Product Reviews

Wednesday, 02 January 2013 / Published in Product Reviews
Wednesday, 23 February 2011 / Published in Product Reviews

In May 1921, Gen. John Taliaferro Thompson went on a sales tour of Europe, visiting Belgium, Britain, France and Spain to promote his innovative “submachine gun,” a term he coined for the fully automatic .45 ACP that arrived too late for service in World War I. He was invited to demonstrate the Model 1921 at the Royal Small Arms Factory at Enfield on June 30, 1921, which he did with some success. The chief inspector of small arms’ report illustrates his concerns with the accuracy and reliability of the gun. He was particularly puzzled by the requirement for the Blish locking system, albeit couched in faintly impenetrable army technical language.

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Tuesday, 15 February 2011 / Published in Product Reviews

The U.S. Army wasn’t particularly impressed with the concept of a submachine gun, and little ordnance research and development was done following World War I. However, a distinguished Ordnance Dept. officer who retired a couple of years before America’s entry into that war felt that the submachine gun had the potential to be an extremely valuable arm.

John Taliaferro Thompson entered the U.S. Army in 1882 and made a name for himself during the Spanish-American War directing the supply of munitions during a time of near chaos. Thompson was later a key player in the development of two legendary American military arms—the M1903 Springfield rifle and the M1911 .45 pistol.

 

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Wednesday, 02 February 2011 / Published in Product Reviews

.30 Carbine Combo

The classic .30 Carbine is not just a nice little carbine cartridge. It’s great in a revolver, too.

Shooting Times Magazine, February 2011, p. 54 – 58
By Layne Simpson, Photo by Mike Anschuetz

I had forgotten how much fun the M1 Carbine is to shoot. I bought my first one many years ago through the DCM for the princely sum of $17.50. Sad to say, I eventually horse-traded it away for something now even more forgotten. During following years, several other M1 Carbines came and went in my life, neither of which was in as good a shape as that first one. In the early days I shot nothing but military-surplus ammunition because it was cheap, but dwindling supplies eventually caused prices to escalate to the point where I started handloading the little cartridge.

Those days of dirt-cheap military-surplus M1 Carbines are long gone as well. It is now difficult to find a good shooter for less than $700, and when you do, its parts may or may not have matching numbers. A collector-grade carbine can set you back several thousand dollars. This is quite amazing when considering the fact that Winchester, along with about a dozen other contractors, built over six million between August 1941 and June 1945. Add to those the commercial copies later built from scratch or assembled from military-surplus parts by Iver Johnson, Federal Ordnance, Plainfield Machine, Universal Firearms, and about 20 other companies, and it becomes obvious that a very large quantity of M1 Carbines are out there being collected, shot, or gathering dust.

The Auto-Ordnance Carbine
As far as I know, the Auto-Ordnance division of Kahr Arms is now the sole builder of new commercial M1 Carbines in the U.S. Three variations are offered: one with the standard walnut stock, another with a black synthetic stock, and a paratrooper version with a folding, wire buttstock. Kahr officials chose to copy some of the features of the very first version of the military M1 Carbine, including a flat-top bolt and no bayonet lug on the barrel. Also like the original, a “flip” sight with apertures for 100- and 300-yard zeros dovetailed into the top of the receiver is drift-adjustable for windage. Due to considerable variations in points of impacts of various .30 Carbine loads, the fully adjustable sight of the later version is much preferred, although the present sight is fine for those who stick with a single load.

During manufacture the front sight blade of a military M1 Carbine with the flip rear sight was intentionally made too tall and then filed down to the proper zero during function testing of the firearm. Since the Auto-Ordnance carbine shot quite low, I can only assume that the sight was left tall for the customer to modify. Due to variations in points of impact of not only various factory loads but of handloads as well, I consider this a great idea. If the rifle were mine, I would first determine which load is most accurate and then file its sight to zero with that load. This is a file-shoot-file-shoot procedure, and it is important to remove only a slight amount of metal between groups; once the metal is gone there is no putting it back. Taking a mere .006 inch off the sight will raise group point of impact about an inch at 100 yards.

A more practical option is to replace its rear sight with a fully adjustable sight, either military surplus or newly manufactured. Just such an aftermarket sight is available from Auto-Ordnance as well as Kensight Mfg., the latter sold through Brownells. Switching out the rear sight may also require a front sight blade of a different height.

With decent ammo most military M1 Carbines in good condition will average 3 to 5 inches for five shots at 100 yards. Nothing to brag about by today’s standards, but we must keep in mind that it was primarily intended to replace the 1911 pistol in the hands of military officers, tank commanders, and various support personnel, such as cooks, medics, and mechanics. In addition to being accurate enough for close- to medium-range shooting under combat conditions, it is far easier to shoot accurately than any pistol. This held especially true for the thousands of green recruits who had never handled any type of firearm before joining the Army.

My original intent was to accuracy-test the Auto-Ordnance carbine at 100 yards and then move to the 50-yard range when shooting a Ruger Blackhawk revolver in .30 Carbine. Unfortunately, on the day I set aside to shoot the two, the longer range at my gun club was closed, so I had no choice but to wring out both at 50 yards. Even though my eyes are not as young as they once were, I am still quite capable of shooting 1-inch groups at that distance with military-grade aperture sights and about 2 inches with open sights.

Feed it good ammo in good magazines and keep it reasonably clean, and the M1 Carbine is about as reliable as any autoloader. When shooting the Auto-Ordnance carbine, I experienced one smokestack and two failures to fully chamber with factory ammo. After about 200 rounds, I gave its boltface, chamber, and bore a good brushing with cleaning solvent, and from that point on the little critter never missed a lick.

WARNING: All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times or InterMedia Outdoors nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

The Ruger Blackhawk
The .30 Carbine chambering has also been offered in a few handguns through the years. There was an autoloader from AMT called the Automag III and a single-shot Contender from T/C. Those are long gone, but the .30-caliber Ruger New Model Blackhawk has been hanging around since 1968. Recoil of the Ruger is about the same as for the .357 Magnum loaded with a 110-grain bullet, but muzzle blast and flash are greater. I used to hunt wild pigs a lot with hounds and most of the shooting was inside 15 yards. I used about every handgun you can think of, including a .44-caliber cap-and-ball revolver loaded with blackpowder. About anything worked as long as I carefully placed my bullet into the lung area and avoided heavy shoulder bone, and that included the .30-caliber Ruger and 110-grain expanding bullets at about 1,500 fps.

Handloading Tips
Like any straight-wall rifle or pistol cartridge, the .30 Carbine is a snap to handload in six easy steps–full-length resize and decap, bell case mouths, insert primers, throw powder charges, seat bullets, and taper crimp bullets in place. In addition to the standard 110-grain FMJ and softnose bullets from Sierra, Speer, and Hornady, we have the 100-grain Plinker and a 110-grain flatnose hollowpoint called the Varminter from Speer. Ammo loaded with the Plinker moves through most M1 carbines like green grass through a goose, but due to its flat nose, the Speer bullet won’t make the trip. It can be manually loaded directly into the chamber and fired single shot, and, of course, it works fine in the Ruger revolver.

Speer’s Varminter and Plinker expand more dramatically and both open up much better than the other typically used softnose bullets that have very little lead exposed at the nose. Bullets of .308-inch diameter designed for the .30 Mauser and 7.62x25mm Tokarev also work in the .30 Carbine, especially in the Ruger Blackhawk. They include the 86-grain softnose and 90-grain hollowpoint from Hornady and the Sierra 85-grain softnose. All expand quite nicely at revolver velocities, and from the carbine the Sierra is a real bomb.

Cases produced commercially in the U.S. can vary in length by as much as .006 inch, and since the .30 Carbine headspaces on its mouth, those variations can result in round-to-round variations in the amount of energy delivered to the primer by the firing pin. This can affect accuracy, and while the typical M1 carbine may not be inherently accurate enough for it to make a difference, trimming the entire batch to the same length prior to loading them doesn’t hurt anything. I checked three brands of once-fired cases, and they varied in length from a minimum of 1.284 inches to a maximum of 1.290 inches. Shortest among the Remington cases I used for this article was 1.286 inches, so I trimmed the entire batch to that length. Some reloading manuals list trim-to length as 1.280 inches, while others recommend 1.286 inches. I have never found it necessary to go below the latter length.

Both the M1 Carbine and its .30-caliber cartridge were designed by Winchester, and it was the first U.S. military cartridge to be loaded with spherical powder. The propellant later became available to the canister trade as Winchester 296 Ball Powder, or W296 for short. Sometime later Hodgdon started selling basically the same powder but called it H110. Even though the two are the same, different lots can have slightly different burn rates, so load data is not always interchangeable between the two. Both deliver top velocities with all bullet weights, but they leave a lot of residue in chambers and bores and on fired cases. Other powders, such as Herco, SR 4756, IMR-4227, H4227, and Lil’ Gun, burn more cleanly, but they seldom reach velocities as high with all bullet weights as W296 and H110. I long ago settled on the CCI 450 Magnum Small Rifle primer for igniting those two powders in the .30 Carbine.

Full-length resizing dies made for the .30 Carbine are designed to taper crimp the mouth of the case snugly against the bullet. In addition to removing the bell from the mouth of the case, it helps to prevent a bullet from being driven deeper into the case during the feeding cycle of the carbine. SAAMI maximum diameter at the mouth of a loaded round is 0.336 inch, but through the years I have found that the bolt may not fully lock into battery with a round that fat up front if the chamber of a particular carbine was reamed on the minimum side of the allowable tolerance range. This results in misfires, and the problem often worsens as propellant fouling from many rounds builds up in the chamber. Factory ammo from Winchester, Remington, and Federal ranges from 0.330 to 0.334 inch at the mouth. For handloads, I prefer to adjust the taper-crimp die to squeeze mouth diameter as close to 0.330 inch as the thickness of the brass will allow. This assures that the round will travel all the way home in a dirty chamber, yet the mouth is still large enough in diameter for positive headspacing of a chambered round.

So what’s the .30 Carbine good for? Well, for starters, it has bagged plenty of deer through the years, but that does not make it a deer cartridge by any stretch of the imagination. I’d say it is close to ideal for toppling a treed cougar from a tall cedar. I have never bagged a turkey with the little cartridge, but I see no reason why it should not work in Texas and other states where the big bird can be legally taken with rifles. It should be just as deadly on javelina, and I’m thinking it would be a fun way to surprise a called-in coyote standing with a shocked look on its face just off the toes of my boots. Other than that the only thing I can think of to say about our littlest .30-caliber rifle cartridge is it is as much fun to shoot in the M1 carbine today as it was a few decades back when you could buy one for $17.50.

Saturday, 02 October 2010 / Published in Product Reviews

HBO chronicles the WWII island battles against the Japanese.

GUNS Magazine, October 2010, p. 52 – 57
By Mike “Duke” Venturino
Photos: Yvonne Venturino, David James/HBO

 

Like millions of others I recently finished watching the 10-part HBO mini-series The Pacific. Its subject was the US Marine Corps’ campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations (PTO) during World War II. The Pacific was based on three non-fiction books: Helmet For My Pillow by Robert Leckie, With The Old Breed At Peleliu And Okinawaby Eugene Sledge and Black Sand, Red Blood by Charles Tatum.

The wartime experiences of three US Marines are collectively traced from the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, until Leckie and Sledge returned to civilian life after the Japanese signed the surrender on September 2, 1945. The third Marine, John Basilone, was awarded the Medal of Honor for his combat performance on Guadalcanal in October 1942 but was killed the morning of Feb. 19, 1945 on the first day of the invasion of Iwo Jima.

The Pacific is focused on the three men, because all of them served in the 1st Marine Division. (Basilone was with the 1st Division on Guadalcanal but was serving with the newly formed 5th Division on Iwo Jima.) The USMC’s 1st Division, the “Old Bleed” made America’s first offensive move against the Japanese when Guadalcanal was invaded on Aug. 7, 1942. It also hit the beached of Okinawa on April 1, 1945 in America’s last island invasion of the Pacific War. In the interim, the 1st Division also invaded Cape Gloucester on New Britain late in 1943 and attacked the island of Peleliu on Sept. 15, 1944.

As the story of Leckie, Basilone and Sledge spanned almost a 3-year time frame, viewers interested in weapons history could watch as The Pacific showed in detail how the firearms the US Marines carried into so many island campaigns evolved. All in all, The Pacific’s makers led by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks did an excellent job in what must have been a most difficult undertaking. In regards to firearms they made only one glaring error that I saw, which will be detailed later.

When the 1st Marine Division invaded Guadalcanal, the issue remained in doubt for several months. Only a couple of days into the operation, the US Navy was forced to retreat by the Japanese Navy’s surface ships and air forces, which left the Marines on shore short of everything from food to ammunition. Even at the time the Guadalcanal invasion was characterized as a “shoestring operation.”

Captured Japanese rice augmented US food supplied, but in regard to ammunition their small arms needs in 1942 were simple in variety if not quantity. USMC infantry at that time used only .45 ACP for handguns and submachine guns and .30-06 for rifles and full-size machine guns. Although the US Army had adopted the semi-auto M1 Garand as early as 1936, the US Marine Corps clung to their bolt-action Model 1903 “Springfield.”

They considered the ’03 more accurate and reliable than the new semi-auto, despite the fact the M1 could fire eight rounds with a pull of the trigger for each, while the ’03 required bolt manipulation for every one of the five rounds its magazine held. In the close range jungle combat that was more the rule on Guadalcanal, precise accuracy was not as important as firepower, as ordinary Marine infantryman quickly realized. The .30-06’s long-range capability was not needed in the jungle, but its ability to penetrate foliage and even trees was appreciated.

Perhaps the most important infantry weapon on Guadalcanal, as well portrayed in the mini-series, was the belt-fed Browning Model 1917 water-cooled heavy machine gun (also .30-06). Both Leckie and Basilone were machine gunners on “the ‘Canal” as Marine lore came to call the island. Respectively, they participated in stands against fanatical Japanese attacks at the Tenaru River in August (it was actually the Ilu River; Marine maps were that poor), and on a ridge south of the all-important American airfield in October. The Marine’s defense in both fights centered on those big tripod-mounted Brownings. Also at that time, USMC machine gunners’ personal weapons were pistols. They were the 1911A1 .45 ACP and The Pacific showed both Leckie and Basilone using theirs.

Gun savvy viewers probably noticed much firearms detail in the Guadalcanal segments of The Pacific. I saw at least one Reising submachine gun in the hands of an officer leading a patrol, and several scenes with Thompson submachine guns fitted with drums. Marines liked Thompsons but detested Reisings because combat conditions made them very unreliable. They were withdrawn from service shortly after Guadalcanal.

The Model 1928 Thompsons available in 1942 could use 50-or even 100-round drum magazines while later versions took only 20- or 30-round stick magazines. Also in the scenes showing the night fighting, for which Basilone was rewarded the Medal of Honor, was a Marine helping to defend the machine gun position. He is shown firing a Winchester Model ’97 pump action, 12-gauge shotgun.

In late October 1942, the US Army’s 164th Infantry Regiment arrived on Guadalcanal with its riflemen carrying M1 Garands. Marine were famous for their pilfering of Army stores whenever possible and one of the mini-series’ scenes shows how disgusted a young Marine was upon opening a crate of Garands while raiding a supply dump. He says something to the effect, “The Army gets these while we fight with rifles my grandfather would have used!” Soldiers of the 164th Infantry have said if they set down their Garands and turned their backs for just a moment a Marine’s arm would snake out of the jungle and swipe it. So many were taken that when the 1st Marine Division finally left Guadalcanal in December 1942, US Army officers were stationed at embarkation points to confiscate all M1s carried by Marines.

When the Marines tuned to the offensive in the Pacific War they begun using the M1919A4 much more than the water-cooled 1917s because of the former’s lighter weight.

After recuperating in Australia from their ordeal on Guadalcanal, the 1st Marine Division’s next invasion was Cape Gloucester on the soggy, swampy island of New Britain. This was just after Christmas 1943, and by this time the USMC was re-equipped. Now the average rifleman was also packing an M1 Garand, while members of crew-served weapons such as machine guns and mortars had M1 Carbines. The weapon used its own dedicated cartridge, so Marine supply officers had to add .30 Carbine ammunition to .30-06 and .45 ACP.

It is also very interesting how Sledge’s handgun was portrayed later after the 1st Division landed on Peleliu. By then, the Japanese seldom engaged in those life-wasting, nighttime, “Banzai charges” so common early in the war. Instead they held up in caved and bunkers, trying to inflict as many casualties on the Marines as possible before dying themselves. At night infiltrators were sent crawling into Marine lines, with the hopes they could slay sleeping Marines in their foxholes or at least keep them so on edge no one rested. Those infiltrators were not expected to return. In nighttime Peleliu scenes in The Pacific Sledge is shown gripping his Colt New Service, notably with his finger off the trigger. (Evidently they had good firearms instructors for the young actors of this production.)

The gun handling shown in The Pacific was realistic. Nowhere was there wild hip shooting with Thompsons, Carbines or rifles. Most shooting was aimed fire from the shoulder as befit US Marine WWII training in rifle marksmanship. During the scenes of the wild melee on that October 1942 night when John Basilone’s fighting resulted in his Medal Of Honor, they do show the machine gunners swinging their Browning 1917s to and fro instead of having them being locked into set fields of fire. Those who have fired such machine guns swinging loosely know how badly they spread bullets in that manner.Still, with the entire front covered with Japanese attackers, it is possible the Marine machine gunners did have to fire like that. Also, during those battle scenes Marines are shown working their Springfields’ bolt with the rifle still shouldered. That is how they would have been trained.

Also, it was refreshing to see how the M1 Carbine was used in The Pacific. The little 5-pound .30 Carbine was not meant as an offensive weapon. It was intended for officers, dog handlers, corpsman, wireman and members of weapons crews to defend themselves from the enemy while going about their duties. Such duties didn’t usually mean fighting with a rifle. During Part 8 of the mini-series, Sgt. Basilone is shown rushing about the Iwo Jima battlefield directing his machine gun crews as to where to set their guns and where to place their fire. He carries an M1 Carbine but doesn’t actually fight with it. When he does decide to fight himself. He is shown handling off his carbine to one of his men and picking up a 1919A4 from its tripod.

American fighting men were blessed in WWII as the only nations’ troops almost universally equipped with autoloading weapons or at least so after 1943. In Part 9 there is an instance when the more intricate mechanism of the semi-auto was not so beneficial. With Eugene Sledge on Okinawa, a Japanese charge occurs, right after he has fallen in the mud. (During the fighting on Okinawa in one 15-day period over 17” of rain fell.) His M1 Carbine is covered in slime, so he picks up someone else’s dry M1 Garand. When it is empty he draws the Colt New Service revolver. The history of the 36-day battle for Iwo Jima is full of stories of both M1 Garands and M1 Carbines clogging with the island’s black volcanic ash.

The primary defense on Guadalcanal was the Browning water-cooled M1917 machine gun in .30-06, shown here being fired by Duke and Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch.

Expect for the part about Robert Leckie’s Japanese Type 14 Nambu, not much is made of Japanese small arms in The Pacific. In fact few close ups of Japanese soldiers were shown at all, and mostly then their rifles were bayoneted. In WWII, Japanese infantry doctrine stressed bayonet fighting as much as the USMC stressed rifle marksmanship. I did spot in one Peleliu scene one Japanese rifle lying on the battlefield, with its action’s dust cover still in place. Both Japanese Type 38 6.5mm and Type 99 7.7mm infantry rifles were issued with such dust covers.

All in all firearms coverage in The Pacific was excellent. The M1 Carbines all were sans bayonet lugs but did have the L-shaped rear peep sight proper for the time. Those are tiny details but significant to sharp-eyed gun people. So then one has to ask why The Pacific’s firearms’ advisor, whoever he was, had the Marines on Guadalcanal armed with Model 1903A3 rifles, instead of the proper Model 1903s? The rear peep sight of a Model 1903A3 sticks out like a sore thumb and several close-up shots show them. That alteration of the Model 1903 was not approved until May 1942, and the Marines did not have them on Guadalcanal.

That one mistake aside, The Pacific was an excellent production, at long last showing just how hard the climate, tropical diseases, and the fanatical enemy hammered America’s Marines on those Pacific Islands. After viewing HBO’s The Pacific anyone meeting one of those veterans should feel humbled.

HBO plans the release of the The Pacific DVD on Nov. 2, 2010. For those of you with cable, episodes are available for viewing On Demand. — Editor

Tuesday, 02 September 2008 / Published in Product Reviews

A show-gun you can shoot!

On Target, August/September 2008, p. 48 – 51
By Bob & Sandy Rodgers

Those of us who now look wistfully at the Grecian Formula commercials remember a time when manufacturers could afford to lavish huge amounts of skilled hand labor on their guns. It was a different era, with a slower pace of both life and industry As amazing as it seems today, trained craftsmen—artisans of their trade—were less expensive on the line than were machines. It was a time when firearms were actually fitted, parts hand-honed to mesh, created rather than mass-produced. And the finishes back then were a sight to behold. Bluing so incredibly rich and deep that the surface actually looked wet. That kind of surface preparation, which is of course the key ingredient to a great finish, doesn’t come easily. There’s little doubt—since a gun can be either made or ruined during the finishing process—that companies put some of their very best and most highly trained personnel in the polish and finish areas.

Heavy hands on a buffing wheel can blur lines, dish-out pinholes, smear roll marks, and manage to put waves in flats—and they can do it all in an instant. Great work takes time, and as always, time means money. In reality, the manufacturers had little choice but to simplify the entire process in order to deliver a product at a price the public could stomach. The shooting public has learned to live with less—with the requisite amount of bitching and moaning, of course.

 

A-O Presentation Grade 1911 A1 Velocity f.p.s. Energy ft.-lbs. Smallest Group Largest Group Average Group
MagTech 230-gr. FMJ 751 288 3.59″ 3.77″ 3.67″
Black Hills 200-gr.LSWC 814 294 2.35″ 2.71″ 2.56″
Federal Am. Eag|e 230-gr. FMJ 805 331 2.69″ 2.92″ 2.81″
Speer 185-gr. GDHP 945 367 2.19″ 2.55″ 2.37″
Velocity is the average of four 5-shot group, measured with a Beta Master Chrony chronograph, set ten feet in front of the muzzle. Groups are fired from a sandbag rest at range of 25 yards.
Abbreviations: JHP(Jacketed Hollow Point); SWC(Semi-Wadcutter); FMJ(Full Metal Jacket); LSWC(Lead Semi-Wadcutter); GDHP(Gold Dor Hollow Point)

 

We’ve reviewed pistols from Auto-Ordnance in the past, and when the box containing this gun arrived we expected something similar, a mil-spec recreation 1911A1 in a Parkerized finish. Not this time. Instead we got a high-polish, royal-blue, presentation-grade 1911 that—with the exception of its bright nickel accents—looked like a relic from the past. Digging a little deeper into the shipping container brought us to a glass-topped, padded, wooden presentation case, finely crafted with brass hardware, including lockable clasps. Inside this box was another complete top-end for the gun—complete as in slide, barrel and all other small parts—that was almost a dead ringer for the one already on the frame, with a couple of little additions. The left flat of the installed slide was roll-marked “Model 1911A1 U. S. Army,” while the right side was blank. In contrast, the flat on the right side of the dress slide was engraved with “Presentation Grade 1911” and the Thompson logo, while the left side flat was engraved with the name of the owner and the year of presentation. With the exception of some find-line scroll work to set off the script, the engraving was filled with nickel to match the accents on the gun. Just above the owner’s name, in small print, was the legend “Hand Crafted for.”

The bluing looked like black oil, and the flats were straight and true, The transition lines from the round top to the flats were crisp. This was definitely not the work of a rookie, A note in the box from our editor asked that I call Bob Holmes at Auto-Ordnance for some background on this latest offering. It was his name on the side of the pistol we received, and he is also the person in charge of the Auto-Ordnance custom shop. I’m glad I called. Bob is one of the industry good guys. He’s enthusiastic about the products the company produces and is always on the lookout for ways to improve. He, too, remembers the glory days of gun building and their remarkable finishes, and this pistol is his brainchild as well as his tribute. His goal was to not only duplicate that incredible finish, but also to make the pistol both affordable and shootable. This is where his idea of offering two complete slide assemblies entered the picture: one to be used for fun; the other to be used for display. Purchase of the personalized display slide and presentation box are not mandatory, however, as both are sold separately, or as part of a package.

Auto-Ordnance pistols differ from those of many other makers by the addition of a trigger-controlled firing pin safety. Unless the trigger is pulled and levers inside the frame are activated, a spring-loaded plunger resting in a hole machined in the slide stops the firing pins forward travel. This system has been in production for many years and has been tested and proven on the streets. Other than that, it’s exactly what you’d expect from a 1911A1 pistol, including a wide spur hammer, arched mainspring housing with lanyard loop, Al sights, and a longer grip safety spur to help prevent hammer bite. The frame is cast and the slide is machined from a forging. As mentioned earlier, the small parts are bright nickel, and include the grip screws, thumb safety, barrel bushing, recoil spring plug, trigger, plunger tube, magazine catch, and slide stop. In a later conversation with Bob, I mentioned that I thought the gun would be even more spectacular completely blued, without the addition of nickeled parts. I’ve since heard a change is in the works. He listens! Both versions will be available.

I’ll confess right up front to only test firing this pistol with the “stock” top end. My conscience wouldn’t allow me to put rounds through that presentation slide. This is not marketed as a target-grade gun, but I still found group sizes to be totally acceptable. Mil-spec sights are tough to shoot. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: tiny sights make precise work virtually impossible. There are those who, in their quest to keep things “original,” insist that fine work can be accomplished with tiny sights. “Balderdash” is a word I’ve wanted to work into my writing for years, and this certainly seems like an appropriate place. The miniscule A1 sights wash out against the target no matter what the light. Precise work with them is highly unlikely, and fast work is a fantasy. This is not a knock on the pistol. It’s a period piece with faithfully reproduced sights. This is simply a way of saying that the gun could easily be a better shooter than the results show. I fired several different brands and bullet profiles through the pistol without a failure of any kind. Not one.

I recently received some 185 grain Gold Dot Personal Protection hollow points from Speer, and have been waiting for a chance to test them. I shot them last, and when the first round tore. downrange, the woods went quiet. Really, Even the cicadas, which have been vocally complaining about the midsummer heat for weeks, momentarily ceased their serenade, shocked into silence. The report’s return, after a quick journey to and from a distant hill, carried enough authority to be heard through my shooting muffs. These rounds speak with gravitas! I like ‘em—a lot. And they shoot. Thankfully, their roar was much greater than their bite. Recoil was extremely mild; less than a mid range 230-grain load. I’d have to assume the 185-grain bullet has a lot to do with that, in spite of it passing over the chronograph at 945 f.p.s. The pistol showed a definite preference for lighter weight bullets. It turned in its best accuracy with 185- and 200-grain loads.

The Auto-Ordnance Presentation Grade 1911A1 would make a great gift for a special occasion, but why wait for someone else to take the hint? Buy one for yourself!

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