Tag Archives: concealed carry

Of My Time with the GX4

Taurus announced the new micro-compact semi-auto pistol, the GX4, in May, billed as an 11+1 shot 9mm that was roughly the size of a traditional .380 pocket gun that had half the capacity. The specs of the polymer-framed striker-fired handgun– 5.8-inches long with the small backstrap installed, about an inch wide, and 4.4-inches high with the flush-fit magazine inserted– put it in the same boat as the Ruger MAX-9, Sig Sauer P365, Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, and Springfield Armory Hellcat line.
I’ve been kicking around the new Taurus GX4 over the past couple of months, having run some 500 rounds through it, and have some things to say about it.

The 11+1 shot Taurus GX4 is definitely compact. Micro compact, you could say.

Have $400 and Want a Micro 9 with Change Leftover?

Taurus is looking to take on the big boys with its new micro pistol, which is designed to deliver maximum concealment without sacrificing capacity or ergonomics – the GX4.

Getting the specs out of the way, the 11+1 shot 9mm is the size of popular .380 “pocket guns,” using a 3.06-inch barrel to tape out to a maximum 6.05-inch overall length. The gun is slender, at just over an inch wide, and it is 4.4 inches high at its tallest. The unloaded weight is 18.6 ounces. Fully loaded with 12 rounds of 147-grain JHPs, I found my test gun to hit the scales at 23.9 ounces.

Compared to other recently introduced micro 9s, such as the Ruger MAX-9, Sig Sauer P365, Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, and Springfield Armory Hellcat, the GX4 is a dead ringer as far as size goes. Plus, its flush-fit mags hold one extra round over the Sig or S&W’s comparable magazine while being on par with the Springer and one less than the Ruger.

However, where the GX4 cleans house is the price: $392. That’s the MSRP, meaning that “actual” prices at your local gun store will probably hover closer to “Three Fiddy.” 

More in my column at Guns.com.

The Micro 9 Race is Heating Up

Every 25 years or so, handguns catch a big developmental wave. For instance, the last one prior to modern times occurred with the “Baby” Glocks of 1994, when the company debuted subcompact 10+1 shot pistols to make the most of the federal assault weapon ban. Those guns proved so successful that Glock now makes a subcompact model in all of their calibers– including the only company that makes a 10mm Auto pocket gun– while others have increasingly tried to imitate, duplicate or one-up the concept.

This brings us to 2018 when Sig Sauer brought their new “micro-compact” P365 to SHOT Show. Even smaller than the Glock G26 but with the same magazine capacity, it was a smash. Since then, Springfield Armory has brought their Hellcat to the market, with much the same concept, as had Taurus with the G3C.

Well, on the same day this week, both Ruger and Smith & Wesson announced their own separate P365/Hellcat/G3C competitors, the MAX-9 and the Shield Plus, respectively.

Ruger’s new MAX-9 Pistol, which, importantly, is optics-ready for under $500.

S&W M&P Shield Plus

Here is a snapshot of who they stack up when it comes to specs:

As for how they compare against each other in real life, the jury is still out on that one.

Circa 1974 Walther PPK/s, You Say?

Drink in this PPK/S that was brought into the country by Interarms while Jerry Ford was in office. A Manurhin-produced gun with Walther of West Germany rollmarks and the antler/stag stamp of the Ulm proof house, it is marked “9mm kurz,” which of course is .380ACP over here.

For reference, the blade is a German Puma Medici swing guard from the same era. I’m a sucker for pairing guns and knives. 

Today, tested with a good defense load and a modern holster, this gun could still clock in for EDC as needed.

One thing for sure, when visiting the range, the PPK continues to turn heads and sparks interest. Although it has very small sights, they are workable, and the gun is almost surprisingly accurate– surely due to its fixed barrel design.

Guns like these are not only collectible, shootable, and useable, but are a great device for bringing new people into the shooting community. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard, “I always wanted to shoot one of those,” when the old Walther comes out of the safe for a breath of fresh air.

The Little CZ 2075 RAMI

For the last 15 years, CZ produced a great sub-compact pistol based on its vaunted CZ 75 line that was perfect for concealed carry, the handy little 2075 RAMI.

Introduced in 2005, the RAMI was in every sense a chopped-down CZ 75, using the famed pistol’s double-action/single-action design and double-stack magazine format. Whereas the full-sized CZ 75 typically had a 4.7-inch barrel which yielded an 8.15-inch overall length and 38-ounce weight, the alloy-framed RAMI hit the market with a 3-inch barrel, 6.5-inch overall length, and an unloaded weight of less than 26 ounces.

While the downsized RAMI shipped with a 10-round flush-fitting magazine in 9mm format, it could accept all standard CZ 75 double stacks due to its family tree. They typically shipped with a 14-round extended magazine with a grip extension as well.

More on the RAMI in my column at Guns.com.

Repairman Jack’s Gatt

Originally billed as a “vest pocket .45” built for maximum concealment in mind, the 4+1 Semmerling LM-4 pistol was only 5.2-inches long, 3.7-inches high, and a svelte 1-inch wide. For reference, this puts it in the same neighborhood as common .32ACP and .25ACP pocket pistols, but in a much larger caliber. Today it still holds the title as perhaps the smallest .45ACP that isn’t a derringer and, for comparison, it is about the same size as a Ruger LCP.

It is also the only manually-worked slide action .45ACP carry gun I can think of…

And I have been fooling around with serial number #31 lately

More in my column at Guns.com. 

So I have been carrying the Beretta 92X Compact for 2 months…

I’ve have been shooting and carrying one of Beretta’s newest versions of their iconic Model 92, the 92X, and have a few things to report.

While the standard/full-sized 92X uses a 4.7-inch barrel to produce an 8.5-inch long handgun that tips the scales at 33.4-ounces while unloaded, the smaller Centurion is a more Commander-style offering with a shorter 4.25-inch barrel which boils down to a 7.75-inch overall length.

Going even shorter, the 92X Compact has the Centurion-length slide and barrel on a shorter frame (5.25-inches high, versus the standard 5.4-inch) to produce a handgun more suited for concealed carry. This puts the Compact in roughly the same class, size-wise, as guns such as the Glock G19, Sig Sauer P229, and S&W M&P M2.0 Compact.

I have carried it for over 400 hours and ran 2,000 rounds in it drawn from a selection of loads from Winchester, Federal, CCI (Blazer), Wolf, and PMC in weights between 115- and 147-grain with a mix of various training and self-defense ammo in standard commercial, military, and +P velocities.

Long story short: one malfunction in shooting, some belly skin lost in carry. Other than that, not bad. Not bad at all.

In the end, the 92X gives the modern shooter a reliable handgun that stands on 40+ years of legacy while having a lot of features– DA/SA hammer-fired action, all-metal construction, slide-mounted safety/decocker– that you aren’t going to find on the average plastic fantastic.

Further, it does it all in three available sizes with a ton of aftermarket support. The 92X series may not get people to drop their polymer striker-fired handguns, but it does give those who are familiar with, or prefer, the 92 families a more contemporary pistol that is both fun to shoot and dependable.

See the full review with more context in my column at Guns.com

The old loaded chamber arguement

Ever since the first repeating handguns hit the market, the debate has ensued on carrying said hog leg on a loaded chamber

Most will say that carrying with an empty chamber is like saying you will have enough time to put on a seat belt in the second before you get in a car crash.

But in some cases, it may be a good idea…

The subject from both sides of the argument in my column at Tac44.com.

Speed loaders: A vintage concept that never goes out of style

Going all the way back to the days of Rollin White’s revolutionary cylinder design of 1857, immortalized by two guys by the name of Smith and Wesson, the cartridge revolver that could be quickly reloaded has been a hit. Even though the detachable magazine semi-auto pistol was introduced just a few decades later, the wheel gun has endured and is still popular today.

The two largest publicly traded firearms companies in the U.S.– S&W, and Ruger– still have almost as many if not more revolver designs in production as they do semi-auto handguns. This is because the revolver is inherently simple, has few moving parts to master, can be very compact in snub nosed varieties, can bring the heat in large framed magnums, and a lot of people just plain old like ‘em.

With that being said, there is nothing that bars the average wheel gun user from stepping up their game when it comes to being able to rapidly reload an empty cylinder. This can be for fast and positive use on the range, competition, or in trimming the time needed to get back in the fight during a self-defense scenario.

Enter: The Speedloader

I do love a good old Colt

More in my column at Tac44.com

End of the line for VEPR?

A classic Molot VEPR in .308 with the long 22-inch barrel and Counter Sniper Mil-Dot 4-16x44mm optic with illuminated reticle. Now more expensive than ever!

Back in January, I spoke at length with people over at Molot who were working hard on extending their exports of VEPR rifles and shotguns to the U.S. They were hopeful that the new Trump administration would be friendly to lifting some sanctions on Russian-based companies. Russian-made firearms were popular export items to the states until the conflict in the Ukraine and the resulting international backlash triggered a host of official embargos.

Per figures from the International Trade Commission, 204,788 firearms of all kinds were imported from Russia in 2013.

This figure plunged to just 9,556 in 2015 — mainly from Molot, the only large firearms maker not named in sanctions.

Well, it looks like that figure is going to be a lot lower in 2018…

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