Tag Archives: target shooting

REVIEW/RETROSPECT: A Look At An Old Bullseye Gun

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There were giants in those days… READ MORE

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

Heyward Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

madore
The Madore gun features a solid adjustable trigger.

REVIEW: Glock Model 34 9mm Generation Five MOS

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This may be the best of the long slide Glocks and that is very good! READ MORE

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The Glock 34 9mm is at home with a combat light from TruGlo. This is a formidable home defense system.

Heyward Williams

The Glock 17 9mm is among the most successful service pistols in history. The Glock 17 spun off the compact Glock 19 and sub compact Glock 26 concealed carry handguns. Glock also offered a long slide version of the Glock 17. The Glock 17L was a popular handgun in many ways. While it featured a six inch barrel, the Glock remained relatively light. This handgun was used by competitors and special teams. In one instance a few states away, a team went in against an armed individual holding several children hostage. The point man worked his way into a firing position, took aim with his Glock 17L across a long room, and fired. He placed three 9mm bullets in the offender’s cranium, saving the children. In some forms of competition the 17L fell afoul of match rules specifying length. The Glock 34 with a shorter 5.3 inch barrel was introduced. The Glock 34 has been a successful pistol for Glock. While not as popular as the Glock 17 or Glock 19 the Glock 34 is a steady number with those that appreciate the performance of a long slide handgun. Some of our taller brothers and sisters may find it useful as a duty pistol. A few generations ago the six inch barrel Smith and Wesson K 38 revolver was favored by marksmen for much the same reason, and the Glock 34 is an exceptional handgun. It really isnt any more difficult to conceal than a Government Model 1911 and much lighter.

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Glock’s long slide pistol isn’t much more difficult to handle quickly than a Government Model 1911.

I have fired the new Generation 5 Glock extensively. I find the balance of the Glock 34 excellent. Most polymer frame handguns have a heavy slide balance that limits fast handling without a great deal of acclimation. The Glock 34 has a neutral balance — not dissimilar to the 1911 Government Model. The result is a handgun that is well suited to competition shooting. I enjoy shooting this  firearm on the range, and I do not find the Glock 34 too large for concealed carry under covering garments. ( I use a J M Custom Kydex AIWB holster.) After all, it is little longer than the Colt Government Model I have carried for some time. At thirty ounces the pistol isn’t heavy. The holster illustrated is a dedicated appendix carry holster, which I have tried experimentally. JM Custom Kydex offers many OWB and IWB styles as well.

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JM Custom Kydex offers a number of first class kydex options for the Glock 34.

I have fired the Glock 34 9mm and Glock 35 .40 extensively. Recently Glock introduced the fifth generation of Glock pistol. The improved Glock pistol is well worth its price. While I sometimes cling to older handguns in this case the improvements are well worth anyone’s consideration. The Glock’s Generation 5 grip treatment makes for good abrasion and adhesion. The Generation 5 Glock pistol eliminates the Generation 4 finger grooves. Even in long practice sessions the pistol remains comfortable while maintaining a good grip. The new Glock features several internal changes. Glock Gen 4 trigger parts, including aftermarket accessory triggers, will not fit the Gen 5. Trigger compression is tighter than the previous Glock, consistent and controllable. The Glock also features an ambidextrous slide lock. This makes the Gen 5 Glock left hand friendly. The new design slide lock works well during speed loads. The Glock 34 points well. Practical accuracy is exceptional. It is no mean feat to strike man sized targets at 100 yards. With a high velocity loading such as the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain +P hold on the neck and you will get a hit at exceptional handgun range. Firing at this range is something of a stunt but enjoyable as well. Hitting a man sized target at 100 yards or more is not difficult when firing from a solid braced firing position.

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Braced barricade fire is very accurate.

Part of the reason the new Generation 5 handguns are more accurate than previous handguns is the Marksman barrel. This barrel features a modified form of rifling. The Marksman barrel is well fitted. Compared to older Glock pistols, the Generation 5 features a tighter fit without any effect on reliability. I have fired the pistol extensively in close range combat drills. If you were called upon to draw and use the handgun inside a vehicle, or to draw the piece as you exit a vehicle, there is a chance of banging the barrel on the door frame or steering wheel if you have not practiced with the longer slide. It depends on how comfortable you are with the long slide pistol and how much you feel the additional weight, barrel length and sight radius improve practical accuracy. For some shooters the Glock 34 will be a great choice for all around use. The pistol features a light rail for mounting a combat light or laser. This makes for a superior home defense option. The shooter may even add a Glock 33 round magazine to obtain an excellent reserve of firepower. The pistol is comfortable to fire and use. This means a lot of shooting. The Glock 34 may be used in competition or informal target practice. As for absolute accuracy, the pistol is capable of five shot groups of 2.0-2.5 inches at 25 yards from a solid benchrest firing position. The Glock 34 also offers the option of mounting a red dot sight. The top plate is removable and four plates for different types of red dot sights are available. The plates do not fit every sight but most of the top rated red dot sights are covered.

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The Glock 34 is a joy to fire off hand.

Additions

The factory supplied adjustable sights are excellent for target shooting and competition. Since my Glock 34 is more likely to see use in home defense and outdoors use I added a set of night sights. The TruGlo night sights are an excellent all around choice for the Glock and arguably among the best self luminous iron sights available. They make for a true 24 hour capability, something that cannot be overrated.

Accuracy — 5 shot group fired from a solid standing barricade at 25 yards —
Black Hills Ammunition, 115 gr. TAC +P         1.9 inch
Black Hills Ammunition, 124 gr. JHP                 2.4 inch
Black Hills Ammunition, 115 grain JHP +P    2.0 inch

g34

SEE FULL SPECS HERE

REVIEW: Dan Wesson Guardian

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

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

Heyward Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dan wesson guardian

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

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

Check out Jeffrey Custom Leather HERE

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

REVIEW: Taurus 692 Multi-Caliber Revolver

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

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

Heyward Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

692 specs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VISIT TAURUS TO SEE FULL SPECS

Accuracy In Handguns

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

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

Bob Campbell

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

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This is excellent practical accuracy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

REVIEW: Rossi SR22 Rifle

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At about $100, this may be the best inexpensive rifle on the market. It is certainly worth the money. READ MORE

Rossi RS22
The Rossi .22 rifle is a great buy and a good rifle at any price.

Hayward Williams

Like many of you I fired my first shots with a .22 rifle. It was some time before my grandfather allowed me to graduate from a single shot .22 to a self loading rifle. The .22 self loader is a great all around plinking, small game hunting, and training rifle. In many rural areas the .22 rifle is the first line of defense against predators both bipedal and quadraped. The Rossi RS22 is a among the most affordable. Despite a retail of less than one hundred and forty dollars the rifle not only performs well it is more attractive than the price tag would indicate. The Springfield and Stevens rifles I grew up with were the product of my grandfathers generosity and were well worn and older than I. I did not feel disadvantaged and took game and helped feed the family.

Rossi RS22
The red dot front sight offers excellent visibility.

The Rossi RS22 has options that were not available for any price in those days. As an example the rifle features an all weather synthetic stock. The target crowned 18 inch barrel is free floated for accuracy. The receiver is well machined and bears a close resemblance to the Marlin 60. The front sight features a bold fiber optic insert protected by a generous size hood. The hood doesn’t crowd the sight picture. Since these rifles get beat up in the field when used hard a hood is a good choice. The rear sight is a bonus in such an affordable rifle. The sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation. The rear sight features dual green fiber optic inserts to contrast the red front insert. This is an instant sight picture if you are in a hurry, but precise if you need accuracy. A lot of .22 rifle shooting and small game hunting occurs around 25 yards. The rifle is properly regulated for this range. You do not need a tool to adjust the sights. If you prefer to mount a red dot sight or a rimfire type rifle scope the iron sights are easily removed.

Rossi RS22
While the rear sight offers fast acquisition it also offers real precision when properly lined up.

The Rossi RS22 is a standard blowback action like so many millions of others. The action is proven. The bolt features an extended cocking lever, an excellent option. The bolt locks open on the last shot. It requires only a push to the rear to release the bolt. The rifle features a ten round detachable box magazine. The magazine catch is positive in operation. While I began with tubular feed rifles and still use them, the detachable magazine is neat, reliable, and makes for a cleaner package. Remember the free floating barrel? The safety is positive in operation, located in the plastic trigger guard. The impressed checkering in the stock feels good in the hand. Checking trigger compression on the Lyman Electronic trigger gauge the trigger broke at a clean 6.25 pounds. This is a reasonable weight for a standard rimfire rifle. It is possible to do good work with this trigger and it is at a good weight for training young people.

Rossi RS22
The Rossi action isn’t an original, but is based on proven principles.

I really like this rifle. A good .22 is perhaps the most underrated of all rifles. The .22 kills game out of proportion to its size. The cartridge is affordable, accurate, and with the proper bullet, well suited to many chores. If there is such a thing as a one gun man- and I have known a few who owned but one rifle- the rifle is usually a .22 and the owner knows how to use it. .22 Long Rifle high velocity ammunition these days is much better than the loads I used as a pre teen hunting rabbit and squirrel- and ridding uncle Jimmy’s barn of destructive starlings. As an example the CCI Mini Mag HP breaks 1250 fps in the Rossi. But the CCI Velocitor was even faster at a hot 1340 fps. Function was excellent with each load. The CCI Stinger with its light 32 grain bullet was just over 1500 fps. This is serious smash for a rimfire.

Rossi RS22
These are sighting in shots at 25 yards.
Rossi RS22
The author held on the ear at 40 yards and fired twice. With a bit of sight adjustment he will be right on.

I have fired a tad over 1,200 cartridges in the Rossi, not a big deal for the time and small expensive involved. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire or eject. This is unusual in my experience. A few years ago if you fired a thousand rounds of .22 LR, four or five or more would be misfires and fail to ignite. Rimfire quality is much better these days. The rifle is more than accurate enough for most chores. At 25 yards two inch five shot groups are easy to come by. After the initial familiarization with the rifle I took a solid firing position and carefully fired ten rounds at a long 50 yards. The rifle put all ten into right at 4 inches. With quality optics the rifle should be a solid two inch gun at 40 yards. The Rossi Rs22 is among the best buys in modern .22s and a solid performer well worth its modest price.

Note: the Rossi RS22 is very similar to its stablemate the Mossberg Plinkster, which is also made in Brazil. 25 yard magazines intended for the Plinkster will fit the Rossi. This makes the rifle even more fun.

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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: Ruger SR1911 Officers Style 9mm

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

ruger officer model

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ruger specs

See more HERE

 

REVIEW: Rock Island 1911 .38 Super

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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

1911 38 super

Wilburn Roberts

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.

38 super
The .38 Super is a great all-around handgun. The Rock Island GI Series are high-quality, well-made, and affordable.

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.

38 super magazine
.38 Super magazine, above, .45 ACP, lower. The smaller diameter Super case gives a full two more rounds capacity.

The Cartridge
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.

38 super ammo
Double Tap ammunition and MecGar magazines gave excellent results.

38 super ammo

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.

federal 38 super
Federal’s American Eagle .38 Super is a boon to those who love the .38 Super in an accurate and affordable loading.

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.

Barnes JHP
The Barnes all-copper JHP is a credible performer.

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.

38 super stats

38 super energy

CHECK OUT THE GUN HERE

 

SKILLS: Hold Control

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Getting, and staying, steady on the target is the first step in learning to employ correct shooting technique. Here are some great tips on how to do it…

Hold control

by Larry Quandahl, NRA Family

What do we mean when we talk about “hold control”?

Simply put, “hold” is the relationship of the gun and shooter to the target. Hold control is the way in which you correctly maintain it long enough for the shot to break. Here’s how it works: The shooter uses sight picture to monitor the hold. In stationary target shooting (bullseye rifle and pistol), sight picture consists of sight alignment (relationship of your eye and the rear and front sights), and the relationship of the aligned sights to the stationary target. For beginning shooters, it is as simple as holding still while firing the shot, but the simplicity of hold control is deceptive. Controlling hold is actually the most difficult aspect of accurate shooting. Even world-class shooters experience movement in their sight picture while shooting. The goal — hold control — is to control the combined movement of the shooter and firearm on the target.

The NRA Muzzleloading Rifle Handbook describes hold control as learning to hold the rifle steady, but that’s just the beginning of the story. Hold control applies to shooting at stationary targets as well as at quick-reaction targets and moving targets. For simplicity’s sake, this article will deal with stationary targets.

When shooting at a stationary target, the shooter has to aim at the target and hold the firearm still as the trigger is pulled. Your hold is the movement of your aligned sights in relation to the target that you see while aiming. The amount and speed of movement shows how well you are controlling your hold. Your task is to hold the firearm as still as possible, which is best done by relaxing and letting your position and natural point of aim do the work for you. Concentrate on holding your body and the firearm as still as you can.

As a shooter, you need to learn to recognize the period of your steadiest hold. This is because the shot should be fired when hold is steadiest. Your goal is to reduce the amount and the speed of the movement and to release the shot when the hold is at its best.

So how do you do this? Start by establishing a benchmark to measure success at controlling hold. When you look through the sights at the target, you’re automatically aware of the amount and speed of the movement of the gun as you hold. Have a mentor or coach look over your shoulder and observe the front sight with relation to an object or area downrange. Now that you and your coach know what kind of “wobble” your current hold is giving you, you can move forward.

There are five elements of a shooting position: consistency, balance, natural point of aim, comfort and, for competitive shooters, the position must be legal. To improve your hold, start by focusing on balance and natural point of aim. If you fire from an off-balance position, or if the natural point of aim does not coincide with the target, hold will be larger. The resulting movement will be like a leaf blowing in a windstorm. And the longer you hold, the stronger the “wind” gets.

To develop good habits, you can use a simple “go/no-go” system to get into and check position. You should always stop and correct any problem, no matter how small. The position checklist can be divided into two categories: external checks and internal checks. For example, checking to see that the butt of the rifle is placed correctly on the shoulder is an external position check that you can observe. An internal check would be checking the muscles and bones of your body, to ensure that they are in the right position and work together to support the gun. (The internal check is largely a matter of feel reinforced by experience.)

A good coach or trainer will provide a position checklist for you. As you gain experience, you’ll create and continually modify a personal checklist to reflect refinements in individual position. Using this method of checking, you can determine whether a change has improved your hold.

Concentration improves hold control. Something as simple as thinking “hold” — or using hold as a key word — can slow and reduce movement. This will allow you to focus on sight alignment and sight picture. Through concentration, you literally reduce the amount of hold and its speed. If the hold is small and slow, your position is good with respect to natural point of aim.