Tag Archives: Handguns

Carolina Arms Group 1911’s

I stopped by Carolina Arms Group today to sign a copy of UPRISING USA for Jim, and while I was there, I got the chance to examine the completion of a very special 4 gun set.

These two were complete and the other two were getting final touches done.
Absolutely flawless. Now, CAG has a lot of very cool new things coming… things that I’m sworn to secrecy on, so I wont tell. Even if the NDA is a Handshake, it’s still an NDA, so I’m not saying anything other than this… Give CAG a Like, follow them on FB. Because you are going to want to keep your eye on them.
There is one new thing about to drop that I CAN talk about.
CAG is going to be releasing Fire Control Parts that you can order to be put into your gun. I’ve examined these… FANTASTIC. You are going to want to put these on your gun. Machined from forged billet stainless and absolutely the top quality you would expect from CAG. Also slides and pretty much everything you need to build your 1911 save for the Frames. And since not all of us are Gunsmiths – you will be able to send in your 1911 and CAG’s own Gunsmiths will give you their FEEL THE DIFFERENCE treatment.  All of the services will of course be on a menu for pricing and such. So bookmark this page too:

Is there room at the table for a new Auto Mag?


NewAutoMagI got a press release from Laura Burgess Marketing that AUTO MAG is trying to make a come back.   First thought was “Wow, that’s cool!” Followed up by the next thought, “They’ll fail again… Because the same conditions that caused them to fail the first time are only worse this time.”

But is that true?   What caused the Auto Mag’s failure back in the 80’s?

First, let’s talk about what the Auto Mag was.  It’s whole point was to deliver a .44 caliber slug at .44 Magnum power, in an Automatic Pistol.   The idea to make the .44 Magnum feed in an Automatic, was to give it a Rimless Case.  To do this they used a .308 rifle cartridge, and cut it down to length, and there you go.   This actually worked quite well.  Unfortunately the ammunition was expensive back in the 80’s and is even more so now.

To handle the .44 Magnum level power in an automatic, the gun needed to be strong.  They used a fixed barrel for Revolver like Accuracy… this limited the locking options.  And since it needs a more robust locking mechanism, so they used a rotating bolt.  We also see this in the Desert Eagle.

The design of the Auto Mag is interesting.  It feels better in the hand than the Desert Eagle, more ergonomic.   And it’s much better looking.  But it’s also a complicated design and manufacturing it is a process that has more steps in it than other pistols…. which makes it a more expensive pistol to make.   Back in the 80’s, they didn’t have the CNC milling technology like we have today.  Even with that, there is a lot of hand fitting/finishing of the internal parts, and being a large pistol, requires a lot of material.  So it’s going to remain an expensive pistol to produce.

Expensive to make.  Expensive to shoot.  This is not a pistol for everyone.   This isn’t just Mercedes Benz level of handgunning… This is Maybach level.  This is… Exclusive.  Is there room at the SHOT Industry table for something more exclusive and expensive like this?


Because it’s cool.   See, outside of Food, Shelter, and Clothing… Men only spend money on Two Things.  Sex and Violence.   And the Auto Mag is a combination of both distilled into a handgun that is above the means of the every day common man.    Like owning a Porsche 911 Turbo or dating a Super Model.   It’s Mid Life Crisis that you can hold in your hands.  It is designed to make everyone at the range envy you and want to be you.    And unlike the Desert Eagle, it has no history of being gaudy like something a New Orleans Pimp would have.  You’ll never see an Auto Mag in Gold Titanium Tiger Stripes.  Because it doesn’t need that…. It doesn’t need the Bling.  Because it’s one of those few things that are an instant Classic.  And there is nothing else like it on the market.   Comparing it to a Desert Eagle is like comparing a luxury yacht to a tug boat.

Auto Mag will sell every single gun they make.

But does that mean they will fail again?  Because it’s exclusively priced… and ammunition is terribly expensive…  Few people will be able to get one.   And you don’t want a company to crank out as many as they can produce only to sit in stockpile.   For the company to succeed, they will have to stay small… And keep the production tight to keep overhead down.   Success or Failure is going to depend on Management, not Marketing.   Since they are the only ones making anything like this.  It’s their game to win or lose… and that’s going to be an internal struggle, not external.

Suggestions for Auto Mag:
1.  Offer a Blued Steel version.
2.  Don’t do Distributors… Go Customer & Dealer Direct to maximize your profits for the first 5 years.  Or longer.
3.  Don’t look at how other gun companies market.  Look at how Omega and Breitling Watches markets.  Your customers are going to be their customers.  You’re going to be exclusive as hell… so be exclusive.

Ruger’s Light Weight Commander


I stopped into a joint called “Nichole’s Store” in Rockhill, SC and found this little guy sitting there, all alone in a display full of other Ruger 1911’s.  This little one was all alone, because he’s a Davidson’s Exclusive.  Ruger is the Master of Distributor Exclusives.  I didn’t even know this guy existed.


This finish on the slide looks blued, not coated.  If it is coated – I don’t know what it is.  But it has some color tinge to it, it’s not just black.  Depending on how the light hits it, it can look purplish, bluish, or brown – ish.   It’s pretty unique and the photo does kinda capture it, but then it really doesn’t.  It looks very nice in person.


Like all Ruger 1911’s, the gun feels pretty solid and well made – and smooth.  But without feeling tight like a custom.   You can tell this is a Working Class Production Gun.  With tolerances generous enough for Reliability over Bank Vault Pleasures.  One one is going to mistake this for a Nighthawk or a CAG… But no one is going to mistake it for a Rock Island or ATI either.

It has two warts.  One you can see… the Novak Rear Sight.  Which is The Devil on a gun for this purpose.  The purpose being, this is a Defensive Gun.   Which means it’s a Fighting Gun.  And Novak Sights should not be on any Fighting Gun.  Ever.   The sights need to be replaced anyway, as they are just white 3 Dot sights… and any defensive pistol NEEDS Tritium.  That’s not a point I’ll argue about.  That’s God’s Own Truth.  This is why He created Tritium.  So it can be used on His Saint, John Moses Browning’s handguns.  While I’d be getting Tritium sights – I’d just make sure the Rear wasn’t Novak, and that it was a Straight 8 instead of 3 Dot.

The other wart is the Manual Safety… it flicks on with a nice snap.  The way it should.  But it flicks off, with no click, no snap, no tactile sign, and no audible tell.  It just… slides off.  Way too easily.  Like it was loose or broken.   That is a huge turn off to me.  Going Off Safe should be Tactile and Deliberate.  This feels like it could slide off if you had it in the holster and jumped up and down more than once.  This is of course, an easy fix.  But it’s a fix that would have to be made before you loaded it.

Overall.  I love this gun.   Well done, Ruger.

Colt needs to step up.


COLT.  One of the most famous names in the firearms industry.  And one of the most poorly managed companies, with some of the most lack luster products for some of the highest dollars.   Colt is one of the least impressive companies still in business.  They think their name still holds currency in the market, and for a small, dwindling market segment, they do.  But that base is shrinking.  Colt may be coming out of bankrupcy again – but if they don’t change, they are going to go right back into it.

Any Colt firearm only looks good if you don’t look at any of the competition’s products.

From these images it looks like Colt is making some fine weapons.
And really, they are.  But there’s a problem.  They are over priced.  Somewhere about 200 dollars over priced.  At the same time they are not up to snuff, compared to the competition.


Let’s look at the Mustang.  The competition is the SIG 238 and the Kimber Micro.  All three of these pistols are subcompact .380 Autos, all similar design and function.  And all taken from the original Colt Mustang, that Colt killed, SIG resurrected, and then Kimber and Colt came on with the Me Too theme.


Of the three, the Colt is the most expensive, and as you can see, the least desirable.  It’s the worst finished, with the worst sights.


The other Colt guns leave me a bit unimpressed.  The slides are alright, but the frames all feel like they are unfinished sand-castings. Of course, they are not… they are Media Blast finished… but they feel… sandy.    Rough.  Sets my teeth on edge like fingernails on a chalkboard.


SIG’s 238 set the bar for what this sort of pistol needs to be like.  And Kimber took that challenge and came in with a tie score.


The Kimber – being not a favorite brand of mine by any means… has a strong game in the Micro.   Making the Colt look like the Ugly Step Sister… which it is.


Other than the finish, the Colt’s molded in front sight is just flat out unacceptable.  The others have dove-tails with high viz sights.  The Colt’s is No-Viz.


You can see, of the Three Amigo’s, the Colt is one no one wants.  It’s clearly the worst of the three, and yet carries the higher price tag for no reason.   (The Kimber in the photo is wearing the Crimson Trace Grips, which makes it more expensive than the standard Micro.)


Here’s the Cold Railed pistol.  A Tactical pistol with an all the bells and whistles price take, but has no bells and no whistles.  It’s pretty much at the same level as a Springfield Loaded Model, being simply a railed 1911… but has a premium price tag only because it bears the Colt name.   Rough finished frame, notchy feeling action, and a trigger that feels like you are dragging a piano over a gravel road.  This is not a good gun for the money.


If you get one, you are going to need to an action job, trigger job, new sights, and you are going to want to get that frame cerakoted or something.  So about 500 dollars worth to put this gun where it needs to be.


While I do like the look of it in the photos I took… yes, it looks nice.  It just doesn’t feel anywhere near as good as it looks.   Honestly, for less money, you could buy a Springfield MC Operator or a SIG 1911 TacOps, and have a better gun right out of the box, and save enough money for some spare mags and a case of ammunition.

What does Colt need to do to fix these?   Well, finish them for one thing.  Everyone else is throwing on some checkering or a nicer finish, and coming in at less cost.  Let’s start with that.  If Colt can step up to that level… That would be nice.  A move in the right direction.

We don’t even need to talk about the Reliability issues.   The Defender model of 1911 is one of their most popular models.  It’s also the most unreliable 1911 I’ve ever seen next to any Kimber Ultra pistol.  I saw one guy that had bought two of them.  Both of them didn’t work.  Both went back to the factory.  Once returned, one of them still had the reliability of a 4 year old.   And the one that “Worked” had the most sporadic ejection I’ve ever seen on any gun.  It was more like an open pan of popcorn… it could spit cases out in any direction.  Including into my forehead and teeth.  Some directions seemed physically impossible.    And that’s just the guns from one customer.  One man.  There have been others.  Many others.   In fact, of all the Colt Defenders I’ve seen sold or have sold myself.  Well, I don’t know of any that didn’t cause the owner some sort of grief.   I do know a couple guys that have them and say they have no problem with them.  But these guys don’t actually fire the guns.  If you don’t actually shoot it – of course it’s not going to cause you any problems.  Problems are only going to pop up when you pop rounds.  So these guys are saying that the guns don’t spontaneously self destruct, I guess.   Grips don’t suddenly spring off the gun and fly across the room… No problems then.

I’ve never seen a reliable Colt Defender.  Ever.  I’ve never seen a reliable Kimber Ultra either, but you can get an Ultra for a lot cheaper than a Defender, and any of the Ultra series guns are probably better guns than the Defender.  Maybe even more reliable.  Maybe.

If Colt is going to really make a come back with the American Gun Owner – Colt is really going to have to step up.

Remington R51 Do-Over


I was asked what I thought about the Remington R51 Re-Release.

Look… I wanted to like the R51.  I really did.  I think it looks cool, and I like the idea of an all metal single stacked 9mm, that’s not a 1911, Kahr, or SIG P225… just for the sake of variety.  I really wanted to like it.  But a couple things gave me pause.  One, is the Pederson Hesitation Lock system it uses… which is… just not that good.  Then Remington made a very limited invitation only special pre-release introduction for certain Gun Media guys with a history of liking everything that comes their way.    Okay, that’s fine… They wanted good impressions to get out there.  Sure.  Every Gun Company wants that.   But the warning lights started flashing when shortly there after at the Media Day at the Range, the day before SHOT SHOW that year – The Remington R51 was suspiciously absent.

Warning Klaxons sounded in my head when at the Remington Booth, Remington Employees were physically blocking people from getting to where the R51 was on display.   They stood around the display like defensive Musk Ox surrounding their young.

Remington Reps protecting the R51 at SHOT SHOW.
Remington Reps protecting the R51 at SHOT SHOW.

They wanted Dealers to order them… they just didn’t want anyone to actually touch it.  But I did.  I went around behind them, went behind a counter, and got in to where it was hanging on the wall, behind the Remington People.  I could tell from the expressions on their faces when they saw me – that they were pissed.

When I handled the gun… I liked the size and weight just fine.  But the action felt like it was broken inside.  That hesitation lock felt like it was going to be a Jam Maker.  The Grip Safety was awkward as it pivoted backwards from normal, it had sharp edges of the frame exposed when the safety was depressed.
I warned people to avoid being an early adopter of the R51.
Turns out I was right, and all the pistols I had warned people about – all got recalled.  The gun was a bigger pile of crap than I had expected it to be.


Now, fast forward and Big Green is releasing the gun again.  All the work to rebuild the gun, all the new engineering and testing… should have been done before it was released to begin with.   It should have been tested – thoroughly – before it was released.    This was Remington’s fault, resting squarely on the shoulders of Remington.  But Remington pointed their fingers at Para USA, in Charlotte, NC…. where the R51 was being produced.   This wasn’t a quality control issue… this was a DESIGN ISSUE.   And guys at Para were saying “This isn’t right”.  Turns out that the guys at Para were right as well.  Because to fix the gun, Remington didn’t have to tight QC on the production line… they had to re-engineer  the bloody handgun.  Proving that it was indeed, a design issue.

Maybe the gun is now “fixed”.  But the first people to test it and say it’s fine – are some of the first people that said it was good to go the first time.   I have a bit of a problem with that.   When asked by a friend what my initial thoughts were about the new again R51… my knee-jerk reaction was “I’d rather have a Bersa.”

So my advice is the same as before.  Avoid being an Early Adopter of these R51 2.0’s.

Carolina Arms Group’s new Privateer 1911

Carolina Arms Group is located not very far away from me all all.  About 45 minutes up I-77 and I’m pulling into their parking lot.  So I’ve come to know the owner and I’ve met most everyone working at CAG.    CAG has made some very nice 1911’s… and some of the the best 1911’s I’ve ever handled.  That was the Trenton Series, a family of 1911’s named after the Battle of Trenton.      But now CAG has a new series of pistols.  Meet the PRIVATEER.


I’m going to say this… and I don’t say this lightly.  In fact, I’ve considered this for some time and I keep coming back to the same conclusion.  This is the best 1911 I’ve ever seen.  Let me say this again…


I’ve been into 1911’s since I was 16 and the father of a girlfriend introduced me to them.  His name was Dave and he was awesome.  I don’t even remember his daughter anymore… but I remember Dave.  Dave taught me the Tao of Browning.   He taught me how the gun works, inside and out, and how to shoot it.

Dave literally saved my life because of this… because the Army gave me Zero training when they issued me a 1911 and it was a 1911 that I used to save my life when someone was intent on ending it.   I’ve always loved the 1911 since those rather exciting days.  And I’ve always taken them seriously because of it.

I’ve tested and reviewed some of the best 1911’s on the planet, and have owned 1911’s from the likes of Terry Tussy and other high end custom gunsmiths…  And let me tell you… The CAG PRIVATEER 1911 is the finest example of the 1911 Pistol.   Period.  Saint John Moses Browning himself smiles upon the CAG Privateer and is well pleased.


Differences from the Trenton series have the Privateer using a regular, fine, checkering on the frame and the inclusion of an accessory rail.  Up top it’s wearing Tritium Night Sights instead of fiber optics.  As all serious use handguns should.  The grips are a slim profile, which makes the gun more narrower in the hand, which is great when wearing gloves… and even better when the gun is tight against your side when it’s riding in a holster.

The whole gun, including the barrel, is finished with a gorgeous DLC finish.  Diamond Like Coating.  The DLC Finish is incredibly strong, resistant, and smooth.   The gun looks amazing.  The laser engraving really pops and looks clean unlike anything coated in Cerakote or other finishes.  The Fit and Finish are – FLAWLESS – to the point that no photo will ever do these guns justice.   You have to see these guns in person.  You have to feel them in your hands.  You have to feel the slide’s action.  You have to feel the trigger.  You have to feel the difference between these guns and every other 1911 out there.

One day, I’m going to own a CAG Privateer in a Commander length.

Hit Carolina Arms Group on Facebook, and tell them I sent you.
If you want a Carolina Arms Group pistol… See them at Point Blank Range.  Or contact PBR and order one.


I paid a visit to Carolina Arms Group today… The makers of very desirable things. I got a peek at a new model, the Veteran Carry… which is an insanely smooth Bobtail Commander. It’s fantastic. Save your Pennies. And they are going to be rolling out some knives with carbon fiber scales, and matching carbon fiber grips for the pistol. VERY nice. Impressive. Mark threw some laser engraving on my knife… Thanks, Mark! If you guys need anything lasered – contact CAG and talk to them about it. Their laser system is fast and precise… sharpest looking laser work out there.
The new Veteran Carry – that’s the one to get!


Sneak Peek at the new Veteran Carry pistol.  It’s not even finished and it’s gorgeous as hell.  The Want is strong with this one.


Taking the time to fit it right.  By hand.


The little details are the important ones.   It has to be perfect.


What goes good with a high quality gun?  A high quality blade.


You’ll be able to order a Carolina Arms Group accessory kit with your pistol… Which includes the holster, knife, and matching grips.



A Rep from Arex came by to show us their new REX Zero 1 pistol.
At first glance it looks like just another SIG knock off, like we’ve seen before.  But there’s something different about this one, and it warrants a closer look.   First thing you’ll notice is the Ambi Safety where the classic SIG slidelock lever is.  So it does have a manual safety.  The Magazine release is Ambi as well, and works and feels exactly the same from either side.  Deliberate push but not too much effort… damn near perfect actually.  And the magazine (comes with two 17 rounders – they have no desire to sell to California or other restrictive states) drops freely and cleanly.  20160511_112416

The gun is very SIG-Like.  With full length rails and much of the architecture is classic SIG.   Remember when I said the Slide Lock is a Safety?  Well, these guys made the Decocker the Slide Lock Lever as well as the Decocker.  So it works like a SIG, and it works like every other gun on the planet, all in one Lever.  It’s really very clever.  Kudos to the engineer on that.   What surprised me is the nation of origin.  Slovenia.  Slovenia is a nice little country surrounded by Croatia, Italy, Austria, and Hungary…. a region that is very beautiful, but not know for Technical Exports into the USA, but evidently they do well exporting to the rest of Europe especially in the more technical aspects of the automotive industry… So they do have the technical chops.
Miss Slovenia kinda looks like a Discount Kristen Stewart.  But I wont hold that against them.

The gun breaks down just like SIG, the Barrels look like they could be interchangeable as well.  The internal machining is very clean, like a SIG.  The only real departure is the normal coiled spring instead of the multiple coils.20160511_112429

The Magazine locks at the front-center which makes it naturally Ambi.  The Mags look to be very well made, smooth, and seem to be of high quality.  20160511_112440

The test example had very even wear marks, with the wear only finish deep… very normal looking.  And all the parts, fitment, and finish seem to be of very high quality.20160511_112525

Typical SIG take down.  No surprises, no warts found.  It’s an impressive gun.  I did put some rounds through it… and it functioned reliably.  The trigger was smooth, no grit, no stacking… it was very SIG-like.  But it was a bit heavier than my SIG P220’s trigger.  Not much, but I noticed it.  This did not hamper the gun’s accuracy.  It shot VERY accurately.  I’m not going to show the target, because after I shot it, other shooters followed on the same target.   But trust me – the accuracy was very good.20160511_112540
The only downside to the pistol that I found was that the dovetails looked strange… and when I asked the Rep, he informed me that they are proprietary and nothing on the After Market will fit.  (Same with the Grips) He then told me that they are working on other Sight options for the gun.  The standard 3-Dot sights are fine for most shooters… but Defensive Shooters will want Tritium sights and Competitors will want Fiber Optics.  I did not ask how easy it would be for a Gunsmith to cut the dovetails to fit a more common type… but I imagine it could be done rather easily.

Talking pricing, this is where it’s Un-SIG-Like.  You’ll be able to find these retailing anywhere from 200 to 400 dollars less than a SIG 226.    And that makes this gun a very viable option – but remember this was just my initial impressions from a brief (But careful) examination and a brief range session…. I would love to test one through a 2,000 trial.

My take away is that if I want a Discount SIG, I’d find a good used SIG and buy that, instead of this one that has different sights and different magazines and will need different holsters, I’m sure.   But if I wanted a brand new gun that is unique and operates more like a normal gun but still has that SIG look and feel… well… this is that gun. It has a lot going for it and buyers will most likely be very pleased with the purchase.

For more Information on the REX Zero 1, check out the factory website.

Disappointed in the PPS M2



One thing I’ve come to expect from Walther – Excellent Triggers.   The PPQ, P99, PPX, and the original PPS all have triggers that go from Excellent to Fantastic.   The PPQ is well known for being The Best out of the box trigger of any Striker – even better than the VP9.
Now the this gun here… the PPS M2… I was really looking forward to getting my hands on one.  Because I am one of those weird guys that actually liked the original PPS.  So I was hoping that this would be the same gun as the original, but with some ergonomic enhancements.   This is not the case.  This is a completely different gun.  The new PPS looks great.  This is a good looking gun.  And for a Sub-Compact Single Stack – it even feels good.  If you like a Shield, you’ll probably love the PPS M2.
And then I tried the trigger.

Continue reading Disappointed in the PPS M2

SIG P220 Combat



The P220 Combat is designed to meet, and exceed, rigorous military standards. The P220 Combat performs like no other .45ACP available. Each pistol features the military’s Flat Dark Earth finish on its alloy frame and SIG’s Nitron® over a stainless slide. Internal parts and controls are phosphated for extreme corrosion resistance and reduced friction while the threaded barrel is hard chromed and finished in Nitron® which easily passes the military’s accuracy requirements – even after 20,000 rounds. The P220 Combat also passes the military’s 240-hour salt spray corrosion test. Outfitted with a true M1913 Picatinny rail, vertical front strap serrations and SIGLITE® night sights.

Continue reading SIG P220 Combat


20151005_142305The XD MOD.2 Service.  A new XD I could actually own.

This is the best rework of the XD series Springfield has.  I like this better than the XDM.  The new MOD.2 is shaped right.  It fills the hand without being too large and is just grippy enough to be be grippy without being abrasive.  The regular XD’s and XDM’s feel slick in my hands… .and for that reason I just don’t take to them.   20151005_142251Had this been the design back before I got my Glock 23 – I think I could have been very likely to have selected one of these.  Now look at the Slide and Frame contours… You know what?  The XD isn’t ugly anymore.  It’s grown into quite the handsome figure.  I like the slide serrations.  They did a great job.
There’s just one problem.
20151005_142243“GRIP ZONE”?  Seriously?  Where’s the “SLIDE ZONE” markings?  Captain Obvious needs to stay out of the Design Room at Springfield and maybe take a holiday to eastern Syria.  GRIP ZONE… Who approved that?  Who did that?  Who is responsible for GRIP ZONE?  If you know who that guy is… Mark his face with a Sharpie “SLAP ZONE”.  Please.
Other than that… Home Run, Springfield.  Home Run!  I’ll be waiting for and 3.8 Compact Mod.2 in the XDM series…  But this is tempting. as it is.  Very well done, Springfield… Bravo!