Tag Archives: edc

18 Months with a Mini Bull along for the ride

I’ve been living with the Taurus GX4 micro compact 9mm for a year and a half on a daily basis and put well over a thousand rounds through it. It has surprised me, for sure.

Taurus introduced the GX4 to the world in May 2021, and I was able to get an early test model from the company slightly before. A good sequel to the company’s budget line of increasingly well-made and dependable G2 and G3 series pistols, the GX4 was more of the same, only smaller and with a better trigger.

When compared to more recently introduced double-stack micro 9s with similar magazine capacity, the GX4 was smaller than a lot of the big names, seen stacked side-by-side with the Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro, SIG Sauer P365 XMacro, and Kimber R7 Mako.

Designed for personal carry, the GX4 proved such an easy carry – just 24.8 ounces when fully loaded with 14 rounds of 124-grain Gold Dot– that it has become my go-to of late. Of note, that is the same magazine capacity as on the vaunted Browning Hi-Power, my first carry gun back in the late 1980s.

I’ve been carrying the GX4 in a DeSantis Gunhide Inside Heat, a bare-bones minimum IWB holster built from black saddle leather, and it just disappears. The pistol is, realistically, just slightly taller than a pocket gun but comes ready with 13+1 rounds.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Hellcats: The Colors, the Colors

Springfield has been kicking out new color options for its popular Hellcat series of micro-9 pistols and a Desert Flat Dark Earth variant is the newest offering.

The new Springfield Armory Hellcat Pro in Desert FDE still offers a 15+1 capacity in what the company says is “a smaller footprint than any other gun in its class.”

It is also an Optical Sight Pistol, or OSP, configuration milled with the Shield RMSc/Springfield Micro footprint with a set of co-witnessing U-Dot tritium sights. For those keeping count at home, the Hellcat Pro runs 6.6 inches in overall length and 1 inch in width, which puts it in the same box as the nominally 10+1 capacity Glock 43X.

Previously, Springfield only offered an FDE variant of the Hellcat in its original 3-inch barrel format.

Also, the company has announced new Robin’s Egg and Burnt Bronze two-tone models as well:

Gonna give you a wild guess of what I would go with, as I have a (spoiler alert) something of a problem when it comes to 50 shades of FDE.

Springer doing better when it comes to Micro-9s

Promising a more full-size performance out of its micro 9 series platform, Springfield Armory announced the new Hellcat Pro on Friday.

Using flush-fitting 15-round magazines rather than the standard Hellcat’s 11+1, the Hellcat Pro brings a 3.7-inch hammer-forged barrel to the carry game in what Springfield says is a smaller footprint than any other gun in its class. For those keeping count at home, the Hellcat Pro runs 6.6-inches in overall length and 1-inch wide, which puts it in the same box as the nominally 10+1 capacity Glock 43X. At a height of 4.8-inches, the Hellcat Pro is a tad shorter than the G43X when the Austrian polymer pistol has its standard mag inserted.

More in my column at Guns.com. 

I Love Old Savage Pistols. New Ones? Well, That’s Another Story

Savage marketed its moderately successful Model 1907/1915/1917 pistols until 1928. The handy autoloader was one of the first popular American-made semi-auto carry guns, made in .32 ACP, .380 ACP, and .45 ACP. The Savage Model 1907 was even considered by the U.S. Army in the trials which saw the Colt M1911 adopted for nearly a century of service.

Other than occasional runs of bolt-action benchrest guns and the MSR 15 Blackout pistol which was only made for a couple of years, Savage has concentrated in the long game, eschewing handguns as a category since Calvin Coolidge was in the White House.

Company officials say the time is right, now two years after it separated from Vista Outdoors to become a stand-alone operation, for Savage to move back into handguns.

Their new handgun? Polymer-framed striker-fired 9mm micro-compacts intended for carry and self-defense, use a serialized chassis that allows it to easily swap across a range of various grip frames with black, gray, and FDE modules available at launch, all with interchangeable backstraps to adjust grip size.

The “Stance” has a 3.2-inch stainless-steel barrel, making it just slightly shorter than the Glock 43 and more akin in size to the FN 503 and Sig P365 in that metric. The new Savage pistols have 7, 8, and 10-round magazine options.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Taurus goes TORO with the GX4

Taurus’ micro-compact 9mm just got a little better as the company on Friday announced a new optics-ready TORO model addition to the line.

The increasingly American-based company debuted its new micro pistol in May with an 11+1/13+1 capacity and a sub-$400 asking price. This made the gun– which I found dependable in testing— a budget competitor against similarly-sized contemporaries such as the Sig P365 and Springfield Armory Hellcat, with about the only rock that could be thrown against it is the fact that it did not come with a slide cut to support popular micro-red dot carry optics.

Well, that has now changed as the new Taurus GX4 TORO series has a factory cut and mounting pattern that supports Hex Wasp GE5077, Holosun HS507K/HS407K, Riton 3 Tactix MPRD2, Trijicon RMR, Shield RMSc, Sig RomeoZero, and Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M3 sights.

At an asking price of $468.

Thus…

More in my column at Guns.com.

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.

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

22 Years with the same old Snubby

For those situations where a more full-sized gun isn’t on the schedule, this Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight has often tagged along with me, especially in hot summer months.

I picked up this 15-ounce piece of prevention back in 1997 and, while my typical everyday carry is a double-stack 9mm compact (alternating between Glock’s G19 and S&W’s M&P 2.0) this .38 special often pokes its head out of the safe for various uses. While not perfect, they do have their place and this one has been nothing but faithful for 22 years.

More on its journey in my column at Guns.com.

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