Tag Archives: Personal Defense

RETROSPECT: Smith and Wesson Versus Colt — What Happened?

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

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

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW: Charter Arms Professional

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

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

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more HERE

 

REVIEW: SIG P225A1 9mm

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

SIG P225A
SIG P225A1

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LEARN MORE HERE

REVIEW: Remington 870 DM

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This may be the best pump action shotgun for your needs… READ WHY HERE

870 DM
The author finds the 870 DM a good all around shotgun with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell

The Remington 870 DM is a detachable magazine pump action shotgun that is garnering a great deal of interest and both positive and negative comments. It isn’t the first detachable magazine shotgun as the AK types have been in use for some time and there are detachable aftermarket kits for modifying existing shotguns. But this is a production pump action shotgun from the Big Green. Some feel the popularity of the AR 15 rifle had led to the detachable magazine shotgun. The tube fed shotgun just worked so well with so little complaint the only attention it received was a long extended magazine tube. It is interesting that Remington did not choose a self loading shotgun. Then there is the magazine, which at six shells is hardly a high capacity type. Just the same the shotgun bears study as it offers many advantages for both individuals and police departments.

The pump action shotgun is a model of reliability and the Remington 870 among the most respected. Since the pump action shotgun is manually operated the power or recoil impulse of the shells doesn’t matter. Low brass birdshot or Magnum buckshot is equally reliable in the pump action shotgun. The shooter manipulates the action and a trained shooter can be pretty fast with a smooth shotgun such as the Remington 870. With some eleven million Remington 870s sold it isn’t an unknown quantity. And while the 870 DM differs significantly from the original 870, it is essentially still a Remington 870 pump action. The DM is offered in several versions including tactical and hunting versions. My shotgun and the one used in this test is a standard wood furniture version with bead front sight. There are tactical and hunting versions of the DM listed on the Remington website.

870 DM
The magazine is well designed.

If you use an AR 15 type rifle then the use of a shotgun with a detachable magazine will be simple enough. The original 870 uses a tubular magazine under the barrel. In different versions this tube holds four to eight shells. The shells are loaded one at a time. The advantage of simply loading the piece with a detachable magazine is obvious. I have to point out that the tube fed shotgun may be topped off with a shell or two as needed during an action if the need is there. Just the same, if the shotgun is fired empty and you need a reload right now the removable box magazine is the way to go. It is much faster to change a magazine than to thumb the shells into place one shell at a time. The DM, like all 870s, may be quickly fired by opening the action dropping a shell in the chamber and firing. The tube under the barrel with the DM is simply a tube that serves as a guide for the forend as it is used to rack the action.

The magazine well looks like an aftermarket addition but isn’t. The receiver isn’t a standard 870 and the bolt differs as well. The mechanical operation is a pump action 870 but the parts of the DM are not interchangeable with the 870 in many cases. Even the trigger group is different. However, common accessories such as stocks and forends do interchange and the many different barrel types for the 870 also may be used in the 870 DM. Operation of the 870 DM is straightforward. The magazine doesn’t load like a rifle magazine but a shotgun magazine and the shells are pressed firmly to the rear to load. The magazine locks solidly in place with a bit of practice. The magazine release is placed forward of the magazine.

Depending on arm length, shooting style and even clothing, when you are firing the shotgun and racking the forend the arm may contact the magazine. Keep the elbow bent slightly in order to be certain you do not contact the magazine with the arm on the backstroke. The action is as smooth as any modern Remington 870 and that is pretty smooth. Chances are the shotgun will smooth up with use as my Magpul Tactical Remington 870 has. The advantage or disadvantages of the shotgun with a detachable magazine will be debated. The magazine tube is proven and does not interfere with stashing behind the truck seat or riding in a rack in a police cruiser. The tube is easily loaded and it is practically unknown for a shotgun magazine tube to fail.(Disregarding cheap plastic aftermarket extensions.) The magazine is easily loaded for those familiar with magazine fed rifles. An important advantage for safety is that the shotgun is more easily unloaded with the magazine. Rather than pressing tabs in the shotgun to release shells from the tub one at a time, the DM may be unloaded simply by removing the magazine. The DM version holds a total of seven shells with six in the magazine and one in the chamber. The tactical versions of the tube fed 870 hold eight in the magazine, standard versions four. I recommend against anyone keeping a shell in the chamber for home defense. The shotgun may be made ready quickly enough to face a threat. Shotgunners often keep a slug or two along with buckshot in a shell carrier on the receiver of the shotgun. With the DM version a brace of slugs may be kept at ready in a removeable magazine. A trained individual using a standard pump shotgun may change out to a slug in the chamber quickly, changing the gunload is another matter. There are a lot of options and debates concerning the DM and I am certain it will not replace the traditional tube fed shotgun. New buyers not familiar with tube fed shotgun are probably going to be the most common customer.

870 DM
This is a fast handling and effective shotgun.

Over the course of several days two hundred twenty shells were fired, a goodly number for such a hard kicking beast. The shotgun is smooth enough and tracks well and I was able to get good results on target after a modest acclimation. Reduced recoil buckshot is a proven law enforcement load that should prove ideal for home defense as well. Reducing the velocity of the buckshot load actually results in a tighter pattern with the 18 inch barrel Remington. The 870 DM had no problem handling this loading. Patterns were as good as with any Remington shotgun. I used Remington 12 gauge 00 buckshot in the Managed Recoil line. Results were excellent. I have also used the new #4 buckshot loading in the Ultimate Defense line. Results were good. I think that the Remington DM is a modern shotgun with much appeal. It is useful for defense against dangerous animals or light cover if needed- simply switch to slugs. The Remington 870 DM is a useful and reliable shotgun per our testing. For many the 870 DM will be a great improvement.

870 DM
#4 buckshot offers a good pattern.

READ MORE HERE

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

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

RIA 10MM

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more HERE

REVIEW & RETROSPECT: Colt’s AR 15 — Trail-Dirty Deeds and Off Road Shooting

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The author says the Colt’s is still the AR-style rifle by which all others are judged. READ WHY

colt ar15

Bob Campbell

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.

colt ar15
This is the Colt’s LE carbine with standard forend.
colt ar15
This is the author’s long serving M4.

Field Test
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.

colt ar15
Note M4’s quad rail.
colt ar15
Each Colt’s features a birdcage type muzzle brake.

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.

colt ar15
The Colt’s collapsible stock is a good feature.

Firing Test
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.

colt ar15
The author really likes the XS rear sight. It is useful for close range and long range depending on which aperture is used.

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.

sig 223 ammo
SIG Sauer Elite ammunition gave excellent results.

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REVIEW: Bond Arms Bullpup — A Great Carry 9

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

bond arms bullpup

Bob Campbell

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

bond arms bullpup
The mechanism is complicated but works well.

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

bond arms bullpup
Good sights are essential for combat accuracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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REVIEW: Glock 48

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

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

Wilburn Roberts

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

G48 sights

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

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

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

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

G48 magazine
This is the Glock 48 slim line magazine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SKILLS: Your Best Defense

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Personal defense is not all or only about having a handgun! Steve Tarani discusses developing your own broad-spectrum skill set. Important! READ MORE

steve tarani

SOURCE: Team Springfield, Steve Tarani

As a professional instructor and keynote speaker throughout the public and private sectors, my courses range from awareness-based training (preventative measures) to empty hand defense, to non-ballistic weapons defense (edged, impact, flexible), to defensive firearms.

At the very end of each course delivery, time is allotted for participant’s questions. In a year’s time I deliver training to about 1,500 attendees. Over the past 30 years (yup, do the math), that’s lots of folks asking me the very same question that plagues any defense-minded individual seeking viable solutions to tactical problems.

THE QUESTION IS: WHAT’S MY BEST DEFENSE?
At the risk of sounding pedantic, personal defense is, well, personal. To provide an appropriate answer to such a broad-spectrum question, one must consider that each of us have certain physical and mental attributes that make us better at one thing or another than the person standing behind us in line at the store. Given this consideration, there are three things you can do to build your very best personal defense against a real-world active threat:

Be Prepared
Be Aware
Be Trained
BE PREPARED

Success favors the prepared. Referencing personal defense against an active threat, it’s my conviction that there are only two types of people walking the earth today, the prepared and the unprepared.

What does it mean to be prepared? It means to take responsibility for your own personal security and that of those you protect. During a violent physical threat, you don’t have the time to wait for the cavalry to ride over the hill. You need to handle it, and now. AKA mindset, you must decide that you’re going to take defensive action before an event occurs or you will be left far behind the action-reaction power curve when it does.

You must accept the fact the bad things can and do happen to good people. It can happen not at some far-off imaginary date, but the split second you step out of your car, walk into a shopping mall or step into a restaurant.

You must have the will to do whatever it takes to get yourself and your protectee off that fateful “X” and to safety. If you do not have the will to take action against another human being, then when the time comes, you most certainly will not take action. If you do not have this will, then you can forget about any personal defense as you will not be able to act.

Lastly, there is a stark difference between preparedness and paranoia. If you’re paranoid — you are looking around every corner, behind every tree and under every table for some imagined threat — it’s hard to live like that.

Being prepared is simply adopting the mindset that it’s your responsibility. Having the will to take defensive action, and knowing that bad things can happen and that they could happen at any time gives you the advantage. If you’re waiting at a red light and the light turns green and you look left and then right before moving, is that being paranoid or prepared?

BE AWARE
Being aware of your immediate environment solves more potential problems than you can imagine. Situational awareness can defuse a situation before it even starts. Using input from your senses, can make you aware of fire (if you smell something burning), screeching tires, gunshots, etc., which provide you with the earliest defensive warnings. Having your face buried in your phone like a cow eating grass, can attenuate or even eliminate this critical input.

Your ability to read body language and recognize threat indicators are two important skills that are part and parcel of being aware. Much more information on threat recognition and how to raise your awareness, can be found in my latest book Your Most Powerful Weapon: Using Your Mind to Stay Safe.

Think about how many times you’ve been in a knock-down, drag-out, face-in-the-dirt street fight or have had to use your firearm in a defensive situation. Compare that to how many times you’ve used your situational awareness so that you didn’t need to go to hands, knives or guns. Odds are you will continue to utilize your awareness far more often than your hand-to-hand or defensive firearms skills.

BE TRAINED
According to the seventh century BC Greek author Archilochus “We do not rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” Looking at it from a personal defense perspective, you have only two choices: remain untrained or get yourself some training. Which of these two choices will better prepare you to defend yourself and or your protectees in the event of a violent physical altercation?

THE QUESTION THAT USUALLY FOLLOWS IS: GET TRAINED IN WHAT?
There’s an endless list of hand-to-hand options, such as:

Muay Thai
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Karate
Aikido
Tae Kwon Do
Western Boxing
Krav Maga, etc.

And many options for ballistic weapons and non-ballistic training :

Handgun
Shotgun
Carbine
Filipino Martial Arts

It truly doesn’t matter which one(s) you choose. My recommendation is to match your natural attributes with the art designed to best fit your personal profile and available time. Either way it’s time and money well spent. Far better to have and not need, then to need and not have.

Being prepared gives you the right mindset. It makes you accountable, which provides you the motivation, or will, to take action against another human being if need be.

Using your awareness affords you the opportunity to see it, hear it or smell it coming — a tremendous tactical advantage, so be aware.
Get trained — any type of physical skills are better to have in your tool kit than standing there holding your fruit basket when it hits the fan.

Be prepared, be aware and be trained. You can choose one, all of these (your best defense), or none of the above. The choice is yours.

To learn more about training conducted by Steve Tarani, go to Steve’s websites:

HandToGun.com

SteveTarani.com

About the author: Steve Tarani is a former CIA protective services subject matter expert who served on Donald Trump’s pre-election protection detail and is the lead instructor for the NRA’s new Non-ballistic Weapons Training program offered nationally to 2.3 million members. Tarani, an active protective agent, is a Central Intelligence Agency and FLETC-certified federal firearms instructor who also provides services for the US Naval Special Operations Command, FBI National Citizens Academy Alumni Association, National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO), and others.

REVIEW: Ruger’s Magnum Times Seven

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The Ruger GP 100 Seven-Shooter may be the best combat revolver of the century. Read why HERE

GP 100 7
Ruger’s GP 100 7-shooter is a well balanced and nicely finished handgun.

Bob Campbell

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.

GP100 accuracy
The GP100 provides real accuracy off hand.

OVERVIEW
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.

GP 100 power
The GP 100 cycles very quickly and offers real power.

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.

Lobo Gunleather
Lobo Gunleather offers a well-designed IWB holster that provides good concealment.

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.

hornady 125 critical defense
Hornady’s Critical Defense 125 grain load offers good performance.

PERFORMANCE
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.

gp 100 accuracy
Despite a short barrel the GP100 posted excellent results in velocity testing.

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 —

.38 Special
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.

.357 Magnum
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.

MSRP: $899

Check out this gun HERE

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