Category Archives: Out Of The Box

One Good Shot

Freedom Arms Model 2008
6.5×55 Single-Shot Pistol.

I’ve experienced several single-shot pistols in my time starting with the Sheridan Knockabout back in the 1950s. In the late 1970s I discovered the Thompson/Center Contender when my wife gave me a .30-30 Super 14 for Christmas. Up to that time it was pretty much only sixguns for me, however I soon discovered how accurate a good single-shot pistol can be.

Over the years I used the Contender for both silhouetting and hunting and for the latter especially with several custom barrels from SSK Industries. My favorite is the 6.5 JDJ which is formed using an expanded and blown out .225 Winchester. It has proven to be exceptionally deadly on big game especially with the Speer 120-grain SP at 2,400 fps. For some reason that long 0.264-inch bullet kills all out of proportion to its paper ballistics, with this combination giving me 24 straight 1-shot kills on everything from aoudad to zebra and such things as Colorado mule deer in between. I definitely thought of this when I selected my latest, and newest single-shot pistol.

At the Shootists Holiday in 2008 Bob Baker of Freedom Arms unveiled a prototype single-shot pistol, which as with other Freedom Arms firearms is now given a model number commensurate with its year of introduction. So the Model 83 and Model 97 revolvers have now been joined by the Model 2008 single-shot pistol.

Freedom Arms has always been known for high quality and that carries over to the Model 2008. The frame itself uses the same basic grip as found on the Model 83 5-shot revolver. It also has an exposed single-action-type hammer that has been reshaped to provide easy access to the thumb when reaching under a scope and also to provide very easy cocking. The hammer itself is a rebounding style with a hammer block safety. If you cock the Model 2008 and then decide not to fire, the hammer is let down carefully to this safe position. The action opens by either pulling the top slide to the rear or pushing down on the top slide lever found on the left side of the action. It can also be fitted to the right side for left-handers. The action will not close unless the hammer is in the safety position.

The Freedom Arms Model 2008 is a sleek, streamlined single-shot pistol.
The hammer is low and easy to cock even with the scope mounted low.

Currently Freedom Arms offers 11 different chamberings, .223 Remington, 6.5×55 Swedish Mauser, .260 Remington, 7BR, 7-08 Remington, .308 Winchester, .338 Federal, .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum, .375 Winchester and .454 Casull. Three different barrel lengths, appropriate to the chambering, are offered in 10, 15 and 16 inches. Barrels must be fitted at the factory. Base price with one barrel is $1,495 with extra barrels at $495. Because of my most positive experiences with the 6.5 JDJ, I chose the 6.5×55 Swede with a 16-inch barrel, which comes with a 1:8-inch twist. I will be adding a 10-inch .357 Maximum barrel in the future.

The Model 2008 features a positive extractor, which works for both rimmed and rimless cartridges. The barrel is drilled and tapped to accept the Freedom Arms scope mount. This is a solid 1-piece mount with integral rings. The top half of the rings fasten to the mount with two screws on each side, and for a scope I pulled a long used and trusted 2.5-7X Simmons LER scope off one of my Contenders to scope this 6.5×55. For those interested in long-range competition shooting, silhouette sights will be available on some barrels.

Finish of the Model 2008 is a matte stainless steel, which matches nicely with the hardwood grip and forearm. The forearm is held on with two screws entering through the bottom and this forearm also serves to capture the pin, which fastens the barrel to the frame. To change barrels simply remove the forearm, tap out the pin, and replace the barrel, pin and forearm. The trigger pull is factory set at 4-1/4 pounds. It can be factory adjusted down to a minimum of 3 pounds. For hunting convenience, a sling and swivels, which attach to the base of the grip and forearm, are available.

The accessible action-opening lever is located on the left side of the frame (above).
Depressing it slides back the top cover allowing the barrel to tip down. You gotta love
the barrel marking: “6.5×55 SWEDE.” (below)

My test gun, as mentioned, is a 6.5 Swede with a 16-inch barrel. Test firing was done in not so pleasant winter weather. In spite of this subjective handicap I was able to come up with some excellent groups at 100 yards using both factory loads and handloads. My favorite hunting bullet in the 6.5 JDJ, Speer’s 120-grain SP, also proved to be exceptionally accurate in the 6.5 Swede. Using 42 grains of Hodgdon’s H4350 gave me 2,332 fps with three shots in 7/8 inch at 100 yards. All of the loads tested, results are in the accompanying chart, proved to be more than adequate for hunting with the Federal factory 140-grain SP being the fastest at over 2,450 fps. Shooting in more pleasant weather I would expect these groups to be even smaller.

John shot these targets at 100 yards with the
6.5×55 Swede Freedom Arms Model 2008.

With its easy-to-cock hammer, excellent trigger pull, and relatively light recoil, the Freedom Arms Model 2008 “Swede” is very pleasant shooting. The typical single-action grip allows it to roll up in the hand and keeps felt recoil at a minimum. Freedom Arms has come a long way since that first .454 Casull left the factory in 1983. Realizing everyone didn’t want the power of a .454, the Model 83 was soon offered in such chamberings as .44 Magnum, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, and even .22. With the rise in interest of really big-bore cartridges, the .475 Linebaugh and a totally new cartridge, the .500 Wyoming Express were added. For those more interested in an everyday packin’ pistol Freedom Arms came up with the Model 97 offered in such chamberings as .45 Colt, .44 Special, .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .22, and even .32 Magnum and .32-20 with the latest offering being the .327 Federal. The addition of the Model 2008 to the Freedom Arms catalog opens a whole new list of possibilities and I expect many other chamberings be offered as time goes by.
By John Taffin

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GUNS Jan 2014

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Bearcat Trimmed

Lipsey’s Ruger .22 Bearcat Storekeeper

In 1953, the first Ruger revolver, the Single-Six .22 arrived. The Single-Six was a slightly smaller version of the Colt Single Action, however, it had virtually unbreakable coil springs and was chambered in a cartridge everyone could afford to fire. Then in 1958, Ruger looked back into history once again and patterned the .22 Bearcat after the Remington New Model Police Conversion of 1858. It is even smaller than the Colt 1848 Pocket Pistol.

Unlike most single actions the Ruger Bearcat has a main frame and grip frame which is all one piece. Weighing all of 17 ounces, this little 6-shot .22 found immediate acceptance with anyone wishing to travel light and armed. Hikers, fishermen, hunters, backpackers, campers, and others who traveled off the beaten path readily took the Bearcat to their sixgunning heart.

Firearms are extremely important to many of us and for many reasons not the least of which is building family memories. Some of our finest Taffin Family memories come from the Ruger Bearcat.

The old Bearcat (top) emphasizes the smaller size of the new Storekeeper.

In the April 2003 issue of this magazine, I shared in my Campfire Tales column something about the Bearcat; something quite important as it was my son reminiscing about his first handgun. This came from a letter he wrote to me on my 61st birthday: “I remember how excited I was, nearly trembling, when we went to the gun shop run by the short man with black, horn-rimmed glasses and a noticeable limp to pick out my first handgun. I was 10 years old, and as I invested my life savings of $26—which was equally matched by you, probably pulled from that black leather wallet chained to your belt—to meet the price tag of the Ruger Bearcat, I was in awe of my new purchase.

“Imagine how I felt then when the gun shop owner leaned over and with a wink dropped a box of .22 shells in my hand and lifted a finger to his lips in a gesture that I knew meant I wasn’t to tell anyone of his generosity. Later, when you made the belt and holster I voted myself the coolest kid in the world. And why wouldn’t I be? I have a dad that could shoot better than anyone I knew, let me carry my sidearm like a real cowboy, molded his own bullets, and reloaded his own ammo.

“My friends couldn’t believe stories about shooting big-bore handguns. They were playing with chrome-plated guns worn in plastic holsters. They would fire a few caps until the cap pistol jammed and usually ended up popping the caps on the sidewalk with a rock that was a more reliable way to ensure the caps properly exploded. My gun was real, the bullets were real, and the holster was real leather stitched by hand. Having my name carved in my belt truly completed the ensemble.”

The Ruger Bearcat Storekeeper was tested with a variety of .22 ammunition.

All these years the Bearcat has been the same basic 4-inch barreled, traditionally styled .22 single-action sixgun first in blue and then in the stainless steel. Now thanks to Ruger and Lipsey’s we have a completely new Bearcat, the .22 Storekeeper. Lipsey’s is a distributor specializing in special edition firearms. This little-er Bearcat has a 3-inch barrel and instead of the standard grip frame it wears a miniaturized birdshead, both of which make this a very handy, or I should say even handier pocket pistol.

With the shorter barrel and smaller grip frame the Bearcat becomes even much easier to conceal. Yes, it is a .22, a true 6-shot .22 and shooters have been arguing for more than 150 years over the little .22 as a defensive cartridge. Of course, there are dozens, which are better suited to the task, however the number one concealed pistol chosen by officers during the Civil War was a .22. In fact it was a .22 Short and did not have the advantage of the excellent .22 Long Rifle hollowpoints available today.

With its small dimensions and weight just barely over 1 pound the first thing I noticed when handling the Bearcat was its totally unacceptable trigger pull. Weighing in at just over 6 pounds, it was simply not going to work for the little Bearcat. So before I ever loaded it, I had my gunsmith Tom at Buckhorn Gun take it down to right to 3 pounds. It was certainly worth doing as shooting at 7 yards with seven different loads resulted in an average of well under 1 inch groups. Moving out to 20 yards with the same seven loads resulted in the groups just over 1-1/2 inches, which is about as good as I’ll ever do with such a short sight radius on such a small pistol. Even though the grip frame is even smaller than the standard Bearcat frame it still fits my hand very well and I don’t feel cramped shooting it. I normally do not care for birdshead grips on full-size pistols, however it mates up very well with the small frame of the Bearcat.

John shot targets at 7 yards (above) with the Bearcat Storekeeper
and at 20 yards (below) with pleasing results.

The Lipsey’s/Ruger Bearcat Storekeeper is the first major modification of the Bearcat in more than a half century. The Bearcat is also unique in that it is the only Ruger single action, which has both a transfer bar and a 1/2-cock notch. Other Ruger single actions from the Single-Six through the Single-Nine and Single-Ten, all the Blackhawks, Super Blackhawks, and Bisley Models have a transfer bar and load and unload by simply opening the loading gate which releases the cylinder to rotate. With the Bearcat even when the loading gate is opened the hammer must still be placed on the half-cock notch before the cylinder will rotate.

With the shortening of the barrel it was also necessary to shorten the ejector rod. I found it was much more convenient to remove the cylinder and tap out the empty cases with a small punch than it was to try to eject them in the normal way. The cylinder pin removes very easily and the head of the ejector rod is hollowed out to allow the cylinder pin to move all the way forward so there is no problem whatsoever in performing this operation.

The cylinder of this Bearcat Storekeeper has very tight chambers and some factory ammunition required some effort to seat the cases in each chamber. For convenience I will also have Tom the gunsmith polish out each chamber so less effort is required for loading. The ejector rod may also work much easier doing its job if the brass is not so tight in the cylinder.

I’ve always liked the little Bearcat even though I could not come close to shooting it as well the much larger and heavier Ruger Super Single-Six. They are simply different sixguns for different purposes. With its diminutive size I like the Storekeeper version even better than the original. It slips so easily into just about any jacket or pants pocket and with the stainless steel finish is well-suited to a backpack or tackle box.

Another fine single-action sixgun from Ruger. If interested in the Bearcat Storekeeper have your dealer contact Lipsey’s directly, not Ruger.
By John Taffin

.22 Long Rifle Factory Ammo Performance
Load (brand, bullet weight, type) Velocity (fps) Group Size* (inches) Group Size** (inches)
American Eagle HV HP 988 1-1/8 1-3/4
CCI Blazer 988 3/4 1-1/4
CCI Mini-Mag HP 976 7/8 1-1/4
CCI Mini-Mag +V 1,089 3/4 1-5/8
Federal Classic HV HP 1,063 3/4 2
Federal Champion HP 1,027 1/2 2-1/2
Winchester Power Point 999 7/8 1-1/2

Notes: Chronograph set at 10 feet from the muzzle. *Groups the product
of five shots at 7 yards. **Groups the product of five shots at 20 yards.

Bearcat Storekeeper
Maker: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
200 Ruger Rd
Prescott, AZ 86301
Distributor: Lipsey’s
P.O. Box 83280
Baton Rouge, LA 70884

Action: Single
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 6
Barrel Length: 3″
Overall Length: 7.6″
Weight: 21 ounces
Finish: Stainless steel
Sights: Traditional fixed
Grips: Laminated Rosewood Birdshead
Price: $649

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Happy 140th Birthday Model 1873!

The new Winchester M1873
Short Rifle .357 Magnum.

Early Winchester lever-action rifles used a toggle-link action designed by B. Tyler Henry for the 1860 Henry. Henry was Winchester’s shop foreman and designed the toggle link action of that first successful levergun. Chambered in .44 Rimfire, it loaded from the front much like today’s lever-action .22 with a tube magazine. This was followed in 1866 by the “Yellow Boy” using the same cartridge but now cartridges loaded from the “King’s Patent loading gate” in the side of the receiver. Then in 1873 further improvements soon resulted in steel frames and a new cartridge the .44 Winchester Center Fire, or .44 WCF, more commonly called today, the .44-40.

All three of these Winchesters, the Model 1860, the Model 1866, and the Model 1873 where the slickest operating Winchesters ever offered and today replicas of especially the latter are the first choice of Cowboy Action Shooters looking for the ultimate in speedy operation. With the coming of the double-locking bars in the John Browning-designed 1886, Winchesters were made much stronger, however they operated differently, and generally not as smoothly as the originals. With the toggle-link action, which basically operates like a knuckle, cartridges in the magazine tube come straight back and then straight up to feed into the chamber. The lifter is quite different than later models, which will often operate with different length cartridges such as .44 Special and .44 Magnum and certainly .38 Special and .357 Magnum, which brings us to the model at hand.

The latest offering as far as Winchester leverguns is the Model 1873 Short Rifle. Just as with the original this new version has the old toggle-link action and feeds cartridges straight back from the magazine tube and straight up. We will talk about the attributes of this new rifle shortly, however first we address this style of feeding. As I said it is very smooth, however there is a glitch. Sometimes. This new rifle is advertised as taking both .357 Magnum and .38 Special cartridges. Maybe. The problem is cartridge length. When the cartridge comes straight back out of the magazine tube onto the lifter, if it is too short it allows the next cartridge in the magazine tube to also try to enter and the lifter locks up on the rim of that second cartridge and the action will not work.

The Winchester Model 1873 is now at work in its third century thanks to this excellent rendering by Miroku. The buttstock of the Model 1873 is well-fitted with nice grain and a curved steel buttplate.

My 1873 Winchester replica chambered in .44 Special will also work with .44 Colt but only if I use bullets which are long enough and seated out far enough so the latter is about the same overall length of the former. Standard-length .44 Colt cartridges lock up the action and the same thing happens with .38 Special cartridges when used in this new Winchester rifle.

I tried to make up some dummy .38 Special cartridges to see just what would work. Using regular semi-wadcutter bullets the cartridges were too short and jammed up the action. The only cartridge I found I could use was loaded with the relatively long roundnosed 168-grain cast lead bullet, however the other problem is plain-base bullets don’t shoot very well in most lever-action rifles unless they are very low velocity, and this new rifle is not an exception. With .357 Magnum factory loads or properly assembled .357 Magnum handloads with gas-checked bullets everything works fine.

This Winchester lever-action rifle is manufactured by Miroku in Japan. Even though no longer manufactured in the United States, these leverguns do not need to take a backseat to any of the original Winchesters. These are beautifully made rifles, very nicely finished and fitted, and they not only work well they also shoot very well. This particular Short Rifle has a 20-inch round barrel, deep blue finish, and nicely grained walnut stock and fore-end. The buttstock has the traditional curved steel buttplate which is a problem with heavy recoiling cartridges, at least for me, however with a rifle weight of just over 7 pounds, recoil with any of the .357 Magnum loads is not a problem.

The traditionally styled semi-buckhorn rear sight (above) of the Model 1873 is
adjustable for windage and elevation. The front sight (below) is a Marble gold bead.

As with the original the Winchester/Miroku has a sliding dust cover over the action. Here, the dust cover of the Winchester Model 1873 is in the open position, automatically opened as the lever is worked. It must be closed manually.

Sights consist of a semi-buckhorn matched up with a Marble gold bead front sight. This bead sight fills in the rounded notch in the rear sight perfectly for my eyes and when shooting at 40 yards, the distance at which I did the majority of the testing, the gold bead covers a 3-inch orange circle. The tang is drilled and tapped for the installation of a tang sight which normally works better for most eyes than the original-style buckhorn; however, this is such a slick little rifle I would be hesitant about cluttering it up with a tang sight. Just as with the original 1873, this modern version has a sliding dust cover to keep dirt and debris out of the action. When the lever it is operated this dust cover on the top of the receiver slides to the rear and stays there until it is pushed forward with the thumb.

Both the front and rear sights are set in a dovetail and can be tapped right or left to adjust the windage, while the rear sight can be raised or lowered to adjust for elevation. At least for my eyes and hold and, of course, loads it would not be difficult to sight in just about perfectly at 40 yards. With factory .357 Magnum loads functioning was perfect with no feeding problems whatsoever. Seven different loads were tried with the best accuracy being from the Black Hills 125-grain JHPs giving a 3-shot, 1-inch group at 40 yards with a muzzle velocity of 2,055 fps and the Speer 125-grain GDHP with the same accuracy and a muzzle velocity of just over 2,300 fps. Results with all factory loads are in the accompanying chart.

Switching to my .357 Magnum handloads gave a few surprises, or at least unexpected results. I had four loads to try two of which used 160-grain plain-base bullets. Over 14.0 grains of Alliant 2400, they were all over the paper and I did not bother with the second load. However, switching to the Lyman/Thompson gas-checked, 158-grain from mold 358156 resulted in exceptional accuracy. Using the same 14.0 grains of 2400 and CCI Small-Pistol primers resulted in a muzzle velocity right at 1,850 fps and an amazing 3-shot, 1/2-inch group at 40 yards. I’ll take this any day! My other handload consisted of a 187-grain gas-checked bullet over 13.0 grains of WW296 for over 1,525 fps and a 3-shot, 1-inch group at 40 yards. Either one of these loads would certainly work for short-range hunting.

When Winchester first announced the Model 1873 would be chambered in .357 Magnum, there were many who wondered why not in .44-40? I certainly would like to see it chambered in the original cartridge, however there are more .357 Magnum shooters out there than .44 WCF adherents. If I could have only one rifle it would be a .22. If only one centerfire rifle, it would be a lever-action .357 Magnum simply because it is not only a grand companion to many great .357 sixguns, it also will certainly do about 95 percent or more of anything we need to accomplish with a rifle. Having 10 rounds of the magazine is also especially comforting. I think Winchester made the right choice starting with the .357 Magnum chambering; however, I hope Winchester also follows up with at least other versions in .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20.
By John Taffin

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Redfield Battlezone Scope

A Quality, Affordable Scope Perfect For The
Modern Sporting Rifle.

I’ve been looking for a versatile sight for my Stagarms rifle, something suitable for everything from 3-gun competition to prairie dog shooting. Redfield’s new Battlezone scope has everything I need except the name. The only “battles” I fight are with excess calories.

The Battlezone is a 3-9×42 variable. As with all new scopes the first step was a half-hour soak in warm water followed by a refreshing night in the deep freeze. No leaks, no fogging, and after it had warmed up and the frost was gone, the scope looked like new.

Focus is with a fast-twist eyepiece. Movement is smooth, but stiff enough it is unlikely to be moved unintentionally. Personally I can’t say I care one way or another how a scope focuses as long as I can set it to suit my vision. For a scope which may be used by several shooters, a police department for example, fast focus for individual eyesight is a worthwhile feature.

The scope comes with turrets allowing quick adjustment for range and windage. The elevation turret is similar in concept to the Leupold CDS (custom dial system). Rather than having the Leupold custom shop mark the dial for your specific load, the Battlezone comes with two custom elevation dials.

One is matched to the trajectory of the .223 Rem, 55-grain FMJ load at 3,100 fps. It can be easily replaced with the second, which is matched to the trajectory of the popular .308 Win load using a 168-grain at 2,650 fps. For my purposes, primarily varmint shooting, I wanted to use expanding bullets in a .223.

Cold and snowy, but a rare day with virtually no wind (above). The Black Hills loads with 50-grain Hornady V-Max bullet have a trajectory curve almost identical to the .223 dial for 55-grain FMJ at 3,100 fps load on the Redfield Battlezone scope. It was a simple procedure to laser a target, spin the elevation turret, and make first-shot hits. The Redfield Battlezone was mounted on a Stagarms 5.56mm rifle (below), using high Weaver rings. High rings worked just right to attach the Battlezone scope to the Picatinny rail on the rifle. Adjustment turrets are knurled, large enough for fast and easy adjustments, and clearly marked with information on yardage, direction, and click values. Finish is a low-luster matte, a nice match for the rifle.

A very accurate load in the Stagarms rifle is from Black Hills, the 50-grain Hornady V-Max rated at 3,300 fps. The ballistic coefficient of this bullet (0.242) is fairly close to the BC of most 55-grain FMJ bullets. Hornady’s 55-grain FMJBT, for example, has a BC of 0.243.

Factory velocity of the Black Hills 50-grain V-Max load is taken in 24-inch barrels and in the 16-inch barrel of my rifle average close to 3,100 fps over the Oehler 35P chronograph.

In theory the trajectory of these loads should match up well with the .223 dial. I was pleased to find what worked in theory also worked in practice. After carefully sighting to hit center at 100 yards, I reset the turrets so the windage read zero, the elevation turret 100. The longest range with a dial marking is 500 yards but if you don’t mind counting clicks you can engage targets at longer ranges.

Resetting is simple, just lift the turret, turn it to the desired setting and push down. From the shooting bench I lasered a couple of 8-inch steel targets at 245 and 425 yards. There wasn’t a 500-yard target visible due to snow, but I found a black stump sticking up from a snow-covered hillside at 505 yards.

Then using the elevation turret I went from target to target: 100, 245, 425, 505, back to 100, going around five times until the 20-shot magazine ran dry. The good news? Every shot was a hit. More good news? The 5-shot group on paper was about 1.2 inches, just slightly larger than the original 5-shot, sighting-in group.

The bad news? Actually there is no bad news. The scope performed exactly as it was supposed to, its optics are bright and crisp, all adjustments operated with smooth precision. Frankly it is astounding Redfield can provide such quality and utility for such a modest price.

Incidentally just because you may prefer a different load with somewhat different trajectory doesn’t mean the Battlezone can’t be made to work. If using a different load I’d carefully sight in at 500 yards and set the turret to read 500. Then shoot at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards with the turret set for those ranges. Point-of-impact will likely be close enough for practical purposes, while you’ll still have maximum precision out where it is needed.

The TAC MOA reticle has hash marks spaced at 2-MOA intervals along the vertical and horizontal crosswires. These are useful for fast adjustments for wind or elevation if there isn’t the time or inclination to use the turrets, and if target size is known, can be used for range estimation. MOA hashmarks are what you want if you have MOA turrets.

The Redfield Battlezone 3-9×42 scope (above) has a fast-focus eyepiece. Movement is smooth, but stiff enough it is unlikely to be moved unintentionally. Turrets on the Redfield Battezone (below) are “just right” sized, big enough for easy adjustment, not so big as to be vulnerable to damage. The elevation turret shows the trajectory of the bullet/velocity for which it is matched. A second turret matched to the .308 Win using a 168-grain match bullet at 2,650 fps is provided and readily interchanged.

Personally I think laser rangefinders are so superior it has largely become a waste of time to learn ranging using MOA or Mil-Dots. It’s kind of like learning to use a slide rule after electronic calculators became available, or learning film processing and enlarger printing in an era of digital photography.

The remaining question is durability. Top-line tactical scopes can easily cost five or 10 times as much as the Battlezone. Common sense says their overall construction and adjustments have to be tougher and more durable.

I don’t know how long the Battlezone adjustment system will last. I do know (1) adjustments on the test scope are accurate, and (2) Redfield has enough confidence in the scope to provide what they call a “no excuses” warranty: to quote, “If you have a problem with your Redfield product, we will make it right. No hassles, no excuses.”

Realistically I doubt Redfield expects the Battlezone to be adopted by the military. It isn’t expensive enough for one thing, plus the military prefers mil dots/mil adjustment turrets. I can see it being of interest to city police and county sheriff offices, always concerned about budget, and looking for quality and value.

For my purposes—plinking, informal target shooting, varmint shooting, 3-gun competition—the Battlezone scope matches up beautifully with an AR rifle. It is a pleasure to use and an exceptionally good buy.
By Dave Anderson

Stag Arms
515 John Downey Dr., New Britain, CT 06051
(860) 229-9994

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GUNS October 2013

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Plinking Fun

The Daisy/Winchester Model 1911 Pistol And
M14 RifleProvide Inexpensive Shooting Pleasure In These Days Of Ammo Shortages.

The Daisy Company is well known as a pioneer in the manufacture and distribution of airguns. Actually, the name Daisy has been synonymous with “youth BB guns” for well over a century, something that still holds largely true. However, the company has also established a solid reputation as a maker of sophisticated BB and pellet guns patterned after popular firearms. Two of the latest examples in the latter category are the Winchester Model 1911 pistol and Winchester Model M14 rifle.

Daisy Outdoor Products is actually licensed to use the Winchester name on some of the company’s airguns. That’s why it may seem strange to have a spittin’ image of the .45 ACP Colt Govt. Model pistol bearing the name Winchester. Winchester does not appear to have produced any Govt. Model pistols, even in wartime.

In the case of the M14 rifle, however, Winchester did produce a sizable number during the early to mid-1960s, until the potent 7.62mm rifle ceased to be mass-produced for our armed forces, replaced by the redoubtable M16 rifle.

The distaff side also enjoyed shooting this superb 1911-style BB shooter.
Safety glasses are mandatory when shooting BB guns!

The Model M14 rifle is outwardly very similar to the real 7.62mm M14, albeit with a
walnut-colored plastic stock. Front sight and flashider also mimic those of the real
M14 rifle. Even the bayonet lug is there.

The Daisy Model 11 is a stunningly faithful look-alike of the legendary .45 Colt Govt. Model autoloader, while the Model M14 is a spittin’ image of the M14 battle rifle. Both models come in .177 caliber (4.5mm) and are powered by disposable 12-gram CO2 cartridges. Both use standard steel BBs. In addition, the M14 rifle can also shoot .177 lead airgun pellets. The rifle has a rifled steel barrel, while the pistol sports a smoothbore steel tube.

The Model 11 pistol loads up to 15 BBs in its slim grip-housed removable plastic magazine. In contrast, the M14 rifle can load up to 16 steel BBs or lead pellets in its novel removable magazine. The latter has a rotary cylinder on each end with capacity for eight pellets or BBs. The rifle’s actual magazine is housed in the dummy fixed “magazine” that mimics the mag of a real M14 rifle. This rifle also features a molded synthetic stock that, although rather plain, adds its share of realism to the Model M14. Incidentally, both of these amazingly realistic CO2 guns are manufactured for Daisy in Japan.

Both models feature mostly zinc alloy and some molded plastic in their construction and have a creditably solid “feel” that adds a lot to their incredible realism. The pistol, in particular, has a most satisfying firing behavior with its heavy metal slide and single-action trigger/hammer operation. The manual safety works in much the same way as that of the real boomer. There is also, for added realism, a moving “grip safety” just for looks. The fixed sights also imitate those found on the real deal. The grip sports molded checkered panels that feel great in the hand.

Each CO2 cartridge yielded approximately 45 shots in the pistol before shooting power declined. The muzzle velocity can reach a healthy 410 fps, which is plenty for most plinking and even dispatching small pests at short range. Training applications are also an ideal purpose for this pistol, due to its realistic blowback operation and low noise.

As mentioned earlier, the Model M14 is capable of handling BBs and lead pellets. One other feature of this rifle is the fact that it employs two CO2 cartridges as its power source. Both CO2 cartridges fit in the non-removable dummy “magazine” duplicating the looks of a real mag for the 7.62mm M14. Pressing a button in the fake magazine releases the holder for the twin CO2 cartridges. The same dummy mag also houses the actual BB and pellet magazine with its twin rotary ammo cylinders.

Putting both guns through their paces was a most pleasant experience. The Model 11 pistol produced a surprisingly stout cycling of its slide, spitting BBs without a hiccup, even in rapid fire. At a distance of 25 feet it made groups with an average spread of just under 3 inches, which is not at all bad for a general purpose BB pistol.

The rifle also gives a nice firing sensation with its self-cocking action. The twin CO2 cartridges produce a muzzle velocity hovering around 700 fps with steel BBs, while lead pellets fell a bit shy of that figure. As far as accuracy, however, the rifle usually would not miss a quarter-sized target at 30 feet with match-style flat-head pellets. The fully adjustable peep rear sight also mimics that of the real M14, adding a huge slice of realism to the BB/pellet rifle.

Impressive is the term I choose to describe my opinion of both the Model 11 pistol and M14 rifle. Fans of the real deals are also sure to be impressed by both of these authentic-looking and relatively potent airguns.

The Daisy Winchester 1911 (above) has capacity for 15 steel BBs and is powered by one 12-gram CO2 cartridge. The bottom of the grip pivots downward to allow loading a CO2 cartridge in the grip. The dummy magazine (below) is fixed and houses the actual BB/pellet mag and the twin 12-gram CO2 cartridges for power. The magazine has a rotary cylinder at either end to handle either BBs or pellets.

The Daisy Winchester 1911 is a dead ringer for the legendary .45 ACP Colt Govt.
Model autoloader. The manual safety, magazine release button, and slide stop all
mimic those found on the real 1911 pistol.

Winchester 1911 Pistol & M14 Rifle
Distributor: Daisy Outdoor Products
Rogers, AR 72756
(800) 643-3458

1911 M14 Rifle
Caliber: .177″ (4.5mm) steel BB .177″ (4.5mm) BB or lead pellet
Action: Semi-auto blowback Semi-auto
Capacity: 15 Twin 8-shot rotary magazine
Power: One 12-gram CO2 cartridge Two 12-gram CO2 cartridges
Barrel: Smooth bore steel Rifled steel
Weight: 1.9 pounds 4.4 pounds
Sights: Fixed Adjustable rear peep, fixed front
Safety: Rotary sear block Manual trigger block
Price: $149.99 $219.99

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Take The Train

Mossberg’s .308 WIN ATR Night Train, That Is.

Scanning the sales rack at Murphy’s Gun Shop in Tucson, Ariz., recently, I focused on a rifle I had not seen before. It sported an OD green, synthetic stock, a bi-pod and a large, variable-power scope and a caliber designation of .308 Winchester. I was definitely intrigued and asked to see it.

It turned out to be a complete, combination package from Mossberg and quite a package it has proved to be, both in price and performance.

The new rifle carries the model designation, “ATR Night Train,” and it’s available in .308 Win as either a tactical or as a sporting arm. The essential difference is that the tactical model features a black stock, a different scope and a muzzlebrake, and dealers like to pad the price a tad.

And speaking of tactical, Mossberg is adding a completely new line of combination packages this year under the “MVP Patrol Rifle” designation in both 5.56 and 7.62 NATO chambering with 10+1 capacity, AR-type magazines, a choice of optics and with either conventional or Mossberg’s proprietary FLEX stocks. I’ve handled them at the 2013 SHOT Show, and I think the “Patrol Rifle” packages in either caliber would make great sporters as offered.

Anyway, back to the remarkable ATR Night Train. Here’s what the factory package consists of: a well designed green, black or camouflage-colored synthetic stock, an ATR push-feed action featuring Mossberg’s LBA trigger, consumer adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds, a bridge-mounted Picatinny rail, a free-floated, button rifled, fluted barrel with a recessed target crown, a bi-pod, a Neoprene comb-raising sleeve with a variety of foam pads and a mounted 4-16x50mm or 6-24x50mm scope. It’s an impressive package.

A) The locking target turrets on the Leaper scope are a real plus, and the scope has a red and green illuminated Mil-Dot reticle and parallax adjustable objective from 15 yards to infinity. B) The fluted barrel with its recessed crown was particularly stable as it heated up during testing. C) Mossberg’s LBA trigger is user-adjustable from 2 to 7 pounds. D) The Mossberg ATR Night Train is an affordable bolt-action .308 Win with scope mounted on a Picatinny rail, bipod and synthetic stock in a choice of three colors.

The ATR Night Train I received from Mossberg had already been out in the field a bit so the first thing I did was to soak the bore overnight with Bore Tech’s “Eliminator” solvent which I order from Brownells. It’s a remarkable, non-toxic product, which, without ammonia, “alters the chemical makeup of copper to break its bond with the barrel steel, then uses advanced chelating agents to keep it from re-depositing.” It also removes powder fouling, plastic and lead while leaving behind a rust preventative film. The secret seems to be dwell time. I don’t rush it. I just let the bore soak and then wipe the fouling out.

An interesting issue I caught by chance was that the Picatinny rail had worked loose ever so slightly so that I could actually shift the scope side-to-side by hand. Removing the rail, I found a film of oily preservative between the mount and the receiver and four, oily, slightly loose screws. A touch of lighter fluid took care of the oil and a dab of Devcon “Thread Locker” set the screws in place. Checking your scope mounts periodically, and even on a brand new gun, is a sound practice.

The Night Train was fitted with a Leapers 6-24x50mm scope. With a retail price of $139.97, it’s not an expensive scope, but it comes with all the bells and whistles you could wish for including a red and green illuminated Mil-Dot reticle, a parallax adjustable objective, locking, target-style, windage and elevation turrets with 1/4-minute click values, a 3-inch sun shade, flip-open lens caps and Picatinny rings. Also included with the scope are batteries, an Allen wrench to lock and unlock the turrets, a small mil-dot range estimation chart, an operating manual and a lens cloth.

The scope performed perfectly. Optics were clear. Click values were pretty much on. In particular, I liked the locking, zero reset turrets and the 15-yards-to-infinity parallax adjustments. There’s a lot of snobbery today when it comes to inexpensive optics. Frankly, I’ve had just as many failures with top-of-the-line optics as I have with the budget lines. If it works, use it and pocket the change.

Checking any .308 Win rifle to determine its inherent level of accuracy, we are blessed with great match-grade ammunition built around the 168-grain Sierra match bullet or a handload of 40 to 42 grains of IMR 4064 with the same bullet. It’s the go-to load for competition and many tactical applications. My .308 test load is Black Hills Ammunition’s factory new, .308 Winchester Match, featuring a 168-grain, boattail, hollowpoint loaded to a velocity of 2,650 fps.

If your .308 won’t shoot that load, you better be looking for a new .308. It’s an unbelievably accurate loading. The Mossberg ATR Night Train thrived on it and delivered 3-shot groups at 100 yards ranging from 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch. Set to 2-1/2 pounds, Mossberg’s LBA trigger was a jewel to work with. I was also impressed with the stability of the lightweight, fluted barrel as it heated up while I was shooting groups at the range. The groups did not open up as that barrel really began cooking.

With a current retail price of a bit over $600, Mossberg’s ATR Night Train is a value loaded package and high on performance. It’s cool looking. It has a cool name and does it ever shoot!
By Holt Bodinson

200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA 50171
(641) 623-4000

32700 Capitol St., Livonia, MI 48150
(734) 542-1500

ATR Night Train
MAKER: O.F. Mossberg & Sons
7 Grasso Ave.
North Haven, CT 06473
(800) 399-1354
Action: Bolt-action repeater
Caliber: .308 Win
Capacity: 4+1, Barrel Length: 22″
Length-Of-Pull: 13-1/4″
Overall Length: 42″
Weight: 8-1/2 pounds, Finish: Blue
Sights: 6-24×50 scope
Stock: Synthetic
Price: $602

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Winchester Model 1984 Takedown

A Most Versatile .30-30 Levergun.

A few short weeks after the ending of WWII in the Pacific, my friends and I entered 1st grade. We would spend the next several years using most of the free time we had, and some not supposed to be free, drawing aerial dogfights over and over and over again. By today’s standards we would be under constant suspension. Our drawings were certainly crude as we re-fought the war on our level every day.

If a prognosticator of the time had looked into his crystal ball and predicted Americans would someday be driving millions of Japanese cars he would’ve been considered Looney Tunes, and if he went a little further predicting Winchester would stop making rifles and close their plant, it would be time to call the men in the white coats. As he was carried off to a safer place he might be saying something to the effect Winchester leverguns would be made in Japan in the future and by then we would know he was headed for a padded cell.

All of this proves, once again, truth is nearly always stranger than fiction. It seems the majority of the cars I see on the road are either from Japan or made here in this country with Japanese technology and all Winchester-style leverguns offered today either come from Italy in the form of the 1860 Henry, 1866, 1873, and 1876 toggle-link actions, 1886 and 1892 Models from both Italy and Japan. Most assuredly the 1894 Winchester which was made in millions upon millions of versions here in America now comes from Miroku in Japan. The most interesting thing is the currently produced “Winchesters” from both countries are of excellent quality, perhaps even better than the originals.

I have at least one of every replica Winchester from the 1860 Henry to the 1892 saddle gun and also the 1895 Winchester. The 1860, 1866, and 1873 in replica form are, of course, now made for smokeless powder cartridges and are also definitely stronger than their original counterparts. This is also true of the replica 1876 which was Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite ranch rifle when he was in the Dakotas and the replica 1886 which in .45-70 is a better rifle than my original. Winchester 92s were originally offered in .44-40, .38-40, and .32-20 with a few scattered versions found in .25-20 and .218 Bee. Today we not only have the original WCF chamberings available in the replica 1892 we also have a choice of .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, and .357 Magnum. In this case Progress has certainly been on our side.

Now the 1894 Winchester, which for so many decades and generations of hunters was America’s favorite deer rifle and saddle gun, is not only available as a regular .30-30 levergun we also have access, again thanks to Miroku, to the first Takedown 1894 offered, if memory serves me correctly, in my lifetime. The great advantage, perhaps the only advantage, of a Takedown 1894 is the fact it can be made much smaller in length by separating the barrel/forearm from the action/buttstock making it not only much easier to transport but also concealing the fact it is a rifle which can come in quite handy in some situations. Once taken down it packs easily into a backpack, bedroll, behind the seat of a pickup, strapped to an ATV, even transported in a bushplane.

Except for the small lever under the magazine tube at the front end this Model 1894 would appear to be a typical 20-inch barreled classic .30-30. To access the takedown feature this unobtrusive little lever is rotated 90 degrees until it is perpendicular to the magazine tube and then acts as a handle of sorts to unscrew the tube. Once this is accomplished to the prescribed length the barrel can then be twisted off the action and the rifle is now in two parts. Reassembly is just as simple.

The Miroku Winchester 1894 is finished exceptionally well in a deep blue/black mated up with nicely grained walnut buttstock and forearm both of which are well fitted to the metal parts, the action and barrel of this .30-30. Sights are excellent classic style with a Marble gold bead front sight matched up with a Buckhorn rear sight. The rear sight is adjustable for elevation by moving the typical stepped ladder found on levergun sights and windage is accomplished by tapping the rear sight with a brass rod.

Loading is accomplished in the typical lever action way through a loading gate on the right side and cartridges are fed from the tube into the chamber by the operation of the lever which gives the levergun its name. The hammer is the rebounding type with a wide checkered spur for easy cocking and also drilled through the side for the attachment of a hammer extension cocking lever should one desire such an atrocity. Millions of leverguns were made without any type of safety except the less than adequate so-called safety notch on the hammer, however those days are long gone and this current 1894 has a sliding tang safety which I consider an excellent addition to the time tried Model 1894.

As with many modern lever action rifles produced today, the 1894 Takedown is equipped with a trigger stop. This little mechanism can be seen protruding from the tang about one-inch behind the trigger. Before the rifle will fire it is necessary for the top of the lever to depress the trigger stop assuring that the breech is fully closed before a cartridge will fire. I had planned to fire four factory cartridges plus a handload with cast bullets for testing this .30-30, however I found all were not compatible with the trigger stop; actually the problem was bullet fit to chamber.

Both Federal and Winchester 150-grain cartridges slide easily into the chamber and allow the trigger stop to be depressed without any extra effort; the 170-grain Remington Core-Lokt requires a slight pressure in closing the lever while the Buffalo Bore 190 grainers necessitates considerable pressure to close the breech meaning bullets are a very tight fit in the chamber. My handloads using Oregon Trail 170-grain FNGC bullets would not chamber at all. Measuring of the bullet diameter in the front of the mouth of the case of each cartridge revealed just what was happening. Federal’s 150-grain FNSP measured 0.3055 inch with Winchester’s 150-grain Power Point going 0.3045 inch. They both chambered smoothly.

The Remington 170 Core-Lokt measured 0.3055 inch while the Buffalo Bore using the heavier 190-grain FP jacketed bullets came in at a chamber resistant 0.3075 inch and the Oregon Trail 170GC was too large for this rifle at 0.3095 inch. What this simply means if anything larger than 150-grain bullets are to be used it would be a good idea to have the chamber mouth opened slightly to match up with the bullet choice. The Buffalo Bore Heavy .30-30 which is certainly desirable for use on black bear and large deer would require the proper modification to allow for easy chambering.

I can recall presidents Harry Truman (1945-1952) and Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1960) both being presented with Winchester .30-30s while in office. The figure which sticks in my mind was Truman received No. 1,500,000 and Ike got No. 2,000,000. Over the ensuing decades many more millions were produced as the 94 became first sporting rifle to reach 7,000,000 units. Even though the bolt-action rifle had been discovered by troops in WWI and then used to build many sporting rifles thereafter along with the rise of the Remington and Winchester bolt-action rifles, the levergun, and especially the Winchester 1894 remained extremely popular. Its flat-sided physique fits so easily in hand or saddle scabbard, and at reasonable distances it has always provided game gathering without the use of a scope. It was not the Rifleman’s Rifle but was certainly a choice among hundreds of thousands of deer hunters. Thanks to Miroku, it still survives.

I just received word of a new Winchester, which will be coming in April. This will be a first, namely a Miroku-produced Short Rifle Model 1873 and it will be chambered in .357 Magnum. I am definitely looking forward to this little levergun and especially in such an excellent cartridge. It was 28 degrees F when I test-fired the .30-30 Takedown; hopefully spring weather will arrive with the .357 Magnum Model 1873. Stay tuned.

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The Springfield Armory Enhanced Micro Pistol

Pocket Power In An 8-Shot .40 S&W.

The now wildly popular Springfield EMP emerged in 2007 as an alloy-frame downsized 1911 chambered for 9x19mm with the steel-frame .40 S&W variation coming on board in 2008. The consumer base for such a handgun is enthusiastic, dedicated, and demanding, comprised of the sort of shooters who will pay a premium for his equipment, use it regularly and have the skill set to determine if it meets high expectations of performance. Half a decade later, the EMP enjoys sustained and growing acceptance among this rather unforgiving demographic.

Our sample .40 S&W EMP arrived a complete CCW system. The pistol itself resembles the Pythagorean Ideal established by such classics as the 1908 Colt and the 1911. Observers often deem the fit and finish comparable to the best offerings of custom makers. The stainless slide, black-coated frame and the deep red cocobolo grips present quite a harmonious package.

Practical enhancements include Novak-pattern Trijicon night sights, ambidextrous safety, and a match trigger that settled in at 5 pounds after lubrication and initial shooting. The EMP is drop-safe by virtue of a light firing pin and heavy firing pin spring and has no passive firing pin block. Its standard accompaniment consists of three 8-round magazines, a tension-adjustable Kydex holster and double magazine carrier, an assortment of hex wrenches a spacer to capture the recoil spring assembly for easy disassembly and keys for the unobtrusive and unproblematic Internal Locking System hidden away on the mainspring housing.

It could use a Torx 15 driver for the grip screws—an item that may be supplied in the near future. At 6.5 inches long and 5 inches tall, the pistol approaches the minimum practical dimensions for a pistol of this caliber. The grip circumference is significantly less than that of the full-size 1911s, consistent with the overall downsizing of the arm to conform to the length of 9x19mm and .40 S&W cartridges. The coned, bushingless bull barrel is 3 inches from muzzle to the back of the fully supported chamber and suitably configured for the shortened slide cycle. The double-recoil spring on a full-length guide rod is a near-necessity for a 1911-type pistol of this size adding greatly to the expected service life of the recoil system. Springfield Armory recommends replacement after 5,000 rounds. Some small, lock-breech handguns eat up their single-recoil springs within a few hundred shots.

Three shooters—two with large hands and one with hands small enough to become a primary concern when selecting a pistol—all felt the grip size and trigger reach of the EMP ideal. The grip diameter coupled with the beaver tail allowed all of them to quickly acquire and maintain a perfect shooting grip. All remarked felt recoil, even with the 155- and 165-grain Hornady loads at 1,200-plus fps, was surprisingly mild. Recoil and barrel rise were significantly lessened with the two loads using 140-grain lead-free hollowpoints. The 27-ounce weight, roughly equivalent to service-sized .40s with alloy or polymer frames is a significant factor in recoil abatement.

Initially, the EMP was hitting to the right. The rear sight is tightly fitted in the dovetail and retained by a set-screw. After I had regulated the sight, all loads were dead on for windage with some hitting slightly low and heavier bullets impacting a few inches over the sights. The CorBon and Black Hills loads using the 140-grain Barnes lead-free hollowpoint hit to the sights at 25 yards and turned in the smallest groups of 1.7 and 2.2 inches respectively. A couple of groups with the heavier bullets put the first round a couple of inches out of the primary group. When I re-shot these groups, the fliers went away indicating possible shooter-error as the actual cause. The EMP was reliable with all of the charted loads as well as the remnants of a box of Speer Gold Dots and 180-grain Black Hills JHP on hand. I had a single failure to feed when a 155-grain Black Hills JHP with a seemingly ideal ogive stopped against the barrel hood. There were no further malfunctions in about 300 rounds even with the sharp-edged, Barnes hollowpoints. Since the stoppage came early in the process it is likely a result of initial break-in.

My first “practical” exercise was the controllability drill that tasks the shooter with drawing the gun from the holster and putting 5 rounds in a 5-inch centered spread at 7 yards. My actual group measured 5.2 inches but with high-performance .40-caliber bullets as with horseshoes, hand grenades and thermonuclear events, “close” counts for something. Walking through the Texas Concealed Handgun Proficiency demo which consists of 50 rounds of timed fire from 3, 7, and 15 yards produced a 100-percent score with all but five rounds in the 10 and X rings. Maintaining shots within the 9-, 10- and X-ring of the B27 target at 25 yards is a reasonable expectation shooting unsupported from either a 1- or 2-handed hold.

At, an entire subsection is devoted to the EMP. In the space of 2 years this site has expanded to 147 pages with about 25 posts per page devoted to EMP enthusiasm, modifications, performance and issues.

Unlike many Internet sites, the tone of this site is overwhelmingly positive. It is apparent that these pistols arrived in the marketplace fully vetted. Buyers did not discover any major design flaws. The problems that do occur instead seem to be random issues like light firing pin strikes and the occasional failure to feed with some ammunition. When issues arise, they are handled promptly by Springfield Armory’s historically excellent customer service.
By Mike Cumpston

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Springfield Armory XD-S .45 ACP

This compact pistol brings great power down to pocket size.

Life is full of trade-offs. My wife’s vehicle is a Dodge Caravan; after three hip surgeries within a couple months (one didn’t take the first time) the Caravan is easy for her to get in and out of. My vehicle is an extended cab 4×4 pickup which is definitely not easy for her to get in and out of. However, with the 4×4 it is easy to get in and out of places we dare not take the Caravan. A small steel running board step has been installed on both sides of the 4×4 to aid in entry. The Caravan has become our running-around-town car while the 4×4 is the vehicle chosen for shooting, hunting or just plain exploring. We know and understand the trade-offs and accept them. There are certainly many trade-offs when it comes to firearms also.

More than 30 years ago, although I would have definitely preferred the .44 or .45, I was forced by circumstances to go with the much smaller .38. Today, thanks to Springfield Armory, we can literally, if you will pardon the cliché, have our cake and eat it too. There are many excellent .45s out there both on the 1911 platform and also those with polymer frames and double action or “safety” triggers. Many manufacturers have worked at shrinking the size of both types of pistols with some successfully working and some not. What Springfield Armory has done is shrink the size of their very popular XD series .45 ACP to where it will actually fit in the top of my boot should I feel compelled to carry that way while also being totally reliable even with its very small size.

I knew it was very small simply by handling it and definitely by shooting it. This is not a semi-automatic to be shot for a long pleasurable afternoon but rather a serious self-defense semi-automatic. Firing any .45 ACP loads certainly gets my attention. I did all my testing before I compared it to my full-sized XD .45 and was really quite surprised at just how small it actually is. After more than a century of .45 semi-automatics it is not difficult to make a totally reliable pistol nor is it all that difficult to make a small pistol. The rub comes with the attempt to make a small reliable pistol and that is exactly what Springfield Armory has managed to accomplish. Comparing it side-by-side with the full-sized XD reveals just how much engineering went into this downsizing project.
By John Taffin

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The Barrett Rec7

An All-Weather Warrior

There’s hardly a soldier on the planet who doesn’t know about the big Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifles, and if they’re lucky, they’ve never been on the receiving end of one of these 2-kilometer killers. Far fewer know that when Ronnie Barrett began sketching out the design on his kitchen table, he was creating a first in ordnance history: a 1-man portable bolt action .50 BMG precision rifle. Even fewer know Ronnie also designed and produces a superb little AR clone chambered in 5.56mm NATO and 6.8 SPC—the Barrett REC7. I had never seen one. When my Uncle John invited me to help evaluate a REC7 for our sister publication, American COP Magazine, I jumped on it.

This was a quick turn-around assignment, “due yesterday,” and we had no choice on shooting weather. It was -22 degrees F, still and sharp when we left for the range at dawn. The previous evening’s forecast called for a high of 8 degrees F above. We missed by minutes a countywide broadcast warning listeners to remain indoors due to wind chills of -20 to -40 F and dangerously icy, windy road conditions in a few hours. It would be an interesting day.

Ronnie Barrett’s connections in the SOCOM sniper community run wide and deep. When the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts boiled up, he began hearing stories from the troops about malfunctions and failures of their M4s and M16s due to sand, dust, carbon fouling and heat, and ineffectiveness of the issue M855 5.56mm round in stopping unarmored troops.

At about the same time the Department of Defense got a whiff of the coffee, and very tentatively indicated they might be interested in a more reliable variant of the platform, and perhaps even a more effective round. Remington Arms, in collaboration with members of the US Special Operations Command, had meantime developed the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge). That was enough for Ronnie, and he broke out the pencils again. He worked fast, but not fast enough. DoD’s wandering eye drifted away, and a breeze blew the door closed.
By John Taffin

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