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GUN WORLD U.S. $4.99 DISPLAY UNTIL: 12/13/16





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The Colt Lightweight Commander® is the best of both worlds. Readily concealable with it’s 4.25” barrel and comfortable lightweight aluminum frame, yet nearly as accurate as our full size Government Model®. Easy to carry, easy to shoot. Available only at Colt Stocking Dealers.






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Dillon Precision’s

XL650 STANDARD FEATURES: Too receive e i e a FREE REE Catalog, a alog call ll 800-762-3845 0 62 45 and nd askk for or stock o k number umber K91-14690. 9 4690


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WILSON COMBAT’S 9-MIL AR Known for high-end ARs and 1911s, WC goes all in on the 9mm AR carbine. By Andy Massimilian



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HANDGUN-FIGHTING PERFECTION The new Valor Commander from Dan Wesson Firearms— the essence of the consummate fighting 1911. By Garrett Lucas BUGGING-OUT—RUGER STYLE Following the KISS guidelines, what if your bug-out battery were comprised exclusively of Rugers? By Leroy Thompson RE-MARK IV-ABLE! Ruger redesigned the venerable Mark series into the Mark IV. It’s the best Ruger .22 handgun. Ever. By Dave Workman THE EVOLUTION OF U.S. SNIPER RIFLES U.S. sniper rifles through the ages—World War I through the War on Terror By Leroy Thompson MAKING THE “CASE” FOR THE .45-70 LEVER GUN Henry Repeating Arms’ new color case-hardened bigbore shows that there’s still a place for lever guns. By Garrett Lucas BEYOND PUNCHING PAPER So, you’re thinking about shooting IDPA but don’t know what gear you need? We’ll tell you. By Ryan Wiedenmeier FIVE KEY HANDGUNS We give a rundown of the five most important handguns of the modern era. By Chuck Taylor



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Volume 57 • Number 12


Robb Manning Editor Amy Maclean Managing Editor


Michael Belcher Art Director

CONTRIBUTORS Steve Barlow, Brian Berry, Michelle Cerino, Brad Fitzpatrick, Steven Ledin, Garrett Lucas, Andy Massimilian, Chuck Taylor, Leroy Thompson, Ryan Weidenmeier, Dave Workman


Gabe Frimmel Ad Sales Director (714) 200-1930 Casey Clifford Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1982 Mark Pack Senior Account Executive (714) 200-1939 Charles Dorr Account Executive (714) 200-1931 John Bartulin Account Executive (866) 866-5146 ext. 2746 Joe Galloway Account Executive (863) 370-4376 John Cabral Advertising Design Gennifer Merriday Advertising Traffic Coordinator Eric Gomez Advertising Traffic Coordinator

to the Gun World re-launch. We have a great issue in store for you. We hope you like the updated, modern look and feel. The previous design was getting long in the tooth and needed a refresher. These changes will make for a better reading experience, whether you read the print edition or if you read your Gun World on a tablet. One of the big changes will be an improvement in photography. You’ll notice an upgrade in this issue, and it will be an ongoing process to always improve the photography you see on these pages.


Robert Short IT Manager Parveen Kumar Newsstand and Circulation Analyst Shailesh Khandelwal Subscriptions Manager Alex Mendoza Administrative Assistant Jeno Torres Administrative Assistant Victoria Van Vlear Intern Program Manager

We’re also changing the way we relate the stories to you. It used to be that gun owners got their guns out of the safe once a year, then cleaned them and put them away. Times have changed, and we know that modern gun owners want to use their guns—often every day, if possible—whether for carry, competition, training classes, hunting or good, old-fashioned plinking.

EDITORIAL, PRODUCTION & SALES OFFICE 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614 (714) 939-9991 • Fax: (800) 249-7761 GUN WORLD (ISSN 0017-5641) is published monthly in January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December by Engaged Media Inc., LLC, 17890 Sky Park Circle, Suite 250, Irvine, CA 92614. Periodical postage paid at Irvine, CA and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to GUN WORLD c/o Engaged Media Inc, VSI, Inc. 905 Kent St., Liberty, MO 64068. © 2016 by Engaged Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction of any material from this issue in whole or in part is strictly prohibited. GST#855050365RT001. Canadian Post: Publications Mail Agreement Pitney Bowes, Inc., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada

We have five new columns to offer our readers: Optics: Guns are useless if you can’t hit the target. This new column is written by legendary glass man Steve Ledin. I think you’ll appreciate Steve’s clever wit and depth of knowledge on everything that is glass.

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Preps: The Boy Scout motto advises, “Be prepared.” Prepping and guns go hand in hand, whether you’re bugging out, bugging in or just trying to get home. Long-time Gun World contributor and prep master Garrett Lucas is writing this column. Train: This column focuses on competitive shooting and personal defense. It is written by Michelle Cerino, co-founder of Cerino Consulting & Training Group, along with husband Chris Cerino of Top Shot, season 1.

SUBSCRIPTION RATES $17.95/1 year, $29.95/2 years. Outside the U.S.: $40.95/1 year, $75.95/2 years. Payable in U.S. funds. Single copy price is $4.99. Please allow 6 to 8 weeks for new subscriptions to begin.

EDC: Nothing is more popular in America right now than concealed carry. Steve Barlow teaches you how to do it correctly and offers informed and expert suggestions about the gear you need to do it. Cleared Hot (military jargon for “Engage the enemy”): Retired Special Forces CSM Brian Berry passes on his Special Forces training and experience gained from multiple combat tours. He also discusses techniques to protect yourself and get out of bad situations alive.


Mike Savino CEO Celia Merriday HR and Office Management Jason Mulroney Content Director Pinaki Bhattacharya Vertical Manager Philip Trinkle Newsstand Sales Director Kris Roadruck Marketing Director Bob Hulsy Business Development Director

We hope you enjoy this new Gun World magazine. In the coming months, you’ll also see a new and improved website and social media.

This magazine is purchased by the buyer with the understanding that information presented is from various sources from which there can be no warranty or responsibility by Engaged Media Inc., as to the legality, completeness or technical accuracy.

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As always, your comments, questions and stories are welcome, so drop me a line … even just to talk guns.

Canada Post: Publications Mail Agreement #40612608 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: PITNEY BOWES, INC., P.O. Box 25542, London, ON N6C 6B2, Canada




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Julie Golob Champion, Author, Veteran, Hunter, Ambassador & Mom Captain of Team Smith & Wesson

M&P®9L Ported

M&P®9 Pro Series

M&P®9 C.O.R.E.

M&P®9 SHIELD™ Ported




Glock magazines can drop from the mag well slowly or can even stick when the slide is locked to the rear on an empty mag. Proper ejection requires the mag follower spring to compress, which it does against the slide. This often requires a flick of the wrist or swipe of the other hand to clear. The Mag Release Assist from FirstMag fixes the problem, ejecting the mag free and clear of the mag well. It’s a flat spring that wraps around the base of the magazine with a lip that fits under the base plate. MAKE: First Mag MODEL: Glock Mag Release Assist MSRP: $45 (baseplate and release) URL:





Yeti makes bold claims on how long its Rambler Bottles keep cold items cold—and it has always delivered. Now, the popular tumbler comes in the form of a bottle with a spill-proof cap. This bottle is heavy duty, and the heavy-duty cap secures very tightly. Loop two fingers through the handle, and you’ve got an improvised blunt weapon for head strikes.

A good gun belt must be rigid, especially if you are carrying OWB. Quality gun belts use two layers of leather stitched into one unit. The only problem is that leather stretches over time.

The “El Original” Tejas Gun Belt combines the best of two materials—leather and polymer. The outer layer is top-grade bull leather that is hand stitched to the inside layer, which consists of reinforced polymer. It has the classic look of a leather belt with the extra rigidity of polymer. Plus, it never stretches. Call us “sold.” MAKE: Magpul MODEL Tejas Gun Belt MSRP: $85 URL:

The only gripe I’ve ever heard about Yeti is the price of its products. But can you put a price on a cold beverage on a hot day? The bottle is manufactured of 18/8 stainless steel and features double-wall vacuum insulation, so no sweat— cold or hot. MAKE: Yeti MODEL: 18-Ounce Rambler Bottle MSRP: $40 URL:




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Perhaps you’re jaded about AR triggers; you have your favorite, and not even a gang of Orcs could get you to change your mind. However, the ELF drop-in trigger will knock your socks off (and help fight off the Orcs). It uses aerospace-grade sealed bearings to give it one of the smoothest pulls we’ve felt. Plus, the pull weight is simple to adjust. It has practically no takeup and a break as crisp as microwave bacon, with no discernable overtravel. The reset is short and super fast. A double-wound hammer spring and skeletonized hammer make it fast—and with a quick lock time. It’s completely drop safe and comes with a lifetime guarantee. It is made in the U.S.A. of aircraft-grade aluminum and hardened steel. This trigger is tough and lightweight (just 2 ounces).



MAKE: Elftmann Tactical MODEL: Elf-3 Gun Trigger TRIGGER PULL WEIGHT: 2¾–4 pounds TRIGGER STYLE: Curved or straight MSRP: $279 URL:

Breakthrough Technologies cleaning products are people-, eco- and gun-safe (metals, polymer, wood, hydro-printing, etc.), and most importantly, they work extremely well. They exceed MIL-SPEC Mil-PRF-680C Type II. The Ammo Can Cleaning kit is the mac-daddy cleaning kit from this company. It comes with a 6-ounce bottle of Breakthrough’s Military Grade Solvent, 6-ounce bottle of Battle Born High-Purity Oil and a 12cc syringe of Battle Born Grease fortified with PTFE. The kit also includes six nylon bore brushes in the popular military/police rifle and handgun calibers, plus 12-gauge, six brass jags in the same, three brass patch holders, five-section cleaning rod with T-handle, nylon utility brush and Swab-it gun-tip swabs—all in a Tuff Tainer organizer. The kit also includes assorted patches, a silicone cloth and a 14-inch-square micro-fiber towel. Everything fits into a plastic ammo can that screams, “Go-to cleaning kit!” MAKE: Breakthrough Technologies MODEL: Ammo Can Cleaning Kit MSRP: $120 URL:

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Handgun trainers argue until they’re blue in the face about proper slide manipulation, with their Internet lemmings shunning anyone who disagrees. The only thing that truly matters is quickly getting the slide into battery with a round in the chamber and the support hand able to quickly get on the gun.

Have you always wanted a thermal imager, but its multi-$1,000 price tag was too much? The Seek Thermal Compact Pro is available at a much more reasonable price.

It has a 320x240 thermal sensor (76,800 thermal pixels) that can detect heat signatures out to 1,800 feet. Its operating temperature range is -40 to +626 degrees (F)—although real-world operating temperature range is 32 to 100 degrees (F), which is also the operating temperature range of the iPhone and Android. In addition, you can shoot video and take pictures in thermal. It works day or night, and its uses are endless: home security, animal spotting and recovery, home maintenance ... and finding lost Cub Scouts in the woods (ask us how we know this).

Different variables can make this more difficult for some—whether you have a wounded arm, arthritic hands, are wearing winter gloves or have slippery hands from blood or that bucket of fried chicken. The Tactical Slide Racker is a drop-in part that replaces the Glock OEM striker retention plate and adds extra grip for leverage in racking the slide, whether from behind (sling-shot method) or over the top. It is manufactured by TangoDown. MAKE: Vickers Tactical MODEL: Slide Racker FOR: Glock models 17/19/22/23/26/27/34/35 MSRP: $19 URL:

MAKE: Seek Thermal MODEL: Compact Pro PLATFORMS: iPhone, Android MSRP: $499 URL:



At first glance, we thought this was just glorified airport luggage ... but we were incorrect. Think of the ZÜCA All-Terrain Cart as a backpack on wheels—that is, if you and your backpack could lug 300 pounds on your back. Just for range work, 300 pounds is a lot of ammo. But even with ammo filling the internal compartment of this cart, you can still strap ammo cans to the top of its frame. The cart features heavy-duty tires that have excellent traction in mud, snow or whatever conditions the trail might have in store. The wheels even have sealed bearings for a smooth ride and are removable for storage. The main compartment is removable, water-resistant and hand washable. Plus, whenever you need to stop for a break, the frame makes for a nice seat. And did we mention this holds up to 300 pounds? It also has tons of aftermarket add-ons to increase storage and capabilities: coolers, saddlebags, lunchboxes and accessory pouches. MAKE: ZÜCA MODEL: All-Terrain Cart SPECS: 23.5 (H) x 10 (W) x 13 inches (D); 22 (W) x 19 inches (D) with wheels; 13.5 pounds. Internal capacity: 1,970 cubic inches. Handle telescopes to 51 inches MSRP: $275 URL:




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112 MAGNUM TARGET, 338 LAPUA Target Configuration, Single-Shot Magnum Target Action, Pillar-Bedded Wood-Laminate Stock

110 BA STEALTH, .338 LAPUA Factory-Blueprinted Savage Action, Monolithic Aluminum Chassis Machined From Billet, M-LOK Forend, One-Piece Picatinny Scope Rail, Adjustable AccuTrigger, Fab Defense GLR-16 Buttstock, 24” Barrel, Muzzle Brake

110 FCP HS PRECISION, .338 LAPUA Tactical Configuration, HS Precision Fiberglass Stock, One-Piece Scope Rail

111 LONG RANGE HUNTER, .338 LAPUA Lighter Weight Hunting Configuration, One-Piece Scope Rail

SAVAGE DELIVERS THE SELECTION, ACCURACY AND THE POWER TO GET IN THE CLUB. Want to hit a target from a mile away? Here are four great options from Savage to make it happen. Available in tactical, hunting and target configurations, you’re sure to find your match. Each rifle delivers our legendary out-of-the-box accuracy at extreme range, thanks to our hand-straightened button rifled barrels; zero-tolerance headspace control and crisp, adjustable AccuTrigger. Utilizing the 338 Lapua Magnum, the most popular ultra-long-range cartridge of Snipers and target shooters alike, you have the power to reach out to 1,000+ yards… and yes, even a mile.





he Leupold Academy’s Precision Scoped Rifle Class was held in central Oregon, home to shadeless, scorched, high-desert sand and sage. It was in the cloudless 90s every day, and we were lying on our shooting mats over gravel while the blinding glare helped burnish my neck and my overworked Remington.


At extreme distances, you have to work with your equipment. Don’t try to lord over it.

Steven K. Ledin is a former U.S. Navy nuclear gunner’s mate and current director of a prominent online optics retailer. He’s a CCW and NRA instructor and has been a sponsored competitive shooter and private investigator. He has hunted (and gotten lost) from Alaska to Africa.


Mike Baccellieri was our instructor for this four-day course. He was Army, then Marines, then private sector and a shooting instructor through most of it. He’s unassuming and fun and does a great Christopher Walken impression. But mostly, he’s an impassioned, experienced, patient and effective teacher. And his classroom work is spot-on.

THE EQUIPMENT I shot a loaner gun: a heavy-barreled Remington 700 action in .308 in a height-adjustable Manners stock with Timney trigger and APA bottom metal with Accuracy International 10-round magazines. A SilencerCo Omega suppressor was at the muzzle. All were held up by a Harris swivel bipod. But ultra-long-range rifle shooting cannot be done without superb glass, so nestled in Leupold Mark 4 rings on top of the matching one-piece 20 MOA base was a Mark 6 3-18x44 scope with the Horus H59 reticle. What an amazing scope-and-reticle combination! The 34mm tube allowed for the extreme elevation adjustments needed at these science



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My tool for the course: a Remington 700 action in .308 in a height- adjustable Manners stock with Timney trigger and APA bottom metal. Capped with a Silencerco Omega suppressor

I would fire. I would miss. Repeat. This went on for a couple of expensive boxes of ammo. Wind and mirage are fickle.

fiction distances. At 1,400 meters during the class, I still had the use of the reticle to hold well over with my .308. There was classroom time, but we shot most of every day. We split into teams on days three and four and became as serious as possible during these last two full days of shooting. I was on a team of three with my new friends, Darren and Mike, because 15 people in the class made for an odd number, and we three seemed like compatriots. The thing was, in our team of three, we all used a different system of measuring. Darren used a mil adjustment/MOA reticle, while Mike was MOA/MOA. I was fortunate to use the best loaner stuff with mil/ mil, and the Mark 4 FFP spotters that were used in the class had a TMR reticle that was mil-based, just like the H59 reticle in my scope. All three of us learned to do the math in our heads and never called clicks, only mils. That way, the spotter called the same measurements, regardless of what scope the shooter was using or on what magnification. We learned to call the fluid and untrustworthy wind with the help of mirages, which changed every few hundred yards. The guns and loaner scopes were not what I would consider “maintained”; instead, they looked as if they belonged to Mad Max after decades of real-world abuse. Indeed, only one of the academy loaner guns and scopes was cleaned or lubed during my class, which consisted of hundreds of rounds, even though they lived in the constant drifting of powdered desert dust that permeated every molecule of metal and human. That goes miles in indicating equipment quality. The


guns stayed half-minute throughout the class, hot or cold. Fundamentals learned, or at least fresh, I got to shoot at steel targets in the high Oregon desert with the most hardcore fire-spitting tool (that wasn’t mine) with delicious Black Hills Match cartridges expended in a raucous, but controlled, syzygy of shooting. During class, I was able to spank a 36-inch steel target at 1,400 meters, both prone and sitting (with the help of callers on the spotting scope) using our newly learned spotter/shooter jargon and etiquette. I worked my way up from 100 to 1,400 meters and recorded the data in my shooter’s log. After graduation, I had the opportunity to back up a couple of hundred yards and lie prone on a wooden deck behind Mike’s personal .308 space gun while he and two others watched for bullet impact on the same steel I shot at 1,400. But now, it was a measured mile away, or 1,760 yards—more than 17 football fields away. Sick. We had several boxes of Black Hills Match 175-grainers to lob at the target. My elevation was buried at about 30 mils, even with a 20 MOA base, and I held from 6 to 9 mils low in the Horus reticle. Mike would say, “Up 8.5; right 4.2.” I would fire. I would miss. Repeat. This went on for a couple of expensive boxes of ammo. Wind and mirage are fickle. The gun and the SilencerCo can were so hot, and the mirage was wriggling the reality



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SCOPE EYE CHRONICLES through my scope. Turn magnification down to 14, then 13, then 12. Mike said, “Steve, if it’s OK with you, we’ll finish after this magazine.” I said, “Not if I have any say in it, Mike. This is the money shot! I need this.“ (I’m not superficial, but to shoot a 36-inch steel target at a mile? I really wanted to hear that bullet spank steel.) I fired again. It took about four seconds for the bullet to hit the target and about six seconds for the sound to come back. It was witnessed by three spotters and heard by many. I plopped my sweaty head on my rear sandbag, as spent as the dozens of hot .308 cases lying to my right. GW

Above: Recording data is key to repeatability.

Contact Information LEUPOLD & STEVENS (800) 538-7653 WWW.LEUPOLD.COM

Below: Building up to the 1-mile shot


It took about 4 seconds for the bullet to hit the target and about 6 seconds for the sound to come back.



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n the last issue, we discussed some important basics about hunting in Africa. Now, it’s time to delve deeper into safari planning and help you make your once-in-a-lifetime trip an unforgettable experience—for the right reasons.

THE RIGHT RIFLE For most plains game hunts, your deer rifle will work quite well, so there’s no need to upgrade. However, keep in mind that there are rules that must be obeyed (for Namibia, visit the NAPHA website:; for South Africa, visit PHASA’s site: for regulations). The author with Bijorn LeRoux and a very old, heavy oryx bull. This oryx was taken on the last day of the safari by stalking it through thorn bush with native Damara trackers— an exciting and challenging way to pursue game.



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For instance, in Namibia, 7mm is the minimum hunting caliber, and energy requirements are given in kilojoules. That may seem confusing, but for the vast majority of African hunting (and hunting all over the world, for that matter), the .30-calibers excel. Over the years, and through countless surveys of PHs (professional hunters), it seems that the .300 Winchester Magnum and the .30-06 are the two mostpopular choices. If you’re just hunting midsized antelope, 7mm-08, .308, .30-06, 7mm Remington Magnum or 7x57would all be great options. Likewise, the various .300 magnums, the .338 Winchester Magnum and .375s all work on plains game—from duiker to eland. PHs are against muzzle brakes, and I understand why: The deafening report is mind-boggling for those standing around the shooter. You’ll need a good, variable scope that is properly and securely mounted, along with tough bullets for Africa’s tough game. Partitions, Bear Claws, A-Frames, Browning’s new BXC and all copper bullets, such as Hornady’s GMX and Barnes TSX, work well.


Some African camps are remote and rugged, but South Africa and Namibia have some outstanding lodges, such as this one, at which you can hunt all day and relax in comfort at night.

My first bit of advice for your first safari would be to add on a few days for sightseeing. After a long plane ride (you’ll most commonly fly through Johannesburg, South Africa—a roughly 16-hour trip from Atlanta, Europe is another option), I like to spend a few days relaxing, and Africa’s great for that.


If you don’t have a suitable rifle or don’t want to deal with getting permits to carry, don’t fret; you can usually rent one from your outfitter for a reasonable price.


There are outstanding opportunities for fishing and biking at places such as Sandymount Park in South Africa and Hunters Namibia Safaris. Africa has the greatest game park in the world. Some of my greatest days in Africa haven’t involved carrying a rifle, and I like to build those days in at the front of the hunt. That way, you can get off the plane and get to relax and enjoy Africa. Once you’re accustomed to the climate and the time change, you’ll be ready to hunt. I always book with a travel agent (see the sidebar on page 18). I once had a problem with an airline being delayed in Namibia, and I was left to deal with that on my own. Now, I deal directly with a travel agent who specializes in hunting trips, and that experience has been wonderful. It’s well worth the minimal costs, because this kind of agent can walk you through every step of your travel plans and is a lifeline when things go wrong. A representative from the agent’s team meets you when



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HUNT Can’t afford to take trophies home with you? Consider a cull hunt. They are affordable, and you will have the experience of hunting Africa without the cost of shipping trophies and taxidermy. This red hartebeest was culled in an area where they had overpopulated. It will provide meat for the hunters and local villagers.

you step off the plane in South Africa, helps you with all your gun paperwork, takes you to a hotel (and picks you up if you need to stay overnight) and sees you off at your gate.

PITFALLS TO AVOID Most PHs are courteous, competent and trustworthy. But, as with all professions, there are a few bad eggs. Be certain to check several references. I use hunters I trust and who I know will do their absolute best to ensure that my family and I have a safe, successful trip. So far, I’ve been very fortunate. That being said, your relationship with your PH can go sour if there’s a failure to communicate. For starters, listen when they tell you about expectations, as well as what you should pack (Africa is colder than you think, especially in the winter months of June, July and August); what kind of trophies and success rates you can expect; and how far you will need to shoot, among other important details. Your PH won’t shoot your animal for you, so you need to be proficient—and, above all, safe with your rifle. In addition, clearly outline payment information: Who will get paid, how much will they get paid, and when? Ask about dipping, packing and shipping. These services can cost a fair amount, so add that into your budget early. Taxidermy can be done in Africa or stateside. GW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brad Fitzpatrick is a full-time freelance writer based in Ohio. His works have appeared in several print and online publications, and he is the author of two books: The Shooter’s Bible Guide to Concealed Carry and Handgun Buyer’s Guide 2015. He has hunted on four continents and was a collegiate trap and skeet shooter before becoming a writer.

THESE TWO COMPANIES CAN HELP WALK YOU THROUGH TRAVEL PLANNING AND TROPHY IMPORT—TWO CRITICAL FACTORS ON ANY SAFARI. TRAVEL EXPRESS ( Lori Ginn has been helping hunters take care of flight details, rental cars, gun permits, hotel reservations and other safari logistics since 1998. Plus, she’s an avid hunter with a thorough understanding of African travel. You can book your flight on your own, but the small price you’ll pay to have Lori’s team take care of everything for you and answer your travel questions will make your safari much more enjoyable. COPPERSMITH Global Logistics/www. When your trophies arrive back in the United States, they’ll have to clear customs. You’ll need to be sure that all of your CITES permits (if required) and other paperwork is in order. The simplest way to do this is to contact a company such as Coppersmith Global Logistics, which has been in the logistics business for years. Its trophy import branch,, has valuable information about packing, shipping and clearing your trophies.

When you plan your safari, book a few extra days for sightseeing. Africa has much to offer, and it’s a great way to recover from long flights.


Coppersmith will provide you with tags to hang on your trophies prior to the safari and will clear the items through one of the U.S. ports when they arrive in the United States.



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It has been 10 years since the legendary Taurus Judge® was born, and it’s still laying down the law. Capable of chambering both 45 Colt and 410 shotshell, this five-shot game changer is worth celebrating—and so are our fans. That’s why we’re giving you a chance to win a trip to Taurus headquarters in Miami, range time with champion shooter Jessie Duff and other amazing prizes. Enter at and join the celebration. #WhatLegendsAreMadeOf

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The Dan Wesson Valor is a Commander-sized 1911 and is a handsome addition to anyone’s carry package.




After changing hands a few times and taking on a new official name, CZ-USA ended up buying the company in 2005. While Dan Wesson Firearms has produced 1911-style firearms and rifles over the years, the 1911 variants are now the primary focus of the company, with only one revolver model (715) left in the stable.

This five-shot group fired from the bench at 25 yards was made with SIG Sauer Elite Performance 230-grain V-Crown loads. It measured 1.25 inches— the best of all loads tried.

Whether it’s a sign of the times or the desire of the staff to focus on some of the best production 1911 models on the market, CZ-USA is running a tight ship with the Dan Wesson line. It is also turning out some fantastic pistols for fans of arguably the most popular combat firearm of the last century—and it’s still going strong.

he evolution of a firearms company is always interesting to study. Dan Wesson Firearms is a prime example. Starting in 1968 as Dan Wesson Arms, the company was best known for its revolvers for a significant portion of its history. Its revolver line had a few unique features that made them extremely appealing.

We inquired about doing a review of the company’s new non-bobtail Valor Commander, and it wasn’t long before a beautiful specimen in .45 ACP arrived. The Valor line is the crème de la crème of Dan Wesson Firearms 1911 pistols, which is one reason we wanted to look at this particular model. The other was because of the Commander size, making it more suitable for concealed carry.

The features included a shrouded barrel tube to increase accuracy, the ability to swap out barrels easily and quickly, and a grip frame that allowed a variety of grip types because of the use and positioning of the coiled mainspring. These features were attractive to a wide audience, from hunters to police officers.


As with almost any other product, it’s the little things that count when building a top-tier 1911. Although it is not a full-blown custom pistol, many consider it to be a semi-custom because of the extra work that goes into the details. P



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The Valor Commander comes with two flushfitting, eight-round magazines and a set of reasonably thin and comfortable G-10 grip slabs.

The frame and slide are both constructed of steel, which gives the pistol a substantial weight for a carry piece but does help with taming recoil just a bit. There are no MIM parts used in the Valor. Instead, quality forged bar stock is used to make its components.


During the manufacturing process, the parts are hand fitted and polished for a tight, but buttery-smooth, assembly. Additionally, the inclusion of the extended beavertail and the 25-lines-per-inch hand checkering on the front and back straps are what you’d expect to see in a top-tier pistol. As is common with high-end 1911s, the Dan Wesson Valor Commander is a Series 70 design, rather than Series 80. The Series 70 style of construction stays true to the original 1911 design and does not have as many moving parts (which typically end up causing a heavier trigger pull). While Ralph Nader and Series 80 proponents might have liked the increased perceived safety of the newer design, aficionados understand and fully appreciate the difference between the two. As a result of sticking with the original design, the Valor Commander has a decidedly sweet trigger with a clean break at just 4.25 pounds. Combine that trigger with the Valor’s match-grade barrel, and you’ve got a recipe for an excellent pistol with regard to accuracy—although the proof’s in the pudding. The sight system on the Valor Commander is a combat style, with one tritium dot on the front post and one under the rear sight window. This makes for a quick sight picture and faster shots on target.

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After a session at the range, breaking down the Valor Commander is similar to almost every other 1911. There is no full-length guide rod—again, Dan Wesson Firearms is staying true to the original design. The Dan Wesson Firearms non-bobtail Valor Commander is a masterful semiproduction creation that is inherently beautiful in its own simple and understated way.

That yawning .45-caliber cavern at the end of the barrel is backed up by eight rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, ready to fly.

The Valor’s measurements come in at rather standard numbers: a barrel length of 4.25 inches, an overall length of 8 inches and a height of 5.5 inches. It tips the scales at a substantial 38.80 ounces. While sized appropriately enough for concealed carry, the user is going to need a quality belt and holster for it to ride comfortably all day long. The two magazines supplied with the Valor Commander have the “DW” insignia on them; and both have a capacity of eight rounds. With one in the pipe, that’s nine rounds of big-bore defense loads backing you up. And for rapid target acquisition in a defensive scenario, the Valor incorporates a set of sights that have one tritium dot (white outlined) on the front post and one tritium dot below the window of the rear sight.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS The handling of the Dan Wesson Valor Commander is exceptional. The 1911 already has an ergonomic design, but the checkering on both the front and back straps really locks the hand into place for a secure grip on the pistol. The thumb safety has a very positive actuation, its tactile response letting the user know whether it is engaged.




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The big (or not so big) change with this pistol in contrast to the previous Valor Commander is that this new model doesn’t have the bobtail at the heel of the handle. Fans of the bobtail will point to easier concealability versus the new, non-bobtail version.

Despite its shorter frame and slide, the Commander Valor is extremely accurate, and its all-steel construction still helps mitigate the recoil from the hardhitting .45 ACP round.

In the most miniscule terms, I would agree, but I prefer the full-length back strap instead. It comes down to user preference, and I’m just glad this one didn’t have the bobtail relief. If concealment is that much of an issue, I would go all the way and get a shorter frame altogether. But, again, it’s all about user preference.

LOCK AND LOAD After an extremely hot and weird summer, walking onto the range with the Dan Wesson Valor Commander on a 75-degree day felt like drifting into nirvana. Even better—there was a good supply of various brands of ammunition on hand to test the Valor’s mettle.

As can be seen here, the Valor Commander is a Series 70 pistol with no firing pin safety plunger, as is found with Series 80 pistols.

The instruction manual that comes with the Valor recommends 300 to 500 rounds for a complete shakeout before using it for competition or

The folks at Wright Leather Works in Fremont, Ohio, are examples of this commitment. In a relatively short time, the company has established a strong presence in the custom holster world. That’s due to the excellent quality of the products it is making and the attention to detail it pays to every piece stamped with the company logo. Wright Leather Works makes everything from gun belts to outside- and inside-the-waistband holsters to shoulder holsters. Most of its products are available in five different colors to match just about any buyer’s preference. One of my favorite Wright Leather Works holsters is the Predator. It is an extremely comfortable pancake holster that’s both attractive and very sturdy. There is a leather reinforcement strip at the mouth of the holster that helps keep it open for easy re-holstering. I have a couple of these holsters in the stable already and plan on updating my leather for a few other handguns, as well. The Predator pancake holster is a popular model at Wright Leather Works. The leather is already contoured to fit around the torso, and an extra layer of leather at the mouth of the holster adds strength and resistance to collapsing after the weapon is drawn.

Wright Leather Works


One excellent option for the buyer is the company’s Master Collection upgrade, which layers pigskin within the interior of the holster. Rather than having a rough finish inside, the addition of the smooth pigskin layers helps protect the finish on the firearm and adds a bit of stiffness for better durability. In this new age of polymers and Kydex, it’s nice to see true artisans carry on old traditions and turn out products of such outstanding quality and design. From what I’ve seen so far, their work stands toe to toe with the best custom makers on the market—and it’s sure to get even better.

art of getting older is change, especially while watching one industry for over a couple of decades. But, quite often, that change is good and also reassuring in that great new builders and craftsmen are coming along to help carry the torch into the future.

The Master Collection upgrade on Wright Leather Works’ holsters is the inclusion of extra layers of smooth-side pigskin in the interior of the holster. This helps reduce holster wear on a firearm, and a side benefit of the extra layering is that it helps create a stiffer and more resilient holster.




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gun world defense, and it recommended using only ball ammo during that period. I didn’t have that kind of time or patience, so along with the FMJ stuff, I brought along SIG Sauer’s 230-grain V-Crown, Federal Premium’s 230-grain HST and Speer’s 230-grain Gold Dot loads. The shooting experience with the Valor Commander was sublime. The pistol balanced perfectly, and the G-10 grips felt great, as did the checkering, which helped lock down a sure purchase. The dot-over-dot sight system is a little different than I’m used to, but it was an easy transition. In fact, it seemed as if I picked up the target a bit quicker once I was used to the system.


Non-Bobtail Valor Commander SPECIFICATIONS The SIG Sauer V-Crown ammunition was exceptionally accurate during the tests with the Commander Valor. This is a picture of two five-shot groups by different shooters. The shots were made off hand at 15 yards, and each group of five shots was fired in fewer than 10 seconds.

I did start out the test with SIG Sauer’s 230-grain FMJ training load, Speer’s 230-grain Lawman TMJ practice rounds and Federal Premium’s 230-grain TMJ round, as well. The one thing I learned quickly was that the Valor Commander does not like TMJ loads. It hiccupped a few times with both the Speer and the Federal rounds I tried.

OVERALL LENGTH: 8 inches BARREL LENGTH: 4.25 inches HEIGHT: 5.5 inches COMPOSITION: Steel frame/slide GRIPS: G-10 ACTION: Single action only FINISH: Black Duty (also stainless) CALIBER: .45 ACP (also 9mm) MAGAZINE CAPACITY: Eight rounds MSRP: $2,012 VELOCITY TABLE SIG Sauer 230-grain V-Crown JHP .....................852 fps Speer 230-grain Gold Dot JHP ..........................857 fps Federal 230-grain HST JHP ..............................871 fps Speer 230-grain Lawman TMJ ..........................796 fps SIG Sauer 230-grain FMJ .................................851 fps NOTE: Average of five shots from the bench at 10 feet

There were no issues with regular FMJ ammunition, and I thought this might be a function of the pistol breaking in as articulated in the instructions. However, once I got several hundred rounds into shooting both FMJ and hollow points, when I came back to the TMJ loads, I had the same random malfunctions. The pistol just doesn’t like TMJ rounds.


Everything else I fired fed 100 percent reliably through the Valor. In fact, I brought out my “Bag O’ Points.” It’s the bag in which I collect random rounds through the years as I change out ammo or have a couple left over after shooting. The contents of the bag date back 20 years and include hollow-point loads from Remington, Cor-Bon, Winchester, Federal and a couple of other random makers I can’t remember.


I fired more than 100 rounds of that old stuff through the Valor, and not a single malfunction occurred. The same was true for all the current hollow points and ball ammo I tried during the test.

ACCURACY The accuracy of the Valor Commander, both off hand and from the bench, was brilliant. From the bench, the best five-shot group of the day actually comprised two separate groups of the SIG Sauer Elite Performance 230-grain V-Crown, coming in at just 1.25 inches at 25 yards. The 230-grain Speer Gold Dot followed closely, with a best group of 1.50 inches.

Approximately 450 rounds of various brands and types of .45 ACP ammunition were fired through the Valor without a single malfunction. Over half consisted of various hollow-point loads. For me, it’s an easy fix. TMJ loads are typically for practice, anyway, so just don’t use them as defensive loads with the Valor, and all will be well. For a defensive weapon, the Valor Commander is an ideal choice because of its light trigger break, great ergonomics, effective combat sights, and outstanding accuracy and reliability.

I’ve had a chance to try several calibers of SIG Sauer ammunition, and I am consistently seeing excellent results with regard to accuracy. For the several reviews I’ve done with SIG ammo, it’s either been the most accurate or the second most accurate load tried. I can’t try it out against every single load on the market for each review, but it’s been put up against some of the best and most popular loads on the market, and it’s more than holding its own. In fact, at one point during a range session, another shooter and I each shot a five-round group offhand at a B29 target at 15 yards. Between our two groups aimed for the silhouette’s head, nine of 10 shots stayed within a 2.75-inch spread, with the flier opening it up to 3.25 inches. This was done with SIG’s V-Crown load and was pretty impressive, considering it was off hand and each group was shot in fewer than 10 seconds.




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ASG-1507-Pat Crawford Knives 5/19/15 1:43 PM Page 1

IF I COULD WORK THIS PISTOL INTO MY COLLECTION, IT WOULD IMMEDIATELY BECOME MY CONCEALED EDC PISTOL. I DON’T KNOW WHAT BETTER TESTAMENT I COULD OFFER FOR A DEFENSIVE WEAPON. THE LAST WORD I am a product of the polymer generation, at least with regard to when I was first legally able to purchase handguns. It took me a little while to catch up on the classics and appreciate them. Even so, from the beginning, a beautifully functioning 1911 always stirred my soul—despite the fact that it didn’t carry 13 to 15 rounds. That’s exactly what the Dan Wesson Firearms Valor Commander is—beautiful in both form and function. There are just some things you can’t describe or articulate well enough to convey an accurate meaning or that fits my thoughts about how solid and well put together this firearm feels in the hand. It’s something that has to be tried firsthand to get a true measure of the Valor’s quality. After firing 450 rounds through the Valor and experiencing its accuracy, reliability and overall fit and finish, if I could work this pistol into my collection, it would immediately become my concealed EDC pistol. I don’t know what better testament I could offer for a defensive weapon. Straddling two worlds, the Valor Commander is neither a custom gun nor a regular production piece. With an MSRP of $2,012, it’s not the cheapest option going, but it delivers on the price in spades. The Valor Commander strikes the perfect balance between a full-blown custom pistol and a run-of-the-mill 1911 when it comes to price, but the build quality and performance put it on par with the very best. GW

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ecently, I re-read Pat Frank’s iconic post-apocalyptic novel, Alas Babylon, along with some more-recent post-doomsday fiction. An element of most of these novels is the availability of firearms for those attempting to survive.

As I normally have when reading such novels or viewing doomsday films, I started thinking about a portable, versatile, durable and reasonably priced battery of firearms for the “end of the world as we know it.” Although myriad choices would apply to individuals and their circumstances, it occurred to me that an effective selection of doomsday firearms could be composed entirely of Rugers.

GUNSITE SCOUT RIFLE My first component would be the Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle. Designed as the do-everything rifle, the Ruger Scout can be used for defense or hunting. Yes, it’s a bolt action and doesn’t fire as fast as a self-loader, but the need to take aimed shots aids accuracy and conserves ammunition. Available in alloy or stainless steel and in 5.56x45mm or 7.62x51mm, the Scout is handy and reliable. I chose the alloy steel version because of its shorter barrel. I also chose the 7.62x51mm chambering for range and killing power. With the 10-round magazine and the fast operating bolt, that allows quick repeat shots for keeping intruders/marauders at bay. Another advantage of the Gunsite Scout is its Picatinny rail that allows installation of a good optic. Leupold makes excellent long eye relief Scout scopes. I chose the 1.5-4x28mm VX-2 IER Scout model.

The Ruger LC9 (left) and Ruger MK III Standard stainless (right) offer a versatile pistol combination that should suffice in various circumstances. Extra magazines and plenty of ammo for both are necessary.

On 1.5X, and with the long eye relief for scanning, this is a useful shortrange combat scope, while on 4X, it can be used for medium-range sniping/counter-sniping or hunting. The Rhodesian sling from Andy’s Leather is an excellent addition to the rifle. I would also recommend purchasing at least three extra magazines for the rifle, including at least one five-rounder for use with lower cover.

10/22 TAKEDOWN Another addition would be a true bug-out weapon: Ruger’s 10/22 Takedown model. Portable enough to stow in a backpack, inexpensive to shoot and capable of taking small game or for self-defense in an emergency, the 10/22 Takedown is the firearm that would likely be used the most. .22 Long Rifle ammunition is less expensive and easier to store than centerfire ammunition. If the rifle needs to be used for self-defense, Ruger offers reliable 25-round magazines. I’d recommend having on hand a couple of the 25-rounders and a couple of the standard 10-round magazines.

The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle and MK III Standard make good traveling companions that are capable of dealing with most contingencies.

The standard iron sights of the 10/22 Takedown are quite usable, but the rifle also comes with a small Picatinny rail that can be installed. I use the iron sights, but a mini red dot could be readily installed.




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gun world The compact Ruger LC9 9x19mm pistol (Photo: Ruger Firearms)

LC9 In bad times, it could very well be necessary to defend oneself at close range when least expected. In some circumstances, it might be advisable to have the rifle slung to appear less threatening. In that case, a concealable combat handgun would be advisable. My choice would be the Ruger LC9, which will readily fit into a pocket. Get a pocket holster for this pistol, as well as at least three spare magazines. I don’t like finger-rest magazines for pocket carry and prefer to get spare magazines with a standard baseplate. For doomsday purposes, I would not get the LC9 with the laser to keep it simple.

Although the Black Hills 115-grain JHP loads used in shooting these 15-yard drills offer good stopping power, shooting a Failure (Mozambique) drill or Zipper drill enhances stopping power even more.


I’ve fired about 300 rounds through my LC9 and have found it very reliable. Of course, that is true of every Ruger I’ve owned. I find the trigger pull too long on mine, but the newer Ruger LC9s model has an improved trigger pull. At close range, the LC9’s accuracy is good. I’ve tried various loads in my LC9 and found that Federal Personal Defense 115-grain JHP is accurate and keeps recoil down in this small pistol. Other 115-grain loads from Black Hills and Cor-Bon are designed for maximum stopping power and are accurate, but recoil is more noticeable in the LC9.

The Gunsite Scout Rifle with a 10-round magazine in place (Photo: Ruger Firearms)




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Note the long eye relief with the Leupold variable Scout Scope; on the 1.5X setting, it can be used at close range. The 10-round magazine is useful for engagement of multiple targets.

Far left: Although not intended primarily for self-defense, the MK III Standard .22 pistol can protect family members.

Left: The Ruger 10/22 Takedown model comes with a short Picatinny rail that can be installed for attaching a compact optical sight. However, the author finds the folding, adjustable notch sight quite usable.

In a proper pocket holster or in a pocket with enough room, you can rest your hand on the pistol, keeping it ready to use while remaining less threatening.

MK III STANDARD .22 PISTOL Although the three Rugers I’ve already discussed would form a nice basic battery, I would also include a Ruger MK III Standard .22 pistol. My choice is the 4.75-inch-barreled version in stainless steel. One of the most-popular .22 auto-loading pistols of all time, the Ruger

Standard is known for reliability and durability. I have a couple of friends who are still using the Ruger Standards they purchased 50 years ago, because they keep shooting and shooting. I view the MK III Standard as a companion pistol that could be used for small-game hunting. Its .22 Long Rifle ammunition would be less expensive and less destructive. Another advantage of the MK III Standard is its size. It could easily be packed, along with some spare magazines and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, into a bug-out pack.




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gun world For family members who might not be able to effectively use the Scout Rifle or the LC9, the MK III Standard also offers a self-defense option. Admittedly, the .22 Long Rifle does not have great stopping power, but with multiple well-placed shots, it can be effective. And, in bad times, villains are going to realize that a doctor will not likely be close at hand.

This 25-yard group for the MK III Standard (using Winchester M22 ammo) shows its accuracy for small-game hunting or self-defense.

AMMO AND OTHER ESSENTIALS It is essential to carry enough ammunition for an extended period. A 500-round case of 7.62x51mm and a 500-round case of 9x19mm should suffice. .22 Long Rifle ammunition should be stored in large quantities. It doesn’t take up much space, doesn’t cost that much and can be used for a variety of tasks. I would recommend storing at least 10,000 rounds. In addition, make sure to pack a parts kit of springs, pins and other necessary parts for each of the four firearms, along with basic gunsmithing tools. The great advantage of selecting a group of Rugers as doomsday/bugout weapons is the combination of durability and reasonable price. The four Rugers I’ve selected have a total MSRP of just under $2,400. Alternatively, if you search for bargains, you could probably purchase them all for about $2,000.

Specifications RUGER GUNSITE SCOUT RIFLE ACTION: Bolt CALIBER: 7.62x51mm OVERALL LENGTH: 38.5 inches BARREL LENGTH: 16.1 inches WEIGHT: 7.1 pounds MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 10 SIGHTS: Adjustable BUIS, rail for Scout scope

Although I consider the Scout Rifle an extremely important element, eliminating it would cut the investment price in half. Plus, the other three Rugers could be carried in a backpack in a vehicle—always available. However, eliminating the Scout limits your capability to engage a marauder at longer range or in a vehicle effectively, as well as the capability of hunting medium to large game.

RUGER 10/22 TAKEDOWN MODEL As with many of my decisions, the choice of the Ruger bug-out battery was based on a cost/benefit analysis. Each person will have his or her own. I have also assumed that the choices apply for a family. A lone individual might get by with the Scout and the MK III Standard or some other combo. GW

The Ruger Gunsite Scout Rifle is well designed for surviving in bad times. Here, it is shown with a Kangee T-Hawk, which serves for close combat, as well as outdoor survival.

ACTION: Semiauto CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle OVERALL LENGTH: 37 inches (assembled) BARREL LENGTH: 18.5 inches WEIGHT: 4.6 pounds MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 10 standard, 25 available SIGHTS: Rear (adjustable rear, front gold bead); a short rail can be installed for optical sight RUGER LC9 PISTOL ACTION: Semiauto CALIBER: 9x19mm OVERALL LENGTH: 6 inches BARREL LENGTH: 3.12 inches WEIGHT: 17.2 ounces MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 7+1 SIGHTS: Drift-adjustable three-dot RUGER MK III STANDARD PISTOL ACTION: Semiauto CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle OVERALL LENGTH: 9 inches BARREL LENGTH: 4.75 inches WEIGHT: 35 ounces MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 10 SIGHTS: Fixed—front post, rear notch




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Contact Information STURM, RUGER & CO. (336) 949-5200 LEUPOLD (800) 538-7653 ANDY’S LEATHER (603) 630-4072 GW-1610-Ramrodz 8/16/16 11:08 AM Page 1

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he AR9G is one of three new blowback-operated 9mm carbines introduced by Wilson Combat in early 2016. The “G” in the model name designates the use of Glock magazines; the “B” and “S” models are for the Beretta 92 and Smith & Wesson M&P, respectively. Shortbarreled rifle versions with 8- and 11.3-inch barrels are also offered, trimming the rifle to a briefcase length of 25.5 or 28.5 inches—and even shorter if you switch the buttstock to the LAW Tactical side folder.

Takedown of the AR9G is identical to a standard AR-15, although there are fewer parts on this blowback-operated rifle than on gas-operated ARs.

receivers are first hard anodized, and carbon steel parts (e.g., the barrel) are Parkerized before being treated with Armor Tuff.

WILSON’S DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS Before designing the AR9, Bill Wilson bought and evaluated 12 9mm carbines, including most of the 9mm AR-style carbines now made, plus the Taurus CT9, Beretta Cx4, HK94 and KelTec Sub 2000. Wilson’s aim was to make an ultra-reliable, high-quality AR-15 in 9mm that functioned 100 percent reliably with all common bullet designs.

GUN DETAILS According to Wilson, that requirement mandated a single-feed magazine after his testing showed that double-feed 9mm magazines (i.e., UZI magazine) such as those used on the Colt and Rock River Arms AR-15 models could induce failures because rounds feed at an angle when stripped from the magazine. In contrast, single-feed magazines used for most pistols move cartridges into the chamber without sideways movement and allow more of the bullet to be guided by the chamber walls as it is stripped from the magazine. Moreover, using a lower receiver with a magazine well that fit the intended magazine without use of spacers and inserts to convert longer magazine wells eliminated unnecessary parts.

Although AR-15-style carbines that use pistol magazines are not unique, the Wilson rendition is certainly one of the highest-quality 9mm builds available. The AR9 starts with receivers made from 7075-grade aluminum billet and adds a free-floating, match-grade Shaw barrel chambered and profiled by Wilson, along with Wilson’s own aluminum handguard, muzzle compensator, trigger group and flip-up iron sights. A Rogers Super-Stoc, BCM Gunfighter grip and translucent, 22-round magazine from Elite Tactical Systems complete the rifle (although early production models shipped with Glock factory mags). The AR9 shares the ergonomics of the AR-15, because the controls function the same as the standard AR-15. However, it lacks a forward assist—a feature Bill Wilson believes is unnecessary and excludes from many of the company’s other rifles. Interchangeable parts between standard and AR9 carbines include the trigger group, grip and butt stock; and the principal design differences are found in the dedicated lower receiver, bolt carrier group and magazine release mechanism.

Besides reliable feeding, Wilson required a bolt hold-open device that locked the action open after the last round was fired. His design uses a connector on the left side of the receiver that activates the bolt stop after engaging the magazine follower. (For better reliability of the bolt lock when using 17-round Glock mags, he recommends substituting Wolf extra-power springs for factory springs, although this might result in a 16-round capacity.) A similar bolt stop design is used in the Angstadt Arms UDP-9, but Wilson’s AR9 is the only 9mm that uses a plunger ejector located

The rifle can be made in five different colors using Wilson’s Armor Tuff finish. Armor Tuff is a phenolic resin and is otherwise known as Cerakote. For better durability, a two-finish process is used: Aluminum




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SMALLEST .875 inch 1.125 inches 1.25 inches

NOTE: Size of five-shot groups shot at 50 yards from a Caldwell BR rest and measured center to center

LARGEST 1.5 inches 3.25 inches 2.25 inches

AVERAGE 1.25 inches 2.03 inches 1.875 inches

Right: Black Hills defensive JHP ammo shot the most accurately, with every group scoring well under 2 inches at 50 yards.

inside the bolt face (as on the standard AR-15) instead of the more commonly used receiver-mounted ejector. He used the bolt face ejector because of the extra clearance needed in the lower receiver for the magazine release. Controls are in the same place, but the magazine release cutout on pistol magazines is on the forward edge, which necessitates a much different design of the release mechanism than on the AR-15. Wilson’s large, wide, square button is easy to find with the index finger.

Note the drilled and tapped handguard for attaching Picatinnystyle rails and the rounded edges of the ventilation holes. Both features make this rifle much more comfortable to grasp than the full-length, quad-rail style handguard that is rapidly becoming obsolete. A quick-detach sling swivel socket is embedded on either side near the receiver.

RANGE TIME I tested this rifle’s accuracy from a Caldwell BR rest at 50 yards using a Leupold MK IV scope in 10-25X power. Although this scope is far overkill for a rifle best suited to a holographic sight and 50- to 75-yard shooting, I wanted to find the accuracy capability of the Shaw match barrel combined with Wilson’s crisp, predictable trigger. Wilson believes that the Hornady XTP load was an excellent performer and would meet this rifle’s factory accuracy specification of a five-shot group no larger than 2 inches at 50 yards with match ammo. I didn’t have the Hornady on hand, but the Black Hills 115-grain JHP +P ammo easily met this standard, with every group shot using a Caldwell BR rest and sandbags. The tightest five-shot group using the Black Hills load measured .875 inch at the centers, and the mean of all five groups was 1.2 inches. The Winchester USA and Freedom Munitions practice loads didn’t perform as accurately. However, in several cases, three of the five shots were easily within 1.5 inches—but were spoiled by a couple of fliers. Overall, these loads shot very well for practice ammunition, with the smallest and average group size of 1.25 inches/1.875 inches for Winchester and 1.125 inches/2.03 inches for Freedom Munitions. (For those few shooters who will shoot this rifle from a bench rest and want even more accuracy, try switching the tactical stock to one with a flat bottom and larger cheek rest, such as the Magpul UBR.)

It might look simple to the unseasoned eye, but Wilson’s bolt face and plunger-style ejector took a considerable amount of engineering and testing. Note the large, AR-style pivoting extractor.

Reliability was very good when using both Glock and Magpul magazines. Of approximately 200 rounds fired, there were three failures to feed with the Freedom Munitions load (these were ammunition related) and three instances where the last round fired from the magazine with the Black Hills load extracted—but it did not eject and fell loose when the magazine was released. My test sample was an early production rifle, and the bolt locked rearward on a loaded magazine if the magazine was pressed upward




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Mean Velocity

The BCM Gunfighter grip is angled like a pistol and is far more suitable than the standard AR-15 grip for firing while in the standing position than from a bench rest or prone. Note the beveled magazine well for easier insertion.

BLACK HILLS 115-GRAIN +P JHP 1,590 FPS FREEDOM MUNITIONS 124-GRAIN RN 1,326 FPS WINCHESTER USA 115-GRAIN FMJ 1,374 FPS NOTE: Velocity was measured 15 feet from the muzzle with an Oehler 35P chronograph.

while firing. This problem was corrected in subsequent production by incorporating a magazine stop into the mag well. Wilson also explained that Glock mags have considerable dimensional variability in areas that affect bolt lock open, because they are constructed using polymer instead of steel, and aftermarket mags are made by many different companies.

pistols. This grip works better for shooting from a standing position than from prone or a bench rest because of the angle at which it naturally positions the forearm of the firing hand. The Wilson-designed Q-Comp muzzle brake is designed for maximum flash suppression while affording some reduction in muzzle rise. The design uses five flutes along the sides and top of a 1.5-inch-long chamber. According to Wilson, this design reduces flash by 95 percent. It also makes the gun run as loudly as a plain-barreled design and is especially quiet using 147-grain loads that can be hand loaded to stay subsonic with a 16-inch barrel.

Wilson offers three designs of trigger for its AR-15 rifles, but the one installed in the AR9 is the company’s 3-gun type. For me, this trigger is ideal for competitive shooting, because it has a light takeup stage and a crisp break, with minimal movement and minimal reset. This makes accurate, rapid shots more easily obtainable. Using a Lyman electronic trigger pull gauge, the total pull weight on my rifle was 4.5 pounds, although it felt lighter owing to the smoothness and predictable let-off.

The barrel is threaded 5/8x24, and several suppressor makers (Advanced Armament and Dead Air, among others) sell pistons in this thread with the fixed-barreled spacers that are needed to make pistol silencers work on rifle barrels (most handguns have muzzles that tip up as the slide operates. As a result, in order to work reliably, most handgun suppressors utilize a booster device that allows for this barrel movement so that the handgun doesn’t malfunction. Fixed-barreled rifles do not tip, so if the shooter is using a handgun suppressor, a fixed-barreled spacer must be used).

The Rogers Super-Stoc is a personal favorite for tactical use, because it securely locks the butt plate into place without the accuracy-robbing wobble of most collapsible stocks. It also quickly unlocks to adjust to different shooters, winter- or summer-thickness clothing, or body armor. Plus, the sling attachment points are well placed where you want them. Magazine changes on the AR9 are aided by the flared mag well, and a full magazine can be inserted into the rifle with the bolt closed. However, like every other Glock mag AR-15 I have tested, insertion was done with much difficulty due to the magazine design.

The AR9 comes with a well-designed, 10.25-inch-long, one-piece aluminum handguard. It has a full-length Picatinny-style rail on top and a QD mounting socket for sling swivels on each side near the receiver. Along the bottom and sides are multiple holes that are drilled and tapped for mounting accessory rails. The lack of built-in, sharp-edged

The AR9 uses a BCM gunfighter grip with a much different angle than most AR-15 grips and seems to imitate the grip angle used on many




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rails on gripping surfaces, narrow diameter tube and the smooth edges of the ventilation holes comfortably accommodate different methods of supporting the rifle—especially the C–clamp method now popular with 3-Gun competitors.


Most users will equip the AR9 with an optical sight; however, emergency backup sights are provided. The Wilson sights are made from aluminum and steel and consist of a square-profile-protected front post and a windage-adjustable rear aperture with a choice of ghost ring or small aperture. Elevation is set by rotating the front sight, while a small knob adjusts the rear sight for windage. The sights co-witnessed with the Aimpoint Comp 4 I used.

FINAL NOTES The AR9 is a rifle that is exactly what you would expect to see from Wilson Combat: reliable, very well made, aesthetically striking in design and highly accurate. This rifle would be ideal in action shooting competitions that put a premium on accuracy, target engagement and speed and is suitable in a home-defense battery—if reliable magazines are used and larger-caliber AR-15s are not desired. A well-made rifle, the AR9 also comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. GW

CALIBER: 9mm Parabellum BARREL LENGTH: 16 inches OVERALL LENGTH: 32.75/36 inches (stock open/stock collapsed) WEIGHT: 6 pounds, 1 ounce (without magazine) SIGHTS: Flip-up; fully adjustable aperture and front post STOCKS: BCM gunfighter grip and collapsible Rogers Super-Stoc ACTION: Semiautomatic; blowback operation FINISH: Armor Tuff finish over hardcoat anodized or Parkerized (depending on base metal) CAPACITY: 22+1 MSRP: $1,995 (base price) CONTACT INFORMATION WILSON COMBAT (870) 545-3618



This trigger is ideal for competitive shooting, because it has a light takeup stage and a crisp break, with minimal movement and minimal reset. This makes accurate, rapid shots more easily obtainable.


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CONVENIENT FOR STORAGE A N D T R A N S P O R T A T I ON The Ruger ® 10/22 Takedown ® combines all of the features and functionality of the 10/22 ® rifle, with the ability to easily separate the barrel from the action for convenient storage and transportation. The simple reassembly of the barrel and action yields a rock-solid return to zero for consistent, reliable performance. Packed in a convenient carry-case (included), the Ruger ® 10/22 Takedown ® makes it easy to keep America’s favorite rimfire rifle by your side.

Patented, Detachable 10-Round Rotary Magazine

Barrel and Action Easily Separated and Reassembled for Ease of Transportation and Storage


© 2016 Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.


Recessed Locking Lever

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emonstrably one of the most popular semiauto pistol families of all time, the Ruger “Mark” series has been updated once again with the September introduction of the Mark IV. This “new-and-improved” incarnation definitely lives up to that phrase—and then some.

After an extensive evaluation that involved both range and fieldwork, I’m convinced this is the best version of the lot, with two choices: the Target and Hunter. The Mark IV is definitely one of the most well-thought-out .22-caliber semiauto pistols I’ve ever handled.




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Above: This small soda can was placed on a stump at 25 yards, and the author cut loose. (If he had found a grouse on that trip, he would have had tasty eating.) Left: Four different Rugers, four models. From left: the new Mark IV, Mark II Target model, Mark I Target and an original Standard. Right: This pistol is easy to clean, and its internals are quickly cleansed with a shot of aerosol cleaner.

TAKEDOWN EASE For starters, it is so easy to field-strip, clean and reassemble that even I could do it with ease (and that’s saying a lot). The traditional takedown of earlier versions that involved pulling apart the rear of the grip frame has been replaced. Now, all one does after clearing it is put it on “safe” and press a takedown button (the button cannot be depressed if it is on “fire”) on the rear of the frame, and the upper receiver pivots up and off, rather like a break-action shotgun. It goes back together just as easily.

The Hunter is fitted with a fluted, 6.88-inch stainless steel bull barrel and stainless steel grip frame. It has an overall length of 11.12 inches, weighs 42.35 ounces and has checkered laminate grips. Barrels are cut with a 1:16-inch right-hand twist. Both pistol models come with two 10-round magazines. Alas, according to Ruger, neither model is approved under either California or Massachusetts’ current regulations.

The grip frame is a single piece, CNC machined from either a solid piece of stainless steel or aluminum, depending on the model. The Target model has a blue finish with an aluminum grip frame; the Hunter is all stainless with a brushed finish.

For this evaluation, Ruger supplied the Target model, along with a handsome leather belt holster made for Ruger by Triple K. The pistol and holster are both made in the United States.



Other significant improvements include an ambidextrous thumb safety that replaces the older, left-side button; a redesigned bolt stop; improved, easy-to-grasp bolt ears; a redesigned magazine disconnect that prevents firing when the magazine is removed; and a clever, springpowered thin metal tab on the right rear of the magazine well. This tab depresses into the grip frame when the magazine is inserted, and when the magazine is released, the tab pushes the magazine out swiftly. Finally, the loaded chamber indicator is gone.

TARGET AND HUNTER FEATURES Both Mark IV versions feature an adjustable rear sight and fixed front sight. The Target model has a blued, 5.5-inch alloy steel bull barrel and

receiver with a black-anodized aluminum grip frame. It weighs 35.5 ounces empty, with an overall length of 9.75 inches. It wears checkered black plastic grips.

The history of Ruger’s basic rimfire auto dates back to 1949. The original Standard pistol, based on the Japanese Nambu bolt system, was Bill Ruger’s first foray. The outward profile more visually resembled that of a German Luger; this led some people to inadvertently call it a Luger, possibly because of the “Ruger”/”Luger” name similarity. Best of all, the Standard sold for $37.50, which was very competitive in those days. (I have one that was built in 1963.) The improved thumb safety on the Mark IV is a winner. It features high-visibility red and white dots (for “hot” and “safe”).


The Standard model was manufactured through 1981, along with the Mark I, which was introduced in 1950 and was considered the original “Target” model. It had a 6.88-inch barrel and adjustable sight.



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Ruger Mark IV SPECIFICATIONS MODEL: Ruger Mark IV MANUFACTURER: Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. CALIBER: .22 Long Rifle CAPACITY: 10 rounds ACTION: Semiautomatic BARREL: 5.5-inch blue steel bull barrel (Target model); 6.88-inch fluted bull barrel (Hunter model) TWIST: 1:16-inch; right-hand twist GRIP FRAME: Aluminum black-anodized (Target); stainless steel (Hunter) GRIPS: Checkered plastic (Target); laminated (Hunter) SIGHTS: Adjustable rear; fixed front WEIGHT: 35.5 ounces (Target); 42.35 ounces (Hunter) MSRP: $499 (Target); $729 (Hunter)

The button on the rear of the grip frame makes for easy takedown. Press and tilt the receiver up and off.

LOADING DATA CARTRIDGE Federal Hyper Velocity 31-grain HP Winchester Power Point 40-grain HP Remington Yellow Jacket 33-grain HP Federal Gold Medal 40-grain RNL Winchester T22 Target 40-grain RNL Remington Eley Target 40-grain RNL Winchester Xpert 36-grain HP Winchester High Velocity 40-grain RNL

VELOCITY (FPS) 1,125 1,013 1,118 985.0 996.6 953.1 1,085 1,039

GROUP (INCHES) 0.75 0.50 0.50 0.75 1.1 1.0 1.2 1.0

Ruger fits both the Target and Hunter models with a fully adjustable rear sight.

NOTES: Groups were measured at 25 yards and fired from a sandbag rest; best five of a 10-shot string. Velocities were recorded over a chronograph set 15 inches ahead of the muzzle. CONTACT INFORMATION STURM, RUGER & CO., INC. (603) 865-2442 One improvement that makes the Mark IV so good is its simple takedown. The barrel and receiver pivot up and off the grip frame with a simple push of a button.





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gun world Ruger introduced the Mark II in 1982. It featured a slide stop the original lacked, and it was an important improvement. It’s one of the two problems I have with my Standard model; the other is the butt-mounted magazine release. That European-style release often made it difficult to reload with cold, wet hands. The original models also had nine-round magazines. The Mark III came along in 2005, and it featured both the slide stop and a magazine release located on the grip, plus a loaded chamber indicator on the left side of the receiver. It also had a magazine disconnect and internal safety lock. Millions of these pistols have been sold over the years in so many different variations that it is impossible to name them all. Now comes the Mark IV.

VERY ACCURATE After some sight adjustments on the Mark IV, I went to work at the range. The pistol has a decent trigger with a smooth stroke. Off a sandbag rest, I was able to shoot some good groups with a variety of ammunition. A chronograph was set 15 inches ahead of the muzzle. I got the best velocity (1,125 fps) out of the 31-grain Federal Hyper Velocity ammunition. This was followed closely by the 33-grain Remington Yellow Jacket (1,118 fps) and Winchester’s 36-grain Xpert round (1,085 fps). Winchester 40-grain High Velocity ammo clocked 1,039 fps, and Winchester 40-grain Power Points averaged 1,013 fps. I used three different 40-grain target loads, including the Winchester T-22 (996.6 fps), Federal Gold Medal (985 fps) and Remington Eley 40-grainers (953.1 fps, average).

Above: Ruger’s new Mark IV .22-caliber semiauto is the latest entry in a line of pistols that date back to the company’s beginnings in 1949.

My best groups came with the Remington Yellow Jackets, Winchester High Velocity and Federal Hyper Velocity, although it was hard to tell after a while. Initially, I didn’t get what I expected from the Winchester T-22 and other target loads, but after a few hundred rounds, I could hit a small soda can repeatedly at about 25 yards with all of them. And with more shooting, my groups tightened up quite nicely, including some at well under an inch in a best five out of a 10-shot string. At the range one afternoon, I spotted some broken pieces of orange clay targets someone had left on the 50-yard backstop. I opened fire off a sandbag rest using a mix of Winchester and Federal 40-grainers. Ten rounds later, those clay pieces were even smaller.

Right: Some of the ammunition the author used for his evaluation, which went from the range to the field.The Mark IV digested everything without a hiccup.

Left: The Mark IV pistol makes a great companion for hikers and backpackers.




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RANGE AND FIELD And now for what some might call a bit of blasphemy. Ruger’s Mark IV Target, thanks to its lighter weight, carries rather well in the field. It’s suitably accurate for taking small game. I hiked around Washington’s central Cascade Mountains for a couple of days in early September and found the weight to be no burden at all. Even with my brush chaps on, the Mark IV Target model was out of the way.

The original Standard pistol, with its European style magazine release on the butt, no bolt stop/ release control and a tough, little button safety. (Photo: Sturm, Ruger)

Thanks to the availability of .22-caliber hollowpoint ammunition, the Mark IV in either version has the capability, as well as the pedigree, of being a great trail gun. Of course, for those who prefer, the Mark IV can deliver the goods on the range, too. This is nothing against the Hunter model, but I prefer the shorter barrel on the Target model.

I was so impressed with the performance of this pistol that it will be GW-1612-Hogue 9/28/16 10:39 AM Page added to my1 gun safe—for good. When I like a firearm so much that I’m willing to buy it, that says everything that needs to be said. GW

THE MARK IV IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THE MOST WELLTHOUGHT-OUT .22-CALIBER SEMIAUTO PISTOLS I’VE EVER HANDLED. Just one of several targets the author produced at the range. Clockwise from top left: Remington Yellowjacket, Winchester Xpert, Federal High Velocity (lower right), Winchester T-22 Target, Winchester High Velocity (center)

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uring the American Revolution, American marksmen armed with Pennsylvania long rifles (also known as Kentucky long rifles) proved devastating against massed British troops. It was not until the Civil War, however, that “snipers” (or “sharpshooters,” as they were known back then) saw extensive use. The development of the adjustable rear sight aided the growth of military marksmanship, as did the use of optical sights. Some Civil War sharpshooters used target rifles weighing up to 32 pounds, but moreportable sharpshooting rifles were employed as the war progressed. One of the Union “telescope rifles” was the Morgan James rifle, used for long-range sharpshooting. Some long-range rifles, such as the Andrews Sharpshooters model, used globe sights instead of optical sights. Other rifles that were used included the Colt Revolving Rifle, Sharps, Whitworth and Kerr Rifles.

An M1903 Springfield fitted with Winchester A5 scope modified to U.S. Marine Corps specs for World War II sniping (Photo: NARA)

A U.S. Marine Corps sniper in Korea uses the M1903A1 National Match rifle with 8X Unertl scope. (Photo: NARA)

on training snipers using lessons already learned on the Western Front. The Marine Corps also had a sniper school at Quantico, Virginia. The rifle used by U.S. snipers was the 1903 Springfield—already known for its accuracy. The most commonly used optical sight was the Telescopic Musket Sight model of 1908, as well as the improved M1913 version. Warner & Swasey manufactured both. The original version was 6X but was reduced to 5.2X on the M1913 version for better low-light capability. Although the scope might look somewhat odd to modern shooters, for its time, it was quite advanced, with good range-finding capability and precise windage and elevation adjustments. Unfortunately, it was designed with eye relief that was too short; the soft rubber eyepiece, however, did offer some protection.

During the Indian Wars, the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, there were various instances of individual sharpshooting. Annie Oakley even offered to raise a unit of women sharpshooters to serve during the Spanish-American War. But it was not until World War I that sniping, as we think of it today, really began.

THE GREAT WAR By the time the United States entered World War I, snipers had been operating on the Western Front for three years. Initially, Germany had the edge, with well-equipped and well-trained snipers. However, the British had countered with their own trained snipers. As the U.S. Army expanded dramatically after the declaration of war on Germany (April 6, 1917), a Small Arms Firing School was established at Camp Perry, Ohio. Among the courses offered were those focused




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The M1903A4 sniping rifle was used during World War II and Korea and even into the early Vietnam War. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Service)

The Winchester A-5 scope was also used on Army and Marine Corps Springfield sniper rifles, which did especially well in Marine Corps service, because it was mounted on pre-war match rifles for sniper use. However, the most famous U.S. marksman of World War I was not a sniper; he was a hunter (as are many great snipers). In an engagement on October 8, 1918, Sergeant Alvin York killed 27 Germans and captured 132 using his Springfield M1903 rifle and Colt 1911 pistol.

WORLD WAR II When the United States entered World War II, snipers were chosen at the division level or lower among the best marksmen. Initially, there was little specialized training. (The Germans, on the other hand, had highly trained snipers—who killed many Americans.) The most widely used sniper rifle among U.S. snipers was the M1903A4, based on the Remington M1903A3. There were 29,964 M1903A4 sniper rifles built. The first 500 were delivered in January 1943, with production continuing until June 1944. Barrels were gauged for tight bores. M1903A4 rifles used the full pistol grip stock of the ‘03A3, although some were also produced with what was called the “scant grip,” which had only a vestigial pistol grip.

A World War I sniper using the M1903 rifle with the Warner & Swasey scope. The rubber eyepiece has been removed. (Photo: NARA)

Bolt handles were altered to clear the telescopic sight. A clearance cut in the stock was also necessary. The scope was the M73B1 telescopic sight, a military version of the Weaver 330C 2.2X scope with a crosshair reticle. This scope had low magnification but was fragile and lacked moisture-proofing. Nevertheless, it was readily available and so was acquired to fill the need. An M1903A4 sniping rifle with Weaver 330C scope. Note the altered bolt to allow operation with the scope attached. (Photo: Martin Floyd)

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gun world The Redfield mount used with the scope allowed it to be easily removed for transport to prevent damage to the scope. This mount precluded the use of stripper clips to quickly load the 03A4 magazine, so rounds had to be inserted into the magazine individually. Because of the fragility of the scope, the lack of backup iron sights proved a real disadvantage, as well. One of the most successful users of the M1903A4 was Sergeant Frank Kwaitek, who functioned as a countersniper during the Normandy Invasion. Kwaitek killed at least 19 German snipers, as well as other German infantrymen. In the Pacific, the Marines faced Japanese snipers, who were generally trained at the regimental level. They were often chosen for their small size, because they would make smaller targets for countersnipers. The Marines—always known for stressing marksmanship—had conducted sniper training courses at the U.S. Marine Corps barracks at Quantico and elsewhere at divisional level. In addition, a five-week sniper course was developed at Camp Pendleton, California.

A U.S. Marine Corps sniper of the 26th MEU armed with an M40A5 sniping rifle. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

One interesting Marine innovation was the creation of scout/sniper teams consisting of a scout/sniper and a Marine war dog. The dogs would often identify Japanese sniper positions, while the handler would engage the enemy. Marine snipers used what was designated the M1903A1 National Match rifle. Many were equipped with an 8X Unertl target scope, although some Marines considered the scope too long (24 inches) and too fragile. The 8X magnification was also considered excessive for some jungle combat. Later in World War II, some Marine snipers were equipped with the M1903A4 rifle and M73B1 scope.

The solution was the use of the Griffin & Howe side mount. The scope chosen was the Lyman Alaskan, which was designated the M81 for the crosshair reticle model and M82 for the tapered post reticle model. Frankford Arsenal studies had determined that the latter was preferable. A conical flash suppressor was also included with the M1 sniper rifle; it reduced flash by up to 90 percent but also degraded accuracy as a result of the looseness inherent in the mounting system.

A Marine sniper undergoing mountain warfare training acquires a target with his M40A5 sniping rifle. (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

Although some troops were initially equipped with versions of the M1903 Springfield early in World War II, the M1 Garand self-loading rifle had been adopted as the standard U.S. rifle in 1936. The M1 proved very effective in infantry combat, resulting in a desire to develop a sniper version of the Garand. Creating an M1 sniper rifle was problematical because of the need to load eight-round clips from the top of the rifle. Therefore, the scope could not be located in the standard position above the receiver.

A Barrett M82/M107 .50 BMG long-ranging sniper/anti-material rifle. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Service)




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A leather cheek pad positioned the shooter’s eye more comfortably for use of the offset scope. This sniper version of the M1 was designated the M1C, with 7,971 produced by the end of World War II—although few actually made it into action before the end of the war. The M1D was also developed during World War II as a substitute standard for the M1C. It was adopted as a substitute standard sniper rifle in September 1944, but none were reportedly produced until after the war. A substantial number were produced during the 1950s and 1960s. M1D rifles were created by taking existing M1 rifles and fitting them with barrels designed by John Garand to take a scope mount for the M84 telescope. Leupold & Stevens and Libby-Owens-Ford Corporation originally produced this 2.2X scope for the M1903A4 in 1945, but it was adapted for the M1D. The first major requisition for conversion of M1s to M1D configuration in December 1951 called for 14,325 to be converted. Springfield Armory produced enough of the special M1D barrels during 1951 through 1953 to meet demand for this requisition, as well as later conversions. The M1D rifles also used the M2 conical flash suppressor and the leather cheek pad. (Later, M1Ds from the Vietnam era often had the T37 pronged flash suppressor, which generally allowed better accuracy.) Although the M1D saw service in Korea, along with M1C rifles, the M1D saw its most service in Vietnam, especially with U.S. Special Forces and the Vietnamese troops they advised. One other variation of the M1C should be mentioned: Generally designated the M1C 1952, this version was used by the Marines. Rebuilt between 1952 and 1962, these rifles used a 4X Stith-Kollmogen telescopic sight.

KOREA AND VIETNAM In Korea, Army and Marine snipers used the Springfield M1903A4 and USMC M1941, as well as the M1C and M1D, as their primary sniper rifles. However, early in the conflict, there was little formal sniper training. During late 1951, there was normally only one “sniper’s rifle” assigned to each Army rifle company. These were generally assigned to good marksmen who had no sniper training.

A U.S. Army sniper with a Barrett M107 .50 anti-materiel rifle. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Later, Army and Marine sniper training was developed within individual Army battalions and Marine regiments. Experienced competition shooters were often put in charge of training. After the end of the conflict in Korea, sniper training once again lagged throughout the U.S. armed forces. The M1C—and especially the M1D—versions of the Garand were still serving as sniper rifles, as were the M1903A4 and the USMC M1941. When initially deployed, the Marines used bolt-action Winchester Model 70 .30-06 target rifles with an 8X Unertl target scope. The Marines had been using these rifles for competition and snipers since 1953, and they were showing wear from use. Nevertheless, the best-known Marine sniper of the Vietnam War, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock II, was credited with 93 confirmed kills using his Winchester Model 70. The Marines got a new, quite effective sniper rifle in 1966: the M40, which was introduced in 1966 and is still in use today as the improved M40A5. The original M40 was based on the Remington M40X, the target version of the M700. These rifles had a factory wooden stock with a heavy, fiberglassbedded barrel, and most were fitted with a Redfield 3-9x Accu-Range





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gun world scope. U.S. snipers had been using .30-06 rifles since World War I, but the M40 was chambered for the same 7.62x51mm cartridge as the M14 rifle.

An M1D rifle in Vietnam-era configuration. (Photo: Ken MacSwan)

The M40 performed well, with some Marine snipers scoring kills at more than 1,000 yards. Another Marine sniper, Sergeant Chuck Mawhinney, scored 103 kills with his M40. (Adding to the success of Marine snipers was the establishment of divisional sniper schools to train scout/snipers.) The Army also developed a new sniper rifle for Vietnam. Based on the M14 rifle, the XM-21 Sniper Weapon System entered Army service in Vietnam during 1968. It used a glass-bedded stock that had been treated to be impervious to moisture and warping. It was fitted with a National Match barrel, its metal surfaces were honed, and its trigger was tuned for crisp release. The scope/mount system was the Leatherwood ART (adjustable ranging telescope). Rock Island Arsenal converted M14 National Match rifles to XM-21 configuration. Eventually, more than 1,400 were shipped to Vietnam. As did the Marine Corps, the Army set up divisional sniper schools. The highest-scoring sniper of the Vietnam War, Staff Sergeant Adelbert Waldron of the 9th Infantry Division, had 109 credited kills using an XM-21. Many of these were scored in the Mekong Delta using an XM-21 fitted with an AN/PVS-2 Night Vision Optic and a SIONICS suppressor. Post-Vietnam, the XM-21 continued service as the M21.

POST-VIETNAM AND THE WAR ON TERROR The M21 and M40 have continued to be upgraded to the present day. During the War on Terror, the M21 and other M14 rifles gained a new mission as DMRs (“designated marksman rifles”).

Remington’s MSR (“modular sniping rifle”) in .338 Lapua. The U.S. Army has ordered thousands of these. They are designated the MK21 PSR and are in .338 Lapua chambering.

A member of the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq using an M14-based designated marksman rifle with a Trijicon ACOG optical sight. (Photo: U.S. Army)

Later versions of the M40 received McMillan fiberglass stocks, Harris bipods, Schneider Match Grade barrels, and both day and night optics. The M21 continued as the primary Army sniper rifle until it was superseded in the late 1980s/early 1990s by the M24. Based on the Remington 700, the M24 Sniper Weapon System (SWS) incorporates an H-S Precision stock constructed of polymer foam reinforced with fiberglass that uses an aluminum bedding block and allows the barrel to free-float. This stock allows adjustment of length of pull to fit the sniper. Leupold 10X scopes have normally been used with the M24. While the M24 is chambered for the 7.62x51mm cartridge, the latest upgrade, the M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle, is chambered for the .300 Winchester Magnum. Its day scope is a variable-power Leupold 6.5-20x50mm ER/T; its night scope is an AN/PVS-29 or AN/PVS-30.

ALTHOUGH THE .50 M2 HMG HAD BEEN OCCASIONALLY USED FOR LONG-RANGE SNIPING, IT WASN’T UNTIL BARRETT DEVELOPED THE M82 (DESIGNATED THE M107 BY THE U.S. ARMED FORCES) THAT THE .50 SNIPER RIFLE REALLY SAW SUBSTANTIAL USE. A member of the 25th ID firing the M110 SASS built by Knight’s Armament Company; note the ballistic information taped to the stock. (US Army)

There was intent to replace the M24 with the M110 SASS (Semiautomatic Sniper System). Knight’s Armament Company built the M110, which was designed for use by both snipers and designated marksmen. The rifle’s day optical sight is a power-variable Leupold 3.5-10X, while the night optic is an AN/PVS-26 or AN/PVS-10. The M110 takes 10- or 20-round magazines. The SR-25 is also used as a sniper or DM rifle. Initially developed for use by the U.S. Navy SEALs, the SR-25 is based on the Stoner design (think AR-10) and built by Knight’s Armament Company. The Navy




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version is designated the MK 11 Mod 0. The SR-25/ MK 11 Mod 0 uses Leupold scopes. Although the .50 M2 HMG had been used occasionally for long-range sniping, it wasn’t until Barrett developed the M82 (designated the M107 by the U.S. armed forces) that the .50 sniper rifle really saw substantial use. Generally designated as an anti-materiel rifle, the M107 has also proven deadly on enemy troops at long range, as well. Note that originally, “M107” was used to designate the M95 Barrett bolt-action rifle, but it now identifies the M82A1 semiauto rifle. Because of the long ranges encountered in Afghanistan, as well as the other advantages of longer range and greater killing power, the .338 Lapua Magnum cartridge has exploded in popularity, and rifles chambered in it have seen substantial use during the War on Terror, especially among Special Ops snipers. The SEALs have used the McMillan Tac-338. Remington’s MSR (“modular sniper rifle”), which can be easily configured to different missions, won the U.S. military Precision Sniper Rifle Competition and was awarded a contract for 5,150 rifles with suppressors in September 2003. Reportedly, the Army and Marine Corps are considering the MSR (designated the MK21 PSR) as a replacement for the M2010, M107 and M40A5, although the high cost has been a hurdle. If it did replace those rifles, it would certainly ease logistics.

A view of the offset M84 telescopic sight on an M1D Garand. Note that the iron sights can still be used, and the magazine can be loaded with an eight-round clip.

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gun world Other sniper rifles have seen action in the War on Terror with elements of SOCOM. For example, the MK 13 Mod5 and Mod7 are .300 Winchester Magnum upgrades of the M24 used by MARSOC and SEALs. There have also been 5.56x45mm-caliber rifles used in the DM role. One example is the MK 12 Mod 0/1 SPR (Special Purpose Rifle). The USMC has also used the SAM-R (Squad Advanced Marksman Rifle). Because the War on Terror has shown the value of highly skilled and highly trained marksmen with highly accurate rifles, developments will continue in U.S. sniper rifles at a rapid pace. Use of accurate, self-loading rifles will probably increase, as will the use of sophisticated ranging and target-acquisition technology. No matter how good the rifle, however, there will still be the need to train proficient marksmen who can get into position for the shot, hide until they can take it and hit their target when they do. GW

A U.S. Marine Corps sniper of the 26th MEU armed with an M40A5 sniper rifle (Photo: U.S. Marine Corps)

An M1C sniper rifle based on the M1 Garand used during the Korean War. (Photo: Rock Island Auction Service)

U.S. Army troops in Afghanistan, including a sniper with a Barrett M107 and his observer. Also note the use of the PKM machine gun. (Photo: U.S. Army)




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n the suite of rifle calibers in use today, very few are as long running and time proven as the venerable .45-70 Government. Reports of this particular load go back to the mid-1860s, although it wasn’t officially standardized until 1873, when the U.S. government commissioned several thousand rifles in this caliber. That rifle was the Springfield Model 1873. For the experienced shooter, this is fairly common knowledge, but it is an essential fact to place our question into context: Is a rifle caliber that’s essentially 150 years old still relevant in today’s world, particulary with the myriad modern rifle platforms that are currently available?

The main difference between the two .45-70 rifles is that one has a brass receiver and brass butt plate (photo at right) and has smooth furniture; the other has the color case-hardened treatment (photo at bottom), a ventilated recoil pad and a checkered stock and forend.

With the arrival of two sample rifles from Henry Repeating Arms and a supply of various Buffalo Bore and Hornady loads, I was able to explore that question on my own a bit more thoroughly. One .45-70 rifle sits in my personal inventory, but I’ve never really plumbed the depths of the caliber’s true utility until now.

With the quality of steel available today, color case-hardening isn’t necessary to increase strength, but there are those (myself included) who feel it’s very necessary—on occasion—to improve the aesthetics of a firearm. This is particularly true of firearms whose heritage goes back a century or more. Guns considered to be from the Old West are a prime example.

The first rifle sent from Henry Repeating Arms was its venerable model .45-70 with the brass receiver and the octagon “cowboy” barrel. Although it is a classic, the beauty of this rifle never diminishes. However, a new addition to the family stands out in its own right, and that’s Henry’s new Color Case-Hardened .45-70 rifle, which was the next rifle to follow.

BACK TO HENRY The two rifles we received from Henry are essentially identical in specifications, aside from one incorporating a brass receiver and the other sporting the new color case-hardened steel receiver. Both weigh in at 8.10 pounds, with an overall length of 40.4 inches.


Additionally, both carry four rounds of .45-70 in the tubular magazine, plus one in the chamber. The standard sight system for both models is a semi-buckhorn rear sight with a front blade set with a gold bead to help pick up the light.

In the early days of firearms production, the quality of available steel was nowhere close to what is available today. Steel was softer in general, and with the advent of more-powerful loads, a process was needed to make firearms’ receivers capable of withstanding higher pressures. Color case-hardening was the answer to the problem. The process involved hardening the surface layer of steel to make the receiver stronger but leaving the deeper layers alone so the receiver would not become too brittle and crack. In essence, a “case” of harder steel would envelope a layer of softer steel. This was a precise process and required skilled smiths to strike that perfect balance. The color case-hardening process typically leaves behind a surface discoloration that comprises a rich blend of colors that include black, blue, purple and even lighter hues. This is largely dependent on the hardening process that is used, as well as the impurities in the components.

Because the color case-hardened version is the newest addition to the line, it’s worth noting that the received T&E sample was utterly gorgeous. It had a beautiful blend of blues with magenta and umber hues that made it a beautiful showpiece, aside from being a fantastic rifle. Even the metal forend cap had this distinctive finish. Built in the company’s Rice Lake, Wisconsin, plant, the color case-hardening process of the Henry .45-70 creates a beautiful blend of hues and swirls, making this rifle a real showpiece in the gun cabinet.




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Affinity Semi-Auto – Smooth Swinging Inertia-Driven, 12-gauge or 20-gauge.

gun world The differences in the two rifles include a ventilated butt pad on the color case-hardened version and a brass butt plate on the brass model. Also, the color case-hardened rifle sports checkering on the stock and forend, while the brass iteration has smooth furniture and a finish that complements the grain of the wood.

rhino and even elephants. Alas, the issue with weapons in those moreexotic calibers is price—particularly bolt-action and double rifles. Repeating rifles—for quick follow-up shots—chambered for the large calibers, get very expensive very quickly; never mind the ammunition costs. They can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

BIG-BORE POWER One of the main advantages of the .45-70 lever gun still relevant today is the size of the cartridge, itself. The original and official designation of the round was .45-70-405—meaning a .45-caliber round with 70 grains of powder and a bullet weight of 405 grains. A later improvement was made to incorporate the use of a 500-grain bullet.

That said, the vast majority of us aren’t going to be taking safari hunting expeditions to Africa anytime soon and don’t have the need to take down an elephant. If we could afford the trip, we could probably afford the accompanying rifle, as well.

Despite its slow velocity and rainbow trajectory, the momentum of the heavier bullet allowed it to achieve significant penetration. This meant it was an ideal round for use on large and dangerous game (buffalo and bear, for instance). This is true even today, and some of the “magnum” loadings from companies such as Buffalo Bore offer increased velocity, along with hard-cast bullets for bone-crushing power to assist with that deep penetration. Certainly, there are plenty of large-bore rifles on the market today that are designed for use against dangerous game, and most have a flatter trajectory in comparison to the .45-70 cartridge. This results in easier elevations adjustments and a greater effective range.

The wood stock and forend on the case-hardened model are crafted from American walnut and include checkering on both pieces of furniture.

Such rifles range from the .375 H&H Magnum up to the .500 Nitro Express and are sufficient to use on game such as lion, Cape buffalo,

The three cartridges here were provided by Buffalo Bore and highlight the stark contrast in bullet diameter and profile against the .308 round on the far left. Starting with the second cartridge from the left are the 300-grain J.H.P., 430-grain L.B.T.-F.N. and the 500-grain HC blackpowder load.




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That doesn’t mean, however, that we still don’t want or need a rifle that’s powerful and versatile enough to take down dangerous game; that’s where a modern, lever-action .45-70 shines as a relevant weapon to have on hand. In the case of the Henry examples, the MSRPs are under $1,000, with a street price in the $850 range. That’s an incredible power-to-price ratio in comparison to other large-bore offerings.

Buffalo Bore’s 430-grain, hard-cast “Magnum” load exhibited excellent accuracy, as reflected by this 1.75-inch group shot from 100 yards with iron sights.

Additionally, the lever-action rifle is one of the quickest rifles for fast follow-up shots, if needed. Bolt-action rifles are a touch slower, and double rifles are just cost prohibitive. There are a couple of semiautomatic hunting rifles chambered up to .338 Winchester Magnum that are good for longer, open-range shots. But in the bush, where bullet deflection is a concern, they don’t shine quite as brightly as the .45-70. Further, within its effective range, the .45-70 rifle creates a larger wound channel, offers more penetration and does more damage than a .30-caliber offering. So, when considering power, price and fast follow-up fire, the .45-70 lever gun is still a premier choice in the United States.


The “Case” for the .45-70 Lever Gun

As always, shooting a .45-70 is a fun way to pass the time, but playing with the two rifles from Henry Repeating Arms was a pure joy. The lever action on both samples was very smooth, no matter which round was being loaded. In 300 rounds that were fired in multiple sessions, not one malfunction occurred. The Henry .45-70 rifle has a tubular magazine that is fed from the top after extracting the brass spring assembly.

The rear sights that come with Henry’s cowboy rifles are the semibuckhorn variety.

SPECIFICATIONS CALIBER: .45-70 CAPACITY: 4+1 LENGTH: 40.4 inches BARREL LENGTH: 22 inches BARREL TYPE: Octagon STOCK/FOREND: American walnut SIGHTS: Semi-buckhorn (rear) WEIGHT: 8.10 pounds MSRP: $995 ($950 for the brass model) VELOCITY TABLE (Average of five shots 10 feet from muzzle) Buffalo Bore 300-grain J.H.P................................. 2,328 fps Buffalo Bore 430-grain hard-cast L.B.T.-F.N. ........... 1,904 fps Buffalo Bore 500-grain “Smokeless” hard cast......... 1,307 fps Hornady 325-grain LEVERevolution........................ 1,901 fps CONTACT INFORMATION HENRY REPEATING ARMS (201) 858-4400 BUFFALO BORE AMMUNITION HORNADY MANUFACTURING COMPANY (800) 338-3220




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gun world In the hands of a crackerjack rifleman, these two beauties will really sing.

The trigger pull was a light break at 4 pounds, with just the slightest creep that’s not noticeable unless one is pulling the trigger as slowly as possible.

the ventilated recoil pad on the color case-hardened model proved its worth, in contrast to the brass butt plate on the other rifle.

The inherent accuracy of both rifles was extremely good, despite the semibuckhorn sights that seem to come standard on just about every lever gun on the market. Seven-inch green circles were the targets at the 100-yard mark. Most groups were three rounds because of limited supplies of the premium Hornady and Buffalo Bore Ammunition—although we finished off one session with a fairly impressive five-round group.

The Buffalo Bore 300-grain J.H.P. is excellent for hunting mediumsized game and shoots a much flatter trajectory than most .45-70 loads. The 430-grain hard-cast load is best for those times you’re staring death in the face in the form of dangerous game. It’s designed to provide 5 to 6 feet of penetration, even through tough skin.

At 50 yards, for the first group of the day, we tried Hornady’s 325-grain LEVERevolution FTX round from the bench. Four shots went into one hole, with a flyer sitting an inch to the left. With the 22-inch barrel, shooting at that distance was child’s play, so we quickly went to work on the 100-yard targets, still using only the iron sights.

Here, one shooter tries out the brass model with Buffalo Bore’s Black Powder Equivalent 500-grain load.

Standing up, the Buffalo Bore 300-grain J.H.P. and 430-grain L.B.T.-F.N. “magnum” loads generate a good amount of recoil, but it’s manageable, and little pain is involved. Sitting at the bench, however, is a different story. While both rounds were extremely accurate, it didn’t take many groups before the cumulative recoil effect began to take its toll. This is where

Coincidentally enough, the best three-shot groups with both of those rounds had spreads that measured 1.75 inches each. Although they were not hitting the MOA mark, I was still impressed with those groups, considering we were using less-than-ideal iron sights at 100 yards. There’s no doubt that a good set of peep sights would tighten those groups up a bit. At the end of the second day of shooting the two Henry rifles, we finished up with a five-round group of the Hornady LEVERevolution FTX rounds that had a 2.5-inch spread—with four shots placing inside 1.91 inches. The Henry rifles will certainly do their part … as long as you can do yours. In the hands of a crackerjack rifleman, these two beauties will really sing.

FINAL THOUGHTS Despite its age, the .45-70 lever action remains as relevant as any other big-bore rifle on the market—and, in some ways, even more. While several companies have rifles in calibers that are close to the size and performance of the .45-70 Government cartridge, they lack the wide range of support the .45-70 enjoys. In fact, the age of the .45-70 cartridge is also an advantage: Of the big-bore lever guns available in a similar price range, none has the universality of the old cowboy rifle. Ammunition for .45-70 Government rifles can be found just about anywhere if supplies are running short; the same can’t be said of most of the “also-rans” on the market. Is the .45-70 lever gun relevant to the hipster sipping their vitamin water while lounging about and playing on social media all day? No … and none of the other big-bore rifles is, either. But for the hearty soul who needs a rifle that can be taken into the bush to hunt or protect against dangerous game, the old cuss is even better today than it ever was. With the advent of better metallurgy and significantly improved ammunition available from vendors such as Buffalo Bore and Hornady, lever guns such as the new color case-hardened model from Henry Repeating Arms are taking advantage of those improvements and are delivering bunker-busting performance at an everyman price. GW

The Color Case-Hardened .45-70 from Henry Repeating Arms is a beautiful specimen of a rifle with all the details that make it a true symbol of the Old West.




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ou have just purchased your first pistol or a new pistol to add to your collection. Next on the agenda should be getting out to the range and sending some rounds down range.

States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA), International Confederation of Revolver Enthusiasts (ICORE) and the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF). For those interested in adding a rifle and shotgun into the mix, 3-gun events are also an option.

Punching holes in paper is fun, but there comes a time in every shooter’s life when they begin to look for something different. For some, it might be taking a training course. For others, it might be some form of competitive shooting sport. We are living in a time when there is no lack of possibilities for shooters who are looking for their next adventures.

Firearm proficiency is a perishable skill. As a pistol instructor, I am often asked for my recommendations on how an individual can continue to hone their skills. Training is always important, but my primary recommendation is to try IDPA.

For pistol shooters, competitions come in two primary forms. The first is marksmanship sports, such as bull’s-eye competitions and the national matches held at Camp Perry each year.

My reasons for this are twofold: First, clubs that hold IDPA matches are plentiful. Regardless of where you live, there is likely to be a club nearby that holds IDPA matches. The second is that IDPA does not require a great deal of specialized gear. If you own a pistol with the intent to carry concealed, you likely have all you need to start attending matches.

The second is “action pistol” sports. This category includes events governed by organizations such as the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC) and the Unites States region of IPSC, the United

IDPA focuses on the use of practical equipment and real-world self-defense P



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scenarios in its stage design. While IDPA matches can become competitive among fellow shooters, the primary purpose of IDPA is to test and improve one’s own skill.

gear might be compliant for one individual but not for another. Gender and body type can play important roles in selecting gear. Let’s look at a few of the basic equipment rules and some of the most popular gear in IDPA.

IDPA GEAR OVERVIEW The equipment used in IDPA is restricted to practical concealed-carry gear. For most shooters, a good gun belt, holster and a carrier to hold two extra magazines are all you need to add to your range bag. In most stages of IDPA, a garment to cover the pistol is also required. In shooting IDPA, I have had the opportunity to run stages with a wide range of gear. Most shooters tend to gravitate to one of a few popular brands when looking for gear. These brands include Blade Tech, Comp-Tac, Safariland, Blackhawk! and Uncle Mike’s. When shooting in a sanctioned IDPA match, the equipment used must abide by the rules set in the IDPA rulebook. It is important to note that

BELTS Belts are generally the most overlooked piece of gear. Most of us have belts in our closets, but a quality belt is essential. It is important to invest in a good gun belt that can support the weight of the gear you’re carrying. The belt is a platform on which all other gear will be supported. It will not only hold the pistol, holster and magazine carrier, it will also keep your gear in its proper place while you are moving through a stage.

Punching holes in paper is fun, but there comes a time in every shooter’s life when they begin to look for something different.

IDPA requires belts to be no wider than 1¾ inches and no thicker than 5/16 inch. The belt is also required to pass through a minimum of all but Most top shooters choose gear from Blade Tech, Comp-Tac, Safariland, Blackhawk! and Uncle Mike’s.

pistol packages If you’re looking for a new pistol and are interested in trying IDPA, some manufacturers offer pistol packages that include a pistol, three magazines, a holster and a magazine carrier. All that is required to shoot IDPA is a quality gun belt and a cover garment. Consider the Smith & Wesson M&P Range and Carry Kit (left) or the Springfield Armory XDm Series.




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gun world At an IDPA match, a ¾-inch dowel is used to verify that holsters and magazine carriers are compliant for men.

two belt loops. Two-piece, competition-style gun belts (which consist of an inner belt that threads through belt loops, with a heavier outer belt that hook-and-loops to that) are not permitted in IDPA. Most top shooters prefer a traditional reinforced leather belt or a woven Riggers-style belt. I have used both styles of belts for IDPA matches, and they both work well. I have found that a solid, reinforced leather belt such as the Comp-Tac Kydex-reinforced contour belt (#10511) offers a great deal of support for your gear. However, as a result of its thickness, it can also feel a bit restricting around the waist. Riggers-style belts such as the Blackhawk! CQB Riggers belt and Uncle Mike’s Tactical reinforced instructor’s belts are also good choices. They hold gear in place, and because of their woven construction, they offer more flexibility when the shooter is moving.

HOLSTERS Choosing a holster for IDPA can be a daunting task. If you’re like me, you will purchase several holsters before choosing one that is both functional and comfortable. Many holsters suitable for concealed carry meet the IDPA rules—but there are limitations. Holsters must be hip holsters, in either inside-thewaistband (IWB) or outside-the-waistband (OWB) configuration, and must be positioned behind the centerline of the body. The holster can be vertical or have a rearward cant. Pocket, appendix, cross-draw and small-of-theback carry holsters are not allowed—nor are shoulder holsters.

A concealment garment is required for most stages, and it must be long enough to conceal the holster.

A few other rules to keep in mind when selecting a holster for IDPA: • The trigger guard of the pistol must be covered. • When using an OWB holster, the entire front strap of the pistol grip must be above the top of the belt line. • A holster must have sufficient retention to hold the pistol securely; and if the cant of the holster can be adjusted, the holster’s bolts must be removed to do so. Some rules for holsters apply differently to men and women. IDPA also has a rule that brings body type into play for both holsters and magazine carriers. It is referred to as the “dowel test,” and it is only required for male shooters. Belt options for IDPA (left to right): A Comp-Tac Kydex-reinforced leather belt; Uncle Mike’s Tactical reinforced instructor’s belt; Blackhawk’s CQB Riggers Belt

Simply stated, the test is performed by having a shooter gear up with a pistol holstered and magazines in the magazine carrier. A ¾-inch dowel is then placed between the shooter’s body and the pistol/magazines. If the dowel does not make contact with both the shooter’s body and the pistol or magazine, the shooter’s equipment does not conform to the rules. If the dowel does make contact on both sides, the shooter is within compliance. This rule ensures that the shooter is using gear that holds closely to the body—as expected with traditional concealed-carry gear. (It is also one occasion when love handles can be a benefit!) For female shooters, a dropped and offset holster can be used. However, the holster must still be concealable by the cover garment. When a pistol




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Comp-Tac offers a twin magazine pouch that holds the magazines slightly farther apart. Some shooters feel this assists them with quicker reloads.

TIPS FOR YOUR FIRST MATCH Be safe. Remember the four rules of firearm safety and always practice them. Try your gear on before the match. Make sure your gear is comfortable and secure while you move around.

KeepYour Browning Memories Safe.

Make any adjustment to retention screws before you get to the range. You do not want to risk dropping a firearm or magazines at the range. Clear your firearm, and practice drawing and re-holstering your pistol at home before the match.

Unforgettable memories begin the moment you pick up your first Browning.

IDPA is a safe sport. Do your part to keep it that way. Rules are in place to keep the participants safe. Familiarize yourself with the rules before attending your first match.

With unmatched security, fire protection and storage options, Browning will be with you through a lifetime, protecting your guns and all the cherished memories you make with them.

Pack your range bag. Be sure to pack your eye and ear protection. Also bring a brimmed hat to keep brass away from your eyes and face. Once you get to the range, talk with other shooters. Ask questions if you have them, even once you get to the firing line. Remember to be deliberate with your actions. Don’t shoot faster than you are comfortable doing. Relax ‌ but most importantly, have fun.

The magazine carrier must be a style suitable for all-day concealed carry.

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gun world is holstered and viewed from the front, a women’s holster must stand vertically; and the cant rules still apply. While some shooters do use their concealed-carry gear for IDPA, most tend to gravitate toward a solid OWB Kydex holster for matches. The most popular choices are the Blade Tech Revolution series and the Comp-Tac International holster (#10241). Blackhawk’s Serpa concealment holsters, Safariland’s (#5197) Open Top belt holster and Uncle Mike’s Kydex Open Top holster (#54211) are other top choices that are well suited for IDPA and are used by many top shooters.

clubs offering IDPA match opportunities For additional information on clubs in your area that offer IDPA matches, visit Access the full IDPA rulebook at: Blackhawk’s Serpa concealment holster and double-stack magazine case

MAGAZINE CARRIERS The rules governing magazine carriers are similar to those that apply to holsters. The dowel test applies again—only for male shooters. The magazine carrier must be a style that is suitable for all-day concealed carry. Magazine carriers must also hold the magazine in a vertical configuration with no more than 10 degrees of forward or backward cant. Carriers that allow quick adjustments of the cant are also not allowed. They must also hold the magazine with the rounds facing forward or backward. Magazines held in a “bullet-out” configuration are not allowed. Finally, the magazine carrier must cover 2 inches of the magazine, and the outer edge of the holder (away from the body) must be enclosed. Most shooters will choose double magazine carriers. Belt-mounted double magazine carriers that hold two magazines in a vertical parallel are available from Blackhawk!, Blade Tech and Uncle Mike’s. For individuals looking for a carrier that expands the space between magazines, Comp-Tac offers a twin magazine pouch that holds the magazines slightly farther apart. Some shooters feel this assists with quicker reloads. Nevertheless, regardless of your preference, you can’t go wrong with either style. Rules are also in place for how many magazine carriers can be worn on the belt. This can vary, depending on whether you are shooting a single- or double-stack pistol.

Uncle Mike’s Tactical Kydex open-top holster and double magazine case

Safariland’s open-top concealment belt holster

Because pistol capacities vary from model to model, IDPA has divisions to level the playing field. There are also two divisions that cater to revolver shooters. These divisions come with their own sets of rules regarding the equipment that can be used.

ENGAGE THOSE TARGETS If you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself and meet others who share a common love of shooting, IDPA is certainly worth looking into. There are few things that get your heart pumping like the sound of a buzzer telling you it’s time to engage the targets. Shooting, moving and reloading while a timer is running are all part of the game. IDPA will allow you to build gun-handling skills that cannot be learned while standing at a range and punching holes in paper. The equipment required is minimal, and the costs associated with the sport are very low, compared to many of the other action pistol sports.




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Right: Comp-Tac’s International holster and twin magazine pouch

Below: Blade Tech’s Revolution series holster and magazine carrier

A quality gun belt, holster and magazine carrier can be found for under $100. Again, it is important to remember that gear might be IDPA compliant for one individual and not for another, so it is important to try on some gear and find what works best for you. Gear up, find a club, and give IDPA a try. GW


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erhaps you are one of the millions of people who purchased a handgun over the past year. Maybe you recently got your concealed handgun license. Or maybe you’ve had your handgun for a long time and want to improve your shooting skills. Your next step? Get training.

This can be a daunting task and often leads to more questions than answers: Where should you go to find training? How do you find an instructor? How can you be sure you will receive proper training? What should your expectations be? These are just some of the questions you need answered before registering for your first course.

VETTING A FIREARMS INSTRUCTOR There is no fast or easy way to find a qualified firearms instructor. You won’t find a “Masters Degree in Firearms Training” framed and hung on a trainer’s wall (if you do, it may have come out of a Cracker Jack box). What you can do, though, is create a checklist of expectations and use it to find an instructor who meets the criteria you set forth. This might involve observing one of the courses you are interested in ahead of time, watching for a bit and seeing how the instructor runs the class.


Friends are another great resource. Ask around and see who has received formal training, where they went and what they thought of the class. If your friend is a good shot, consider taking the class. If they suck, mark that instructor off your list. Finally, head to the Internet. Do some research on Facebook, Youtube or other social media outlets to see how former students are commenting and what is being posted. Check out the instructor’s website, and contact them through e-mail if you have a question.

An instructor with training aids is better equipped to teach the various learning types.


An instructor’s career background should also be considered—but not exclusively. A law enforcement or military background is a plus, especially if he or she is a member of a department’s emergency services unit or SWAT team. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good instructor. Nevertheless, an instructor who was, or is, a firearms trainer for law enforcement or the military should have a greater understanding of how to make people better shooters. Chances are, he or she has attended numerous courses to help improve shooting ability



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An important part of training is understanding the mechanics of your firearm.

and learned various methods to instruct others. (On the other hand, don’t simply seek out friends who are in law enforcement to teach you. Not all police officers are good shots … I’ll just leave it at that.) Safety is also important in firearms training. The instructor must run a safe shooting line. Guns should always be kept pointed down range, and range rules should be explained using proper range terminology. In addition, find out if there will be other sets of eyes watching the line. A good instructor will not train students in techniques that are just safe (and not tactically sound); a good instructor will train students in techniques that are tactically sound and with safety inherent in the technique. Competition is a great way to vet an instructor’s personal skills. Competitive shooting proves that these skills can be applied under the pressure of a timer. An instructor who competes and isn’t afraid to let the world see their performance is another bonus. A trainer’s skills can be kept up to date by competing, thus demonstrating proper weapon handling and a solid understanding of the fundamentals. This doesn’t mean they have to win. However, it confirms that they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to make difficult shots at speed and under stress. A good instructor is able to practice what he preaches. Even if he doesn’t compete, he should be able to demonstrate the skill he is teaching and what he expects the students to do during class. Some firearms instructors make safety the main goal of their training course. A second goal is usually for everyone to have fun. Both of

Proper instruction should “tell, show, do.”




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TRAIN these things are important; being safe and having fun are mandatory elements. However, the goal of training is to improve a student’s performance. The instructor who can do that—that’s the one you want to find and the one who uses various methods and techniques to help the student succeed while keeping it safe and fun.

A good instructor will show you how a proper grip feels.

COURSE EXPECTATIONS Just like classroom teachers, firearms instructors run their courses in many different ways. Nevertheless, every class should begin with safety instructions, including the four firearms safety rules and an explanation of the terminology used on the firing line. Some of this information is likely to be unfamiliar to students. The instructor should discuss the parts of the gun and familiarize you with weapon-handling skills and gear manipulation. Whether on the range or in the classroom, dry-fire skills practice is done to help you understand sight picture, grip, trigger press and drawing from the holster. Finally, once on the range and prior to holster work, you will most likely begin by presenting the pistol from a “ready” position. Drills and targets should vary, but the goal will be the same: to get you to send the bullets exactly where you want them to go. The instructor will not just have you sending rounds down range; rather, he will provide instruction that covers weapon and gear manipulation skills and help you achieve a greater understanding of the fundamentals of marksmanship.

THE STUDENT MINDSET You are attending the class to learn something new and perhaps validate the skills you already have. Building solid motor programs is important, so no matter how slowly you move or shoot, always do it with a purpose. Practice in such a way that you are not only training your muscles and neurological pathways, but also your brain. Most importantly, remember it is not the quantity of rounds you send down range, but the quality. GW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Michelle Cerino, is both a firearms trainer and the president of Cerino Consulting and Training Group, LLC—a firearms training company she built with her husband, Chris, in 2011. She writes, hunts and competes in major 3-Gun matches nationwide.

A variety of drills and changing things up throughout the class are two indicators of a good instructor.

Demonstrating what is expected of students is another sign of a good instructor.

The techniques you learn should make sense.




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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Brian Berry is a retired Army Special Forces Command sergeant major. He is a former Special Forces weapons sergeant and has multiple combat tours. Brian is the co-founder of Spartan Defensive Concepts, at which he teaches concealed carry and defensive marksmanship courses. Brian retired in 2014 and is now a consultant currently working for the Special Operation community.



lmost all of us have felt the feeling: Anxiety, nervousness or even straight-up fear … that feeling when someone enters your personal space without invitation and for an unknown reason.

You want to scream out or push the person away, but you might also not want to offend. You are a polite person and would never enter someone else’s personal space without asking, so why is this person invading your space?

The author (left) with his hands up in a defensive, yet non-aggressive, stance. The hands-up position lessens reaction time if the aggressor attempts to strike.

intruded upon. In this case, the intrusion is innocent and very rarely will lead to more than just an uncomfortable feeling.

You will never rise to the occasion; you will always revert to your level of training.

The last level is where the confrontation turns violent. You have to either draw a weapon or use what is available to defend yourself while an assailant is in your space. Obviously, this is the most dangerous scenario, the one that requires the most training and rehearsal in order for you to come out alive—and hopefully, uninjured.

At some point, everyone has felt an intrusion into their personal space. The intrusion might not always be hostile, but for most, it is uncomfortable at the least. There are many different ways your personal space can be compromised. In a crowd, you will almost always find this space being

In the next level of intrusion, you might be in a shopping area or just walking down the sidewalk. Suddenly, someone has stepped within that imaginary boundary—into “your space.” The intrusion might be confrontational yet not meet the criteria for the use of deadly force. It might also be a case when you are without a firearm in a gun-free zone and must use less-lethal methods.

RECOGNIZING THE INVASION OF YOUR PERSONAL SPACE How can you recognize that the invasion is, or will be, a hostile one? Simply being in close proximity will not justify you to conduct a preemptive strike to defend your space. It should also be noted that most states provide a “stand your ground” law that does not require you to retreat. That being said, I always recommend that if you can increase your distance, do it. Being able to recognize hostile intentions is also important. The verbal




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confrontation is the easiest to recognize; the non-verbal will be harder. It might be characterized by hand gestures, a hostile gaze or a quick motion during the other person’s movement into your space.

When You Can’t Go Armed



here are often times when we must refrain from carrying our open or concealed-carry firearms. This could be for legal reasons, such as entering a restricted firearm area, or it could be you have decided to spend your hard-earned dollars in a store that does not allow guns. My personal recommendation is to find a similar place that does allow the legal carry of firearms.

You should follow the rules of the escalation of force whenever possible: Start with the verbal by simply asking the person to give you some space. If they insist and possibly touch you, the use of soft hands (gentle pushing) to hard hands (grabbing soft skin or pressure points) comes next.

The most obvious choice is the folding knife (of which there are too many to cover). The key point is to get one from a reputable manufacturer and that it is well within your local laws. Many local laws limit the length of a folding knife blade.

If these should still fail to gain your personal space, you might have to result to more drastic measures. Again, if possible, attempt to get away. If you can’t, you might use a chemical spray or an impact weapon such as a kubotan; your keys or even a sturdy pen can be used on soft tissue and pressure points (eyes, knees, throat, solar plexus, jugular notch, mastoid process, etc.).

Another choice is the tactical pen. Many companies now produce these inconspicuous weapons that double as a writing instrument. If you don’t want to spend the money on one of these, check out a solid-material kubotan. You can also use something you might already have on hand—for example, your keys or a standard metal pen. As with any weapon, you still need to train and be proficient in its use. Many self-defense instructors can provide you with the training you need. Get a good instructor, and don’t try to cut corners when it comes to your and loved ones’ lives.

USING FIREARMS In the second step, the author uses a pushing motion to gain more room while preventing the aggressor from being able to land a solid blow. This is also the point at which you would clear your weapon from concealment.


If none of these work and it starts to look as if you are in jeopardy of great bodily harm or worse, you might have to resort to a defensive firearm (if you have one on you). Drawing a firearm while someone is within your personal space can leave you vulnerable to your attacker. In this instance, you must give up the status quo as the contest becomes two hands against your one—until you are able to get to your gun. It is for this reason that you must create



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In the final stage, the author uses his nonfiring hand to protect himself while drawing his weapon for an instinctive first shot (if criteria for the use of deadly force has been established).

some additional space. You must also protect yourself from being disabled by either a blow or by the altercation going to the ground. In either of these situations, if you have not already drawn your handgun, it will become more difficult to do so. Nevertheless, once again, I always recommend that if you can increase your distance, do it.

GETTING CLEAR Getting clear can be as simple as pushing off your opponent and causing them a temporary imbalance. Remember to protect your head during this, in the event your assailant attempts to land a blow on you as you push them away. It is because of this very short moment in time that I prefer to have a holster that does not require extra steps to release the handgun (thumb break or other locking mechanism). In an emergency, fumbling with an added locking system could cost you your life or great bodily harm.

The U.S.Marine Corps’ close combat manual describes many of the soft spots and pressure points that make a person vulnerable to attack. These are areas to protect if you are the victim—or exploit if you are in a defensive situation.

Draw your weapon initially close to your body to prevent it




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Choose a Good Defensive Holster for Your Firearm

being blocked or allowing the other person to grab it. Protect yourself with your nonfiring hand. Look for multiple attackers, and attempt to move to a place that provides you with better protection and the ability to scan your surroundings.

In reality, most of this won’t work if you don’t practice for these scenarios and prepare yourself. It is important to make sure you are always seeking additional training and practice. Find a quality instructor—someone who understands this type of training.

If you haven’t done so already, call 911. Be very detailed about what is happening. Make sure to Do not make that training the only time you practice describe yourself to prevent mistakes once the for these scenarios, because you will never rise to police arrive. occasion; you will always revert to your level of GW-1612-Rock River Arms 9/26/16 2:08 PMthe Page 1 training. GW


hen trouble happens, the last thing you want to think about is the release mechanism on your concealed- or open-carry holster. Choosing the right holster for your situation can often be the difference between life and death. And not having your firearm secured could mean dropping it or having it taken from you. There are many good retention holsters that do not have mechanical retention, such as those made by Fobus, Bladetech and Safariland. Each of these companies produces a holster that provides a positive retention system but does not require an extra step in drawing your handgun. The advantage is that you do not have to add the extra step to activate the release mechanism. The disadvantage is that neither does someone else who might try to take your handgun from you. Many companies make a holster for both concealed- and open-carry firearms that need an additional step to draw the gun. These holsters include the Blackhawk! Serpa, the Safariland ALS holster line and the 5.11 Thumbdrive. Each provides a positive locking system with a release that is in the natural point of a draw. It still takes practice to get the gun out, but in a defensive situation, it might prevent your opponent from using your gun on you. As with any self-defense tool, practice is the key to survival. You can’t just have the tool; you have to use it properly and most effectively.

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hat’s in your pockets? I mean right now. When you make a decision to be prepared to defend your life—to go down fighting, if necessary—it’s an everyday commitment. There are no days off.

Friends used to ask why I spent what they considered an undue amount of time and effort concerned about self-defense. “It’s because I don’t want to be an easy victim,” I’d say. Given my job as a police officer at the time, they seemed to understand why my attention was directed to the possibility of bad things happening. Now, some of those friends are taking the same diehard interest in their own self-defense capabilities. These days, the shopping mall, theater or your favorite restaurant might become the site of the next coordinated terrorist attack. Add in demented “lone wolf” wannabes brainwashed by Internet propaganda,



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Right: Being able to access your knife with either hand is an important consideration. The author prefers tip-down carry for ease of access.

Left: This particular knife is a Benchmade Axis Flipper. The author found that a knife with a flipper on the blade was easier to open than one with thumb studs alone. The author prefers to carry a handgun—in this case, a Glock 26— in an inside-thewaistband holster, such as this simple DeSantis nylon design.

cop-haters, drugged-out crazies, gang initiates, disgruntled employees, jilted lovers and your average mugger, and you might not feel safe in your own home—much less out on the street.

MULTI-DISCIPLINED APPROACH I’ve long believed in a multi-disciplined approach to self-defense. Buying a gun might be a start, but resolving many confrontations does not involve drawing your gun. You’d be in more trouble if you did. And becoming an expert in some form of unarmed martial arts is a good idea, but that won’t help when someone across the room is pointing a gun at you. So, let’s assume you have acquired the necessary skills in both armed and unarmed combat. You continue to train, have the proper mindset and aren’t apt to panic under stress. That still leaves the question of how you are going to gear up. “Everyday carry” doesn’t mean you will necessarily carry the same things every day. At the minimum, you should probably have a handgun, reload, knife, flashlight and cell phone. But that gun and knife might vary. You might want to consider pepper spray and some small impact weapon, as well. When it comes to the choice of a handgun, many of the experts I respect recommend carrying a full-sized pistol in an effective caliber that you can shoot well, with manageable recoil and simple, easy-tomanipulate controls. I’ve carried many types of handguns, from the tiny to what many would consider behemoth. While I, too, prefer a larger-framed gun, I am also a realist. Many people will opt to go unarmed rather than put up with the perceived inconvenience of carrying a large gun.




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EVERYDAY CARRY Clothing choices can also play a part. Surprisingly, it’s not significantly more difficult to carry a large gun when wearing shorts and a t-shirt compared to, say, a business suit. But, again, the reality is that most people will opt for a more casual method of carry and a smaller gun when wearing thinner, lighter clothing.

Sometimes, the author carries this Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 627 eight-shot .357 revolver. Because of its simple design, the chances of fumbling with the gun’s controls under stress are greatly reduced.

Carry what you want, but be aware of the trade-offs in your self-defense capabilities. Most confrontations happen at near-contact distances, but I want to be confident in making a shot at longer ranges—down the aisle of a convenience store, for instance, if I am unfortunate enough to walk into a robbery in progress. I’m not here to endorse any specific brand of firearm. I carry a Glock more often than not, but most of the major manufacturers are currently turning out quality products. The pros and cons of the various features of these guns are things I’ll address in the coming months.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Where you carry your gear is just as important. You can’t just stuff things into your pockets and expect to retrieve what you need in a hurry under stress or while seated in your car. Left: As long as a cover garment is worn, a hip holster with a built-in retention device, such as this Uncle Mike’s Tactical Reflex model, is a good, inexpensive option. The handgun is a Glock 19.

Right: A sturdy folding knife is a must for everyday carry. This one is a Wortac II from Timberline Tactical.

Below: If you prefer a fixed-blade knife, find one with a sheath that adapts to horizontal carry, such as this EdgeGuard tactical knife and sheath system from Adams & Son Custom Knives.




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The author has carried a wide range of handguns over the years, including some unconventional choices, and has found there is no perfect weapon for all circumstances.

My preferred method of carry involves an inside-the-waistband holster on my right side. My spare magazine and flashlight are situated to be easily reached by my left hand. While it’s good to be able to access any of your gear with either hand, I especially want to be able to reach my knife with either hand. If I have to cut my way out of my seat belt or slash the wrist of an attacker who’s trying to get control of my handgun, I have to be able to get to that knife. It can’t be buried in a pocket, out of reach. I prefer a folding knife with a locking blade that opens with a flipper; and I find that tip-down carry provides the easiest access. While you want consistency and familiarization in what and where you carry, you also have to be flexible at times. The important thing is to train for the widest range of scenarios, to carry effective gear and to commit to carrying it every day. I have no crystal ball, but today might be the day your life changes forever.

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For pocket carry, the author has tried a Ruger LCP in .380 with laser. There is a big tradeoff, however, because accessing the gun from a pocket can be slower, and shooting this small gun accurately can be difficult.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR Steven Paul Barlow is a retired sergeant/station commander and former firearms instructor with the New York State Police. He has been writing on outdoor topics for more than 30 years and has served as the editor for Engaged Media special publications, including Gunslingers. GW



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all it what you will—“prepping” or “survivalism”—the basic thought process behind the preparedness movement has been essentially the same for decades. The “prepper” name came along as a more crowd-friendly moniker than “survivalist,” which had negative connotations associated with it in the 1970s and ’80s. A rose by any other name …

BEING PREPARED Some folks believe that being prepared means having a little extra food, batteries and other essentials on hand in case the power goes out for a week or having a 72-hour bag on hand in case they need to evacuate because of a hurricane or other disaster.

There are various lines of thought as to what “preparedness” means, and it depends on the person with whom you speak. There are those who view bushcraft skills and the ability to live out in the wild as the best way of being prepared.




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In the event of a local crisis, one might have no other choice but to make it home on foot. In this circumstance, a get-home bag packed with vital gear for a 24- to 72-hour trip might just make the difference.

Still others believe that prepping is all about storing long-term supplies in a remote location and having the ability to live off the grid for months or even years. This might entail raising livestock, growing gardens, hunting and fishing, and having a viable, long-term water source. In this case, a supplement to the basics might include using a solar array and deep-cycle batteries for electricity. These are perfectly fine examples of different states of preparedness. However, there are times when people tend to focus on one area because of their interests or expertise—only to end up having their supplies or plans skewed too much in one direction.

Essential gear and the ability to use it efficiently are key parts of being ready for immediate situations in which supplemental supplies are not available.

The furious havoc wreaked by a hurricane is a prime reason to employ a short-term transition plan to evacuate the area with enough supplies for three to five days.

For example, gun enthusiasts tend to view survivalism through the prism of how many firearms, rounds of ammunition and accessories can be successfully stored away. At the same time, they might neglect basics such as sufficient availability of water, mundane hygiene supplies or long-term storage foods in case hunting plays out and/or gardening isn’t a solution as a result of environmental conditions or local problems. Another example of shortsightedness might be the person or family with the perfect retreat stocked with everything they need … but they can’t get to it for various reasons. Those might include a failure to have several routes available and planned, not being able to communicate with family members, not having a planned staging area and not having the gear on hand to facilitate safe travel back home—and home might not even be the stocked and fortified retreat.

LEVELS OF READINESS My humble opinion is that true preparedness is an ongoing, multilayered process that tries to account for each level of readiness that is required; one that allows for a smart, although not necessarily easy, navigation between those levels.

For long-term survival off the grid, having a solar array and battery bank installed at the homestead can significantly increase comfort and help keep the residents in the 21st century.


From my study and experience, there are six general levels of readiness: • Direct personal events that threaten an individual’s immediate safety, whether it’s a carjacking, active shooter, fire in an office building or simply getting lost during a day hike. • • Local crises (within 25 miles of home) that require immediate egress out of the area and back home. This might be a bomb threat, riot or a 9/11 type of event. If within a 25-mile range, the person could make it home on foot in 24 to 72 hours if vehicular travel is out of the question.



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PREPS • Long-distance crises occur when the traveler is more than 25 miles from home. This type of situation requires extra time, planning and preparations to make it to a particular destination, whether it’s home or an alternate, pre-staged location. • Short-term SIP (shelter-in-place) events that occur while at home or in a vehicle, such as an ice storm that takes down the grid for three days or three weeks or a wrong turn off the main road during a blizzard. • Short-term transitional events that require temporary evacuations due to a hurricane, flooding, train derailment or the threat of an approaching wildfire. • Condition FUBAR, which is a long-term event that is catastrophic enough to break down social order, public utilities and services (such as police), and forces people to provide for themselves for months to years. Catalysts for this type of event could be an economic collapse, EMP strike, foreign attack or a continental pandemic.

THE GROUNDWORK As we go forward with this new column, we’ll touch on topics related to each of these subjects and even more. In many instances, we will talk about gear and techniques. But the most important thing to remember is that no matter what level or subject we’re discussing, the brain is the most important tool of all. While taking the first step to getting into a preparedness mindset might seem quite daunting, it’s a gradual process that takes time. There’s no way to be ready immediately for all contingencies. Even if one had millions of dollars to spend on the project, it’s still a growing process that involves acquiring new skills, practicing techniques and learning what gear or methods work (and what doesn’t work).

As the days pass during a survival situation, and as goods run dry, personal and family protection become more of an issue. Having the facility and training to provide defensive measures for one’s person or family will go a long way toward riding out the storm.

… gun enthusiasts tend to view survivalism through the prism of how many firearms, rounds of ammunition and accessories can be successfully stored away.

All of that takes time, so shake off the apprehension, and ease into the water with us as we take that first step together. GW

Whether taken over by a long-term or short-term survival scenario, the ability to deal with wounds or illness is a critical skill, particularly when emergency services are not available.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Garrett Lucas has been a member of the prepper community for more than 20 years. He has served as editor for American Survival Guide and has written on topics that include firearms, cutlery, long-term preparedness, wilderness survival, first aid and personal/home security. He currently resides in Kentucky, where he continues his learning process each and every day.

In the case of long-term survival situations, shopping for food might not be an option. Those who can secure their own food through hunting, fishing, foraging and gardening will have a significant advantage.

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gun GUNworld WORLD



he introduction of smokeless powder just before the turn of the 20th century heralded an explosion of self-loading pistol designs that had lain dormant for decades. Particularly during the period from 1890 to the beginning of World War I, a veritable plethora of pistols appeared. Interestingly enough, many of them went on to reach legendary status. The M1896 “Broomhandle” Mauser, P08 Luger and, of course, the M1911 not only turned the pistol world upside down, but also continued in service for decades thereafter. However, of those so-called “first-generation” self-loaders, only the M1911 has remained in continuous production to this day. The rest, while commonly encountered in modern times, ceased production long before World War II began.



This is not to say there weren’t other noteworthy designs along the way. The Walther PP/PPK, P38 and Browning P35, for example, all appeared in the mid-1930s and also became famous. Indeed, all three are still being produced (and, of course, fictional movie hero James Bond, after a brief fling with the newer H&K VP-9, is back to using his cherished Walther PPK).



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In the mid-1980s, the first of the striker-fired polymer designs appeared in the form of the Glock 17, and the handgun world in general was turned upside down. Until that time, the classic singleaction (cocked and locked) autos such as the M1911 and Browning P35 were pretty much status quo, as were the traditional double-action Smith & Wessons, SIG P-series and Beretta M92. All of these utilized the basic DA system pioneered by the Walther PPK and P38 back in the 1930s. Not only did the Glock use a striker-fired ignition system, but to a large extent, it was made of synthetic material, as well. Long criticized by traditionalists, the polymer-framed Glock was viciously criticized from virtually all quarters. But in the end, its rather amazing reliability and longevity won the day, and nearly every major manufacturer—Smith & Wesson, Springfield Armory, Ruger, Walther and Heckler & Koch—finally saw the light and now offer a similar firearm. After all, business is business, and whether anyone likes it or not, success translates to profits, which is, of course, the goal of all business.

THE FIELD NARROWS When I titled this article “The Five Most Important Pistols of Modern Times,” I quantified my criteria a little differently. Naturally, accuracy, mechanical reliability and manufacturing/design quality all figured into the equation. However, I also added something else: “human engineering,” which is another way of saying “ergonomics.” When ergonomics are added to the evaluation criteria, the picture changes noticeably— sometimes, even drastically. There are lots of modern pistols that handily satisfy the conventional criteria of accuracy, mechanical reliability and design/manufacturing quality. In fact, nearly all the pistols commercially offered today meet those specifications beautifully. However, only a few of them possess ergonomics good enough to allow them to reach their full performance potential.


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WHEN ERGONOMICS ARE ADDED TO THE EVALUATION CRITERIA, THE PICTURE CHANGES NOTICEABLY—SOMETIMES, EVEN DRASTICALLY. The M1911 was briefly out of military service from 1985 until 2015, when the U.S. Marine Corps adopted a modernized version of it called the M45A1. Yet, all the while, the M1911 remained in commercial production and is now produced by more manufacturers and in more configurations than ever before. The reason the M1911 has done so well is that while it was one of the earliest self-loaders, it also exhibited superior handling qualities (again, ergonomics). It points well, balances well, and its controls are all located to allow excellent manipulation, particularly under stress. This is also why, even though it’s no longer the dominant police and civilian self-defense handgun, it remains absolutely dominant as a competitive firearm. Next, we have the ubiquitous Browning P35, also known commercially as the “High Power.” First appearing in 1935, its superb balance and general performance capability quickly caused it to become the preferred military sidearm of more than 100 nations—an honor it still holds. Nowadays, the P35 is available in a number of versions, all of which demonstrate excellent ergonomics; and it continues to be highly popular. GW-1609-Numrich 6/13/16 2:41 PM Page 1




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GUN WORLD The simplicity, user-friendliness and economical price tag of Springfield Armory’s XD in 9mm Para., .40 SW and .45 ACP caused it to become an instant hit with police officers and self-defense-oriented civilians.

RESULTS By way of confirmation of this fact, for this article, I tested the M1911, Glock 17, Browning P35, XD-9 and M&P-9 head to head on the exceptionally difficult CTASAA Combat Master Qualification Course. I found that while all performed well in the hands of a skilled operator, the M&P turned in the highest score by far: 384 out of a possible 400 (96 percent)! Next came the M1911, the P35, Glock and XD. As I said, all performed well (all were over 85 percent), but none—even the venerable M1911—came close to the M&P-9. As a result, I now carry either an M&P-9 or M&P-45 as my personal defense gun, and one also sits on the nightstand in my bedroom for home defense. The M1911, Browning P35, Glock, XD and Smith & Wesson M&P are, in my opinion, the five most important pistols of modern times. Not only are they rugged, accurate and mechanically reliable, but they also possess superior ergonomics, which elevates them to a performance category above the other designs. Remember, whatever other attributes a gun might have, it must be used by human beings, and often under extreme stress. When life and death hang in the balance, ergonomics will invariably be the deciding factor. Thus, lessuser-friendly designs such as the conventional doubleaction, for example, are clumsy and cannot offer comparable performance. When my life is on the line, I want all the performance I can get. GW

Smith & Wesson’s M&P in 9mm, .40 SW and .45 ACP exhibit the best ergonomics of any pistol ever made—also making it an instant success. As a result, hundreds of law enforcement agencies quickly adopted it, including the Iraqi National Police, as have tens of thousands of selfdefense-oriented civilians (including the author).




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GW-1608-Rio Grande Grips 5/19/16 11:12 AM GW-1610-Tetra Pag Gun Care 7/27/16 1:08 PM Page 1

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    Contest Ends 12/31/2016. Contest rules on website. Contest

Ends 12/31/2016. Contest rules on website.

GW_1612_C4 10/19/16 8:58 AM Page C4


Short Takeup Trigger with Positive Reset

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Complete Your Ruger American Pistol® with the Officially Licensed Blade-Tech® Total Eclipse Holster at Your Local Retailer or Online at RUGER.COM/AMERICANPISTOL

© 2016 Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.


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