Firearms


I’ve been remiss in reviewing this.

I’m a 10mm fan. Have been since my first Glock 20 back in the ’90s. I’ve got a Kimber Camp Guard that’s superb, I’ve had a Tanfoglio Witness in 10mm that was a solid performer (and they used to be cheap, but no more…), and I’ve fired the Bren Ten and Colt Delta Elites. I’ve got a Aero Survival Rifle in 10mm. As said…a fan.

I was interested in Chiappa Rhino for a while. I like the idea of the six o’clock firing position — similar to the old Mateba revolver, but I wasn’t really looking for yet another caliber to have to buy. The 40DS (meaning 4″ barrel with double/single action) comes in 9mm, .38/.357 magnum, and .40…so was there a 10mm version? I queried Chiappa if they would do it, and got an unequivocal “no”…which is Italian for no.

Lo! and behold! however, there is a group that will modify the Chiappa Rhino .40 to 10mm. Aria Ballistics Engineering, Inc. out of Edgewood, Washington, will do this for you. They bore out the cylinder to accept the longer cartridge (and will do it to 10mm magnum), reharden the cylinder and frame, do a trigger job, and add a rubber grip. They can usually knock it out in a few weeks from when they get the revolver from you or Chiappa directly. I got lucky and they had a few they were working on so I didn’t have to pay the fee for the modification, but paid for the pistol straight off…for about the price the 40DS was online.

Yes, it’s a bit blurry… Size comparison with a full-size Kimber Camp Guard.

The stock Rhino has a great trigger, but the Aria 10mm lowered the trigger pull to 6 pounds in double action and just under 4 for single. The action is glass smooth, just like on a stock Chiappa, and strange due to the six o’clock firing position. The hammer isn’t the hammer; it’s a cocking lever. In single action, a little red pin pops up to let you know it’s ready. Decocking it is just like a revolver — pull and hold the cocking lever, then ease it down. The stock handle has a weird angle and feel, but it aims true.

The downside: You need moon clips for the .40S&W and 10mm. Chiappa sells a 10 pack for a reasonable price. It’s good for reloading quickly, but you can’t just drop rounds in.

The sights needed a bit of tweaking for height, but the rear is fully adjustable for windage and height, and the front is a bright fibre-optic. There’s a Piccatinny rail on the underside of the barrel for a light. In .40 Smith & Wesson, the Rhino has a stout recoil with zero muzzle flip. You get all the recoil inpulse in the thumb joint. That said, six rounds of double action rapid fired gave me a 3″ group at 15 yards. Now, in 10mm..? It hurts. All the recoil hits the thumb joint hard, but it’s accurate with a bit of work out to 100 yards.

With over a thousand rounds of .40S&W and 10mm combined through it, I’ve only had one issue — aluminum case Blazer will jam up the Rhino. The cases expand and bind up on the breech face.

So, is it worth it? A Chiappa online looks to go for about $1200. That’s about on par with the new Colts coming out (which are beautiful, by the way). In .40, the Rhino hits hard enough for most applications. With the Aria modifications, the 10mm is an excellent choice for the back country, but you could more easily go with the .357 magnum version. For me it’s definitely worth it; your mileage may vary.

As per the last post on the Kel-Tec RDB, I’ve gone bullpup stupid this summer. Prior to picking up the RDB, I got a good price on a KS7 12 gauge shotgun by Kel-Tec that was in my local gun store. I’m not really a longarm guy and shotguns are some of my least favorite…so why buy it? Honestly? It looked really cool, like something out of a sci-fi movie. IT would fit well in the Aliens universe with the weird carrying handle. With a total length of 26 inches and an 18.5″ barrel, it’s a full size shotgun in a tiny package. As the name suggests, it accepts seven 2 3/4″ shells of 12 gauge.

Kel-Tec is pretty proud of this, as the official picture on the website suggests.

Open the cardboard box and you get a weapon that has a lot of plastic…it’s a Kel-Tec. the grip and pump use their “alligator pattern” texturing and it works better than you would think. The KS7 loads from the bottom, behind the grip and it’s a pretty unwieldy set up for the uninitiated. I’ve found that with practice, I can reload pretty quickly, but it’s not as simple as I would like. The body of the weapon is metal, and it’s double lined for safety, should things go wrong. The barrel and magazine tube are well-constructed, though the pump feels a bit rattly. That said, with full-length 12 gauge, it hasn’t malfunctioned. The carrying handle has a trench-style sight with a bright triangular fibre-optic bead in green. The sight works very. Picking up your point of aim is fast and intuitive, and out to 25 yards, it was hitting milk jugs with no issue. It functioned with everything from Fiocchi low-recoil 00-buckshot to Fiocchi #4, Berenicke slugs to Federal 00-buckshot. With a bit of run-in, the pump was much smoother and cycling improved. The key is a strong cycle stroke. The only trouble we had was running the pump less vigorously. That caused a double feed.

Takedown is easy: two pins in the grip assembly pop out, you angle the grip out from the back and pull the buttplate assembly (with the feed tines.) The bolt assembly comes out by racking the pump back and rotating the block 90 degrees. You unscrew the end of the magazine tube and pull the barrel forward. Done with disassembly. Reassembly is easy — reverse the process. The weapon stayed pretty clean through the first hundred rounds of testing, but needed a good takedown after out last trip out, when we had some issues I’ll discuss in a moment.

The good news: it will eat mini-shells. I could get eleven in the pipe and one in the breech for a total of twelve. The bad news: depending on the type, it might not do it reliably. the KS7 ate the Aguila Mini-shells in #7 and slug but if you didn’t firmly run the pump you could get a failure to eject and the next round would jam up — and worse, the shell might rotate. Not a great situation if you were using them for defense. That said, the Federal Shorty shotshells in #4 buckshot have run brilliantly, with no issues. The 00-buck, however, gave up an interest problem this morning: the last two rounds in the tube would spit out together and jam the shotgun. It did not replicate with the #4 nor with ordinary length shells. After disassembly, I found the follower was filthy and did not want to move easily. After cleaning the follower, tube, and oiling the little tooth assembly that catches and holds the shells in the magazine, the issue disappeared. As if as cold and wet, and I hadn’t cleaned that last bit, my suspicion is the follower was binding a bit and the retention hook wasn’t seating quite right. But I could be full of shit.

The good: the KS7 is well made and runs well, provided you aren’t shy about racking the thing. The sighting trench is very good, although you can swap it out for the Piccatinny rail system from the KSG, should you want other optics. It’s lightweight and short, making it an excellent home defense platform. It shoulders and comes on target fast. It transitions from target to target naturally and with ease. It will feed minishells, though I would run a few boxes to make sure which ones it likes before relying on them.

The meh: I found the pump to be a bit rattle-worthy. It’s not awful, but compared to the smooth, solid feel of my Benelli Nova, it’s underwhelming.

The bad: It’s very light. The buttpad is a slim bit of rubber. This equates to intense felt recoil. I’ve never been a big 12 gauge fan, and this KS7 was painful to fire after a few rounds. This was mitigated with a Missouri Tactical buttpad (and Kel-Tec does their own thicker pad), which made the experience much more pleasant. It’s still a 12-gauge, but it’s not painful to put a couple dozen rounds of buckshot through it now.

Trust me — if you’re thinking of buying a KS7, just get one of these and save yourself some pain.

So, is it worth it? MSRP on these is $530 and I found my cheaper than that. If you’re a shotgun person and want a bullpup for the house or vehicle, or for backpacking — it’s a great choice (if you buy the butt pad!); for home defense, it should be a solid choice. For competition and other applications, I’d pass.

I went on a bit of a bullpup kick this summer. I’ve always liked the form function of the bullpup, but most of them are — to be blunt — kinda crappy. The Steyr AUG is certainly cool in a 1980s action movie sort of way, but the trigger is awful. The FN2000 was a major malfunction waiting to happen. The Tavor is better, but it’s clunky and heavy, especially the shotgun version. The Springfield Hellion, or should I say the VHS-2 the Croatians use, ain’t too bad, but it’s ridiculously expensive. However, the P-90 and PS-90 (while not bullpups in the strictest sense) were excellent weapons. The bottom eject made for fewer malfunctions — in fact, I cannot remember the full-auto P-90 I fired in the ’90s, nor my civilian PS-90 ever having a malfunction of any kind. I even once ran a magazine with a loose/broken feed lip in the PS-90 and it worked.

I’ve never been a big rifle guy. Or a “big rifle” guy. The M-16 and M-4 in the military were fine: light, low-recoil, and easy to shoot, but even those I found just didn’t point naturally for me. All of the shitty weapons above (plus the superb P-90) did. They transition from target to target well, the recoil is more manageable, and they’re much more easy to use indoors.

I didn’t even know Kel-Tec was doing anything other than their venerable SUB-2000 series, so when I saw an RDB on the wall at a local gun store, I played with it — then found it for a realistic price online. (Markup on these at the LGS seem to be about $200 or so.) So for $700, I had a new rifle on the way.

First up — it’s Kel-Tec. There’s going to be a lot of plastic with their “alligator pattern” on the grip. It looks primitive. It works well. I’ve run a P-32 pistol from Kel-Tec for years as my “oh, shit!” gun and never had a malfunction, and the alligator grip texture keeps the little banger in place.

The official picture from the Kel-Tec website.

The stock is metal, and has a double layer over where the breech is so you don’t lose your face in a malfunction. The buttpad is a thin layer of rubber and does just fine absorbing recoil. The forward grip has a little give on mine, but it doesn’t feel chintzy. The barrel on mine is 16″ (the “Defender” variant), and the total length is 27ish inches. It weighs 7 lbs., so about on par with my AR-15. It uses STANAG magazines, so there’s compatibility with weapons like the AR-15. It is chambered in 5.56mm/.223 rem. and uses a short stroke gas piston system to cycle. PMAGs work just fine in it.

The weapon is dead simple inside — a bolt assembly that sits around the piston rod. When it fires, the bolt travels to the back on the weapon and drops the spent round through an ejection port behind the magazine before traveling forward to pick up the next round.. It expected this to be a point of failure; I was wrong. The trigger on bullpups is usualy awful. The RDB has a smooth pull with a bit of take up and a 5ish pound release. It’s as good as most out of the box ARs. The gas system is easy to access and adjust. There’s a couple of sling points on the front of the handgrip, on the top of the buttstock, and two points on the sides of the receiver/grip assembly. There’s a Pic-rail on the top for optics and flip up sights. I added a pair of UTG cheap pop-ups that worked without adjustment, and the Strikefire off of my AR pistol that needed a lot of drop on the point of aim to get sighted in.

So how does it run? I had no issues with 55 grain ammunition, but Hornady Black 75gr jammed up pretty spectacularly, with two rounds getting caught in the breech. Pulling the magazine and running the charging handle cleared it without issue, and a quick adjustment of the gas block has allowed it to run everything from 55gr to 79gr without malfunction for 1200 rounds. Most of the rifle stays clean but the area around the gas block and the rod are pretty dirty.

Accuracy is solid, with similar groups made between the RDB and a H-Bar AR for comparison. A recent trip out (in the pouring rain, no less) saw the RDB plant shot after show on a frying pan hung from a tree at 50 yards using the Strikefire red dot. Reliability was flawless since the gas was adjusted. Recoil is negligible, and certainly less than the H-Bar. The weapon’s balance allows for great controllability: it moves from target to target naturally, and sights in very quickly.

That’s it. Fully taken down, save for trigger internals.

Takedown is simple. Two pins release the grip/receiver, from the barrel assembly. Pull the barrel assembly up a bit, or rotate the grip down and the barrel and bolt assemblies come right out. Putting it back together is just as easy, although sometimes getting the bolt face to lock requires a bit of wiggling. Wear over the thousand plus rounds has been minimal on the finish of the bolt and other friction points. Kel-Tec did a good job on this thing.

Reassembled.

So…is it worth it. A loud and unqualified yes. The MSRP is about $900 and yes, it’s worth it. Is it better than an AR? I think so, but your mileage may vary. The trigger is good, the balance is superb, it’s light and the size makes for an easy to use weapon.

I’ve got a few .22 long rifle firearms, but overall, I’m not a big rimfire fan. The ammunition quality is spotty, to be kind. I’ve had the bullet fall out of the casing from time to time on some brands (and not that long ago.) Also, the weapons are usually finicky as hell when semi-auto: my daughter’s PPK/S .22 is a great little gun with the right ammunition and at least two rounds through it. (The second round on any trip will fail to feed, then it will be flawless…it just needs to let you know it’s not down to play.) The Rock Island bolt action she has — great: but it’s a bolt-action so it runs like a top and is surprisingly accurate for a 16″ .22 with iron sights. The Kadet conversion for my CZ-85 eats every type of .22LR and just keeps running, but every .22 conversion I’ve used on my friends’ 1911? Crap.

So, it surprised the hell out of me when I went into the local range while the kiddo was rockwall climbing and saw the new Walther WMP in .22WMR (.22 mag for the uninitiated.) After playing with my stuff, I borrowed some time on the WMP. After 300 rounds of CCI 30 gr. Maxi-Mag and Remington green box 40 grain, I had an idea of how the thing functions.

First impressions on the fit and finish: It’s a full size pistol with a 4.5″ barrel and an overall length of just over eight inches. The grip is 5.5″-ish. It’s not the lightest rimfire you’re going to handle and feel slightly heavier than my PPQ unloaded. (It’s 27.8 oz.) The grip is fantastic, as most Walthers since the P99 have been. The grip angle, finger swells and texturing is top-notch. The slide feels like aluminum, and when I looked it up — that’s it. It’s a hammer-fired pistol, which I like, personally. The sights are good — a fiber optic front and windage adjustable in the back. You get multiple sites of different heights to adjust elevation. There’s a plate system for red dot, in case lining up three dots is too hard for you. There’s cocking serrations fore and aft, and what looks like (but isn’t) porting in the slide — it’s just to lighten the slide for function. It’s got the usual blade safety in the trigger.

The weirdness starts for the magazine release, and honestly, I hope this catches on because it’s great. You can’t figure out a new manual of arms? Gotta have the “bullet button” to get the magazine out? It’s an ambi magazine release…but wait, there’s more. You also have paddle releases on either side of the trigger guard for the older Walther and H&K fans. They al can actuate the mag catch on the front of the 15 round magazine. Yes, 15. There’s a nice window to see the rounds and a little thumb button to help load the ammunition. The ammo is ever so slightly staggered, so I was expecting misfeeds. Didn’t happen.

Takedown is simple. Clear the pistol. Lock the slide to the rear, flip the slide catch down and pull the slide off. Pull the captured spring/guide rod, and the barrel. Done. It look like most polymer-frame pistols inside, but the trigger and magazine catch are more complicated than usual. It was easy to clean and reassemble without having looked at the instructions.

I vikked this from another site.

The barrel is fixed with the recoil spring underneath like most semi-autos, not with the spring around the barrel like the PPK. The barrel is thick, steel, and well made. Judging from the triple crown proof marks, Walther’s Umarex group is making this.

Second, how’s it shoot? One word: spectacularly. For one, much like the .22 TCM 1911s, if you miss your target, you just might set it on fire. The muzzle flash is movie-quality. The report is impressive. The accuracy..?

This is 50 rounds of “not taking my time.” 25 yards unsupported and a bit shaky after 150 rounds of 10mm.

It’s effortless to shoot. There’s almost no recoil, the sights were decent even for low light, and that was with no experience on this platform. The trigger is light — about 4 lbs. using my tip of my finger scale — and resets quickly and with a light audible click. Trigger quality has become Walther’s claim to fame; the WMP lives up to it. A few of the flyers were me double tapping too quickly from the muzzle blast.

The WMP functioned perfectly with the Remington 40 grain and gave two failures to feed (the slide didn’t get back far enough to pick up the next round) on the CCI 30 grain. Walther’s WMP website has ammo recommendations and they suggest 40 grain and speeds of 1875fps+. The 30 grain will “Work OK” according to the website. Both failures occurred at the end of the session, when the pistol was truly filthy and had come straight from the box without any cleaning. While apart, there was white packing grease in the slide rails — this probably was hampering cycling, as we had a couple of “is it going into battery” moments where the slide two stepped back into position with the 40 grain Remingtons. I’m going to blame the grease. After a quick rag cleaning on the line, the next fifty rounds wen’t downrange without issue.

As a light game or varmint pistol, it’s definitely serviceable. As a plinker it’s a tad expensive, ammo-wise; as a target pistol, it’s great. As a self-defense gun..? I wouldn’t want to touch this off inside in the middle of the night with no hearing protection, but at least you and the bad guy would be blind and deaf for a half hour. “Besides,” say the bigger is better bros, “it’s not enough gun…you gotta have a [pick you favorite caliber] to do the job right.” A 40 grain hollow point .22 mag moving at 1200 fps or s from a 4″ barrel gives about 125 ft-pounds of energy that puts you firmly in the .380 ACP range. And if the first shot didn’t kill, set on fire, or blind the target, you’ve got 14 more.

The Walther WMP was selling for $449 at my gun store. So is it worth it? If you are looking for a recoil-light pistol with enough power to dispatch a raccoon stealing your Cool Ranch Doritos™️ or a similarly aggressive wee beastie on a mountain hike, 15 rounds of really accurate .22 mag hollow points just might be the ticket. Or if you have to signal objects is space at night. (Seriously, the muzzle flash is epic.) I want one.

This was a good year for old designs, especially the ultimate pistol of John Moses Browning, the “High-Power”. There was a lot of pixels spilled on gun websites about the Girsan and the Springfield Armory, and less about the new FN redesign of the venerable pistol. The one that most people seemed excited about was the SA-35, the Springfield Armory version that featured some small tweaks to fix the issues of the FN and other clones.

I had a Browning and a Hungarian knock-off from FEG that was actually better (in my opinion.) They shot extremely well, had a decent amount of ammunition in the magazine, and were easy to field strip and clean. I dropped the Browning because I got a good deal that made me a bit of money from what I’d paid for it, and it funded by first Heckler & Koch. The FEGs was fantastic and got traded in an impulse buy for who knows what — probably whatever new Tupperware .40 hit the market in the late ’90s. Of late, I’ve been moving back toward steel or alloy pistols. There’s plenty of great polymer frame pistols — see anything in the Walther or CZ lineup — but there’s something about a metal gun…

So when I heard Springfield had supposed to have fixed the awful trigger by getting rid of the magazine safety, expanded the capacity to 15 rounds (which, to be fair, some magazine manufacturers had already done), and changed the hammer design to avoid “hammer bite”, where the hammer would smack you in the web of your hand when the slide came back, I was drawn in — just like a lot of pistoleers. You couldn’t find these things for love or money until this month, but I stumbled on one in March at the excellent Omni Arms, here in Albuquerque. There was one tucked back on a shelf of rifles and the impulse buy had its way with me.

The pistol is, ergonomically, a delight. Like the 1911 and the CZ-75 series, it just drops into the hand and points naturally. None of the cranking your wrist down you have to do with the Glocks. It’s single action, so if the hammers down, it’s not going off. When I carried the FEG, I always ran with the hammer down, and cocked it on draw, but there’s an improved thumb safety that is a bit larger and has a much more positive action to it, compared to the old FNs. The finish is Parkerized and not my favorite — the bluing of the FNs and other clones is better. Opinion. I’d like a two-tone version. The walnut grips are nice and serviceable, as are the sites. The ring hammer is not supposed to give you hammer bite (It does me…) Fit is excellent, and while I don’t like the finish per se, it has not seen any appreciable wear with about a thousand rounds through it. It has eaten 115, 124, and 147 grain, aluminum and brass cases, some with nickel, round nose and hollow points without a failure to feed or fire.

But if you’ve been paying attention to the firearm forums and Facebook pages, there’s a serious issue with the SA-35: failures to extract. A lot of the shooters are seeing this at about 800 rounds, but some much earlier. I’m in the latter camp. I had my first failure to extract in the second box of ammo I shot. After that, every magazine saw between 3-5 FTE. That’s patently unacceptable. Now, having had a Browning and the FEG, I knew that these pistols had a reputation for extraction issues. I’d had it with both pistols, so i figured a quick trip to the gunsmith would sort it. The culprits: badly milled channels for the extractor spring (we had that), and weak springs or springs that expanded slightly under pressure and hence caught in the channel (we had that.) However, there have been issues of the slide serrations not being cut to give the extractor room to move. In my pistol (and another I looked at just today at a buddy’s shop) the extractor would not move under pressure, instead of camming a bit. So they have not sorted this, yet.

The gunsmith was packed up so I didn’t see the SA-35 for six weeks. When I got it back, I put two boxes of ammo through it with no issues. The next trip was back to 3-5 failures to extract. Going online, I started talking to others that had had warranty work done on their brand-new SA-35s: not only were the extractors replaced, but the barrels (???). My hunch is this isn’t just a shitty milling of the extractor spring channel, but also chambers with a bit too much head space, so that the rounds are getting ahead of the extractor. Do I know this for certain, no. However, the sheer number of warranty work I’m seeing shows an overall lack of quality control on the part of Springfield.

I contacted the company via email and heard nothing. A phone call did it, but come on — it’s f@#$ing the 21st Century! — answer your bloody emails. The SA-35 is on it’s way back to Springfield, but I will admit I am less than hopeful about this pistol.

Worse for Springfield, this is my first time owning one of their weapons. I’ve shot the XD and XDM others have had, and they’ve got a better grip angle than the Glock. I was interested in the Hellion. Now — I wouldn’t recommend Springfield Armory. Lest people think I’m overreacting on this — I’ve never been receptive to the production teething pains or the “you’ve got to break it in” argument you’ll hear from gunners. That’s like Steve Jobs telling you that you’re holding the phone wrong. It’s bullshit. Finish your product properly… I’ve never had to break in my Walthers, never had to break in a CZ, a Rock Island, a Tanfoglio, SIG-Sauer, Kimber, Beretta or Glock. And if I need it that first night I buy it, all the “it’ll loosen up” in the world isn’t gonna cut it. I’m also not a fan of pushing out a device that contains an explosion that isn’t working properly. One, I don’t need it blowing up. Second, a malfunctioning pistol in a firefight is basically a club.

So, the SA-35, which retails at about $700 (or more online, where the gouging has been outrageous). Is it worth it? The pistol was, to be fair, superbly accurate, good at mitigating recoil, and I really wanted to like it. But the extraction issues make this a no brainer — buy a CZ-75.

When I first started shooting, I was drawn to the new hotness of the time. I slavered over the Bren Ten, the Desert Eagle .357, the Glock 17’s polymer predecessor, the execrable H&K VP70Z, and then the prefect combo of gun-goodness, the Glock 20. The G20 was my first semi-auto pistol, but i found the grip angle awful. Glocks always shoot high for my natural point of aim and cranking my wrist down just doesn’t feel natural. So it was I fell down the rabbit hole of H&K USPs, Tanfoglio Witnesses (the closest you can really get to a Bren without spending beaucoup bucks), and the polymer Walthers. But a funny thing happened on the way to the 21st Century, I started really liking more traditional stuff. The Walther PPK over the polymer Kel-Tec P32 and P3ATs that I had carried, the CZ-85 over the P99, the 1911 and Tanfoglio in 10mm instead of the Glock. Metal guns.

I will admit, I still like a hammer, but striker-fired pistols have gotten pretty good at their triggers not sucking. The P99 was pretty good, the PPQ and PDP are pretty much the gold standard of striker pistols, with the CZ P10 series and the H&K VP9 coming in a very close second. The Walthers are also near perfection for ergonomics (again with the VP9 right up there.) They all do ambi controls, something Glock and other manufacturers just can’t seem to get into their skulls: a third of your customers are lefties.

So while I was at my local gun store last week (the excellent Right to Bear Arms here in Albuquerque, NM) the owner was showing me one of my old dream guns (that was before I had actually handled one and found it truly, unforgivably, awful), the VP70Z. There were a couple of the not-a-Glock Glocks that fix the grip angle issue that you either have or don’t. I think it’s pretty fair to say if you’re a Glock guy, that’s probably it; if doesn’t fit you, it’s like a sad marriage that you might stay in, but regularly dream of “going out for cigarettes” and never coming back. Then there was the Rock Island Armory STK-100 9mm pistol by Armscor. I vaguely remembered this thing being announced before the planet went nuts and shut down, but this was the first time I had actually seen one. Here’s an advertisement shot:

It looks better in person, really!

So what was this thing? It’s a striker-fired 9mm that can use G17 magazines, has a grip angle like the 1911 on a receiver made of aluminum — not polymer, and looks to have been crafted for the competition market. No surprise there; RIA is big on competition shooting. First impression on picking it up? It’s a bit fat in the grip and the sides are — in a move away from the sculpted curves of the PDP, Q4, and VP9 — pretty slab-like. If that sounds bad, it’s not. It drops into the hand with the grip being naturally high up against the beavertail. The cross-cut panels for grip and understated lines in the front and back don’t bite. It was cut for an optic and the rear sight is metal and part of the plate. The front sight is also metal and pinned it. The slide is cut for speed — something I’m a bit leery of: getting dirt in the mechanism isn’t a great thing. The slide cycled easily enough my wife, who has mild arthritis, was able to work it (unlike my PPQ). The trigger was excellent, with a short take up to a hard wall, then a crisp break at about 4-5 pounds. Oh, it’s got the usual trigger tab safety from every polymer gun out there. It pointed very naturally for my 1911/PPK/CZ-75 grip.

So I bought it. Price was about $550.

One of my long-time gun-buddy friends and I dragged this and the Kel-Tec KS7 out for a test run in the desert (I’m have a review of the KS7 later). That necessitated a take down and cleaning before the trip which leads to my first negative for the pistol. It takes down like nearly all striker pistol. pull the trigger (hate!), pull the slide just a fraction and pull down on a lever/tab/whatever. In this case it’s a Glock-style tab. The Walther does this much better. In fact, I suspect the tab, front sight, and a lot of the parts are damn close to compatible (or are) with the Glock. It has a slick black finish on the receiver that’s quite nice, but the slide is Parkerized, a finish I’ve never been overly impressed with. In this case, just three weeks of getting the slide racked had developed some wear in the finish on the top of the breech block and the slide, as well as the usual wear you would see from being fired on the barrel. Not a good look, RIA.

Out in sand, we took turns putting rounds down range. Nothing extreme — about 150 rounds total. I took the Walther PPQ out to compare, my friend his Glock 19s (plural.) Second complaint: not ambi on the slide stop. I’ve gotten good at hitting the mag release and slide stop with my trigger finger over the last three decades of shooting, so it’s not really an issue…but a third of the damned planet, guys. Also, it’s really wee. If I were in a hurry (or a panic), I can see running the slide as a better option. Ponz, our resident Glock fanboi, had no issues with it.

We ran it slow for accuracy and quick for recoil management and to see if we could bind it up. No malfunctions with Blazer Brass in 115 and 124 grain.. Accuracy was excellent — we were shooting at cans and bottles at distances from ten to thirty yards, and I was able to chase a coffee can rolling down the with five hits in rapid succession from about 15 yards. Point of arm was natural (note wrist position below), and the white dot front sight did it’s job well, if not spectacularly. My buddy suggested fiber-optic or Glock night sight would probably spruce that up. In comparison to the PPQ, I found it slightly more accurate; my companion shooter thought it on par with his tuned Glock 19.

Glock fanboi is uncertain…
Yes, I know the finger on the rail thing is weird, but I find I get fast target acquisition doing it.

Recoil management is, in a word, superb. Ponz described it as “almost like shooting a .22”, but I think that’s a touch much. Compared to the G19 and the PPQ, however, it was simply better. The PPQ doesn’t have a much in the way of muzzle flip, but there was none in the STK100. I found the recoil well mitigated by the lighter slide and aluminum frame, which makes the STK100 a few ounces heavier than a G17. I ran a string of five at the afore-mentioned rolling can and never seemed to have come off target. Photographic evidence disagrees:

We tried a bunch of different G17 magazines, including some old ones. The STK100 only works with the metal lined Glock mags, the old Gen 1 stuff need not apply. This included the 33 and 25 round extended magazines, which functioned flawlessly. The beveled mag well allows for fast and easy reloads. The STK100 kicks the spent brass over your arm and not very far. One shell wound up in my jacket pocket. So having shot the thing, my first impression is very positive: the Rock Glock is a superb weapon. It was most definitely designed with competition shooting in mind, and would be an excellent out-of-the-box race gun; it was more manageable than my tricked out Witness. As a self-defense pistol, the great grip angle makes it easy to get on target fast, and the low recoil keeps you there. Still not sure about having all those damned cuts, though, when it comes to dirt and sand in the action. (I wasn’t willing to drop it in the sand and see, I’ll admit…)

Ponz’ response was positive, as well. Other than the comment about the rear sights being part of the optic cover plate, he found it an excellent shooter with no real recoil. Did it win him over from the House of Gaston? If the PPQ couldn’t do it, probably not. We’ll see.

Afterward, I cleaned and checked the pistol. There were some wear on the finish along the friction points on the receiver where it met the slide. Again — not a great look for an out of the box pistol, but who knows what issues they faced just getting this thing out of the factory door and across the Pacific during the COVID hysteria? (Yes, it is made in the Philippines.) So…do I think it was worth the cash? Absolutely. Would I feel comfortable carrying it? Yes. Might that finish need to be addressed in the future? Money and time will tell.

Since I first started shooting, I’ve been a fan of 10mm. My first semi-auto handgun was a Glock 20, I’ve owned the Tanfoglio (EAA) Witness in 10mm, and a Kimber Camp Guard. What I’ve really wanted was a 10mm carbine. A few manufacturers toyed with AR versions back over a decade ago, but quickly disappeared. CMMG is doing a Banshee in 10mm, but they’re $1600. Hi-Point is doing a perfectly decent, if ugly, 10mm carbine. But a smaller centimeter gun has been banging around for over a decade, the TNW Aero Survival Rifle. I’ve thought of buying one for years and finally decided to pull the trigger on it.

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The Aero came with a 28-round aftermarket Glock 20 magazine, and I dropped a Holosun red dot on it and took it out for a run at a local hillside used for target practice. Ranges spanned 10 to 50 yards. The accuracy was superb, but I was having repeated issues with the bolt not getting back far enough to eject the spent cartridge, which was then rammed back into the breech, jamming it so badly I had to unscrew the barrel and smack the but on the ground to get the barrel to come loose. After 50 rounds of this, I sent it back to the factory.

Even with the Coronanonsense, I had it back a week later. The bolt had been replaced and the barrel as well — the new one was threaded for a suppressor. No complaints there. Again, I had trouble with the same malfunction, but only with Armscor ammunition. It fired SIG-Sauer V-crown without fail. We took our time shooting, noting sharply different ejection on rounds that were getting out of the firearm. We decided the buffer spring might be too tight, so we backed it out a turn. Now only a few of the rounds were failing to eject or jamming in the breech. The ammunition was showing sharply different power. Another trip out I used some older Armscor without fail, and a box of nuclear load Action Ammunition. No malfunctions. But a new box of Armscor showed the same issues. Satisfied the issue was ammunition related, I shot up a few boxes of older Armscor and Action without fail.

So how does it shoot? In a word, superbly. Accuracy was solid out to 50 yards, with the rounds landing smack on where the Holosun was illuminating. The rounds were throwing milk jugs and can around the hillside in a way that the 5.56mm and .300 Blackout we were shooting didn’t.

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Takedown of the rifle is easy. Knock out of the retaining pins on the trigger assembly, unscrew the barrel, pop out the cocking handle, and drop the bolt out the front of the receiver. There’s a single pin to remove the firing pin. Done. Cleaning is a bit of a chore: the rifle got fairly dirty, but nothing unusual.

So is it worth it? Mine cost $700 or so and yes — the quality of the build, the use of Glock mags, and the performance of the rifle was excellent, outside of the issues I had with a lot of bad ammo. Still, this could mean the rifle, if shooting .40 or .357 SIG might need the buffer tube backed out to prevent issues with failure to eject or feed.

 

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So, I got lucky a few weeks ago and won a raffle. The prize was a choice of three similarly-priced pistols. I chose the Walther PPS, seeing as how I love the bigger PPQ and my old PPK/S. I’d fired a PPS M1 a few times years ago and liked it well enough, so I figured I would be happy with the new pistol.

The new M2 version has the American magazine release button, rather than the trigger guard paddles that most of the German manufacturers prefer (because learning a slightly different [and easier!] manual of arms is hard) The replaceable backstrap is a thing of the past, which makes for a very small pistol that is slim and super-concealable The weight is very low — noticeably so compared to my PPK. The trigger is good, with pull of about five pounds and an audible reset. The pistol comes with a flush fit 6 round magazine and an extended seven round that allows the shooter purchase for their pinkie. Unlike my PPK/S, the PPS is much more comfortable to fire with the finger extension; I prefer the flush fit and my little finger curled under on the PPK. Go figure.

The recoil and muzzle flip on the light PPS are manageable, but stout. The thinness of the grip made control, for me, difficult at ranges beyond seven yards, and I found my groups were awful. Assuming I was having an off day, I swapped to the PPQ and shot laser-tight groups. Same with the PPK/S. Back to the PPS and I couldn’t group to save my life beyond that seven yards. The PPK? three inch group at 15 yards with little issue.

A few trips to the range and I just wasn’t getting any better. Finally, this Monday, after a particularly annoying long weekend, I’d had enough. I finished my range time, when out to the showroom and traded the PPS for a new CCP M2 in .380. I’d shot the 9mm version and found it accurate and the recoil fairly tame compared to the PPQ. The pistol uses a delayed gas system similar to the old Heckler & Koch P7 series (a great gun!) to mitigate recoil on the small and light handgun, and it works. In the 9mm, the recoil lost a lot of muzzle flip that you see in the PPS. But the new hotness was in the store, so I went with the CCP in 9mm short.

I then took it and Rolf, my Ranger-made PPK/S from the Interarms era (see below), and compared them side-by-side. The CCP in both calibers is the same size. It’s a bit longer in the grip than the PPK/S, so it’s got more real estate than the smaller PPS; but otherwise the sizes between the venerable old pistol and this one are about the same. I’d like to see a flush fit magazine for the CCP to aid in concealment. Slide manipulation is incredibly easy. My eight year old daughter and wife can run the slide without issue. Both the 9mm and .380 use the same eight-round 9mm magazine, just with a block to allow the .380 to seat properly. Additionally, the CCP features a thumb safety, for those who want that added bit of peace of mind. The PPS, like most new Walther offerings does not have an active safety.

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Function out of the box and without a cleaning or lubrication was flawless on three types of ammo — Armscor 90 gr., Aquila 95 grain, and the American Gunner XTP 90 gr. bullets. In the lighter .380, the recoil is negligible and follow up shots should be very fast. They’re not, though. The trigger is smooth and breaks at about 5 pounds, but it’s long and the reset is terrible — you are almost off the trigger when the inaudible, vague reset happens. This slows follow up shots considerably, if you are used to the swift reset of the PPQ or the even the PPK. Accuracy from the fixed barrel superb to ten yards, and the grip — which uses similar stippling and contouring to the larger PPQ — really aids in control. The pistol is very light, and one-handed, I had no trouble putting lead where I wanted, so long as i took my time. I only did a single string of eight out at 15 yards and found the grouping was good, but the pistol was shooting low and right…that could have been me getting used to the grip.

So how did the CCP fare next to the PPS? They’re both competing for the concealed carry market, but they come at it from different philosophies. The PPS uses the usual canted Browning-style lockup and is hyper-reliable with anything you put through it, but I found it was jumpy and uncomfortable. After a few boxes, my thumb hurt in ways it didn’t dropping similar amounts of ammo through my 10mm 1911 or my PPQ. I just could not get it to shoot where I wanted it to. The CCP functioned flawlessly, shot great groups where I wanted them unless I was raid firing, then the groups got… unimpressive. The recoil of the .380 is light and pleasant, especially compared to the thumb-busting recoil of the old PPK/S, but the accuracy isn’t to PPK standards. (Yet..? I did only run a hundred round through it, so I might just need to get used to the pistol.)

As an aside, how does it compare to the PPK/S? The recoil is significantly more pleasant, the grip is better, and it carries an extra round in an ever-so-slightly bigger package. If you want a modern striker-fired pistol that is light and concealable — the CCP is your choice here, especially if you’re talking the new PPKs with the long tang, which I find bites the hand when shot and also makes the PPK much harder to draw from a pocket or concealment. (Nope — I don’t like it. Gimme the old design.) If you want a faster-shooting .380 that is pretty much flawless, get yourself an ’90s Interarms period PPK/S or the new Walther-made stuff. Steer clear of the S&W period pistols; I shot a few and they were Jamomatics.

As for field stripping, the PPS is the big winner here. It’s the usual striker-fire takedown. Pull the slide back a hair and pull down on the takedown nibs, then run the slide off. The end. The CCP requires you to push on the plate covering the striker, then to pop a little button to the right. This releases the striker assembly, then you pull up and run the slide off. After that, the CCP looks a lot more like the PPK, with recoil spring on fixed barrel. I cleaned the PPK and CCP back to back. The process didn’t take that much more time for the CCP, save for the initial placing of the slide: getting the gas piston into its home channel is a bit of a pain in the ass, but once done, the rest goes smoothly. (You don’t need a tool like the original M1 CCP.)

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The CCP in .380 is much easier to shoot and much, much more pleasant than its bigger 9mm brother. You get the small number of rounds in the same size and weight package, so if you want power — the CCP in 9mm’s a better choice; it you want comfort, go with the .380.

So, in conclusion: I really like the feel of the new CCP in the hand, and it is a pleasant companion to shoot. It would make a decent CCW pistol for everyday carry due to the light weight and small size, but I think regular practice will be necessary to get proficient with follow-up shots. I don’t think it will replace my PPK anytime soon, but — for me, at least — it’s a better choice than the PPS.

Your mileage may vary.

(Yes, I realize the PPS shown above is an M1… SCR)

I had some Herrett walnut grips on the old Interarms period Walther PPK/S I bought a few months back. After fixing the safety assembly and swapping the weakened trigger spring, the pistol ran flawlessly but was a bit painful to shoot. The grip was just wide enough I was taking a real pounding on the thumb joint. I invested in a set of Altamont grips that needed just a very wee bit of sanding at the top to give clearance for the slide, and voila!

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It not only looks better, the grips allow for hitting the magazine release easier, and reduced the recoil impact on the thumb. The grayish-black laminate matches with the wear in the bluing and gives the pistol a nice used, yet classy look. (I think.) I thought about getting it reblued, but really, I like the distressed look it’s got.

The other bonus — accuracy is much higher as the pistol sits in the hand better. I have found that with the flush magazine, holding the pistol in the old “teacup” style gives me better and more consistent accuracy than the modern thumbs forward. The most recent trip to the range saw “Rolf” here put down a 3ish inch group at 20 yards, free-standing, into the 8/9 ring. I’ve got about 1000 rounds through this thing in the last eight months and it is a delight! It’s bigger and heavier than Wee Jock, my little Kel-Tec P32, but has become my normal carry pistol. I have utter confidence in the ol’ boy.

It has not jammed on any hollow-points or other ammo I’ve used although except for the Seller & Belliot, which saw light primer strikes requiring a second trigger pull to get them to fire. Simple fix: don’t use Seller & Belliot. Rolf particularly likes the American Gunner and Critical Defense series XTP 90-grain round that Hornady puts out. Speeds are consistently in the 975fps range or about 190 ft-pounds of energy, with low felt recoil. If it weren’t a bit pricey for practice, I’d run this on the range as it’s comfortable to shoot.

That said, for you James Bond fans, sorry to disappoint, but you’re not shooting a helicopter down with a PPK!

Look what followed me home…

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This early to mid-90s era Interarms Walther PPK had been sitting neglected at the local neighborhood gun store for months. I had been considering the Glock 42 next to it — a pre-owned but never fired piece, but the historian in me was drawn to this treasure, and I beat the guy down to $300. Hit the range and dropped 100 rounds through it. No jams, one failure to fire from a dry and dirty firing pin that was quickly remedied.

It’s about the same size as the Glock 42, but about twice the weight. Still, that fixed barrel: it’s a tack driver.

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