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Handgun Reviews

New Handguns for 2011

by J. Scott Rupp   |  March 14th, 2011 0

As you’d expect, there are lots of 1911s to celebrate the pistol’s 100th birthday, but there’s so much more!


Ed Brown Classic Custom Centennial Edition. To enlarge this image, please click HERE

A. Uberti
The cowboy business continues to boom, and Uberti’s flagship Single Action Army line–the 1873 Cattleman–keeps growing right along with it. This year sees the addition of the El Patron Cowboy Mounted Shooter, a factory custom-tuned full-size revolver with shorter barrels designed for competition. Six variants will be offered–a choice of .45 Colt and .357 Magnum with 31/2- or four-inch blued barrels with case-hardened frames or all-stainless–with Wolff springs, new checkered walnut grips and special wide, easy-view sights.

And for the cowboy who has everything–and doesn’t want everyone to know it–there’s the Cattleman NM Stallion Birds Head, a concealable short-barrel gun chambered to .38 Special. Total length is 81/2 inches, and it weighs two pounds.

Auto-Ordnance
What’s more fitting in the 1911′s centennial than a pistol from the company that brought you the Tommy gun? Auto-Ordnance’s 100th Anniversary Edition 1911 is a classically styled .45 that features World War II Parkerizing with "1911 .45 ACP, 1911-2011, 100 Years" engraved on the slide. The slide is CNC machined from 4140 barstock, and the frame, which includes a lanyard loop, is also 4140 steel. The sights are blade front and drift adjustable rear, and the grips are brown checkered. Made in the U.S.

Beretta
The Storm series of pistols has been getting good reviews (we just covered the Compact version in the February/March issue). Now comes a new subcompact, available in 9mm and .40. It comes with small, medium and large backstraps and offers as an option three different sizes of magazine releases. With an overall length of 6.2 inches, height of 4.8 inches and weighing just 26.1 ounces, it should prove an excellent CCW pistol.

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Browning
If your brand name is Browning, you certainly don’t want to miss the 1911 centennial bandwagon, so the folks in Morgan, Utah, have introduced a scaled-down .22 Long Rifle version–the Browning 1911-22, which is made in the U.S.A. Guns that ship this year will include a special certificate and commemorative canvas and leather case. The gun features an aluminum alloy frame and slide, and stainless steel barrel with target crown. It has fixed sights and comes with a 10-round magazine. Plans are for an A1 version with 41/2-inch barrel and a Compact with 35/8-inch barrel.

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Chiappa
A .22 rimfire pistol that looks like a chopped M4/AR-15 carbine? You know you want one. The M-four-22 pistol comes with two 28-round magazines for tons of shooting fun and has a removable carry handle, full optics rail on top for red dots or other accessories and a Picatinny rail for attaching a sling.


CZ-USA

New this year is another SP-01 variant of the renowned CZ 75. The Shadow Custom dual tone is built on the same platform as the Shadow Target but features a two-tone finish and a fixed competition rear sight and slim-line aluminum grips from the company’s custom shop. It’s available only in 9mm.

Even cooler, for those whose tastes run to IPSC Open or Limited divisions, is the new Czechmate. The 9mm comes configured for Open competition with compensator and C-More red dot installed, but there are spare barrels and a front sight adapter and other parts that allow you to change it to a Limited gun. Comes with a "big stick" 26-round magazine and three 20-rounders.

Dan Wesson
The iconic Dan Wesson revolver is back. The Model 715 has the famous interchangeable barrel system that can be swapped by the shooter by means of the factory-supplied barrel wrench. The .357 Magnum ships with a heavy six-inch ventilated rib barrel, but barrels from 21/2 to 10 inches–plus grips and other accessories–are available from the company. The stainless steel revolver features a front crane latch and rear ball detent for proper cylinder/barrel alignment, finger-groove Hogue rubber grips and transfer bar safety.

The Dan Wesson Guardian is now offered in .45 ACP and features a bobtail-style, Commander-size alloy frame atop an Officer-size frame–providing excellent concealability along with excellent shooting balance. The pistol also is treated to a Duty finish, the same that’s applied to Dan Wesson’s high-end Valor series, and features an ambidextrous thumb safety.

Buyers Guide


To enlarge this image, please click HERE

 

Also in the works is a new Elite series of all-steel, high-cap 1911s designed for competition and combat. The Titan is
a 10mm with a 21-round capacity that boasts HD night sights moved forward and recessed deeply in the slide. The frame has aggressive 25 lpi snake-scale serrations and G10 grips. The Mayhem is an 18-round .40 S&W for IPSC Limited competition and features a six-inch bull barrel and a six-inch slide that has been lightened to match the weight of a five-inch slide. The Havoc–available in 9mm Luger or .38 Super, both with 21-round capacity–is an Open class gun with a C-More mounting system and barrel compensator.

Ed Brown
The renowned maker from Perry, Missouri, is coming out with not one but two centennial editions of John M. Browning’s iconic design. One is the Classic Custom Centennial Edition, which even its maker calls "over the top." It’s the Classic Custom with hand relief engraving on the slide flats, grip screws, thumb safety flats and other areas; special "1911-2011" laser engraving on the left side of the slide; Tru-Ivory grips; a jeweled barrel hood; and special serial numbers starting with "JMB."

The second is a variation of Brown’s Executive Elite Centennial Edition. It too has the "1911-2011" laser engraving and Tru-Ivory grips like the Classic Custom Centennial, and upgrades over the standard Executive Elite include a solid trigger, plain black sights, jeweled barrel hood and the JMB-prefix serial numbers.

Ed Brown has also come up with a new configuration of the popular, feature-packed Special Forces pistol: the Stealth Grey. The five-inch Government model has the company’s Chainlink treatment on the frontstrap and mainspring housing, traditional square-cut serrations on the rear of the slide, and three-dot night sights with high-visibility white outlines. New is the gray Gen III finish on the frame, hence the name.

Last but certainly not least is the Kobra Carry Lightweight, a 7075 aluminum alloy-frame Commander-size pistol weighing just 27 ounces. It sports a snakeskin treatment on the frontstrap and Bobtail mainspring housing, and the slide is finished in Gen III. It comes with 10-8 U-notch plain black rear sight and a front night sight with high-visibility white outlines, and the feed ramp features a steel insert for durability. Available with either single-side or ambi safety.

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FNH USA
The new FNP 45 Competition is the 45 Tactical without the threaded barrel and with a few added features that make it a good choice for action-pistol matches. The DA/SA sports a polymer frame and stainless steel slide, and in Competition guise it features a red fiber-optic front sight and plain black rear sight. The 41/2-inch stainless steel barrel is hammer forged, and the slide features front and rear cocking serrations. The pistol comes with four interchangeable backstraps and three 15-round magazines.


Kahr Arms

The P380 and PM45 pistols are now available with Crimson Trace Laserguards straight from the factory. The KP3833L and PM4543L feature Crimson Trace’s LG-437 unit. The KP3833L is a .380 with 21/2-inch Lothar Walther match barrel, black polymer frame and matte stainless slide. It ships with two six-round stainless mags. The PM4543L is a .45 ACP with 3.14-inch Lothar Walther match barrel with polygonal rifling, black polymer frame and stainless steel slide. It comes with two five-round stainless magazines. Both are made in the U.S.

Les Baer Custom
Surely you didn’t think Les Baer was going to let the 1911 centennial pass by without dreaming up something really cool. The Centennial Model 1911 from his LeClaire, Iowa, shop is built on the Premier II platform but with real ivory grips. It’s fully capable of performing any shooting duty, if you’re so inclined. Features include a Tactical extended safety; National Match slide and barrel; numerous Les Baer parts such as trigger, hammer, grip safety and more; and 30 lpi checkered frontstrap–all hand fitted and tuned. In addition to the ivory grips, the Centennial also sports a deluxe charcoal blue finish. Ships with three eight-round mags in a presentation case.

Also new is a Shooting USA 1911 that has most Premier II features as well, plus the Tactical extended safety. The right side of the slide features the Shooting USA logo, and the serial number has an "S USA" prefix. It ships with two eight-round mags and a special DVD.

Para Ordnance
If you’ve been reading this in alphabetical order, you’re probably saying "Enough with the commemorative 1911s already!" Fat chance. The anniversary model from Para is based on its GI Expert and has three-dot sights, three-hole trigger, traditional spur hammer and a stainless steel barrel. Grips are fancy smooth cocobolo. The gun ships in a custom wood presentation box with two seven-round magazines.

Para’s also bringing out not one, not two but three Limited pistols. The Single Stack Limited has a fiber-optic front sight and adjustable rear, while the high-capacity 14-45 Long Slide is an upgrade of the firm’s six-inch-slide pistol with a sterling finish and frontstrap checkering.

Rounding out the trio is the 18-9 Limited, a 9mm with an 18-round capacity (10-round magazine also available) and features that include, fiber-optic front and adjustable rear sights, frontstrap checkering and sterling finish with a new PK2 hard coating.

Two more 1911s from this North Carolina-based company include the GI LTC, a lightweight alloy-frame version with of the GI Expert with 41/4-inch barrel, full beavertail grip safety and a fiber-optic rear sight. The other is the SASS Wild Bunch, designed for the relatively new Wild Bunch action-shooting game that embraces guns from the early part of the 20th century. It has a 1:16 left-hand twist in its five-inch stainless barrel; fixed three-dot sights and black PK2 finish.

Para calls its Warthog the world’s smallest .45 ACP high-cap pistol. Overall length of the gun is 63/4 inches and height is 41/2 inches, yet it houses a 10-round magazine. New for 2011 is the PK2 black finish.

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Ruger
At press time we learned of a new DAO 9mm, the LC9–a compact carry gun. Basically it appears to be an upsized LCP with a blued alloy steel slide and glass-filled nylon frame. Takes a seven-round mag and features adjustable three-dot sights.

Smith & Wesson
Aside from the 1911 profiled elsewhere in this issue, S&W came out with a number of products late in 2010 that qualify as new. One is a Model 27-N frame revolver that celebrates the 75th anniversary of the .357 Magnum. A limited edition of 500 guns, it’s lavishly engraved, featuring artwork by S&W engraver David Mishichak, and comes with engraved square-butt walnut grips and adjustable rear sight. Serial numbers are prefixed "SFY," and it ships in a wooden, glass-top presentation case.

Your chances of scoring a first-edition set of the new Bodyguards will be better as 2,000 of those will be made available. The set comes with one each of the .38 revolver and .380 semiauto–both with "First Edition" laser engraving–and they’ll come with a display case and commemorative coin.

The company is also offering kits for its M&P and SD pistols. The M&P Carry & Range Kit includes either a full-size M&P9 or M&P40 along with a holster, mag pouch, speedloader, earplugs and three magazines. The SD Home Defense Kit includes either an SD9 or SD40 pistol, along with a small gun vault (with cable) and pistol light.

And if you shoot suppressors and want a full-size M&P in 9mm or .45, you’ll have to check out the new Threaded Barrel kits, which as the name implies come with an extra, threaded barrel in addition to the standard barrel. Thread pattern on the 9mm is 1/2-28-2A; that on the .45 is .578-28-2A.

Springfield Armory
The XD(M) striker-fired pistol has proven to be immensely popular due to its dependability, excellent ergonomics and economical price, and the line continues to grow with the XD(M) Compact 3.8. It combines the concealment qualities of the Sub-Compact XD’s frame with the shootability of the XD(M) 3.8′s slide, and the gun can go from go from hideout gun to full-size high-cap pistol simply by employing a mag extension.

The flush-fit mag holds 13 rounds of 9mm while the extension magazine puts 19 rounds at your disposal. Overall length is seven inches; it’s 4.6 inches high with the compact magazine and 53/4 inches high with the extension magazine.

But don’t forget that before the XD and XD(M) pistols, Springfield Armory was most well-known in the pistol world as a manufacturer of practical, well-made 1911s that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. And the company doesn’t disappoint in 2011 with the Range Officer, a Government size pistol with a stainless steel match-grade barrel, lightweight Delta hammer, long speed trigger and beveled mag well–along with a standard guide rod, beavertail grip safety and lowered and flared ejection port.

Stoeger
The Cougar, with its unique operating system and attractive price tag, has proven to be hugely popular. I know it’s only anecdotal evidence, but I’ve put the gun on two different covers–once on Guns & Ammo when the Cougar first came out and once on Handguns just a few issues back when the .45 version was unveiled. Both of those issues were huge sellers on the newsstand, so that to me says the gun’s definitely got legs.

Now the company is adding another version of the DA/SA pistol, and while details were sketchy at press time, it appears it’s going to be a compact model in 9mm with a shorter grip and 13-round magazine. Suggested retail will be under $500, and it will come with two magazines.

Wilson Combatx
Only 100 Contemporary Classics are going to be built. Made from forged and billet-machined carbon steel, the gun has presentation walnut grips and Doug Turnbull bone charcoal finish. Styling cues include a gold-bead insert front sight blade and original Browning features such as an integral lanyard loop attachment, flat mainspring housing and long steel trigger.

In a nod to Browning’s Hi Power, the pistol also has carry cuts in the front of the slide for a unique appearance and easier holstering. Features "JMB" initials and unique serial numbers and comes in a presentation case.

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