Category Archives: gun culture

A Deeper Dive on BFRs

As part of my tour of Magnum Research, I unpeeled the onion so to speak on one of their lesser-known product lines, the BFR.

Originally named Brainerd’s First Revolver, as it was invented in that Minnesota town famous for Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox, in 1999, it has always been a Magnum Research product. Even with that being said, Jim Tertin, the guy behind the high-octane wheelgun, has been with the BFR since the beginning as has his first employee, Brett Pikula, who he hired in 2001.

Specializing in rifle-caliber rounds, (think lever-gun rimmed cased behemoths like the .45-70, .444 Marlin, and .30-30 WCF), Tertin told me the logic behind using these in a single-action revolver just makes sense.

“Rifle calibers in a handgun are extremely practical for a number of reasons,” explained Tertin. “You get a lot of horsepower, and the ammo is lower-cost than the high-performance handgun ammo.” Availability is also a factor, with Tertin explaining you can get .30-30 or .444 Marlin “at any sporting goods store,” whereas something like .50 AE is a little more expensive and harder to find.

More in my column at Guns.com.

So, I Went Behind the Scenes at Magnum Research

During my summer trip to the Great North filming episodes of Select Fire for Guns.com, I spent some time at Magnum Research in Pillager, Minnesota, to see how Desert Eagles and BFRs are made.

Yup, that’s a .45-70 revolver…

Now part of the Kahr Firearms Group along with other lines such as Thompson and Auto-Ordnance, Magnum Research was established in 1980 in The Gopher State, and the company’s best-known product, the Desert Eagle, began factory production in 1984 with serial number 3,001.

Fast forward over 35 years later and the “Deagle” remains the company’s most popular firearm.

 

For more and the full factory tour, check it out at GDC. 

Ever Seen a General Officer Beretta?

Typically, the only way to get one of the coveted and extremely rare General Officer pistols is to become a general in the U.S. military. About that…

The Army’s General Officer Pistol program dates back to at least 1972 when the service’s Rock Island Arsenal began producing M15 pistols for general officers, a gun that led to the now-popular Officer series of M1911s.

U.S. Army issue an M15 General Officer pistol (S/N GO481). The M15 pistols were manufactured solely by Rock Island Arsenal starting in the early 1970s through approximately 1985 when the US Army adopted the Beretta M9 pistol. This gun was sold at an RIA auction a few years ago for $6,900.

Marked with serial numbers prefixed with the letters “GO,” the program switched to issuing M9 Berettas in the 1980s then in 2018, in a story I previously broke for Guns.com, to Sig Sauer M18 GO models.

Other than the special serial number range, GO models are issued for operational use and are essentially no different from standard-issue pistols. However, the average Joe can’t buy his gun when out-processing from the military, whereas generals can.

According to U.S. law, at the end of their service, generals can purchase their issued pistols, which are unfathomably rare, museum-worthy collectibles if not retained by the family. As noted by the Army, famed WWII Gens. Omar N. Bradley, George S. Patton, and Dwight D. Eisenhower all purchased their guns when they left the military

A rarity, the General Officer M9 I’ve been checking out lately was obtained directly from a retired U.S. Army general who had more than thirty years of successful military service spanning the Cold War and Desert Storm, including more than five years with the famed 82d Airborne Division.

Boom

More in my column at Guns.com. 

Going for a Sunday walk among the sunflowers in the countryside with the lads

Via the Parachute Regiment archives:

77 years ago today: Sunday, 17th September 1944, the Market side of Operation Market Garden.

Usually misidentified as Airborne Signallers, this is a group of the 1st Battalion, The Border Regiment, 1st (British) Airborne Division, at the edge of Drop Zone “X” in Holland mid-way between Sinderhoeve and Jonkershoeve, looking south towards the Klein Amerikaweg.

Pic by – Sgt. M. Lewis, AFPU.

Second from left is a Sergeant, fifth from the left is an Officer and on the right, the soldier is hoisting a 51-pound (without the ammo!) Vickers Medium Machine Gun onto his shoulder. Note the handie-talkie being used by the officer, at least four Borderers with No. 4 Enfield .303 rifles, and two with STEN MK IVs.

After having gone to France with the BEF in 1939, the Borderers made it out sans most of their equipment from Dunkirk, and, since they were “light” already was reformed as a mountain unit attached to the 31st Bde then in 1941 were transitioned to being glider-borne infantry. As such, they landed at Sicily in Operation Ladbroke, suffering heavy casualties and losing 75 percent of their ranks.

Reformed too late for Overlord, Market Garden was only their second combat glider operation. However, they were all but destroyed in that infamous “A Bridge Too Far” operation, and spent the rest of the war reforming for a third time just in case they were needed for the push on Tokyo. They were not, and ended WWII in Trieste on the early front line of the Cold War.

Formed in 1702, 1st Bn/Borderers were amalgamated with 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster), to form 1st Battalion, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, which was further amalgamated with the King’s Regiment and the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment to form the new Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment (King’s, Lancashire and Border) (LANCS) which today still carries a Glider Flash worn on the sleeve while in No. 1 and No. 2 uniforms to remember Ladbroke and Market Garden.

Army to Glock: Give us $15M worth of ‘Perfection’

The Pentagon apparently went looking for some “Glock Perfection” and last week tapped the company with a contract worth up to $15 million. 

Smyrna, Georgia’s Glock, Inc, was awarded a $14,999,980 firm-fixed-price five-year contract “for various firearms, spare magazines, and spare parts.”  The contracting activity was the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Newark, New Jersey. 

The 59-page Solicitation Notice, published by Picatinny Arsenal in July, was specifically to “procure non-standard weapons/commercially available Glock weapon systems” including up to 1,500 G17 model handguns; 5,000 G19s; and 2,200 G26 pistols across several generations (Gen3, Gen4, and Gen5). Modular Optic System (MOS) (G19, Gen 3, 4, 5) and threaded barrel versions (Metric or Standard threads, G19 MOS, Gen 4, 5) were also covered.

“A Green Beret demonstrates how to dismantle an M249 light machine gun to partner force soldiers of the Maghaweir al-Thowra (MaT) during a machine gun familiarization range at al-Tanf Garrison, Syria, March 4, 2020.” Note the holstered Glock, complete with factory night sights, in what could be termed a “field-modified” holster. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. William Howard)

More in my column at Guns.com.

Well Now, That’s Different

Trailblazer is known for their folding Lifecard .22LR pistol, at least for now

The North Carolina company that brought the world a “fifth pocket-sized” folding .22 pistol now plans to bring a 9mm rifle to the market.

Trailblazer Firearms last week announced the planned Pack 9 rifle, a 9mm blowback-action carbine with an innovative folding design that compacts the gun down to 20.9-inches in its smallest format.

Pack 9 folded. Note that the barrel is oriented over the end of the stock! Also note that it cannot be fired in such format. 

Using Glock compatible double-stack magazines, the Pack 9 has a 16-inch threaded barrel, weighs a very light 5-pounds, and expands to 29.7-inches overall with the stock extended.

The Pack 9 unfolded. Note the barrel orientation now.

And here is the kicker, the action and barrel swing into place 180-degrees on a horizontal axis.

Wait, what?

Check it:

So We Should Talk About the PSA Dagger

This comes as a response to a reader’s question. 

One of the guns I carried and used the most from about 1999 to 2015 ish was my trusty (but never rusty) Gen 3 Glock 19. In short, I ran something like 30K rounds through that bad boy in a series of 3-, 5-, and 7-day classes during that period as a student and used it as a demo and “loaner” gun while as an instructor.

Mah beat-to-heck G19 Gen 3. All I’ve done to keep it running is swap out the recoil spring every 5K rounds whether I needed to or not and I recently changed out the firing pin spring, plunger spring, and trigger spring because I got paranoid. 

Today, Glock still makes the Gen 3/G19– largely because it is on California’s roster of handguns approved to sell to the public– with the 12-month average price as of this week running $558.11 new and $493.09 used. Heck, I recently just picked up a Mariner variant of the same gun just to say I had one.

So why all this talk about Glocks when the title of this post is about something called the PSA Dagger? Because this, if you haven’t heard, is the Dagger:

Call it a Glock 19 clone, call it a “Glock killer” just call it (says PSA, anyway)

In short, Palmetto State Armory in the past several years has beaten just about every black rifle maker in the AR-15 space with some guns that are just an absolute bargain. I can vouch for this as I have two extremely reliable builds I put together a few years ago using PSA’s 5.56 NATO “Freedom Upper” that included a lead-lapped, 1:7″ twist, 416R stainless steel barrel which yielded exceptional accuracy.

One of what I call my “6-pound basic $500 ARs,” with PSA uppers and guts. Again, these are often loaned out for classes and have never left the user with a bad experience.

With that same sort of logic, to hamstring their competitors by delivering well-produced guns and components at a lower cost, PSA last year tackled the consumer pistol market with the $299 Dagger that does everything a Gen 3 G19 will do for you at a much more attractive price point.

A striker-fired polymer-framed 9mm that has the same general specs (not to mention internal compatibility) of 3rd Gen G19s, the Dagger has several upgrades over the Glock. For instance, it uses a SAAMI Spec 1:10 twist stainless steel barrel that has been DLC coated as well as a stainless-steel slide that has been black nitrided. Go ahead a do a search to find out what Glock makes their barrels and slides from (hint: not stainless). Further, the Dagger has front slide serrations (something Glock only added on the Gen 5 guns), a better grip texture (IMHO), and a flat-faced trigger that breaks at 5.5-pounds.

By the way, PSA offers the Dagger as slides for those with an extra frame or kit on the shelf, and in versions with threaded barrel and CHF barrel options.

On the downside, the Dagger doesn’t have the same Glock name recognition and are a bit harder to find (you basically have to sign up over at PSA to get email blasts to see when they are available) but you get a decent modern double-stack 9mm that is domestically made and eminently supportable for a lot less.

And that’s my two cents on the Dagger.

Just 5 Days Left to Get Brace Comments In

Ironically, the rule would allow you to keep this pistol, just get rid of the base, because, somehow, “the brace is what makes it dangerous”

The public comment period on a plan by the White House and federal gun regulators to crack down on the legal use of stabilizing pistol braces is closing in the coming days. 

The proposed rulemaking by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives largely bans the use of popular stabilizing braces on pistols by proffering a complicated multi-part test to determine if large-format handguns equipped with such braces could stray into being illegal short-barreled rifles.

The comment period is open until Sept. 8 and, as of Thursday morning, only had 149,960 comments listed. By comparison, almost twice as many comments were logged on the ATF’s proposed rule change on firearm frames and receivers, which ended last month.

Keep in mind that there are as many as 40 million braces in circulation right now, meaning only like 0.37 % of brace owners have taken five minutes to weigh in on the issue. My bet is that most don’t know what is coming, which could be bad for them. Like 10 years in prison kinda bad.

Submit your comments in these easy steps:

  1. Visit regulations.gov using this hyperlink
  2. Click the “Comment” button on the “Proposed Rule”
  3. Explain how it would affect you in a reasoned, polite comment that specifically says that you are opposed, or somehow in support of, the rule. 
  1. Enter your e-mail address (scroll down)
  2. Fill out the “Tell us about yourself” section
  3. Hit submit

FN Goes…22?

As I have mentioned a few times before, I really like FN’s 509 and 503 series pistols and have spent some extensive periods running them on T&Es over the past couple of years as part of my “day job.” I even got to go behind the scenes at FN’s factory in Columbia, SC back in 2019 to see how they are born.

I knew about the FN 502 back in December, when I saw the PTO trademark for the name filed. However, what I did not fully know this week, is that it is a hammer-fired .22LR!

A “tactical” gun built on the lessons learned and profile of the 509 (it uses the same holsters), the 502 includes an optics-ready slide and a threaded barrel, as well as a 15-round magazine option.

Yes, I have one inbound for testing! You know this…

More on the FN 502 in my column at Guns.com.

Ask Yourself One Question…

Smith & Wesson’s large N-frame revolvers are a favorite among handgun hunters, competitive shooters, and classic wheel gun enthusiasts.

With a basis in the old school circa 1908 Hand Ejector First Model “New Century” double-action revolver, the first handgun chambered in .44 S&W Special, this early S-frame morphed during World War I into the Model 1917, chambered in .45 ACP, and a series of similarly beefy descendants such as the Model 27 – the world’s first .357 Magnum – and, the subject of our tale, the hand-filling Model 29.

I recently got to handle these bad boys while I was in the Vault in Minnesota. There is a reason these have been in production for over 60 years.

More in my column at Guns.com.

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