Tag Archives: Handguns

Armchair Quarterbacking: PARA USA

I’ve never really been all that fond of Para Ordinance for various reasons.  However Para Ordinance became PARA USA, moved from Canada to the US, and have been working hard to forge their spot in the American Gun Culture.  Some years ago at a Media Range Day at SHOT Show, I browsed the offerings at PARA’s booth and was impressed with what I saw.  The gun was a very basic 1911 for Wild Bunch competition.  Nothing fancy, just very “GI” style.  Simple.  And good.  It was very good.  I shot several other 1911’s from other makers, but the one that stuck in my mind, even the one I liked the best, was the Para.  During SHOT I went to the PARA booth and looked at the pistol again.  It wasn’t a fluke… I really did like the gun.  It was at that moment when I realized that PARA USA is a company to take seriously.

Now it’s about 4 years later and PARA USA has continued to improve their guns.   They’ve made huge strides to the point that PARA USA is now one of my TOP 1911 Makers.     They are making some 1911’s I want to buy.  Not their whole product line… but close.  They can do a few simple things to really hit it out of the Ballpark.   Let’s take a look at PARA USA’s line up.

Let’s start at the top of their own roster and work down.  The Executive Carry.    The gun looks good, with a nice finish, nice grips, and that awesome bobtail.  But it has a 3″ barrel.   This is basically a full length grip, bobtailed, and an ultra compact barrel.  If this was a revolver, this would be the equivalent of S&W Magnum Grips on a Snub-Nose.  It makes no sense to me.  The grip frame is the hard part to conceal, not the barrel.  Bobtailing it is a nice touch, but if you are going to have an ultra compact barrel, give it an ultra compact grip frame as well.  At least an Officer’s length grip frame.  Bobtail that.  This gun is just a bit off because of the short snout.   Because of that, I wouldn’t buy this one.  However, if it was sporting a Commander length slide and barrel – I would.  A nice clean Lightweight Commander on a Bobtail frame is missing from PARA’s line up and it should fit right here in the EXECUTIVE category.   That’s 1 missing gun.

The other missing gun from the EXECUTIVE Category is the CCO configuration.  A Commander Length barrel and slide on an Officer’s frame.  Basically just the opposite of the PARA Executive they have right now.  Colt’s CCO was a breakthrough for concealed carry 1911’s.  SIG followed that pattern and hit a home run with it in the C3 and RCS models.  Smaller frame for easier concealment, and a nice length barrel that doesn’t give up much on ballistics and sight radius.  It NAILS it.  PARA doesn’t have a CCO type 1911, and they should.

Here’s one more gun to add to the Executive roster.  The LDA Officer… But with a standard 1911 trigger mechanism.  Not everyone likes an LDA Trigger in their 1911, but the Officer platform is a good one, and should be reflected in the Executive, Elite and Expert lines. One thing that the LDA has that I’d like in the Executive line is that front strap checkering.  That Lightweight Commander Bobtail – I’d like some fine checkering on the front strap.

I’m not going to comment on the Competition guns, because I think PARA nailed those as offerings and every competitive shooter I know would change things anyway to their own liking and everyone has a difference of opinion so you’ll never make everyone happy there.   But it’s a solid line as it is.

Now, for the Tactical side of things.  The Black Ops line.   Sharp.  I could buy one of these.   Wait a second here… How come the Black Ops 1911 Single Stack doesn’t have the Checkering like the Double Stack?  If this is to be a full featured combat oriented line, let’s not skimp on it.    Also, the Recon, your Commander length tactical gun.  Where’s the Single Stack version of the Recon?

While we’re talking Tactical, not all Tactical ops are Black Ops.  I’d like to see Tactical versions in OD Green and FDE (Flat Dark Earth).  Same guns, just not blacked out.  I know you’ve had them before, I sold them.  FDE the slide and frame, and use the regular black parts and grips for a nice contrast.  Would look very sharp.

Now on to the Elite Series.  The PARA Elite is a wide range of 1911’s that we can probably say is PARA’s main line.  Or at least it should be. My only hang up with the Elite Series is that they are using Fiber Optic Front Sight Posts on all but the Elite Pro.    The Elite Pro is one of my very favorite guns from PARA’s line up.  It hits all the right buttons.  Now, where is the Elite Pro Commander?  There’s another gun that’s missing from PARA’s line.   Another one is an Elite Bobtail Commander.   Again with Bobtail Commanders?  I know.  But still, my point is valid.  Ask Dan Wesson.

The ELITE LS HUNTER.  This gun is one that I’ve been waiting for… a 10mm Long Slide – I must have this.  Thank you for making this one!   Now, if you could just add 10mm options to a couple other Elite or Tactical guns, thank you.  And to keep up with STI – mayhaps a double stack version as well?

Reverse Two Tone.  I want to see more Two Toned guns, specifically in the “Reverse” scheme.  Light on bottom, dark on top.  Make a lightweight bobtail commander in 10mm, in reverse two tone – and you’ll have my order by the end of Oct.   Seriously.   I’ll order it through Blackstone Shooting Sports in Charlotte.  I’m not kidding.  I will.

The Expert line.  I’m giving you some Golf Claps over here.  Bravo… You have it nailed here.   Simple lines, no frills, and “No Gills”.  None of those forward slide serrations that ruin the lines of a handsome Government model.   THIS is the 1911 that I want the OTHER companies to make!   And PARA USA made it.    This makes me quite happy that I am moving to the town that makes it!   Can I get a black slide on that Stainless frame?  In a Commander?

The Warthog is listed under the Expert category… and that’s fine.  But remember what I said about the CCO?  A CCO Warthog…. Call it the “A-10″ model, as in “A-10 Warthog“, the Infantryman’s favorite jet plane.  It would be the Goldilocks for concealed carry double stacked 1911’s.  The regular Warthog is just a bit too short in the snout for me.   I know it’s been popular, but trust me… a 4″ version would be even more so.  I could have sold twice as many, because that is what the most common remark about it was.   Springfield found this out when they made 4″ versions of the XDS, as did SIG with the C3 and RCS.  That’s the configuration that is IDEAL for concealed carry.

That’s about it for PARA USA.   They are doing a really great job and I’m happy to see it.  They’ve come a long way and are now a great 1911 company!   Well done, PARA USA!!!   *Standing Ovation Here*

My favorite 1911 Configuration.

To me, saying “1911” is like saying “Pickup Truck”.  There are many Makes and Models out there, all different, all with different purposes. But they are all 1911’s so they are pretty good and should all pretty much run the same way.   But one configuration of 1911 that always makes me drool…
A Lightweight Commander.  Specifically a two tone LW Commander.  As far as pistols go – these are my Redheads.  My Kryponite.  My weakness.

SONY DSC

 

This one is very nice… Subdued colors.  A big visible dot on the front sight… Very nice indeed.  I’m not a huge fan of the ramped rear sight, but I can deal with that.  On this gun the higher end red wood grips are a little dressy on the flat finished gun.

colt_04860txt_commander_eliteThis one is nice too… Subdued colors again, but with a set of black grip panels.  I like that a bit better due to the fact that it’s more in keeping with the motif.  The first one is like having White Wall tires on a Mustang GT.   I guess that would be fine if that’s your thing… it’s just not my thing.   And if it is your thing… and you like that… Well, “America”.   Bully for you!

kobra4Here’s one that’s very good.  Micarta grips, brushed stainless and a moderate polish on the slide… Not Subdued, but more natural.  I really like that.  I also like the Bobtail… a lot.  But it’s not necessary…  Just really really nice.  Like Navigation or a Back Up Camera, or XM Radio.

Yost_left_rearOh man… Here we go.  This is the higher end.  We have a high polish on that blued slide and burled walnut grips.  This one is so nice that it’s almost too nice.  We call guns like this “BBQ Guns”, but it’s what you wear to a BBQ at your friends place… your nicest gun in a nice leather holster.  Not something I’d EDC, but wear to special occasions.  It would be like having a date with a Super Model… You are not going to take her out on the rounds of your usual haunts, but to some place special.  (Unless she asked to go to the regular haunts mind you)   So for me, that last one there, the more natural one, that’s the one I’d pick.

What do all these Commanders have in common?  Two Tone Finishes, with Dark on top of Light.  The current Vogue due to the advent of stainless slides on polymer frames is to have a light colored slide on a dark frame.  This I don’t care for.  It makes all manner of sense though, sure.  It’s PRACTICAL.  A stainless slide will show less wear than a blued slide.  And frames will typically show less wear than slides… So putting a stainless slide on that black frame makes Reason and Logic smile.  But it doesn’t make me necessarily smile, no, just the opposite is true.  And let me tell you why.

Growing up reading every gun magazine I could get my hands on as a kid, I stared with wide eyes and great wonder at the custom 1911’s made by true master level gunsmiths… and all of them were two tones with stainless frames and high polished blued slides.   That LOOK defined “Custom” for me then and it does so now.  So the stainless slides on black frames just look “off” to me.   So my ultimate has to have a black slide on light frame.   That just visually tastes right to me.

Armchair Quarterbacking: BERETTA.

I’ve not always been a fan of Beretta.  I’ll admit that.  When I was first told to turn in my 1911 to be issued an M9, I was not a happy camper, and that caused a burning hatred of the 92 series pistol that lasted for a good many years.  Two decades later and I find myself to be a rabid 92 series fanatic.  It took a long time to come around… but the gun garnered my favor the hard way.  It earned it.  Working at the gun counter for almost a 9 years, I had sold a great many Beretta products.  And I do not remember a single one that ever came back with an issue.  Say what you will about Beretta, I know they have their share of detractors out there… But I love Beretta.  But I also know they are far from perfect.  Let’s hit the high notes:

The 92FS:
92fs
I hate to admit it, but this gun is a dinosaur.  I love mine, and I think these are the best looking automatics ever built… But the design is dated and need revision.  Oh, wait… You did revise it.  And you called it the 92A1:
92a1_zoom001
You added a rail.. which is a good… but better yet you gave it a dovetailed front sight post which was desperately needed, and you improved the internals… All of this is good, fine and well… Making this gun the best 92 you can buy.  But then you changed the trigger guard to differentiate it from the M9A1.  What I don’t understand though is why do you have these two very different pistols?  Because a holster for an M9A1 wont work with a 92A1, not even close.  I do not see the roles that these two different pistols fill.   This pistol just leaves me scratching my head.  So here’s what you need to do.   Kill the 92A1.
Wait, what?  I just said it improved everything an was the best 92 you can buy!   Yes, I did.  But it still needs to die.   Namely because it doesn’t stand out in the 92 series line.  Same with the 96A1.   I would build the 96A1 within the same frame as the M9A1, same trigger guard.  Giving the 96A1 the Civilian frame with the rounded trigger guards makes no sense.  It’s a tactical gun and needs to be better compatible with the lights.  I think this will fill that 96 nitch much better.    Now, back to the 92A1… Yes, kill it.   And fill the hole in the line up with with a reintroduction of the 90-TWO, renaming it simply as the 2092:
90two
This gun looks amazing, feels amazing, and shoots as good as it looks.  The reshaped safety levers are an improvement.  This gun moves the Beretta family forward.    It only failed because someone gave it a stupid name and your Marketing effort was completely lacking.
This was the stupidest name ever in the firearms industry.  It was a failure from the start.  But the pistol was awesome.  It needs  second chance.  So rename the bloody thing and bring it back.  Also, make a 2092 INOX.  And just for fun, maybe INOX slides on the blackened frames and barrels… and vice versa… because two tone guns are sexy.  There should also be a COMPACT version of the 2092 as well.

Here’s another gun that needs to make a comeback:
Shiny92

The Billennium.  But instead of it being blinged out… Just make it Black and Inox.  Here’s why.  It answers the #1 Complaint that people hate on the 92 for – the Slide Mounted Safety.  The Billennium’s Frame Mounted Safety – Especially if you matched that up with the old Vertec Frame – would be a WINNER.
98-96-Vertec-Steel
You guys actually had it… and like the 90-Two… you failed to market it correctly.  In fact, I didn’t even know this thing existed.  All steel though – so it was a heavy pig.  Nice idea, bad execution.  Make THAT but with an alloy frame and your current rear sight… Beretta… I’m telling ya… WIN.    How come this hasn’t been done already?

The NEOS.  I like the pistol.  But it’s skinny grip and extreme angle is ridiculous.  Have you looked at a Ruger MKIII or Browning Buckmark?  Well look again.   Because I don’t have hands like an adolescent E.T.
Cylon
This is why I’ve never bought one.  I can’t even hold on to the thing.   However I’ve sold it to people with smaller paws than mine, and they have loved it.   Never have I sold one to a guy with bigger hands though.   Look at Ruger… They have the option of a .45 like grip frame.  Do that, but with maybe your Storm.  A Storm like grip frame.  Seriously Beretta, as much as you guys may like this thing as it is – at American Gun Counters, it turns off far more people than it impresses.

The Storm Series:
PX4_SD-1
I love the Storm Pistols.  Two things though… the Sub Compact with the tilting barrel…  Get rid of it.  It does nothing the Compact can’t do and it’s using a different action so it’s not really a sub compact version.  The SD as shown.  Where are the 9mm and .40 cal versions and where is the Compact version?  Remember when the Navy bought a lot of HK pistols recently?  They bought the compact version of the HK45, and not the full sized.  Huge handguns are good… but sometimes those Operators who operate operationally need something a bit smaller so they can conceal them.   And US Citizens like do something called EDC with guns with many of these features.   That Midsized handgun is the sweet spot, and you need to maximize that.

This Thing:
cx4-1
I could write a 2,000 word report on everything wrong with this thing alone… But I don’t have time.  So I’m going to quickly outline what it needs to fix it.  It needs a major work-over.  The pyramid iron sights… Kill it.  Run a full rail across the top end to end.  Let customers use AR style irons of their choice.  No one likes these sights that doesn’t work for Beretta and have to say they do.   Extend the the body out till only an inch from the muzzle.  Thread the barrel.  Give it a thread cap.  Threads should be a common type.  Supply a flashhider/muzzle brake with it.  I like the lack of rails on the side and bottom, but put mounting hardware in there so rails can be added where needed.  The bottom of the pistol grip makes fast reloads a challenge.  Shape it like a normal pistol grip.  The Bolt Release needs to be a Safety.  On both sides, make it ambi.  Push the bolt handle out front and give it an HK style bolt catch and release.  That stock.  Get rid of it.  Put on a SCAR style Folding/Adjustable stock.  Done.  Now just rename it.  Your other rifles are the ARX series… call this one the ARX9 or ARX40 or ARX45 per caliber and you have a WINNER.   You’ll sell more than you ever had before.

I’m only going to touch on 1 shotgun.
1301tactical
I want a pistol grip version and I want the feed tube to run out to the end of the barrel.   Make these options.  I also want mounting points at the front end so I can attach a short rail section to add a tactical light.  That’s it.  Simple.

My Top 3 Interesting Handguns

I’ve a rather short list of handguns that are of interest to me, at the moment.  Perhaps the fascination will pass on these, but the Want Factor has been quite high all year so far.

1.  The Walther PPQ M2 5″.
PPQ-M2-5inch
The P99 I reviewed for Concealed Carry Magazine really impressed me, overall. But a couple things that irritated me to one degree or another on the P99 was removed or fixed in the PPQ.  Namely the mag release and the decocker button on the top of the slide.  The PPQ retains everything good about the P99, just cleaned up.  Like a Subaru WRX without the Spoiler and Hood Nostril.  Talking to some other guys about the PPQ, such as Jon Hodoway from Nighthawk Custom Training… it’s quietly becoming a favorite in the class of Polyframed Striker Fired pistols.

2.  The SIG M11-A1.
SIG-Sauer-M11-A1
This is basically a reintroduction of the  very excellent SIG P228… Which is what SIG is now calling the 229… but the 229 has rails.  Don’t try to figure it out – it’s SIG and they just do things like that.  But it takes nothing away from the M11A1… Which is an excellent pistol and one that’s been on my mind more and more lately.  Slightly shorter than the full sized 226, the M11A1 comes home to that “Just Right” size for me.  For EDC work both Open or Concealed, this gun can get it done.  And has been getting it done under the 228 tag for a long time.  I had a 228 that I used as a backup gun for some time and it was quiet excellent.  I did have some problems with the trigger return spring, but that was an easy fix and it never troubled me again.  I miss that gun.  This is it’s resurrection.

3.  The Ruger Super Blackhawk, 4 5/8″, .44 Magnum.
ruger_70181
Nothing quite says “You’re Doomed” like thumbcocking back the hammer on an accurate and powerful single action revolver.  I’m more fond of the western style revolvers than I am the more “modern” double action types.  There’s something about the classic heritage of the breed that is both fascinating and just… I don’t know how to say it… “The way it should be”.  Especially when dealing with full potency magnum loads.  The only thing I’d do to this gun would be to get a Gold Bead front sight put in.  That’s it.  The reason I picked this over the Vaquero… the sights… the magnum frame… and a grip that fits my hand better.  The Vaquero felt too small to me.  Nice, but too small.  That and with the Blackhawks I can really place my shots.  For me, that’s a requirement with a gun with only a few rounds in it.  The shorter barrel looks properly handsome as well.    If I was in a rural area again where Open Carry didn’t even cause folks to look twice – That’s what I’d be packing most of the time I think.  (Along with a Truck Gun in the same caliber… Such as a Rossi 92 20″)

The 1911 and I

PW9108LI find it interesting that having worked for a holster company for 10 months, I don’t have a decent EDC holster for my 1911.  Sure I have a leg rig.  And an Army Field rig… but I’m not one that I can carry concealed with.  That’s most strange to me.  Because I’ve been working on my 1911 a bit here and there all day long.   Just holding it, gives me some comfort and satisfaction in the beauty of the thing.
Mine is not a fancy 1911.  It’s not shiny and it’s not gleaming with black tactical pretense.  It is, just what it is.  And that’s why I love it so much.  It’s very honest about what it is.  Springfield Armory may have discontinued it… the “GI” model, but I think it was a mistake… because for some reason, I think it was the best 1911 Springfield Armory has ever made.
The finish is worn.  In places, down the bare metal.  The wood grips are scratched and scared.  It’s heavy, being made of solid steel.  The sights are the old style, rudimentary and hard to see.  The hammer spur is long, and with GI grip safety – it can bite you.  It’s not the most pleasant gun to look at or fire for any amount of time.  But it has something else….
Reliability.  I’ve not had a failure with this pistol… Not a single jam or misfire… and the accuracy has been above par.  I trust this gun.  It’s one of the few guns I keep loaded at all times.  (Which reminds me… it’s time to rotate the magazines)  It has never let me down when I put it to the test and it has done everything I’ve ever asked of it.

It reminds me of myself.  I’m not old, but I feel a lot older than I should for a man of my age.  It’s not the years, it’s the miles, they say.  My finish is worn and so are my parts.  I’m not pleasing to look at, and I’m a bit too heavy, and I can bite when not handled properly.  But I am reliable, and I hit hard, and I hit true.

Getting back into the job market… looking for employment.  I’m suddenly no longer optimistic.  I’m not as young as I used to be, and my family is larger and their necessities are more expensive… Feeding them is a challenge.  If an Employer is like a Gun Buyer… Why would they pick an old ugly GI 1911 when for less money they could buy one of these younger M&P’s or Glocks?

Such thoughts have depressed me greatly.  Regardless of that, I’ll be packing my 1911 from now until…  Well… I need to find a good EDC holster for this thing.  I think perhaps, I shall make one.

This 1911 is special to me.  It is an almost identical clone to one issued to me when I was in uniform and found myself in a kinetic altercation. The result was both my adversary and myself laying on the ground fifty yards apart.  I credit my armor for saving my life from his hit on me.  I credit the 1911 with denying him a second shot.    This is something that no Glock or M&P has done for me.  And well, this 1911 didn’t either, but it is a mirror image of the one that did.  That one was a Colt and had to be returned to the armory.  This clone was made by Springfield Armory.  I consider it to be close enough for a memento.   The fact that it’s served so well ever since I acquired it is only a happy bonus.

Your Gun Company’s Top 5 changes

Pick a Gun Company.   Any existing Gun Company, big or small.  You are now the CEO, Chairman of the Board, and Majority Shareholder.  It’s your company.  You can do anything you want with it.    What are the TOP FIVE things you would do with your Gun Company?

I’d take SIG SAUER.
1.  First thing I’d do, right off the bat… End the relationship with iTAC Defense.  iTAC is SIG’s goiter.  It’s the unwanted, unloved tumor that people tend to get rid of as soon as possible.  You have well engineered and made firearms, and then you have this cheap plastic crap that devalues the weapon system that the iTAC item is bundled with.  It’s AOL installed on your new computer.  The holster is a terrible knock off of the SERPA… it actually makes the SERPA look good.  The Red Dots are okay on the outside, but the field of view is too small and the Dot is too big and the optical quality is much like trying to see through a Vegas Fremont Street dive bar… DANK.  Dark and murky.  Do not get me started on the SIG Lights.
If SIG is going to Bundle holsters and lights and Red Dots… SIG has got to realize it’s intended market position and select accessories that are in that same position.  SIG wants to be the Mercedes Benz of the Firearms World – Who’s the Mercedes of those accessories?  Red Dots?  Trijicon.  Lights? Surefire.    Make some deals with those guys and make it happen.

2.  Kill the P250.  The P250 is SIG’s SIGMA.  You might think it’s just fine or you may have thought the SIGMA is fine.  You are wrong, and all your taste is in your mouth.  You are a Philistine, and your opinion is invalid.  The new 320 may be an improvement on the P250, but that’s a low hurdle.  I’d kill the 320 as well.   Because a Modular Handgun is a good idea, being able to fit a handgun to the hand of the shooter is idea thats time has come.  But the P250 is a really bad execution of that idea.   Everyone else has done this the right way, simply and effectively with swappable panels.  This started with the Walther P99 and now most everyone has done this – HK has done it the best.  SIG goes and does something completely different, which is fine… but they did it completely wrong.    Changing grip frames to go up and down in sizes of the gun it’s self… We’ve see that before in the Dan Wesson revolvers.  Nice execution there… but not exactly a success in the market.   Why is that? Because no one really wants that.  Why have 1 gun that changes when you can have 2?  I’d rather sell someone two guns.  They would rather own two guns.  How do I know?  Because I’d rather have two guns.  Changing calibers is different.  That’s cool.  Look at the TC Contender and Encore pistols.  That works.  But if the Contender or Encore was all the same caliber and only let you change barrel lengths – I don’t think it would have been the success that we see today.  The other thing the Contenders and Encores have going for them are that they are well crafted.  The P250 may be well crafted – but it doesn’t feel that way to me.  It feels as solid as a 68 VW Beetle that every time you shut the door you leave a line of powdered rust under the door sills.    It feels tinny and hollow.  Exactly in the same way a Glock or XDM or M&P doesn’t.  SIG needs a serious polymer framed Stryker fired pistol.  Not a 250 with a conversion kit stuck in it.

3.  This.  And This.   What are you making guns in Turkey now?  Sarsilmaz your contractor now?  Come on.  What the hell is this?  This is SIG’s version of the DONK.   This has got to stop.  Along with it, all the different color variations that are separating the SIG Brand from the SIG core foundation.  I counted 26 different versions of the P226.  Twenty Six.  I’m sorry, but that is just pants on the head retarded.   That needs to be trimmed down.  You make 20 different pistol types and each one has a couple dozen versions.  And that’s not even counting the pistol versions of the rifles… If I did, that’s 26 again.  That just… It gives me that sharp stabbing pain right behind my eyes… that headache… SIG – you give me THAT headache.

4.  The P210 is literally more than twice the actual price it should be.  I’ll give you 1200 bucks MSRP on them.  No more.  I’d make the P210 pistol something that every enthusiast can obtain… and by doing that I’d burst open the flood gates and take the single stack 9mm market by storm.  And don’t tell me that it’s so bloody complicated to machine.  This is the age of 5 axis CNC milling when you are talking about a pistol made in the age of hand machining.  You can make it faster and cheaper without sacrificing quality.  By limiting the production you inflate to value.  Look at it this way – everyone competing with an X5 – should be competing with a P210.  Make that your flagship line.  Don’t call it a “Legend”  Others will call it that for you.

4.  Your State Compliant guns.  GONE.  Screw those states.  I’m not going to make a special gun that compromises my product to capitulate with Anti-Gun bullshit legislation.   I wouldn’t sell a single item in those states.   Not only that… I’d move out of New Hampshire and move to a state that is unquestioned in regards to the Second Amendment.  I’d move to Arizona.  The right to keep and bear arms in AZ is not up for debate.  That’s where a premier gun maker needs to be based.  Not in New England.  New England had the industrial roots at the turn of the century, which is why the great gun companies grew there – but that time has passed.   It’s time to go to where your supporters are.  The tax dollars you generate for a state that doesn’t support your industry – is folly.  Move.  Close every office, move ever person and asset, liquidate what’s left.  Restart anew.  That’s what needs to happen.

5.  Where’s my Shotgun?   Specifically, where is my semi-automatic, tactical shotgun?

Top Service Pistols for 2014

I’ve talked about the best choices for Concealed Carry, but what about for the guys who have to carry openly?  Law Enforcement, PMC, Security Contractor, or general Open Carry use, these are going to require a different type of handgun.  Basically as much gun on your hip as you can get.  Full sized, full capacity, none of the compromises required for Concealment.

SIG 226/220.  This full sized SIG is a classic and the choice of a great many gunslinging professionals.  A big capacity and rugged construction combined with reliability and accuracy. It’s everything you could want in a Side Arm.  Unless you want a larger caliber.  The 220 everything you like about the 226, but in .45 Auto.  This big bore auto is known as “The Thinking Man’s .45″ and that does indeed make sense when you’ve spent time with the gun.  Same capacity as a 1911, but offers a decocking DA/SA fire control profile.  This is probably the safest autoloading handgun I know of. (226 included)  They are also very accurate.

Glock 17/22.  Depending on your choice of 9mm or .40 cal, these guns are probably the first choice of more police departments than anything else.  Very low bore axis, and a simple striker fired trigger mechanism makes these guns very easy to shoot well with once you get used to the triggers.  17 rounds of 9mm was an improvement over the typical 15 rounds others guns had, and 15 rounds of .40 cal is nothing to sneeze at these days.

Glock 20/21.  10mm or .45, these full sized beasts give you everything you need to pull duty on a dark and storm night.    A lot of Law Enforcement Officers are running the 21 and I know a few that are running the 10mm.  15 rounds of 10mm is a lot of firepower.  With good accuracy and legendary reliability – A Glock is never a wrong choice.

Beretta 90 Series.  The 92FS, 92F, M9, M9A1, 92A1, 90-TWO, 96, 96A1.  Shooting the big Beretta is like driving a Cadillac.  Big, comfortable, comforting, reliable and accurate all with Hollywood good looks.   Beretta has a lot of visual style, but what I like best is the almost straight line feeding.  Mine can feed empty casing.  Super smooth action as well, thanks to it’s unique locking block.  The Beretta won the US Army contract for a good reason.  Like it or not – and I know I’m going to open a can of worms here – it kicked SIG’s ass in the Trials.  It kicked everyone’s asses in the Trials.  So much so that the Army actually had to “dumb down” the test just so the SIG could stay in the race and the Beretta wouldn’t be a lone competitor.  The 90 Series is battle proven around the world.

Beretta Px4 STORM.  This is Beretta’s newest service auto.  It uses a unique rotating barrel action with a traditionally Beretta like DA/SA trigger mechanism.  This action makes the Storm a soft shooting pistol as it takes more energy out of the recoil.  Like the 90 Series, the sights and the barrel maintain their relationship, they are very accurate shot to shot.  With good triggers and comfortable recoil – it’s easy to be a good shot with the Px4 STORM.  Even the Mid sized version… But the full sized is seriously just a pussycat.  You can get it in 9, .40, and .45 auto.  It’s one of my favorite new autos.

S&W M&P.  S&W decided to get serious with the Poly Striker platform and forced Glock to rush the Gen 4 to market.  Smith took a lot of LEO sales away from Glock. The Swampy as some call it, is a good pistol and a huge step up from Smith’s prior Glock Attack, the SIGMA.  *shudder*.   I bought one for my eldest Son, who upon getting the pistol, loading it, and having never fired it before – drilled the X in the target as perfectly as an Olympic Marksman from 20 yards.  They are accurate guns.  Like my Glocks, his Swampy has never failed.

Walther PPQ.  This gun surprised me.  The prior P99 was a gun that surprised me too.  500 rounds of mixed ammunition, it never failed.  But it had a couple characteristics that made it an oddity.  Such as the push down mag release and the top of the slide decocker button.  The PPQ does away with the decocker on top and gives the gun a normal and familiar mag release. Honestly I didn’t mind the P99’s mag release and I found that I would use my trigger finger to drop the mags, just like I did with my HK.  The PPQ is now available in either 4 or 5 inch barrel lengths and in 9mm or .40 caliber.  The PPQ feels good in the hand and is probably one of the best and most under-rated service autos on the market.  Let me put it this way – I really want a PPQ and will be buying one this year. Or Trading for it. A few years ago I had said that Walther was struggling to maintain it’s validity.  The PPQ anchors it.

Springfield Armory XDM.  Good trigger, good sights, and huge capacities make the XDM a solid choice.  If you can get passed it’s “only a mother could love it” looks.  While I’m not the biggest fan, I have to respect it. They are super accurate and easy to shoot well with.  I know owners who have dumped a lot of rounds with astounding accuracy through their M’s.

HK P30 and HK45.  The Germans really do engineer some fine hardware.  But the P30 and the HK45 are both over priced and in my opinion over rated.  With a standard trigger package, I find their triggers to be lacking in the quality of trigger pull that I would expect from such expensive guns.  And I don’t like glow in the dark toy like sights that come on them stock.  Again, for such an expensive gun, I want Tritiums on it right out of the box.  Don’t get me started on the price of spare mags.  For what you pay for an HK, it should come with Tritiums and 4 spares.  All that aside – these guns deserve consideration.  They are sharp looking, and they feel good in the hand.   You can not go wrong with an HK, you really can’t.  They are very well made.  And after you dump enough rounds through it… Cost wise, would be enough to put a kid through a 12 credit semester of college, the trigger does feel pretty decent.   They do look good… Like new BMW or Mercedes good looking.  Pistol-Training.com’s Todd Green did a long term test on the P30 and it ran some 93,000 rounds before forced retirement.  You could buy a new car for that much… Or you could afford to get sick or even have a (small) accident under Obamacare for that much money.  I believe that none of his other tests have run that distance… Which ultimately makes the HK’s probably the best choice out of the lot.

 

A Brief Over-View of Beretta’s 90 Series pistols.

92FS

92FS & 96FS.   Standard Beretta 92/96 series. 3 dot sights.  This is the classic.  Used in every movie ever made through the 80’s.  Used by Law Enforcement around the world during that time.  It’s a great looking handgun.  Solid.  Accurate.  Reliable.  Shooting it is like driving a Cadillac.  Much like the Cadillac’s of the 80’s, which were overly large, heavy, and under-powered.  Yes, we make holsters for this.

M9

M9 Commercial.  Same as Military issue.  Uses dot-bar sights, but otherwise identical to the 92FS.  Used by just about everyone in the US Military who has no choice of what pistols they are issued.  Those who have the option tend to roll with the SIG P226 or a 1911 (Looking at you, MARSOC) or really whatever they feel like at the time as long as it’s not the M9.  Still, the M9 is a great pistol and will always be a great pistol.  Yes, we have holsters for this.

M9A1

M9A1.  railed version of the M9 with checkering.  Notice the straight and flat forward edge of the Trigger guard.  You can see this was built to not just have the option of a light mount, but to actually run with a light mounted to it.  I think they had the X300 specifically in mind when they designed this gun.  Yes, we have holsters for this.

92A1

92A1/96A1.  Railed version of the 92, but with a dovetailed front sight post, internal recoil buffers in the 96 version, no checkering like the M9A1, and note the rounded trigger guard.  The rail is Picatinny and not the normal universal rail.  This rail is bigger than the normal rail, which requires a completely different mold which we’ve not made yet.  Beretta made this gun different from everything else, not because these changes made for a better pistol, but because Beretta doesn’t like you, or concepts like “compatibility”.  NO, we do not have holsters for this at this time.

90-Two

90-Two.  Rounded trigger guard, new grips, and note the new slide profile.  Sights are dovetailed, there is an internal recoil buffer, and note that the rails come with a removable Rail Cover over them.    No, we do not have anything for this one, and we don’t need to as Beretta has killed off this gun.  Probably the best of the 90 Series guns Beretta has made.  And it’s a great looking and feeling gun too.  But it didn’t sell very well, because Beretta doesn’t know how to market their tactical guns.  That, and they gave it the worst name they could have possibly given it.  How do you say that?  “Ninety Two”.  Just like their other gun, the “Ninety Two”.  Brilliant.