Crossfire November 2018


Smith & Wesson

S&W’s .380 Shield EZ and Model 642 Carry Comp.

EZ Racking

I was very pleased to read Jeff John’s August review of S&W’s .380 Shield EZ. I racked one at my local gun shop and bought it the next day. It’s an absolute pleasure to shoot. It will replace my .40 S&W as my home defense gun as I’m having a lot of trouble racking the .40 with my arthritic hands. I’ve got the same laser (from my .40) and wasn’t sure which spacer to use; will try it without the spacer. Like Jeff, I like the green dot above my point of aim so I can see it, and the Crimson Trace is very easy to adjust for that. One added benefit was the grip safety forced me to improve my grip. Shooting freehand, I kept it to “minute of torso” all morning.
Mark Patton
Via email

Mystery Smith

Can somebody help me identify the S&W J-Frame hammerless pictured on page 51 in the August issue? It appears to be a limited edition as it has a ported 2 1/4″ barrel, white dot sight, black — possibly alloy — frame. Thank you.
Joel Wood
Taos, NM

According to Jeff John, who wrote the article and owns the gun, it’s a Model 642-2 Carry Comp — not currently in production. —Payton Miller

Going to Pot

In the Kroger stores in Woodlands, Texas, Kroger has ceased selling gun magazines. As an additional insult, they’re now selling marijuana-growing magazines on their former gun magazine shelves. The local stores have no input on these decisions. It appears Kroger is now managed by a bunch of pot-smoking anti-gun hippies. Apparently Kroger must think Texas has become a bunch of pot-smoking sissies too. Shame on you, Kroger. We hope the bankruptcy courts will soon become your best friend.
Charles White
Via email

That Python Squeeze

It must have been in the mid-’80s when — just newly married — my wife gave me $300 to go get a washing machine. I stopped by Davis and Company, my local gun shop in West Sacramento as I usually did when headed in that direction. The guys there knew me and as I walked in one of them said, “Bob, you’ve got to see this.” It was a used 6″ Colt Python with Pachmayr grips. The price was right, $300! He held it out for me and it just felt right. But I was going to get a washing machine. Oh the agony of it all. It felt so good in my hand, the balance, the weight and after all, it was a Python. My wife would understand, she likes to shoot and it would only take me a couple of months to save up for a washing machine, I thought. Done deal! Seems like I brought the snake home the same day, I really don’t remember. Well, she was not pleased at all and I had to hear about it for years. She would tell the story to any friends who would listen about the time I went out for a washing machine and came back with a Colt Python. I started to read her Payton Miller’s August “Guns Insider” bit about the skyrocketing prices of the Colt classic, but she said. “I don’t want to hear it, thanks.” I was smart enough not to press the issue.
Via email

letters ammo


Reeder 2+2 Flattop Tool


Just got the August issue today. Tell Holt we could have saved him some time and effort on his little flat-nose tool he mentioned in his “Rimfire” column. Our Flattop Tool has been one of our best selling accessories for several years. We have it in a 3-round tool and also have a Flattop Tool for the .22 Short. They work very well. The soap bar picture shown was shot with a standard lead RN .22 LR. The large hole shot with a round out of the same box but with the nose cut off. We even have a combo tool that does .22 LR and .22 Short at the same time.
Gary Reeder
Gary Reeder Custom
Via email

HAM’R Question

In Holt Bodinson’s August article on the .458 Ham’r, he states chamber pressures of 46,000 psi require a stronger action. The normal chamber pressure of the 5.56 M855 ball is 55,000 psi and the new M855A1 raises the chamber pressure to 62,000psi. What am I missing here? If a standard AR can handle 62,000 psi for a few thousand rounds, why did the HAM’R require a “stronger action”?
Dave Schmidt
Butler, Pa.

The .458 HAM’R is the .458 SOCOM case with the shoulder slightly pushed forward 0.030″. CMMG Product Engineer Von Davis explains that — being a larger diameter case — it generates considerably more bolt thrust than the 5.56. Bolt thrust is the internal area of a cartridge case times maximum pressure. The thrust of a standard 5.56mm round on the AR15 bolt head measures roughly 3,887 lbs. while the thrust of a .458 SOCOM round on a .458 SOCOM bolt head measures approximately 5,853 lbs. The thrust of a 5.56mm proof load measures approximately 5,183 lbs. while the .458 SOCOM proof load generates 7,804. That’s why a more robust action and bolt are necessary to provide a greater margin-of-safety. —Holt Bodinson


I have an old High Standard Sport King semi-auto .22 rifle. It has what appear to be fins or vents on the left side of the receiver. When I shoot it, powder spits out of these vents onto my left forearm. It appears to me the bolt is releasing a little early, leading me to think there is a weak spring. I talked with a rep at Brownells and he said it sounded like the hammer assembly spring was weak. I have checked with Brownells, Numrich, Jack First and a few other dealers in an attempt to locate this part. Do you have any suggestions where I might be able to find this hammer assembly or spring? From what I’ve been able to find out, it appears they come as a unit. It’s a good rifle and hate to see it sit in my safe. Thank you for any help you can give me.
Jerry Goodwin
Via email

Our resident rimfire authority, Holt Bodinson, has this bit of advice: “My first recommendation would be to take the rifle to a professional gunsmith for diagnosis. It may not need a new part. If, in fact, the issue is a spring, a gunsmith could probably make one. Rimfires are dirty machines. Those “vents” were designed to keep semi-auto actions clear of unburned powder, lead shavings, lubricants and associated combustion products. In short, if working properly, those vents exhaust grit and grime out the left side of the receiver, and if your arm is in the way, you’re going to feel it. Again, let a gunsmith diagnose the problem before assuming it’s a replacement parts issue.”


Carbine” Taffin

Loved John Taffin’s article about the M1 Carbine in the August issue. I have several AR15s, and an arsenal of semi-auto rifles, but my most fun gun to shoot is my M1 Carbine. I’ve loaded a boatload of ammo for it — 14.5 grains of IMR4227 under a Speer 110-grain #1846. I have a Lyman manual from 1970, (yeah, I’m old) and it says “This cartridge headspaces on the mouth and the case length is, therefore, critical. Never trim cases shorter than the trim-to length shown and never crimp bullets.” I have never seen this warning in my newer manuals, and even though I have a Lee Crimp Die, I still don’t crimp. But John crimps his. Isn’t that dangerous?
Dave Schmidt
Butler, Pa

Dave I’m a lot older than you and I have manuals going back to 1936, but you should be using a manual much newer than 1970. Things change, including powders, primers, bullets and pressure data. I have not had any problems with crimping with the factory crimp die and that is why Lee calls it “factory.” Why do you think a crimp would be dangerous? If the crimp is too much the case will go forward and not fire. This happens in some sixguns chambered for .45 ACP, especially older ones, when a moon clip is not used. Most new Smiths are fine without the clips. Good shootin’ and God bless. —John Taffin

I would respectfully disagree with JT when he said the .30 Carbine is “certainly not the best choice for a self-defense rifle.” Actually, it’s probably a better choice than a politically incorrect AR or AK. It’s easy to handle and easy to shoot. And you’re not going to have to defend home and hearth at 25 yards or greater. The lawyers would have a field day if you did! A 110-gr. JSP at 2,000 fps beats the 9mm or .38/.357. I think the AR is overkill — and over-penetrative — for home defense. But then, I don’t consider it to be a “Modern Sporting Rifle.” It may be good for keeping feral hog populations down, but that’s about it.
Via email

Know Your Enemy

After reading Mr. Codrea’s September column, “Banking on Disarmament,” I felt compelled to contact some of the financial companies mentioned. I was moderately surprised to find it’s virtually impossible to email or otherwise contact these institutions. They have successfully walled themselves off from the rabble so they can pretend they are immune from our wrath.

They are not. I had a few credit cards with a couple of these companies so I paid them off and sent a letter explaining why I did so. I do not expect to hear from them because they aren’t concerned about the small interest they were earning off me. If, however, several hundreds, or thousands of gun owners make an effort to stop doing business with any of these companies (as they can afford to) then they will begin to notice; and hopefully suffer from their policies. I encourage GUNS to keep publishing articles helping gun owners learn who their enemies are. We know most Democrats hate us, but most don’t understand how deep their un-American tentacles reach in order to strip us of our rights.
Steve Bennett
Frankfort, IN


Arisaka ’mum and markings.

Model Yes, Type No

In regard to Holt Bodinson’s September article “Japan’s Imperial Triad,” here’s a trivia item. Nearly all Western collectors, like Mr. Bodinson, use the word “type” when referring to Japanese models. This is a linguistic error that has been propagated since at least WWII, and probably earlier. With Japanese firearms, it is more correct to say “model.” Using the Arisaka Model 38 as an example: The marking on the receiver is 3 kanji characters: San, Hachi and Shiki, an abbreviation of a phrase meaning “38th year model.” The issue is the Shiki character. If you look up the kanji in a typical Japanese-English dictionary, the listed equivalents include “style,” “form,” “type” and “model,” among others. There’s no single correct translation for every context. The point is in the context of a firearm, “model” is clearly the best word in English. Decades ago, someone likely chose “type” because it appeared first in their dictionary, and they didn’t know that in the firearms world, we say “model.” BTW, my brother is Duncan McCollum, whose book is mentioned in the “Further Reading” at the end of the article.
Peter McCollum
Via email

A Sweeter .17

I really liked Dave Anderson’s August column on rimfire “Farm Rifles” but I do feel the exclusion of the .17 Hornady Mach 2 is an unfortunate oversight. I know this round is not real popular, but it is extremely accurate and even more affordable than the .17 HMR. I converted a 10/22 to a 10/17M2 and absolutely love it — the local squirrels and prairie dogs, not so much!
Brian McKinstry
Via email


Twenty-five years ago I sent a “thank you” letter to J.B. Wood regarding a pistol recommendation he’d made. At the time he was the auto-pistol editor for Gun Digest annual, among a myriad of other ventures and pursuits. I was totally blown away when he answered my note, even enclosing an autographed copy of one of his still-unsurpassed manuals on small arms, known worldwide. As you know, Mr. Wood has been performing his craft flawlessly, longer than anyone else on any gun magazine staff, period. His articles are always unique and offer the reader a perspective they may not have considered prior to discovering his most recent effort. God bless J.B. Wood and thank you GUNS and American Handgunner for allowing us to enjoy this rare treasure.
Steve Bigelow
Billings, MT

Jump That Crimp!

In Payton Miller’s July piece on the Smith & Wesson 340 PD, he opines the main concern regarding light bullet use is because of possible crimp-jump. “Lightweight screamers” are less, not more, susceptible to it than are heavier projectiles. The concern is less powder will have burned before the bullet leaves the case, scorching the titanium cylinder.
Charlie Politi
Peoria, AZ

I checked with our revolver guru John Taffin on this issue and he is more inclined to go with reader Politi’s line of reasoning. John did refer to “flame cutting” on the topstrap instead of cylinder scorching, however. Regardless, I concede to higher authority in either case. Mea culpa. —Payton Miller

Vintage Staff

You folks produce a most wonderful magazine! I enjoy the fact you keep it varied and not full of black guns! Really enjoy coverage of the classics too!
Mark Taylor
Via email

Brake the Habit!

Your magazine, as most others, often reviews new rifles striving for the utmost in technology and accuracy, and nowadays these rifles typically are fitted with muzzle brakes. These certainly are effective and enhance the user’s comfort, but I sincerely wish everyone would emphasize a little more the trade-off cost for this comfort. I run the High Power Match program at our local club, and we bend over backwards to try to get more people out shooting, but many shooters don’t seem to realize how horrendous it is to attend a match with muzzlebrake equipped rifles present. They’re just plain painful to everyone at the match except the shooter. We do what we can to minimize the effect but I find so many new owners aren’t aware of the extent of the problem, and I feel some of this is due to unbalanced reporting on the pros and cons of these devices. We have had guys with AR-15s in .223 show up with muzzlebrakes, and as a long time M-14 and M1-A shooter I have to even question the need of one on a .308. I would really appreciate it if gun magazines could more often remind their readers that there is a trade-off for the use of muzzle brakes.
David Dunkle
Via email

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