Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Stock and Barrel Has a Heart

Stock and Barrel Gun Club
18832 Lake Drive E,
Chanhassen, MN 55317

Help us celebrate our 1st Anniversary on Saturday May 20th, 2017 and please rescue an abandoned firearm... 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Chiappa Rhino .357 Magnum 2 Inch Barrel

For quite some time both readers and customers have been asking me what I knew about the Chiappa Rhino.  Quite honestly, I didn't know very much.  I viewed the Rhino, with it's barrel aligned with the bottom chamber of the cylinder, as a gimmick.  I figured that it was going to be a passing fad and would soon fade from memory.  Then the Rhino turned up as the weapon of choice in the film series "Divergent".  I chalked it up to Hollywood just looking for an unusual looking handgun for this futuristic thriller.  I mean after all, in the future no one would really be using a revolver would they?

Anyway, not too long ago a used specimen came into the shop in great condition at a fair price so I took a long look at it.  This was a two inch barreled revolver in brushed electroless nickel with a textured black rubber grips.  The first two thing I noticed were the trigger pull and the ergonomics.  The trigger pull was smooth and perhaps the best pull I had ever encountered on a revolver.  The original owner swore to me that the trigger pull was stock, out-of-the box goodness. "Besides" he said, "Who do you know that does Rhino trigger jobs".  That was a point well taken.  The ergonomics are outstanding.  The un-traditional grip felt good and the grip's shape gives you a high hold that provides you with a very stable grip and, for lack of a better word, the upswept beavertail also helps control muzzle flip. More on that later.

If you are wondering why Chiappa named it the Rhino just look at the side and front barrel profile.

Sure looks like a charging Rhino to me and I love the large fiber optic front sight!

I always wondered if the reduction in recoil promised by the barrel firing from the bottom chamber of the cylinder really lived up to it's hype.  Therefore, my trip to the range was more of function test than it was a test of the Rhino's accuracy.  After firing it with .38 Special, .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum ammunition (all 125 grain rounds produced by SIG) my opinion is that the hype has been understated and the Rhino exceeded my hopes.  Between the bullet exiting from the bottom of the cylinder and the contour of the grip there is almost no muzzle flip and this allows for much faster follow-up shots.  All of the recoil energy comes straight back without your arm's alignment being corrupted by the muzzle flip. The .38 Special recoil was nothing.  If someone is recoil sensitive the Rhino with non-+P ammo would be their ticket to a soft shooting handgun in an effective caliber.  
The above target was fired with the SIG .38 Special ammo at 30 feet.

The +P load was a little stronger but still a creampuff compared to recoil produced by traditionally designed revolvers.
The above target was fired using SIG +P ammo at 30 feet.

The .357 Magnum was noticeably stronger but not unpleasant.  I could easily see an extended range session with .357 Magnum ammo, which is not something I would normally do with a traditional revolver.
The above target was fired with the SIG .357 Magnum 125 grain hollow-point ammunition at 30 feet.  I was very happy with the with this group.  Clearly the Rhino preferred the .357 Magnum load.

The Rhino contains some interesting features.  The hammer is internal and what looks like the hammer is actually a cocking lever and rear sight. This cocking lever does not move when the trigger is pulled.
Right in front of the cocking lever is a hole which contains a red polymer post.  When the post is raised and protruding from the frame you know that the revolver is cocked and in the single action mode of fire.  To the left of the cocking lever is a black lever mounted on the frame which serves as the cylinder release.

The 2 inch Rhino weighs in at 24 ounces which is 7 ounces less than a comparable Smith & Wesson K frame model 19 with a 2.5 inch barrel.

Another interesting feature is the six-sided, non-fluted cylinder.  There is supposedly some weight savings here but I have no specifics so please don't hold me it it.

The Rhino 200DS comes with a leather holster and two speed loaders.  All in all it is a great package and it is my new favorite revolver.  I want the three and four inch models now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Tale of Two Springfield EMP 9mm Pistols

The 9mm Springfield EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol) was introduced about 10 years ago as a small pistol with a 3 inch barrel and an abbreviated grip.  While there were other small, three inch barreled 1911's on the market the EMP was different.  Rather than take a .45 ACP framed pistol and stuff a 9mm barrel into it, Springfield built the EMP around the 9mm cartridge.  Thus, it was (and still is) thinner in width while the grip is also thinner from front strap to back strip.  The frame width on the EMP is .918 inches versus .925 inches on the SIG Ultra.  I loved that EMP but the grips were just too short for my liking.  

Last year Springfield brought out their new EMP 4 with a four inch barrel and a longer 10 round magazine.

The EMP 4 obviously has a one inch longer barrel and slide, and has a longer grip giving it a 10 + 1 round capacity in a magazine fitted with a rubber base pad.  The EMP 4 is nicely checkered with a golf ball pattern on both the back and front strap.  The EMP 4 weighs in at 31 ounces; 4 ounces heavier than the original 3 inch EMP.  Additionally, 2007's three inch version came with three dot night sights while the 4 inch pistol comes with a red fiber optic front sight and a two white dot rear sight.  As with the original EMP, the EMP 4 comes with some very nice checkered Cocobolo grips.

It took almost a year for me to obtain an EMP 4 and was delighted with the way it shot:

The above target was fired with 30 rounds of Mag Tech 115 grain FMJ ammo at 21 feet.

And this target was fired at 30 feet with 20 rounds of the same ammo.

I loved the way pistol performed but I was puzzled as to why Springfield would put an extended rubber base pad on a concealed carry pistol.  That extended pad only serves to give your cover garment something to latch onto, print, and give away that you are carrying a concealed pistol.  

Then two weeks latter Springfield announced this:
The EMP 4 CC (Contoured Carry) and I thought "Damn, I rather have this one"!

The EMP 4 CC comes with with a Bobtail "Contour" cut on the back strap and very attractive, nicely checkered G-10 grips.  Instead of the 10 round extended magazine with the rubber base plate the EMP CC come with a flush fitting 9 round magazine.  All of the EMP models come with a bushing-less bull barrel.
The EMP CC shoots just as good, if not better as the EMP 4.

The above target shows 27 rounds at 21 feet.

This target shows 25 rounds fired at 30 feet.  

I don't know how Springfield did it but both of the 4 inch barreled EMP are some of the softest shooting 9mm pistols I have.  I really like the bobtail cut on the CC model.  It fits my hand well and is much less likely to catch on my cover garment and expose my concealed carry pistol.  Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Colt DS II .38 Special

Colt has a long history of producing of firearms for military and law enforcement.  From their very inception Colt percussion revolvers were purchased by various military and para military units and Colt, among other manufacturers, sold rifles to the Union Army during the Civil War (or the war of Northern aggression depending upon where you live).  Colt is still producing rifles for the military but signed their first handgun contract in 1872 and continued to provide pistols to the government until 1986.  Those are both long runs.

On the law enforcement side Colt provided their early percussion revolvers to law enforcement and much of their revolver innovations through the decades originated with input from rangers, sheriffs, and city police officers.  Such is the case with the evolution of the DS-II.  

When Theodore Roosevelt was the Police Superintendent for the New York City Police Department he standardized the handgun for the NYPD and issued them the six shot Colt Police Positive in .32 Colt Police.  Eventually the NYPD upgraded to the .38 Special and it wasn't long before detectives and plain clothed police officers began requesting a smaller, more concealable handgun.  So, in 1927 Colt introduced the Detective Special with a 2 inch barrel and shortened checkered wood grips.  

In 1973 Colt beefed up the Detective Special and added an ejector shroud and oversized wooden grips.  In 1986 the handgun buying public was enamored with stainless steel revolvers and 9mm pistols thus, due to poor sales, Colt discontinued the Detective Special.

In 1993, after Colt emerged from bankruptcy, the Detective Special was reintroduced, this time with wrap around rubber grips.  But in 1995 the Detective Special was once again discontinued when Colt introduced the SF-VI revolver.  It was fairly identical to the Detective Special except this one was produced only in stainless steel with the same rubber grips as the prior version of the Detective Special.  Colt only referred to the revolver as the SF-VI which has caused speculation that it stood for Short Frame Version One or Stainless Frame Version One.  In 1996 after all prior blued versions of the Detective Special was out of their inventory Colt re-christened the SF-VI the DS-II.  As with the SF-VI Colt never revealed the the meaning of the initials DS-II.  Many speculate that is means Detective Special II and that works for me.

This DS-II comes with the wrap around rubber grip which are not as large as they look and provide enough tacky feel to ensure a positive grasp of the handgun.  Recoil is not bad even with +P loads however, after about 100 rounds, I did feel the need for a little extra cushion and put on an old leather weight lifting glove.  

The trigger pull on this revolver is pretty darn good with a very smooth double action pull of just under 8 pounds and a single action pull of 4 pounds.  The sights are the standard ramped and serrated front sight with a wide rear notch on the top strap, just in front of the hammer.  

I warmed up with 18 rounds of American Eagle 125 grain FMJ at 21 feet.

I then put 32 rounds of the same ammo into this target at 30 feet.

I then got down to business with some defensive ammunition:

This target was shot  with 10 rounds of Federal Hydra-Shok 129 grain +P Jacketed Hollow Point ammo at 21 feet.

The target below was shot with 10 rounds of Federal Hydra-Shok 129 grain +P Jacketed Hollow Point ammo at 30 feet.

For those who question the revolver's place in today's battery of arms I have to admit that a revolver generally carries less ammunition then a semi-automatic pistol (usually nine rounds less). I will also concede that a double action trigger pull is not as easy to manage as a lighter semi-automatice that also has a shorter and faster reset.  However most citizen defensive encounters are fought at a very close range with only a few rounds actually fired.  Therefore 15 rounds with a competition grade trigger will not needed.

Here the DS-II rides in one of my favorite holsters from Classic Old West Styles ( 
I love the classic look of this holster which fits the DS-II like a glove.

Lastly I would remind everyone to respect the old man with a revolver...he probably knows how to use it.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Savage Model 1907 .32 ACP

The Model 1907 in .32 ACP was Savage's entry into the pocket pistol market.  The pistol was derived from their entry into the 1907 military trials to find the United State's first self loading, semi-automatic pistol in .45 caliber.  Savage produced 650 45 ACP pistols for the trials which the military returned after the trials were completed and the Colt entry was chosen.  Savage then sold them on the commercial market and if you can find one today you'll have a very valuable pistol.  Good luck finding one!

Savage felt that a scaled down pocket pistol would be a better seller than a large bore handgun so the .45 ACP model never made it into Savage's consumer catalogue.  One wonders how the .45 Savage would have been received if it was put into wide distribution, but one does not need to wonder how the 1907 .32 fared.  It was a hit and Savage ultimately produced 235,000 model 1907 pistols.  

The pistol had many interesting and unique features.

1. The circular knurled knob at the top is not a hammer as the model 1907 is a striker-fired pistol.  The knurled knob is actually a cocking indicator.  As pictured above the knob indicates that the pistol is not cocked.  If it was in the rearward position then the striker is cocked.

2. The slide rides inside the frame, as do the modern CZ pistols, rather than riding on top or outside of the frame.

3. As the slide rides inside the frame, little of the slide is left to grasp in order to rack the slide and charge the pistol.  To help that function Savage put large and well spaced cocking serrations on the slide to assist with its manipulation.

4. The magazine holds 10 rounds in a double stack configuration.  I'll bet you didn't realize that double stack magazine go all the way back to the early days of the last century.

5. The magazine release sits at the bottom of the front strap.  
One is supposed to be able to operate the release using your little finger.  This is a skill I have yet to acquire.

6. The safety lever swings up to make the pistol safe 

7.  The sights are small and representative of an era where shooting was done quickly without taking the time to obtain an ultra precise sight picture.

The 1907 field strips into 6 pieces:

1. Slide
2. Recoil Spring
3. Barrel
4. 10 Round Double Stack Magazine
5. Fire Control Mechanism
6. Frame 

The key to field stripping this pistol rests with the fire control mechanism.  You begin by removing the magazine and retracting the slide to its furthest rearward position. You then engage the safety to lock the slide back.  Then grasp the rear of the fire control mechanism (part #5 above) and twist it 90 degrees clockwise.  At that point you pull the mechanism out and the rest of the pistol can be pushed forward and off of the frame.  

The Savage 1907 has a great Art Nouveau appearance and I love the look of the checkered grips with Savage logo on them.

Shooting the 1907 was very pleasant.  The .32 ACP has a modicum of recoil but before we get to the targets I would remind you that the sights are minuscule at best and the pistol is over 100 years old.

The target above was shot with Remington FMJ ammo at 21 feet.  This is a pocket pistol designed for close quarter engagements hence, I did not fire it beyond the 7 yard marker. I would note that I only shot at the middle and top two diamonds.  The rounds in the southern hemisphere were shot at the equatorial target.  Still, for what this pistol is designed for, it would serve is purpose well.

This target was shot with defensive hollow-point ammunition.  PMC JHP ammo was used in shooting at the center section.  Of the two magazines of ammo used, there was one double feed with each magazine.  The bottom righthand diamond was shot at with Hornaday JHP cartridges.  They were a tad more accurate than the PMC and I had no reliability issues although I did not load and shoot a full magazine of the Hornaday fodder.

Another interesting facet surrounding this pistol is how Savage chose to market it.  They made a major play toward the women's market.  This is a segment that is still somewhat underserved today but Savage was playing on the fears present in the time period of 1910 - 1920.
Above is one of the many ads that Savage used to market the pistol to the female market.  This was the beginning of the highly industrialized era in American history.  In urban areas the women's husbands and fathers were typically working 12 hour shifts at a factory so they were not home much of the time.  Fear of burglaries and other criminal intrusions were used to sell this pistol.  The ad features the 1907's slogan "10 Shots Quick" and states that the pistol "Aims Easy as Pointing Your Finger" while asking "Are your little ones and property safe?"  The fear of threats towards your children is a powerful motivator.

Savage also used celebrity endorsements to great advantage.

In this ad Buffalo Bill Cody tells us that the Savage 1907 has now replaced his "old Army revolver".  The pistol is also referred to as "the Banisher of Burglar Fear".  Burglary is also featured in the ad below:

Former buffalo scout and legendary Western lawman "Bat" Masterson also endorsed the pistol with the ad repeating the "10 Shots Quick" slogan.

I think the Savage Model 1907 is an important historical pistol for it's innovative design and unique marketing program.  It was aimed at an urban market, targeted toward women, and utilized legends of the Western frontier to provide endorsements.  It also served to transition those who carried handguns away from their revolvers toward the self-charging, semi-automatic pistol.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Whisky Tango Firearms Deadpool Cerakoted Kimber Custom II

Whisky Tango Firearms (WTF) of Sarasota, Florida creates custom cerakote designs.  I think one of their most creative and probably popular designs has to be their Deadpool 1911.  If you aren't familiar with Marvel's Deadpool and the hit 2016 movie (rated R) by the same name then this review won't mean very much to you.

The WTF Deadpool pistol begins life as a full-sized Kimber Custom II 1911 in .45 ACP.  From there, Whisky Tango Firearms goes to work on it.  Their attention to detail is flawless.

Whisky Tango Firearms' Handiwork

The Deadpool character was a military trained marksman and mercenary.  The Kimber Custom II is capable of the accuracy that a marksman would require.
This target was fired at 21 feet with Remington 230 ball ammo.  Feeling that I would not be capable of replicating this shot, I stopped to preserve this target for posterity.

This target shows 21 rounds also fired at 21 feet.  

The above image shows 21 rounds at 30 feet.

And lastly we have 28 rounds at 45 feet.

And now for a really last look, here is 5 rounds at 15 feet at a business card size target.

I know there are a lot of Kimber-haters out there but this one was as accurate as anyone could want and ran through 150 rounds of the Remington ammo without any problems whatsoever.  Deadpool would be proud.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Taurus Spectrum .380 ACP--New for 2017

Taurus has announced that they will be producing a new micro-.380 ACP pistol for deep concealed carry.  Taurus has had modest success with their .380 model TCP 738.  The new Spectrum is much sleeker looking than their earlier model and bears a resemblance to the original Ruger LCP.  One thing that the Spectrum does have in common with the 738 is that both of them almost have sights.  

A pleasant feature of the Spectrum is that they will be produced in a plethora of color schemes.  Otherwise the pistol's specifications are exactly what you would imagine them to be:

  • 6 round magazine capacity with a 7 round extended magazine.
  • 2.8 inch barrel
  • An overall length of 5.2 inches
  • An unloaded weight of 10.2 ounces
  • A completely unnecessary internal lock
  • An MSRP of about $286.00
I would expect to see an in-shop retail of $250 or less.

Although we here at the Average Joe's Test and Evaluation laboratory don't have one to wring out it does not mean that we weren't doing important work on this pistol.  We spent a great deal of time coming up with names for each of the different color options Taurus has shown us.

This one is named "Sea Foam"

This option was a tie between "Feces" and "Chocolate Nougat" 

This one is "Monochrome Yawn"

"Mint Chocolate Chip"

And lastly another tie between "Snow and Asphalt" and "Stormtrooper" 

Taurus frequently gets a bad rap.  I have owned several and while all of them have been accurate and reliable, I am aware that this has not been the experience for a lot of people.  One of the problems for retailers may be due to the multiple colors.  Obviously not all of the colors are going to be popular and only time will tell which ones are going to move and which ones will sit on the shelf (I'm guessing "Feces").

I kind of think I want one.  Probably go with the "Stormtrooper".