but can be easily converted to a shoulder-stocked SBR with the properly acquired tax stamp.
BPM ROBAR NP3 & MELONITED MARINE AR15
Almost every other manufacturer who offers some fancy diamond hard finish are only at best delivering a upper and lower receiver with a really hard finish. The problem is that they are coating the hard anodized items which are already the most impervious to corrosion, but all the other phosphate parts are left exposed which can rust of corrode quickly in a marine or wet environment. Barnes offers 100-percent NP3 coated firearms as a BPM NP3 Parts Upgrade Package.
The package includes NP3 coated trigger assembly pins, a trigger set, ejection door components, forward assist components, charging handle, selector, take-down and pivot-pins, springs, castle nut, egg plate, even the detents, te handguard bolts, barrel nut, crush washer, and flash hider are are NP3 treated. On my model, the stainless match barrel, gas block and gas tube are Nitrocarburization treated (AKA: Melonited) inside and out which is better than chrome because it delivers superior corrosion resistance and does not degrade accuracy like chrome can.
In the end, the coatings deliver a totally corrosion-resistant AR. All this was done not to deliver the stunning custom-look it has, but, as Andrew Barnes was quick to point out “the cool factor is only a side benefit…it’s all about performance.”
My testing did not center around the conventional accuracy testing, but instead testing the pistol for what it was designed for — fast shooting on man-sized targets from 0-300 yards. For this task, I attached an Israeli Mepro 21 sight which has proven itself easy in combat environments as one of the best combat reflex sights on the market. My Mepro 21 features the triangle dual (fiber optic and tritium) illuminated reticle. Frankly I love this optic and it proved perfect for this BPM15 Pistol.
Once I established a 25-yard zero and confirmed no additional tweaks were needed at 300 yards, I started having A LOT of fun. With my steel Action Targets set up at 25, 100, 200, and 300 yards, I was extremely impressed how easy the Barnes pistol was to shoot. They had done their homework. I was able to keep my hostage 6-inch swinger swaying on the 200-yard line. Of course I missed a few shots here and there, however for an AR15 Pistol, this gun is well-suited to serious work whether for defense or sport.
AR15 pistols are, of course, just as legal and easy to acquire as any other handgun through your local FFL. An AR15 pistol is a great path to acquiring a Short Barrel Rifle complete with any rifle shoulder stock you might want. A buyer can purchase and enjoy the AR15 pistol while waiting for ATF SBR tax stamp to come through and then swap out the Sig Brace for a rifle stock. I cannot wait to push my SBR stamp through on this build to convert from pistol to Short Barrel Rifle.
About a year ago, I was very skeptical of the usefulness of an AR15 pistol in the home and urban environment. Today I stand converted. Once I shot a well-designed AR15 pistol and realize how quick the gun is for urban home interiors, I began to believe that the AR15 pistol is actually the best home defense option that combines the accuracy, power, and capacity of the AR15 with the maneuverability of a pistol. This BPM-15 pistol embodies that concept perfectly.
[Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly. Click HERE to learn more.]
Don’t wait too long after getting that new handgun to get it, and yourself, ready for use. “Right now” isn’t too soon! Read why HERE
Imagine being the victim of a burglary five times in a six-year period. Not only would you be losing personal valuables during each burglary, but undoubtedly the ongoing victimization would take a toll on your life in other ways.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what happened to a man named Harvey Lembo. Harvey is a retired lobster fisherman who lives in a small apartment in Maine. He takes multiple medications and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.
Most likely, the criminals who kept breaking into Harvey’s apartment knew he had prescription medications in his home. They also assumed he was an easy victim since he was only able to move around using his wheelchair.
The fourth time Harvey’s apartment was burglarized, the thieves made off with around $1,000 and several prescription bottles. It was then that one of Harvey’s neighbors suggested he purchase a gun to protect himself. About a month later, Harvey decided that was probably a good idea. So he went out and purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver that he kept under his pillow.
The same day he purchased the gun, Harvey was awakened in the night by a noise coming from his kitchen. He got out of bed, moved himself to his wheelchair and quietly proceeded to the kitchen with his gun.
When he reached the kitchen, he saw a man going through the cabinet where he kept his medicine. Harvey told him to sit down and wait for the police or he would shoot. The burglar didn’t listen to instructions and Harvey ended up shooting the suspect as he ran out of the apartment.
A short time later, police arrived and followed the trail of blood. It led them to 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber, who had been shot in the shoulder. Wildhaber was arrested and charged with burglary. He was later sentenced to four years in prison.
According the Maine Criminal Code, “A person in possession or control of a dwelling place or a person who is licensed or privileged to be therein is justified in using deadly force upon another person… when the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other person.” Basically, Harvey was perfectly within his rights to do what he did to protect himself in his own residence.
But consider this: Within hours of buying his revolver, Harvey had to use it to defend himself. He didn’t have weeks or months to spend time at the shooting range practicing and breaking in his new gun. That being said, today I want to share with you four steps for breaking in a new firearm — which hopefully you’ll have time to do before ever having to use your gun.
1. Clean your gun
Even if you purchase your gun brand-new straight from the factory, it doesn’t hurt to give it a good cleaning. You never know how long it’s been sitting on a store shelf or under what conditions it’s been kept. Whenever you clean your gun, you should visually inspect each part of the firearm. Make sure there aren’t any loose metal shavings or barrel obstructions. And don’t forget to grease your gun with some sort of oil or lubricant such as Remington oil.
2. Practice dry-firing
If your new gun is a semiautomatic, you should definitely dry-fire and function-test your gun. In other words, rack the slide to ensure it moves properly, and then dry-fire the gun multiple times. As long as it’s a centerfire gun (not rimfire like a .22), you can safely dry-fire your new gun without damaging it to make sure it works properly.
3. Shoot an FBI qualification
The first time you go to the range with your new gun I recommend shooting an FBI qualification test. This is only 60 rounds, but it’s a good way to get started with your new firearm. Of course, 60 rounds aren’t enough to break in your firearm. Ideally, you should shoot at least 500 rounds through your new gun to break it in. This should include different drills in addition to the FBI qualification test. In short, you need to test out every aspect of your new gun. Now is the time to find out if you have a bad magazine or you need to adjust your sights — not when an intruder is barreling toward you.
4. Test your self-defense ammunition
Go to the range and run your self-defense ammunition through your gun. You need to make sure your hollow points feed properly and the gun doesn’t jam with this type of ammunition. I realize self-defense ammo is a lot more expensive, but this is very important to do. I know some people who shoot two or three rounds of hollow-point ammo and then start carrying their gun. Personally, I’m not comfortable carrying a gun I’ve only shot a handful of defensive rounds through, which is why I recommend putting at least 100 rounds through the gun. Once I’m sure my new gun functions flawlessly with my self-defense ammo, then I’ll give it another cleaning and start carrying it.
If you follow these four steps to break in your brand-new firearm, you will be better prepared to use it if and when the need arises. It’s lucky that Harvey was successfully able to use his new revolver to keep himself from being robbed a fifth time, but that’s not a chance I’d want to take in my own home.
Jason Hanson is a former CIA Officer and New York Times bestselling author of Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life. To get a free copy of his book, click HERE.