I can’t remember when I had last seen it… Not for at least 15 years. So long, I didn’t even think it an issue. Like Small Pox, I thought it had been cured.
We had an AR-15 at the range that was having problems. We looked at everything and we finally found the cause.
A loose gas key.
This was a S&W M&P15. And the Gas Key was not staked. It had worked loose and was causing every issue you can think of. It was the last thing we looked at. The bloody Gas Key. Huh.
I had intended to write this list before the Worst list… But had too much fun with the Worsts. Here’s my favorites from all the handguns released in 2014.
#1. The Glock 42. Despite being a .380 Auto, a subcompact .380 is just what some folks wanted, and has resurrected general interest pocket .380’s after the surge crested about 4 years ago. Concealed Carry remains a top reason for new gun purchases, and according to GunBroker.com the Glock 42 is #4 for Semi Auto pistol sales. Yes, this pistol was on my Worst list because of the disappointment factor. But for those wanting a .380 Auto pocket pistol the G42 has been the Go-To option for most people. It offers good sights and a good trigger in a compact package. Other options that offer this are the SIG 238, the Kimber Micro, and Colt Mustang… and all of them costing as much as 200 dollars more.
#2 Ruger’s GP100 Match Champion. This classic revolver has the features that I want on a general purpose carry revolver. Big visible front sight, fixed rear that isn’t just part of the frame, good grips, target crown, and a good trigger. I was mulling over the idea of getting another revolver… and the Match Champion is the one that pushed that desire over the edge as it’s everything I wanted to do with a GP100. The half lug is a give or take sort of feature, but I find it visually appealing on this gun.
#3 Walther PPQ 5″. This gun was probably the most interesting new pistol I handled at 2014 SHOT. It’s simply a long slide version of the PPQ, which already had a ton of great attributes. Now, you get a good sight radius and barrel length to go with that great trigger the Walther has. Walther is Germany’s 3rd great Gun Maker… behind HK and SIG (You guys can argue which is first and second) and it’s been the one with the most ups and downs. 10 years ago I said that Walther was struggling to maintain its significance. In 2014 it has certainly found it. This is one of the very best handguns on the market. Period.
#4 The HK VP9. This is the pistol that HK needed to build years ago. Not because it’s just a Striker version of the P30… but because it’s priced where HK pistols should be priced. It’s about 200 bucks less then others, and that’s were they should have all been. It also has something rather new to HK since the P7… a damn good trigger. Not just a good trigger for HK, but it’s just a damn good trigger. Not as good as Walther’s PPQ trigger – but then again nothing is. But this trigger in an HK pistol was unexpected. Really, I think this makes it the best pistol HK has ever made.
#5 S&W Model 69 Combat Magnum. What makes this model 69 so sweet, other than the innuendo of the name, is that this .44 magnum is built on the smaller and lighter L frame instead of Smith’s normal N frame from .44 mags. The L Frame is Smith’s frame for the delicious 686 series of revolvers. So now you have that, but with full .44 Mag power. That is just a fantastic balance of size and weight and power. I had a 3″ 696 in .44 Special and loved it. But it was incomplete due to the lack of horsepower. When you say “.44” you are not looking for a mild and pleasant plinker… you are wanting a ferocious monster slayer. Here you go.
There are a couple Honorable Mentions: Springfield’s XDS 4.0, Ruger LCRX, Ruger LC9S.
It’s been some time since my last article for Concealed Carry Magazine. I’ve been meaning to write one sooner, but to be perfectly honest, most of the new concealable handguns that have been coming out have just not sparked much of an interest in me. I’ve been bored with most of the options out there and no one wanted another Compact 1911 article. Most of this time off I’ve been packing SIG C3’s and 229’s and all year I’ve been packing a G23-RTF2 and that has all been from Mark Walter’s bad influence on me.
At SHOT 2010 I trudged through the show looking for something that peaked my interest enough to review. As I looked at all the new guns on the market, I really struggled with the malaise that’s been plaguing me when it comes to small handguns. That was until I walked into the S&W booth. They showed me their new Bodyguard BG380. Instantly my Spock Eyebrow went up. What’s this? A little auto pistol that I want to go shoot? Since Kahr hasn’t come out with a 10mm MK10 pistol, this would do.
While the BG380 is the same size as the other pocket .380’s that have dominated CCW handgun sales for the last two years, the new Smith is different. The difference comes from the whole feel of the gun. It’s as if S&W took an M&P pistol over to Walt Disney and put it in their “Honey, I shrunk the thing” machine. Normally when you shrink something, you lose a lot of qualities other than just size and weight… much like the Doberman Pincer shrunk to Toy Pincer size gives you a twitchy, fickle, and delicate thing. These Micro M&P’s are just as serviceable and snarly as the original… just in pocket size.
The most unique feature of the BG380 is the in-frame laser module. Insight Technologies makes it for S&W and we’ve not seen anything similar out there. The Module, should it fail, is replaceable. It’s fairly bright, but not as cohesive as other laser aiming devices from other companies. This isn’t a problem as this pistol isn’t meant for any longer range shooting, but I would have liked a more powerful laser. If I was Crimson Trace or Viridian, I’d be working on my own module to drop into the Bodyguard. The limitation on power comes of course from the batteries, and having the batteries within the frame as they did it makes me scratch my head. You can only shove so much battery in there. I’d have rather engineered the weapon to carry the batteries in the floorplate of the magazine and had power contacts on the sides of the magazine body. Dewalt knows how to do this, it wouldn’t be hard and they would have been able to use more battery. More battery is a good thing.
Some shooters argue against lasers as unnecessary gadgets. It’s true that a laser isn’t a necessary thing, but any device that gives you any sort of an advantage in target engagement or intimidation is a huge benefit… especially with pocket sized guns. Another thing some guys claim, is that sights are unnecessary to such small guns. However I checked the law books and I didn’t find any exceptions to gun laws or liability of gun use for small guns. You launch a bullet out of a small gun, you are just as liable for where it goes. And for a pocket gun with the purpose of defensive use, that bullet needs to go exactly where it will do the most work. Shot Placement is even more critical in small defensive guns.
The pistol its self is just the platform from which the projectile is launched… and the BG380 gives you a small, concealable platform that you can have on you at all times, or just when greater discretion is required. The only thing one is giving up with the BG380 is power. I can’t let this review go by without mentioning that I consider the .380 Auto round to be the minimum cartridge which I deem as acceptable for defense. It falls someplace in the Force Continuum between “Harsh Language” and 9mm. I would only use it when guns of greater caliber are not an option. While I am not a huge fan of the .380 auto, I must admit to being a fan of the Bodyguard. It’s cool, it’s reliable, it works. It’s an absolute buy for those looking for a pocket pistol.
I need a S&W 1006. The gun the FBI couldn’t handle.
The best alternative to the 10mm Glocks and EAA Witnesses or a 1911. Not that I dislike those options, they are the common ones. I want something different, and I think the 1006 looks like the one to get.
The FBI version was the DAO 1076. The 76 also was slightly shorter in the barrel, like a Commander version of the 1006. I actually like the decock/safety, but I think I’d rather have the longer barrel with the 10mm.
Over on Facebook, Jerry Miculek posted about a young lady getting her new JM Signature Mossberg 930. This sparked much though. Jerry is a great guy and I have had the pleasure of meeting him and talking with him at a SHOT Show “Media Range Day”. He is a Gentlemen to be sure, and one of the very best shooters in the world. He’s putting his stamp on a Mossy 930 should be more than enough to squelch all the Mossberg Haters out there. Mossberg makes some very good, solid, and reliable shotguns. They also make some real stupid crap as well… More on that later.
Smith’s new Shield pistol is going to be a rare find this year… but if you stumble on one – SNAG IT.
It’s very compact, but because of the magazine extension, you can actually get a good solid grip on the weapon.
It’s narrow, but not too skinny as to be awkward. M&P Lines, so it looks like an M&P, not an upsized Bodyguard… Being a Striker fired gun, it’s all M&P genetics here. The safety lever is the only wart, but it’s a very unobtrusive one… which means actually using the safety lever is more difficult and of course completely useless. This is a Bodyguard trait that should have been erased.
Right now, they are out in 9mm. But they have already gone out to the allotted dealers. If you see one and pass on it… good luck finding another one in 2012…
It’s kind of like an M&P Compact’s anorexic little sister.
The magazine holds 8, so you are not giving up much on the M&P Compact. They said they improved the trigger of the standard M&P’s trigger… and that’s true. They did. But there are already people out there working on an Improved Improved trigger for it.
It’s not a straight up Single Stack… it does have a slight stagger to it. This is why it gets as many rounds as it has, and feeds well, and gives you a bit of a funnel for a quicker reload when you need it.
Overall, I’m impressed. S&W’s M&P line up is all excellent stuff and this gun is no different. Let’s see, there is the new SIG 938 and the new Beretta Nano, the newest of the Sub Compact Slim Nines… The SIG is a mini 1911 and thus in a class by its self… the Nano is a Double Action. So while not a real Apples to Apples gun, the Shield smokes it. The only thing really like the Shield is the Walther PPS and I think the Shield is a much better pistol. It feels better in the hand, better trigger, and feels like a more solid built gun. And, I believe, the Shield is less money These are about 400 bucks and the PPS is, if I remember, about 500. That’s enough left over for a very nice holster.
I think I’d be interested in this in .40… I like it. An improved trigger, which the M&P line needed, in a size factor that S&W needed to get into. Julie’s hair looked fantastic too.
Okay, let’s take a closer look at the gun. I think it could have been 1/4 inch longer in the barrel… I know they wanted to hit a size point, but I think the took the barrel length dimension a bit too short. The addition of the thumb safety is unnecessary. Oh sure, it’s small enough to be unobtrusive, but it’s also too small to be really useful. It’s like a 3rd Nipple. Still, overall, I like this gun and look forward to trying it out.
Other guns it’s competing with… PF9, Nano, 938, LC9, PPS, PM9… Yeah, I think S&W nailed a Home Run Winner.
Packing the S&W M&P 9mm today. I’ve been thinking about getting one in a .40, so to get a feel for it, I am packing my boy Kilo’s Swampy.
Everything good about the Glock is there in the M&P, but with a 1911 grip angle. It feels good in the hand and handles more intuitively than either a Glock or 1911 for me.
I would absolutely have to change the trigger. The stock Swampy trigger flat out sucks. It feels sloppy and rotten. But with a little work, it does just fine.
Still wish they did a mid sized gun, but I can live a full sized pistol.
Guns.com has an interesting article about the S&W M&P. The thesis however is something I am scratching my head about. I have an M&P just like the one shown. It’s a good pistol. I like it. But I like Glock Gen 3’s better. The M&P certainly looks cooler. And it’s accurate and reliable. But out of the box, Glock is accurate too but the Glock also has a much better stock trigger. You can shoot the Glock very well as it comes out of the box.
Here’s the thing though. The Gen 4 Glocks… I’d rather have the M&P. I don’t know why… specifically… but I’m just not a fan of the Gen 4 series and if I have to replace my Gen 3 RTF2 23, I’d opt for an M&P. Maybe my opinion of the Gen 4 will change, but I had a Gen 4 22 and I just didn’t dig the way it shot. Maybe that was just me. But right now, I’d rather have an M&P instead of a Gen 4.