Category Archives: new gun

A North Star AR?

When I do a gun review, I typically only have a chance to kick it around my local climes– the swampy Gulf South, where humidity is as thick as the gumbo and sand is only something you find on the riverbank or the beach.

Well, I had a special chance recently to hammer away on a test carbine in a class at Gunsite in the high mountains in Northern Arizona during monsoon season, where the moon dust turns a unique bubblegum consistency and sticks to everything.

Then, switching gears, I was able to bring said carbine back home and continue the T&E period with another 700 rounds in between Sazeracs and crawfish boils.

The gun was a Northstar NS-15.

This thing…

You may not have heard of them, but North Star has some pretty interesting sister companies.

An offshoot of RSW Aviation, North Star Arms is the second and more commercial firearms endeavor that has sprouted from the Arizona company. The elder RSW-related gun company is the better-known Profense, a maker of improved M134 Mini Guns in 7.62 and its downsized 5.56 little brother that started when RWS was looking for gun pods for its aircraft.

And I have to admit, the NS-15 proved super accurate and durable for a mid-length carbine with a 16-inch barrel.

North Star uses Ballistics Advantage barrels and ships with a sub-MOA guarantee

More in my column at

Swimming with the Manta

Many feel that hammer-fired metal-framed pistols are better in every way when stacked against polymer-framed striker-fired guns. It can be argued that they have a smoother trigger, better aesthetics, and better build quality in addition to faster lock times and less felt recoil. It is no surprise that the trend lately has been for a slew of hybrid steel-framed and tungsten-infused striker-fired guns have hit the market to mimic that old-school feel.

Speaking of which, Tisas quietly added a bobtailed update to the company’s Duty B45B series this year, which in itself is interesting.

When it comes to the signature Ed Brown Bobtail treatment, with the heel of the frame cut to minimize printing– and maximize comfort– when carrying concealed, most 1911 models on the market that utilize it are of the more compact Commander-sized length, using 4.5-inch barrels. Well, Tisas already has that in the form of the 9mm Stingray Carry and Yukon Carry in 10mm.

What the Manta Ray brings is a blend of the Bobcat frame in a full-sized Government length format.

Tisas swam one of the new Mantas my way to check out and I got to admit, it feels and looks great– especially at the price (retails for $550 ish).

Keep in mind you get a forged steel frame and slide, cold-hammer-forged stainless steel barrel, Novak sights, skeletonized hammer and trigger, an ambi safety, and G10 grips for that price.

And I like the fact that they have kept the rollmarks low-key and minimalistic.

More in my column at

Atlantic Lands FEG HD-18 SVD Whales

So Atlantic Firearms just brought these in. Drink in this Hungarian beauty made by the same folks that made the old PJK-9 Hi-Power clone, which, in my opinion, was the best P35 clone ever produced.

I give you, the Hungarian Dragunov-18 Rifle:

Imported by B&T USA, they run a PSzO-1M2 4x optic, have the classic SVD-style wood furniture that looks to be oak (or, possibly Hungarian Black locust?), and come with lots of goodies.

The bad news is that Atlantic is selling these for $7,500 which is astronomical, especially as these are new production guns and not surplus martial pieces that never passed a military inspector’s eye. Still, the market will probably bear it as Russian-made commercial Izhmash Tigers from the early 2000s run $7-8K with collectors and even Chinese Norinco NDM-86s from the 1980s are pushing into the $10K region.

Folks just love SVDs….

Hopefully, some Pewtuber guy in the firearms industry known for his ability to corner the market on these Eastern European SVD types won’t buy all these up and jack up the price higher than a Chinese spy balloon!

Update: Annnnnd, they are all sold out.

Everything you want in a P365, without the loudener

SIG has an optimized variant of the 17+1 round 9mm P365 XMacro headed to the market– minus the integrated compensator that a lot of folks detest– but with a few extra goodies.

The new P365 Macro TACOPS will have the slightly taller grip module of the XMacro that comes standard with a frame-mounted M1913 accessory rail for lights and lasers. The upper half is that of a standard P365 XL. What is totally new on the micro 9 is an integrated magwell for faster reloads, an extended slide catch lever, and, as it is a TACOPS package, four flush-fit 17-round magazines.

I ran into the P365 Macro TACOPS at SIG’s media event in Nevada last week on the eve of SHOT Show and got a sneak peek at the new pistol.

The P365 Macro TACOPS can be looked at as a P365 XMacro in which someone swapped out a regular XL top half and added a magwell and extended slide lever. The pistol shown wears a SIG RomeoZero Elite 1×24 micro red dot– which fits the Shield RMSc/Holosun K footprint of the series– with its optional metal shield installed.

More in my column at

In one of the most surprising stories from SHOT…

Confession time: I have long owned and used an 8+1 shot Bersa Thunder CC .380, finding it both reliable and very easy to conceal. At the time I picked it up, I’d gone down a rabbit hole in which I owned several Argentinian-made pistols including a few HAFDASA Ballester–Molina .45ACPs and a couple of 9mm FM (not FN) Hi-Powers.

Not a bad little gun…

Founded by a trio of Italian immigrants to Argentina back in the 1950s, the company made a name for itself crafting small and dependable blowback-action pistols that evoked a sort of Walther PP/PPK flavor.

Long imported by Eagle Imports, Bersa switched gears in 2021 and elected to go with Talon moving forward while also looking to bring some production to the U.S. This led to a new state-of-the-art facility in Kennesaw, Georgia which has been slowly standing up for the past two years.

That’s what brought me to Bersa’s booth hidden over in the 70,000-block of Ceasar’s Forum during SHOT Show last week.

Did I mention they are making a half dozen different AR models now?

More in my column at

The two Coolest things at SHOT Show

You know, if you told me 10 years ago that the two coolest items across the 13.9 miles of aisles and 2,500 companies exhibiting at the 45th annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas would both be at the Palmetto State Armory booth, I would not have believed you.

However, it happened.

The company has brought back two icons: H&R M16A1s and a centerfire U.S.-made Sturmgewehr 44.

The H&R brand comes as a reboot of the old circa 1871 firearms company that PSA picked up for pocket change in Remington’s 2020 bankruptcy sale. Turning the refreshed brand over to NoDakSpud founder Mike Wettleland, they will be making classic M16A1 as well as Colt 723 and 635 models. The former were made by H&R as a Colt subcontractor in 1968-71.

The H&R M16A1 retro rifle is hand-crafted from proprietary forging dies with 1960s vintage government markings. As the guns made for the Army back in the Fortunate Son era were in the 2-million range, the new H&R will mimic that although will be distinctive in the fact that they have West Columbia, South Carolina rollmarks rather than the Worchester, Massachusetts marks of the original. (Photo: Chris Eger/

This brings us to Hill & Mac Gunworks of Alpharetta, Georgia, a small gunmaker that had been working on an updated semi-auto Sturmgewehr clone made with modern techniques complete with a threaded barrel, a long stroke piston operating tilting bolt action, an HK style trigger pack, wooden furniture, and the possibility of being chambered in 5.56 NATO, 7.62x39mm, .300 AAC Blackout, or the original 7.92 Kurz– the latter is still in production by Privi Partisan in Europe.

Well, while HMG did sell some generationally similar CETME-L builds a few years back and marketed some reactive steel targets, their Sturmgewehr never made it to serial production and by 2020 the project largely fell off the radar after the company went radio silent.

Until now.

Popping up at Palmetto State Armory’s booth at SHOT Show last week was Mac Steil, the “M” of HMG, with news that PSA had stepped in to bring the project across the finish line. Advancing to the production stage, HMG customers that had preordered it from them back in the day will still get their HMG-marked gun while new guns for PSA will be under that company’s new “Battlefield” series.

The StG will still be offered in all four HMG calibers, use a STANAG mag pattern, and still runs an HK trigger pack. Caliber can be swapped by the user via a mag, barrel, and bolt change. There will also be things such as BFAs for reenactors, folding stock models, and more planned for the future.

Just Ruger giving the folks what they want

Bill Ruger, for all his faults, wasn’t stupid. He started his company from his garage in the late 1940s by making a simple and affordable .22LR pistol. Fast forward almost 75 years later, and the publicly-traded giant that has a $130 million cash reserve even after buying Marlin is still playing the classics.

In 2019, their simple and affordable .22LR single-action revolver, dubbed the Wrangler, was launched and, at a $269 entry point, has been extremely successful. Now for 2023, they have expanded it to include a “Sheriff” version which is chopped down from a 4.62-inch barrel to a 3.75-inch format, and have gone even longer with 6.5- and 7.5-inchers.

Overall length is 13 inches on the Ruger Wrangler with the 7.5-inch barrel, seen at the top, compared to 8.62 inches on 3.75-inch barreled “Birdshead” Wranglers, 10.25 inches on standard-sized models with 4.62-inch barrels, and 12 inches on 6.5-inch models. (Photo: Ruger)

The new long-format guns mimic the old Ruger Single-Six Buntlines, which have been in and out of production with 9.5-inch barrels, and the New Model Single-Six, which has a 6.5-inch barrel – but costs much more than any Wrangler.

The Ruger New Model Single-Six, with a 6.5-inch barreled offering, is a much nicer .22 but costs about twice as much as a Wrangler, when you can find them.

The price is still $269, asking, which translates to $199 at the gun counter.

Bill Ruger would recognize the game.

Savage Goes Big…on 1911s?

Firearms icon Savage Arms is expanding its new pistol line with a full dozen new 1911 offerings including rail guns.

Announced this week on the countdown to SHOT Show 2023, the new Savage 1911 line will be available in both 9mm and .45 calibers, three assorted color options– black Melonite, stainless, and two-tone– and either a standard or railed frame.

Nice to see more rail gun 1911s on the market…

Across the line, the Savage 1911s all use a forged stainless steel frame and slide, adjustable Novak Lo-Mount sights, Nitride-coated titanium firing pins, ambidextrous slide lock/safety levers, and a host of other features. All are full-sized, single-action Government-style pistols with 5-inch barrels and VZ G10 grip panels.

Between the three color options, two caliber choices, and the option for either a standard or railed frame, Savage will have a full dozen different 1911s to choose from. (Photo: Savage)

I’m gonna have to check these out at SHOT…

308, Now in Small Frame

Ruger announced its new Small-Frame Autoloading Rifle, or SFAR earlier this year, and I’ve spent the past few months kicking the proverbial tires on this .308 Winchester-chambered AR.

Not an AR10 and, of course, not really an AR15, the SFAR is something different. But it’s a good sort of different.

At 6.8 pounds out of the box and just 9.45 pounds shown well-equipped with an Eotech EXPS3 red dot on a QD mount for a primary optic, Magpul MBUS3 backup sights, and a BFG Vickers sling on Magpul QD swivels with 20 rounds of Federal 185-grain Berger open-tip match loaded in a steel Duramag, this hard-hitting little 308 still delivers and only runs 34 inches overall with the stock collapsed.

Plus, it delivers on target due to the fact that Ruger, while they gave the SFAR a skimpy handguard and lots of lightening cuts, they didn’t skimp on the heavy profile cold hammer-forged 4140 chrome-moly barrel with 1:10 RH 5R rifling.

Plus folks really, and I mean really, like this rifle. I got this poem as feedback on the SFAR, which is one of the top-selling in its class:

The meme image (“THIS, I love!”) was added by me, but the poem is art.

More on the SFAR review over in my column at

Eagerly Anticipated, Indeed

A few years ago, I did a “Select Fire” factory tour over at FN’s South Carolina plant, which was cool, but I stumbled across something in their showroom that was even cooler– the just-released FN SCAR SC.

I mean, will you just look at it? How is this thing not in like 150 different movies? (Photo: Chris Eger/

Designed for mobility and flexibility while still using the SCAR format, the downsized SC (subcompact) model runs just a 7.5-inch barrel for an overall length of 21-to-25 inches depending on how far you extend the collapsible stock. Select fire with a 550-650 rounds per minute cyclic rate in 5.56 NATO, it still uses a short-stroke gas piston system with a rotating locking bolt and was created with special operation types in mind, specifically adapted for security missions.

Sadly, it isn’t commercially viable due outside of military channels due to that whole NFA and Hughes Act thing, both of which should be repealed (just saying).

The FN SCAR SC is just pure awesome, and always gets lots of attention at the company’s booth during industry shows. (Photo: Chris Eger/

Anyway, we asked FN back in 2019 why they didn’t just deliver a semi-auto-only stock-less variant of the SCAR SC to the hungry masses as a large format pistol and kept asking that question every time we ran into them. The answer? A sort of a smile and a shrug, saying, in effect, “we can neither confirm nor deny such a thing may be on the drawing board.”

Well, it turns out that it was.

Meet the new FN SCAR 15P, a semi-auto-only stock-less variant of the SCAR SC:

And in the release for the gun, FN included this, which I am not saying is a personal ha-ha to me, but feels like a personal ha-ha to me, emphasis mine:

“This long-anticipated release carries the DNA of SCAR throughout from its short-stroke gas piston operating system, NRCH capabilities, cold hammer-forged and chrome-lined barrel, and so much more. We’re happy to deliver the FN SCAR 15P to our consumers who have eagerly anticipated this release.”

Anyway, more on FN’s new large-format pistol is in my column at

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