Tag Archives: Handguns

HK’s HK45 Tactical

One thing I like about the HK HK45, is that it’s actually a .45 Auto caliber handgun. Unlike Glock’s G45, which is a 9mm. Small details, but with the HK, the small details add up. Outside of 1911’s, the HK45 is one of the very best looking .45 caliber handguns on the planet. And one of the best feeling handguns in the hand. As I said before, it’s in the small details.

The newer HK45 Tacticals are coming with tall suppressor sights. But I like these lower profile night sights that have a nice hook to help with one handed slide manipulations. It’s Ambi-Friendly as you can see with the wrong side slide release lever and the magazine release lever. It has, of course, the expected frame rail and the extended, threaded barrel.

The full sized grip frame allows for a full 10 round magazine capacity. The but it also gives you some very elegant contouring for an amazing feel in the hand. And to make sure it’s good in more than the average hands, the back strap is changeable. The muzzle end has some nice lines to it as well. Gone is the monolithic flat faced of the USP series. The beveling doesn’t just look nice, but it also helps reholstering. I like the fatter magazine floor plates that help in a fast reload in making sure the mag is slapped all the way in and locks properly.

At 31.2 ounces, the HK45 isn’t the lightest of handguns, but it’s not a heavy one either. It balances well in the hand, and with a 1911-like grip angle, it points naturally. The trigger is smooth, and the break is crisp. I do appreciate the DA/SA trigger system. You can carry it cocked & locked, or you can decock it into DA mode, where it’s nice and safe and you won’t have anyone tapping your shoulder, “You’re Hammer is cocked.” I hate that. The 5.2″ Barrel is long enough to give you a good long sight radius. These little details add up to a comfortable handgun that is very accurate and comfortable to shoot. The recoil is cushy.

FN Five-seveN

FN’s Five-seveN pistol is one strange handgun. The exterior of the pistol is all polymer, including the slide. The gun is very light with a balance that makes it feel like some sort of toy. The safety strange too, like an AR-15’s safety, but reversed. The 5.7x28mm cartridge it fires is also odd, like a little bottle-necked rifle cartridge.

But as strange as it is, the gun works very well. It’s accurate and reliable. And it hits like a .22 Magnum from a rifle. Which is impressive from a handgun. And with a full 20 rounds in the magazine, that’s a good amount of firepower on tap. And with the proper ammo selection, it’s armor piercing.

The gun is odd feeling in the hand. The long narrow profile of the grip frame is different. It’s 1911 Government Model in size, so it points well, and handles the recoil quite well too. What recoil there is. It’s low. And the trigger is different too. But it’s not bad. Not bad at all. But the oddities all mix together into something unique and pretty damn cool. Making hits with the Five-seveN is easy.

If there is any downside to the Five-seveN, its that it’s $1,435.00 MSRP makes it an expensive novelty with a proprietary cartridge that needs to be chambered in a small light bolt action rifle that would then equal a .22 Hornet. Instead of a nice little bolty, the option is the FN P90 series of carbines which is even stranger than this pistol. Which is pretty dang good. The options for holsters and ammo is limited, but they’re out there. Overall, I like these weird little pistols and shooting them is a blast.

Glock Model 45 Quick Take

I’ve handled the Glock Model 45, but haven’t fired it… But I have fired the Glock 19X. Here’s my take on the G45: It’s the best handgun Glock has ever made. Period. It takes that “Glock Commander” form factor that make the 19X a pleasure to shoot, but improves it. True Glock Gen 5 features, forward slide serrations, and no droopy lip on the bottom of the front strap like on the 19X. And no lanyard. All you need to do to the G45 is to put Night Sights on it. Done. It’s the first Glock that I’ve ever looked forward to seeing hit production.

SIG M11-A1 a Unicorn captured.

The SIG M11-A1 has been one of my Unicorn pistols for some time.  It’s basically the latest version of the P228 that’s no longer in production.  I had used a 228 many moons ago as duty weapon when I did patrol work.  The M11-A1 simply adds factory night sights, the SRT trigger, and that’s about it.  If you are unfamiliar with the 228, that’s a shame.  But it’s what the 229 became with the addition of a frame rail.  The M11-A1 keeps the lines clean by being free of rails.  
Now, a lot of new Shooters out there might not know anything about the M11.  In the 80’s when the US Army adopted the Beretta M9 pistol as the service pistol, they quickly found that it did not meet the needs of everyone that needed a pistol.  So the Army adopted the M11 shortly thereafter. 
The M11 was primarily issued to Investigators and other DOD Agents that needed something concealable.  It also found its way into the hands and holsters of Aviators and others that the M9 was too large for.  The M11 has been quietly seeing service ever since the late 80’s
During that time, the civilian P228 was gaining popularity with Law Enforcement and I remember if a LEO wasn’t packing a Beretta, it was 226 or a 228.  I myself carried a 228 on duty until I switched to an HK USP, a decision that I do not regret.  But I did regret giving up the 228 from my arsenal.  It was a good balance of size, weight, and capacity and really worked well.

Why do you hate Glocks?


Message this morning: “Why do you hate Glocks?”
If I’ve given anyone that impression… My apologies. I do not hate them. In fact, I respect them a great deal. For a long time, my EDC pistol was a Glock 23. Solid, good gun. They are reliable and accurate and have a great balance of size, weight, and firepower. A Glock is just fine.

For me though, personally, it’s just not a favorite. I like guns with some character to them. Just like I prefer motorcycles with character to say, a Honda Nighthawk. Nothing wrong with a Nighthawk at all… Fine bike… even a great bike. But like a Glock, I find them to be a very pedestrian, soulless lump that I don’t appreciate spending quality time with, and would rather be spending it with something more interesting. And something that improves on the characteristics that I find important. Like a really really good single action trigger.

If you really groove on your Glock (Or Honda Nighthawk) that is totally good. Join the hundreds of thousands of other people who feel the same way too. Sure, there’s something to be said for them.

There’s also a reason McDonald’s has so many busy locations around the world.

Carolina Arms Group 1911’s

20161005_123543-1
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:
http://carolinaarmsgroup.com/

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?

Absolutely.

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

13935059_10208966966144786_2673424073534876438_n

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.

13939327_10208966966104785_8739979605902572584_n

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.

14022123_10208966966184787_4019427249552150641_n

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.

11029477_10206344155336155_5105444812896027913_n

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.

11855735_10206344272619087_6838740654867145340_n

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.

11855748_10206344155456158_3414958049244882086_n

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.

11863486_10206344272979096_2765592659748474450_n

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.

11880455_10206344154576136_7471875301209925883_n

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.

11888072_10206344272459083_7745045408872495375_n

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.

11902529_10206344272019072_7093522347484724687_n

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.

11923248_10206344272739090_6664855761592085744_n

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.)

11951107_10206449242323264_8389511706863381915_n

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.

11960064_10206449242363265_6388149816880200062_n

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.

11988307_10206449242283263_7532056819955394412_n

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

Remington_R51_RightSide

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.

Remington_R51_LeftSide

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.