Category Archives: Editor’s Picks

Exclusive: Multi Holsters Review says the company “can make ANY holster style in ANY option for MOST gun make/models.” So I picked up an IWB holster made for one of the most popular guns around, the Glock 19. Why that gun? I’m sure the folks at Multi Holsters can live up to their claim. But I wanted to see the execution first hand on what should be an easy gun to holster.

Bottom line: This isn’t the first Kydex IWB holster for this gun and it won’t be the last. But it is extremely well executed. So it could be one of the best.

mh2bThe holster design itself is pretty straightforward. In fact, other holster makers produce Kydex holsters with features similar to this one. What I like about this Multi Holsters “Inside Standard” holster (retail $64.95) includes its lightweight durability, sight channel, belt clip, and perfect fit.

Lightweight Durability

Kydex holsters aren’t known to be heavy but some feel so thick you wonder if it was over-engineered in an effort to increase its durability. This Multi Holsters IWB seems eminently durable but more so because it uses just the right thickness of Kydex formed carefully to minimize any weak spots. The result is a lightweight holster that adds virtually nothing to the overall weight of the rig.

mh1bSight Channel

You might think sight channels are no big deal but you’d be surprised how many Kydex holsters fail to accommodate aftermarket sights on guns. This Glock 19 wears TruGlo fiber optic / Tritium night sights. The front sight is longer than most night sights and has hung up on more than one Kydex holster in its day. But not this Multi Holsters IWB.

mh3bBelt Clip

Love this belt clip. It engages the bottom of my gun belt with a perpendicular face and holds on until I pry it away with my fingers. It’s not too big but certainly robust enough to take beating. And it’s flat and covers up easily.

Perfect Fit

Kydex by nature easily conforms to virtually any shape during its forming process. Surprisingly, though, even with readily available “blue guns” or gun molds, other Kydex holsters still have gaps or other fit issues. This Multi Holsters IWB, however, seems to fit the Glock 19 perfectly, sliding in and clicking confidently in place. The holster also offers adjustable draw tension via two screws.

Well done, Multi Holsters, on this Glock 19 holster.

If you were going to ask Multi Holsters to take a crack at a holster design for a particular gun, which would it be?

— Mark Kakkuri



A Recipe For Success
With Your Big AR.

Last time I went on about the AR-10/SR-25-type rifles, and covered over some of their quirks. The focus was, as it should have been, about reducing or eliminating the ill effects of said quirks. Ammunition plays a big role in this. As alluded to then, ammo-influenced issues revolve around a whopping lot more gas pressure, compared to routine chamberings in AR-15-platform guns. I think this is enough of a topic to warrant more. So here it is, in more detail.

Port pressure is the factor, and the variable. Port pressure is not chamber pressure. Port pressure is the amount of propellant gas available at the gas port hole in the barrel. Too much makes the action work too quickly and too forcefully.

If you want to run a “Big AR” out of the box, you have to respect boundaries. Don’t tell yourself you now have a .308 Winchester and can run all the recipes and load tactics suitable for a Remington 700. No! You can’t get original with ammo choice, but you can get the original. The original is following the M14/M1A competitive ammo recipe, and what works for them works for a Big AR. The reason it works is because the M1A has all the same problems, and even fewer potential solutions. We’re not really talking about fixing anything. We’re working around it or working with it, depending on whether we see the primer tray as half full or half empty.

These are not bolt-guns. Not even a little bit.

M1A’s have the same split-second bolt opening habit that swells brass and yanks the case prematurely from the chamber. Since we are talking here now about stock-configuration rifles with no system modifications, port pressure has to be regulated by propellant choice, which then also becomes propellant volume. The trick to running an M1A is “The Load.” Components and construction defines it. Acceptance is mandatory. There aren’t a lot of extra-performance options, but the performance available is reliable and known. Not all bad. Not at all. It’s the recipe that we “all” ran when the M14/M1A dominated NRA High Power Rifle Service Rifle competition. It’s essentially what won everything every year, everywhere. It was simple. Most of us called it a “Lake City Match duplication load.” I honestly miss that simplicity. It’s a lot more complex now with an AR-15 service rifle.


There’s a honking mass of steel in that upper receiver. Getting the action to operate as it
should has a whole lot to do with ammo choices. One more time: It’s a really big AR-15;
therefore all, every last one, of the things said matter to the little gun matter to the
big gun, but they matter proportionately more. Big chassis guns are out of proportion
all the way around.

“The Load”

The idea is to preserve essential “Gubmint” specs, and then make it a little better. Lake City case, 41.5 grains of H4895, Sierra 168-grain bullet loaded to 2.800 inches overall length, CCI BR2 primer. Expect 2,500 fps (many variables influence velocity). If your .308 semi won’t shoot with that then, son, you got a gun problem. A Hornady 168-grain match bullet can be substituted with success.

By the way, the Lake City Match stamped cases are not any better in quality, or different in dimension than “plain” LC, but they don’t have a primer crimp.

There is a big article, actually a missing chapter from another book, for free-of-charge download on my website that will tell you about more than all on loading for an M1A. The essence of the advice is: 1. It’s crucial to select the correct burning-rate propellant, 2. Not to get too greedy about velocity, and, 3. Case sizing should err toward “more” than less. Get it, read it and respect it.

What do you have in something like a DPMS .308-LR compared to an AR-15? Mo’ bullet! I’m not going to say that .308—under the limitations presented by the advice here—is going to eclipse .223 Remington in downrange performance. I will say the .308 is “easy.” Pressures don’t have to get edgy to shoot good groups at any yard line. Honestly, there is nothing edgy about The Load. The .308 is still one of the more accurate rounds we have for precision use. Barrel life is good, about as good as it gets. Selecting this chassis means you also have a means to experience the ballistic superiority of smaller caliber rounds that have taken hold of the records, like 6XC, but that’s later.

Combine The Load with an out-of-the-box .308 barrel and action system. What you’ll have from this is a reliable rifle and one just as pleasant as it can be. Case condition will be the best it can be. Function will (or sure should) be 100-percent. Accuracy will be the best it can be. This load combo groups really well. Shooter experience will be the best it can be.

And as shooter experience grows from using this combination, some distractions, like rifle problems, won’t enter into the experience. The shooter can focus on things like hold and position and reading wind. If the load is performing well, and these (promise) will, then the variables are in judgment and actions. What I’m saying is you can take this combination and learn how to shoot NRA Hi-Power Rifle, or similar. “How to shoot Hi-Power” is the important part. Otherwise, you might be learning “How to spend a fortune to make my rifle work so someday I can learn to shoot Hi-Power.”
Honestly, it’s even easier than .223 Remington.

Options? Of course. (Who do you think is writing this…?) Here are some safe bets: Try the Sierra 175-grain MatchKing for 300- and 600-yard events, or the Hornady 175 A-Max. Reduce The Load by a 1/2 grain. Experiment with scooting the 175 out nearer the lands for the 600. This bullet, yes, is “better” than the 168-grain Sierra MatchKing, but it’s no more accurate. If it’s running through a 1:10-inch twist barrel, it’s possible to shoot a 190-grain Sierra for 600 yards, but I wouldn’t. The 175 will do you fine. The 190 will show more of the symptoms we’re trying to avoid.
If it’s hitting you too hard for the short-line (200 yard) events, try a Sierra or Hornady 155-grain bullet with 1 grain more propellant than used for the 168.


Here you go. This works. The idea is to duplicate this loading. Lake City Match has a
173-grain bullet backed by (very) selected lots of 4895. Performance is very good, and
the pressure is just right. The duplication load is 41.5 grains of Hodgdon 4895, Lake
City case, CCI BR-2 primer, overall cartridge length 2.800 inches with a Sierra 168-grain
MatchKing. I emphasize “duplication” because LC squoze a tad amount more propellant in
there, but a literal duplication of their recipe is over-pressure. The round shown is
my version of LCM with a Sierra 168 MatchKing.


It doesn’t have to be boring. There are options that work well for some using essentially
the same recipe. I’ve always had excellent results with Hornady bullets, and here are three
that make me say that.

Why This Works

Lake City cases are different from most commercial .308 brass. It’s pretty well known I (and others) prefer something like Winchester commercial .308 cases for use in tricked-out racing rifles. WW cases are worlds better in consistency and other virtues, like case capacity. So why the LC recommendation? Because they are low capacity and hard as roofing nails. The low capacity gives a better fill volume with H4895 propellant and the hardness, combined with the thickness, keeps dimensional integrity notably more integral.

WW cases are relatively hard, harder than other commercial .308’s. They don’t work as well with faster-burning propellants as the mil-spec-style cases. WW cases more show their worth with slower-burning propellants, like Varget and Viht. 150. Those propellants can and will increase .308 performance level, but they will also make your Big AR kick like a mule on prednisone. They will unlock the bolt too soon, slam the bolt carrier and tweak and twist the brass.

The propellant choice, then, is a big—huge—factor in leading this simple, pleasurable life. Hodgdon 4895 has a burning rate and fill volume level about perfect for gas system operation in an unmodified Big AR. Port pressure is a good deal lower than it would be with propellants in the “next class” of burn rates, which I say starts with 4064. From an ammunition perspective, reducing the port pressure through a lower volume of faster-burning propellant and using a durable case are about the only things that can be done to lessen these problems.

Faster-burning propellants than 4895 will work fine with our combination outlined, but being that 4895 is the slowest-burning of these “faster” propellants, again, its fill level and velocity produced are going to get us the most from the round in this rifle. Same thing with the M1A. Keeping port pressure to a lower level makes the rifle behave better. It also makes it last longer, shoot cleaner, and all else that’s good.


The best case are ones just like these. Lake City Match brass is a little easier to work
with than plain old LC. There’s no primer crimp on the Match. The “NM” (National Match)
stamp and the row of marks around the body on the right hand case designate Lake City Match
loaded with a commercial 168-grain hollowpoint bullet (identifying it as not for combat use).
It’s difficult to find a commercial duplicate. LC is thick-walled.

Sufficient Sizing

Get a headspace gauge for cartridge cases and use it. Set back the case shoulder a good 0.003 inches and do not in anyway way flirt with incomplete sizing of any area on this case. Small-base sizing dies are great with hard brass that comes from explosive semi-autos and, coincidently, are recommended for use with this one. My first, best and often only recommendation for sizing dies for the .308 is the “National Match” .308 die set from Forster. Pay close attention to giving each case consistent sizing. Do it enough, and check enough, and you might find you’re needing to “double size” a tough nut like a spent LC. I mean literally sizing the same case twice. Use Imperial Sizing Die Wax. Sinclair has it.
By Glen Zediker

2299 Snake River Avenue
Lewiston, ID 83501
(208) 746-2351

Forster Products
310 East Lanark Avenue
Lanark, IL 61046
(815) 493-6360

Hodgdon Powder
6430 Vista Drive
Shawnee, KS 66218
(913) 362-9455

Hornady Manufacturing Inc.
P.O. Box 1848
Grand Island, NE 68802
(308) 382-1390

Sierra Bullets
1400 West Henry Street
Sedalia, MO 65301
(888) 223-3006

Sinclair International Inc.
200 South Front Street
Montezuma, IA 50171
(260) 482-3670

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The Croft/ Keith Slip Gun

This Cut-Down Colt SAA May WellL
Be The Holy Grail Of Belly Guns.

Elmer Keith’s Sixguns was first published in 1955, updated in 1961 and has been reprinted several times over the past 5+ decades. As all gun books more than a few hours old it is definitely dated, however it still contains much valuable information. Many of his principles, just as with those of Col. Cooper, Col. Askins and Skeeter Skelton still apply today.

In his chapter on long range shooting, Keith says, “Effective long-range revolver shooting requires as much, perhaps more, practice than any other phase of the game. One must learn the trajectory of his pet load and how much front sight to hold up above the level of the rear sight notch to attain different ranges. With enough practice, one becomes proficient and could surprise the natives. We had the Zane Grey outfit here on a two-month pack trip in 1931. One day the boys started shooting at a rock at 400 yards with their .30-06 Model 1895 rifles… They were far from expert rifleman and we laid down with our back against the log for a perfect back and headrest and with a 7-1/2-inch .44 Special S.A. Colt, with target sights, held with both hands between the drawn up knees, proceeded to hit the rock repeatedly. That was something new to Zane Grey and he used what he learned of that trip about long-range pistol shooting in his novel, Thunder Mountain.

That dates back nearly 85 years but the principles involved still hold true today. I’ve handled that Colt .44 Special and have no doubt both the old Colt and Keith were capable of doing what he said he did. In fact, both my friend Jim Taylor and I have duplicated such shots, some even further, by using Keith’s principles of long-range shooting.

In the same book Keith says, “In 1928, S. Harold Croft of Philadelphia, with whom I had had considerable correspondence regarding sixguns and various loads, spent a month with us on the ranch at Durkee, Oregon. He brought a suitcase full of good sixguns, mostly .44 Special or .45 Colt caliber and asked me to demonstrate some of the long-range shooting I have been writing about. Seven hundred yards across a dry, dusty field I had a target 4 feet square. By laying on my back with my saddle used for a head and shoulder rest. And shooting with both hands held between my drawn up knees, I proceeded to lob slugs into that target. I hit with every gun he brought along before the gun was empty except one 2-inch barreled .45 S.A. with a Newman hammer. It required 11 shots to find a target with the short-barreled gun and I was then aiming on the sagebrush on top of a small mountain behind and a bit to one side of the target before I finally hit it. The short barrel was not burning the 40-grain black powder charge, and trajectory was hopelessly high. With a good .44 Special and .45 Colt sixguns with barrels of 4- to 7-1/2 inches it was no trouble to find that target in a shot or two, and with some I hit the 4-foot target with three out of five shots. Croft was soon convinced I had been writing facts and not fiction, but was very skeptical before the shooting started. We experimented most of the month and during that time I designed the first of my line of Ideal Keith bullets in caliber .44 Special Ideal No. 429421.”


This could very well be the Slip Hammer Colt SAA .45 Colt S. Harold Croft
took along on his visit to Elmer Keith back in the 1920’s.

At the time Keith was in his late 20’s and could not foresee what an influence he would have over the next 50+ years with the far-reaching effects of this trip with his “guncrank friend” from Philadelphia. Croft had brought along four custom .45 Colt Featherweight single-action sixguns. Two were built on Colt Single Actions and two on Bisley Models. These were numbered from 1 to 4. Keith wrote these up in the September 1928 issue of The American Rifleman. During the month Keith and Croft spent a lot of time discussing sixguns and the result was the now very famous Keith No. 5 S.A.A. .44 Special, which he wrote up as “The Last Word” in April 1929. Keith relates in Sixguns that Harold Croft had the No. 5 engraved and blued for him. From the late 1920’s well into the 1950’s it was Keith’s favorite .44 Special.

What about the guns Croft brought out to Keith’s little ranch? Two of these surfaced, and about 10 years ago I was able to handle them and actually shoot one of them. These guns were written up in this column in November 2005. Here we are interested in another Croft gun, which has surfaced. The .45 Slip Gun Keith mentions being more difficult to hit with at long-range. Just what is a Slip Gun?

In his book The Secrets of Double-Action Shooting, Bob Nichols quotes General Hatcher, who said, “Recently the late John Newman of Seattle, Washington, and Elmer Keith of Weiser, Idaho, have given prominence to what is known as ‘slip shooting’ with the .45 Single Action Army. The gun is converted into a ‘slip hammer’ revolver by altering the hammer, taking off the hammer spur entirely and substituting for it a short peg projecting to the rear and lower down on the hammer than the conventional hammer spur. The trigger is preferably removed altogether and sometimes the triggerguard itself is also removed. The gun like this can be fired rapidly and accurately by simply drawing the hammer back with the right thumb and then, when it is ready to fire, allowing the handle of the ‘slip hammer’ to escape from under the thumb. The speed with which this can be accomplished is shown by the fact that John Newman has been known to throw a tin can in the air and put four shots into it with his ‘slip hammer’ Colt before it hit the ground.”

Even before such Slip Guns were associated with Keith, Croft, Newman and gunsmiths Sedgley and J.D. O’Meara, old-time gunfighters made their own Slip Guns by tying the trigger back on their standard Single Actions or even removing it all together. With the barrel cut short the .45 Colt was turned into a deadly pocket revolver. What about the Slip Gun Croft brought out to the Keith Ranch? Remember that was more than 85 years ago. Two of the original four Croft Featherweights have been found and I do believe the Croft Slip Gun has surfaced.


The lowered hammer spur allows for very quick shooting by holding
the trigger back and just letting the hammer “slip.”

I have often said in the past the greatest thing about being a gunwriter is the people I meet. One such person who has the same deep down sixgunnin’ soul feeling I have for .44 Specials (“I’m the guy you robbed a few years back with the 4-inch S&W 1950 Target .44 Spl.”) His name is Jack Curro and he has the Croft .45 Colt Slip Gun. He related his find to me saying, “My buddy got this gun in a couple years ago at the shop, calls me up, and tells me he just got in an old Colt that someone butchered up.

I went down to the shop and about wet my pants when I saw it. I started getting all jittery, sweating and all and said ‘I want that bad!’ This is where it gets interesting. The gun came from an old estate in the same area where Sedgley Gun Works used to be, right off Sedgley Ave. in Philly. The conversion was very professionally done with stampings under the triggerguard. Expert welding on the hammer; you can’t even see any marks. The trigger is checkered perfectly. Barrel is 2-1/2 inches. Timing and overall mechanics are perfect. I have since shot several hundred rounds out of it and it’s a no-brainer to hit the full-size rams at 200m. This gun is a shooter. You know the story of Elmer Keith when Harold Croft brought a suitcase of revolvers out to Elmer’s ranch in 1928 and how Elmer took 10 shots or so to hit the 700-yard target with the slip gun with the Newman hammer? This gun is totally capable of that. Croft took the gun back to Philly and I have this strange feeling this is the gun that Elmer used.” I definitely think he is correct!

Curro adds, “This gun fits the description, has the accuracy needed, 99.999 percent that it is a Sedgley/Croft gun, it came from the same small area of the city where Croft was and, to be realistic, how many Colt Slip Guns were actually made by Sedgley and Croft? The serial number puts it at 1903 and all matching numbers. John, this gun is a blast to shoot… hits high… real high… Point of aim does not become point of impact until about 150 yards with a Keith 454424 with 8.5 of Unique.”

Jack sent me a whole bunch of pictures a few of which are included here. Notice the low riding hammer spur, the barrel band front sight, and the overall very good condition. When the triggerguard is removed vivid case colors are revealed, as well as a number stamped probably by Sedgley. Also note the trigger has been maintained for deliberate shooting, as Keith did at 700 yards. To use this .45 as a slip gun you simply hold the trigger to the rear as the hammer is slipped with the thumb.
Today we are blessed with a long list of exceptionally talented sixgunsmiths. In Keith’s early days Sedgley, O’Meara and King Gunsight were at the top. It is unfortunate that Croft and Keith did not leave a written document about each of the sixguns in that suitcase. Of course, as mentioned, they could not see how important these guns would be in the future. We can all learn something from this. We may never be important to the world, however, we are important to our families and special firearms should be documented so future grandkids and great grandkids will know all about them and where they came from.
By John Taffin

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“Off The Beaten Path” Stuff.

Lots of readers have asked for tips on what to carry when wandering off the beaten path—like, in Second and Third World countries—even if that OTBP includes the streets of foreign cities and towns. Most of it’s the same gear every American hunter, hiker or fisherman should carry everywhere from Henry’s Fork to the Suwannee. It just takes on a tad more importance when instead you’re prowling somewhere ’twixt the Amu Darya and the Zambezi.

OTBP gear needs a book not a column, and what you take in your head is more valuable than any device—info like landmarks and topography, local history, weather conditions and social instability, parasites, diseases and deadly fauna and flora—but perhaps I can help with a few tips. Remember, aside from what’s in your head, your most valuable assets are what’s ON your person—in your pockets or everywhere-bag—when need arises. I won’t comment on high-tech gear like GPS devices, satellite phones etc., first, because we don’t have space, and second, because I always planned on either not having them, or them not working—and you shouldn’t expect ’em to work either.
An easy example is an electronic compass. They’re great! I love ’em! But 6-to-1 it’s the cheap little conventional button-compass pinned inside a shirt pocket that will wind up saving your life.

Anti-diarrheal meds, a broad-spectrum antibiotic, a compact water purifier—not a water “filter”—and a first aid kit containing at minimum a tourniquet, pressure bandage and some Povidone-Iodine swabsticks and wipes are essential. Add a magnifier and Uncle Bill’s Sliver Gripper tweezers—you won’t regret it.

Anywhere between about 30 degrees either side of the Equator, a light, nylon ripstop waterproof poncho is a mainstay. The ideal is mud-brown or OD on one side and signal orange or yellow on the reverse. It’s shade, shelter, a stretcher, a hobo sack, in any depression in the ground it’s a basin or bathtub and it’s so handy for those times when it’s nobody’s business what you’re carrying under it or what your hands are doing.

If the poncho’s too bulky for you, pack a Mylar “space blanket.” It’s not as tough, but will do most of what a poncho will, and shining a little 20-lumen light on it will create a beacon like a lighthouse in the night visible for many, many miles—especially good for signaling aircraft.

About light: A single AAA clip-on 20- to 35-lumen light like Streamlight’s MicroStream will meet 90 percent of your lighting needs, and packs far more value per ounce than a hefty, expensive 500-lumen tactical light.


There are two kinds of wilderness in the Third World, but most of your OTBP kit works in both.


Multi-Tools And Multi-Roles

On fire: Carry at least two sources. For many years I’ve relied on a Colibri 9400 butane lighter which is pressure-adjustable from sea level to over 10,000 feet. They’re not made anymore, but the current Colibri Summit is dustproof, windproof, water resistant and rated for high-altitude use. Keep that one in reserve, and use a common disposable BIC butane purchased in the US. Third-world knockoffs just won’t cut it, believe me. There are only two times they fail: When it doesn’t matter, and when it does. Ha! Remember, among the many uses for fire is distraction.

A good multi-tool is one of the most useful things you can carry—and it can be a life-saver. But if your role is “simple, innocent tourist,” don’t choose a weapon-specific one like the Multitasker, Leatherman MUT, or the SOG PowerLock EOD model with the blasting cap crimper. In some places the authorities are smart enough to note the difference, and may either treat you to a full-strip detail search and less-than-friendly questioning, or tip the secret-squirrel police to dog you, or both. A “standard” Leatherman or PowerLock hardly gets a glance, especially if you have it contained with a sew-and-patch kit.

In that patch kit, along with a few adhesive-backed ripstop nylon patches, have a yard of good duct tape wrapped around a pencil, with just enough of the point and butt stickin’ out to use it for writing and as a handle. Believe me, if you just roll duct tape on itself, it will not unroll when you need it—and in the dark, in a Third World emergency, “need” becomes need it now!

You all know 100-plus uses for duct tape, but consider too its use holding bloody bandages in place, as makeshift handcuffs, stabilizing a bum ankle, wrapped around a noisy mouth that has a sock jammed in it, and this: You arrive in the capital of Boogerstan with zero weapons of any kind. Buy a cheap kitchen knife; something with a blade about 3 to 4 inches long. Don’t worry if it’s thin and kinda flimsy—you may only need it once, and it won’t be for slicing fruit.

Now take a piece of cardboard, paperboard or just a magazine cover page folded over several times. Make a crude sheath for that knife, duct-taping the edges and tip end. All that “sheath” has to do is protect you from the blade when you’re carrying it stuck under the beltline of your pants, and release it into your hand fast. To make sure it stays put, do one wrap of tape sticky-side-out around it. Went off on a tangent there. I’d say I’m sorry, but one of you needed that. Good luck, pal.

If a knife seems over-the-top to you, at least carry a stout pen or mechanical pencil for a hasty weapon. Note: “tactical pens” are well known now and routinely confiscated in searches. Heck, even a toothbrush with the end filed not-quite-too-pointy can be a formidable weapon, and a thin nylon hair comb (plastic ones are too brittle) can slip spring-loaded door bolts, slide window locks open and lift gravity latches. Think “multiple uses for ordinary objects.”

Boxing the Compass

Ten yards—or meters—of 550 paracord can be unbelievably useful. Tie a simple overhand knot at one yard or meter (whichever your brain best figures in) on it for measuring, but don’t pre-place a knot at every yard or meter. My experience has been that when you need that cord right now you’ll need it smooth, and when you need more measuring knots you typically have time to make them. I loosely knot a small, powerful magnet at one end—another handy thing to have. Mil-spec, 550-pound paracord has seven inner “yarns,” each of those containing three strands of light cord, easily taken apart and used separately. It’s an under-appreciated lifesaver. Now, if you know how to tie a simple bowline, an adjustable hangman’s noose and an overhand bend “joiner” to mate two lines, you’re set.

More on measuring: Before you go anywhere OTBP, take 100 yards or meters of string and lay it out, preferably on broken ground. Step off with your right foot, and at a normal gait, count how many times your left foot hits the deck to make 100 yards or meters. Repeat, repeat and average your results. It can be surprisingly accurate and repeatable over all kinds of terrain, with a few mental adjustments for short-stepping on steep grades.

“Pace beads” are nice, but if you don’t have ’em at every 100, pick up a little pebble, a leaf, any small object. At 10 hundreds you’ve gone a kilometer or a 1,000 yards. Put one pebble in your pocket for each of those and move on. If you’re lost, a good way to search for landmarks, water, trails etc. and not get totally lost is to “box the compass.”

Pick a cardinal direction. Depending on terrain, choose a distance and go straight as you can. Turn dead right (or left) and go the same distance. Repeated three times, you’re back at your starting point, and you’ve completed 1/4 of your “big box.” Beats the heck out of wandering in clueless circles… Which is what I’m doing now.
I said “a few tips,” right? Stand by for more another time, folks. —Connor OUT.
By John Connor

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A Concept Refined

Ruger’s Gunsite Scout Does A Bang-Up Job Of
Realizing Cooper’s Original Vision Of A
“General-Purpose Rifle.”

The Scout rifle concept is alive and kicking. Ruger’s latest upgrade to their Gunsite Scout is a welcome refinement to the series, which was introduced in 2011. In fact, the Scout concept has been maturing ever since 1983 when Jeff Cooper invited a number of friends to his Gunsite Training Center to define the qualities of a “general-purpose rifle”—a multi-purpose tool capable of fulfilling the functions of a tactical, survival and hunting firearm—a concept which the new Gunsite Scout certainly fulfills.

To fully understand a Scout platform, it’s necessary to dig a little deeper into Cooper’s descriptions of the ideal rifle. Cooper finally defined it as follows: “A general-purpose rifle is a conveniently portable, individually operated firearm, capable of striking a single decisive blow on a live target of up to 400 kilos in weight, at any distance at which the operator can shoot with the precision necessary to place a shot in a vital area of the target.”

Because he also noted “all modern cartridges will do very well if they are shot well,” the focus of Cooper’s search became the launching platform rather than the caliber.

Other specifics were also addressed. Above all, the Scout was to be handy—shorter, lighter, quicker to operate than a conventional sporting rifle. It should be no more than 1 meter (39 inches) in length and no more than 3 kilos (6.6 pounds) in weight. The barrel was envisioned as being as short as possible while retaining the ballistic performance of the cartridge selected. The bolt action was to be a short one, with two 90-degree lugs, a Mauser-type extractor and ejector, smooth bolt handle, crisp 3-pound trigger and a tang safety that disconnects the trigger from the sear. For lightweight strength and stability, a synthetic stock was specified.

Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the Scout system is its dual sighting system—an optical sight plus reserve iron sights. Cooper selected a forward-mounted 2X or 3X intermediate eye-relief scope so as not to obscure the surrounding landscape and action when aiming.

Sounds like a practical, lightweight, sporting carbine, doesn’t it? With a tweak or two, Ruger had a platform just waiting to fill the niche. Working with Cooper-era Gunsite instructor, Ed Head, Ruger developed a Scout rifle to fulfill the essential elements of Cooper’s general-purpose rifle. The result? Their new model Scout is just a little bit better than their original offering.

Ruger’s original Scout was stocked in a black laminate. Laminates are strong, fairly stable and racy looking, but they’re also heavy. Going to a synthetic in the newer model allowed Ruger to shave some weight off while gaining extra stability. The original Scout with an unloaded 10-round magazine and factory peep sight weighed 7 pounds, 9 ounces on my Sunbeam scale. The new, synthetic-stocked model set up in the same way registered 6 pounds, 13 ounces. That’s a significant 3/4-pound weight difference and nearly satisfies Cooper’s 6.6-pound specification.


Fast-handling: Holt found the short, heavy-contour barrel of the
Gunsite Scout helped put the balance point right between his hands.

Let’s see how the model meets Cooper’s overall length requirement of 39 inches. The Ruger Gunsite Scout features a variable length-of-pull stock in both the laminate and synthetic stocked models. With each Scout, the factory supplies three 1/2-inch spacers to adjust the length-of-pull from 12-3/4 to 14-1/4 inches. As boxed, the new Scout arrives with a LOP of 13-1/2 inches. Taping it from muzzle to butt, the overall length of the new model measures 36-3/4 inches, well below Cooper’s 39-inch maximum.

Action-wise, Cooper would have endorsed the American-made Ruger. Chambered in .308 Win, the Gunsite Scout features a short action, a Mauser-type extractor and ejector, 90-degree locking lugs, a smooth bolt handle, a safety that disconnects the trigger from the sear (although it’s not a tang-type arrangement), and a crisp trigger, but slightly heavier at 4-1/4 pounds than Cooper’s ideal 3-pound limit.

The sighting system is absolutely Cooper-approved. The iron “back-up” sights consist of a factory-installed, fully adjustable receiver sight with a ghost ring aperture and a protected front post, while the long Picatinny rail provides a flexible mounting base for forward mounted optics like “Scout” scopes and red-dot optics.

On the other hand, the rings provided are conventional Ruger rings that fit the receiver, not the Picatinny rail. To use them, the owner must remove the back-up receiver sight, which is secured to the rear-ring slot. Cooper would probably look on the removal of the back-up sight with some disfavor.

In keeping with the Cooper model, I mounted a 7.3-inch Burris 2.75X intermediate eye-relief “Scout” scope on the Picatinny rail with a set of Leupold lever-operated, quick-detachable rings, bringing the weight of the rifle up to 7.75 pounds. Cooper derived the idea for a forward mounted scope from Redfield’s intermediate eye-relief scope, the 2X “front-IER” model (1965-1971), which was adapted to the Model 94 Winchester, Remington Model 600, British .303 “jungle” carbines and others.

Cooper saw two primary values of a forward-mounted scope. It gives you unobstructed access to the magazine to facilitate reloading the magazine, if so adapted, with a charger. The setup also gives you a less obstructed view of the action going on around the target area. With QD rings you can also switch back and forth between optics and irons with the flick of a lever. The forward-mounted scope—if somewhat unconventional in appearance—is a sound solution.

While the original Ruger Gunsite Scout is now offered in both .223 Rem and .308 Win, Cooper would have selected the .308 for his general-purpose rifle. The .308 is never a mistake. It’s an inherently accurate and flexible cartridge that has a proven record in Benchrest and National Match competition, hunting worldwide, and in military and law enforcement applications. Being a 1/2-inch shorter than the .30-06, it also lends itself to short actions.

How did the new Ruger Gunsite Scout handle? With its heavy-contour 16-1/2-inch barrel and forward-mounted scope, the balance point is just in front of the magazine. Being short and compact, the Scout places its weight nicely between your hands and offers an almost neutral balance when mounted. It’s that balance which gives the little rifle excellent stability and inertia in any shooting position. It just hangs there.


The short, stiff, beefy barrel of the Scout contributes to its inherent accuracy.
Standout performers included Winchester “White Box” 147-grain NATO FMJ (top left)
and Holt’s 168-grain Sierra handload (top right).


Cooper would have approved the design and features of the Ruger Gunsite Scout.

In testing for accuracy, I selected Winchester “White Box” 147-grain NATO, Black Hills and Nosler 168-grain match loads, and a handload assembled with Sierra’s 168-grain MatchKing bullet and Hodgdon’s new IMR 4166 powder that reduces copper fouling and is “temperature insensitive.” This propellant is recommended for cartridges like the .308 Win, .22-250 Rem and .257 Roberts. IMR 4166 is part of Hodgdon’s “Enduron Technology” family of powders. The company is also releasing IMR 4451 for the .270 Win, .30-06 and .300 WSM-type cases and IMR 7977 for the true magnums.

With its “Heavy Plex” reticle, the 2.75X Burris Scout scope—while not a target optic—is a fine game scope. However, the groups I turned in with the Ruger could have been shaved a bit I think with a higher power conventional scope or one of the 2-7X Scout variables. Nevertheless, true to Cooper’s vision, a Scout rifle begs for the utility of a forward-mounted scope with moderate magnification.

Two loads proved outstanding: Winchester’s 147-grain FMJ NATO (0.98 inches) and my Sierra-based, match handload with 44.0 grains of IMR 4166 (0.74 inches).

With its short, heavy-contour barrel, this little Ruger can shoot. But it’s loud. The ported muzzlebrake may work well to reduce felt recoil, but it definitely accentuates the noise out there at the business end. The ideal solution would be to unscrew the muzzlebrake and screw on a suppressor (using the 5/8-24 muzzle threads), but in the meantime, wear hearing protection!

The Ruger Gunsite Scout comes with one, 10-round magazine. Given state game regulations around the country, I would think the company would include an additional 5-shot magazine in the package. The Ruger store has them available as an accessory, but they cost $69.95 (pretty steep for a 5-round mag). I thought I could substitute a stock 7.62 AR-type 5-shot magazine but discovered it didn’t fit the Ruger magazine well.

All in all, the Ruger Gunsite Scout in a lighter, synthetic stock is a positive refinement of the original model. I suspect it will be offered immediately in a left-hand version as well. The Scout is a highly individualistic concept rifle and will appeal to shooters and collectors alike.

Jeff Cooper would have approved.
By Holt Bodinson

Gunsite Scout
Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee St.
Newport, NH 03773
Action: Bolt-action repeater
Caliber: .308 Win
Capacity: 10-round detachable magazine
Barrel Length: 16-1/2-inches (heavy contour)
Overall Length: 36-3/4 inches
Weight: 6 pounds, 13 ounces
Finish: Matte black
Sights: Adjustable peep rear, blade front (6-inch Picatinny rail)
Stock: Synthetic (adjustable for length-of-pull)
Price: $1,039

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Smaller Government

Browning’s New 1911 380 Is As Slimmed,
Trimmed, Light & Lethal .380 ACP.

Since I can’t even estimate the number of 1911’s I’ve handled and shot since childhood, I guess you’d say I’ve had my share of experience with ’em. OK, maybe my share, Fred’s share, Pete’s and Larry’s, Earl’s and Frank’s and all their first-born’s shares too. The overwhelming majority were full-size Government Models chambered in .45 ACP, but many too were chopped at the muzzle end, chopped at the butt, judiciously trimmed at the corners or crazily whacked into a nearly unrecognizable state. Other chamberings included 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, some oddball .50’s and .22 LR.

Some sorta-worked; most didn’t. For me, the net effect just drove me back to my roots, to full-sized service pistols in .45 ACP. It seemed to me the more slashing and jiggering of ol’ JMB’s design, the more you invited finicky failures. When the Big Cheese Editor Jeff (AKA Le Gran Fromage du GUNS) told me Browning had proportionally shrunken a 1911, built it with a composite synthetic frame and chambered it in .380 ACP, I instantly developed an involuntary facial tic that cocked an eyebrow like a boomerang. I felt a block of salt forming in my cheek. Not a grain of salt, mind you—a block.

Jeff had shot a prototype at an exclusive preview event, and reported that based on his brief experience poppin’ some steel plates, it handled well and ran just fine. He gave you a lot of details on it in the January issue, and I encourage you to go online or pull out your paper copy and peruse it. However, he promised you a full review of the over-the-counter “production gun” by an A-list gunwriter. He couldn’t find an A-lister with time available, so…

As soon as I opened the box I thought, “Bold move, Browning. Maybe dumb, but bold.” I couldn’t get over the weight, a mere 15 ounces. But when I repeatedly gripped it, ran through some balancing and pointing drills, cycled the action and tickled the trigger, my thoughts ran to IF this puppy can run right, shoot straight and hold together, Browning’s gonna have a winner. It does, it can, it did—and I think they do. Let’s do a quick tour.

In appearance, the 1911 380 closely mimics its big brother. Iron sights are sharp and clear, with a perfectly dimensioned U-notch and post for fast and precise work. The slide is a slim 0.77-inch as opposed to a 0.91-inch “standard.” The upswept beavertail grip safety is generous, very nicely enhancing your grip, and has a pronounced “memory bump” for sure engagement. Ambidextrous thumb safeties are well proportioned, crisp and positive. Trigger “reach” (the distance from the grip safety to the trigger’s surface) is only 2.3 inches, while a full-size 1911’s reach runs about 2.8 inches.

Inside the triggerguard, “finger space” measures 0.90-inch both vertically and horizontally to accommodate all but the fattest fingers. XL-size gloves are snug to tight on me, and I had no problem with the dimensions at all. The skeletonized trigger is smooth-faced, and has a little lateral and up-and-down movement. I don’t think that’s a flaw in design, but rather a little built-in clearance. It doesn’t affect function at all.


Bangin’ headshots on Zombies with the little Browning. It’s a
tough job, but somebody has to do it. Woof-woof!

Inside the triggerguard, “finger space” measures 0.90-inch both vertically and horizontally to accommodate all but the fattest fingers. XL-size gloves are snug to tight on me, and I had no problem with the dimensions at all. The skeletonized trigger is smooth-faced, and has a little lateral and up-and-down movement. I don’t think that’s a flaw in design, but rather a little built-in clearance. It doesn’t affect function at all.

The trigger pull has about 1/4-inch of take-up under very light pressure. The break is fairly crispy and measures 4.5 pounds on my Lyman Electronic gauge. Reset is short, tactile and audible. An important note here: This pistol has a magazine disconnect, so the mag must be in the well in order for you to drop the hammer—and possibly touch off a chambered round. But the mag doesn’t have to be completely OUT of the gun to enable that safety feature. If it’s pushed in just beyond the magazine catch-point, about halfway up, the trigger will function and the hammer drops. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just a consideration.

The girth of the grip, measured rough with a fabric tape is 4.5 inches. The girth of my daily-carry 1911 is 5.375 inches. The difference is a tad less than 1 inch, but the feeling is significant. The height of the grip allows for a full, firm 4-finger grip. During testing, I had three women and three men of varying hand sizes try the grip, trigger, thumb safety and operation. All gave very positive responses, including one petite—really, tiny—experienced shooter who loved it. She also commented on the relative ease of operating the slide. Stiff spring resistance is a problem for lots of ladies. Not so, it seems, with the 1911 380.


That’s eight shots cadenced at one per second at 7 yards (above). With a full 4-finger grip
and low-bore axis, the .380’s feathery weight did not detract from stability and control. Is
it inherently accurate? Shooting 2-handed at 10 yards at a 2-inch sticker (below) produced
a 5-shot 1.3-inch group.


The front and back straps are lightly textured for grip, and, something rarely seen on polymer-framed pistols, the grip panels are removable. The panels on our sample are checkered “composite.” Feels like a hard rubber compound to me, and they feel fine. Optional grip panels in imitation aged ivory, imitation pearl and real rosewood will be available too. The 8-round mag loads with very little effort, inserts smoothly and then drops freely after popping the mag release. If you’re a seasoned full-size 1911 shooter, you might appreciate that operating the mag release with your master hand is faster and requires less hand movement than with your service pistol.

Inside, the only notable differences from the original are the substitution of an integral fixed link for the usual pinned swinging link, and a synthetic recoil spring guide. Fieldstripping is straight-up 1911 (already familiar to many of you). Enough mech-and-tech. Let’s get to the pudding. That’s where the “proof” is, I’m told.

The pistol arrived pretty dry, so I sparingly lubed it with SLiP 2000 EWL on the primary points. Ammo for testing included Winchester’s excellent “Train & Defend” 95-grain loads—Jeff also covered these in detail in his January piece—and SIG SAUER’s “Elite Performance” 90-grain V-Crown JHP’s.

Shooting for break-in and all-angles function checks, about the first 15 cases ejected sluggishly, looping over my shoulder to 5 o’clock and about 4 feet out. Within 10 more rounds ejection turned brisk and consistent, tossing empties to 4 o’clock and 8 to 10 feet out for the remainder of testing. I experienced a half-dozen failures to feed completely into battery in the first 40 or 50 rounds, mostly the first round up from a full mag after the chambered round was fired, then never again. That’s a fairly routine thing.

What drove me a little nuts was repeated erratic failures of the slide to lock back after emptying the mag. I checked the mag, engagement and everything else I could think of. Browning only furnishes one mag so I couldn’t try another. Then it struck me: I was alternating shooting 2-handed and single-handed. When shooting 1911’s 2-handed, I “ride the safety” with my master-hand thumb. My off-hand thumb is placed so I won’t accidentally engage the slide lock/release. When shooting single-handed, my master hand thumb curls under the safety. I feel that provides more control. It’s automatic for me; I do it on autopilot.


It looks just like its big brother, but Browning’s 1911 380 (above) is 85 percent the size
and less than half the weight of a steel-framed Government Model. The 1911 380 perched atop
a full-sized Government Model (below), for comparison. The biggest difference is the weight,
at 15 ounces for the 1911 380 vs. 37.5 ounces for the full size.


Here’s what I found: I’ve got big hands. With the 1911 380’s reduced size, when my thumb rides the safety, it overlaps right onto the slide release, pushing it down. The slide couldn’t lock back. Changed grip, problem solved. I called Aaron Cummins at Browning, a big guy with even bigger hands. He just laughed; it happened to him too. He told me the shorter slide release of Browning’s 1911 .22, a pistol I wasn’t familiar with, also fits the .380, and can solve that problem. Good to know, huh?

This little pistol shot and handled much better than I would have expected. With that 4-fingered grip and nice beavertail, controllability is excellent, and even at a wispy 15 ounces, recoil effect is negligible. I would compare it to shooting 9mm from a 40-ounce 1911. Extended range sessions can be comfortably completed. Recovery from shot-to-shot is terrific. The 4.25-inch barrel and 5.5-inch sight radius make for excellent “pointability,” and the longish barrel boosts listed factory ammo velocities by 40 to 50 fps. There were zero stutters or chokes from about round number 50 through 300. Just give her a good break-in, OK?

Is she accurate? Check the group data. Any pocket pistol that can put five rounds into 1.375 inches at 10 yards can hold her head high. But it’s not a target pistol, and it excelled at its real role: Engaging attackers with speed, accuracy and reliability. Toward the end of testing, at 7 yards, my 8-shot groups cadenced at about one round per second ran from 2.5×2 inches to 3.5×3 inches.

Did you know John Moses Browning designed both the 1911 and the .380 ACP cartridge? And now, the company bearing his name has made a mighty fine marriage of the two. Connor OUT.
By John Connor

Model 1911 380
Maker: Browning
One Browning Way
Morgan, UT 84050
(801) 876-271

Action Type: Locked breech semi-auto
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 8+1
Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
Overall Length: 7.5 inches
Weight: 15 ounces
Finish: Matte black
Sights: Fixed, anti-snag, combat type
Price: $669.99

.380 ACP Factory Ammo Performance
Load Velocity BEST Group Average Group*
(brand, bullet weight, type) (fps) (inches) (inches)
Winchester Defend 95 JHP 983 1.5 1.68
Winchester Train 95 FMJ 982 1.375 1.625
SIG Elite 90 JHP 1,038 1.5 1.625

Notes: Groups shot at 10 yards, rested 2-hand hold, 5-round groups.
*Average of 3 groups. Chronograph Data:
Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital 10 feet from muzzle.

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Clearly Superior

The Nightforce NXS 2.5-10x42mm
Compact scope.

Ever since Nightforce Optics opened shop in the little town of Orofino, Idaho, in 1992, their rifle scopes have enjoyed a fine reputation for both ruggedness and repeatable, accurate adjustments. However, their reliability comes at a price. Well, actually two prices, monetary and dimensional.

Except for certain specialized uses, the most popular riflescopes made are variables around 3-10X in magnification range, for several valid reasons. At the low end, 3X provides plenty of field of view for almost any situation, and at the top end 10X provides all the aiming accuracy needed for most field use, without the exaggerated parallax problems of magnification above 10X.

Such scopes can also be reasonably light and compact. Most conventional scopes in this magnification range weigh 12 to 15 ounces, but over the years I’ve eventually broken, though sheer use, conventional variables from at least 16 companies. That is 16 brands, not the total number of scopes, and some have no doubt been forgotten, for good reason.

Usually repeated recoil does the job, and on rifles chambered for cartridges delivering .300 magnum class recoil or larger, failure only required a box or two of ammo. In other scopes the windage, elevation and even magnification adjustments have ceased to function after being turned back and forth a lot. And no, these weren’t all “affordable” scopes, since several cost over $1,000.

That hasn’t happened with any of the Nightforce scopes I’ve owned. This doesn’t mean Nightforces aren’t unbreakable, since no matter how rugged a scope is, it’s normally the weakest link in a modern rifle, partly because so many tiny, complex parts have to be crowded into something smaller than an average summer sausage. But Nightforces are stronger than most other scopes, and the reason is they’re beefed up in all the right places—though that also means they’re larger.

Eventually some shooters, in particular hunters, wanted smaller, lighter Nightforces, and the company obliged with the NXS Compacts. These range in magnification from 1-4X to 2.5-10X and in weight from 17 to 20.5 ounces, not exactly feathery but still a long way from the 30+ ounces of most other Nightforce scopes.

Light Transmission

One minor complaint about Nightforce for some years was their optics weren’t quite as first-class as their mechanics. I tested more than one on my nighttime brightness/sharpness chart and found that was sort-of true. The average rating for modern scopes on the chart is 6, and the very bright, sharpest scopes have rated 8. Nightforces usually tested 7, noticeably better than average but not superlative. However, all the Nightforces tested had complex illuminated reticles, and one of the side-effects of a multi-point etched reticle is a very slight dimming of the view caused by scattered light.

Here it should be emphasized that while many people rate scopes by their optics, a scope is useless if it doesn’t put the bullet where we want it to go. This is exactly why many experienced shooters who use scopes hard prize reliability above tiny differences in optical quality. However, my friend Charlie Sisk, a Texas gunsmith who uses a lot of different scopes, told me during one of our regular phone conversations that the latest Nightforce NXS Compacts had really good glass, so I decided to test one.

After some e-mails with Sean Murphy of Nightforce, the sample Compact ended up being a 2.5-10×42 with the HV (high velocity) version of their Velocity 600 reticle, a “Christmas tree” type with four horizontal crosshairs below the primary intersection. On the night-chart it rated 7+, as high as any scope with an illuminated reticle has ever tested.


The Nightforce NXS 2.5-10×42 Compact fits well on a typical hunting rifle.

Dial Twisting

I mounted the scope in Talley Lightweight rings on a stainless/synthetic Remington 700 BDL in 7mm Remington Short Action Ultra Magnum, purchased in 2003, the year after the cartridge appeared. This just happened to be one of those factory rifles that shoots as well as most custom rifles, and is extremely accurate with the 168-grain Berger Hunting VLD at just under 3,000 fps, even though the long bullet has to be seated somewhat off the lands.

The 1/4-MOA adjustments were spot-on when tested both on an optical collimator and when shooting, and in the collimator there was no wavering either horizontally or vertically as the reticle was clicked around the screen. The shooting test was done at a 100-yard target by twisting 24 clicks up and down between shots, forming two small groups exactly where they should have been. But we expect that from a Nightforce. After sighting-in at 200 yards, per the instructions for the Velocity 600 reticle, several rounds clanged a 10-inch gong at 600 yards, right around the center, partly because the Talley rings put the center of the scope 1.8 inches above the bore, exactly the height Nightforce used in their calculations.

The test scope also came with Nightforce’s patented ZeroStop “clutch assembly” on the elevation turret. After sighting-in, a single hex-head screw on the adjustment cap is loosened and the cap removed, revealing four smaller hex-head screws on top of the dial. After loosening these, the top is screwed down until it contacts the lower clutch face. Tightening the four small hex-head screws positions the dial firmly against the plate, and the stop is set. On the test scope the entire process took less than three minutes. It’s one of the surest zero-stops available.

While the same 2.5-10×42 NXS also comes in a non-illuminated version costing and weighing a little less, I’d suggest the illuminated reticle, since the crosshairs and hashmarks are thin enough for illumination to help aiming even during midday. The light-switch on most illuminated scopes is located on the eyepiece, but on the Nightforce is a push-button in the middle of the parallax adjustment knob on the left side of the scope. It can be adjusted with your left thumb while aiming the rifle.
For those shooters wanting a relatively small yet rugged long-range scope, the Nightforce 2.5-10×42 Compact combines several outstanding features, for a very fair price.

Six of John Barsness’s 11 books are on firearms and shooting. His most recent, Modern Hunting was published by Deep Creek Press, and is available through, P.O. Box 579, Townsend, MT 59644-0579, (406) 521-0273.
By John Barsness

2.5-10×42 NXS COMPACT
Maker: Nightforce Optics, Inc.
336 Hazen Lane
Orofino, ID 83544

Magnification: 2.5X-10X
Objective diameter: 42mm, Tube diameter: 30mm
Field of View: 44 feet, 10 inches (2.5X), 11 feet (10X)
Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
Click value: 1.4-MOA (.1mil-rad optional)
Weight: 20.5 ounces (Illuminated), 19 ounces (non-illuminated)
Internal adjustment: 100-MOA, windage and elevation
Reticle: Velocity 600 LV (tested)
Price: $1,950 (as tested)

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A Match Made In Heaven

True Handgun Happiness Calls For The Right
Gun, The Right Role And The Right Shooter.

He was quoting someone else, but I first heard this one from Roy Huntington, our Publishing Potentate: “We talk about .45’s, we shoot 9mm’s and we carry .380’s.”

It’s a broad and general statement, fulla Lincoln Tunnel-sized holes, but there’s a trickle of truth runnin’ through it. One of those truths is this: We often select pretty good guns and then put them in some really wrong roles.

Roy’s message was kinda like this: Handgunners tend to talk about their ideal guns, their desires. Meaning pistols that punch their ego-buttons—often high-end 1911’s in .45 ACP or powerful, expensive, big-bore revolvers. Their owners wind up shooting mainly 9mm’s and .38 Specials because they’re more comfortable to shoot and cost far less to feed, especially if you like to shoot a lot. Then when it’s time to step out the door armed, they grab what drops easily into a pocket—what’s convenient and doesn’t require wardrobe alterations. Too often it’s a gun they shoot too little and, consequently, too poorly. But many times all that’s needed is a change up, down or sideways to arrive at the right choice for the job. And the problem goes way beyond carry-guns.

Thinkle On These

Case No. 1: On the range, this elderly gent—obviously suffering from arthritis and other ravages of time—would rise from his wheelchair, stand leaning against the bench and shoot his .45 ACP 1911. Obviously too, the once-ignored recoil was hurtin’ him and cycling the slide was a painful, frustrating effort. The short story was, he’d cut his teeth on 1911’s in 1949, carried one into combat in Korea, and they were the only handguns he’d ever owned. He didn’t want to give ’em up. Shooting was one of his few remaining pleasures, and that pleasure was almost gone.

I had just the pistol to recommend to him: Springfield Armory’s 9mm Range Officer—a straight-up accurate 1911 with powder-puff recoil and slide resistance half that of the .45 ACP version. The light in his eyes and the smile on his face as he handled it really got me. He simply hadn’t realized that option existed.

Case No. 2: A local lady who owns a gun shop teaches state concealed-carry qualifications and defensive shooting classes, including lots of women, mostly relative newcomers to shooting. She reports that the ladies’ biggest problem is handguns provided or selected by male relatives based on their preferences and assumptions. Too often that translates to something too big or too small or in too large a caliber, but usually something that fails to fit the lady’s hand.

“And,” she said, “They forget it’s a hand gun, not a hands gun. Shooting 2-handed is preferable, but they have to be able to shoot it well with one hand.” She keeps several try-guns handy to acquaint her students with different options.

Case No. 3: While shipping a T&E pistol back to the manufacturer, I had a conversation with the counter clerk, a willowy, petite young woman about 5-foot-nothin’. She had shot .22 pistols as a kid, and just re-commenced shooting. Her Fiancé had set her up with a featherweight, bobtailed snubnose revolver. His feeling was, “You’re tiny, it’s tiny and easily concealed—perfect!” She hated it.

“The recoil is bad,” she said, “Thought I could deal with that. But I can’t control it, even with both hands. After every shot it’s pointing up and to the side and I have to change my grip—and that’s not right, is it? He says I’ll get used to it, but when you know from the start it’s bad, well…”

About six weeks later we talked again. Turned out she had persuaded her fiancée to go on a weekend road trip. Among other activities, they visited a big range with lots of rental handguns. She returned with a Glock 19 and a big grin.

“I knew from the moment I picked it up and could get a full grip on it, including my pinky finger,” she said, “And then I shot it. I can control it! I was shooting great and I could do it all day long!” Her fiancée’s feelings were a bit bruised because she’d rejected his initial choice, but she won him over with “You wanted a fun playmate on the range, one who really enjoys shooting. With this gun, I’m having fun!” As for concealed carry, she said she’d happily adjust her fashion choices to fit her Glock. Cool, huh?

Case No. 4: An old pal recently retired as lead firearms instructor for a large sheriff’s department. Deputies had their choice of 9mm or .40 S&W pistols. Their firearm qualification rules are the strictest I know of. Basically, if you fail a qual shoot, you can re-shoot it after a brief session with an instructor, or you can wait a few days (during which time you stand desk duty, unarmed). If you fail a second time, you lose legal peace officer status—and your job. The overwhelming number of failures involved deputies shooting .40’s. Time after time my friend had given those deputies “The Talk,” then 5 minutes with an issue 9mm. He had exactly one officer fail a second attempt after trading their .40 for a 9mm.

“Very few deputies shoot enough,” he said, “and probably could have qualified with their .40’s if they shot ’em more. But most just couldn’t shoot a .40 well. The course is demanding, and the lower recoil and greater control of the 9mm really helped. Their egos just got in the way. I kept hearing that crap about how a real man shouldn’t carry a gun that doesn’t start with a “4.” I’d tell them a deputy should hit what they aim at—or lose their star.”

Random Ramblings

Only you know if your primary defensive handgun is truly the right one for you. I can only suggest you re-evaluate your choice from time to time and dismiss—as much as you can—any long-standing preferences and prejudices while analyzing it. As a general rule, if you can’t pleasantly and enthusiastically spend an afternoon shooting it accurately and confidently single-handed and 2-handed, carry it comfortably on a moment’s notice and “steer” it as deftly as you do your personal vehicle, you need to give it a hard look. There are so many new and established options out there, odds are high you can find one that’ll make you say, “Why didn’t I think of this before?”

If you or your mate have “tough to love” subcompact handguns, often just going to a slightly larger and heavier gun will cure the problem, especially if a new one offers a full 4-finger grip. Poor control can be as simple as a “pinky problem.”

For bedside boomers, I recommend full-size handguns with no small controls to be operated. If roused out of sleep and going to high alert, your small-motor muscle responses will be dulled at the same time adrenaline will be causing over-reaching and over-gripping—a bad combination. Load that nightstand gun with low-flash, low-recoil, low-penetration ammo—and practice with it.

Don’t overlook the .380 ACP cartridge. I don’t like the little 9.5-ounce piranhas that re-popularized it, but they did prod the manufacturers to finally offer highly effective loads with well-engineered slugs, replacing those non-expanding roundnose FMJ’s and giving new life to under-appreciated designs like the Bersa .380 Thunder.

Snubnose .38 Special revolvers still have definite value, but choose wisely and avoid flash-and-roar rounds. Grip and comfort are critical. After coat-pocket-carrying and shooting a Ruger LCR for a few years, I sold two more expensive and prestigious snubbies because they were a pain in the butt to shoot! The Ruger won the “comfort sweepstakes.”

Same old problem: Too much to say, too little space. Good luck!—Connor OUT
By John Connor


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“That Little Guy?!”

Some Men Are Giants Anyway.

The magazine you are now reading first arrived in January 1955. Before that it was very difficult for someone who desired information about guns like I did to find much in print. At the time I was in high school and had a paper route, which required me to go to town once a week and pay my bill.

This was also a time to haunt the two newsstands in town looking for any new publications from several companies offering 6×9-inch paperback books about guns for the princely sum of 75¢, which was a lot of money in those days. Several of these books were entitled Lucian Cary on Guns and were compilations of articles by Cary who was the gun editor for True magazine. It was also in one of these little books in 1958 when I first discovered Jeff Cooper through his paperback book Fighting Handguns.

I first encountered Col. Walter Walsh by reading about him in a book by Lucian Cary in the mid-1950’s. I was drawn to a photo of Walsh firing a Smith & Wesson identified as a .38-44 Heavy Duty. I still have that picture; however later Col. Walsh would tell me the picture was labeled wrong and it was actually a .357 Magnum. I also found an earlier 1950 publication of Cary’s works with a full-length feature on Walter Walsh. In those days most of us could name several FBI agents such as Jelly Bryce (who was featured in LIFE magazine), Walter Walsh and such Texas Rangers as Bob Crowder, Clint Peoples and Frank Hamer, as well as Bill Jordan (who appeared on the TV show You Asked For It) and Charles Askins who were well known Border Patrol agents. They were national heroes; however today such LEO’s are mostly anonymous and unknown.

Early Days

Cary talked of meeting Walter Walsh in the early 1930’s when he was shooting in both rifle and pistol matches. He said: “In May 1934 we heard that Walter Walsh had joined the FBI. Those were the days when the agents of the FBI were fighting gun battles with public enemies and we who knew how well Walsh could shoot drew our own conclusions.

On July 22, 1934, the agents of the FBI caught up with John Dillinger and killed him on a Chicago street when he resisted arrest. On October 22, 1934, they got Pretty Boy Floyd on an Ohio farm. On November 27, 1934, they got Baby Face Nelson, who had murdered three FBI agents. On January 8, 1935, they killed Russell Gibson after he had fired on a Special Agent. On January 16, 1935, they killed Ma and Fred Barker, leaders of the Barker-Karpis gang who had holed up in Florida and who answered the demand for surrender with fire from Thompson SMGs.

I don’t know what share Walsh had in these affairs, which occurred in the year after Walsh joined the FBI, or in the many others which occurred during his subsequent years of FBI service. I’ve heard the gossip—that Walsh was in 15 or 20 gunfights and personally accounted for 11 men. But the facts have never been published.”

There was one exception to this publicity with a well-known exploit of Walter Walsh making national news. In 1937, three men stopped at a sporting goods store in Bangor, Maine, buying several guns and asking the owner if he could get them Thompson submachine guns. The owner said it would take a couple weeks but he thought he could.

As soon as the men left, the owner called the Bangor Police Department who immediately reported it to the FBI. Agents from the FBI arrived at the store with hundreds of photographs of known criminals and the owner was able to pick out Albert Brady and two other members of the Brady gang. They had held up several banks and committed a number of murders.


Col. Walter Walsh, FBI agent and Marine Corp reservist, firing his
Smith & Wesson .357 with the Magnum Marine Corps in the late 1940’s.

“Special Stuff”

On Sunday, October 10, FBI agents were stationed in the back of the sporting goods store behind a large advertisement for golf balls. They were able to cut peepholes in the advertisement so they could see the front of the store. One of the men was armed with a Thompson submachine gun. Walter Walsh was undercover behind the counter waiting on customers. There were other FBI agents on the street as well as on the roof of the building across the street. This stakeout, unlike many which may go on for weeks, paid dividends within a few hours on the first day. The owner received a phone call wanting to know if he would be open tomorrow on Columbus Day. The owner said he would and the caller said he would be in to see about that “special stuff” he wanted.

At 8:30 the next morning a car pulled up in front of the store and Walsh recognized the man who entered store as a member of the Brady gang. Walsh pulled a gun on him and marched him behind the partition with the other agents frisking him and removing two guns. Walsh then moved towards the door to encounter the other gang members who were still outside. Walsh was armed with a .357 Magnum in his left hand and a .45 Model 1911 in his right. He had some difficulty opening the door because he had a gun in each hand, and as he was doing so one of the gang members fired through the glass of the door striking Walsh high in the chest and the second round hit Walsh in the thumb. Walsh returned fire from his .357 Magnum killing the gang member.

Albert Brady, the leader of the gang, was still behind the wheel of the car, which was soon surrounded by other agents. Brady exited the car and started shooting. He died from the gunfire of several agents. Walsh had been hit in the chest by a .32 ACP and it was high enough to miss the top of his lung and the big artery by a fraction of an inch. He recovered within a couple weeks.

Col. Walter Walsh was a true American hero. Born in 1907, Walsh would not only be one of the early FBI agents during the turbulent 1930’s, he personally captured Doc Barker, son of the infamous Ma Barker. He also found time to take part in the National Matches shooting both rifle and pistol. While serving with the FBI, Walsh’s favored sidearm was Smith & Wesson’s .357 Magnum. He also carried this gun with him as a Marine in WWII; however he used his personal 1911 Government Model .45 to take out a Japanese sniper at 90 yards.

I would not meet Col. Walsh personally until he was a nominee for the Outstanding American Handgunner Award in 1997. It was my pleasure to write Bill Jordan’s speech acknowledging Col. Walsh as the recipient of the coveted bronze trophy. Bill Jordan also told me a wonderful story about Col. Walsh. During the national matches a man came up to the easily recognizable 6-foot, 6-inch tall Jordan and asked him if he could point out Walter Walsh. Jordan said: “That’s him on the firing line right now.” “That little guy?” responded the inquirer, looking at Col. Walsh at not much over 5-feet tall. Jordan said to him: “When he is through shooting go over and look in his eyes.” The man did thus and returned with: “I see exactly what you mean.”

Col. Walter Walsh was past 90-years old when I first met him, still stood ramrod straight as we would expect a Marine to stand, and could still see quite well without the aid of glasses. He was also still very active serving as a shooting coach in the Olympics. One of my prized possessions is an autographed picture from him with the two of us together.


Col. Walter Walsh and Taffin at the Outstanding American Handgunner
Awards presentation in 1997.

One A Month

At the time he won the award, renowned pistolsmith Jimmy Clark had made arrangements to present him with a new customized S&W .357 Magnum. When it was shipped to him he had just recently purchased a firearm, and so was caught under the one-gun-a-month fiasco. Col. Walter Walsh, FBI agent, World War II hero, Olympic coach and 90 year-old gentleman was deemed so dangerous to society by his state of residency he had to wait the required 30 days before he could receive his new sixgun.

Col. Walter Walsh passed away in April 2014 at the remarkable age of 107. He was an esteemed member of The Greatest Generation, as was Bill Jordan. And just as with Bill Jordan, we will likely not see his kind again.
By John Taffin

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Crimson Trace’s New Red Green Show

Too many years ago I slid headlong out of my invincible period directly into my fragile period. If you date back to pre-TV days you probably understand exactly what I’m saying. If you’re younger, not to worry, it will eventually catch up with you. One thing I am extremely thankful for, actually two things, is my trigger finger still works and I can still see sights clearly. However, seeing sights well is totally dependent upon bright light outdoors; in dim light I basically become very close to being a point shooter with any handgun with standard sights. That is precisely why several of my self-defense guns are equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrips.

Crimson Trace has been producing laser sights for 20 years. They started out very small in a little tooling shop in Oregon as engineers and toolmakers came together to come up with laser sights, which could be standard equipment on self-defense handguns. They now have produced more than 150 different products.

Two of the newest products from Crimson Trace are Lasergrips for the Glock pistol. These latest Lasergrips are made to fit full-size Glock 3rd Gen Models 17, 17L, 22, 24, 31, 34, 35, and 37. Model number LG-637 emits a red beam while LG-637G projects a green beam. Under normal circumstances across a dim lit room they both work very well; however the green laser works better outdoors or in a well-lighted room. The more powerful green beam requires four batteries for operation while the red beam does its job with only two batteries. Batteries fit inside the slip-on laser grip, which is not a full grip but rather only covers the backstrap and wraps around the factory grip about halfway.

In continuous use, which is not ever very likely to happen, the red laser will last for 4 hours while the green laser can stay on continuously about half that time. All Crimson Trace lasers are fitted with a master switch, which can be turned off, however leaving this switch on does not drain the batteries. With the master switch on the shooting hand will normally activate the pad on the backstrap when the firearm is grasped for shooting.


When shooting both the red and green Lasergrips, John found his
technique needed adjusting, and once he got used to the Glock
trigger, his accuracy improved.


John’s wife Diamond Dot prefers the Crimson Trace equipped
Glocks for use around the house.

Both the red LG-637 and the green LG-637G are very easy to install. The trigger-housing pin on the Glock is pressed out from right to left using a tool provided with the Lasergrip. Batteries are then placed in each side of the Lasergrip, the grip slides onto the backstrap, seated in place over the beavertail of the frame and the holes in the grip lined up with the trigger housing pin hole in the frame. I found it helpful to have two sets of hands for installation. One set holds the Lasergrip in perfect alignment with the trigger-housing pin hole while the other inserts the replacement pin. Two pins are provided with the instructions to try the one-groove pin first from left to right and if the holes do not line up replace it with the pin with three grooves.

Once this installation is finished the laser and iron sights must be placed in alignment. The laser dot is adjusted to rest on top of the front sight post when using a correct iron-sight picture. Lasergrips are sighted in at the factory to 50 feet, however they can easily be adjusted for windage and elevation using the tool provided. Either I didn’t understand the directions for adjusting the laser sight, or I don’t know the difference between clockwise and counterclockwise, or the directions are backwards. Whatever the case, my first attempt at adjusting the sights saw me going the wrong direction in both cases. It didn’t take much to figure out how to do it right.

Crimson Trace provides everything needed for installation and also provides free batteries for life. Normally you should get at least a year of service from a set of batteries. If they run down a call to Crimson Trace will result in more being sent. The Lasergrip must be removed to insert new ones. Retail prices for the red and green Crimson Trace Lasergrips are $249 and $329 respectively; however, they can be usually found at a lower price.


The New Crimson Trace Lasergrips for the Glock are available in both red and green,
and the company supplies everything needed for installing the Lasergrip. The entire
unit installs easily on the backstrap.

It does take some training to use lasers. One of the things I have found is I had a tendency to try to line up the laser sight on top of the iron front sight. This is the wrong way and it is also much slower than necessary. Instead of looking at the original sights on the Crimson Trace Lasergrip equipped handgun it is only necessary to look at the spot the beam is projecting. The Glock 9mm Models I placed these Lasergrips on are definitely not target pistols—at least in my hands—the problem is not the Glock but my finger on the safety trigger. However, by projecting the beam on the target and then quickly squeezing the Glock Trigger without trying to get a target let off, I can get very good results.
By John Taffin

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Crimson Trace
9780 SW Freeman Drive
Wilsonville, OR 97070
(800) 442-2406


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