5 Super-Dependable Pocket Pistols You’re Gonna Love

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5 Super-Dependable Pocket Pistols You’re Gonna Love

Image source: YouTube / Iraqveteran8888

Pocket pistol. The term refers to small, highly concealable guns, generally sporting a three-inch or smaller barrel, and a standard capacity of less than nine rounds including the chamber, often less.

These little guns are popular, and for good reason. They’re easy and comfortable to pack. While carrying in a pants or jacket pocket is not without drawbacks—including serious safety risks if the gun is in the pocket with other objects and/or not inside a holster—it is convenient.

Here are five models of so-called pocket pistols I own or have tried, and feel confident in recommending:

Ruger LCR. This frame of this double action-only, hammerless revolver is made from aircraft grade aluminum. The fire-control group is polymer for weight reduction, and the cylinder is stainless steel. Rubberized grips are standard. Newer models have a white insert to make the front sight more visible; however, I have seen this little asset fall off more than one LCR. A little enamel does just as well.

The best thing about the LCR is the choice of calibers. It comes in 22LR, 22WMR (those with a capacity of eight rounds), and 38 Special five-rounder that is +P rated. Upgrade to the stainless series, and choices include 357 magnum, 327 Federal magnum, and 9mm Luger.

LCR prices vary widely depending on options, like lasers and caliber. There are currently new models for sale ranging from $100 to $800. These can be a good option for someone new to concealed carry who wants to try a revolver without a huge financial commitment.

Glock 42. Here is a .380 caliber made by a company whose reputation for dependable firearms is legendary. This smallest of Glocks has all the same basic features and external design of its full-size brethren. Much consternation has arisen from the fact that its magazines only hold six rounds. This is one gun I carry often, and I find it convenient to slide an extra mag into a front pocket just in case.

This is the first handgun for which Streamlight produced its TLR-6 laser/light combo. Since the 42 has no rail, the device clamps, then is screwed onto, the front of the trigger guard. This enhancement, along with a set of tritium night sights, has created what for me is the ideal concealable firearm. Though I’d like to pack a bigger caliber, I’ve yet to find one that equals the comfort of the small, but shootable, 380s.

Average market price for a 42 is in the low to mid $400s. Better deals can be found if one shops for them. With the suggested accessories, it’s closer to a $600 package.

Beretta Nano. Probably the newest firearm on this list, followed by the Glock. This six-plus-one capacity 9mm is one of the few concept gun designs that’s made it to the pocket pistol market. A simple striker-fired system and slim profile, with every corner and edge rounded, lend a space age look to the Nano, as well as facilitating snag-free draws.

You Don’t Need A Firearms License For This Weapon!

As on the Glock, the Nano has a reversible magazine release. Although it looks a bit top-heavy, with the bore axis riding well above the shooter’s forearm line, its recoil is not any worse than other sub-compacts in this caliber.

The Nano is well-liked by its owners for its style, dependability, and +P rating. At least some models have proven ammo-sensitive; practice with factory-new, American-made cartridges should prevent ammo-related malfunctions.

It’s cool to be modular in today’s gun industry, and Beretta designed the polymer grip and other aspects of the gun in shroud-like fashion. The company has yet to present any alternatives to the stock one.

Expect to pay high $300s to low $400s for a Nano, or quite a bit less if you’re willing to wait for a used model.

Ruger LCP II. At the corporate level, Ruger has made a true effort to listen to customer suggestions. This upgraded model of Ruger’s well-known LCP, chambered only in 380, has many improvements upon its predecessor. The trigger has a long, but not too heavy, pull and long reset. The slide stays open on an empty mag. Gone are layers of confusing, impractical “safety” measures that made the original LCP a real punisher for anyone familiar with normal firearm function.

Though I got to test the LCP II briefly, I didn’t check whether it can be dry fired. The original cannot. This is a disservice to owners who wish and should practice dry firing.

Ruger has improved the appearance of this little gun, as well, and made it altogether easier and more enjoyable to fire. It’s one of the more economical choices on this list, and also one of the lightest at 10.6 ounces unloaded. Standard mags hold six rounds. The LCP II is a reliable choice for self-defense. In the low to mid $200s, it’s accessible to most people and functions as well as any other 380.

Smith & Wesson Airweight. These classic “J frame” handguns have been around for many years, and there are many variations of them on the market, new and used. For starters, there’s a hammerless model, and that’s the one I’d call a true pocket pistol—there’s no hammer to hang up in a pocket during the draw.

These five-round 38 Special, +P-rated revolvers are extremely easy to use, and reliable, assuming the shooter is using quality ammunition. Holsters abound for the Airweight, in both leather and Kydex, as it’s a very common choice for concealed or hip carry and has been for years.

Comparable in appearance and function to the Ruger LCR, the Airweight contains no polymer components. It’s thus a bit heavier and more durable, a combination of factors that sends some shooters running towards the gun and others running away. It’s a matter of preference.

Prices for S&W Airweight hammerless revolvers are generally in the high $300s to mid-$400s. As always, many deviations from that norm exist, thanks to their senior status in the market.

Pocket pistols can seem like the ideal first choice for a beginner as they’re small and non-imposing in appearance. But there are some challenges to consider. For centerfire chamberings, recoil is greater than in an average size handgun. Slide manipulation is dependent on fingertip strength versus closed-fist strength. A pinky that dangles below a short grip is highly distracting to some shooters, and magazine insertion and ejection can be tricky if the flesh of the palm blocks the mag well. For these reasons, I usually recommend that new shooters learn on a larger handgun before “graduating” to pocket size. These little guns definitely hold an important place in the realm of self-protection.

What is your favorite pocket pistol? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

5 Super-Dependable Pocket Pistols You’re Gonna Love

5 Super-Dependable Pocket Pistols You’re Gonna Love

Image source: YouTube / Iraqveteran8888

Pocket pistol. The term refers to small, highly concealable guns, generally sporting a three-inch or smaller barrel, and a standard capacity of less than nine rounds including the chamber, often less.

These little guns are popular, and for good reason. They’re easy and comfortable to pack. While carrying in a pants or jacket pocket is not without drawbacks—including serious safety risks if the gun is in the pocket with other objects and/or not inside a holster—it is convenient.

Here are five models of so-called pocket pistols I own or have tried, and feel confident in recommending:

Ruger LCR. This frame of this double action-only, hammerless revolver is made from aircraft grade aluminum. The fire-control group is polymer for weight reduction, and the cylinder is stainless steel. Rubberized grips are standard. Newer models have a white insert to make the front sight more visible; however, I have seen this little asset fall off more than one LCR. A little enamel does just as well.

The best thing about the LCR is the choice of calibers. It comes in 22LR, 22WMR (those with a capacity of eight rounds), and 38 Special five-rounder that is +P rated. Upgrade to the stainless series, and choices include 357 magnum, 327 Federal magnum, and 9mm Luger.

LCR prices vary widely depending on options, like lasers and caliber. There are currently new models for sale ranging from $100 to $800. These can be a good option for someone new to concealed carry who wants to try a revolver without a huge financial commitment.

Glock 42. Here is a .380 caliber made by a company whose reputation for dependable firearms is legendary. This smallest of Glocks has all the same basic features and external design of its full-size brethren. Much consternation has arisen from the fact that its magazines only hold six rounds. This is one gun I carry often, and I find it convenient to slide an extra mag into a front pocket just in case.

This is the first handgun for which Streamlight produced its TLR-6 laser/light combo. Since the 42 has no rail, the device clamps, then is screwed onto, the front of the trigger guard. This enhancement, along with a set of tritium night sights, has created what for me is the ideal concealable firearm. Though I’d like to pack a bigger caliber, I’ve yet to find one that equals the comfort of the small, but shootable, 380s.

Average market price for a 42 is in the low to mid $400s. Better deals can be found if one shops for them. With the suggested accessories, it’s closer to a $600 package.

Beretta Nano. Probably the newest firearm on this list, followed by the Glock. This six-plus-one capacity 9mm is one of the few concept gun designs that’s made it to the pocket pistol market. A simple striker-fired system and slim profile, with every corner and edge rounded, lend a space age look to the Nano, as well as facilitating snag-free draws.

You Don’t Need A Firearms License For This Weapon!

As on the Glock, the Nano has a reversible magazine release. Although it looks a bit top-heavy, with the bore axis riding well above the shooter’s forearm line, its recoil is not any worse than other sub-compacts in this caliber.

The Nano is well-liked by its owners for its style, dependability, and +P rating. At least some models have proven ammo-sensitive; practice with factory-new, American-made cartridges should prevent ammo-related malfunctions.

It’s cool to be modular in today’s gun industry, and Beretta designed the polymer grip and other aspects of the gun in shroud-like fashion. The company has yet to present any alternatives to the stock one.

Expect to pay high $300s to low $400s for a Nano, or quite a bit less if you’re willing to wait for a used model.

Ruger LCP II. At the corporate level, Ruger has made a true effort to listen to customer suggestions. This upgraded model of Ruger’s well-known LCP, chambered only in 380, has many improvements upon its predecessor. The trigger has a long, but not too heavy, pull and long reset. The slide stays open on an empty mag. Gone are layers of confusing, impractical “safety” measures that made the original LCP a real punisher for anyone familiar with normal firearm function.

Though I got to test the LCP II briefly, I didn’t check whether it can be dry fired. The original cannot. This is a disservice to owners who wish and should practice dry firing.

Ruger has improved the appearance of this little gun, as well, and made it altogether easier and more enjoyable to fire. It’s one of the more economical choices on this list, and also one of the lightest at 10.6 ounces unloaded. Standard mags hold six rounds. The LCP II is a reliable choice for self-defense. In the low to mid $200s, it’s accessible to most people and functions as well as any other 380.

Smith & Wesson Airweight. These classic “J frame” handguns have been around for many years, and there are many variations of them on the market, new and used. For starters, there’s a hammerless model, and that’s the one I’d call a true pocket pistol—there’s no hammer to hang up in a pocket during the draw.

These five-round 38 Special, +P-rated revolvers are extremely easy to use, and reliable, assuming the shooter is using quality ammunition. Holsters abound for the Airweight, in both leather and Kydex, as it’s a very common choice for concealed or hip carry and has been for years.

Comparable in appearance and function to the Ruger LCR, the Airweight contains no polymer components. It’s thus a bit heavier and more durable, a combination of factors that sends some shooters running towards the gun and others running away. It’s a matter of preference.

Prices for S&W Airweight hammerless revolvers are generally in the high $300s to mid-$400s. As always, many deviations from that norm exist, thanks to their senior status in the market.

Pocket pistols can seem like the ideal first choice for a beginner as they’re small and non-imposing in appearance. But there are some challenges to consider. For centerfire chamberings, recoil is greater than in an average size handgun. Slide manipulation is dependent on fingertip strength versus closed-fist strength. A pinky that dangles below a short grip is highly distracting to some shooters, and magazine insertion and ejection can be tricky if the flesh of the palm blocks the mag well. For these reasons, I usually recommend that new shooters learn on a larger handgun before “graduating” to pocket size. These little guns definitely hold an important place in the realm of self-protection.

What is your favorite pocket pistol? Share your thoughts in the section below: 

I Teach Concealed Carry Classes. Here Are 3 Deadly Mistakes New Owners Make.

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I Teach Concealed Carry Classes. Here Are 3 Deadly Mistakes New Owners Make

Image source: Pixabay.com

For more than a decade, I’ve carried concealed and competed in area matches. Now I’m an instructor.

As a practitioner and teacher of concealed carry and gun handling, there are a handful of errors that don’t surprise me anymore. Some, I made myself and now witness others doing the same.

This article is an attempt to help others learn from typical mistakes of new concealed carriers.

1. Choosing a gun that’s too complicated.

I tend to agree with a comment made in a class I took earlier this year with Rob Pincus of Personal Defense Network: “It’s 2017. You should have a gun that goes bang without you having to do anything but press the trigger.”

His comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but the sentiment is valid. Safety is the result of observance of muzzle-and-finger discipline first, and a good holster that covers the trigger guard second. In light of the handful of drop-safe manufacturing issues in recent years, selecting a model with a solid reputation in that department earns a place on the safety checklist, too.

Vicious New Hand-Held Self-Defense Tool Turns Lethal In Seconds!

In that high-stress moment that the gun is carried to address, the ability of the mind to tell the fingers to do things like disengage a safety lever is greatly diminished. Likewise, many people commit accuracy errors on that initial long trigger pull that is the correct firing procedure on a double/single action handgun. The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle should apply when choosing a lifesaving product.

This advice will make some fans of certain platforms scoff. I love my 1911 as much as the next person, but I’ve also tested myself with it in competition and have experienced a couple moments in which my finger “forgot” to disengage the safety lever. Lesson learned.

2. Blowing the bank on the first holster.

It’ll likely be necessary to experiment with various methods of carry before settling on one that suits your lifestyle. That holster that had great reviews in the magazine, or was praised by a friend who carries, and perhaps cost over $100, may not suit your daily habits.

What does “suit your lifestyle” mean? It means the gun/holster setup must be comfortable enough to wear for the typical hours you spend doing things typical for your day. Examples: people who have to bend from the waist a lot will find “printing” of the gun to be a problem if they carry inside the waistband, behind the midline. Women who wear dresses may find that carrying on-body means choosing a gun that’s much smaller than what they’d prefer, as models that fit comfortably and safely in thigh or bra holsters are limited.

Retention of the gun in the holster is a consideration. If your job involves climbing trees or on and off roofs, for example, the ability of the holster to not allow the gun to slide out without your help is critical. Velcro is a popular retention device, but is noisy—a potential risk in some situations.

Above all, the holster must prevent penetration of the trigger guard by any outside object, whether the gun is worn on the body or off. Choices abound; it’s wise to keep an open mind and try several rigs until you find one that’s ideal for you.

3. Yakking about your armed status.

It’s very tempting to talk about your gun, choice of holster, licensure and experiences as a concealed carrier, especially in the workplace. A few workplaces nurture a culture friendly to self-protection; many more do not. Conversations, even among trusted friends or coworkers, can increase your risk for burglary when inside-circle stories about firearms are inevitably shared outside of that circle. A staggering number of people have a close relative who is substance-dependent and possibly motivated to steal.

Likewise, boasting about your armed status via gun stickers or catchy sayings stuck on your car or front lawn also may increase the likelihood of a car or home burglary when you’re not around. In a recent survey of Oregon inmates convicted of burglary, signs like “due to the price of ammo, don’t expect a warning shot” repelled about half of would-be burglars. Others reported they view such signs as an advertisement of where to snatch guns when the homeowner is away.

Braggadocio should be reserved for supportive circles, and not T-shirts, public social media posts, or even the interior of your AR-15’s dust cover. Unfortunately, wearing or otherwise promoting somewhat tongue-in-cheek statements, the kind about self-defense commonly found in gun-owner circles, are often cited as legal evidence the gun owner was looking for a fight. While gun owners should not have to kowtow to the whims of anti-gunners, the fact is, public statements about gun use may well be used to your detriment in court.

Summary

These three “mistakes” will surely not meet with agreement of everyone. I hope it gives readers who are new to, or in their first years of daily carry, food for thought as they navigate decisions about defensive living.

What mistakes would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The $360 All-Metal 9mm That’s Great For Concealed Carry

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The $360 All-Metal 9mm That’s Great For Concealed Carry

Image source: Armslist.com

Turkish gun maker Canik manufactures a compact 9mm worth looking at for daily carry, recreational shooting and home defense. Though Canik is the manufacturer, this double/single action pistol bears the name of its importer, TriStar.

The TriStar C100 has an all-aluminum frame and weighs 37.3 ounces unloaded. Its barrel is 3.7 inches. It’s not light, and it’s not tiny. However, it is compact enough for carry, and the weight helps make it a low-recoil shooter. It’s shipped with two metal 15-round mags, the followers of which are the only plastic components I can find on the gun.

The C100 has a rather easy-racking slide. Racking the slide, with a loaded magazine, chambers a round and cocks the external hammer. Unlike traditional double/single action firearms, it has no de-cocker. There is a thumb-operated safety that’s easy to use, not unlike a 1911 safety. The pistol is thus capable of being carried “cocked and locked,” avoiding the long double-action trigger pull if desired.

For those who prefer a double-action first shot, for safety or nostalgia, it’ll do that, too. It’s necessary to de-cock the hammer using both the trigger and a thumb on the hammer to let it down softly. Since this requires breaking one of the firearm safety rules, keep your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’re ready to shoot. Be sure to honor another safety rule: Never allow the muzzle to cover anything you’re not willing to destroy during de-cocking.

You Don’t Need A Firearms License For This Weapon!

The trigger’s operation in double-action mode is heavy, in excess of 12 pounds, but smooth. In single action, there’s still a slight bit of takeup. In both modes, the break is crisp and the travel is buttery.

Textured grips have indentations in all the right places to make this non-modular handgun fit an impressive range of hand sizes. Deep sculpts at the trigger-finger area shorten the distance from backstrap to trigger. The mag release is a fairly easy reach, as well.

The ergonomic assets continue with the low-bore axis of this pistol. In 9mm, it’s a treat to shoot, with very little recoil. The C100 also comes in .40 S&W, which I have not tested.

Under the barrel is a standard rail, long enough to accommodate most tactical pistol lights. Although a DA/SA handgun isn’t my choice for home defense, this one will do the job.

On the range, the C100 has so far been dependable, with a variety of brass- and aluminum-cased ammo, both FMJ and hollow point. I was expecting misfeeds resulting from incomplete or delayed ejection of brass from its small, right-side only ejection port. Those misgivings turned out to be unfounded.

Accuracy is good from this little gun, in no small part due to the rails that run the entire length of the frame. The barrel is not fixed, but its range of deviation is less than half that of typical polymer pistols.

The three-dot sight system on this pistol is better than it needs to be for an economy gun. They’re steel, and the rear sight is drift-adjustable. It’s easy to distinguish the front from rear-sight dots as the front one is larger, but not gaudy. The rear sight has rounded edges that are concealment-friendly.

There is detailed texturing on the pistol, with a line of about 12 custom-looking grooves along the top of the slide, grippy-cocking serrations, and grip panels with sandpaper-like texturing for the lower fingers. Such detail is quite unexpected and lovely to behold, but could prove annoying for those who work in dusty conditions or roll around on the ground with the gun.

For the person who wants a classic profile and a solid metal handgun for daily carry, the C100 just may fit the bill. For the family wanting to have one gun every trained member of the household can easily use, it fits the bill. Thanks in part to having a rail and 15+1 capacity along with a trim size, the C100 will make a top pick for anyone needing versatility from their handgun.

The price is right, too. Currently, the C100 is typically priced around $360.

Incidentally, much ado has been made about whether the C100 is a clone of the CZ 75. In many ways, especially its profile, it appears to be. I, for one, wouldn’t hesitate to choose this well-made new model over the CZ, especially where budget is concerned.

Have you ever shot a C100? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The Super-Dependable European Pistol That’s Finally Catching On In The U.S.

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The Super-Dependable European Pistol That’s Finally Catching On In The U.S.

Image source: FIME

Fans of the double/single action platform looking for a moderately priced but quality pistol for home and self-protection have a new, little known but solid choice — the Rex Zero 1 pistol series.

I have a test copy of the compact version of this pistol in hand for testing. Last fall, I had the chance to fire the full-size Zero 1. Based on these trials, I feel these pistols deserve more awareness in the market.

Rex pistols are made by the Arex (pronounced: ARRR-ex) factory in Slovenia, a modern manufacturing facility that has the latest CNC machining equipment. The brand is popular in Europe, but relatively unknown in the United States.

FIME (pronounced like “fine” with an m) Group of Las Vegas is the sole U.S. importer of Rex pistols, and local dealers can order from them.

For those familiar with traditional DA/SA design, such as the Sig Sauer P220, the Rex offers a couple of differences. First is 9mm chambering. Modern 9mm defense rounds are, of course, smaller than 45 ACP, but their higher velocity and improved bullet design offer undeniable destructive power. Also, you get higher capacity magazines. The standard model holds 17 rounds. The compact packs 15. A newer tactical model holds 20.

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In addition to bigger capacity and the reduced recoil of a 9mm, the Rex adds a thumb-operated safety lever. It can thus be carried in the cocked and locked position, allowing the user to avoid the time and effort associated with its 13-pound double-action trigger pull. Of course, a sturdy holster that shields the trigger guard should be part of wearing or storing the gun in this configuration, keeping in mind there is no mechanical substitute for muzzle and finger discipline.

Another reason to choose a sturdy holster for the Rex Zero 1 is to protect the magazine release. It’s not unheard of for ambi safety levers to be disengaged during a struggle, whether with another human or a seatbelt.

Like a traditional DA/SA, Rex Zero 1 pistols feature a de-cocking lever on the left side only. Upon chambering a round or pausing during a string of fire, safe users will de-cock or put the safety on before re-holstering or storing in loaded condition. My own thumb, on my small/medium-size hand, has a struggle reaching and sweeping the decocker from the firing grip position. The decocker doubles as a slide stop.

Beneath the barrel is a Picatinny rail for mounting an auxiliary light. The addition of a light brings into question holster availability. FIME’s sister company, KVar, offers a variety of inside- and outside-waistband rigs.

Lots of survival-minded folks shy away from polymer pistols, preferring something that feels more durable. The lower is made of 7075 aluminum, which isn’t going to rust or go bad in severe elements. The slide is steel, as are the sights.

It’s Dependable, Too

The Mec-Gar metal magazines are equally durable. This company makes magazines for many big-name brands and understands the need for reliability in mags.

These are hefty pistols that fill the hand and deliver very little felt recoil. The full-size Rex Zero 1 weighs 29 ounces without the magazine. Despite the thickness of the grip, I am able to operate the trigger in double action without much effort, thanks to thoughtful sculpting of the grip that makes it thinner right where the trigger finger lies. That’s not true for every DA/SA pistol, including full-size Sigs. A short and light five-pound pull is found in single-action mode. Trigger reset is good, crisp, and what I consider just long enough to be appropriate for a non-competition handgun.

The white, drift-adjustable, three-dot sights are low-profile but highly visible. They are not, however, night sights.

Dependability is excellent — perhaps this should be the first criterion for a self-defense handgun! I fired two inexpensive brands of FMJ and one brand of hollow-point cartridges through the gun with no malfunctions. The ejection port is uniquely shaped, with a bit of extra room at the rear, and this surely enhances clean ejection.

FIME Group and Arex went the extra mile to develop a very detailed, clearly illustrated owner’s manual. In the age of generic manuals in which manufacturers force gun owners to head to YouTube to consult self-appointed experts for advice, The Rex Zero 1 series provides all needed information in the manual. It’s included in the hard case that comes with the gun.

These tank-like handguns are shootable by most adults and make a good choice for home or vehicle defense, as well as recreational shooting. Due to its size, carrying one concealed would require commitment and is best suited for waistband carry under loose covering garments. MSRP on the standard and compact Arex Rex Zero 1 pistols is $670. The tactical model’s suggested price is $200 more. Real market prices are substantially lower.

Have you ever shot an Arex Rex Zero 1? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

The New Holster That Fits 150 Modern Pistols

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The New Versatile Holster That Fits 150 Modern Pistols

Image source: YouTube screen capture.

If you’ve done any serious pistol training, you know that a good outside-the-waistband holster is a must. By “good,” I mean one that won’t collapse when you remove the gun, and one that has no features that present the opportunity for an unintended discharge upon drawing or re-holstering.

Especially for folks who have several pistols, buying a good holster for each can be a costly and time-consuming proposition. Blackhawk has changed that with their new Omnivore holster.  It’s made of Kydex so won’t collapse when empty, and has no straps or other annoying paraphernalia that can be unsafe. Better yet, it accommodates more than 150 modern pistols, so one holster can serve a whole collection.

There is a catch — well, two, really. The Omnivore only accommodates pistols that have an accessory rail, which is a lot of them, but excludes many small carry guns as well as most 1911s. The other catch is that its custom fit for each gun is simple, but converting it to fit different models can take 10-15 minutes once parts are in hand, and the small parts are easy to lose if one isn’t careful.

Blackhawk thought of everything in this holster’s design. There are right- and left-handed models. There’s a regular model and two that accommodate a light-bearing pistol, suited for the most common lights on the market made by Streamlight and Surefire. If your belt’s a little thinner than the average duty belt, there are tabs to temporarily shorten the belt loop and make for a good fit.

The Self-Defense Weapon That Doesn’t Require A Firearms License!

The Omnivore is a Level 2 holster, meaning one intentional action is required to release the gun from retention. On this holster, that motion is a downward push by the thumb on the draw. With a few minutes of practice, I found this to be comfortable and not interfering with the speed of the draw. Different firearms rest at different heights within the holster, and Blackhawk’s design accommodates this by providing extensions for the lever, all of which are rubber-padded and non-slip.

Retention of the gun inside the Omnivore is secure. To use the holster, it’s necessary to attach a lightweight plate to the rail. Plates come with the holster.  It’s about an inch square and attaches with a single screw. It’s this plate that clicks into place when the gun is inserted into the holster.  This enhances the safety of the setup, as there is no involvement between the trigger guard or any surface the user is touching when drawing or re-holstering.

For light-bearing guns, it’s necessary to adjust the attachment screw on the side of the light to the horizontal position. It’s the groove of the screw head that interlocks with the holster. A push of the thumb lever releases that retention, whether there’s a light on the gun or not.

Fitting the holster to the gun and belt isn’t difficult, and Blackhawk provides a clear instruction manual to assist. It is a bit time-consuming to set up, and the myriad of loose parts could easily be lost.  If I have any criticism of the product, it’s that the inclusion of labeled, sealable parts bags would’ve been a very handy addition. The holster does come in a plastic clamshell case that seals tight, so I swiped some sealable sandwich bags from the kitchen and labeled them to keep unused parts organized.

Black is the only color currently available. The outer surface has smooth edges and textured sides. The texturing eliminates annoying and potentially hazardous glare, and is shallow enough that it’s very easy to wipe clean.

There was a real need for this holster, and Blackhawk met it. From professional departments that need an affordable Level 2 holster, to the owners of multiple guns who don’t want to drop the price of another new gun or more on a holster to fit each one, to instructors who need to equip students with safe range gear for a day, it’s a very practical choice.

Omnivore versatility and safety comes at a very reasonable price. As of this writing, they’re available online from a surprisingly low $14.99, up to $49.99. Before purchasing, it’s a good idea to check out Blackhawk’s extensive list of the pistols it accommodates, and be sure you’re looking at the Omnivore list and not their somewhat easier-to-find list for older models.  If you’re in a hurry, be assured the Omnivore will fit nearly all full-size pistols with a rail, including the major brands’ currently manufactured models.

What is your favorite holster? Share your tips in the section below:

 

 

I Never Wanted An AK. Until I Found This Rock-Solid, Flaw-Free Model

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I Never Wanted An AK. Until I Found This Rock-Solid, Flaw-Free Model

Image source: VEPR.org

It took me a long time to buy my first AK. Put off by stories of inconsistent construction, even among higher-priced brands, I hesitated for years. But in the fall of 2016 I had the opportunity to test a Molot VEPR FM-AK47, and came to find room in my heart, wallet and gun safe for my first AK platform rifle.

The VEPR won me over for several reasons. The first is construction. Its receiver and barrel are milled from thicker metal than most AKs, as it’s modeled on the RPK machine gun design. It’s tough, and less subject to damage from the heat that results from repeated firing. The downside of this is that it comes in at 0.5-1.0 pounds heavier than many AKs. Of the three FM-AK47s in the past several months that I fired, none have shown the construction flaws considered typical for the platform — front sights that aren’t in a plumb line with the barrel, crooked sight rails on the receiver, and out-of-round rivet holes are absent. The FM-AK47s I fired had none of these problems.

Though the manual for the FM-AK says that slightly offset front sight posts are to be expected and should not impact performance, this potential annoyance has been absent on each of the several new ones I’ve handled.

Made In Russia … And America

Another reason I’m a fan of this rifle is pedigree. It is manufactured in a small town in the state of Kirov, Russia. The Molot factory is well-known for its production of military and sporting arms. The FM-AK47 contains eight major components, not including the barrel, manufactured in Russia. In keeping with Statute 18 U.S.C. § 922(r), the 1968 Gun Control Act, certain complete firearms cannot be imported into the States. Thus, the FIME Group (Firearms Importers, Manufacturers, and Exporters) of Las Vegas, Nev., established a relationship with Molot wherein FIME creates and assembles the remaining necessary parts to make the FM-AK47. The rifle represents a genuine international partnership with a company within another country. It gives me the chance to know the world’s most common rifle platform as well as support American manufacturing. Win-win.

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The FM-AK47 has earned my affection for what it has — and doesn’t have — in features. The rifle comes with a traditional AK cleaning kit, and the US-made polymer stock has a traditional trapdoor storage for that kit or other whatnots. In a break from tradition, it has no bayonet lug. Good for me, as if it did, I’d have the irresistible urge to install a blade and probably cut myself or my car’s upholstery. It has a sight rail mounted on the receiver (perfectly straight, I might add). It facilitates the rapid installation or removal of optics — a feature I’ve used extensively. Unusual for any AK product is an adjustable rear sight, with traditional meter markings. Should I be without a front sight tool, I can at least dial in elevation from the rear. The FIME Group-manufactured barrel is chrome-lined, another rare find for an AK.

How Does it Shoot?

Small arms designer and AK-47 creator Mikhail Kalashnikov was quoted as saying that, had he pursued his original career path of designing train engines, the machines would still have looked like AKs. The FM-AK stays true to the Kalashnikov vision with its solid black finish, ribbed handguard, no-frills appearance. Although looks can be easily changed, I think it fittingly hearkens the memory of a brilliant engineer.

All that is great, but how does it shoot? The answer: extremely well, for an AK. The rifle easily puts three rounds in a single hole at 25 yards, even with inexpensive ammunition. Some have criticized me for not testing accuracy at 100 yards; with my imperfect vision and no magnifying optic for the gun, I really cannot do it justice. However, I have managed to land all rounds in a torso-sized target from 100 yards in a qualification test, and that’s good enough to be confident that it’s effective at that range.

With the round count currently standing at about 600 through my copy of the FM-AK47, most of that ammo being cheap Tula Ammo, notorious for causing problems, there have been zero issues with firing or feeding. The rifle is inexpensive to run, un-fussy, and a lot of fun. The only issue I’ve had with the rifle is one of the traditional sling loops, made of something that resembles heavy wire more than steel, became bent with use. FIME Group replaced it promptly.

The FM-AK47 is more expensive than most entry-level AKs at $999.99. It’s substantially less than many premium brands, some of which have failed to deliver on expected construction standards. If you’re going to buy one AK in a lifetime, this is one that should last for several.

Have you ever fired an FM-AK47? Share your thoughts on this rifle in the section below:

It May Be The Best Pistol You Can Buy For $300. And It’s Brand New.

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Image source: YouTube screen capture / Mrgunsngear

Image source: YouTube screen capture / Mrgunsngear

Although popular gun culture in the U.S. doesn’t pay much attention, Turkey has long been a major producer of firearms, mostly for military use.

Historically, the country’s civilian handgun production included a 1911-based firearm made by a company once known as Canik 55. My sources say the brand is properly pronounced “JOHN-ick,” though I say it like the graduate of childhood phonics education that I am.

No matter how you say it, Canik eventually lost the “55” in their name, and has since claimed a stake in the big leagues of modern pistol production. The TP9 SA, their first striker-fired 9mm semiauto that I’m aware of in the U.S. market, became my choice of range gun four years ago. More than 6,000 rounds and with a few other Canik product experiences later, it remains my favorite handgun.

The TP9 SA emerged with apparent design influence from the Walther P99, but with an American magazine release. Canik wisely kept a low bore axis (hence low recoil) design, simple disassembly, and modular grip panels which are included with each gun. Other handy features include an accessory rail, lanyard hole in the grip, a highly visible three-dot sight system with a subtle vertical highlight on the rear sight, and a Serpa-style Kydex holster that can be used as a paddle or belt-borne. Color choices include black and desert tan. Magazines, now readily available for a reasonable price, hold an impressive 18 rounds in the same space a Glock mag holds 17.

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There’s a bit of weirdness in the original TP9, in the form of a striker decocker located on the top of the slide just in front of the rear sight. Canik’s rationale was to allow for the striker to be released without pressing the trigger, as in preparation for cleaning. It’s an unnecessary, but innocuous, device that has never caused a problem, nor have I ever used it, in the years I’ve used the gun.

Other than fit for a variety of hands, which is becoming the norm for new polymer-lower pistols, is the quality of the TP9 trigger. Its moderate uptake, smooth break, and relatively short, crisp reset are as good as that on my HK VP9, which retails for twice the price. Though a great trigger is just part of what makes a satisfying choice of firearm, there’s no denying that this one is superb in its class.

The Downside

A downside does exist to the first couple years of production models of TP9 SA and its first successor, the TP9 SF. I have owned both. This issue is related to the trigger I just described as outstanding. After having cycled in excess of 5,000 rounds, the striker on my SA model was no longer functional. The trigger would activate, with no corresponding activity by the striker. The then-new (2015 model) SF worked well, but its trigger would reset in two subtle stages.

As I was the original owner and had registered the warranties on both pistols, Century Arms, the U.S. importer/distributor, agreed to fix them. I was given an ominous reminder upon sending them that repairs may take up to six weeks. In reality, both guns were returned in just nine days. Though the repairs were done quickly and well, Century’s customer service left much to be desired in terms of communication; they’re email-based only and managed to confuse the guns’ serial numbers during the repair process, finally creating an accusation that I’d confused the frames and slides. That’s hardly possible, especially when the SA has significant visible wear.

Despite the bizarre customer service experience, the guns were returned fully repaired and with the outstanding triggers I have by now come to love. It was after the repair experience that I learned that premature striker failures are common among TP9s made earlier than 2016. A gunsmith who knows the TP9 SA well showed me the seemingly minor difference in construction between the trigger on my repaired handgun and the original. Unfortunately, it was on a range setting where I couldn’t get a photo or take notes, and the names of the involved parts now escape memory. He bemoaned the fact that Century Arms doesn’t sell repair parts, nor are non-original owners or owners who’ve had their pistol for more than a year offered free repairs, though the premature wear is not the user’s doing.

But Still a Fan …

Despite the mixed experience with repairs, I remain a fan of the TP9 series. The SA is now offered in a V2 version that eliminates the decocker and has the improved trigger. The series has also added the SF, with aftermarket-friendly sights, a lower profile, and matte-finish magazines. The competition-grade SFx has a 20-round magazine, lightened slide, and large mag well. Rising in popularity this year are the two compact models, still with 15-round mags and slightly shorter, match grade barrels, called the TP9 SF Elite and SF Elite S.

Every one of these feature-rich pistols offer excellent handling at an astonishing price. Original SA models can still be purchased new for as low as $310. Other models range in price from $350-495, with the SFx being the highest.

Canik has had time to learn from early mistakes in the TP9 series. From my own experience and conversations with people in the industry, it seems those issues have been resolved. TP9 pistols deliver real value in terms of handling, trigger quality, customized features, and reliability. Based on my experience even with an older model, I believe there to be no better pistol available for the money.

Have you ever shot a Canik? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

 

 

A Safer Home Defense Ammo Without Backsplash? Yes!

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A Safer Home Defense Ammo Without Backsplash? Yes!

Image source: Ecomass

We live in an era of dramatic advances in ammunition technology. Consider, for example, the 9mm, once considered an ineffective round. With the help of modern ballistic experts, the 9mm has now eclipsed 40 and 45 in popularity.

Like the sea change of acceptance with 9mm, another old, but advancing, technology is set to rock the world of self-defense and hunting: frangible ammunition.

What is frangible ammo? It’s a round that looks like any other, but the bullet is made of compressed powder. The composition of that powder usually includes copper as well as other ingredients, some of which are manufacturer-specific. Tungsten is among the substances used by one manufacturer, Allegiance Ammunition. Other companies have been less forthcoming about what’s in their secret sauce.

Historically, frangible ammo was pressed into round- or flat-nose bullets for use in “shoot houses,” structures made of concrete or railroad ties for the purpose of training, usually for advanced police and military work. These bullets are made to disintegrate on impact with any surface that’s harder than they are. For years, frangible has allowed folks to add the realism of live indoor fire to their training.

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But now, “frange” is breaking out of the shoot house. New formulations and formats — think hollow point — are now available for anyone to purchase. Companies like SinterFire are showing off gel block tests that show what these rounds are capable of. In short, specialized frangible loads produce massive wound channels that spell “stopping power” for game or violent criminal actors.

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Why bother switching from your regular hollow point load to frangible?  Here are three reasons:

Cost – Current prices for frange pistol ammunition hovers around that of factory-new FMJ ammunition, and less than premium HP.

Performance – Frange delivers a real wallop on most targets. I’ve tried it on watermelons, concrete blocks, and 2x4s. Entrance points look normal, but melons are turned to mush inside; blocks were cut to pieces, and the wood was heavily splintered on exit.

Safety – What frangible won’t do is punch through concrete or heavy metal. For civilians living in homes or communities where concrete is present, that means an errant shot won’t ricochet and wreak unwanted destruction. For new shooters, it also means you can get up close and personal to steel targets — even with rifle ammunition — and suffer no dangerous bullet jacket backsplash as is common with traditional ammo. For folks who enjoy steel shooting at any distance, it offers massive risk reduction. For people whose self-protection milieu includes concrete, which is most of us, it should be considered a more responsible choice where ricochet potential is concerned.

While I’ve not personally used frangible for hunting game, accounts are emerging of stunning performance. From hogs to elk, it seems frangible is on the cusp of giving the HP market some serious competition.

The light-bulb moment for me came one night when my dogs’ bark alerted me to the presence of an unwanted visitor. A large diamondback rattlesnake had decided to occupy the rear exit of my home, where there’s a door made of glass, set on a concrete porch. Having a recent wrist injury, I found myself unable to swing a shovel to save my dogs and self from this very real threat.

The thought of firing a 12 gauge to eliminate the snake was the natural next development, but I didn’t want to risk breaking glass or having shot bounce back onto myself. Then I remembered some frange ammo that I’d used to test on watermelons and other stuff. Perfect! I loaded up my pistol, and with one crack, the snake lay in three pieces. Zero property damage had been done, save for some blood to wash off the concrete.

It’s my opinion that frangible has a place in the civilian arsenal — definitely for self-protection and possibly for hunting. There are virtually no occasions when a civilian would be called upon to fire through a car door or hull of a steel boat, places where frangible is likely to fail. There are, conversely, a myriad of circumstances in which a civilian wants to avoid damaging effects to property or life from a round or shrapnel that’s deflected from concrete or steel.

As for function, frangible has cycled dependably in my 9mm and 40 S&W striker-fired pistols, as well as in many associates’ semiautos. I’ve seen it perform perfectly in .223-caliber AR15s. My only experience witnessing its use in revolvers leads me to lend a word of caution to check with your revolver’s manufacturer before loading up your wheelgun with frange. The function issues I witnessed may or may not have been typical.

When I asked the owner of Lucky Gunner, a national ammunition retailer, about sales patterns for various ammo types, he responded, “I don’t know why frangible doesn’t get more love.” I can’t agree more. There’s a lot to be gained by the responsible armed citizen when frangible is added to one’s ammo selection.

Have you ever fired frange ammo? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:

3 Pistol Problems That Could Ruin Your Range Time

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3 Pistol Problems That Could Ruin Your Range Time

Image source: Eagle1Supply.com

As an instructor of many new shooters, I’ve come to expect certain equipment problems that crop up repeatedly. Here are some insights to help you not be that person whose enjoyment of shooting is diminished — or worse, injuries are sustained — as a result of gear issues on the range.

1. Inadequate pistol holsters.

Holsters, whether for open or concealed carry, come in two general types: rigid ones that stay open wide when the gun is drawn, and soft ones on which the opening collapses to some degree when empty.

There’s nothing wrong with a softer holster as a storage device for a gun that’s rarely used, or for uses in which you have lots of time to re-holster the gun after use.

Where problems arise is when people attempt to use non-rigid holsters for serious training, like rapid draws. Usually, they fail to position the gun in the same place every time, forcing the user to fumble around during the draw. If it’s a life-or-death situation, or a serious defensive shooting class you’re preparing for, soft holsters are a poor choice.

Fully collapsible holsters, like the soft one I wear in my waistband as a concealment aid, are great for comfort and everyday wear. For practice, I must remove the holster, safely re-holster the gun using two hands, and then put the whole business back in my waistband. There’s nothing fast about it. If I were in a situation where I had drawn my pistol for self-protection and the threat is still active, and I still had the gun out when police arrive on scene, I’m better off dropping my gun to the ground and trusting its drop-safe construction than fooling with a holster, gun in hand, and risking the appearance of being a threat to police.

The most frequent problems I see with soft-sided holsters, purses included, are safety issues. People often fail to realize they’re passing the muzzle over their own hand during the draw or re-holstering. On belt-mounted holsters that feature retention straps that cross over the backstrap and snap into place, risk of shooting oneself in the leg is presented by not making sure the holster opening is clear of the strap before inserting the gun.

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There’s a time and place for soft-sided holsters, and a time to choose a rigid one. Although rigid holsters generally cost more, acceptable ones can be found for less than $45. That’s cheap prevention of a disabling injury.

2. Revolvers that aren’t maintained.

3 Pistol Problems That Could Ruin Your Range Time

Image source: Pixabay.com

Virtually every presentation geared toward new shooters touts revolvers as an easy, user-friendly choice. Yet they are by far the most problem-riddled firearms that show up in my classes. Why? Lack of maintenance. Most users pull out or borrow a revolver, or ammunition, that’s been in storage and neglected for years. Then it’s a surprise when the cylinder won’t rotate, or won’t open, or when bits of hot shrapnel are spewed back to the shooter’s face (one reason you MUST wear glasses when shooting).

Revolvers, like any firearm, require occasional maintenance. Lint and dust can build up around the extractor. Repeated firing can change the barrel-to-cylinder gap, or cause excessive side-to-side travel when the cylinder is closed, among other problems. Any of these can cause a revolver to malfunction. Attention to cleaning and lubrication, even when in storage, can go a long way to prevent frustrating or unsafe experiences with your revolver.

3. Handgun sights that aren’t up to snuff. 

Whether they’re an aftermarket add-on or factory-made, a loose, broken, or fallen-off sight can ruin your plans for practice. Regularly check your front and rear sights. Ensure they’re not cracked or broken, missing parts like the day-glow or tritium insert, or loose.

There are many advantages to high-visibility sights, especially for that all-important front sight. Many aftermarket front sights are elongated to accommodate light-collecting tubes or other features. Especially with those designs, but with all models, there will at some point be leverage exacted on those sights, usually during re-holstering. Knowing this may affect what sights you select to replace the stock ones.

Many times, it won’t be immediately obvious that there’s a problem with the sights. Often the first sign is when shot patterns on target begin to be uncharacteristically inaccurate and random, especially for experienced shooters. Choosing sights made of steel instead of plastic can increase the odds that your sights will remain solid over time. Installing sights according to manufacturer’s instructions, particularly those that screw in, is not to be overlooked. It’s tempting, but can be disastrous, to over-tighten screws, for example. Follow instructions, and be vigilant about inspecting sights at the beginning and end of your practice time.

It’s Not About the Money

Usually with firearm equipment, the least expensive choice of product delivers the most disappointing results. However, it’s almost never true that the priciest choice is superior, either. Choosing reputable guns and gear is important, but the biggest advantage is gained by paying attention to the condition and maintenance of equipment. The only investment needed is a little time.

What problems would you add to our list? Share them in the section below:

The 5-Minute Pistol-Cleaning Trick That Will Save You Time

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The 5-Minute Pistol-Cleaning Trick That Will Save You Time

Image source: Pixabay.com

Most of today’s striker-fired pistols, like Glock, Smith & Wesson’s M&P line, Springfield Armory’s XD series, and others, are made to be easy to “take down,” or disassemble for cleaning. Despite that, I often encounter new owners of these guns who’ve never cleaned it for fear of doing something wrong.

This is the five-minute routine I do after a long day on the range when my gun is headed to storage for a while, after my gun’s been in damp or wet weather, or for a student who brings a dry, dirty, or brand new gun to class and is having problems. It’s not my aim to neglect what an owner’s manual says, but a quick cleaning is better than nothing.

Supplies

If you’re pregnant, nursing, or have open cuts on your hands, wear rubber gloves. If you choose to go glove-less, at least wash your hands at the end of this process. The responsibility for preventing toxin exposure lies with you.

A scrap of a clean T-shirt and a bottle of CLP (cleaner, lubricant and protectant) are my go-to supplies. Frog Lube is my favorite CLP; it’s non-toxic and even smells nice. Extreme Force Weapons Lube is a new CLP that may work better for folks who use their gun in extreme cold. Both Frog Lube and Extreme Force are American products.

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One thing you should NOT have is ammunition. Start with a gun that’s completely unloaded — magazine out, chamber clear. Ammunition should not be within arm’s reach of your cleaning station. Many unintended, sometimes tragic discharges occur at cleaning time.

The Task

The order of parts described here isn’t necessary. Pick your own order.

Disassemble your pistol and lay the parts on a relatively clean surface. Pick up the slide, put a dot of CLP on the rag, and wipe out the entire visible interior surface. Be sure to take a fingernail (or other similarly shaped object, like a flat screwdriver head), and run the dampened rag through the grooves along the length of the slide’s interior. This is a place where gunk builds up. Once the rag is coming up from the grooves clean, put a fresh drop or two of CLP on each groove and smear it in with a fingertip.

Now, pick up the recoil spring/guide rod. Wipe both ends using a clean section of the rag. Wrap the spring/rod unit inside the rag and turn it in your tightly closed palm. No lube is needed here.

The 5-Minute Pistol-Cleaning Trick That Will Save You Time

Image source: Pixabay.com

The barrel is next. With the rag moistened with CLP, rub the entire outer surface with pressure, getting off all the buildup. The feed ramp of the barrel is an important place to clean. There’ll be some buildup here, even if you’ve only fired a few rounds. Wipe hard until it looks smooth. Depending on your barrel’s composition and finish, it may become shiny like chrome. Wipe the feed ramp dry.

Do the same around the locking lugs. Basically, any place on the barrel with sharp angles will have carbon accumulation. Get it off to insure your pistol continues to function smoothly.

If you’ve neglected cleaning, fired a lot of +P ammo, or have been rolling in the dirt, the accumulated gunk may be stubborn. A nylon bristle brush like an old toothbrush, cleaned and dried, works great for such occasions. But that’s beyond the five-minute rule. A partial cleaning beats neglect!

Notice I didn’t talk about cleaning the barrel interior. At least take a look through the bore for any abnormal accumulations or damage. If you feel you must clean it, a dry patch or Bore Snake is more than sufficient for a quick cleaning. The bore and feed ramp do not require oil.

Put one or two drops of CLP on the outside of the barrel, and smooth it all around with your finger, avoiding the feed ramp and muzzle ends. This is a high-friction, high-heat surface.

On the frame, give the locking block and exposed parts of the trigger mechanism a wipe-off with a dry rag. If you’re not sure which parts are which, just wipe off the metal parts you can see.

Finally, use the rag to clean the rails on each side of the frame. These match up with the grooves on the inside of the slide. Put a dab of CLP in each rail, and spread it along the rails’ length.

All Done!

Reassemble your pistol. If any excess lube is seeping out the sides, wipe it off. Give the outside of the slide a wipe-down to remove fingerprints and any remaining smudges.

That’s it — doing it takes a fraction of the time reading this did! Don’t forget to wash your hands in cool water if you’re like me and do this job bare-handed.

A Word on New Products

Conventional wisdom has held that we never oil the bore. Especially in a firearm that’s carried or stored with a round in the chamber, it is possible that oil will penetrate the cartridge, causing a misfire or dangerous squib (insufficient pressure resulting in a bullet that’s stuck in the barrel).

Technology has a way of running contrary to conventional wisdom at times. A couple of new firearm oils are made for use in the bore. In rifles, there is evidence that the behavior of these products, on a molecular level, results in increased precision, i.e., smaller shot groups. For a striker-fired pistol, accuracy gains caused by oil are likely to be undetectable. While I have used new barrel oils from Modern Spartan Systems and the Hoppe’s Black line, keep in mind these products were made for rifles, not pistols. Use these products sparingly inside the bore if you use them, and swab them well so that no visible oil remains in the barrel when it’s time to reassemble the firearm.

Do you have any gun-cleaning tips? Share them in the section below:  

The Surprisingly Quiet Ammo That’s Often Misunderstood

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It’s The Misunderstood Ammo That Makes Less Noise

Along with the rising popularity of gun mufflers, usually called suppressors or silencers, has come an increased interest in subsonic ammunition. Often, though, there are more questions than answers.

This article seeks to inform the reader with basic knowledge of subsonic ammo.

Subsonic ammunition is ammunition made primarily for use with a suppressor. It also can be used in a handgun or rifle all by itself, unsuppressed, though weapon performance may not be the same as with regular ammo.

When compared to other cartridges within the same caliber, subsonic loads have a smaller powder charge inside the case, and are generally a heavier bullet. In extraordinarily simple terms, we can think in terms of the formula mass times velocity equals force. When velocity is decreased by having less powder, and therefore less gas to drive the bullet down the barrel, through the air, and into its target, a bullet of more mass compensates to a degree. For example, Atomic Ammunition’s subsonic load in .223 has a 75-grain bullet — not an extraordinary weight, but one associated with match rounds. An average .223 target match bullet weighs 55 grains.

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It is the moment a bullet leaves the barrel, and the explosion of gas that’s behind it, that creates the “bang” of a firearm. Subsonic ammunition, traveling at lower-than-normal velocity relative to the caliber, is quieter. It still, though, makes enough noise to necessitate hearing protection when used sans suppressor.

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In tandem with a suppressor, subsonic ammunition makes a hearing-safe pop, the kind you hear in the movies when the bad guy fires a gun with a silencer. Funny, isn’t it, how it’s always a bad guy in the movies? On the street, most criminals aren’t interested in making the effort to conceal these bulky attachments.

Why Use Subsonic?

Subsonic can be used when less noise and/or less recoil are desired. It’s a great choice for indoor or urban ranges. With a suppressor, it’s beneficial for hunting, especially when a landowner may want to eliminate more than a single varmint or pest animal. The minimal report is less scary to the rest of the herd. Some hunters claim the remaining animals may still spook, but since subsonic offers no muzzle flash and no directional bearing on sound, they actually may run in the hunter’s direction.

It’s also a good choice for teaching gun handling and marksmanship fundamentals to a new or very young shooter without the complication of recoil.

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Subsonic protects the irreplaceable asset of hearing. Quieter shooting is an asset not just for gun users, but also for non-shooting neighbors who are less likely to object to our hobby — at home as well as in the voting booth.

What Are the Downsides?

Some subsonic loads will, consistently or occasionally depending on the semi-auto firearm, fail to automatically cycle the action. This challenge is gradually being overcome as manufacturers fine-tune components. I found it to be quaintly enjoyable to hand-cycle my AR-15 while using subsonic.

A notable exception is the popular .300 AAC Blackout caliber, purpose-made for suppressed shooting. With a bolt carrier group and barrel change, it can be fired through the AR-15 platform. This widely available load offers the AR owner great versatility from one firearm, although many feel it’s unnecessary unless it’s used with a suppressor.

Subsonic ammunition is a bit less accurate at longer distances. The smaller doses of powder in subsonic loads can shift around within the case, producing less reliable flight. I experienced this in a 100-yard field trial of .308 caliber subsonic. In several three-shot groups, two rounds would be remarkably accurate; their impact holes touching. A third would be a modest flyer, three to five inches away from the others. It’s not a huge difference for most applications except where absolute precision is required.

According to Jerod Johnson, a company rep for Atomic Ammunition, subsonic rifle loads such as the .308 are rather ineffective beyond 300 yards, where velocity loss is rapid.

The price of subsonic is, like match ammunition, reflective of the specialized manufacturing process. Expect to spend double or more the price of FMJ.

If there’s no admonishment against subsonic ammunition in your firearm’s user manual, trying out a box of subsonic is an interesting experience, whether accompanied by a suppressor or not. Especially with centerfire calibers, there’s a surprising ease to firing powerful rounds, while getting sound and recoil that are closer to the rimfire range. Try some!

Have you ever used subsonic ammo? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:

5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

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5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

Savage Model 42

Takedown firearms, which can be disassembled for compact transport, are booming in popularity. Why? Who wouldn’t want long gun-scale effectiveness in a package that fits discreetly into a day pack or business case, or even under the truck seat? For hunting, varmint control and protection, these budget-friendly shooters are a great option.

Though takedown guns are available in high-power models, the focus for this article is lightweight models, usually in rimfire chambering with a couple of shot shell models thrown in. All are easy on the wallet. Within those parameters, here are five favorites

1. Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Sturm, Ruger, & Co. has a wise approach to business. Rather than peddle new guns that no one’s asked for year after year, they crank out new versions of proven ones. It’s a winning strategy that benefits the consumer. The internals of the 10/22, a 10-round semi-auto in 22 LR, are the same as ever. The takedown model comes with a handsome pack, a choice of finishes including but not limited to camo, TALO brights and tactical. Some even have a threaded barrel covered by a handsome flash hider. This little rifle delivers camp and prep-friendly convenience. Assembled, lengths vary by package, in the area of 35 inches. Weight is less than five pounds, unadorned by optics. New prices range from $250 to $550, depending on features.

2. Savage Model 42 Takedown

The Model 42, a longtime hit among small-game hunters, has been updated into a series of takedown models — regular and compact/youth. In any version, its over-and-under barrels offer the choice of firing 22LR or 22 Winchester Magnum on top, and .410 on the bottom. Its single action-only operation requires cocking the hammer, an element of safety for those who like to carry “hot,” as well as lending a traditional look to the profile. Another lever allows the user to choose which barrel fires.

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A black synthetic stock features austere environment-friendly sculpting for easier grip and carry. The 42 Takedown is available in regular and compact models. Overall length of the compact version is 34.75 inches. An Uncle Mike’s carry pack is included. Although MSRP is $500, the Model 42 can be found new starting in the mid-$200s.

3. Chiappa Double Badger Takedown

5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

Chiappa Double Badger Takedown. Image source: YouTube screen capture

With shoes and mopeds, consumers count on Italian design to be unique, with great quality. The same goes for guns. The first foreign entry on this list is Chiappa’s Double Badger. Unlike others featured here, it folds in half, rather than completely separating receiver from barrel. It is therefore a little harder to pack, as the V-shaped folded firearm takes up more space than the others. However, traditionalists will appreciate the classic look and feel of its lever-action operation and checkered walnut stock. Subtle but important modern touches include fiber optic sights. Like the Savage 42, it comes with 22LR/WMR and .410 or 20-gauge chambering. Chiappa sells a range of chokes to customize the shot pattern, too. A dedicated backpack is sold separately, which is a bit of a disappointment considering most others include the pack. Retail pricing for the Double Badger typically hovers in the mid-$300s, although feature-dependent pricing can push actuals $100 higher or lower.

4. Ruger 22 Charger Takedown

The second Ruger entry on this list is a short so-called pistol (okay, legally called a pistol) chambered in 22LR. The Charger has modern features like a Picatinny rail for mounting your favorite optic, and can easily be fitted with a bipod for stability, which is a helpful feature on this stock-less platform. It comes with colorful wood or synthetic furniture. The Charger’s 10-inch barrel breaks away from the lightweight receiver that features a pistol grip, making it a very compact package. Fully assembled, it’s only 19.25 inches long. Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, it’s also the lightest choice here, sans optic, which is necessary since it comes without front or rear iron sights. The Charger does have a threaded barrel, making it ideal for urban varmint sniping where legal. Unlike the 10/22, the standard magazine of this semi-auto holds 15 rounds. Ruger sells it with a hard plastic case. Although some accoutrements and effort are required to fire accurately, this is by far the most packable choice here. Some will take a shine to its non-traditional profile and will be happy to pick up a Charger/bipod set for under $400.

5. Browning SA-22

Stepping well into the zone of legacy, Browning offers several grades of its long-standing takedown model. For purposes of this article, we’ll discuss the plain and most practical Grade 1 SA (semi-auto) 22. The company makes a range of finishes, as well as centerfire models on the takedown platform. With a classic black walnut stock and 19-inch blued barrel, the SA-22 has a tubular, 10-round, bottom-loading magazine and crossbolt safety. It comes drilled and tapped for scope installation, or use the brass bead front sight and rear blade. At 37 inches with the 19 3/8-inch barrel attached, it’s the longest rifle on this list, but misses being the heaviest at just 5 pounds, 3 ounces. No bag is included. Expect to pay close to $500 for this classic. Also, expect it to hold its value for resale better than others presented here.

What is your favorite takedown? Share your thoughts on takedowns in the section below:

5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

Savage Model 42

Takedown firearms, which can be disassembled for compact transport, are booming in popularity. Why? Who wouldn’t want long gun-scale effectiveness in a package that fits discreetly into a day pack or business case, or even under the truck seat? For hunting, varmint control and protection, these budget-friendly shooters are a great option.

Though takedown guns are available in high-power models, the focus for this article is lightweight models, usually in rimfire chambering with a couple of shot shell models thrown in. All are easy on the wallet. Within those parameters, here are five favorites

1. Ruger 10/22 Takedown

Sturm, Ruger, & Co. has a wise approach to business. Rather than peddle new guns that no one’s asked for year after year, they crank out new versions of proven ones. It’s a winning strategy that benefits the consumer. The internals of the 10/22, a 10-round semi-auto in 22 LR, are the same as ever. The takedown model comes with a handsome pack, a choice of finishes including but not limited to camo, TALO brights and tactical. Some even have a threaded barrel covered by a handsome flash hider. This little rifle delivers camp and prep-friendly convenience. Assembled, lengths vary by package, in the area of 35 inches. Weight is less than five pounds, unadorned by optics. New prices range from $250 to $550, depending on features.

2. Savage Model 42 Takedown

The Model 42, a longtime hit among small-game hunters, has been updated into a series of takedown models — regular and compact/youth. In any version, its over-and-under barrels offer the choice of firing 22LR or 22 Winchester Magnum on top, and .410 on the bottom. Its single action-only operation requires cocking the hammer, an element of safety for those who like to carry “hot,” as well as lending a traditional look to the profile. Another lever allows the user to choose which barrel fires.

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A black synthetic stock features austere environment-friendly sculpting for easier grip and carry. The 42 Takedown is available in regular and compact models. Overall length of the compact version is 34.75 inches. An Uncle Mike’s carry pack is included. Although MSRP is $500, the Model 42 can be found new starting in the mid-$200s.

3. Chiappa Double Badger Takedown

5 Portable, Takedown Rifles You Can Hide Anywhere

Chiappa Double Badger Takedown. Image source: YouTube screen capture

With shoes and mopeds, consumers count on Italian design to be unique, with great quality. The same goes for guns. The first foreign entry on this list is Chiappa’s Double Badger. Unlike others featured here, it folds in half, rather than completely separating receiver from barrel. It is therefore a little harder to pack, as the V-shaped folded firearm takes up more space than the others. However, traditionalists will appreciate the classic look and feel of its lever-action operation and checkered walnut stock. Subtle but important modern touches include fiber optic sights. Like the Savage 42, it comes with 22LR/WMR and .410 or 20-gauge chambering. Chiappa sells a range of chokes to customize the shot pattern, too. A dedicated backpack is sold separately, which is a bit of a disappointment considering most others include the pack. Retail pricing for the Double Badger typically hovers in the mid-$300s, although feature-dependent pricing can push actuals $100 higher or lower.

4. Ruger 22 Charger Takedown

The second Ruger entry on this list is a short so-called pistol (okay, legally called a pistol) chambered in 22LR. The Charger has modern features like a Picatinny rail for mounting your favorite optic, and can easily be fitted with a bipod for stability, which is a helpful feature on this stock-less platform. It comes with colorful wood or synthetic furniture. The Charger’s 10-inch barrel breaks away from the lightweight receiver that features a pistol grip, making it a very compact package. Fully assembled, it’s only 19.25 inches long. Weighing in at 3.5 pounds, it’s also the lightest choice here, sans optic, which is necessary since it comes without front or rear iron sights. The Charger does have a threaded barrel, making it ideal for urban varmint sniping where legal. Unlike the 10/22, the standard magazine of this semi-auto holds 15 rounds. Ruger sells it with a hard plastic case. Although some accoutrements and effort are required to fire accurately, this is by far the most packable choice here. Some will take a shine to its non-traditional profile and will be happy to pick up a Charger/bipod set for under $400.

5. Browning SA-22

Stepping well into the zone of legacy, Browning offers several grades of its long-standing takedown model. For purposes of this article, we’ll discuss the plain and most practical Grade 1 SA (semi-auto) 22. The company makes a range of finishes, as well as centerfire models on the takedown platform. With a classic black walnut stock and 19-inch blued barrel, the SA-22 has a tubular, 10-round, bottom-loading magazine and crossbolt safety. It comes drilled and tapped for scope installation, or use the brass bead front sight and rear blade. At 37 inches with the 19 3/8-inch barrel attached, it’s the longest rifle on this list, but misses being the heaviest at just 5 pounds, 3 ounces. No bag is included. Expect to pay close to $500 for this classic. Also, expect it to hold its value for resale better than others presented here.

What is your favorite takedown? Share your thoughts on takedowns in the section below:

The New, Super-Low-Maintenance Ruger 9mm That Conceals Easily

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The Super-Low-Maintenance Ruger 9mm That Conceals Easily

Image source: Ruger.com

 

Ruger caught up with the times in 2015 when the company released a full-size polymer frame, striker-fired, easy-maintenance 9mm. In late 2016, the compact version of the Ruger American was unveiled, and it does everything its big brother can do — while doubling as a concealable handgun.

Last fall, I got to handle and fire the new Ruger American Compact 9mm at the Blue August gun writers’ conference. Factory reps explained the method behind Ruger’s seeming madness of delaying their foray into the striker-fired pistol market: customers who use modern pistols now know exactly what they want, and Ruger sought to provide it on the first try.

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Ruger American pistols incorporate common requests the company collected in its extensive pre-design market research. Here are ways in which the company says design is wrapped around customer demand:

  • Modular grip system. Three choices of grip panel that wrap around the rear and sides come with every gun. Grip can thus be customized for different hand sizes.
  • Quality trigger with clear reset. The trigger features a safety lever, a common feature on many mass-market, striker-fired handguns. It has moderate travel, about 4.5 pounds of pull, and a clear reset that’s comparable to triggers in the Springfield XD series. I think it’s a great trigger for both defensive use and range practice.
  • A prominent magazine release. The mag release is easy to feel and operate. Operation is ambidextrous with no changes required. This is my only criticism of the firearm. Too many people have reported that an exposed mag release caused the magazine to unseat as a result of pressure from a seatbelt or an attacker.
  • A no-cost optional slide safety. The Pro model of the Ruger American Compact Pistol has no safety lever other than the passively operated one on the trigger. The standard model has a sizeable safety lever on both sides. People feel strongly one way or another about having a safety. With the Ruger American, folks on both sides of that argument can have it their way.
  • Easy racking. The recoil spring is tensioned to ensure both dependable operation and light racking action. Although this is mostly an appeal to folks who haven’t learned good technique, it is a common complaint among novice gun owners, and Ruger is to be commended for aiming to encourage entry-level shooters.
  • Recoil reduction. Slide and frame design increases the time from striker hit to return of the slide. Though there is no perceivable delay while shooting, this reduces muzzle rise, ultimately making fast follow-up shots easier.
  • Accessory-friendly. A Picatinny rail allows installation of a light or light/laser combo.
  • +P-rated. Use +P ammo if you want, and the Ruger American Compact will handle it.
  • Easy takedown. The gun breaks down quickly with no trigger activation, and is easy to clean and reassemble.
  • Tough. Ruger reps swear the company didn’t design the American platform with the intent of competing for the coveted U.S. Army contract. Nevertheless, the gun meets or exceed U.S. Army modular handgun standards.
  • User-friendly sights. Ruger was wise to choose Novak’s Lo-mount sights. This snag-resistant, highly visible, durable sight set adds real value. Ruger’s custom shop allows buyers to upgrade to tritium sights if they want.
  • Pinky rests. The shorter magazine has a pinky rest, which some shooters feel is necessary for comfortable firing.
  • Big capacity. The Compact’s mag holds 12 rounds. It accommodates the standard Ruger American 17-round magazine. One of each is included with a new 9mm pistol.
  • Caliber choices. The popular, affordable 9mm was the first to roll out in 2016. It’s also available in 45 ACP.

Here are the specs:

Barrel length: 3.25 inches.

Slide: 1.05 inches of stainless steel with black Nitride finish.

Overall length: 6.65 inches.

Height: 4.48 inches.

Weight, unloaded: 28.7 ounces.

MSRP: $579. Real prices are in the mid-$400s.

The Ruger American Compact is a superb choice for anyone seeking low-maintenance, dependable mileage from their carry gun. It fits just about anyone and is easy to operate, but has none of the oddball features some other “easy” guns have. Those features often punish the muscle memory of experienced shooters. It’s great for families who share a pistol for home defense. For the money, it’s as good or better than similar choices on the market.

What do you think about the Ruger American Compact? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Is This The Most Comfortable & Secure Concealed Carry Method?

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Is This The Most Comfortable & Secure Concealed Carry Method?

Image source: Dara Holsters

Renowned firearms trainer and the founder of Gunsite Academy, the late Col. Jeff Cooper, is credited with having said, “If you don’t have a gun within arm’s reach, you’re unarmed.” It’s a sound observation, considering that most criminal attacks transpire in five seconds or less.

As a concealed carry instructor, it’s no longer a surprise to hear more than half of the licensed carriers I encounter say they never, or rarely, carry a firearm on their person. Most have groomed a sense of satisfaction based on their handgun being a permanent resident of a car door pocket or nightstand. Unless a threat to their lives occurs when they are in the car or near the bedroom, however, they likely will be defenseless if that critical moment comes to pass.

Why do most folks who’ve gone to the trouble of receiving training and purchasing a handgun not carry? Most haven’t found a method of carry that is comfortable and secure for their typical day.

My own carry habits and methods have evolved over the 12-plus years since I made the decision not to outsource my personal safety. Purses, pockets, ankle rigs, “four o’clock” inside-waistbands, and various belly bands all had their turn. Now, and for the past few years, my everyday carry (EDC) gun has occupied either the right or left quadrant of the front of my waistband — commonly called appendix inside waistband (AIWB) position. Of course, it’s not the only way to carry; everyone needs to find what works for them. For purposes of this article, a working assumption is that any gun, carried in any manner, is inside a sheath of some sort that prevents penetration of the trigger guard.

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Here’s why AIWB works for me:

1. Accessibility

There is no fuss associated with drawing the gun. Simply lift the shirt hem with the support hand and draw. It’s simple and fast, and works regardless of whether I’m standing or strapped inside a car seatbelt.

2. Security

Is This The Most Comfortable & Secure Concealed Carry Method?

Image source: Monderno

AIWB and front pocket carry are the only positions about which I’ve not encountered a news story in which a concealed carrier was relieved of their gun by a common thief or mugger. Of course, there’s probably a story about that somewhere, but compared to other methods, AIWB makes the would-be thief’s job nearly impossible. It also makes the gun inaccessible to children, unlike off-body methods. Compared to otherwise equally secure methods, AIWB prevails due to factor No. 1 in this article — ready access.

3. Comfort

With a compact firearm, AIWB carry allows me to move from attending a meeting, to going for a run, to doing outdoor chores, and even driving long distances with the gun on my person. No need to take the gun off every time I get in the car. No more digestive issues from a belly band that feels like a boa constrictor when adjusted so the gun won’t pull it down. No more blistering from the seam of an ankle holster — you get the picture. It just works. There is no concealment system that offers zero discomfort, but AIWB has been the least bothersome for me.

4. Discreet carry

While I’ve had to abandon tucked-in dress shirts worn without a sweater or jacket, as well as giving up proper dresses in favor of shirt/skirt ensembles for dress-up occasions, AIWB offers one of the least obtrusive methods of carry. I thought the purse was discreet, too, until a co-worker asked why I carried it with me even for minor tasks.

5. Least disruption to my mornings

Sticking a holstered gun into my waistband every morning is fast and easy — which makes it easier to be a habit, and thus easier to be prepared. Systems that entail fiddling with straps, clips and the like are not likely to become a part of an already full routine.

Every method of carry requires compromise, and AIWB is no exception. The holster I use must be set aside when using the restroom — an act that requires one to be extra-present, mentally speaking, in public facilities. This isn’t true of all AIWB holsters. The slightly looser shirts this method requires hide the waistline that is a benefit of exercise. As a female, the biggest compromise has been the kind of pants or shorts I wear. An adjustable drawstring or substantial belt loops are a must.

There are some holsters, like the magnetic Quick Click & Carry (QCC) made by JM4 Tactical of Abilene, Texas, that even overcome some of these minor drawbacks. Holstered AIWB carry isn’t for everyone, but it’s been a panacea for me after having tried numerous other methods. What’s your favorite method?

Do you use AIWB carry? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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5 Nifty Multi-Caliber Guns That Will Save You Big Money On Ammo

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5 Nifty Multi-Caliber Guns That Will Save You Money On Ammo

Taurus Judge. Image source: Taurus

Multi-caliber firearms have great appeal. Here’s a look at five choices of revolvers and long guns that add versatility to your gun collection while making your ammunition dollars stretch further.

1. Any .357 Magnum revolver

The 357 Magnum load boasts a fast-moving, heavy round. Although I don’t subscribe to the notion of stopping power, at least as it compares in importance to shot placement, there’s no denying that this caliber delivers tremendous impact, and commensurate recoil. Ammo isn’t terribly pricey for self-defense at approximately 50 cents per hollow-point round, but for practice, it can be both uncomfortable and costly.

Pick up some 38 Special full metal jacket (FMJ) for practice and plinking, and your 357 Mag revolver will serve as both a range and self-protection gun. This cartridge is the same diameter, but shorter, with a smaller powder charge than 357. Using 38 Special is also a great adaptation to make shooting more comfortable for arthritic or injured hands.

The Ruger GP100 is a popular and proven full-size 357 Magnum revolver that most people find pleasurable to shoot, even using the bigger cartridge. Prices are typically in the $600 range for plain models. Ruger’s carry-friendly LCR (lightweight compact revolver) is also available in 357. Expect snappy recoil from that one using 357. The LCR is priced in the $400 range, with many bargains available.

Safety and shopping notes: The 38 Special cartridge can be loaded into a 357 Magnum firearm, but the 38 Special handgun cannot be loaded with 357 Magnum ammunition. Similarly named 357 Sig and 380 are calibers designed primarily for semi-auto firearms, and are NOT cross-gun compatible to 357 Mag/38 Spl.

2. Taurus Judge revolver

This hefty Brazilian revolver can shoot 45 Long Colt or 2.5-inch 410 shotshell loads, or a mixture thereof, from its five-chamber cylinder. It’s available in barrel lengths starting at two inches, up to 6.5 inches — and there may even be a few in circulation that are even longer; these are just the lengths I’ve seen students bring to class. There’s no getting around the big recoil with the big cartridge. Suffice to say, the two-inch barrel model should be avoided by people with achy hands.

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The Judge is very popular as a home-defense weapon. Its weight makes it impractical for daily carry, though there are surely some folks who manage to do so. The 45 Long Colt is expensive to purchase; defensive loads often cost in excess of $1 per round. On the other hand, 410 gauge shells, popular for use with the Judge as a defense against venomous snakes, can be picked up for less than 50 cents per round.

Usually found in the mid-$400 range, prices vary widely with the Judge depending on features and finish. In my experience, they require more frequent repairs and maintenance when fired regularly, thanks to the stresses of high-pressure rounds cycling through a comparatively small weapon. Nonetheless, Judge owners who embrace the “bigger is better” philosophy seem to glean a sense of security from having this model in the nightstand.

Safety note: Responsible self-protection includes proper target identification. None of the models mentioned thus far include an auxiliary light rail. A flashlight is therefore a needed accessory for dim-light defense. For most people, handling and flashlight and a 40-ounce loaded revolver are mutually exclusive activities.

3. Bond Arms derringers

Moving to the physically smaller end of the spectrum, Bond Arms of Granbury, Texas, makes a line of derringers with barrels ranging from 2.5 to 4.25 inches. Not only do the barrels range in length, but they range in caliber, as well. The same firearm that fires 22LR also can fire 45 Long Colt, as well as most popular handgun calibers in between, regardless of whether the case is rimmed or not. Quite an innovative design!

Bond Arms derringers have a two-round capacity, and are extremely compact. They’re big on Texas style — easy to conceal but lovely to behold. Firing them does require some familiarization, even for experienced shooters, as their single-action operation with cross-bolt safety and downward-favoring trigger press are out of the ordinary. Recoil from Bond’s short barrels and larger calibers is severe, but smaller calibers are easily managed, so a range of barrels will allow the entire family to enjoy one gun. A Bond Arms derringer will cost from $450 to over $1,000 depending on model. While extra barrels are priced between $100 and $200, the company runs half-off specials on barrels around the holidays.

4. Savage Model 42 over-and-under rifle

This old standby by Savage Arms of Massachusetts is versatile, and although it’s a classic platform, its looks have been updated with a modern synthetic stock. In addition to being ideal for small game, the 42 is a good snake/varmint control tool. Some will consider it their choice for home defense, too. It weighs just over six pounds, and is a modest 36 inches long including the 20-inch barrel. It’s therefore easy to handle for everyone, including the elderly and young shooters. People in both of these groups have made good use of “squirrel guns” in necessary home defense encounters.

The break-open action allows the user to load 22 Long Rifle, or 22 Winchester Magnum, depending on model, in the top barrel, and a 410 gauge shotshell in the lower barrel. A lever allows the user to choose which barrel fires. Add a scope for longer-range action on small game or coyotes. There’s no magazine, so extra ammunition must be stowed or carried.

MSRP on the Model 42 is $500, but expect real prices to be lower. Used models can be found for less than $200, and the high $300s can net a full-featured new Model 42 with a synthetic stock that will last a lifetime.

5. Frontier Tactical War Lock Multiple Caliber System and Rifles

Frontier Tactical is by far the youngest manufacturer on this list. Based in Florida, this veteran owned and operated business invented a new system that brings multi-caliber ease to the AR sporting rifle platform. The AR platform is already highly customizable, but the War Lock eliminates the time-consuming process of replacing complete upper receivers, or the removal/disassembly of the barrel requiring a shop and tools. With their $600 Multi-Caliber System 2-barrel kit, your AR15 can quickly switch calibers, to load and fire your choice of over 90 common or not-so-common calibers: 17 Remington, 17-223, 20 Practical, 204 Ruger, 223 Remington, 25-45 Sharps, 300 AAC Blackout, 5.56mm NATO, 6.8, 6.8 SPC, 6.8mm Remington SPC II, 6x45mm, and American 30 BHW. The War Lock even allows adaptation of the AR to pistol calibers, a way to save money on practice and perhaps make your handgun ammunition double as rifle fodder.

Frontier Tactical’s system is offered for regular and free-float barrels, but some firearms may still not be compatible due to manufacturing differences. Check with them before purchasing a conversion system for your own AR15.

Just starting as an AR owner or just want a whole new multi-caliber rifle? Frontier Tactical’s FT-15 War Lock Entry Carbine comes with War Lock components. It’s priced at $1,300, chambered in NATO 5.56/.223 Remington for starters.

Conclusion

Whether your choice is a model that’s been around for decades, or a newer platform that milks more mileage from your existing gun or ammunition supply, multi-caliber capability can increase the usefulness and economy of your trigger time. Options listed here are some, but not all, on the market today. More choices will likely crop up in the coming year.

Safety first! Always be sure you’re loading compatible ammunition into your firearm.

What is your favorite multi-caliber firearm? Share your advice in the section below:

Ammunition prices, where provided, were sampled from national retailer Lucky Gunner.

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Heizer’s Newest Pocket Pistol Is Super-Low-Recoil … And Semi-Auto, Too

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Heizer’s Newest Pocket Pistol Is Super-Low-Recoil … And Semi-Auto

Image source: Heizer

Heizer Defense, famed for its fashion-forward, rifle-caliber derringers, will break new ground in late April.

At the U.S. Concealed Carry Expo, the company will release its first semi-auto pocket pistol, called the PKO45. As the name implies, it is chambered in 45 ACP.

Heizer reps call this a concept gun in which every feature is the interpretation of an ideal. Company founder Charlie Heizer has aching wrists from his cycle racing days, so central to construction was recoil management. With that in mind, the bore axis is set extremely low, with the guide rod being on top of a fixed, stainless steel barrel.

Like other Heizer Defense firearms, the entire gun is made of aerospace-grade stainless steel. It should be an extremely durable shooter. It has a tidy profile, just 0.8 inches wide, with snag-resistant edges all around. It weighs 25 ounces unloaded. Heizer says the PKO45 is the thinnest of its caliber on the market.

Operation is single-action only, with an internal hammer. True to single-action design, it has a grip safety — but not where expected. It’s on the front of the grip, just under the trigger guard. The recoil spring and slide are built for easy racking, another accommodation to hand injuries.

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Magazines come in five- and seven-round capacity, both included with purchase. The mags are built on a Kimber body, with a Springfield XDS follower, and capped with what might be the industry’s first 3D-printed baseplate — a Heizer Defense invention.

Heizer’s Newest Pocket Pistol Is Super-Low-Recoil … And Semi-AutoThere’s an easy-to-operate safety lever on each side of the frame. I’m all for equality, but given the ease with which most manual safeties can be disengaged from the side of a handgun that’s exposed when the gun is holstered, a changeable lever would be preferable.

Hi-Viz sights are standard; TruGlo sights are an optional upgrade that I’d invest in were I purchasing a PKO.

Heizer Defense guns are known for standout finishes, and that tradition continues with the PKO45. Color choices are called copperhead, ghost grey, champagne and tactical black.

During the fall of 2016, I got to shoot a seven-round mag of ammo through a test model of the PKO45. It is indeed accurate; the trigger has a good feel and reset, akin to an off-the-shelf 1911. If I have to have a grip safety, this front-strap style would be my choice; my palms have hollow spots that sometimes disengage a backstrap grip safety just enough to cause an occasional malfunction.

Despite their abiding affection for big calibers, Heizer Defense is planning on meeting popular demand for a 9mm version in the near future. That one will be one to watch.

The PKO45 carries a $999 MSRP, with $849 predicted as the actual price. With its pricing and radically different styling, it won’t be for everyone. But those who choose a PKO45 will likely find it’s tough enough to last a lifetime. And there’s great peace of mind knowing it’s made in the USA by a family who understands that the United States of America is still the land of the free. The memory of political oppression in Hungary always will be fresh in the mind of Charlie Heizer, immigrant and Heizer Defense founder. His appreciation of the opportunities available in this great nation has been passed down to his children, who as adults now operate the business he established.

Would you consider buying a PKO45? Share your thoughts on this new gun in the section below:

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7 Concealed Carry Guns That Are Perfect For Range Training

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7 Concealed Carry Guns That Are Perfect For Range Training

Image source: Glock

 

Many gun buyers new to concealed carry are eager to get out on the firing range. That’s great, but some subcompact guns suited for concealed carry are of limited usefulness for extensive practice. Low ammunition capacity and lack of outside-waistband holster and mag pouch choices mean the owner of the tiny gun may have to sit on the sidelines while his friends participate in a defensive pistol class or weekend match.

What’s more, a limited budget can put the purchase of two guns for these two roles out of the question. What to do? Fortunately, many companies are making guns that bridge the gap between range and everyday carry (EDC). These guns are truly jacks of many trades.

To keep the playing field somewhat level, all choices here are chambered in 9mm. It’s an affordable load that’s readily available in most locations. Due to cartridge size, capacity is generally higher, too, a factor I believe favors both range and self-protection use. Many are available in larger calibers and some are also offered in full-size versions of what’s listed here.

1. Glock 19

This compact, but not really small rendition of the Glock design, has a huge following among those who carry a gun for a living. Extraordinary reliability is its hallmark. With a generous 15-round, double-stack magazine and 4.01-inch barrel, it’s as easy to handle as a full-size range gun. It weighs in at 23.7 ounces unloaded. Glock’s Gen 4 rendition of this gun is more expensive, but the adjustable grips and improved texturing add value compared to past versions. Retail prices are around $550 for the Gen 4 model; sub-$500 for earlier editions.

2. Smith & Wesson M&P compact

Smith & Wesson’s popular design has undergone some updates over the years. Modular grip panels and an improved trigger are good upgrades to the 12+1 capacity striker-fired gun. Its low-profile rear sight on the 3.5-inch barrel serves the purpose of carry. This is one of two guns on the list available with or without a thumb-operated safety. At 21.7 ounces unloaded, it’s handy. Pricing hovers around $500.

3. Springfield Armory XD subcompact

With a three-inch barrel, this is one of the shortest guns on the list, but it’s big on capacity. The XD Subcompact 9mm ships with a 13- and 16-round magazine. Its chunky, 26-ounce frame soaks up recoil from the short barrel. Some prefer the XD line because of the passive safety device at the top of the backstrap. Priced below $450 and with a trigger that’s more forgiving of typical new-shooter mistakes, it makes an ideal starter handgun.

4. Ruger American compact

The folks at Ruger took their time and listened to customer feedback about their own and other brands before scaling down their relatively new, full-size American 9mm to a packable size. Their methodical approach directly benefits the consumer.

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Modular grip panels and an optional thumb safety help an owner make it their own. One of the larger guns on this list, the mag packs 17 rounds into a long grip balanced by a 3.55-inch barrel. Depending on options, it’s about 29 ounces unloaded. High-quality Novak three-dot, no-snag sights help make it a joy to shoot. Left-handed shooters could love this, as it is one of two fully ambi pistols on the list. Retail is in the mid- to high $400s.

5. Smith & Wesson SDVE

This is an older model that’s not been updated for some time. It’s earned my respect as I’ve seen two very different students have great success and enjoyment from this dependable pistol. With a 16-round mag and four-inch barrel, it’s not the smallest choice. It’s a modest 22.4 ounces. The SDVE is a very dependable choice for less money at around $390.

6. Heckler & Koch P30

Another ambidextrous choice is HK’s excellent P30. Modern polymer construction and features, combined with HK’s classic double/single action and a 3.85-inch barrel combine to make a packable and accurate shooter. HK’s luminescent sights and excellent trigger contribute to a gun that feels like an upscale choice, assuming the user is committed to the additional practice required to use a DA/SA platform effectively, especially under stress. The 15-round magazine capacity, 27- ounce pistol usually sells for upwards of $800.

7. REX Zero 1CP

This is a new release for the double/single action fans who want seriously solid construction. Made by major military arms producer Arex of Finland, the REX Zero 1CP is imported to the US by FIME Group of Las Vegas. It features a safety so it can be carried cocked and locked. The slide stop doubles as a de-cocker.  It comes in flat dark earth or black. The grip is rather thick, making the gun a good fit for medium to large hands. It has a 3.85-inch barrel and 15-round mag, and weighs in at 30.4 ounces. Though it’s not a mass-market gun like others listed here, holsters are available as it fits those made for the classic DA/SA Sig Sauer. MSRP is $650; real-world prices should come in at well under $600.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of concealable but range-friendly 9mm handguns. There are many folks who’ll also not consider them concealable for their body type. I’ve chosen them based on their track record as quality, dependable guns for myself and many friends and students.

What would you add to the list? Delete from it? Share your tips in the section below:

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4 Shotgun Accessories For A Better Home Defense

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4 Shotgun Accessories For A More Effective Home Defense

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A shotgun is the ideal choice for a home defense firearm for many gun owners. There are great reasons for this: avoidance of over-penetration, slightly less demanding accuracy standards in less-than-perfect shooting conditions, and mighty stopping power. Practically every conversation about home defense shotguns also includes mention of that ominous racking sound—but I hope no one is depending on sound effects to scare off intruders, when real force may be necessary.

Like anything else associated with the word “tactical” these days, a plethora of add-ons are available for defense shotguns, not all of which are really useful. Here, I’ll point out a few that are worth the investment for mounting an effective—and ethical—counterattack with a shotgun.

1. A sling

The larger your property, the more complicated your responsibilities at home, the more a sling makes sense. Being able to navigate space hands-free is a major asset; however, it’s also a good idea to keep your gun with you. A sling lets you do both.

Options for slings and sling mounts are many. From a simple latigo strap threaded through the swivel loops on a hunting rifle (making a two-point configuration that’s easy to shoulder), to a one- or three-point tactical setup that allows more options for the method of carry, this is a highly customizable choice.

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Expect to spend $20 to $35 for an entry-level tactical sling. Mounts are generally higher in price, starting at $25 and priced up to $75. Before purchasing a sling/mount set, make sure your shotgun has studs, rails or whatever is needed to attach the mounts. It would seem to go without saying, but make sure the sling’s hardware is a match for what’s on the gun. Paracord is a frequently used accessory for making stiff connections easier to work with, and for making a too-wide sling work with narrow loops or rings.

2. On-board ammunition

Let’s assume your gun’s capacity is more typical, between two and six rounds. Even six rounds may not be enough in dire situations where multiple attackers or poor marksmanship have created the need for more ammo.

Where will more ammo go? As with slings, there are choices. I’ll eliminate things like belt-mounted ammo storage for this discussion, since this is about ammo that’s needed in fast order—so it needs to be in or on the gun.

Extended magazine tubes are one choice, and the shortest distance between need and a hot chamber. Alternative mag tube choices exist for common platforms like the Remington 870, Mossberg 500, and their variants. A couple brands also have manufactured their parts to be compatible with Remington or Mossberg mag tubes, but be sure to check the specs before purchase. Expect to spend $50 to $80 on an extension for a magazine tube.

Not crazy about the idea of modifying your scattergun? One alternative is a cloth cartridge holder, which can stretch over or Velcro onto the buttstock, keeping ammo at the ready. I did find it necessary to secure this sock-like accessory with tape when I used one to prevent it from sliding around. That might be undesirable if you aim to preserve a finished wood stock.

Similar to a cloth cartridge holder, but possibly requiring some modification, is a sidesaddle-type shell carrier. These can be mounted anywhere from the buttstock to the receiver, depending on design, and price can vary from $25 to more than $100, depending on material and capacity.

Left-handed shooters should note that many cartridge storage products are made with a right-hand bias, and may not be usable without modifications.

One advantage of an external ammo storage system is being able to organize, and see, ammunition types in relation to their position on the gun. Methods vary, but some defenders like to have one type of ammo, like buckshot, in the magazine, and birdshot ready in the most available loading position. Perhaps slugs will be in the rearmost position. Storing the shells with primer up or down, or a combination thereof, also can help indicate ammo type in a high-pressure situation.

3. Auxiliary light

4 Shotgun Accessories For A More Effective Home Defense

Image source: LA Police Gear

It’s your legal and ethical obligation to correctly identify a threat before firing. The handful of tragedies and more near-tragedies that happen annually due to failure to identify the target are inexcusable.

We’re talking about a gun that you’re likely to use in the dark hours. Light is a must for identifying your target. It also might serve as a navigational or signaling aid, but this kind of use should be minimized since, with a weapon-mounted light, the muzzle will cover everything you light up—a shaky proposition from both safety and legal viewpoints; the latter especially applies when outside of your residence.

Wouldn’t a nice flashlight do just as well? Perhaps, but most people aren’t prepared to wield both a flashlight and a long gun while making accurate shots. So a gun-mounted light makes sense, though it cannot avoid the muzzling issue, so that safety rule about keeping your finger off the trigger until the sights are on target and you’ve decided to shoot applies — in spades.

Entry level long gun-mounted lights begin at around $65. Prices climb rather dramatically after that, with some excellent choices available for less than $200. You’ll want to select a light with a pressure switch — that is, one that you can operate with the hand that’s on the forend, and one that turns off as soon as you release pressure. When someone’s trying to kill you, it’s a good idea not to reveal your position with light more than necessary.

4. Tritium front sight

Least beneficial but still useful of the four items here is a front sight with a tritium insert, which glows in the dark and is visible only behind the gun. Without it, only a silhouette of the front sight will be visible with a weapon-mounted light. This accessory will cost $60-$100, but consider hardware and gunsmith costs. as well. Be sure to practice with any sight system so you know where your shots will impact at typical close-range distances, and adjust your sights accordingly, or adjust your hold if the sights are non-adjustable.

Hopefully. this has given you some ideas of choices to accessorize your home shotgun to make it safer and more effective for defensive use. While these gadgets are useful, having them is only half the equation. Practice, and with that, knowing how to use them in dim light, is equally valuable.

If readers have experience with other shotgun accessories they’re fond of, I’m interested in hearing about them.

Do you have other favorite shotgun accessories? Share your tips in the section below:

Pump Shotguns Have One BIG Advantage Over Other Shotguns For Home Defense. Read More Here.