January 03, 2011
By Jim Wilson
The industry introduced a lot of new handguns this year, and our handgun editor tells you which ones caught his fancy.
By Sheriff Jim Wilson
The 2008 SHOT Show was simply amazing. The halls--and new for this year, mammoth tents--were packed with people checking out the new guns and gear and placing their orders for the coming year. It was especially a paradise for handgunners since new handguns were everywhere, and interest was running extremely high. Here are some of the handguns that caught my eye.
ArmaLite Inc. announced the introduction of the 9mm AR-24 and the AR-24K last year, and new for this year, the company has brought out adjustable-sight versions of both pistols. The new Model 24-15C comes with a 4.67-inch barrel, two 15-round magazines, raised checkering on the frontstrap and backstrap, and an adjustable rear sight. The new Model 24K-13C comes with a 3.89-inch barrel, two 13-round magazines, checkered frontstrap and backstrap, and an adjustable rear sight. With slides, frames, and barrels machined from ordnance steel, the pistols weigh 34.9 and 33.4 ounces, respectively. Both handguns have the traditional SA/DA trigger systems. In the day of polymer frames and the use of lightweight metals, it is refreshing to see a company build a fighting handgun with the strength of forged steel.
Charter Arms gets the award for the cutest new handgun. This would be the new Pink Lady revolver. This five-shot DA revolver has a stainless 2-inch barrel and cylinder, and the alloy frame is anodized in a pleasing pink color. Rubber combat grips fill out the package of this small, lightweight, personal-defense revolver that is approved for .38 Special +P ammunition. Obviously, Charter Arms is targeting the growing number of women who are shopping for a personal-defense gun.
Also from Charter Arms are two variations of the Pathfinder revolver. The Pathfinder is manufactured from stainless steel, has a 4-inch barrel, and is chambered for either .22 LR or .22 WMR cartridges. Adjustable sights and rubber combat grips finish out the look for this 20-ounce woods gun.
For 2008, CZ-USA has chambered two of its popular CZ75 pistol designs in .40 S&W. The new .40-caliber SP-01 Tactical is very similar to the 9mm SP-01 Tactical and features a 4.72-inch barrel, a steel frame with integral accessory rail, an ambidextrous decocker, rubber grips, and three-dot tritium sights. The new .40 S&W P-06 comes with fixed sights, an aircraft-grade aluminum-alloy frame with accessory rail, a 3.8-inch hammer-forged barrel, a decocker, and rubber grips.
Also new from CZ-USA is the Dan Wesson Valor 1911. The new Valor is a full-sized, defensive-style 1911 with a forged frame, 25 lines-per-inch checkering, an undercut trigger guard, adjustable night sights, and slim-line VZ grips. Its stainless frame is finished with CZ's new "Duty" matte black ceramic-base coating.
Ed Brown is now offering the Special Forces 1911 with an integral light rail. The 38-ounce Special Forces pistol has a 5-inch barrel, Novak combat sights, and Brown's Gen III coating over stainless steel.
The Ed Brown Special Edition 1911 for 2008 is one that honors the late Col. Jeff Cooper. This attractive blue-steel Government Model features combat sights, fancy wood grips with Cooper's monogram, and a gold "DVC" inlayed in the slide. A portion of the proceeds from the sales of the Cooper 1911s will go to the Col. Jeff Cooper Foundation to further the goals set out by the illustrious colonel.
Charter Arms Pink Lady
FNH USA's line of full-size, high-capacity, polymer-frame FNP pistols has grown to include 9mm, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and .357 SIG chamberings. The 9mm, .357 SIG, and .40 S&W pistols feature 4-inch barrels, and the .45 ACP models have 4.5-inch barrels. Models come with stainless-steel slides with either a matte black finish or a matte silver finish. The polymer frames for all models are available in a black finish, and new USG versions of the 9mm, .40-, and .45-caliber pistols are also available with Flat Dark Earth (FDE) finished frames. All models feature hammer-forged barrels, integral accessory rails, ambidextrous manual decocking levers, and interchangeable arched and flat backstrap inserts.
Kahr Arms's 2008 offering is called the CW4543. It is a DAO autoloader that is chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge. It has a 3.64-inch barrel, a polymer frame, and a stainless-steel slide. At 20 ounces, the CW4543 has a 6+1 magazine capacity. Those who carry a concealed handgun for long hours, every day, will be especially interested in this new Kahr pistol.
Big news at the Kimber booth was the new SIS series of 1911 pistols. Some months back, Kimber worked with members of the elite SIS (Special Investigations Service) of the Los Angeles police department to design a handgun to meet their particular needs. The result is a .45 ACP 1911 pistol with the sort of features that any fighting handgun needs. The SIS series consists of 1911 pistols with 3-, 4-, and 5-inch barrels. The 5-inch gun can be ordered with or without an integral light rail. All of the pistols in the series have a specially designed fixed combat rear sight, black synthetic grips with the SIS logo, and a matte-black finish applied to the stainless steel.
Les Baer Custom
The new Baer H.C. 40 boasts 19 rounds of .40-caliber firepower. This new high-capacity 1911 pistol is built on the double-stack Caspian frame and comes with a 5-inch, match-grade barrel with polished feedramp; an LBC low-mount, adjustable rear sight; an LBC dovetail front sight; a Match trigger with 4-pound trigger pull; a tuned extractor; a Bear extended ejector; a Baer checkered slide stop; a Bear deluxe hammer, sear, and disconnector; a flat mainspring housing; wood grips; and one 18-round magazine. The frame wears a bead-blasted and blued finish, and the sides of the slide are polished.
The Arkansas firm of Nighthawk Custom has spotlighted a classy, attractive 1911 as one of its new-for-2008 offerings. The Lady Hawk, designed by renowned pistolsmith Richard Heinie, has all the classic features of a traditional 1911 but is chambered for the lighter-recoiling 9mm cartridge. The new pistol features Heinie's Chain Link checkering on the frontstrap and mainspring housing. This type of checkering is less abrasive on the hand. The pistol is finished in titanium blue with hard-chrome slide stop, beavertail safety, thumb safety, hammer, and magazine rel
ease. The classy Lady Hawk is topped off with a set of checkered black grips. Needless to say, the Nighthawk Lady Hawk is completely handfitted. By the way, for men who like the idea of a slimmer, lighter-recoiling 9mm 1911, the pistol can be ordered without the "Lady Hawk" signature on the slide.
SIG Sauer's new P250 auto pistol utilizes a modular system that enables the shooter to change both size and caliber at will. It transforms into multiple configurations and is designed to be three sizes, all with one serialized frame: full size, compact, and subcompact. Each size is available in four caliber choices: .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and 9mm. And within each size category, six different variations allow the shooter to fit the gun to an individual hand based on two different trigger lengths and three different grip shells.
Dan Wesson 1911 Valor
Features of the P250 include: DAO firing mechanism, interchangeable polymer grip shells, steel receiver, SIGLITE three-dot night sights, reversible magazine release, ambidextrous slide release, integral accessory rail, 3.9-inch barrel, and Nitron finish. The pistol weighs 30.8 ounces and measures 7.2 inches long, 5.1 inches high, and 1.3 inches wide.
Also new from SIG Sauer is the Platinum Elite Series, which includes P220, P226, P229, and 1911 models. The Platinum Elite Series pistols have ergonomically designed beavertailed frames, custom aluminum grips, and natural stainless finishes with ground slide flats. The P220, P226, and P229 Platinum Elite models feature SIG's SRT trigger system, SIGLITE adjustable combat night sights, alloy frames finished in a black anodized hard coat, and integral accessory rails. The SIG Sauer 1911 Platinum Elite is fitted with adjustable combat night sights and comes with a Nitron-finished frame, a match-grade barrel, a match-grade hammer/sear set, and a match-grade trigger.
Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson is another handgun company that has been quite busy working up new guns for its customers. The most interesting S&W guns are the Night Guard series of revolvers. All of these revolvers have 21„2-inch barrels, Cylinder & Slide fixed rear sights, XS tritium-dot front sights, and Pachmayr grips. The frames are scandium, and the barrels and cylinders are steel. The guns have a very pleasing matte-black finish.
The new Night Guard series consists of a Model 329 in .44 Magnum, a Model 396 in .44 Special, a Model 325 chambered for .45 ACP, a Model 327 in .357 Mag., and a Model 386 also chambered for .357 Mag. The Model 329 has a six-round cylinder and weighs 29.3 ounces. The Model 396 weighs 24.2 ounces and has a five-shot cylinder. The Model 325 weighs 28 ounces with a six-round cylinder. The Model 327 has an eight-shot cylinder and weighs 27.6 ounces. And the Model 386 weighs in at 24.5 ounces and features a seven-round cylinder.
Also new from Smith & Wesson is a 4-inch-barreled version of the .45 ACP M&P auto pistol. The gun weighs 27.7 ounces and can be ordered with or without thumb safeties.
Springfield Armory is now offering ambidextrous thumb safeties on its popular .45-caliber XD striker-fired pistols. The XD already comes with a grip safety, and the addition of the thumb safeties merely increases the positive safety features on this fine pistol.
Also new to the XD pistol line are .45-caliber Bi-tone versions in both the 4- and 5-inch Service and Compact models. They come with OD Green and Flat Dark Earth frames.
New to Springfield's 1911 line is the .40-caliber EMP (Enhanced Micro Pistol). The new EMP 40 is the same size as its predecessor, the EMP 9. The only change is that the .40-caliber version has a steel frame whereas the 9mm has a lightweight alloy frame. Both versions can be purchased with Springfield's Cross Cannon logo grips or G-10 grips.
The folks at Ruger have been pretty darned busy of late. Just before the SHOT Show, we were advised that Ruger was entering the arena with a polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mm pistol--the Ruger SR9. See the March 2008 issue of Shooting Times for more about the new SR9.
Ruger also gets my vote for delivering the most interesting new pistol at this year's show. I'm talking about the Ruger LCP (Lightweight Compact Pistol). The LCP is a .380 ACP with a 6+1 magazine capacity and a weight of just 9.4 ounces. The pistol has a polymer frame, a 23„4-inch barrel, and a DAO action. The width of the LCP is only 0.82 inch at its widest spot. This is truly a handgun that can be carried in a shirt pocket and, thus, meets the first rule of gunfighting--have a handgun.
Springfield EMP 40
Taurus International has several new handguns for 2008, including the PT709. The PT709 is a slim 9mm autoloader with a polymer frame. It can be ordered with either a blue or stainless slide. The gun weighs 19 ounces, has fixed sights, a 3-inch barrel, and an 8+1 magazine capacity.
But the Taurus that really caught my attention was the Model 856 with a magnesium frame. Called the Model 856HL2MG, it features a six-shot cylinder and adjustable sights. It weighs only 13.2 ounces. Due to the revolver's light weight, it is approved for use with standard-velocity .38 Special ammunition only. This new Taurus revolver is an excellent choice for backup duty or for those who need an ultralightweight revolver for concealed carry.
As usual, you'll be seeing some in-depth articles wringing out these and other new handguns in the pages of Shooting Times throughout the year. Stay tuned as we put these new guns through their paces.