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Working the slick lever on a rifle is just as enjoyable and even more affordable in rimfires. Whether bringing up the next generation of young hunters or merely punching holes in tin cans, rimfire lever-actions represent some good, clean, all-American fun. A quick flick of the wrist cycles the action on these six great buys in lever-driven rimfire rifles.Henry Golden Boy
Henry Repeating Arms has a reputation as one of the most patriotic of all current production lever-actions. The rimfire Golden Boy’s brass-lite receiver is immediately recognizable, and such a firearm is prized by experienced shooters and first-timers alike. If the flash of brass is not your taste, Henry produces Silver Boy rimfires, as well as dozens of special and limited editions.
In addition to the more common .22 S, L, and LR chambering, Henry also offers rimfires in both .17 HMR and .22 WMR. Prices online vary widely depending upon edition and options, from $425 to $899, with their standard classic blued lever-action rimfire available even cheaper.
One of the most underrated lever-action rimfire rifles comes from Browning. Their BL-22 is lightweight, fast-cycling, and uses a unique trigger system that travels with the lever. Standard models use a blued steel receiver, though upgraded variations show combinations of engraving, enhanced finishes, and classy wood.
Adjustable iron sights and a grooved receiver offer easy aiming options. Like most of the rimfires on this list, the BL-22 handles .22 S, L, and LR. Getting that golden Buckmark logo on a lever gun is not the cheapest in the business, but they are a classic. Prices online range from $549 to $899.
Known primarily as a budget bolt- or pump-action brand, Mossberg is seldom included in lever-action conversations. That’s a shame because even though the Mossberg Model 464 is not the company’s top seller, those lever-driven rifles have quietly landed in the hands of budget-conscious hunters and plinkers in both centerfire and rimfire.
The Model 464 chambered in .22 LR is one of the most affordable on the market. The standard 464 wears a black finish receiver, 18-inch barrel, straight grip walnut stock, and is drilled and tapped for scope mounting. A more tactically inspired 464 SPX wears a flash suppressor and sits in a synthetic stock with a six-position buttstock. Prices range from $299 to 399 online.
Springing from the wild fame of Winchester’s Model 94 family of lever-action rifles, the Model 9422 put rimfire rifles in the hands of adult and youth shooters alike. With models chambering .22 S, L, LR, and a .22 WMR variant, the 9422 works well for both hunters and backyard plinkers. With a straight grip stock, angled eject, and 20-inch barrel, the 9422 weighed in just a half-pound lighter than its full-sized centerfire lineage Model 94.
The 9422 is a takedown model, easily packed in halves with a single takedown screw. Pricing on the 9422s varies widely today, as the guns come in several finishes and variants. The initial run of 9422 ran from 1972 to 2005, with newer XTR models and a 9417 – a .17 HMR chambering– produced later in the run. Overall, the cost ranges online from $650 to $1,200.
One of the most respected lever-action rimfires is the original Marlin Model 39. Working that buttery lever-action on a well-balanced, old-fashioned rifle with rich color case hardening and a hand-fit finish is a true treat. These takedown rimfires are a gem to this day, held mostly in the hands of collectors. To find a legit, clean, collectible Model 39 today will easily tip the pocketbook over a grand.
Luckily, the Model 39 is more accessible today in its newer form, the 39A. Whether standard or Golden Mountie, the 39A ensured that vintage quality Marlin lever-action .22 caliber rimfires were available to a wider audience. Prices on clean Marlin Model 39A rifles range online from $550 to $725.
The post Go West: Lever-Action Rimfires for Cowboy Plinksters appeared first on Guns.com.
When John “Skinny” Clarke isn’t shooting a Single Action Shooting Society match, he functions as the editor-in-chief of The Cowboy Chronicle, a quarterly publication dedicated to the craft of cowboy action shooting, which he describes as “the most fun you can have at a match.” We sat down with him to get some tips on what it takes to be a speed shooter in the world of skinning smoke wagons, working levers, and blasting scatterguns.
One of the first things to do to become a faster SASS Shooter is to ditch the production parts in favor of third-party options. Similar to other styles of competitive shooting, a variety of third-party companies create specific parts to help competitors achieve their goals and shave off some time. Clarke listed Wolff Gunsprings and Lee Springs as some of the best offering drop-in kits.
Clarke also advises familiarizing yourself with the gun’s internals and recognizing when parts need replacing. Replacing production springs and removing small imperfections often make you faster.2. Get it “Slicked Up” Professionally
If the do-it-yourself treatment isn’t sufficient, the next step is to “slick it up.” This involves sending the gun to a reputable and trustworthy gunsmith, typically skilled in single-action revolvers. The gunsmith short strokes the gun hones the chambers and polishes everything to perfection. Clarke described Bob James, a well-recognized SASS gunsmith, and his ability to make a Colt SAA “feel just like glass, it’s that smooth.”3. Dry Fire Practice
* Make Sure All Guns Are Unloaded and All Live Ammunition is Out of the Room Before Dry-Fire Practice*
SASS is no different than USPSA or IDPA in terms of preparation through practice. Clarke’s favorite dry-fire drills are simple and easy to accomplish at home.
He suggests taping pie plates to a wall to practice drawing the handgun, aiming it at the plates, and pulling the trigger. Keep doing this, and you’ll get faster and faster on target. Clarke also suggests working on smooth draws and reholstering to cut down on time.
His second dry fire drill centers on loading and unloading shotguns. Shotguns always start empty during the competition, so practicing speedy loading will up your game. Milliseconds here and there pay big dividends.
Need extra cash for a SASS gun? We Buy Guns is the safest and easiest way to sell your used firearms online so clear out those safe queens and get something you’ll love to shoot.
The newest 9mm pistol installment from budget gunmaker Taurus, the G3c, brings an affordable 12+1 capacity subcompact to the carry market.
Announced last month, the G3c (c = compact) is a scaled-down version of the striker-fired Taurus G3 and uses a 3.2-inch barrel to achieve an overall 6.3-inch length. This is about an inch shorter than the company’s already popular third-generation of polymer-framed handguns, following in the wake of the G2 and PT111 Millennium Pro.
Weight of the G3c, unloaded, is billed as 22-ounces and we found that the gun, when stuffed with 13 rounds of 147-grain Federal Hydra-Shok JHP bulks up to 27.1-ounces. Height is 5.1-inches over the sights with the standard magazine inserted.How does it compare in size?
The Taurus G3c, when stacked against one of the most common carry pistols in the country, the 15+1 shot Glock 19, l is about an inch shorter and 4-ounces lighter. While it should be noted that the Glock 26 is closer in size to the new Brazilain budget contender, it can be pointed out that the aforementioned “Baby Glock” runs a smaller 10-round mag as standard. The 3Gc is more akin in size to the new FN 503 or the legacy Walther PPK and Star BM, although it should be pointed out that all three of those are single-stacks.
The elephant in the room, however, is how the G3c stands when facing off against the new breed of micro-compact 9mm pistols. On paper, the 18.3-ounce unloaded Springfield Armory Hellcat is slightly smaller, at 6-inches overall, while bringing an 11+1 flush fit mag along for the ride. The 17.8-ounce 10+1 Sig Sauer P365 is even more diminutive, with a 5.8-inch overall length. In short, the new Taurus is very close to that size envelope, but– and this is a big but– is priced at an MSRP of $305 (closer at the $250ish range at retailers) while the P365 and Hellcat both run at least a couple hundo more.Brazilain via Bainbridge
While nobody is hiding the fact that Taurus is located in Brazil, where they have been making firearms since 1939, the company has been exporting guns to the U.S. for generations and has been expanding its operations in the States in recent years. In 2018, the company announced a $22.5 million investment in a new 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Bainbridge, Georgia. Since then, Taurus, who also owns brands Rossi and Heritage, has successfully stood up the new factory and is producing guns with a Bainbridge rollmark.Mechanics
The Taurus G3c has three safeties including a Glock-style trigger insert, an internal striker/firing pin block, and a frame-mounted manual safety– the latter a source of frustration for some and a key feature for others.
The standard 12-shot mags are not new to the gun, being the same ones that Taurus introduced with the PT111 Mil-Pro back in the day. The company also stresses their 15- and 17-round mags, marketed for the larger G3, work in the pistol as well.
When it comes to sights, the G3c has moved from their previously-used 3-dot design to a blacked-out rear and single front. The sights are metal and the dovetail accepts most standard Glock-pattern replacements, making them an easy upgrade.Ergonomics
The G3c’s grip module has a series of six amoeba-shaped bottlecap-sized texture pads that have a decent grip without demanding too much of your hide in exchange. The slide uses shallow forward-slanted front and deeper rear serrations while the surface controls are oriented for a right-handed shooter, although the mag release is reversible for those who swing that way.
The trigger of the G3c, perhaps the line’s best asset, has a flatter face and shorter reset than on the company’s earlier semi-auto striker-fired guns. Also, it has a second-strike capability without having to cycle the slide, a useful feature in the hopefully rare event of a misfire or light primer strike. It should be noted though that this changes the firing system from single-action into double-action.
In terms of weight, we found our test gun to break at just shy of 5-pounds normally and 6.5 on a second strike without cycling. It has a long trigger pull but a short reset.
How does it shoot and carry? We are working on that so stay tuned.
The post 12+1 $300 Subcompact: A Closer Look at the New Taurus G3c appeared first on Guns.com.
With the National Shooting Sports Foundation reporting millions of new gun owners flooding gun stores to make their first buys, I wanted some perspective on what would make a former gun control activist suddenly pro-2A. I headed to Instagram, asking my followers to help me track down new gun owners who might be willing to talk. Later that day, I received the following email from a reader who wished to remain anonymous.
The letter has been edited for conciseness and clarity, but, at its core, begs the question: left or right, what would you do to protect your family amid a crisis?
I saw your prompt on Instagram and I thought I’d write in a perspective that might be unique.
I grew up in New York, about 40 minutes away from New York City, as a second-generation Korean American in a largely white community. As you are likely well-aware, New York has some of the most restrictive laws against firearm ownership, and no one I knew personally owned guns or shotguns. I had a neighbor who would shoot off guns sometimes on his property, probably for plinking, and the sound was enough for me to run inside and stay clear of his property as a child.
That being said, while growing up, I remember developing an interest in firearms and learned how pistols/bolt-action rifles worked. They were marvels of engineering, and I had a curiosity to learn more. I remember signing up for some gun magazine and receiving it in the mail. My parents reacted very poorly to the sight of a magazine with a gun on the cover. This was maybe four years after Columbine had taken place, so I think I can understand the gut reaction. Thus, despite my curiosity, I think the way my parents reacted and the environment I was brought up in, trained me to suppress any interest in guns for fear of being labeled a threat.
I was in college when the Virginia Tech shooting happened, and I watched the news in horror as someone who looked like me was committing atrocious acts right on TV. I was so angry and ashamed that an Asian person could act that way, and, because of that, I railed against the idea of anyone having guns and signed some petitions for stronger gun control laws. After all, we had strict gun laws where I grew up, and I hadn’t heard of a single mass shooting in New York. Hidden within my actions, however, I think there was still that underlying desire to not be labeled a threat because I felt that looking different from the majority and being compared to that monster was a very dangerous position to be in.
My first time shooting an actual gun was when I was in graduate school in Maryland. It was for my birthday, and I was on a journey of trying things I had never tried before… It seemed that mass shootings and school shootings were occurring with increasing frequency, and I was positive that I was correct that we needed to do something to limit the availability of guns in America. I felt emboldened that the media and seemingly everyone I hung out with felt the same way. I marched with Everytown’s March for Our Lives. I proudly voted for political candidates who were anti-gun.
This changed when COVID-19 hit. I felt the charged looks and the wide berth that people were giving me when I wore a mask before our governor said it was required. I would have understood that and chalked it up to ignorance, but then there were thousands of reports of discrimination, some violent, against Asians throughout the United States. I thought about how easily I could become a victim of one of these incidents and how I could make it home to my beautiful newborn baby boy and my wife if I were attacked. I concluded that one of the most effective ways was a force multiplier, like a gun.
I started researching how to buy a gun, how to safely store a gun, what kind of gun to get, which caliber, and more. It was while researching this that I learned about what the point of the Second Amendment was. I never learned this in school…I learned about Supreme Court cases like Warren vs. DC or Castle Rock vs. Gonzales, which decided that police have no duty to protect the public. I learned about how some gun stats were misleading in the way that groups like Everytown had presented them. All this reinforced the concept that no one is responsible for the safety of yourself and your loved ones, but you.
Once I was somewhat sure of what I wanted, a [Sig Sauer] P320 full-size in 9mm, I brought my findings to my wife, who was, and still is, anti-gun. I made clear why I felt we needed one and what steps I would take to make sure that the gun would be out of reach from our son. It felt like what swayed her the most in coming to terms with a gun being in the house was the fact that I took so much time to research and how much I thought about safety. That, along with the argument that if things ever got really bad, did we really want to be without one?
Thus, with my wife’s blessing, I bought the gun from Guns.com and picked it up at a local FFL, fully realizing that I was at the beginning of a journey. The P320 I got was for home defense, I had no delusions that it was going to be something that I could comfortably carry for personal protection… I am okay with not being able to carry a weapon concealed right now as I am still working from home, but what happens when this is over?
I think this is a long-winded way of saying – yes, I am a hypocrite. In wanting to fit in and not call attention to myself, I advocated against guns and the people who own them, and in doing so, I realize that I helped make myself and those I advocated against defenseless. With the laws and conditions in this country being what they are, how can I vote for someone that would take away or severely limit the most effective tool for individuals to protect themselves?”
The post Letter to the Editor: Former Gun Control Activist Turned Gun Owner appeared first on Guns.com.
John Clarke acts as editor-in-chief of The Cowboy Chronicle, a quarterly publication dedicated to the Single Action Shooting Society. Operating under the stage name, “Skinny,” on and off the range, he dedicates his time and energy to SASS.
Founded on the guns of the Old West, SASS brings a sense of entertainment to the sport with costumes and stage names, to boot. Guns.com caught up with Skinny as he showed us his guns and demonstrated some SASS style.Ruger Vaqueros Chambered in .38/.357 The Rifle: Stainless Steel 1894 Marlin Chambered in .38/.357 The Shotgun: Stoeger Coach Gun in 12 Gauge The Ammo: .38 Spl in Diamond K Brass and Badman Bullets The Ammo: Claybusters WAA12R (Winchester)
Want your own SASS gun but can’t afford one yet? We Buy Guns is the safest and easiest way to sell your used firearms online.
Gather round and hear a tale of an extremely rare .223-caliber AK-style semi-auto rifle that was only imported for a single, controversial year.
With the U.S. appetite for Kalashnikovs initially whet by the early shipments first of Finnish Valmets and then of Steyr-imported Egyptian Maddi ARM rifles, by the time Red Dawn hit theatres in 1984, the hunger had grown to omnivorous proportions. The problem was, the Valmets and Maddis were expensive at the time, running $700 and up in 1985 dollars.
With Valmets trimmed from import in 1986 by the Reagan Administration and Steyr no longer bringing in Maddis, eyes turned to Bejing and a variety of Chinese-made semi-auto Type 56 AKM-style clones, marketed under banners ranging from B-West, Poly-Tech, Clayco, Norinco and others, started to flow into the country around the same time. Largely new-in-box production and meant just for the overseas market, the only tweak done before clearing customs in the U.S. was to gain an import mark. Seen as something of the Rodney Dangerfield of the AK offerings at the time, these guns could be had for under $400.
China Sports, Inc.– located in Ontario, California of all places– introduced a couple of new Norincos to the market in late 1988, notably chambered in calibers other than the traditional AK 7.62x39mm. This included the 5.45x39mm Type 88 and the Type 84S AKS in .223 Remington. The Type 84S was to ship to FFLs in one of four variants: a standard fixed wood stock model, the 84S-1 with an underfolding stock, the 84S-3 with a composite fixed stock, and the 84S-5 with a side-folding metal stock, with the last three only imported in 1989.
The rifles, typically made at State Factory 66, all used a 16.34-inch barrel and a birdcage-style flash hider shipping complete with 30-round mags, a buttstock cleaning kit, and a “spiker” bayonet.
The metal Norinco Type 84 factory .223/5.56 ribbed magazines are extremely hard-to-find these days, with prices topping out as high as $200 per mag. A popular hack for Type 84 owners who like to shoot is to mod more commonly available polymer Bulgarian Circle 10 or Pro-Mag 5.56 Kalash mags to fit– but of course, your mileage may vary.
Then the bottom fell out of the import semi-auto rifle game after the President Bush-era Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in July 1989 dropped the hammer on bringing in 43 types of popular firearms by name, ranging from UZIs to the enduring Valmet Hunter, with the Chinese AKs included. This shut the door on the Type 84. Subsequent bans on Chinese-made firearms in 1994 kept it shut.
Today, of course, Bulgarian, Romanian, and Yugoslav-built Arsenals, Cugirs, and Zastavas are available in .223/5.56 while several domestic AK builders also crank out their versions in the same chambering. But they just aren’t the short-lived and, now very collectible, Norinco Type 84S.
If you like interesting guns like the Type 84 with a neat history behind them, head on over to the carefully-curated selection of firearms in our Military Classics and Collector’s Corner sections and see if you find anything that is the bee’s knees.
Have an old Norinco or something similar that you aren’t a fan of any more? Let us make you an offer!
The post 1989 Time Machine: The Rarely-Seen Norinco Type 84S in .223 appeared first on Guns.com.
Few guns define a nation like the Winchester 1873. A fine piece of American-made steel and walnut granted repeatable firepower to the hearty souls venturing westward – not to mention hunters, outlaws, and lawmen across the nation. The Model of 1873 remains an iconic rifle today and one that belongs on every shooter’s must-own list. Here’s why.About the Winchester 1873
Over 720,000 Winchester Model 1873s were produced from the years 1873 through 1919. Oliver Winchester’s patents and works owe heavily to earlier repeating rifle designs from Benjamin Tyler Henry of Henry rifle fame and the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company with its ties to Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. At its core, the Winchester Model 1873 is a lever-action, toggle-link design that fires metallic centerfire cartridges.
Factory production rifles came most commonly with a full magazine tube, blued finish, sliding dustcover, brass cartridge lifter, crescent-shaped buttplate, and straight-grain walnut stocks. Interestingly, the first Model 1873s used an iron receiver until 1884, when the transition to steel receivers took effect.
The Model 1873 was originally chambered in the most common centerfire metallic round of the day—the .44 Winchester Center Fire, or as it is more commonly known today, the .44-40 Win. That was followed in 1879 by a .38 WCF, or .38-40 Win, chambering. Then the .32 WCF, or .32-20 Win, came in 1882, as cowpokes, gunslingers, and hunters often opted to carry both a long gun and revolver in the same chambering. Fewer shooters and collectors know that Winchester also offered the 1873 in the first rimfire repeater of its time, as the Winchester 1873 was chambered for both .22 Short and .22 Long rimfires, which made a short run beginning in 1884.
Mainline factory production centered around three major Model 1873 variations, the most common being the 24-inch barreled rifle. There was also a 20-inch barreled carbine and a 30-inch “musket,” which is the rarest of the gang. Though most any Winchester 1873 in decent condition today makes an excellent addition to any collection, those with either special provenance or with custom factory options get top billing. Winchester Repeating Arms, for a fee, customized the Model 1873 for the customer. A few features included altering barrel lengths and shapes, adding set triggers, engraving, special finishes, stock checkering, magazine tube alterations, among many other deluxe offerings.Researching Your Model 1873
For those wishing to study the many variations and special-order intricacies of the 1873, there have been many books written specifically on this gun. It would be impossible to go into such detail here, but aside from what we’ve already listed, the Model 1873 breaks down by First, Second, and Third Model 1873.
The serial number, located on the lower tang just aft of the lever, will be the leading indicator of the first, second, or third model. Becoming familiar with the features, serial number date ranges, and model variants are especially important when buying and valuing your Winchester 1873. Numerous collector books and websites will help clarify. One of the best sources, however, will always be the Winchester Arms Collectors Association.
A direct source of original information can be obtained by contacting the Winchester records department at the Cody Firearms Museum in Cody, Wyoming. The CFM houses Winchester’s original, handwritten factory records and is a surefire way to get the most accurate –and often interesting—story of your individual Model 1873. In addition, having a factory letter only further enhances the historical and monetary value of the piece.
How do we know with absolute certainty that the Model 1873 is still loved today? Nearly every reproduction company builds modern versions of the 1873 lever-action. Think Cimarron, Uberti, Taylor Co, Navy Arms, and even Winchester offer a version of the long gun. All of these are boomingly popular with cowboy action shooters, western re-enactors, and firearms aficionados alike.
One major caveat between the originals and many reproductions centers on the strength of action. Though Winchester’s toggle link of the original 1873 was groundbreaking at the time, it was not designed to withstand the pressures of some of today’s modern “hot” ammunitions.
Few things in life are finer than taking up a true survivor Winchester 1873 with the patina of walnut and handled steel, wondering what stories it has to tell, the places it’s been, and the history it holds. The fact that these original lever-actions are not only still in existence, but in fine, fireable condition nearly 150-years later speaks to the brilliance of the design, quality of the build, and legacy of this fine American firearm.
The post A Primer on the Gun that Won the West: Winchester 1873 appeared first on Guns.com.
Last week we explored the origins and evolution of the Sig Sauer P365. Today, we’re taking a look at the gun industry’s response to the pistol.
The gun industry did not immediately welcome Sig Sauer’s P365 design. The release of the P365 was punctuated by a flurry of bad press, extremely negative YouTube reviews, and general skepticism over the gun.
The platform faced a particular backlash from fans of other polymer-framed pistols like Glock and Smith & Wesson. Sig Sauer’s Phil Strader, who aptly describes his job as “market disruption,” recalled the circus surrounding the release with a degree of humor.
“The initial P365 rollout was about 1,100 guns. We saw the videos and the problems, but there was only something like 15 guns that came back for warranty work involving the slide lockup and a heat treat problem on the striker. So much noise for just a small handful of real problems,” Strader said.
He added, “The P365 had a target on its back from the start and the problems were completely blown out of proportion. The real issue wasn’t the striker or lockup; it was the underlying cause of primer drag due to how fast the unlocking speed on the gun was. It is the fastest unlocking speed in the industry. Spring weights and some very minor tweaks were made and that was the end of it.”
The P365’s 10+1 standard capacity, extremely compact size, superb reliability, and accuracy proved to be a formidable force; but that didn’t stop competitors from testing the waters with their own designs. The first of these to come out swinging was Glock with the G43X and G48. The pistols turned heads at first, but then became something of a puzzling anomaly. They were not cross-generation compatible with the popular G43, and they took different magazines. They were also substantially larger than both the G43 and the P365. The models were actually closer in size to the popular G19, despite the same capacity as the P365. The G43X and G48 seemed a strange introduction for a company that had otherwise dominated the carry market.
Next came Springfield Armory with the Hellcat — a direct attack on the new market established by its rival Sig. The Hellcat debuted to fanfare thanks to its 12-round standard capacity in a compact size. Despite its popularity, though, the Hellcat didn’t have any real impact on P365 sales. At the time the Hellcat was released, the P365 was outselling most other pistols in America.
When asked if Sig Sauer had concerns over competitors taking a stab at the single-stack, mid-capacity realm, Sig Sauer seemed unfazed.
“Copies don’t really worry me,” Strader confidently stated. “When new designs come out, it is appreciated that Sig reset the bar.”The Modern Classic
The P365 is a true modern classic. Its merits alone are placing it in the holsters of first-timers and professionals alike. Kyle Lamb, a name that readers here will surely recognize as a 21-year Delta guy and founder of Viking Tactics, finds the P365 to be, simply, a great gun.
“There has always been a level of jealousy in the industry. I carried a Shield– and it is still a great gun- but the P365 has more rounds and is just as easy to shoot. The P365, for what you get in that package, is amazing. The out-of-the-box accuracy is unmatched. It’s better than many full-size guns which is just flat out impressive. This is the gun I carry; it just has very few, if any, true shortcomings.”
We tend to recognize the game changers for what they are. When we think of a revolver, we think of Colt. Not that Smith & Wesson is inferior in any way, but the Colt Single-Action Army prominently wrote the formative years of American culture and identity. In our own era, it takes an outstanding product, and a brave company to make something that generates its very own genre.
The P365 comes to us as the product of excellent and advanced engineering. Still, it could not exist if not for the advances in 9mm ammunition, a growing and diverse self-defense market, and the increasing need for modularity.
Sig Sauer’s P365 will surely stand out as one pistol that truly modernized the carry gun.
Missed part one of this two-part article series? Head here to catch up.
The post The Game Changer: The Industry’s Response to the Sig Sauer P365 appeared first on Guns.com.
An obscure product of the 1920s, the German-made Ortgies pistol is an interesting design that never really caught on– except with collectors.
German merchant Henrich Ortgies (pronounced Ort-geese) took out at least 11 patents for his self-loading pistols, designs reportedly purchased from former FN and future Walther employee Karl August Brauning. The guns, pocketable semi-autos in .25 ACP, .32 ACP and .380, were first offered under the Ortgies banner in small numbers just after World War I ended and then, around 1920, the brand and patents were sold to government-subsidized Deutsche Werke A. G. who kept marketing for as long as they could.
DW-made Ortgies was produced in two formats, a 6+1 vest-pocket version in .25 ACP with a fixed 2.75-inch barrel, and a pocket model in either .32 ACP (8+1) or .380 (7+1) with a similarly fixed 3.25-inch barrel. Both models used simple fixed sights and wooden grip panels, although the markings and panel medallions varied widely across production with Ed Buffaloe over at the Unblinking Eye cataloging at least six different generations.
Branded with “Ortgies’ Patent” Deutsche Werke produced these guns in Erfurt and Berlin as contemporaries of the FN (Browning) pocket models such as the 1900 and 1910, which were very popular on the global market at the time for both personal protection and police use as well as, in some countries, as a sidearm for military officers.
It is believed that upwards of 250,000 DW-made Ortgies-patent pistols were made in a very short time, with the bulk of them sold overseas. The company was forced to halt production due to stipulations required by the Interallied Military Commission, who governed German arms factories during the Weimar-era occupation after World War I.
These guns were widespread enough in America that author J. D. Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame included an Ortiges pistol in his 1948 short story, A Perfect Day for Bananafish. Meanwhile, the gun has popped up in several movies to include the George A. Romero classic Dawn of the Dead.
In more recent times, it, along with a whole catalog of period European pistols, has found a lot of on-screen time in the German 1920s noir crime series, Babylon Berlin, which has been burning up Netflix in its English dub.
Out of production for nearly a century, Ortigies pistols are simple but have a reputation of being well-made and reliable. Further, compared to other German-made handguns of its era, they tend to cost less than a Luger, Mauser, or Walther, which have kept them collectible, regardless of your feelings for bananafish.
If you like interesting guns like the Ortigies with a neat history behind them, head on over to the carefully-curated selection of firearms in our Military Classics and Collector’s Corner sections and see if you find anything that is the bee’s knees.
Have an Ortigies or something similar that you aren’t a fan of any more? Let us make you an offer!
The post Bananafish & Babylon Berlin Vibe Check: The Ortgies Pistol appeared first on Guns.com.
A loose coalition of gun control groups cried victory with a full-throated roar on Tuesday, claiming that Subway banned open carry due to their efforts.
Sparked by images of individuals openly carrying firearms and an inert AT-4 anti-armor weapon in a North Carolina Subway restaurant in May, a number of small anti-gun organizations to include the Newtown Action Alliance and Guns Down America called on the sandwich chain to ban the practice.
Falling somewhat short of a prohibition, Subway subtly changed their social responsibility policy to include a request that “guests (other than authorized law enforcement) refrain from openly displaying firearms inside restaurants — even in states where ‘open carry’ is permitted.”
This led to ecstatic statements from the gun control groups involved, who had applied pressure on Subway through an online petition and a letter signed by two Democratic U.S. Senators in Connecticut who have previously signed on to just about every anti-gun proposal in the chamber for the past decade. The petition garnered 43,000 supporters or about 0.01 percent of the estimated U.S. population.
“I’m so proud of Subway for doing the right thing and working to keep their customers safe from the dangers of unnecessary guns in their restaurants,” said Alyssa Milano, Board Advisor of Newtown Action Alliance.
How is the change going to impact the company?
The National Shooting Sports Foundation pointed out this month on the issue, “Millions of Americans have become more concerned with their safety and the safety of the families leading them to vote with their wallets at the gun retail counter. Surveys have shown there are nearly 2.4 million new first-time firearm owners in America in the recent surge.”AT-4?
As for the single-use AT-4 recoilless rifle, they are widely available for about $250 cash and carry without regulation. They make neat man-cave decor, but odds are no one is going to hold up a liquor store with one and, as the rockets that feed them are unobtainium, they are only mildly dangerous if used as a club. However, when billed as a “bazooka” or “rocket launcher” they always make big news when sold to police agencies during “buybacks,” often featured front and center as something of a Potemkin village tactic to show how well such controversial programs work.
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Some guns are fancy collector pieces, too nice or historically important to take afield with regularity. Others are shooters built for hard use but lacking class and unlikely to be remembered in a hundred years.
In the world of lever-actions, there are five that reach across all categories. Grab one of these timeless lever-actions for a gun that can hunt all season long, hold a spot in the safe, and pass to the next generation.Savage 99
One of the most instantly recognizable lever-action rifles is the Savage Model 99. The Model 99’s internal rotary magazine improved upon the standard tubular magazine used on earlier lever guns. A brass round counter set in the receiver was just one of the unique touches.
Calibers like the .300 Savage and .250-300 Savage brought new speed, and longer hunting ranges to the lever gun market, though the Savage 99 was produced in cool calibers from .22 High Power through .375 Winchester. Many Model 99s not only survive to this day but make their way to the hunting woods each Fall as a reminder of both the quality and longevity of the design. It’s safe to say that any hunter who’s had the pleasure of harvesting game with an old 99 would love to see that design return to production.
The Winchester Model 94 has been one of the longest-lasting and most well-respected lever-action rifles ever produced. Calibers like the .30-30 Win and .32 Win Special are certainly the most common chamberings, though the 94 has been offered in many others over the years, including .375 Win, .44 Mag, and even a .410 bore shotgun.
Springing from John Browning’s Model 1894 design, the 94 has surely accounted for more meat in the freezer than most any other lever gun, due to the length of its production run, which continues today. While any Model 94 will get the job done, it’s hard not to love the earlier pre-1964 models for their collectability as well as stellar quality. For an old-school hunting experience, seek out either a new or used Winchester 94 and relive past hunting days.
Affordability meets reliability in the budget-friendly Marlin Model 336. While the .30-30 Win is the most common chambering, the 336 is offered in the brush-busting .35 Rem caliber.
Barrel lengths are most often either 20- or 24-inches. For hunters seeking greater stopping power when hunting bigger game, stepping up to the similarly designed Marlin Model 1895 chambered in .45-70 Govt is ideal. Though the original Marlin brand sold in 2010, production continues under the Remington Outdoors Family of Brands.
Few guns stir all-American pride like the “Made in America or Not Made at All” Henry Repeating Arms rifles. The best-seller among hunters? The Henry Big Boy centerfire lever-action rifles. There’s something for every taste in the Big Boy lineup, with blued steel, silver, color case hardened, and high polish brass receiver options. The Big Boy is available in calibers traditionally viewed as handgun rounds, with maximized performance in both carbine and rifle lengths: .357 Mag, .44 Mag, .45 Colt, .41 Mag, and even.327 Fed Mag.
The 16.5- or 20-inch octagon barrel is topped with semi-buckhorn sights, though scopes are easily mounted as well. Those seeking something different and even more durable will appreciate the All-Weather Big Boy with its hard chrome finish and weather-resistant black-coated stocks or the newer X-Model with tactical features like a threaded barrel, fiber optic sights, and black synthetic M-Lok stocks.
While most lever-actions are fed by internal magazines, the Browning BLR made magazine-fed lever guns a legit contender. With a five-round detachable box magazine, the BLR made it safe and easy to chamber the rifles for pointed or tipped projectiles, opening the door to heavier magnum rounds, including some of the WSM’s.
Browning BLR production began in the 1960s and continues to this day with over 15 chamberings suited for hunters. The BLR uses a slightly different design than its earlier lever predecessors, with a rack-and-pinion driven system and a trigger that travels with the lever. Browning BLR rifles have harvested big game all over the world and look as good in the woods as they do in the safe.
While Browning was first to the punch with longer-range, magazine-fed lever-action rifles, Henry Repeating Arms jumped in with both feet. The Henry Long Ranger is available in four chamberings: .223 Rem/5.56 NATO, .243 Win, .308 Win, and 6.5 Creedmoor and is capable of handling everything from varmints to big game.
Barrel lengths include 20- and 22-inches, and all barrels are free-floated. The geared action uses a six-lug rotary bolt, and like other Henry firearms, are made in America of US-components, including beautiful American Walnut stocks. There are several Long Ranger model variants, some with iron sights and others with sweet engraving and inlay like the Wildlife Editions.
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Famed American singer-songwriter and frequently outspoken Second Amendment advocate Charlie Daniels passed away in Nashville on Monday at age 83.
Daniels, perhaps best known for iconic country music hits such as The Devil Went Down to Georgia which highlights a David-and-Goliath fiddle contest between the Devil and a talented young man, was a Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry member.
“Daniels parlayed his passion for music into a multi-platinum career and a platform to support the military, underprivileged children, and others in need,” noted his official homepage this week, going on to say the entertainer “helped to shine the spotlight on the many causes that are close to his heart.”
One of those causes was gun rights.
A lifetime member of the National Rifle Association, Daniels frequently attended and performed at the member association’s annual meetings and appeared in spots for the group, speaking out on American ideals in his own way, famously hitting out at Iran during the Obama administration.
Daniels was also profiled by the NRA’s All-Access program on the Outdoor Channel in 2015 where he spoke out on his support of the military and gun ownership.
A frequent participant in USO tours for troops overseas, Daniels has increasingly popped up overseas in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, resulting in earning the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for exceptional public service. Previous to that, songs such as 1982’s Still in Saigon helped shine an early light on overlooked problems such as PTSD for Veterans.
In 2014, he co-founded The Journey Home Project to help Veterans of the Armed Forces return, rehabilitate and reintegrate from their time in the Service.
A post on his social media page, which has over a million followers, requests that, in lieu of flowers, fans send donations to TJHP.
We will be making arrangements soon, but in lieu of flowers, please donate to Charlie's charity, @TJHproject, whose goal is to assist vets adjust to civilian life. Almost everyday CD tweeted that 22 vets commit suicide a day. Support TJHP here: https://t.co/eR9DFOQn1u -TeamCDB/BW pic.twitter.com/pIpafGPqlj
— Charlie Daniels (@CharlieDaniels) July 7, 2020
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Some 70 years ago this month, the first U.S. combat troops were rushed to the aid of embattled South Korea, beginning what is often referred to as the “Forgotten War.”
The Soviet- and Communist Chinese-allied North Korean forces invaded their neighbor to the south on what that dictatorship deemed the “Fatherland Liberation War” on June 25, 1950, crossing the 38th Parallel. By July 2, the initial U.S. troops, that of the ill-fated Task Force Smith, had landed in South Korea, flown in from nearby Japan. Within days they were involved in the Battle of Osan and for the next three years fought a see-saw campaign with, first the North Korean Army, and then upwards of 3 million Chinese “volunteers” who were supported by Soviet aid.
In all, more than 1.7 million U.S. troops would fight to keep South Korea free, with over 50,000 paying the highest price.
As the Korean War began a half-decade after the end of World War II, it is easy to just shrug and say that the U.S. Army and Marine troops who fought in the conflict were armed with the same gear they carried on D-Day and at Iwo Jima. Well, yes and no.
The M1 Garand, standard rifle of the U.S Army from 1937 and the Marines from 1942, continued to see front-line service in Korea. A gas-operated semi-auto chambered in .30-06, the Garand was fed by an 8-round en-bloc clip that was inserted into the action wholly, with the clip itself ejecting when the magazine was empty with a famous “ping.” Standard GI from Normandy to Okinawa, the Garand was heavy, at about 9.5-pounds, but reliable.
While Uncle Sam had millions of Garands on-hand after peace broke out in 1945, dwindling numbers resulted in new contracts issued during the Korean War to International Harvester and Harrington & Richardson to produce a further 1.5 million M1s.
Notably, both the Army and Marines shifted from M1903A4 bolt action sniper rifles, a staple of WWII, to accurized Garand precision rifles complete with side-mounted optics (to allow the clip to be top-loaded), cheek pads, and distinctive flash hiders. These guns, the M1C and M1D depending on scope mount and muzzle device, were largely unique to the Korean War as they were developed too late in WWII to see much service and saw only limited use in Vietnam.
Often seen in a supporting role in the conflict was the WWII “war baby” M1 Carbine. A smaller weapon than the M1 Garand, the little Carbine was chambered in a mid-sized .30-caliber round and used 15- and 30-round detachable magazines. A select-fire version, the M2, was also available although less frequently encountered.
One of the most interesting small arms fielded by the U.S. and their allies in the Korea War was the M3 Carbine, a select-fire M1 that was fitted with an infrared sniper scope, useful in night engagements.
When it came to submachine guns, the Korean War was in many ways the golden era of sub-gun conflict with U.S. forces, particularly tank crews, carrying the M3 Grease Gun while allied forces used a range of guns including Patchetts, Owens, and M1/M1928 Thompsons. On the other side, they faced off against Soviet-supplied PPsh-41 and PPS “burp guns” as well as Chinese-supplied select-fire Broomhandle Mausers and the occasional Tommy gun delivered to the old Chinese government via Lend-Lease in WWII.
The last line of personal defense when it came to firearms was the familiar GI .45, which had been with America’s fighting men since 1911, through two world wars.The Allies
Make no mistake about the conflict, while the U.S. did a lot of the heavy lifting, the South Korean, or more appropriately, the Republic of Korean military provided the most boots on the ground in what was a brutal civil war in many cases. Likewise, they suffered enormous casualties, approaching 400,000 killed and missing. Formed in 1948 as a constabulary force with U.S. assistance, the ROK Army by the end of the Korean War stood nearly 600,000-strong and continues today to be one of the largest and best-equipped military forces in the world.
Over 21 countries contributed troops to the conflict to keep South Korea free, led by the British which had some 80,000 personnel who served on the Korean Peninsula. The typical British, Australian, and Canadian troops, as well as some European allies such as the Belgian battalion, showed up in Korea with WWII standards, such as the Enfield .303-caliber bolt-action magazine rifle, and BREN light machine gun.
Other allies such as Dutch, French, Ethiopian, Greek, and Turkish troops looked much like U.S. troops due to post-WWII military aid. Even the tiny country of Luxembourg did their part.
Today, the Korean War Veterans Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., dedicated in 1995, has 19 stainless steel statues representing U.S. troops from the Army, Marines, Navy, and Air Force. Rightfully, they are a mix of races and are portrayed with a variety of small arms including M1 Garands, M1 Carbines, BARs, and light machine guns.Want to know more?
For more information on the Korean War, there are a number of free books and publications available through the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center as well as the Navy History and Heritage Command and the Marine Corps History Division. Additionally, the Army has set up a new commemorative website with photos and art as well as other documents related to the conflict. For those homeschooling or just curious about their knowledge of the Korean War, there is also a quiz.
If you are interested in history, head on over to our Military Classics section, where historic arms are just a click away.
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Since 1992 Sharp Shooters in Lubbock, Texas has served its fine citizens with all their firearms needs — be it hunting, self-defense, or storage. With a vast selection of guns available and friendly customer service, Sharp Shooters has become a staple in Lubbock.
Guns.com caught up with Zane Wagner, who runs the social media and online sales for Sharp Shooters Safe & Gun, to learn more about Sharp Shooters and how Guns.com helps boost online sales.
Guns.com: What makes Sharp Shooters unique as a gun store?
Wagner: We’re the largest privately-owned gun store between Dallas and Denver. We’re 8,000 square feet and typically we’ve got over 3,000 firearms in stock at a time.
Guns.com: What would your customers say they love most about your shop?
Wagner: I think people really like that we offer a big selection in a small, friendly environment. People like coming in here because they know our names and we know their names. Even though we’re a big store, we still have customer service.
Guns.com: How many people work there?
Wagner: There’s about 10 of us that work in the shop.
Guns.com: What do you like about working with Guns.com?
Wagner: It’s really made a streamlined process of being able to sell online, which is really nice. It allows me to get a different revenue stream coming in for Sharp Shooters — we get more of a customer base that maybe we wouldn’t be able to reach here in Lubbock.
Guns.com: Do you find the people who are buying online are local to Texas or are you doing more out-of-state transfers?
Wagner: We have a mix. I’ve shipped a lot of guns out to Dallas, Austin, and some of the more major metropolitan areas in Texas. I also send a lot out to different states like Florida and the Carolinas.
Guns.com: Do you think most Texans prefer to buy from local gun shops?
Wagner: I think there’s definitely a benefit of buying locally — being able to go [into the shop.] I think a lot of Texans do prefer that.
Guns.com: Last question, a little abstract, why do you think Texans love guns so much?
Wagner: I think it has always just been a part of the culture. When you think of Texas, I think people think of guns and the Wild West.
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While the Georgia-based company will keep making Gen 3 guns for the California market, the Gen 4 is going away in lieu of newer Gen 5 Glocks in some calibers.
The iconic polymer pistol maker announced that fundamentally the 5th Generation guns will be the standard moving forward on their 9mm and .40S&W offerings. First introduced with G17 and G19 9mm variants in 2017, the Gen 5 guns feature a reversible magazine catch and ambidextrous slide stop lever, Glock’s new Marksman Barrel (GMB), and an enhanced trigger system, as well as front slide serrations on some models.
Since then, the Glock 26 and Glock 34 MOS were brought up to the new Gen 5 standard while new guns like the G19X, G45, and G44 arrived on the market already at the benchmark. Increasingly for both military and law enforcement contracts, the Gen 5 guns are getting the nod.
However, 10mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and .45 GAP-chambered Glock models were seemingly stuck in time at the older generations. With that being said, Glock says they will be bringing their .40 S&W pistol variants into the Gen 5 pool beginning in October while closing the door on the production of some of their legacy Gen 4 guns.
“While we will continue to support fielded Gen4 pistols and agencies with Gen4 models, we have stopped 9×19 and .40 caliber Gen4 productions for the U.S. commercial market,” said the company in a statement. “We look forward to bringing the performance improvements of the Gen5 technologies to other areas of product development.”
The Gen 4 was originally launched in 2010. Continuing the finger grooves trend as seen on the previously introduced Gen 3 guns, it had improved texturing and a better trigger, as well as a host of smaller internal changes.
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Democrats on Capitol Hill have introduced a bill championed by anti-gun advocates to strictly regulate machines designed for the manufacturing of firearm frames or receivers.
The measure, titled the “Stop Home Manufacture of Ghost Guns Act of 2020,’’ would ban ownership of what the bill terms a “firearms manufacturing device” unless the tool is in the hands of a federally licensed firearm maker or of a business that produces such machines for use by FFLs.
Confusingly, the broad new definition to be added to federal code would place the regulation on “a device designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be used primarily to make or convert a product into, a frame or receiver for a firearm, and any combination of parts designed or intended for use in making” such a device.
While it could be argued by the bill’s sponsors that the measure is aimed at high-profile desktop milling machines like the Ghost Gunner and similar devices, it should be pointed out that there are dozens of different brands of hobbyist-level mini CNC machines for sale both online and at hardware outlet chains such as Harbor Freight that can be used in an array of metal and polymer fabrication work to include producing firearm frames or receivers. This suggests the bill’s sponsors may not be aware of what they are trying to accomplish, or, worse, are being coy with the scope of the legislation.
Moreover, such mills are not even needed in many cases. A variety of 20th Century firearms, such as STEN guns and the Luty SMG were specifically designed to be crafted in garage-level workshops with simple handtools. Guns such as the AK have had their receivers made from a shovel in recent years. Today, a host of commercially-available 3D printers can produce a range of polymer or, through metal sintering, aluminum firearm frames. These plans are widely shared.
Further, while NFA rules apply to home-built guns, firearms outside of NFA restrictions can legally be made by anyone who can possess them under the law.
With that being said, it is unsure just what a “firearms manufacturing device” may be under the proposed bill, a definition that could be far in scope and, like most gun control regulations, have little actual effect on crime. Nonetheless, the bill’s backers are sure that they are on the right track when it comes to adding a new law to the books.
“It is time for Congress to ban ghost guns and the flourishing traffic in the technology which manufactures them,” said the bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, a Maryland Democrat publically endorsed by Everytown last week. Everytown plans to spend $60 million on the 2020 elections.
The bill, entered as H.R. 7468 and referred to the Democrat-controlled House Committee on the Judiciary, also has the fast support of Giffords.
“We must stop the proliferation of these easy to make, untraceable guns that can be obtained with no background check, “Adzi Vokhina, Giffords Federal Affairs Director, contends. “Clamping down on the milling machines that make it virtually effortless to create an arsenal of untraceable weapons from a basement or garage is a good place to start.”
Springfield Armory’s new Hellcat micro-compact 9mm pistol is apparently a beast, as one has surpassed the 20K mark in testing.
The Hellcat in question, serial AT234795, was pushed through the final 10,000 rounds by Paul Carlson, owner of Safety Solutions Academy, with the support of a team of four extra shooters, a pile of 124-grain American Eagle red box FMJ from Federal, and Action Target. The crazy thing is that said pallet of parabellum was cycled through the T&E Hellcat in a single 10-hour period, documented shot-by-shot at the Armory Life.
The process included rapidly firing the Hellcat for 250 rounds consecutively, then cooling it with an air compressor for five minutes between strings. During Carlson’s run, they lubed the gun every 500 rounds.
“The gun was field-stripped and I made sure to wipe the crud off of the breech face, rails, barrel, etc,” said Carlson. “I used Breakthrough Clean High Purity Oil to lube the rear of the rails, barrel, and barrel hood, and then gave the Hellcat 10 or so dry racks to distribute the lube per the directions in the Hellcat’s owner’s manual.”
At every 2,500 rounds, they replaced the recoil spring as recommended by Springfield.
When it comes to reliability, the team incredibly reported no issues.
“We had no parts breakage or stoppages that were the fault of the pistol — or the Federal ammo,” said Carlson, going on to explain that, “We did have a few incidences where a shooter inadvertently pressed up or down on the slide lock lever and either locked the gun open with rounds in the magazine or prevented the slide from locking back on an empty magazine.”
This is on top of the same gun that Clay Martin ran 10,000 rounds through already last winter. In a similar format, Martin used supplied Federal ammo– 115-grain American Eagle– re-lubed the gun every 250 rounds and cleaned it every 1,000. Likewise, Martin swapped out the recoil spring every 2,500 rounds.
Below is the documentation of Martin’s first 10,000 rounds, for reference, in an epic two-hour run.
Springfield says they aren’t surprised.
“No one would ever expect a micro-sized pistol intended for CCW to be subjected to such an incredibly demanding test, but we never doubted the Hellcat would come out on top,” says Dennis Reese, CEO of Springfield Armory. “Quality is our number one priority and it always will be, and the Hellcat proved that during this test. We’ll be watching as it continues to prove itself for the next 10K rounds, and beyond.”
Guns.com’s very own Jacki Billings has been reviewing a Hellcat on her own across the past several weeks. Check out her thoughts on the platform, below.
The post There’s a Springfield Armory Hellcat Still Ticking After 20,000 Rounds appeared first on Guns.com.
It’s been a few years that I wanted to build a catapult to launch targets into the air to shoot with my shotgun. Thanks to COVID, I finally got around to it. It has provided hours of fun and entertainment for my whole family.FATHER & SON PROJECT
Before setting out to build it, my father and I watched a few videos on the internet to get acquainted with medieval launch devices. Once we understood the parameters, we drew up a simple sketch of a catapult, bought the supplies and got to work.EXERCISE BANDS FOR PROPULSION
Within a few hours, we had what resembled a catapult. At its core were pine 2x4s held together with screws and metal straps. A solid metal bar served as an axis for the 2×2 launch arm. I bought some super-stretchy rubber workout bands. With three of these acting the propulsion system, we were able to launch pop cans roughly 100 feet into the air.
A dustpan at the top of the launch arm acted as the pop can delivery system. A wood shim beneath the dust pan allowed for the can to be released at the perfect angle. A rubber tire acted as a stop for the arm.MOSSBERG SHOTGUNS ROCK
All in all, we were very satisfied with the result. Watch the video to see it in action.
As always, I used my trusty Mossberg 500 SPX Tactical 12-gauge pump-action shotgun. I’ve owned it for roughly eight years and I’ve put a few thousand rounds through it and it has worked flawlessly. I love it and it goes bang every single time.
For activities like shooting pop cans from the catapult, I use basic Winchester #8 birdshot. A box of 25 shells at Guns.com costs $15.
And if you’re looking for a new or used shotgun, I highly recommend Mossberg. The company’s been around for over 100 years and they make fantastic firearms. The 500, 590, and 930 series of shotguns are rock solid.
If you enjoyed this video, check out two other similar videos below for shotgun fun.
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Back-to-back World War champs and arguably the strongest military in the world, America’s Soldiers have carried a wide array of rifles in the past 244 years.Colonial origins
Going as far back as the matchlocks carried by settlers at Sir Walter Raleigh’s short-lived Lane Colony in 1585, America had a gun culture. According to early militia laws established in the 17th Century, able-bodied men in the colonies had to keep “a good musket or firelock, or rifle, knapsack, shot pouch and powder horn” at hand to use in their role in the common defense.
By 1775, at the outbreak of the War of Independence that would see the original 13 Colonies sever their relationship with the British throne, each community had its local militia force. It was such as the force that met the King’s men at Lexington and Concord on that fateful day that sparked the American Revolution, and the citizen-soldiers were armed with a variety of “fowling pieces”– early muzzleloading shotguns– Pennsylvania rifles, and a surplus military arms such as French M1728 and British Pattern muskets.
It was these sorts of guns that formed the Colonial Army with the Continental Congress deciding on June 14, 1775, to establish a force of “six companies of expert riflemen” drawn from throughout the colonies. Today the U.S. Army cites that day as its birthday.
Moving past those initial guns, the growing force under Gen. George Washington became more professional and used a mix of then-modern military arms such as the British Sea Service or Commercial Contract Long Land “Brown Bess” musket and French-supplied Charleville muskets.
Modern tests on French and British military muskets of the Revolutionary War period show that the .662- and .69-caliber spherical lead balls of the day could penetrate a superb 32-inches of modern ballistics gel at close range (25 yards) but would rapidly slope and, at ranges of anything over 150 yards, hit the ground.Past Yorktown
Established by George Washington in 1777 to make artillery carriages, the Springfield Armory as it became known, made the nation’s first muskets in 1795.
Based on the design of the French Charleville, the Springfield was a 10-pound smoothbore flintlock with a 42-inch barrel and an overall length of five feet. With the 16-inch long spike bayonet fitted to the end of the musket, it stood taller than the men who carried it. Firing a .69-caliber ball it was accurate only to about 75-yards but could still cause damage 100 yards away making the gun more of a volley than a precision (or even accurate) weapon.19th Century innovation
Throughout the 1800s, small arms technology rapidly matured and the U.S. Army had to update their rifles regularly to keep ahead of the curve.
By 1819, the .54-caliber Springfield flintlock was adopted.
In 1842, the Army moved from flintlocks to more reliable percussion cap-fired rifles, with more than 170,000 produced.
In 1855, the .58-caliber Springfield rifle was the new standard, able to use the devastating Minié ball. Using the interesting but ultimately unsuccessful Maynard tape primer, it was replaced by the tried and true percussion cap lock in the Model of 1861, a design that was tweaked throughout the Civil War in the follow on models M1863, M1864, and so forth.
Just after the Civil War, the M1866 .50-caliber rifle was the latest development, moving to breechloading cartridges. This began the era of “Trapdoor” single-shot cartridge rifles than continued to be used as late as 1898.
By 1884, guns like the Ward-Burton, a turn-bolt-action magazine-fed rifle, were the new normal.
At the close of the 19th Century, the Army had been issuing various models of the .30-caliber Krag rifle, a Scandanavian design with an unusual side-loading magazine.20th Century
Entering the 1900s, the U.S. military was eager to ditch their still fairly-new Krags for something more like the Mauser and the Springfield M1903 fit the bill so much that Mauser-maker DWM got kinda hosed off about it and filed a long-running lawsuit alleging patent infringement.
Nonetheless, the ’03 Springfield, updated after 1906 with the new 30.06 round, became one of the most successful Army rifles in history– serving in one form or another as a front-line weapon through World War II. Heck, the U.S. military still has some around today, albeit not for combat use.
To augment the M1903 when the U.S. Army grew rapidly from a handful of regulars to a multi-million-man force in the Great War, Uncle Sam took out contracts with Remington and Winchester to provide stocks of substitute M1917 rifles to the growing divisions of Doughboys headed “Over There” to fight the Kaiser.
By 1937, the Army was looking to innovate further and became one of the first militaries on the globe to adopt a semi-automatic rifle for their rank-and-file infantry, John Garand’s M1.
However, as with the M1917 in WWI, the Army quickly ran short of M1s and tapped in an updated version of the M1903, classified as the M1903A3, to help close the gap.
The 8.7-pound M1903 was a bolt-action .30-06 fed by a 5-round stripper clip. It cost about $55 to make. Used by support units as well as for use as a sniper rifle and rifle grenade launcher in WWII, the ’03 remains in service with the military today as line throwers and drill rifles.
A more pint-sized weapon, the M1 Carbine, was a “war baby” of sorts, as it only reached production in 1942 as a compact rifle for use by support troops such as mortar crews, radiomen and truck drivers. Weighing in at just 5-pounds, the semi-auto used a detachable 15-round magazine and fired the 7.62x33mm .30 Carbine cartridge. In all, more than 5 million M1 Carbines were produced by companies as varied as Winchester, General Motor’s Inland Division, typewriter companies IBM and Underwood, National Postal Meter (guess what they made), and jukebox maker Rock-Ola.
With the U.S. Army carrying the same guns from WWII into Korea and after, lessons learned from that conflict triggered a wave of change in the newly formed Pentagon. After a lengthy gestation period that saw numerous designs tested in several calibers and trials of foreign-made systems such as the FN FAL, the Army chose the Springfield Armory-developed M14 rifle to replace not only the M1 Garand and Carbine but also its sub guns and automatic rifles to a large extent.
The M14 had a lot of firsts for the U.S. military being the first time that every Soldier in a squad was issued a select-fire weapon– although most were later blocked from their full rock-and-roll setting– and the first chambered in 7.62 NATO. It also marked a lot of lasts for the Army, being the service’s last in-house developed rifle, the last to use wooden furniture, and the final rifle produced at Springfield Armory.Armalite Endurance
By 1964, the Pentagon signaled that the way of the future was to be Colt’s AR-15 series platform, adopted as the M16. Chambered in 5.56 NATO, it was lighter than the M14 due to its more compact size and synthetic furniture, and its likewise smaller cartridge allowed troops in the field to carry more rounds per pound.
With that, by 1968 the M14 was out of production by the military and the M16 became the go-to rifle of American Soldiers and Marines in Vietnam and along the front lines of the Cold War.
Updated across several decades, the XM16E1, with an Army-requested forward assist and internal improvements, entered service, a standard that became the M16A1 after 1966.
In 1982, the rifle had been updated by Colt to have round handguards, a faster 1:7 twist rate, a three-round burst rather than a full-auto setting, and updated sights to become the M16A2.
The 1990s brought the M16A3, which went back to “auto” rather than the burst selector switch and the M16A4, a flat-top version adopted by the Marines with a removable carrying handle.
By 1994, the more compact M4 Carbine, essentially an update of the Vietnam-era XM177 carbine variant of the original M16A1, entered service. When it did, it replaced older M16s as well as remaining stocks of M3 Grease Guns and enduring XM177s, becoming the standard for U.S troops for the past two decades with active contracts still underway with companies such as FN and Colt to supply guns to not only our forces but to overseas allies.Tomorrow
Nonetheless, efforts are currently underway to phase out the M4 in use by the Army with a new series of modern small arms under the Next Generation Squad Weapon program. The Army plans to purchase 85,986 NGSW systems to replace guns in combat units first. Ultimately, the winner could stand to deliver 250,000 NGSWs and 150 million rounds of ammo plus options for further contracts.
Three consortiums have submitted designs to the Army for review under a 2019 award. The winners include AAI Corporation/Textron Systems in Hunt Valley, Maryland; General Dynamics-OTS Inc. in Williston, Vermont; and Sig Sauer in Newington, New Hampshire. A common theme among the submissions is a 6.8mm caliber, with at least two of the teams submitting hybrid bi-metallic or composite-cased ammunition which is both lighter and delivers better performance than 5.56 NATO rounds.
Sig’s entry, for reference, is detailed in the below video.
General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems, which is working with True Velocity and Beretta, have submitted heir new RM277 NGSW platform, a bullpup with lots of modularity. Notably, the gun uses True Velocity’s 6.8mm composite-cased cartridge, which has a “drastic reduction in cartridge weight and enhanced accuracy.”
Textron, which has subcontracted with ammo maker Winchester-Olin and firearms maker Heckler & Koch, has been a bit coyer on their submission to the NGSW program.
In the end, no matter what the Army goes with, the next rifle adopted will simply join a long line of those that preceded it, proving good company.
If you like interesting guns with a story to tell, head on over to our carefully curated selection of Military Classics, where history is just a click away.
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A Canadian by birth, this year’s Independence Day is different for me. I was recently granted a green card, meaning I can finally move to the United States.
Over the past years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in the U.S. and have found that Americans are some of the nicest folks I’ve met. The physical landscape and the country’s desire to innovate never fails to inspire me.
It is America’s value of Freedom with a capital “F” that excites me the most, though. There isn’t another country on earth where a bunch of like-minded people gather with a few hundred guns, tanks and cannons, and lots of ammo, to light up the hillside with tracers, fireworks, and explosives. God Bless America! I can’t wait to be a part of it!
Perhaps the most exciting part is that I’ll finally be able to buy all of the guns I want.
You see, I come from a wonderful country, but it is one that recently passed some of the strictest gun laws in its history. The anti-gun law was passed despite a petition that made history for obtaining the most signatures against it. The Liberal government simply took advantage of its executive powers and enacted the gun ban.
As is often the case, the bans will likely have little effect on criminals. They will instead punish the millions of good, honest, law-abiding Canadian gun owners. We will be stripped of our personal property and denied a sport and hobby we thoroughly enjoyed. Those that work in the gun industry could very well be robbed of their livelihood.
I’m not an advocate of abandoning one’s own country for another with better laws. We must always stand up and fight; but the U.S. has one thing that Canada never had — the Second Amendment. Gun ownership is a right in the U.S., not a privilege, as it is in Canada. For this I say to my American friends, don’t ever undervalue the significance of the Bill of Rights.
Besides building my gun collection, I’m also excited to start competitive shooting. I’ve been fortunate to attend many USPSA events and even a few subgun shoots. As an active guy, this looks like a fantastic way to get some exercise, sharpen the skills, and engage the senses. Guns.com’s own Taylor Thorne’s contagious love of the sport has convinced me to purchase a competition pistol, rifle, and shotgun. 3-gun shooting is growing leaps and bounds.
So on this Independence Day, I’m looking towards the future and all the promises America holds. I am excited about many things and look forward to the coming months and I plan to share my gun-related experiences and adventures with you here on Guns.com.