Tag Archives: Revolver

A Taxonomy of Safeties

In addition to the other two posts so far today, I am sharing another one of Hognose’s posts from Weaponsman.com.  This is a repost in our ongoing commitment to honoring  our dead friend Kevin and his work.

A Taxonomy of Safeties

by   Kevin O’Bien “Hognose”

There are several kinds of safeties that are used on service weapons to ensure that only the proper and deserving people are shot. They generally interface in some way with the firing mechanism of the firearm. They may act on the trigger, the hammer or striker, or the sear, or (in some fiendishly clever arrangements) more than one of the above. It is generally thought better to positively lock the striker or firing pin than merely to lock the sear or trigger. If the mechanism fails due to parts breakage, it is easier to design a fail-safe mechanism if the striker or firing pin is immobilized.

Safeties Classified by Operator Volition

Safeties can be classified based on the degree of volition required to use them. An applied safety must be consciously put on, in most cases. An automatic safety is unconsciously applied as the pistol is taken up. Examples of automatic safeties include:

  1. the Glock Safe Action trigger and its many copies and derivatives;
  2. the grip safeties characteristic of many Browning designs, such as the M1911 .45 and the FN M1910 pocket pistol;
  3. similar grip safeties on open-bolt submachine guns such as the Madsen and the Uzi. (An open-bolt SMG poses peculiar safety problems);
  4. transfer-bars and other means to ensure a weapon can’t fire unless the trigger is pulled;
  5. mechanisms that hold a firing pin back until a weapon with a locking breech is fully in battery (the disconnector often does double-duty as this part);
  6. Firing-pin immobilizers as in the Colt Series 80 and newer M1911s (an earlier firing pin safety, the Swartz Safety, was used in commercial Colt 1911s from circa 1937 to 1940, and is used by Kimber today);
  7. A heavy, smooth trigger pull such as that on a traditional Double Action revolver or a DA/SA autopistol can prevent unintentional discharges. However, some heavy triggers (like the Glock NY2) have a bad enough effect on accuracy as to threaten bystanders with unintentional shooting.
  8. Magazine safeties, an obsolete European concept;
  9. Half-cock notches (in British/European English usage, these may be called half-cock “bents.”)

Contrasting with these automatic safeties, that do their work without conscious application by the operator, there are Applied or volitional safeties. Applied Safeties are usually classified by what part of the firing mechanism they work on, and so examples of Applied safeties break down into:

  1. Safeties that lock the trigger. The simplest of these are the crude trigger-blocking safeties on an SKS or Tokarev SVT. More complex trigger-locking safeties are found in the AR series of rifles and the FN-FAL;
  2. Safeties that lock the firing mechanism (which may be further divided into those that lock the firing pin, like the Walther P.38 or Beretta M92, and those that lock the hammer, like the US M1 Rifle, or
  3. The bolt holding notch in many 2nd-generation submachine guns. (These are reminiscent in a way of the safety of the Mosin-Nagant rifle, which requires the cocking piece to be rotated and caught in a notch). The case can be made that this is a firing mechanism lock, because the bolt with its fixed firing pin is the firing mechanism.
  4. Safeties that lock the sear. Examples include the .45 M1911, its younger brother the BHP, many other auto pistols, and most general purpose machine guns. Some require the weapon to be cocked to lock the sear, others allow locking the bolt forward (the RPD LMG and the Sterling SMG are examples of this).
  5. Safeties that disconnect the trigger from the sear. This is found in the Bren gun and many other Czech designs, historically. The ZB 26 and its derivatives were quite cunning: in one position, the selector brings the trip lever to engage the semi notch, which is in the upper side of a window in the sear. In the other position, it engages the auto notch in the lower side. In the intermediate, “safe,” position, the  trip lever clears both notches and the weapon does not fire.

Note that automatic safeties, too, can be broken down as working on the trigger, the firing mechanism, and the sear, also. So safeties can also be Classified by Operation.

Safeties Classified by Operation

It is possible to classify safeties in the first place by their means of action:

  1. Trigger safeties
  2. Firing-mechanism (striker, hammer, firing pin) safeties
  3. Sear safeties
  4. Disconnecting safeties.

This is true, obviously, for both automatic and volitional safeties, and classifying them this way puts their mode of action forward as more important than their mode of engagement, which (applied/volitional or automatic) becomes a secondary trait.

One More Trait: Must the Firearm be Cocked?

It is only possible to engage many safeties when the weapon is cocked or ready to fire (presuming a chambered round). Familiar examples include the AR series rifles and the 1911 pistol and other Browning hammer designs. Other safeties engage regardless of the energy state of the striker or hammer, for example the AK, the Remington Model 8 (a Browning-designed trigger mechanism that was deeply influential on 20th and 21st Century firearms designers, including Garand, Kalashnikov and Stoner), and the RPD light machine gun.

Combination Safeties

While a weapon may have multiple safeties that do different things (or multiple modes that engage the same safety, as in the safety lever and grip safety of early Lugers), it’s possible for a single cunningly-designed safety to disable multiple points of the firing chain at once. For instance, the Lee-Enfield safety is a model of versatility: it locks the striker, locks the bolt closed (preventing the chambering of a round), and disconnects the striker from the sear. The M1911 or Browning High-Power safety locks the slide closed as well as locks

It’s also possible for a volitional safety to be combined with other functions. The most common example of this is the combined safety/selector switch of most modern assault rifles, like the M16 or AK-47.

To Sum Up

There are a great but finite number of ways to design safety features on modern firearms. Careful study of prior art allows today’s designer truly to stand on the shoulders of the giants in the field. John Browning left no memoir or technical book, nor did John Garand, John D. Pedersen, Gene Stoner; and the many memoirs of Mikhail Kalashnikov are disappointing to the technical reader. But each of these geniuses spoke to us in the art of his designs, and they are still available for us to study and to try to read what their art is trying to tell us.

We have not, in this limited post, attempted to discuss “best practices” or the pros and cons of any individual safety design. Very often, the designer will be limited by the customer’s instructions or specifications. (For example, the grip safety of the 1911, which 1970s and 80s custom smiths often pinned in engagement as a potential point of combat failure, was requested of John M. Browning by the US Cavalry. The other military branches didn’t feel such a need, but the horse soldiers did, and Browning first added it on his .38 caliber 1902 Military pursuant to a similar request). Thus, even as a designer, your safety design decisions may not be your own.

Notes and Sources

  • This post has been modified since it was first posted, to expand it.
  • This post will be added to The Best of WeaponsMan Gun Tech.

This post owes a great deal to the following work:

Allsop, DF, and Toomey, MA. Small Arms: General Design. London: Brassey’s, 1999.

Chapter 13 is an extensive review of trigger mechanisms, including safeties, and while their classification of safeties is different from ours, their explanations are clear and concise.

Thanks to the commenters who not only recommend this long out-of-print book, but also sent us a link to a bookstore that had it (it’s a copy withdrawn from a military library, as it turns out). This out-of-print work is less technical and deep, but considerably more modern, than Balleisen; its examples are primarily British.

Kevin was a former Special Forces weapons man (MOS 18B, before the 18 series, 11B with Skill Qualification Indicator of S), and you can expect any guest columnists to be similarly qualified. He passed away early last year.

What’s so special about John Moses Browning?

This post is a re post from weaponsman.com. We share it here today to honor and preserve our friend Hognose, who died last spring 

What’s so special about John Moses Browning? by Kevin O’Brien

 

Himself.

Himself.

If you take that question the wrong way, you’re thinking who is this bozo to diss Saint JMB? But we’re not putting the emphasis on the JMB side of the sentence, but the What’s so special? end. As in: we really want to know. Why is this guy head and shoulders above the other great designers of weapons history? What made him tick? What made him that way?

Browning was not a degreed engineer, but he is, to date, the greatest firearms designer who has ever lived.  Consider this: had Browning done nothing but the 1911, he’d have a place in the top rank of gun designers, ever. But that’s not all he did, by any means. If he had done nothing but the M1917 and M1919 machine guns, he’d have a place in the top ranks of designers. If he’d done nothing but the M2HB, a gun which will still be in widespread infantry service a century after its introduction, and its .50 siblings, he’d be hailed as a genius. One runs out of superlatives describing Browning’s career, with at least 80 firearms designed, almost 150 patents granted, and literally three-quarters of US sporting arms production in the year 1900 being Browning designs — before his successes with automatic guns.

He did all that and he was just getting warmed up. He didn’t live to see World War II, but if he had, he’d have seen Browning designs serving every power on both sides of the war. If an American went to war in a rifle platoon, a Sherman tank, a P-39 or P-51 or B-17, he and his unit were gunned-up by Browning. If he made it home to go hunting the season after V-J day, there were long odds that he carried a Browning-designed rifle of shotgun, even if the name on it was Remington or Winchester. Browning’s versatility was legendary: he designed .25 caliber (6.35mm) pocket pistols and 37mm aircraft and AA cannon, and literally everything in between. He frequently designed the gun and the cartridge it fired.

A lot of geniuses have designed a lot of really great guns since some enterprising Chinese fellow whose name is lost to history discovered that gunpowder and a tube closed at one end sure beats the human hand when it comes to throwing things at one’s enemies.  But nobody comes close to Browning’s level of achievement; nobody matches him in versatility.

So why him? As we put it, what’s so special? 

We think Browning’s incredible primacy resulted from several things, apart from his own innate talent and work ethic (both of which were prodigious). Those things are:

  1. He was born to the trade
  2. He was prolific: his output was prodigious
  3. He was a master of the toolroom
  4. He lived at just the right time
  5. He could inspire and lead others

Born to the Trade

John M’s father, Jonathan Browning, was, himself, a gunsmith, designer and inventor. He made his first rifle at age 13, and despite being an apprentice blacksmith, became a specialist in guns by the time he was an adult. From 1824 he had his own gunshop and smithy in Brushy Fork, Tennessee, and later would move to Illinois (Where he befriended a country lawyer named Lincoln). He joined the Mormons in Illinois and fled with them to Utah, making guns at each way station of the Mormon flight.

Jonathan Browning Revolving Repeater

Jonathan Browning Cylinder Repeater. Image from a great article on Jonathan Browning by William C. Montgomery.

Very few of Jonathan’s rifles are known to have survived, but he made two percussion repeating rifles that were, then (1820s-1842), on the cutting edge of technology. The Slide Bar Repeating Rifle  was Jonathan’s term for what is more widely called a Harmonica Gun. The gun has a slot into which a steel Slide Bar is fitted. The slide bar had, normally, five chambers; after firing a shot, the user cocked the hammer and moved the Slide Bar to the side to move the empty chamber out from under the hammer, and a loaded chamber into place. When all five chambers had been discharged, the Slide Bar was removed, and each chamber loaded from the muzzle and reprimed with a percussion cap. Jonathan Browning’s gun differed from most in that it had an underhammer, and that an action lever cammed the Slide Bar hard against the barrel to make a gas seal. He also made a larger Slide Bar available — one with 25 chambers, arguably the first high-capacity magazine.

The second Browning innovation was the Cylinder Repeating rifle. This was a revolver rifle, with the cylinder rotated by hand between shots. Like the Slide Bar gun, the cylinder was cammed against the barrel to achieve a gas seal — the parts were designed to mate in the manner of nested cones.

Young John M. Browning. From the Browning Collectors web page.

Young John M. Browning. From the Browning Collectors web page.

The designer of those mid-19th-Century attempts to harness firepower sired many children; like other early Mormons, he was a polygamist, and his three wives would bear him 22 children. From age six one of them apprenticed himself, as it were, to his father. Within a year he’d built his own first rifle. This son was, of course, John Moses Browning.

(Aside: the last gun made by Jonathan Browning was an example of his son’s 1878 single-shot high-powered rifle design, which would be produced in quantity by Winchester starting in 1883).

Malcolm Gladwell has popularized the idea that it takes 10,000 hours of hard work to become an expert — that’s roughly five years of fulltime labor. JMB had exceeded this point before puberty.

If you aspire to breaking Browning’s records as a gun designer, you need to acknowledge that, unless you started from childhood, you’re starting out behind already.

Prolific Output

Browning worked on pistols, rifles, and machine guns. He worked on single-shot, lever, slide, and semi-automatic actions, and his semi-autos included gas-operated, recoil-operated, direct-blowback, and several types of locking mechanism. Exactly how many designs he did may not have been calculated anywhere: it’s known he designed 44 rifles and 13 shotguns for Winchester alone, a large number of which were not produced, and some of which may not have been made even as prototypes or models.

His military weapons included light and heavy infantry machine guns, aerial machineguns for fixed and flexible installations, and several iterations of the 37mm aircraft and anti-aircraft cannon, the last of which, the M9, would fire a 1-lb-plus armor-piercing shell at 3000 feet per second; an airplane was designed around it (the P39 Airacobra, marginal in US service but well-used, and well-loved, by the Soviets who received many via lend-lease). All the machine guns used by the US from squad on up in WWII and Korea were Browning designs. But these were only his most successful designs; there were others. At his peak, he may have been producing new designs at a rate of one a week. 

If you want to to be the next John Browning, you need to start designing now, and keep improving your designs and designing new ones until the day you die. (Browning died in his office in Belgium).

Master of the Toolroom

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

The Browning workshop, back in the day.

From an early age, John learned to cut, form and shape steel. This is something common to most of the gunsmiths and designers of the early and mid-20th Century — if you remember our recent feature on John Garand, the photo showed him not a a drawing board by at a milling machine.

Browning could not only design and test his own prototypes — he could also design and improve the machinery on which they’d be produced, a necessary task for the designer in his day. Nowadays, such production development is the milieu of specialized production engineers, who have more classroom training, and probably less shop-floor savvy, than Browning brought to the task.

A reproduction of Browning's workshop in the Browning Museum in Ogden, UT.

A reproduction of Browning’s workshop in the Browning Museum in Ogden, UT. (From this guy’s tour post).

In Browning’s day, processes were a little closer to hand-tooled prototype work, but it still required different kinds of savvy and modes of thinking .

If you want to be Browning, you have to master production processes, for prototypes and in series manufacturing, from the hands-on as well as the drawing-board angle. There may never again be a designer like that.

Living and Timing

John M. Browning in 1921 with Mr Burton of Winchester and the category-creating Browning Automatic Rifle.

John M. Browning in 1921 with Mr Burton of Winchester and the category-creating Browning Automatic Rifle.

John M Browning lived in just the right time: he was there at the early days of cartridge arms, when even basic principles hadn’t yet been settled and the possibilities of design were wide-open and unconstrained by prior art and customer expectation. No army worldwide, and no hunter or policeman, really had a satisfactory semi-auto or automatic weapon yet (except for the excellent Maxim)

It’s much easier to push your design into an unfulfilled requirement than it is to displace something a customer is already more or less comfortable with.

If you’re going to retire some of John M. Browning’s records, you’re going to need the right conditions and a few lucky breaks — just like he had.

Inspiration and Leadership

To read the comments of other Browning associates of the period is to see the wake of a man who was remarkable for far more than his raw genius. Browning was admired and respected, to be sure, but he was also liked. At FN in Belgium, the gunsmiths called him le maître, “the master,” and took pleasure in learning from him.

M Saive at the drawing board. Image: FN Herstal.

M Saive at the drawing board. Image: FN Herstal.

His Belgian protégé, M. Dieudonne Saive, went on to be a designer of some note himself. While he did not achieve Browning’s range of designs, he, too, is in the top rank for his work finalizing the High-Power pistol (also known as the GP or HP-35) that Browning began, and for his own SAFN-49 and FAL rifle designs, and MAG machine-gun, all of which owed something to Browning’s work as well as Saive’s own.

If you want to be the next John Moses Browning, you have to know when to step back, and how to share the burden — and the credit.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

COLT COBRA REVIEW PART 1

The Cobra arrived from Colt last week and now that it is in my hot little hands, the long promised review can start.

The Cobra came out  over a year ago and made some noise as Colt’s noteworthy return to  double action revolvers.

A lot of people who want Pythons have griped about it  because it is not the Python they have been demanding in recent years .  All I can say to that is 1)  How many of those people were buying those much desired Pythons when colt was still making them and trying to sell them?  There is a reason Colt stops making a certain model and it is not because they were selling too many of them.  2)  Just hold your horses and see how well this “test the waters”  revolver goes, and you may get what you claim you want later.

Colt  has wisely decided to not jump elbow deep into making DA wheel guns again by making the kind of revolver most people who buy and carry revolvers actually want and carry.   This may seem to not make sense to come people when the look online and see all the clamoring for the Pythons.    Well think about all the times you have  been on a web forum and seen people telling some company “Oh, if you make that, you will get all the money!”   Sometimes they even proclaim they would buy one.  In reality, they won’t.  In fact, most of them saying it won’t.   Fact is a lot of people like the idea of something being out there, even if they have no plans to every buy it.       Or it would not be exactly the way the wanted it.   The barrel would be too long, or too short, or the wrong finish, or it would be too expensive or too cheap, or it would not be tactical enough.

With that in mind I think the new Cobra is a good way to test those treacherous waters.   It does not cater to the guys who want 2,000 dollar Pythons just for collectors value, or the big bore handgun hunters. Neither of which are a majority.  It is meant for the real majority.  People who want to carry a small, compact simple revolver.  Now lets take a look at it.

The Cobra has a stainless steel finish – not a bright polished stainless, but the nice balance of satin and matte.   It has the iconic Colt cylinder release and the always present Colt  Horse  logo.   The barrel has the rest of the Company info on the right side.  If you wished you could get one in a polished mirror like finish, the good news is you can polish this finish into a mirror yourself with some elbow grease and the right compounds.  A lot of  buyers have already done this and you can see how to videos on YouTube and gun forums.   I love the look of that mirror finish polished SS but for carry…      I scratch guns up too fast and the reflection  that polished stainless gives off makes me uncomfortable  with the idea of carrying a gun so ostentatious.  Not so much for fashion, but more for I don’t want it to be so obvious.

The muzzle of the barrel has a very nice recessed crown to protect it from damage.  A very nice touch for a gun meant to be used and used seriously.

As you can see above, the front sight is a fiber optic  red/orange  that shows up well in  daylight and gathers all available light when light conditions would make a plain front sight blade hard to see.

The rear sight is the standard revolver humped  up back with notch for alignment.  Which is what you would want from a gun many will stick in a purse, a pocket, or who knows what else that would make it easy to snag a rear sight on when trying to draw. Or have on a belt, that would allow an adjustable sight to tear the lining out of shirts, jackets, or coats.

The left side of the barrel tells you what you are shooting.  The Cobra is a  .38 Special rated for +P rounds.   I know a few have said they would  rather it have been in  .357 Magnum and at first I agreed. Then I remembered how it feels to shoot a .357 in a gun that small and light and how many people with a .357 gun in this  size never really carry .357 loads in it anyway and just use  .38 Spl and  reconsidered.   The .38 Spl in a modern +P load is enough.  It allows the gun to be a bit smaller and not as expensive as well and it sure is easier on the hand for most people who carry more than they ever shoot.     It makes me wonder how well  Cobra chambered in 9mm or 45ACP would would sell though.    As I said above though, lots of people ask for all manner of odd ball things from gun makers. Usually it’s only something the person demanding it would buy.

With loading in mind, the grip are nice soft comfy Hogue rubber grips but with the Colt logo.    These feel great for shooting hot loads.  Now Colt offers the Cobra with other choices in grips. My favorite being the ones made by VZ Grips with the Colt logo made into the G10 material .

Last on our list is the inside.  Everyone knows what the inside of a DA revolver looks like. That is not what I want you to see.  I want you to see what impressed me. The total lack of tool marks or swirls and all the things usually inside of a gun’s guts hidden from the  outer world.

Other than some burnt powder crud, that is some smooth internals.   It looks like it has had attention to detail lavished on it.  This is what people talk about when they are going on about the Colt revolvers of yore.     If you are a  Colt wheel gun guy, I do not think you will be let down.

 

Now, the stock trigger of a DA revolver usually feels like trying to bend a nail to me.  I am a single action semi auto guy to the core. I will never change.    But this trigger feels good!   Easy to  keep the sights on target through the entire pull, and that is a challenge for me usually.   Hand me a gun like this and I will always opt to cock  it to single action fire  if I have a choice.  But with this one, I am seeing what draws some people to a fine DA 6 shooters.  I have dry fired it for about 1 hour every night for 7 days, and I have  learned a lot about how to quickly fire a DA revolver.    If any of you 6 shooters have any tips for me, please share in the comments.

 

That is the end of Part 1 which is usually my  thoughts on a guns looks, how it works, and the features, etc.   In Part 2, we will get it fired up, see what accuracy it has, and shoot it as far as I can manage.

COLT REALTREE ANACONDA .44 Rem Magnum

In 1996,  Colt came out with what is now a very rare variant of the most excellent Anaconda revolver.    The Anaconda being a larger framed ( for 44mag) version of the  Python .357 magnum  revolver.  This limited edition was made in only 1,500 examples  supposedly and was  truly a “system”.

The gun came from the factory with the 8inch barrel,  a Redfield 5 star  pistol optic. rubber grips , base and rings, with the optic and gun finished in Real Tree camo. This was a collaboration between Colt and Realtree (Bill Jordan of Georgia), with design assistance from famed Wildlife Biologist, “Mr. Whitetail” Larry Weishuun.

Beyond the revolver and optic is also came with a colt  belt buckle, Zippo  colt  Anaconda lighter, original Team Colt Realtree heavy duty canvas carry bag and matching bandoleir holster.  It was and  is a heck of a nice kit.     The gun is  rare enough to not be well known even in the gun world.   In fact I have only seen two with my own eyes counting this one.

Even in picture you can see the camo finish is very nice and rare enough for my tastes, pleasing to the eye. And I am not a fan of commercial hunting camo patterns.

While I have this rare animal we will take a look at it in some detail.

The optic is a then top of the line 5 star redfield.  At that period of time,  Redfield was a well thought of and quality maker of weapons optics.  Now the company name is owned by Leupold and  of course that speaks for itself.  But at that time they were a competitor.

The scope of course came with the Redfield flip  up scope covers.

Above you can see the 2x-7x power ring.  The variable power in that  range is very useful for a hunting pistol in my opinion.  I find it is just enough and not too much.    It is clear and as durable as every other Redfield 5 star optic I have used  from that era.

The elevation and windage adjustments are vintage Redfield style.  They did give you some one of a positive adjustment and beat the Leupold friction plate  which I detest.

You can also see the scope rings that hold the optic one.  I  have seen some of these guns with matching camo rings. But I can not offer up any reason why some are, some aren’t beyond speculation.

The base and rings are very sturdy as anything holding a scope to a 44magnum handgun would need to be.

Now moving on to the gun.    First is a very nicely recessed target crowned muzzle.

You can see from the picture that the Anaconda did have the ability to  add iron sights to it though this example did not come with them that I am aware of. I have been told that colt did sell some of the guns without the optic but with irons instead.

Of course the Anaconda has all the inner workings you would recognize from all other colt anacondas and pythons.  Parts not finished in camo are a very nice durable flat matte black. This includes the hammer, trigger, cylinder release etc.

The action of the gun is smooth as glass.  I would also assume that the action on these editions were given some hand care before leaving the factory because it certainly feels like it.

The 8 inch barrel has the roll markings on the left side. Letting you know you have a Colt realtree Anaconda.

The accuracy of the gun is everything you would want it to be.  I am no big bore handgun game hunter so I can’t give much insight into that. I do know an accurate handgun when I see it though.  I don’t need to be Taffin to come to the conclusion either.

Not feeling a need to prove how manly i am or  put up with the recoil of a 44 mag while sitting on the bench concentrating for all I am worth for hours at a time, I used  .44special handloads of a  now deceased friend who was a real genius at casting his own lead bullets for handguns.

At this time these loads are the only  .44spl loads I have access to so i can’t show any other loads. If I get my hands on some more stuff  I will update this post or make a part 2.

I fired from a bench with bags and a rest for the first three groups. And I did cock the hammer for single action firing for accuracy. I am NO wheel gun guy and my short tiny little fingers will forever be incapable of the ability to fire a double action revolver with ease.  So sue me.

 

The last 5 rounds I had, I used for 100 yards.     Since it wasn’t enough to shoot a few warm up  groups and not enough for a full 6 shots I decided to shoot the gun sitting down with  crossed sticks.  I have seen hunting shows and magazine articles of pistol hunters firing from this way in the field so I decided to reproduce it.   I am not sure what is considered a long shot for big bore handgun hunting and I am too lazy to sift through millions of hunting forum opinion posts on what is long and too long and what ranges are ethical shots.  So I apologize if 100 yards is considered a joke for you handgun hunters  or if it is beyond what many feel comfortable taking a field shot on game. I am not hunting and paper rarely complains anyway.   If you are a  HG hunter, do chime in below and I will see what I can to satisfy the testing requirements for you fellows.

Above is the final 5 rounds fired sitting from crossed sticks.    I feel pretty good about it.   My palm would have covered the group.  I suppose it is even good enough for a head shot on a whitetail deer if one was dumb enough to do it.

You see the kind of accuracy one could expect from this fine bigbore  six-shooter.   I have really enjoyed it as the 44spl loads are soft and pleasant. And accurate.

I will try to  gather up a bigger variety of ammo and shoot it at any requested distances before it has to leave my hands. So if you want to see something post your wishes in the comments.

If you want one of these masterpieces, I can’t offer up an ideas of where to get one or really how much.  A quick  search has shown the examples with all the other goodies go for between 2,500 to 2,800. Maybe one could be had cheaper but that would also mean it is in rough shape.   The owner of this model has never told me the painful amount he gave for it.  However it was a “grail gun” for him and worth the price, As long as I have known him he had talked about wanting one.  He finally found  this one at a local shop and made sure he left home with it.    If  you are happy with the gun you bought the price is always worth it no matter what is was.

 

Inland MFG/Bond Arms “Liberator” Test & Review

 

Earlier this year I received the Inland/Bond Arms  “liberator”   derringer pistol.   With Inland making a lot of WW2 era guns over the last few years and them teaming up with other companies like Ithaca to make others,  it isn’t a surprise the name was brought back as a homage of the old single shot pistol dropped in occupied areas for friendly underground forces to use to  get something better.

So now we have a sort of tribute to the idea.     You can see the  liberator is still quite big for a two shot pistol.  Here is is beside a Colt Defender, sub compact 1911.  This being the first bond arms pistol I had done more than look at as I walked by a display, I was not prepared  for how heavy duty this things are .

Inspecting the piece you can see that they are made very well.

Above is the roll mark and name.  A moniker that pays tribute to the original cheaply made junk gun that was a single shot.  No doubt the Inland’Bond Arms is made to a much higher standard  to say the least.

The wooden grips have a nicely engraved Inland Logo. Though the down side side is , the grips making shooting  sustained fire painful. The beauty is, if you fire your two shots, the guns are strong and tough enough to beat some one to death with it.

Attention to detail is impressive on these pistols.

The trigger is as heavy as you probably guessed considering the type of gun this is and what roles its meant to fill.   I tried on and off for a few months to really master it off hand.  The idea was to get  as good as I could with it and  fire it like I would if I had to in a life threatening situation.    I did manage to keep  all the shots on a  FBI Q target, at the ranges you would use a gun like this after much practice getting use to it.    But that didn’t demonstrate the accuracy of the pistol so i went to the bench and punished my self.

Above is 4 shots of federal HST from 10 yards off the bench.   The trigger is tough to master so it takes a lot of concentration to shoot a type group but the gun can be accurate.

This is a 5 shot group at 15 yards from a bench.  I would have done just four rounds but I pulled one and though I could do better, so I fired an extra round to make up for it.  Easy to get tired with this gun as it is punishing to shoot and the trigger is like bending a nail.

Last we have 10 rounds fired off hand at 15 yards.  This was still slow fired.  I never could get the hang of doing the two fast shots like the guy on the TV commercials.  I squirm at the thought of having to shoot that gun enough to be that good with it.

Bottom line is, the gun is very well made.  The company takes pride in these pistols and their skill at making them. You can tell that by a close inspection.    While had to shoot fast, they can be accurate.  This one showed much potential and if I was the kind of guy who is used to bog bore revolver recoil, I’m sure I could have done better for everyone with it.   I’m not though, and the wooden grips and recoil of such a small gun firing full power 45ACP rounds was more than I could take for long period.    I do see why the bond arms guns are popular with a lot of people though.  They are nostalgic and certainly finely made.

 

Something to Remember Him By. Hognose, AKA Weaponsman, AKA Kevin’s weapon collection being sold

When I first read this, it was like the same gut punch when I learned Kevin had passed.  I am glad his brother and family have given his friends and fans a chance to have something to remember Kevin by, Something tangible,   But. Seeing that large collection of guns,Kevin’s collection of CZ weapons, accumulated over years in support of  his effort of writing a book on the subject of CZ weapons, now being sold off sort of finalizes it for me I guess.  He is gone, Now his guns, being sold off to the four corners, scattered about.  All the stories and memories that went with them lost.   The feeling is certainly something Roy Batty would be familiar with. 

If you knew Kevin or you are a  fan and admire the man, now is a chance to give some of his guns a good home in honor of the man.  I bought a small rimfired rifle from the estate earlier and it will hold a place of honor in my collection until I am gone I’m sure.   Below is the post with all weapons being sold listed and where to buy them.  Now I think i will go mourn Kevin a little more this evening.

It won’t shock you to know that Kevin had a lot of firearms, firearm accessories, knives, bayonets, swords and other military memorabilia.

As we have been cleaning out his house to get it ready for sale this fall, we are selling most of his collection on consignment through Original Bobs Shooting Range & Gun Shops in Seabrook, NH and Salisbury, MA (http://originalbobsshootingrange.com).

There are also two Class 3 firearms that will be made available for sale by MAC Tactical (http://www.mactactical.com/).

This means you have a chance to get something to remember him by. All of these items are for sale NOW or in the near future.  Some of them may be gone already.  Please contact Original Bob’s or MAC Tactical directly if you are interested.  Remember, MAC only has the Class 3’s – everything else is at Original Bob’s.

At the bottom of this post will be a list of his firearms. Original Bob’s has a lot of other items and knows what comes from “The Collection of Kevin O’Brien.”

Now before you ask, yes, I am keeping some of his stuff. But there was never a possibility that I would keep any weapons.  I’m not a “weapons man” myself and I would prefer to see his weapons and related items in the hands of people who would enjoy them.

Some of the other most personal items have been distributed to his closest friends. Just the other day the helicopter chair (remember that?) left Kevin’s house for its new home in the Lakes Region of NH.  It now belongs to a good friend who served with Kev.  Other stuff that honestly holds no sentimental value is going to be sold at an “estate sale” on Saturday, September 9th.  Most of his books are going to team members and friends.

I’m keeping all the airplane parts, all the tools, all the “active” computers, a few oddities (did you know Kevin had a recumbent bike?) and a few practical items. I am keeping his diplomas and other military records, his dress uniform, beret and dog tags.

But that leaves a lot for Weaponsman readers, if you want. And somebody else will buy and enjoy whatever is left!

Here is a list of firearms:

  • Pistol – Astra (Spanish) Model 100 Special pistol w/ Asian markings SN 8862
  • Pistol – Astra Unceta Pocket Pistol SN 294895
  • Pistol – Bauer .25 ACP SN 13141
  • Pistol – Belgian New Model type 1 Melior Pistol w/ holster SN 4028
  • Pistol – Bryco Arms Model J25 pistol w/box SN 536456
  • Pistol – Colt (CMC) M1910/72 .380 Model SN A3166
  • Pistol – Czech “Z” r6.35 mm SN 249700
  • Pistol – Czech (little Tom) .32 Pistol SN 30941
  • Pistol – Czech (Little Tom) 6.25mm (.25 ACP) SN 26854
  • Pistol – Czech 45 Nickel plated & engraved SN 89325
  • Pistol – Czech 75 compact, P-01 cal 9mm Luger SN B798603
  • Pistol – Czech CZ 45m proofed 1946 SN 30200
  • Pistol – Czech Jaga Model Pistol w/holster SN 5550
  • Pistol – Czech Model 1922 9mm SN 16947
  • Pistol – Czech Model 1936 w/holster SN 18615
  • Pistol – Czech Model 27 SN 568818
  • Pistol – Czech Model 50 7.62 cal w/mag SN 678961
  • Pistol – Czech Model 50/70 w/2 mags SN C59705
  • Pistol – Czech Model 52 pistol with holster SN D13662
  • Pistol – Czech Model 70 VZOR .32 ACP SN 652090
  • Pistol – Czech Model 83 SN 2846
  • Pistol – Czech Praga Model 1921 SN 10024
  • Pistol – Czech Type 52 pistol VOZ 77 78 SN EE13370
  • Pistol – Czech vz. 22 w/holster SN 53789
  • Pistol – DWM Luger SN 7433
  • Pistol – DWM Luger (Artillery), Reblued SN 2778
  • Pistol – East German Makarov 9X18 SN BV 1693
  • Pistol – FN Unique FN 1900 Copy Melior Pistol SN 20322
  • Pistol – French SACM 1935A w/mag SN 1135A
  • Pistol – Glock 17 G3 w/ paddle holster SN RXH737
  • Pistol – Italian Rigami Pistol SN 51108
  • Pistol – Nagant M1899? Revolver cut off SN 10195
  • Pistol – Soviet Tokarev Pistol w/ holster SN 3540
  • Pistol – Unknown Afghan double-barrel percussion pistol SN (none)
  • Pistol – USA Intratec Protec-25 ACP pistol with box SN 022114
  • Pistol – Walther Model 8 6.35 pistol SN 715820
  • Pistol – Walther PPK beater SN 864119
  • Pistol – Walther PPK RZM SN 843183
  • Pistol – Double-barrell pin fired SN 5435
  • Rifle – Barnett London V.R. 1869 SN (None)
  • Rifle – Chinese Type 56 carbine (SKS) SN 11363875
  • Rifle – Chinese Type 56 carbine (SKS) SN 14839
  • Rifle – Clayco Sports AKS-47 semi-auto SN 100574
  • Rifle – Czech 7.92 MM Model vz. 24 SN 2431N2(?)
  • Rifle – Czech Brno 7.92mm Moilet vz. 24 SN 3026M3(?)
  • Rifle – Czech Vz. 52/57 Rifle 7.62mm SN G 65221
  • Rifle – FN (A Coruna) Model 1949 SN FR8-05014
  • Rifle – FN (Egyptian contract) Model 1949 .8mm Mauser SN 11507
  • Rifle – FN (Venezuelan) M1949 Venezuelan SN 4955
  • Rifle – H&H Enterprises AR-10 SN 006470
  • Rifle – Johnson Automatics M1941 SN B0542
  • Rifle – Mosin-Nagant M44 Carbine 1955 SN 124738
  • Rifle – Mosin-Nagant Russian 1943 SN 2942746
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) Model 601 SN C00794
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A02615
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A01669
  • Rifle – NDS (NoDak Spud) NDS-16A1 SN A01512
  • Rifle – Springfield M1 Garand SN 5855309
  • Rifle – Springfiled Model 15 .22 cal SN (None)
  • Rifle – Tokarev SVT-40 SN 3L5170
  • Rifle – Tower V.R. 18?6 (1836?) SN (None)
  • Rifle – Unknown Afghan percussion Enfield carbine SN
  • Rifle – US Carbine Iver Johnson 22 LR SN 1342
  • Rifle – Valmet M62S SN 131700
  • Rifle – Winchester 190 .22 SN B1157752
  • Rifle – ZB Brno Bolt action Rifle SN 2845
  • Rifle – ZB Brno Model 24?? Mauser SN C730 & 434
  • Rifle – HK HK416 conversion setup SN 88-101046
  • Class 3 – Colt M4 Carbine SN LEO98039
  • Class 3 – Kahr Auto Ordnance M1A1 Thompson SBR SN KC6544

 

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF)

Best, Worst And Meh Of 2016

Here we are again at the end of all things.  Nope, not Mordor, the end of HIGH PRICES!!!.or hillary  clinton, though it is the end for her as well.   It’s the end of 2106. No wait, that isn’t right. I jumped the gun a little.   It’s the end of 2016!  With the end of the year comes the “Best of” picks from things I was sent to review or purchased over the course of the year.  As before not everything on the list is necessarily new for 2016. It may be something that has been around for a while and this year was just now the time I got around to it.

List of products are in no particular order.

  1. The Colt Delta Elite 10mm

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No surprise there, you know I loved it.  It is a classic brought back from the past and updated.  It has the extra “custom production” features I like my serious carry 1911s to have and its something I had wanted for a long time.  it is accurate reliable and a real pleasure. No it does not have the supported barrel/chamber, but that has never been something I cared about. If I wanted a hotter round that this gun will handle, I will buy a revolver in .454 or something.

2.The Inland MFG M1911A1

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You know I’m a sucker for a 1911s, You also know its very hard to please me when it comes to production 1911s.   The Inland M1911 surprised me and exceeded my wildest expectation. Shown above is the NM model standing in for the USGI model.  The Inland model is just a GI  plain vanilla .45, but its a great value and a tough reliable gun.

3. The High Com Security PC & Plates

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Comfortable, flexible, well made, affordable and meant to be used and depended on. Highly recommended if you are looking for a carrier and armor.

4. The SCAR-H & Specter Optic

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I have already said a lot in the original review so I don’t think I can say much more. The H is a good battle carbine.  I still would not recommend it over a 762 patter AR  for every role, but it impressed me.  Further testing of it earlier in December further enhanced it’s status with me. The optic also got high marks from me though it is heavy and expensive to the point that I would just opt for a Leupold or Nightforce model if I was going to pay out that kind of cash.  Even though, it did everything expected of it and was very fast to get hits on target out to 850 yards and was clear as a winter sky.

5. Model 37 Ithaca/Inland Combat Shotgun

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An excellent re-issue.  Well made and as smooth and slick as a shotgun three times its price. The M37 is already a classic and it is nice to now get one done up like a military model.  This gun stood up to more abuse and ammo though it than is healthy for a grown man to fire in a 12 gauge.

Some products are still being tested even if I received them this year.  If something I have talked about earlier has not shown  on this list. it’s because I  have not spent enough time with it yet.   Not being on the list does also not make it bad. It just means it did not really stand out in my mind.  If I gave it a good review earlier in the year, that opinion still stands.    On the other hand, products listed below..

Worst of 2016

  1. “XM8”

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This is one makes it on the list but with a side note.   From what I understand it is still being tweaked by the shop that makes these.   This one worked about as well as the original.  Maybe worse.  I fired 1 round before things went south.  It just did not work.    Pathetic since the gunsmith and shop told the owner he test fired it before sending it to him.  No excuse for that.    I will update on this gun as the new year progresses. It may well get the bugs worked out of it and I hope it does just for the sake of the owner who is an awesome guy.  As it stands I am unimpressed by the shop turning these out after telling buyer it was test fired before it left.

Biggest “Meh..” of 2016

  1. KRISS Vector

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It worked fine.  Accuracy was not even close to my personal standards though.  A little over hyped in my opinion.  While the factory stock has a uncomfortable vibration that it translated to the cheek, I have no real complaints.   Though I fine no real reason to get excited either.     I would opt for an MP5 clone if I wanted something like this, or better yet, an AR15 carbine in 9mm.

2 H&K MK23 SOCOM  “Offensive Pistol “

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Of course it worked fine and it was as accurate as any glock.  In the final analysis, it’s HK’s attempt to make a M1911 more or less. Now its a bit of an oddity these days and has fallen out of the lime light in the world of “operator marketing .”   If you want one or you are a collector of this niche, you won’t be let down.     But, in the end it is  the “offensive pistol”    ’nuff said.   It is a .45 though so it has that going for it!

The New 2016 Colt Delta Elite 10mm Review Part 1

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The Colt Delta Elite  M1911 has been around since the  1980s. It was  Colt and the Delta Elite that came in at the last minute and saved the 10mm round from death.  While never a huge best seller it has come and gone over the years since the first models hit shelves.  It did go away for a while but as recently as a few years ago was brought back by colt in its original retro form and sold pretty well.  While it was a great gun and true to its original issue, it was a bit bare stock for now a days.   In May of this year, all of us who wanted a Delta Elite in a more modern combat carry package without having to send the stock model off to a gunsmith, got what we had been waiting for.

https://looserounds.com/2016/06/03/first-look-at-colts-new-delta-elite-10mm/

The new Delta is everything I personally wanted for a long time. It has all the refinements I want in a M1911 that I plan to use for more than setting in the safe.  It has my favorite Novak Combat sights. It has an extended safety, the under side of the trigger guard is cut for a higher grip. it has a competition trigger and a beaver tail grip safety and is de-horned for carry comfort in addition to other upgrades.

Before I get into a deeper look at the piece, I should add right away that I did change a couple of things as I am want to do.  While I like the safety that comes from the factory and think its a fine part, I much prefer the feel and size and shape of the STI extended safety be it single or ambi.  Colt used to provide the STI on its XSE and upgraded guns until recently switching to what I believe is the Wilson Combat safety.  I replaced the Wilson part with my personal preferred safety.

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The Next change on the gun that I make on almost all of my 1911s is a part that I have had a long standing love affair with.   That is the S&A stainless steel checked main spring housing.  Again, the factory has so issues and I can not fault it. I just have my personal  quirks like we all do and when given a chance I can not resit making tiny changes to a 1911 to make it more my own.  To see the gun in its unaltered form, I provided the link to my original first look over review of the Delta from a few months ago posted above.

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Now that we got that out of the way so no one will wonder why their Delta looks different than the one reviewed here, its time to take a look.

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The new Delta is standard Colt 1911 with some obvious slight changes. It comes apart just like any other Colt and Colt’s apparently millions of copiers.

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The recoil spring is the new double spring system. It is the same concept as used on the USMC’s MARSOC  M1911 recently adopted and also made by Colt. You can find a review of it here as well.  It does not have the full length guide rode that is essentially pointless.

The recoil that results from the new dual spring was a huge surprise for me.  I have had several older Deltas over the years and full power 10mm ammo is  not exactly something you would want to pound yourself with all day long. But this makes it pleasant and I could barely tell a different between the 10mm ammo and 45 ACP. The lower power 10mm auto loads are very pleasant to shoot with the new recoil spring set up.  This seems to be a new standard practice on most of the more combat and competition 1911s from Colt now and I’m liking it a lot so far.  I confess I have not attempted to take these two apart from each other because I have no inclination to see how much of a pain it may or may not be at this point. I most likely won’t do it either until they need replacing from normal use.

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The cut out for the slide release is the full relief. This is pretty common now a days but there was a time when it was not standard. It was originally done because of the cracking that would appear on the old light weight commanders after long term hard use. A crack in the area effected nothing but some anal retentive types (like the kind of guy who loses sleep over brass marks or dings on his AR15s case deflector) ability to sleep at night witohut worrying over it.  Obviously it is expect especially on a  1911 in this round as it is a powerful round and some of the loads are very hot and hard on a gun.

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Yes. It is the so called “series 80.” Deal with it.    There is nothing wrong with that, I have been using series 80  guns for 30 some years and never had a problem. The trigger is  crisp and breaks clean. Anyone who tells you not to buy a gun if it has the series 80 style safety is an idiot that can be ignored or treated like  your liberal mother in law.

 

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The barrel is standard 1911. I know some people moan and grown over this because they want to shoot rounds  that are super hot.  I don’t care one way or the other.  I do not load the ammo  to pressures high enough to need to worry about it.  The hotter self defense loads from the factories work for me. In my mind, if you want that kind of performance out of your 10mm, buy a revolver or send the gun off and have it fitted with the barrel you want. I think if I was going to do that I would go ahead and go all the way and have a 40.SW and a .357sig barrel fitted for it at the same time and have the use of all the rounds.  otherwise, the standard, original barrel fills all my needs.

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Here is another look at the under cut.  This is such a nice little enhancement that it should always bee standard on anything that is not a retro nostalgia repro.  The strange thing about this is that I thought for many years it was appreciated by everyone until I mentioned it to some casual 1911s owners and they never noticed it.  I guess that goes to show how far enhanced production 1911s have come since the days when this sort of thing was a custom gunsmith  only feature.  In my opinion, M1911s from factories and gun smiths are the better than they ever where including some of the custom guns from back in the day.

While it may only be a personal taste, I really like the new black trigger against the SS gun. I noticed this trend with the Colt Defender a couple of years ago and really like hot it contrasts and looks with the black sights .

Another change  is the new grips. For years the Deltas always had the standard wrap around rubber grips.  These are still rubber, but obviously do not wrap. I like the slimmer grip though all day pounding of full power ammo does make the older wrap feel pretty good.  Of course the grips have the iconic Delta Elite triangle. The wrap around rubber grip with red triangle have been on the Delta for a long time.  A older catalog shows some from days past below .  The wrap around grips are almost an institution for the Delta but I really like the look and feel of the new grip.  I have an original wrap grip that I put on it for a while to compare before taking it back off and I am sure some will miss it.  Maybe Colt will offer up the older grip as a factory part at the online store for those who want it.

For those curious who want to see the older original grips, below the catalog is a picture of my ultra-rare Delta Elite Gold Cup in blued steel with original wrap around rubber grips.

If you can not wait till part 2 and the accuracy test/review, yes the new Delta out shoots the original Gold Cup Delta,and the GC Delta is Very accurate already.

Colt-Delta-Elite-1990-catalog

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The mags are the standard Colt mags. Same design used for the Super .38.

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They of course are marked 10mm Auto.   Thanks to Hunter at Rangehot.com. I learned that the standard  magazine for  45 ACP will cycle and feed in the 10mm gun.  I admit to having no idea about this but after he mentioned it to me, I tried it and could not believe I went all these years not knowing.  Now, I don’t know if all mags for the 45 guns will work perfect all the time and always lock back when empty. And I would not carry 45 mags for the gun if I thought I was going to have to fight with it. But they will do in a pinch. If you are at the range and need more mags for whatever reason or you lose or destroy the 10mm mags or if you just want some more mags and can not afford the pricey purpose made mags, the 45 ACP mags will work.  I tried Wilson Combat 45 ACP mags and standard Colt 7 and 8 round mags and they worked no problem what time I used them.  Use that info however you want.   But I recommend sticking with the purpose made 10mm mags if you are going to CCW.

On another magazine note, I have tried one other  company’s 10mm  mags.  I picked up 4 Kimber mags from a local gun store and all 4 had problems.    In my experience this is typical of kimber mags.  I was not very surprised and was glad I did not pay the full price for the things.  They do seem to work about 3 out of five times though.  Otherwise the standard USGI  45 ACP mags work better in the gun and of course the mags that came with the pistol are flawless.      I say all that to say, you can use other mags other than ones specifically marked “10mm”  if you need to or are having trouble finding extras, but keep in mind the potential for mischief.

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I have fired  the new Delta quite a bit so far and it is everything I hoped it would be when I was first told by Colt they  had sent me one  before the NRA show.  It feels good. It really is hard to explain but it feels really good.  As we stood around the booth for it at the NRA show I heard people comment on how great it felt over and over.  You’d think  that’s crazy as it is a 1911 like other 1911s, just in 10mm but its true.   It indeed has a lot of enhancements over all the early Deltas, and in my opinion is nicer than the nicest of the older Gold Cup Delta Elites nice as they are.   It is not tricked out for competition since who really wants to use 10mm all day in 3 gun or IPSC or whatever. it is set up for carry or hunting and it is very nice.  I have been daily CCWing it since it arrived and its rubber grips and de-horning make it comfortable. And the thought of the power of the 10mm and the hornady ammo is very comforting.

 

Part 2 of the Delta Elite review will be up soon with accuracy testing, handling and  longer range shooting to take advantage of the rounds  flatter trajectory and speed.

 

 

 

 

LIFE SAVING EQUIPMENT, THAT FAILS.

Article submitted by Mark Hatfield.

Another good reason to always test your equipment, never trust anything until it has proven itself.

Today, while working as a Range Safety Officer, late in the day, a couple arrived to test their guns.  Both had identical guns, a small five shot revolver, double action only, with a laser.  Note that this laser was never used during shooting, only the traditional ‘iron’ sights.  As I watched them to assess if they could safely handle their guns and not doing anything stupid, I noticed that the woman seemed to have a failure to fire but perhaps she had not fully loaded the gun, I didn’t know.  She mentioned that the gun did not seem to shoot to point of aim and asked me to try it, I did.  I fired two shots at twelve yards, one was right on, the other hit far to the left.  I thought that the shot off to the left was perhaps me, my inconsistency.  She then shot at a paper target which was placed at perhaps five yards distant.

Her group, that is, her cluster of shots, was satisfactory but far to the left of where the gun was aimed.  The man seemed to be having problems also, I fired his gun and all my shots hit in the same place, far left, as had happened for the woman.  I then shot the womans gun on the paper target and my hits were right on top of hers.  I asked one of the other Range Officers to test fire both guns, he had exactly the same results.  In addition to that, both guns occasionally failed to fire, that was with new factory ammunition by Winchester.

This model gun has the sleeved two piece barrel.  When this design first came on the market, Massad Ayoob compared several of them to their older versions which used the traditional method of barrel construction.  In his test, all the newer versions fired groups which were three to four times larger than the older gun, in other words, they were really bad.  Supposedly this problem has been corrected, apparently not.

Consider this, one gun might have a ‘fluke’, a manufacturing defect, perhaps an oversight in the making, or someone got careless in construction but…two identical guns, each with the same two identical problems.  One of the problems being that this is a gun designed specifically for last ditch self defense, to keep you alive and it doesn’t always go bang when you need it to.  Add to that, not being able to put its’ shots where they need to go.  Shame on you Smith & Wesson.  Someone there needs to be taken out and beaten, or sued.

Cinema Of The Gun THE WILD BUNCH

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I love a good shoot out movie. I have always loved them and very few are as iconic and legendary as The Wild Bunch. It was, at one time the most graphic and intense shoot out on screen.  It  was controversial at the time and a lot of people complained about it as being ultra violent.  It is certainly  violent but it has a lot more going on than just a great gun fight at the end.  It is one of my all time favorite gunfight/western movies and not just because of the guns.

If you have not seen it, i will be talking about a few plot points and spoiling the ending here so be warned on that.  Anyone who has not seen it needs to do so as fast as possible because you have been missing out,

The Wild Bunch is mainly about a gang of aging  outlaws and gunfighters after the turn of the century. The movies starts with them robbing a bank to get enough money for possible retirement but it turns out to be an ambush where almost all of them are killed. They then take refuge into Mexico where they realize their days of living like they had been, are about over and they are a dying breed.  They get mixed in with some Mexican revolution Hi-jinks while a former partner now working for the rail road who they stole from in the past  is trying to hunt them down,  they steal 1903 rifles from the US Army for the Mexicans to use, in return for gold payment from the Mexican general ravaging the countryside.

After they steal the guns they do  let one of their gang members keep a case of the rifles for his poor villager friends and family to defend against same Mex general.  He is found out, and is taken by the Mexican army and tortured while the rest of the gang goes on with the gold since there is nothing they can do.

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After building guilt for abandoning their friend, they decided to go take him back from the Mexican General and his men, though they really know it is going to be their end in a blaze of glory. And that is exactly what happens after their pal is killed by the Mexican army after they demand his return and  the leader guns down the General. They do kill about 1/4 the population of Mexico before being killed themselves.

The ending shoot out is intense and hyper violent with  very graphic for the time, blood splattering from the gun shot wounds.  it is a really great pay off, but there is some great stuff in the middle.

The movie has always really resonated with me in a few ways with some powerful themes and moments.

THE WILD BUNCH, from left: Ernest Borgnine, William Holden, 1969
THE WILD BUNCH, from left: Ernest Borgnine, William Holden, 1969

One of the things that appealed to me is the friendship between the gang members, Especially the leader and his right hand man.  They stick by each other and defend each other from the other members of the gang during tense arguments. His friend never questions his leadership and is loyal to the end. Indeed even his last word is the name of his friend Pike’s name as he dies. Still concerned about his friend even at the end.

At one point in the middle of the film, the leader, Pike, tells his pal why he limps. He was shot in the leg by the jealous husband of the only woman he ever loved. He was caught by the husband with her and was hit in the leg and the woman killed. Pike was not able to kill the man, and it has haunted him ever since.

The outlaws relationship with women in the film is interesting as well. As above, PIke is shown to be very tender toward his dead lover. At another point, they have arrived at the home town of the mexican member of their gang to find out his sweet heart has ran off with the corrupt Mexican General. Later when they meet the General he confronts his one time love and sees her laughing at him in the General’s lap.  In a rage he stands and screams “Puuuuttttaaa” and shoots her in the chest with his 1911 killing her.    At the end of the film, in the final climactic battle Pike turns his back to a Mexican prostitute and is shot in the back by her. He turn to her and exclaims “bitch”! and guns her down.   This comes after minutes earlier, he paid a poor young beautiful mexican prostitute with a young child more money than she expected after being with her. Then deciding to go out in a blaze of glory.

WildDood

After the final fight, the village square is full of the dead ad wounded. PIke still has his hand wrapped around the Machine gun he had been mowing down Mexican bandits with even in death.  His old partner who had been reluctantly  hunting him for the rail road to avoid spending his like in jail comes across his old friend.   He looks down and sees his old friends Colt 45 revolver still in its holster unfired.

pike's gun

Throughout the movie, Pike and the rest of the gang had been using the new, at the time, Colt 1911 Automatic pistol, caliber 45 ACP.  The revolver was the sidearm Pike had spent the most time with. No doubt it was his baby and well loved it was from a time before his 1911 came along and with it more modern guns obviously signifying the end of their era. Pike had still carried his older Colt because he loved it and was not willing to forget it or the memories of his prime it no doubt reminded him of.  Pike and the boys all used 1911s for the entire movie. But PIke still always had his Colt Peacemaker on his hip.  This is where it  was when the outlaws who had outlived their age came to their end.  Never even fired.

The times had moved on and changed without the outlaws changing with it.  They refused to adapt into a new world they did not like. Pike still held onto his old shooter and died with it on.

His old best friend and partner comes across his body and removes the Colt and takes it with him.  He stays in Mexico with the last survivor of the old gang and goes to fight in the revolution trying to preserve or hold onto the old days the best he can while he can, with Pike’s relic from a past age.

The Wild Bunch is a great movie but it is not just a great gun fight with great old actors. William Holden plays the outlaw leader, Pike and does it so well, you really see the pain and regret in his eye and the seriousness and resolve as he leads his last friends and gang to their last suicidal glory filled fire fight.

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