Category Archives: Editor’s Picks

Exclusive: Simple and Slim Slides

A last count, there were a hundred billion holsters available for Glock pistols. Maybe more. And I’ve toted my Gen 2 Glock 19 around in most of them. I’ve got my favorites, sure, but I want show you two belt slide holsters that excel for all-day concealed carry. Of course the High Noon Slide Guard and DeSantis Mini Slide you see here carry the Glock 19 safely and securely. That’s a given. The strengths of these holsters, however, is that they do so without complexity and without bulk. They’re simple and slim — great characteristics for a traditional belt slide.

!3High Noon’s Slide Guard retails for $114.95 and offers full-grain leather construction that’s made to order. Molded perfectly to the Glock 19 it carries, the Slide Guard sports a slight forward cant and a screw for adjusting the draw tension. The belt slots will fit up to a 1-¾ inch belt and yields a high ride, putting the stocks of the Glock 19 up against the side of my back when worn at 4 o’clock. This is the holster I choose when I want the muzzle fully covered and a layer of leather between my side and the slide of the gun. You can see the holster’s robust construction — I can assure you it is very stiff — but it is not in any way heavy or chunky feeling. Covering garments easily drape over it and the Glock goes in and out of the holster with surety.

!2DeSantis’ Mini Slide retails for $69.99 and features premium saddle leather that covers less of the Glock 19 than the High Noon Slide Guard. While the Mini Slide offers a molded fit to the Glock 19, it only does so around the trigger guard and a portion of the slide. The muzzle is left exposed and there’s no extended layer of leather between my side and the back of the slide. With the Glock, that’s not a problem, as the slide features no sharp edges and I’m not concerned about maintaining the finish on the gun’s muzzle. While the Mini Slide’s leather is just a bit thinner than other holsters, it’s virtually as strong and firm. Like the High Noon, a screw on the Mini Slide allows me to customize the draw tension. Worn at 4 o’clock, it’s just the right amount of everything for a safe and secure ride on a gun belt up to 1-¾ inches wide. And the Glock 19 goes it and out confidently.

!1Belt slides like the Slide Guard and Mini Slide may require an extra 10-20 seconds of install time and offer fewer retention features than other holsters. But they’ll keep a Glock 19 at the ready all day, never moving or loosening their grip on the gun. And for an outside the waistband holster, they still conceal decently.

That’s the beauty of simple and slim slides.

What characteristics do you look for in a concealed carry holster?

— Mark Kakkuri

Dress Up Your Shooting Iron

Rio Grande Custom Grips.

Many sixgunners purchase a single action and are content to use it just as it is for their entire shooting life and then pass it on to someone else. I am not one of them! I prefer to make most of my revolvers distinctly my own and the easiest way to do this is by adding custom grips.

I have purchased grips for my sixguns ever since I bought that first inletted 1-piece walnut block for an 1860 Army in 1957. Since that time I have spent everything from $5 for a pair of B-Western faux stags at gun shows all the way up to several hundreds of dollars for ivory, stag, pearl, bone and ram’s horn. Now there is a much easier, and certainly less expensive way to personalize sixguns and that way is Rio Grande Custom Grips.

Dale Ayars of Rio Grande designs the molds to fashion high-strength engineered polymer grips. These grips are then “tattooed” using a patented process on the polymer surface providing a durable and permanent application. Once that image is applied, Rio Grande Custom Grips are salt, solvent, water, impact and abrasion resistant. A large array of images are offered including patriotic, animal skin, animal images, dragons and many other striking patterns. In addition to the standard patterns Rio Grande can duplicate customer’s images and also add such things as initials to their standard grips.


Rio Grande Rattler grips dropped on
John’s modern Ruger Single-Six.


The color and texture of the Rio Grande
Rattler grips is exceptional.

The grips pictured are of the “Rattler” pattern and made for all Ruger Single Actions on the XR3-RED pattern. The bane of all custom grip makers is the fact manufacturers have not always maintained the same tolerances, which is why high dollar grips require the maker have the frame itself for custom fitting. I felt the Rattler image would look good on a smallbore .30 Carbine Blackhawk, however I found my 45 year-old Blackhawk had grip pins larger than the holes on the Rattler grips. I switched to a fairly recent production .22 Single-Six and the grips slipped on perfectly. By the time you read this Rio Grande plans to have Ruger grips to fit the New Vaquero and New Model Flat-Top Blackhawk grip frames.

After more than 100 years the basic 1911 remains right at the top of the list of most popular semi-automatic pistols. Personally, I prefer to make all my pistols just that, personally mine. Polymer pistols are wonderful pieces of machinery; however, it is very difficult to make them a distinctive part of myself. When it comes to a 1911, it simply a matter of loosening two screws on each side of the grip frame and replacing the panels. Rio Grande Custom Grips offers dozens upon dozens of different grip panels for both 1911 standard models and the smaller Officers Model-style semi-automatic pistols.

Of all the Rio Grande grips, my particular favorite, among many favorites, is the black grip panel with Wild Bill Hickok’s Dead Man’s Hand consisting of black aces and 8’s and the jack of diamonds.


John chose Rio Grande Custom Grips (above) Officers Model-style
Dead Man’s Hand for his compact Officer’s Model 1911 and the
full size grips emblazoned with an eagle and flag called the
American Spirit. The Dead Man’s Hand Rio Grande grips (below)
for the Officers Model size 1911 feature the poker hand Wild
Bill Hickok allegedly held when he was shot.


1911’s are offered, and have been offered, by dozens upon dozens of manufacturers and there is no guarantee every one is manufactured to the same tolerances, so some slight alteration may be necessary to the Rio Grande grips to make them fit the chosen grip frame. I had two pairs of Rio Grande Custom Grips at my disposal. For the 1911 it is a most attractive American Spirit in red, white and blue with an eagle head on each panel. Switching to the Officer’s Model-style I had the Dead Man’s Hand. It was necessary to spend about a minute with a Dremel tool to relieve the top of the back of the left grip panel and also open up the notch ever so slightly for the free operation of the magazine release. This is very common depending upon the particular pistol selected. Rio Grande’s are priced at a very reasonable $64.95.
By John Taffin

Rio Grande Custom Grips
(303) 330-2812

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New Green Laser For Springfield XDS From Viridian

Viridian® has released the industry’s only trigger guard mounted green laser for the Springfield Armory XDS. It is part of Viridian’s growing REACTOR® series. Only the REACTOR® Series from Viridian offers ECR® INSTANT-ON™, includes a free holster, has a bi-color battery indicator, and multiple modes of operation.

“Our customers spoke and we listened.” said Viridian President Brian Hedeen. He continued, “Our rail-mounted C5L fits the XDS perfectly. Yet our fans wanted the smallest, lightest green laser possible for their XDS and we delivered.”

The Viridian R5-XDS is a complete carry package with a belt holster included. Constructed of leather and polymer, it offers the best of both worlds. Additional holster options are available from many leading holster manufacturers.

The R5-XDS is now shipping. Contact major distributors or call Viridian at 800-990-9390 or visit


HK Built The First Striker-Fired, Polymer-Frame
Pistol Decades Ago. They’ve Done It Again.
But This Time They’ve Done It Right.

We have a new generation of “millennials” among us handgunners, bless ’em, but they don’t see entirely eye-to-eye with us old folks on handguns. Many of them seem to think any handgun made entirely of metal belongs in a museum. Some of them have declared on the Internet how happy they are the stodgy old Germans at HK have finally gotten with the times and offered a striker-fired, polymer-framed pistol under their esteemed brand.

Au contraire, young Jedi knights. We of Yoda age (and wrinkles) remember when HK introduced the very first such pistol, the VP70Z, way back in 1970. Designed originally as a machine pistol, which needed a shoulder stock with integral selector switch to hit its incredibly high rounds-per-minute count, it absolutely sucked as a semi-automatic. The trigger felt like a mile of bad road, the strange “shadow” sight picture was impossible for most shooters to see, and it tended to jam on anything but RN ball ammo or Remington 115-grain JHP.

Prior to the VP70Z, HK had introduced the very first polymer-frame pistol, the P9/P9S series. With polygonal rifling (recognize another harbinger there?) and—in the Target series—an exquisite adjustable trigger complete with trigger stop, the P9S was awesomely accurate. However, its peculiar double-action decocking mechanism was the sort of thing that made firearms instructors wake up screaming in the middle of the night. The procedure entailed holding the decocking lever down, pulling the trigger and then slowly releasing the lever upward.

The pistol’s slide-mounted safety lever had to be enlarged to become really workable at speed, and like the VP70Z, it was only reliable with ball or Remington JHP if you didn’t have a gunsmith throat the feed ramp. As to striker-fired design pioneering, HK’s P7 series in that very configuration was popular for many years (and still has devoted fans).

Now, all these years later, HK has made amends for the VP70Z. Behold the new VolksPistole in 9mm, otherwise known as the HK VP9. My first impressions of it are as follows:

Coming out of the box with a nice array of interchangeable backstraps and side grip panels, the VP9 embodies recent developments in German handgun technology. Yes, it resembles Walther’s PPQ M2. But the Walther in turn resembles the earlier hammer-fired HK P30. Which in turn seemed to draw from the Walther P99, and…oh, the heck with it!

How a gun feels in your hand is, of course, subjective. But, subjectively speaking, I love the feel of the VP9. There. I said it.


The distinctive “ears” at rear of the slide (inset) aided
manipulation and did not compromise concealability.


The HK VP9 was accuracy tested with these three 9mm loads
ranging in bullet weights from 115, 124 to 147 grains.

My two problems with the hammer-fired P30 series were pretty straightforward. In the traditional double-action mode, the decocking lever seemed to have been designed more for orangutan paws than human hands, and the interior lower surface of the triggerguard—where the dual-paddle magazine release levers sit—tended to pinch my trigger finger painfully. Both of these problems are solved in the VP9 design.

The striker-fired system eliminates any need for a decocking lever. Just as with a Glock, the trigger pull is the same all the time. Apparently I wasn’t the only one bothered by the configuration of the P30 triggerguard. I hear Bruce Gray is now offering a modification of P30 triggerguards to prevent the “pinch” that some of us experience. Thirty-some years ago Bruce and I both shot on Team HK. He used his tuned and comp’d P7 at the Bianchi Cup while I shot a P9S Sport/Target. There ain’t a whole lot about HK (or SIG) pistols that Bruce doesn’t know.

The geometry of the VP9’s triggerguard seems to have been altered to where the “pinch” has been pretty much eliminated. The only time I felt it was shooting from the bench, where my rested elbows altered my wrist angle, subtly affecting how my finger sat on the trigger.

The VP9’s magazine release is a downward-pressed ambidextrous paddle on the underside of the triggerguard, which goes back through the P30 and the USP and all the way to the P7M8 of the early 1980’s. It allows your trigger finger to hit the paddle, at once getting it away from the trigger for safety and eliminating the need to shift the gun in your hand for your thumb to reach a magazine release button. The result is, simply, faster reloads.

Looking down at the top of the pistol, you’ll notice rounded-edge “wings” at the rear edges of the slide. This useful feature helps your hand gain purchase there. Unfortunately, those edges are too rounded and don’t protrude enough to catch against belt or holster for emergency slide manipulation. These wings, called “charging supports,” are removable and can be replaced with flat spacers available from HK.


The pistol’s fixed sights (above) were big and easy to see. Red dot indicates
“ready to fire.” From this angle (below) the VP9’s light attachment rail,
forward slide grooves and luminous front sight are plainly visible.


On the Range

With a Glock-ish trigger tab safety, the VP9 has a bit of take-up before it hits resistance. As is the case with all pivoting triggers, leverage comes into play. If you gauge the trigger from the toe, it takes less effort to break the shot than if your finger is in its normal position at roughly the center of the trigger. Measured from the toe with a Lyman digital gauge, the pull weight on my test sample averaged 5.28 pounds from the toe and 5.78 pounds from the center. Pulls were very consistent shot to shot. The re-set could be described as “medium.”

In loading the magazine, I noted the feed lips of the mags were sharp on the thumb, but unlike some other pistols, no great pressure was needed to get the last (15th) round into the magazine, although a magazine loading tool is available from HK.

Bore axis is slightly higher on the VP9 than on the Glock, though I honestly couldn’t feel any difference in muzzle rise. Butt to top of slide, the VP9 is slightly larger than the Glock 19 (and has the same 9mm cartridge capacity).

The VP9 comes with “luminous” sights that need to be lit up beforehand with a flashlight or some other light source. The sights glow brightly at first, but start to fade after half an hour. Scuttlebutt has it that this is due to European tritium regulations being tighter than those in the US. So if you want real night sights, plan on a tritium retrofit.

As is traditionally the case with HK pistols, the VP9’s sights were regulated very close to point of aim/point of impact, something occasionally not the case with other brands. Hits were a whisker left for this shooter’s eyes at 25 yards, but were OK for elevation with 115- and 124-grain ammo, although grouping a tad high with 147-grain subsonic loads. Accuracy testing was done from 25 yards off a Matrix rest on a concrete bench.

Federal 115-grain +P+ 9BPLE, the load the Illinois State Police and other departments made famous as a “man-stopper,” put five shots into 2.85-inch. The best four of those shots clustered in 1.85-inch, while the best three stayed in 1.55-inch. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the “best three” measurement, which tends to factor out unnoticed human error, giving a good approximation of what the same gun and load will deliver for all five shots from a machine rest.

Black Hills’ famously accurate 124-grain JHP was “Best of Test” for accuracy, with five shots in 1.95-inch (and a “best three” measurement of 1.10-inch). Winchester’s Winclean 147-grain subsonic jacketed truncated cone ammo is hugely popular in this country and famous for its accuracy. It delivered a 5-shot group measuring 2.35-inch and a “best three” of 1.20.




Twenty-five yard accuracy results (top to bottom): Black Hills 124-grain JHP,
Federal 115-grain +P+ JHP, 147-grain Winchester Winclean JTC subsonic.


Although gunwriters don’t get to test each firearm with tens of thousands of rounds, I did get several hundred rounds through the VP9. The closest thing to a malfunction was an unintended slide-lock in mid-firing cycle from the benchrest, which may have been human error due to the shooter (me) leaving his thumb in too-close proximity to the easy-to-operate, ambidextrous slide-release lever.

I spent a couple of days carrying the VP9 in a hybrid IWB holster cut for the P30 by Remora, in which it fit perfectly. Felt about like carrying a Glock 17. The side panels might be abrasive enough to cause some discomfort against bare skin, but proved to be no problem with a tee or polo shirt between grip and epidermis, and an untucked shirt or vest for concealment.


Mas demonstrates controllability of HK’s VP9: The spent casing
from his first shot (arrow) is followed by muzzle flash of the
second one, without the muzzle flipping off target.

Overall Assessment

HK is deservedly famous for BMW-class workmanship, and a comparable cachet. But with a retail price of $719, the VP9 dramatically undersells the similar-feeling P30. The “shootability factor” is high, and with its blend of “BMW workmanship with upper-end Volkswagen price,” I think the VP9 will make a lot of friends among American handgunners.
By Massad Ayoob
Photos: Gail Pepin

Grey Guns Inc.
33479 Hwy. 19-207
Spray, OR 97874
(541) 468-3840

Remora Concealment & Security Products, LLC
P.O. Box 990340
Naples, Florida 34116
(239) 434-7200

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Tactical Custom Holsters

I was saved from frustration by Josh VanHeusen, a skilled, young entrepreneur and craftsman who got it right! His custom-built Kydex holsters might lower your anxiety level as well.

I had used various pistols in competition, but none seemed right. Trying Glock’s new Model 34, I also decided to buy their light/laser. After all arrived, I tested them thoroughly on the range, replaced the connector, and decided I liked them both. The light was bright and the laser did the job admirably. But it is a bit on the large side.

It was time to buy a holster. That’s when the frustration began. No one made one for a Glock 34 with Glock’s light/laser. After 3 years of waiting, I still could not find the holster I needed.

I don’t really have a need for such a rig in competition except for the instances which include a night shoot. It is imperative you have at least a light on the pistol, and in some instances, a laser helps as well. Since I had no holster for them, I had to carry the light/laser in my pack, put the light/laser on the pistol at the right moment, and then take it off to shoot the next event, which might be immediately.


I showed up at a match recently, and while walking around in the clubhouse, noticed a guy standing behind several workbenches. He had never been there before, so, curious, I sauntered over. The guy was making custom-built holsters right on the spot. To make a long story short, I sent the light/laser to him. And Voilà! I now have a holster that works!

Josh VanHeusen of Wilder Tactical makes custom holsters using Kydex, a strong, thermo-moldable plastic. He has a great many pistol models, allowing him to form the holsters for about any pistol or revolver you have. His inside-the-waistband models do not irritate the skin at the pressure points, while his outside-the-waistband models are made with several advances in thinking to give you the minimum holster while including what is necessary. The gun is held firmly, will not fall out, but is quickly retrievable in competition or defensive situations.

This guy thinks out of the box, having learned early on the norm is not always the best. His patented designs fit the body better, reduce unnecessary material, and reduce the pressure points on the body.
He is an innovative young man, unencumbered by the fetters of a large company’s marketing division and the norms required for a profit margin—norms that never quite fit your needs. He can also match both the style and the color you want.
By Jacob Gottfredson

Wilder Tactical
(910) 987-3039

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House Gun(s)

Have More Than One
If YOUR House Is Large.

The earliest, most vivid recollection I have of the house we lived in goes back to when I was about 4-years old. My father had died before I was a year old, my mother had remarried, and my step-dad was now off to war. We shared a small house with my step-dad’s brother and his wife who lived upstairs while mom and I and my little newborn sister had the downstairs. After the war we moved into a new housing project, which was mostly built for returning veterans and their families. This was another very small place with a downstairs consisting of a kitchen and living room while there were two bedrooms upstairs—again, very small.

In 1950 we finally moved into a house of our own, however one thing stayed the same namely it, too, was very small. This time we had a kitchen, dining room, living room and two bedrooms upstairs. The dining room became our living room and the living room became my folks’ bedroom.

After graduating Diamond Dot and our three pre-school-aged kids left Ohio and headed for Idaho where we soon found ourselves in the smallest place I can ever remember living in. That only lasted a couple years until we bought our own place. Over the years we have added a 16×32-foot family room, a 16×25-foot office, converted the double garage into a second office and workshop, added another 16×12-foot reloading room and a 16-square-foot sewing room for Dot. The days of small living quarters disappeared and are certainly not missed.


Four Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldogs, all loaded with CCI 200-grain
Gold Dot Hollowpoints, serve as house guns in various locations.

There Is A Point

Now it may seem like I’ve taken a long way around the barn to get where I’m going. And where I am going is the subject of having a house gun. Those many tiny spaces I lived in for such a long time could have been well taken care of with a house gun. Maybe. Even as small as they were it would have been easy to find myself too far removed from the house gun should trouble arise. If I have a house gun today—the way my house is spread out—it is easy to see I could be in deep trouble if I found myself at one end of the house while my house gun was as far away from me as it could be. Early on I decided the idea of a house gun was not practical. What was needed was not a house gun but rather house guns.

Of course, the problem could be solved, at least most of the time, if I always carried a gun. When I am normally dressed there is always a J-frame in my pocket and if I’m wearing a jacket there is a second gun in one of the pockets. Quite often, a semi-automatic rides in my belt so I’m generally prepared. However, though this sounds easy, I certainly don’t carry a gun while sleeping, nor in the bathroom, and while I am working on articles and taking pictures, or just relaxing in the evening I normally wear sweats, which are not conducive to easily carrying a gun. Yes, I could do it and yes, I know the gun is supposed to be comforting and not necessarily comfortable, however, in my own home I prefer to be comfortable. So what’s the answer?


Taffin’s main bedroom handgun is this flashlight
equipped Ruger KP345 in .45 ACP.

Gun No. 1

Like many, I started out with one house gun, a surplus M1911 Government Model .45 ACP. It was my car gun, my traveling gun, my house gun, my shooting gun, my bedroom gun, my everything gun. As time went by and I was able to purchase more guns, I also dedicated more of them to being house guns. Now I have reached the point no matter where I am in the house a handgun or shotgun is in easy reach.

In my main office I have two computers for writing, a third computer to access the Internet plus an easy chair for reading or watching TV. No matter where I am a self-defense handgun is within easy reach. As I sit here and type (actually as I sit here and dictate to my computer using a voice package as I am a terrible typist and this modern convenience saves me hours and hours of work daily), there are two double-action revolvers within reach. To my right is a custom Taurus 5-shot .44 Special worked over by Bill Oglesby. Bill completely tuned the action, bobbed the hammer, added high visibility sites complete with a large white bead for the front sight and a V-notch rear. It is loaded with CCI factory .44 Specials with a 200-grain Gold Dot hollowpoint.

To my left within easy access is a Dan Wesson L’il Dan 2-inch .38 Special. This is an all-steel, 6-shot pistol and is quite a bit larger and heavier than a J-frame making it somewhat impractical for pocket carry, however, it works very well in a desk drawer and is loaded with Black Hills 125-grain .38 Special +P JHP’s.


This older Colt Trooper is kept at the ready loaded
with Black Hills 125-grain .38 Special +P JHPs.

The Beater

When I am at my desk to access the Internet there is an interesting “beater gun” easily accessible. In our family a “beater gun” is not a gun which has been beaten, but rather one whose finishes a lot less than pristine and whatever use we put it to, we don’t have to worry about scratching or adding more wear. This particular sixgun is a 5-1/2-inch Uberti single action, which some previous owner fitted with a Colt cylinder and a Colt barrel, both in .357 Magnum. The barrel, and cylinder alone are worth much more than I paid for the entire sixgun. It too carries Black Hills 125-grain .38 Special +P JHPs.

For years one of my favorite carry guns was a 9mm Smith & Wesson Model 3913. This semi-automatic predates the plastic polymer pistols, so it is all steel with a single-stack magazine. The reason this was such a favorite is the fact I could put it inside my belt just behind my hip and it always stayed there, never shifting in the least. Now it is my reading chair gun easily reached amidst all the books. It is loaded with 115-grain JHP’s except for the first two rounds, which are Cor-Bon Pow’R Balls. We have now made it through one room and instead of a house gun it takes four house guns.

Moving into the family room where my wife and I normally sit to watch TV there are two sixguns and a small, semi-automatic easily within reach. For the revolvers one is a J-framed-sized Taurus .38 Special with laser grips the other a 4-inch Colt Trooper. By now it should be obvious these are both loaded with Black Hills .38 Special 125-grain +P JHP’s. The third concealed firearm is a .380 Walther PP copy-loaded with JHP’s. Off the family room is my wife’s office, which is guarded by two J-frames. One is a 2-inch S&W Bodyguard, which is always in her purse, while the other is a 3-inch concealed hammer Smith & Wesson about one arm’s length away from her. Both of these .38 Specials also contain the mandatory Black Hills load.

Dogs have always been important in our family and we now have six of them on duty constantly. My wife’s two little females, Chloe, a Pomeranian, and Molly, a Shih’tsu, are wonderful watchdogs and our first line of defense. They are backed up by four bulldogs—Charter Arms Bulldogs, that is. I have mentioned several times over the years the fact that two stainless steel Charter Arms, a regular Bulldog and a Pit Bull, are stashed in each one of the bathrooms (as there is nowhere in the house we are more vulnerable). Just as with the Oglesby .44 Special Taurus these are also loaded with CCI 200-grain .44 Special Gold Dot Hollowpoints. I recently tested two of the latest offerings from Charter Arms, their new Target Bulldogs. These two sixguns, one with a 4-inch barrel and the other a 5-inch, are also loaded with the Gold Dots and guard my reloading room and second office, which is used for study, working on guns and is also set up for indoor photography.

This brings me to the room where we spend at least one-third of our time every day, the master bedroom. Diamond Dot has another .38 Special J-frame on her side of the bed and by now you know what it is loaded with. My side has three firearms within easy reach, a .45 ACP Ruger K345 with a flashlight attached to the Picatinny rail and loaded with Black Hills 230-grain JHP’s. It is backed up by a Smith & Wesson Model 65 Ladysmith, also loaded with the mandatory Black Hills .38 Specials.

This brings me to what is probably the most important house gun we have, a 12-gauge pump shotgun. I recently tested, and subsequently purchased, the new Winchester SXP Marine Defender. It is at the ready with an empty chamber and four rounds in the 5-shot magazine tube. Those four rounds are No. 8 birdshot and the reason for being one under capacity is so I can easily insert a round of buckshot, or even a slug into the magazine, then quickly pump it into the chamber if I felt it was needed first. For home defense birdshot should be all we need, however there is always that possibility I want to be prepared for.

You will notice I do not have any super powerful, heavy-duty, big-bore magnums among any of my house guns. If I ever have to pull the trigger, and I pray to God I never do, I realize I am responsible for any round which leaves the barrel of my firearm. I don’t want it to exit the house and put someone else in danger.
Some who don’t understand might say I am paranoid or ask what I’m afraid of.

The simple answer is I don’t need to be paranoid with all this protection and also with all this protection. And I’m not afraid of anything, well, at least anything within reason.
By John Taffin

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Let’s Strike Another Blow for Literacy!

Our Annual Reading Recommendations.

What’s the biggest difference between the average reader of GUNS Magazine and the average 2014 graduate of an American college? Your reading skills are higher than that of the average 7th-grader of 40 years ago! And theirs? “Like, OMG and LOL, dudes… Hoo needz ta, like, reed?” Take a bow, bibliophiles!

A note for chronic book-buyers: If you’re not familiar with Abe Books——you should be. It’s kind of a clearing house for hundreds of booksellers across North America and Britain. Stocking new books, used, ex-library books, old, current and some rare titles, if you can’t find it listed on Abe, your chances are slim of finding it anywhere without a physical search. The best part? You can find gently used books typically selling new in the $25-$40 range for $3.88 to $5—delivered!

No, I don’t get a commission. I’m just a pleased customer. I’ve bought nearly 50 books through Abe. I like the ex-library books because the original dust covers have been preserved with plastic, and edges and corners reinforced against damage. The sellers often describe the condition of used books in detail, and those I’ve purchased have been “as described” or better.

One more note: Search a title and you’ll often find 50 or more listings. Check all of them, because prices and conditions can vary widely. Too, search listings by author carefully. In this column I’ve included two books by Tim Bax. Versions from Helion and Company under “Tim Bax” list for about a quarter the price of Masai Publisher versions searched under “Timothy G. Bax.” I don’t pretend to know why that happens. Shop wisely and happy hunting!


Rising Tide

by Gary E. Weir and Walter J. Boyne

You don’t have to be a submariner, a sailor or even interested in naval subjects to enjoy and be fascinated with the contents of Rising Tide—the untold story of the Russian submarines that fought the Cold War. In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, few Westerners cared anymore about the incredible threat posed for decades by Soviet nuclear submarines. They were for the most part tied to docks, lacking money and crews to put to sea.

The nuke reactors—the “teakettles”—of many were hooked up to provide power to shoreside street lights and shops. Crews and commanders were cashiered en masse and simply went home. That’s where authors Weir and Boyne found them—and recorded their stories: The horrific accidents, the nuclear near-misses, the courageous, knowing sacrifices of Soviet submariners who were far more loyal to their service than to the Soviet Union.

In many ways the Soviet nuclear submarine service was the most secretive of all Soviet operations, even more secret than the vaunted KGB. In fact, very few high-ranking KGB officials had knowledge and security clearances as tightly-held and complex as most submarine officers, chiefs and even technicians. But they talked to the authors.

Who won and lost the games of cat-and-mouse pursued under tropical waters and arctic ice? How many times did we come how close to World War III in incidents never reported to the people of either country? How was it, for example, that a certain American nuke boat wound up pulling into Pearl Harbor with a chunk of a Soviet sub’s propeller stuck in its “sail”? Great reading!


The Black Tulip

by Milt Bearden

It is said that in the spring of 1980, Soviet Army Lieutenant Semyon Popov was killed by an Afghan rifleman in a field near Mazar-e Sharif. He died holding a flower he had just picked; a rare black tulip, which grows only in northern Afghanistan. A comrade wove the tulip’s stem through a buttonhole in Popov’s tunic, and it was still there when his body was loaded on a transport aircraft heading back to Russia. The story got out, and before long the Russia-bound transports bearing ever-greater numbers of Soviet Army dead came to be known as Black Tulip flights. Across the Soviet Union, that Afghan flower became a symbol of death.

This is the first and only novel I’ve read about the Soviet invasion and occupation of Afghanistan which really rings true for me; the terrain, the tactics, the human dynamics of both sides. That’s no surprise considering the author, Milt Bearden, retired after 30 years with the CIA, most of that time spent in Clandestine Services. He directed the closing years of CIA operations there, and his inside knowledge shows throughout the book.

The story is dramatized, built around the covert mission to provide Stinger missiles to the mujahedeen, but the “Hollywood effect,” unlike in most movies, doesn’t sour the story with too much saccharine.
The plot? Oh, no, not giving that away. Let’s just say that although the CIA approved the final draft, they couldn’t cut out the realities bleeding through the drama.


Three Sips of Gin

by Tim Bax

Once the breadbasket of Africa and home to the largest growing skilled black middle class on the continent, the nation of Rhodesia became Zimbabwe, the most miserable and bankrupt of ruined and looted African nation-states. The battle was lost in Washington DC and the halls of the UN, certainly not by the incredibly effective Rhodesian Light Infantry and the legendary Selous Scouts, who consistently fought and won against a coalition of Soviet and Chinese-backed communist guerrillas in the African bush.

Tim Bax was born in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanganyika, bored in school in England, further bored to distraction in Canada (my words, not his), and finally returned to Africa at age 19, seeking nothing more than a paying job, something interesting to do, and a little adventure. Add a road trip with friends, a shortage of cash and a dying car, some beers with a bunch of soldiers and he wound up in the Rhodesian Army. To his own surprise he had found his mission. Two years later he was commissioned a lieutenant in the elite Rhodesian Light Infantry, and a few years after that, personally recruited by counter-terrorist legend Lt. Col. Ron Reid-Daly of the Selous Scouts.

Three Sips of Gin is Tim’s story of that war and his role in it. Tim is not a writer, and reading the book is like sitting down with an old friend who has never spoken of his past—and who then opens up, weaving the personal and poignant into a combat chronicle.

Who Will Teach The Wisdom is a companion book, subtitled both “Living with the Tribes” and “Memories of an African Adventure,” and that’s what it is: Lessons learned, mostly from the elders of the bush country, and well worth reading. Pamwe chete!


Tides of War

by Steven Pressfield

The 27-year Peloponnesian War, fought from 431 to 404 BC between the Athenian Empire and the Peloponnesian League, headed by Sparta, was a pivotal event in the development of Western Civilization, but it is almost unknown to most people—and I think I know why: Because despite its earth-shaking episodes, crazy twists and turns, plots and puzzles, history teachers and the writers of history books have succeeded in making this momentous story duller than dirt. Do you remember a single word ever said by a history teacher about it? I rest my case.

This book changes all that. Once more, as in Gates of Fire, Steven Pressfield uses a fictional character to tell a highly detailed and historically accurate story of larger-than-life real men living out real history more amazing than some of the most imaginative fiction.

Alcibiades, who was in turn lionized, exiled, exalted and condemned by Athenian authority, is a central character who, like Socrates, had to be put to death by lesser men simply because they were better men.
This book is “history done right” and a terrific read. Enjoy!
By John Connor

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Gun Belt Clip

Many of the compact and sub-compact pistols invite a bare-bones approach to peripherals and accessories. Simple pocket carry, with or without a pocket holster is often the default choice when it comes to carry modes. Small-sized belt holsters, both dedicated to specific models or generic, come into play when armed citizens experience the contortions involved in fishing a weapon out of a strong side pocket while seated. Belt clips, securely mounted to the pistol and made of quality spring steel are a reasonable alternative suiting the minimalist approach often preferred by the new crop of armed citizens.

The close riding, frame-mounted belt clips from Techna Clip afford a secure carry option that does not add significant bulk to the assortment of compatible pistols nor interfere with alternative carry modes desirable under varying situations and wardrobe changes.


The clip mounts fit under the grip panels of the SIG P238/P938s via a binding post and screw and replacing the rear frame pins on the Smith Body Guard .380 and the Ruger LCP, LC380 and LC9. Left- and right-hand versions are available for the small Ruger LCP A drilled and tapped replacement slide plate allows swap-side mounting on 15 Glock models, Springfield XD, XDS, XDM, Smith and Wesson M&P and Shield, The Kahr series and Beretta Nano are in development and may be available by the time this sees print.

The Techna Clip I installed on a Ruger LC9 came with the binding post and two screws—no doubt because the company is aware of how easy it is for small screws to disappear forever when dropped. Mounting was unproblematic and the Clip keeps the pistol securely in place used with belts ranging from 1-1/4 to a full 2 inches.
By Mike Cumpston

4642 W. 10600 N, Highland, UT 84003
(801) 216-4790

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The GALCO Miami Classic II

The Miami Classic II is a very slight variation on the shoulder rig in service with a couple of generations of discerning armed professionals and citizens. The primary material is top-grain cowhide with the holsters molded to fit the specific pistol. Weight bearing hardware is some breed of wonder plastic lightweight and emphatically strong enough for the task.

The visible divergence from the original Classic rig is there are no flaps on the offside double magazine pouch. The magazines can be yanked out without intermediate steps for a faster reload. The mags stay put under adjustable tension and are not a bit prone to detach themselves spontaneously. The firearm is secured in place by thumb break backed with a tension screw.


The rig goes on like a vest with no need for belt stays. The harness straps cross high between the shoulder blades providing the maximum in comfort and the impression of perfect balance in spite of the difference in weight between the gun side and the magazine pouch. For the last several months I’ve worn mine over a tee-shirt and under a tucked button-front sports shirt of my accustomed size. The pistol is a steel-framed stainless Colt XSE Commander though a full-sized 1911 would work out just as well. There is no hint I am carrying an optimum defense handgun and two spare reloads. The Colt hangs unshifting along side my ribcage, instantly accessible through the shirtfront with the second-from-the-top button undone or replaced with a shill.
BY Mike Cumpston

Galco International
2019 West Quail Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85027
(800) 874-2526

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A More Perfect “10”

Federal’s 180-grain Trophy
Bonded JSP Gives 10MM A
Real Performance Upgrade.

Looking back, it is easy to conclude the 10mm cartridge came from a nearly dysfunctional family. It started out in the right direction; however, problems arose of one kind or another.

The 10mm cartridge goes back to the early 1970’s when experimenters cut down .224 Weatherby brass and loaded it with 180-grain .38-40 bullets. Muzzle velocity in a Browning High Power was reported at 1,100 fps. By 1977 the velocity was up to 1,250 fps and it caught the attention of Jeff Cooper who rarely ever looked past the .45 ACP.

For the first time there was a possibility a semi-automatic round was available, which could replace the .45 ACP in Col. Cooper’s mind. He really liked the 10mm and we soon had a new pistol and factory ammunition in .40 caliber. This new 10mm round was loaded by Norma with a 200-grain bullet at more than 1,200 fps. The semi-automatic pistol, which housed it was the Bren Ten, an improved CZ 75 produced by Dornaus and Dixon.

This new semi-automatic pistol could be carried in the double-action mode with hammer down on a live round and safety engaged, or it could be carried in cocked-and-locked mode—Colt Government Model-style. Cooper got behind the project and the orders poured in, but problems surfaced quickly. Production was slower than had been expected, ammunition was too powerful, causing problems with the gun and magazines were not made in-house but produced in Europe.

Through no fault of Col. Cooper, Dornaus and Dixon failed, with some buyers getting pistols but no magazines. It appeared the 10mm was dead. Ammunition was available but the pistol was not.

Colt went out on a limb and chambered the Government Model and Gold Cup in 10mm and saved the cartridge. Soon 10mm’s were everywhere (around 1990) and we soon had 10’s from S&W, Glock, Springfield Armory, IAI/AMT, LAR, Auto-Ordnance, Wyoming Arms, Thompson/ Center, and Ruger even offered a Convertible Blackhawk with two cylinders in .38-40 and 10mm.

Law enforcement looked to the 10mm as a solution to such problems as they had in the Miami shootout. However, it was soon surmised the ammunition was too powerful and the call went out for a 180-grain bullet at about 950 fps. If it looks familiar it is because it became the .40 S&W. The 10mm languished and the .40 S&W flourished.


John shot the Federal loads for accuracy at 20 yards and offhand for fun.


Federal’s new 10mm 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP load delivers power
and performance in John’s test pistols, exceeding published velocity
in 5-inch-barreled 1911’s and even higher velocity in the 6-inch,
longslide Nighthawk.

Today the 10mm is still available from Colt and is also offered in 1911 form from Kimber and Nighthawk. There are others, but these are the four I had at my disposal for testing Federal’s new 10mm load. Federal has been offering both JHP and FMJ 180-grain 10mm ammunition at a rated muzzle velocity of 1,030 fps. They have now upped the ante considerably with a 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP at a rated 1,275 fps.

Federal says of this load, “… it is a full-power load that takes complete advantage of the caliber’s true capability. While many 10mm loads are watered down to produce ballistics similar to or just above those of the .40 S&W, this cartridge offers the muscle needed for both big-game hunting and personal protection. Its new Trophy Bonded JSP bullet makes the load even more effective. Based on the proven Trophy Bonded Bear Claw rifle bullet, its heavy jacket features a formed internal profile that pre-programs and controls expansion to ensure deep penetration. Nickel-plated cases provide easy extraction.”

Federal does not fudge at all on their muzzle velocity claims and this is very potent ammunition. In the 5-inch-barreled Colt Delta Elite and Kimber Stainless Target II, muzzle velocity was 1,309 (685 ft-lbs of energy) fps and 1,302 fps respectively while the longer barrel on the Nighthawk resulted in 1,342 fps. Only the shorter 4-inch barrel of the Glock 20C gave less than advertised muzzle velocity at 1,226 fps. Accuracy in the three 1911-pattern semi-automatics for 5 shots at 20 yards came in at 1-1/4 inches in the Colt Delta Elite, 7/8 inches in the Kimber Stainless Steel Target II, and a very miniscule 5/8-inch group came from the barrel of the Nighthawk. The Nighthawk is a totally custom pistol and expected to perform this way even when the shooter is in the middle of his eighth decade as I am.


Five-inch barreled guns were no slouch either. These
targets were shot with the new Federal Trophy Bonded
load from Kimber and Colt 10mm’s.


Federal’s new 10mm Trophy Bonded load (above, far left)
compared to the .45 ACP, .38 Super and 9mm. The 10mm
load literally blew a gallon of water apart (below).


Recoil will definitely get your attention, especially in the Colt and the Kimber, while the heavier weight and longer barrel of the Nighthawk cuts down on subjective recoil somewhat. The Glock was the most pleasant to shoot because of two factors; one being the compensated barrel and the other the fact polymer-framed pistols go a long way in soaking up some of the recoil as the frame flexes somewhat. Don’t take my word for it. Bill Loughridge of Cylinder & Slide says the same thing.

To get some idea of what power I had in my hand without resorting to the messiness/extra work of ballistic gelatin, I used a one-gallon jug of water. The Federal 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP literally exploded the selected target. The picture provided tells the story.

While the new load may be more than most want for self defense, especially when Federal offers 180-grain loads at 250 fps less muzzle velocity, it should be just the ticket for hunting and every bit as effective as the lighter weight .41 Magnum loads. I expect the new Federal load will provide excellent results in the game fields especially on feral pigs and deer-sized game.

Of all the semi-automatics offered in a long range of calibers, I would rate the 10mm using the new Federal load in a 1911-style, semi-automatic pistol as the best combination of both power and packable portability. There are more powerful semi-auto cartridges and larger, heavier pistols, however the 10mm full-house load in the 1911 pistol seems like a most sensible compromise.
By John Taffin

Federal Cartridge
900 Ehlen Dr.
Anoka, MN 55303
(763) 323-2300

P.O. Box 1868
Hartford, CT 06144
(800) 962-2658

6000 Highlands Parkway
Smyrna, GA 30082
(770) 432-1202

1 Lawton Street
Yonkers, NY 10705
(914) 964-0771

Nighthawk Custom
1306 W. Trimble
Berryville, AR 72616
(877) 268-4867

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