Sig Sauer’s Single Action Sensation: The P226 Elite SAO

That's right, there's no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

That’s right, there’s no decocking lever on this Sig P226!

I like action. Who doesn’t?

Single action. Traditional double action. Double action only. Striker-fired action. I like ‘em all. But I especially like single action handguns. Having only one thing to do, release the hammer, single actions tend to be easier to shoot accurately. Repeatable accuracy leads to confidence, and confidence is something I want in spades if I’m carrying a gun for protection.

With that goal in mind – a carry gun that inspires confidence – I checked out the new Sig Sauer Elite SAO. Unlike most traditional Sig Sauer pistols, this one is a single action – kind of like a 1911. Its got an ambidextrous safety lever. You carry it cocked and locked. In fact, outside of cosmetic differences, one of the few

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

The safety levers on this model are ambidextrous and of equal size on both sides.

observable things different from a 1911 is that the Sig has a hinged trigger while the 1911’s trigger moves straight back like a sliding door.

OK, so that’s some gross over-simplification. The Sig P226 Elite SAO has classic Sig internals – not the hinged recoil action and barrel bushing we’re accustomed to seeing in a 1911. Yet it offers the benefits of a constant, light trigger to aid in accurate shooting. Unlike the 1911, it offers a double stack magazine so you get 15 rounds of ammo, plus an extra in the chamber. Oh yeah, and it’s chambered in 9mm, not .45 ACP.

I keep mentioning 1911’s as a comparison, but if you want to get more specific, you can think of the Sig P226 Elite SAO as a combat version of the P226 X-5 Competition. While the X-5 Competition models are built as elite pistols for professional competitors, they’re not necessarily suited for defensive or combat use. You’ll find allen screws all over the place on a competition X-5 model as the design allows specific adjustment to nearly every aspect of the gun’s operation. Trigger weight, trigger travel, trigger over travel, trigger shape, magazine well style, compensators, flux capacitors and so on. You can also find similarity with the P226 X-5 Tactical model, but the Elite SAO has a 4.4 inch barrel instead of 5 inches. Corresponding overall length dimensions are shorter and weight of the Elite SAO is about one ounce less.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Thinking about getting a gun for personal or home defense? Or maybe for recreation or competition? Then you need to read this first!

Beretta’s ARX100: A Lesson In Flexibility

Beretta's ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

Beretta’s ARX100 may look like a space gun, but its primary feature is easy configurability.

There’s ambidextrous, and there’s ambidextrous.

Some rifles have safety levers on one side, or at least a safety lever that can be relocated to the opposite side of the frame. Others might have a way to move the magazine release button or even bolt release to the opposite side.

The Beretta ARX100 takes configuration flexibility to a whole new level.

The left side looks... almost exactly like the right side.

The left side looks… almost exactly like the right side.

I just got my hands on a sample unit of this rifle and have been shooting it, taking it apart, and shooting it some more. Rather than waste words here with the specs like weight and length – you can find those here – I’ll focus on how this rifle operates and handles.

For starters, let’s take a look at the many components of what I think is the ARX100’s standout feature: flexibility.

Barrel

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

Once the bolt is in the maintenance position, pull down these tabs and the barrel pops right off.

You can swap barrels on a standard AR-type rifle, it just takes some doing.

On the Beretta ARX100 with its default 16-inch barrel, it takes no doing and no tools. Just move the bolt to the maintenance position – I’ll describe that in a minute. Then you can pull two spring-loaded levers downward, and the barrel and extension will release and pull right out the front of the stock. The gas piston assembly comes out attached to the barrel.

The process could not be easier. Unlike an AR-type rifle, you have complete and unobstructed access to the barrel and extension with all those nooks and crannies for easy cleaning. Wow. Impressive simplicity and functional too.

Seeing how this works, I was concerned about the ARX’s ability to hold zero through a barrel change. Hold that thought until we get to the shooting report.

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A Big Little Surprise From Smith & Wesson: The New M&P22 Compact Pistol

Smith & Wesson's new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Smith & Wesson’s new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Yeah, I know, .22LR ammo is impossible to find. But the situation is getting better, and this fun new pistol comes with a starting supply of ammunition – 222 rounds of Winchester to be exact. Yep, it’s your birthday!

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it's just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it’s just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

If you keep up with the .22LR pistol market, you know that Smith & Wesson announced the original M&P22 .22LR pistol way back in 2011. Technically, the original model was an adopted child through partnership with Walther. The pistol was made by Walther, imported and marketed under a partnership arrangement between Smith & Wesson and Walther.

Since then, the companies have moved into more independent ventures, amicably I might add, and now Smith & Wesson has produced a natural born child – the M&P22 Compact. Unlike its predecessor, the new M&P22 Compact model is entirely American made by Smith & Wesson. And it’s not just a scaled down version of the original. The new compact model has been largely redesigned – a quick look at the inside will show you new internals including trigger transfer bar, extractor, ejector, firing pin and feed ramp. Speaking of feed ramps, one of the design goals of the new pistol was reliability with a broad range of ammunition. More on that later.

The specs

Like most .22LR pistols, this one is a blowback design with a fixed barrel. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism with solid safety levers on both sides of the frame. As a side note, the safety levers are now metal with a plastic over mold and noticeably more solid than those on the original M&P22.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

Here are the basic specs:

Overall Length: 6.7 inches
Barrel Length: 3.6 inches
Barrel Rifling 1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand
Overall Height (including sights): 5.0 inches
Overall Width (with controls): 1.5 inches
Total Empty Weight: 17.0 oz.

The pistol has a threaded barrel, but you won’t notice that at casual glance as the threaded portion and thread protector cap are internal to the slide. This means that you will need an adapter to extend 1/2×28 threads past the muzzle so you can attach a silencer. If you have an original model M&P22 be aware that the barrel threading is now larger, so you’ll need a new adapter.

In addition to ambidextrous safety levers, the M&P22 Compact has a magazine release button that can easily be moved to the opposite side, so the pistol is friendly to righties and lefties.

Sights are standard dovetailed post and notch with three bright white dots. The rear sight has also been redesigned to be more easily adjustable so point of impact can be tuned to your specific choice of ammo.

Other features include a front rail for lights and lasers (don’t laugh, this makes an excellent rodent gun, trust me, I know!), two (10) round magazines and a loaded chamber indicator hole in the top of the slide.

The trigger is more of a service gun style as compared to a target pistol, and I think that’s part of the goal of the Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. Comparable in size to a shield, it makes a low(er) cost option for training. The trigger has about ⅓ of an inch of take up, followed by a break at just under six pounds of pressure.

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Sig Sauer’s P226 Elite SAO: Love Child of the 1911 and P226?

 

Notice something different about this Sig P226? No decocking lever, and it's got a safety.

Notice something different about this Sig P226? No decocking lever, and it’s got a safety.

There’s no doubt about the Sig P226’s status as a reliable and quality handgun. After all, hard-core gun users like Navy Seals and Texas Rangers use the P226, or in the military’s case, the MK25. Like most of the other Sig Sauer “P” models, the standard P226 is a hammer-fired, double / single action design. The first shot requires a 10-pound trigger pull to cock the hammer and break the shot. Subsequent shots only require about 4 ½ pounds of trigger pressure as the hammer is cocked from the semi-automatic action. Also, “standard” P226’s are available in multiple calibers: 9mm, .40 S&W and .357 Sig.

The safety is ambidextrous and equal size and shape on both sides.

The safety is ambidextrous and equal size and shape on both sides.

Here’s what’s different about the Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO. As you might surmise from the name, it’s a single action only design. It’s kind of like the love child of the 1911 and a Sig P226 Enhanced Elite model. If you’re not familiar with the Sig E2 (Enhanced Elite) concept, it’s an improved grip design that reduced reach to the trigger while offering a full, and very rounded, grip profile. Also, the SAO model is only available in 9mm at this time.

Let’s take a closer look.

The Sig Sauer P226 Elite SAO comes with two 15-round magazines. It’s packed in a foam-lined hard plastic case that has two holes for padlocks if you want to lock it up for travel. Sig also includes a cable gun lock so you can store your pistol safely when not in use.

The E2 grip profile makes this gun particularly shootable. The "wraparound" grips are actually two pieces that fit together.

The E2 grip profile makes this gun particularly shootable. The “wraparound” grips are actually two pieces that fit together.

The P226 is a full-size gun. It’s 8.2 inches long and 5.5 inches high. At its widest point, width measures 1.6 inches. The barrel itself is 4.4 inches. Overall weight with an empty magazine in place is 34.4 ounces.

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We Test The New Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact

Hot off the press - the new Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. 87.5% scale of a full size M&P, it's a fun .22 plinker.

Hot off the press – the new Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. 87.5% scale of a full size M&P, it’s a fun .22 plinker.

Getting home and tearing open Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact box, my very first impression was, “Oh snap!”

The next thought that crossed my mind was that this gun won’t be out of the box for six seconds before I’m compelled to attach a silencer. A SilencerCo Sparrow would be an excellent fit. The compact size just screams harmony and balance with the diminutive SilencerCo Sparrow.

I love .22s. Full size, compact, micro – I don’t care. They’re just fun. But there’s something to be said for a .22LR gun that is downsized for the rimfire caliber, and this one is. While I didn’t do a volumetric test to determine the exact size relationship, think of the M&P22 Compact as an 87.5% scale version of a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P – that number is from the company. Whatever the numbers, the feel and balance is great.

The pistol comes with (2) ten-round magazines, safety lock and gun lock keys.

The pistol comes with (2) ten-round magazines, safety lock and gun lock keys.

I picked up a production model at my local gun store, East Coast Guns in Summerville, South Carolina. When I asked manager and firearms trainer Tim Elmer for his first impressions, the first thing out of his mouth was “Wow! That’s a neat little thing!” After a bit more reflection, he noted “the size is awesome, well perfect actually. It also seems very well built, the safety is positive and the action is smooth. Now I have to shoot it!”

Me too. So let’s check it out.

Features and Specs

Opening the box, you’ll find a pistol, two 10-round magazines, keys for operating the integral safety lock, a hex wrench for windage adjustment of the rear sight, fired case and owners manual.

The pistol uses a blowback action with a fixed barrel, common to most .22 pistols. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism. Here are the basic specs:

Overall Length 6.7 inches
Barrel Length 3.6 inches
Barrel Rifling 1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand
Overall Height (including sights) 5.0 inches
Overall Width (with controls) 1.5 inches
Total Empty Weight 17.0 oz.
If you've seen the original M&P22, you'll notice the Smith & Wesson lettering is toned down on the new model.

If you’ve seen the original M&P22, you’ll notice the Smith & Wesson lettering is toned down on the new model.

The barrel itself is threaded, although that’s not obvious until you retract the slide. A screw on thread protector cap, the same diameter as the barrel, is hidden inside the slide when in battery. If you want to add a silencer to the M&P22 Compact, you remove the cap, add a thread extension and adapter to provide 1/2×28 threads compatible with most .22LR silencers. If you already have an adapter for the original M&P22, be aware that it won’t work – you will need a new one sized for the larger 3/8”-24 threads on the M&P22 Compact barrel.

The magazine release button is mounted by default on the left side of the pistol, but it’s easy to move it to the opposite side if you like. The owner’s manual includes clear step-by-step instructions with photos if you want to do this.

The new M&P22 Compact is shown here (right) next to a Smith & Wesson Shield (left). I put a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser on my test gun because... Fun!

The new M&P22 Compact is shown here (right) next to a Smith & Wesson Shield (left). I put a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser on my test gun because… Fun!

The M&P22 Compact features an ambidextrous thumb safety which blocks operation of the trigger. A nice design feature is that you can perform administrative functions like slide operation, slide lock and takedown with the safety engaged. We’ll talk about other improvements to the safety levers in a minute. While we’re on the topic of safeties, the pistol also has a trigger activated firing pin block and it’s drop safe.

The M&P22 Compact has a visual loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. A small curved cutout allows you to see if there is a cartridge in the chamber.

There is a lawyer lock on this gun. On the M&P22 Compact, an included key can be used to lock the safety in the “safe” position. In fact, the lock can only be engaged while the safety is in the “safe” position. Do with the lock what you will.

 

Read the rest at Guns America!

 

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A Look At The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

The Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun is all business.

I recently got my hot little hands on a Beretta 1301 Tactical shotgun. After checking out the floor model at the 2014 NRA Annual Meeting, I decided I had to have one. Why? Because it handles like a shotgun carbine. If you’ve shot short, light weight and compact rifles, then you know exactly what I mean. Now envision those attributes in a shotgun and you’ve got the Beretta 1301 Tactical.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

The Aimpoint Micro H1 optic fit perfectly and allowed for co-witness of the ghost ring sights.

Right out of the box, it’s just under 38 inches long, which is right in line with other famous carbines like the Ruger 10/22 and World War II era M1 Carbine. Beretta ships this gun in its shortest configuration. The butt stock has removable spacers included in the box that allow you to add ½, 1” or 1 ½ inches to the stock length to arrive at the length of pull that you want. Me? I loved the short and handy configuration, so I left the spacers in the box for future use in the event my arms grow longer.

The 1301 Tactical is offered in 12 gauge only at this point and features a 3 inch chamber. In a small, lightweight shotgun like this one, you really don’t want to shoot 3 ½ inch shells anyway – it’s not intended to be a turkey hunting gun.

Differing from it’s 1301 competition sibling, the 1301 Tactical model sports some differences. First, it has an 18-inch barrel as compared to the Competition choices of 21 or 24 inches. It’s also got adjustable ghost ring sights. Both the ghost ring in the rear and sturdy post up front are protected with metal “wings” to save your sights from getting knocked around in the back of the SWAT wagon. More importantly, the 1301 Tactical model has a receiver-mounted rail just in front of the rear sight so you can mount optics. For me, this just screamed for an Aimpoint Micro H1. With a 2-MOA red dot and compact size, it turned out to be the perfect solution. The quick-release mount on the Aimpoint positioned the optic at a perfect height so the iron sights are just visible in the bottom section of the glass. If your battery croaks, you’ve got iron sights ready to go without need to remove your optic.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-15

Magazine capacity on the 1301 Tactical is a bit less than that of the 1301 Competition due to its shorter length. In mine, I can stuff 4, and sometimes 5, shells into the tube depending on the shell. Be aware that Beretta ships this model with a magazine plug in place, temporarily limiting tube capacity to two shells. No worries, just pop out the plug and you’re good to go.

Beretta_1301_Tactical-26Speaking of magazine capacity, I felt compelled to add a Nordic Components extension tube to my test model. While I could have chosen a longer tube, I opted for a 2 shell extension. This makes the overall length of the magazine tube just a hair longer than the barrel. I get two extra shells with no sacrifice of the compact handling qualities. Now, my total capacity, at least using Federal 12 gauge Gold Metal Target loads, is 7 in the tube plus one in the chamber. If you’re a 3 gun competitor, you might notice this sets this shotgun up nicely for…

The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Event!

While I was itching to try this shotgun anyway after seeing at the NRA Annual Meeting, I really wanted to test it in such a way as to give it a total workout. The idea was to configure this gun as a useful home defense model and the midnight 3 gun competition is a great way to test gear to see how it performs in the dark. In addition to the Aimpoint Micro H1 optic, I added a Crimson Trace Rail Master Pro up front on the right side. A Nordic Components tube / barrel clamp with rail segment gave me the perfect spot to do that.

Read the rest at Beretta USA!

 

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Gun Review: Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AAC Blackout AR Rifle

Here's a slightly "geared up" Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

Here’s a slightly “geared up” Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 Blackout.

Some phrases are just fightin’ words.

“That’s MY horse!”

“That’s MY daughter!”

“I love the 300 Blackout!”

For some reason, virtually any gunny discussion about the 300 AAC Blackout cartridge quickly devolves into a typing wind sprint where the winner itemizes more reasons why the 300 Blackout is not as good as (fill in your favorite cartridge here.)

Due to the unique performance characteristics and its wide range of velocity an projectile weight combinations, it gets poked in the eye from both ends of the ballistic spectrum.

The high speed supersonic crowd gets bent out of shape because, in their words, the 300 Blackout

“Doesn’t have the same energy or reliability as the 7.62×39 AK-47 round.”

“Doesn’t have the ‘reach out and touch someone’ range of the 6.8 SPC.”

“Ammo is way more expensive than the .223 Remington / 5.56mm!

The rumble and bumble subsonic cartridge fans fans claim…

“Why not use a pistol or MP-5?”

“Subsonic rounds are unreliable unless you use a silencer.”

“Ammo is way more expensive than .223 Remington / 5.56mm!”

This reaction is understandable. We all know that if you encounter someone who’s wrong on the internet, you have to rectify the situation immediately, right?

Subsonic ammo, like these 220 grain Sierra MatchKings, shot surprisingly well.

Subsonic ammo, like these 220 grain Sierra MatchKings, shot surprisingly well.

As with most debates, there are a lot of elements of truth in all of these statements. But I don’t really care. That’s because, for me, whether the 300 Blackout is interesting or not isn’t a binary question. It doesn’t have to be better than (fill in the blank.) I like the fact that it’s a different option with unique capabilities. In fairness, I might be more biased in favor because I’m a reloading enthusiast, and the 300 Blackout is a reloaders dream.

What’s 300 AAC Blackout?

The simple explanation is that the cartridge offers 30 caliber performance and viable subsonic options from a standard 5.56mm AR platform. A 30 caliber barrel swap is required, but other than that, the bolt, carrier, receivers and magazines are compatible. Without delving into the debate here, the idea is to provide improved terminal performance, especially from short barreled rifle platforms. The subsonic option is interesting as a 300 Blackout can launch a 208 to 245 grain projectile in the 1,000 feet per second velocity range. When used with a suppressor, the sound level is very, very quiet. Switching a 300 Blackout rifle from supersonic to subsonic performance involves no more than a magazine change. We’ll get into more detail on the wide variety of cartridge options later in this article series.

One big drawback to shooting 300 Blackout is ammo cost and availability. That pesky supply / demand thing means there is much less manufactured, so it’s expensive and harder to find. If you shoot 300 Blackout it’s in your best interest to reload your own ammunition.

The Daniel Defense DDM4v5 300 AC Blackout

You might say Daniel Defense rifles are built from the parts up. The company started by making a simple part – a receiver mounted sling loop. You know, it’s that typical American success story. Some person out there has a better idea, they figure out how to make it, then sell it to the masses. In an oversimplified sense, that’s sort of how Daniel Defense rifles came to be. After the sling loop had started to sell, Marty Daniel figured he could also invent a better rail system for AR type rifles. Ultimately, he figured, why not build a whole rifle from the ground up using parts designed and manufactured mostly in house?

When it comes to rifles, ground up really refers to barrel out. One of the first big equipment investments at Daniel Defense was a cold hammer forging machine for making barrels in house. Cold hammer forging is kind of a cool process. You take a steel tube with a hole in it, insert a perfect 3D mirror image of the barrel interior and chamber (a mandrel), then pound the living crap out of the outside of the tube until the interior takes the form of the mandrel inside. The reason for all this pounding and noise is that the end result is a smoother and stronger finished product, and that leads to better accuracy and longer barrel life. No pain, no gain, right?

Let’s get back to the rifle at hand. The DDM4 series is infinitely configurable, so I’ll talk about the options I chose for this rifle here. Just be aware that you can build your own at the Daniel Defense website if you want to tweak options like trigger, chrome, iron sights, rail type, flash suppressor and more.

Let’s touch on some of the high points of this rifle, then we’ll talk about significant details. It’s well built for military-level reliability. Gas keys are staked, parts are mil-spec compatible and Daniel Defense pays attention to the little things that add up to long term performance under rough conditions.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

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The Rookie's Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

The Rookie’s Guide to Guns and Shooting, Handgun Edition

Gun Review: Smith & Wesson’s 1911TA eSeries

One of the design goals of the eSeries line was elegant, but not gaudy, appearance.

One of the design goals of the eSeries line was elegant, but not gaudy, appearance.

There’s always something appealing about a nice 1911. While carrying a full size, all steel 1911 isn’t always fun, shooting one sure is. This particular eSeries model is a blend of traditional and modern innovation. Like the origin government model, it’s got a 5 inch barrel, single stack .45 ACP magazine and single action trigger. Unlike the original, it features Tritium night sights, tactical rail and other internal design changes that we’ll discuss later.

Impressions

Let’s start with the most noticeable features. With that criteria in mind, I have to mention the grips first. They’re gorgeous. The specs say the grips are wood laminate, but it’s sure hard to tell. The grain pattern is beautiful and the finish is well polished. There is a small diamond with the eSeries “E” logo. Surrounding this is a traditional diamond checkered pattern. Above and below the diamond pattern area you’ll see a fish-scale pattern that matches the scallop pattern carved into the slide. The grips are not only really attractive, but functional. They won’t rub your hands raw, but do provide a positive grip through recoil.

It's a personal opinion, but I think the grips are, well, awesome.

It’s a personal opinion, but I think the grips are, well, awesome.

The slide also falls into the “cool looking” category. The cocking serrations at the rear are the same fish, dragon or snake scale pattern – choose your favorite reptile. There are matching scale serrations on the front. Some people don’t like texture on the front of 1911 slides, but I find them handy for press checks. Even if I grab the front of the slide overhand, I can still easily see the chamber. But using front serrations or not is a personal preference thing. I happen to like them, but get that others don’t. The top of the slide is flattened and has full length grooves. Whether or not you think this “looks” cool is not really the issue. The practical purpose is to reduce glare that can interfere with your sight picture. Another thing to mention while we’re talking about the slide is that there are horizontal serrations at the rear also on both sides of the hammer cutout. Again, the purpose is to minimize glare.

The extractor is an external design, so that varies from the “purist” 1911. Personally, I don’t favor internal or external, as long as it works. You’ll also notice that the ejection port features a scooped cutout at the front to assist with easy ejection with a wide variety of load types.

The SW1911TA ships with two magazines with 8 round capacity, so the total carry load is nine including one in the chamber. The magazine release button is aggressively checkered and .145 inches is exposed above frame level. It’s easy to reach with your firing hand thumb if your’e right handed. When shooting left handed, I was able to operate the magazine release with my trigger finger without breaking my normal firing grip. Magazines easily fall free of the magazine well when empty.

Both sides of the frame behind the trigger are beveled to allow an unhindered reach to the trigger. The front of the grip is contoured and recessed to allow a high grip and secure resting place for your firing hand middle finger.

The front and back of the grip area are checkered with good, but not sharp texture. I counted somewhere in around a 17 or 18 lines per inch pattern, but all those dots kept getting blurry when counting, so let’s call it 17.5 lines per inch, OK? I’ll schedule a visit with my eye doc before the next time I have to count checkering patterns.

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Gun Review: Browning Citori 725 Feather Over & Under Shotgun

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

The Browning Citori 725 Feather is a beautiful gun, both in handling and appearance.

There are times when a heavier shotgun is nice to have—the trap or clays course, for example, where you’ll be popping off a hundred or so 12-gauge shells and have ample opportunity to set your (heavy) gun down. And there are other times when lugging around a gun that weighs the same as a gallon of house paint really, really hurts.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

Much of the weight savings comes from use of an alloy receiver. However, key components like the breech face are constructed of steel for durability. You can see the steel inset here.

The primary design idea behind the Browning Citori 725 Feather is, you guessed it, light weight. My evaluation sample was a 12-gauge Feather model with 28-inch barrels. It weighs in at 6 pounds, 9 ounces. If you compare to the equivalent Field (non-Feather) model, the 28-inch barrel model weighs just about a full pound more at 7 pounds, 8 ounces. That adds up over a day in the field. Imagine taping a can of lima beans to the Citori 725 Feather, and now you’re carrying a standard weight over-and-under.

Where did the weight go? Unlike the Field model, with its all-steel receiver, the Feather uses an alloy receiver. The breech face and hinge pin are still constructed from steel for durability.

A Quick and Dirty Tour

OK, so we’ve established that the Citori 725 Feather is light. Now let’s take a look at what else it offers.

pistol grip checkering-1

The pistol grip area features cut 20-line-per-inch checkering.

Chambers are cut for 3-inch shells if you want to shoot the big-boy stuff. And you can do this thanks to a variety of felt-recoil-reducing features that we’ll talk about later. First on that list is that the Citori 725 has a lower-profile receiver. If you look at it compared to a “standard” over-and-under receiver, you’ll see that the top of the receiver is somewhere between ⅛ and ¼ inch lower than normal. This lowers the recoil force just a tad, which helps prevent muzzle jump. The more inline the bore, the more natural, and less painful, a gun feels.

In terms of dimensions, the overall length is 45 ¾ inches with a 14 ¼ inch length of pull. Drop at the comb is 1 ⅝ inches and drop at the heel is 2 ¼ inches. You can order the Feather with either 26-or 28-inch barrels.

Read the rest at GunsAmerica!

Fun and Games with the .257 Weatherby Magnum

The .257 Weatherby Magnum has a lot of cartridge case behind a little bullet.

The .257 Weatherby Magnum has a lot of cartridge case behind a little bullet. These handloads are using Nosler Custom brass and Hornady .257 117 grain SST bullets.

I’ve got a thing for the more unusual calibers. Probably because I’m a reloading addict. I just don’t care that commercial rounds of .300 AAC Blackout cost over a buck each. Or that .357 Sig pistol ammo is crazy expensive relative to 9mm. Or that no one stocks 6.8 SPC ammo. I don’t know why, but these oddball cartridges are some of my favorites.

When I had a chance to start some serious tinkering with a .257 Weatherby Magnum, how could I resist? Word is that the .257 Weatherby Magnum was Roy Weatherby’s personal favorite, and that’s saying something. Developed starting back in 1944, it’s a belted cartridge derived from a .375 H&H Magnum case. That’s a lot of case capacity for a .25 caliber bullet. It likes projectiles in the 85 to 120 grain weight range with 100 grain bullets being the most common.

All that case capacity is put to good use as the .257 Weatherby is a true speed demon. An 85 grain bullet will move at over 3,800 feet per second, while a 100 grain projectile cooks along at just under 3,600 feet per second. Yes, you have to be considerate to your rifle barrel. Proper cleaning and cooling will extend its life.

If you look at energy, the “standard” .257 load exceeds both the “standard” .308 Winchester and .30-06 loads with over 2,900 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

If you have to say just one thing about the .257 Weatherby Magnum cartridge, that’s easy. It’s a flat shooter. How flat you ask? If you fire a 100 grain projectile from a .257 Weatherby Magnum parallel to the ground, it will drop about 46 inches by the time it reaches 500 yards. A .30-06 150 grain projectile will drop about 66 inches over the same distance.

The Weatherby Vanguard 2 Package comes with a Redfield scope, sling and case.

The Weatherby Vanguard 2 Package comes with a Redfield scope, sling and case.

I recently got my hot little hands on a new Weatherby Vanguard 2 Synthetic Package. As the name implies, you get everything you need with this model except ammo. The factory mounts and bore sights a 3-9x42mm Redfield Revenge scope, adds a sling and packages it all in an injection molded rifle case. The price of the complete package has a suggested retail of $999.00.

The stock is a monte carlo style with soft inserts in the grip and fore end areas. These felt great, improved grip and seemed to help dampen recoil impulse to the hands. The stock has a raised comb and contoured cheek rest area which positioned my face perfectly at scope height.

The barrel is 24 inches, cold hammer forged and features a 1 in 10 inch twist rate. Magazine capacity is three, plus a fourth round in the chamber. The magazine features a hinged bottom for easy dumping of unused rounds.

The trigger was crisp and clean. The face is flat with serrations and had no detectable creep. It’s a two-stage design with about ⅛ inch of take-up immediately followed by a clean break. It’s also adjustable down to 2 ½ pounds of pull weight.

The rifle with scope mounted weighed in at 8 ¾ pounds, although it felt lighter to me. It’s a nice handling rifle with a great feel.

Accuracy and velocity

I couldn’t bring myself to shoot factory ammo out of such an interesting gun, so I decided to give it a variety diet of carefully hand loaded ammunition. Being a brand new rifle, I broke it in very carefully. For the first 10 shots, I fired, cleaned and allowed the barrel to cool down between shots. For the next 20 rounds, I cleaned the bore after every several shots while still monitoring barrel temperature to guard against accuracy loss (and excess wear and tear) through overheating.

I used my very portable OTIS cleaning kit to scrub the bore frequently during the barrel break in period.

I used my very portable OTIS cleaning kit to scrub the bore frequently during the barrel break in period.

In my first outing, I recorded velocity of a variety of hand loads, and just for the heck of it, fired 5 shot groups. As the rifle was still in a break in period, I didn’t expect perfect accuracy performance (yet) but was curious about how it would shoot right out of the box.

I loaded a half dozen combinations for initial trial using Hornady 117 grain SST, Nosler 100 grain Ballistic Tip and Barnes 100 grain TTSX bullets. Powders were IMR 4351, Hodgdon 4350 and Reloader 25. While I won’t publish load data here (I’m a stickler for getting load data from manufacturer sources only) my load data was sourced from Barnes, Hornady and Hodgdon.

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