While your best and most effective bet in the majority of hairy self-defense scenarios (barring something laser-guided or belt-fed) is a rifle– preferably a few different ones in a range of calibers– in a pinch a handgun is better than verbal judo, a pointy stick, or the lid off a can of sardines. With that in mind, I made a list centered on pistols and revolvers that are 1) modern, 2) accept common ammunition, 3) have spare parts that are readily available, 4) proven, 5) are simple to manipulate, and 6) easy to maintain.
Sure, each of these has their haters, but most importantly each type has a huge crowd of fans and users that have kept them in regular production for decades.
More in my column at Guns.com
So I’ve been testing a basic $500 U.S.-made vanilla GI .45 format– the Auto-Ordnance BKO.
On the outside, it is a dead-ringer for a post-1926 made martial M1911A1. On this inside, it is an 80-series update with arguably a better trigger and tighter tolerances (due to CNC) than the old warhorse.
In range tests so far I have found that it ate 600 rounds of mixed bulk ammo from various makers, run through a hodgepodge of factory and aftermarket mags, with accuracy that is “close enough for Government work.”
Much more details in my column at Guns.com
I give you, the M-Lok compatible Auto-Ordnance Tactical Tommy Gun.
Yes, it is still .45ACP, still a semi-auto carbine (which is A-Os specialty these days post-Hughes) and still uses 50-round drums and 20-round sticks.
But everything else is, well, different.
More in my column at Guns.com if you are curious
I recently had the chance to tour U.S. Army’s Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, the keepers of the flame for military history in the country.
The 15,200-acre installation in North Alabama was established in World War II and overhauls both small arms and vehicles for the Army. A longstanding tenant on the sprawling base, based out of Building 201, is the Museum Support Center, operated by the Center of Military History. The CMH maintains an immense collection of 650,000 historic items across 228 sites including 57 large museums that are a part of the Army Museum Enterprise. Items not yet on display, waiting for a public home, or are excess to current museum needs are stored in the “Army’s attic” in Anniston.
In secured storage at the MSC are 13,000 live weapons of all sorts, ranging from 13th Century Ottoman gear to guns captured recently in Afghanistan…and they were gracious enough to roll out the red carpet for me:
More in my column at Guns.com
In 1989 California lawmakers puked up one of the first assault weapons bans in U.S. history and in subsequent years added tweaked it and added such blanket restrictions as prohibitions on .50BMG (because there are so many crimes done with these…). While the California Department of Justice has tried really hard to ban anything that is AR-15ish or AK-47like, all enterprising gun owners have had to do is use devices such as ‘bullet buttons’ and low-capacity magazines to be able to own one today.
Still, between 1989 and 2001, the state allowed the registration by civilians of grandfathered guns. Well through Guns.com I did a public records request to CA DOJ and obtained their list of registered guns, all 145,253 of them. A detailed analysis found some really interesting things.
Here’s a snapshot of the top 25 manufacturers for example:
- 28,259 Colt Mfg, almost all Sporters and AR-15 type rifles
- 16,665 Chinese Norinco/Polytech/Clayco rifles, primarily AK and SKS pattern guns in 7.62mm
- 14,797 Bushmasters, almost exclusively XM-15 series rifles
- 9,158 Heckler & Koch firearms, with Model HK 91, 93 and 94 rifles accounting for the majority
- 4,529 Springfield Armory rifles, primarily M1/M1A 7.62mm guns
- 4,528 IMI guns including 179 Galil rifles and 4301 UZIs of multiple types in 9mm and .45
- 4,199 Armalites including 291 AR-10s and 1046 AR-180s
- 3,124 Eagle AR-pattern firearms
- 2,924 Intratec branded guns, all variants of the TEC-9/AB-10 and TEC-22 pistol
- 2,732 Ruger firearms, mostly Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles
- 2,199 FN/Browning/FNH with mainly FAL and FNC type rifles listed
- 2,189 SWD guns mostly Cobray and M10/11/12 MAC-style pistols
- 1,876 Arsenal made AK-pattern rifles in 7.62mm
- 1,461 DPMs, all AR-15 variants
- 1,457 Austrian Steyrs, almost all AUG-series 5.56mm rifles
- 1,303 Korean Daewoo firearms in several variants, almost all 5.56mm rifles but also 16 DR300s in 7.62 and 5 DP51 pistols
- 1,170 Franchi shotguns in the uber-scary SPAS 12 and LAW12 varieties
- 1,132 CAI/Century guns, primarily 7.62mm rifles
- 1,082 Hungarian FEG guns, mostly SA85 AK-style rifles
- 914 Auto Ordnance, typically all Thompson 1927 style carbines
- 770 Imbel L1A1 type rifles in 7.62mm
- 693 DSA rifles, all SA58 models
- 526 Enterprise Arms 7.62mm rifles
- 496 Berettas including some 122 AR-70s and 60 rare BM-59s
- 445 SIGs, including 122 P-series pistols and 139 SG550 5.56mm rifles
- 392 Benellis, split roughly between their M1 and M3 tactical shotguns
The rest of the 3,000~ word report over at Guns.com along with a photo gallery of some of the more interesting guns here.