Sunday, January 24, 2010


My Sweetie and I slept 14 hours last night and things here at the Secret Hidden Bunker have returned to normal, such as it is. There's always a feeling after SHOT of so much I missed (which this year is almost everything) or didn't get a chance to handle...much less shoot.

On the plus side, I finally got a chance to have a long conversation with Alex Robinson of Robinson XCR, and that lead to my decision to get get one. As we look at the AR world moving to piston systems of various flavors, I think it's important to note that Robinson was there first (at least for this iteration of gas piston guns) and has the most evolved system. What Alex has done is repeatedly simplify the system...instead of endless bells and whistles being added, he kept focusing on honing down his platform. Very smart, and in the case of the XCR, simple is indeed better. I may pay the money and go for an SBR version.

Over at Century Arms, I was really impressed with a bunch of their new guns, especially the VZ-2008 and their 5.56 C-93 CETME clone and their all-American-made flagship, the Centurion 39 Sporter in 7.62 X 39. Every since I visited the CZ factory in the Czech a few years back I've had a jones for the CZ Vz.58 battle rifle, even though I made the near-nonrecoverable error of asking the head of CZ worldwide whether the rifle was based on an AK platform. Open mouth; insert foot. They are wonderful little rifles, and in the $600-700 MSRP range an excellent and affordable alternative to the AKs. C-93s are what they are...tanks...the rifle equivalent of blunt trauma....a rifle you can't break on a bet. And the Centurion Sporter is a really slick implementation of the AK platform, and I love it that it is all American.

Before we get away from Century — and BTW, all the guys there seem to be having a wonderful time! — yes, the Sterling pistol (more correctly, the ColeFire Magnum) in 7.62 X 25...the more I handled it the more I thought this bad boy might need to come home with me. Sterlings only make sense when you handle them. Looking at one, you'd think it was some kludged-together mess that only the Empire would issue to Storm Troopers (insider joke alert!), but when you handle one they start making sense. Heaven knows I don't need a 7.62 Tokarev pistol (I already have a CZ52, just like everybody else in America), but the little Sterling is cute as a speckled pup.

One thing I keep forgetting to mention — and considering Ruger is a major sponsor, a very stupid omission! — is the redesigned Ruger 22/45 RP semiauto pistol. For years Ruger has offered their classic .22 pistol with a 1911-contured frame, making it a viable practice vehicle for 1911 shooters looking for a rimfire alternative. For the same number of years, I and many others have urged Ruger to make the 22/45 more 1911-like, and this year Ruger stepped up. The 22/45 now features standard 1911 grip panels for a much more 1911-y feel (looks a lot better, too). Magazine release and safety are in the same places. Serious competitors are going to go with conversion units for their 1911 frames, but if you don't have a .22, the 22/456 is the way to go.

And speaking of .22s, there we two that caught my eye...the DoubleStar .22 AR pistol and the MasterPiece Arms Mac-style MP-22T. Mossberg also took a major step in the right direction, rolling out their 464 lever action rifle in .22LR. I begged for a lever .22 464 when we got the first production line gun (and gave it away on DRTV) last year and the newly nimble Mossberg responded.

We're going to talk about the Mossberg ASAP backpacks on the podcast this week...I spent some time with my friend Dr. Bob Arnot, who'd just flown in from Haiti and has been instrumental in the survival backpacks, and we'll cover all of that on Wednesday. I've got good video with Dr. Bob as well.

I mentioned the Colt Defender series in 9mm (and shot the gun a bunch at Range Day), but Colt was also showing a DA 1911-styled .45 ACP. Colt has ventured — unsuccessfully — into double action with the Double was never a bad gun, but it paled in the face of the alloy-framed Sig P220 DA and other more modern designs.

Things I walked by and didn't even get a chance to touch...the Big Horn Armory .500 S&W Magnum lever action carbine, which cried out to me from the aisle..."take me home, Michael...take me home!" I'm going to order one for T&E ASAP...the Freedom Arms single shot pistol I've talked about'll definitely be seeing this one on our new handgun hunting series later this year...reall smart of Bill Baker to offer this in the excellent 6.5 X 55 chambering made famous in the Swedish Mausers. I did some SHOOTING GALLERY video on the S&W 329XL Hunter, a 6 1/2-inch hunting version of the ultralight scandium-framed thing I really like is the use of a blackened stainless steel cylinder instead of the 329PD titanium cylinder. I think the stainless cylinder should alter the recoil wave enough to take care of the pesky auto-locking problem on the bantam-weight guns. I also like the beefed-up fiber optic front sight on the Hunter. Black Dog Magazines rolled out their 50-round .22LR drum for the 10/22 and .22 AR conversions...there have been a bunch of 50-round LR extended capacity magazines, but none of them worked worth a darn. Black Dog has an enviable reputation for quality 100% feeding, so I'm hopeful.

Check out the video blog and the ever-faithful audio podcast on Wednesday! Marshal will be posting videos all week long! There's already a huge amount of video coverage of SHOT on and DRTV!

I gotta go walk Alf the Wonder Beagle, who has found it in her munificent beagle heart to forgive us for leaving her and the rest of the menagerie for a whole week!

PS: I don't care what the rest of the Internet thinks! I wanted a Bren Ten in the mid-1980s and I still want a Bren Ten. They're cool and they're unique...and hey, I shot Col. Cooper's Bren Ten #1, and it DID NOT SUCK! So there!


Dandapani said...

What is with all the 380 pistol love? 380 ammo is scarce, expensive, and marginal for defense (no, James Bond's opinion doesn't matter). Why can't the majors make a Kahr PM9 sized 9mm that is affordable, high quality, and realiable? (I know, I know, you can only pick two of the three qualities.)

Davidwhitewolf said...

Well, Rohrbaugh (not a major, obviously) had an interesting-looking very-small 9mm on display at SHOT, but as a Californian I've gotta wait until we sue the handgun roster out of existence next year to test it.

Michael Bane said...

Couple of reasons:

• The .380s are excellent pocket-sized guns
• The little 9mms are A LIVING PAIN IN THE BUTT to shoot

You notice that the current crop of snub revolvers are .38+P rather than .357? The majors have sales data that the little hand grenades sell worse than their easier-recoiling cousins.

The sweet spot for 9mms seems to be the Glock G26 size...a little more capacity and a little less recoil.


Dandapani said...

Rohrbaugh. BTDT.

Eric said...

Any information on the VLTOR Bren Ten? I thought I saw a picture of the new one with the Gunsite raven on the slide, just like the original.

Anonymous said...

The Rohrbaugh 9mm is a great little pocket pistol, but I shouldn't have to take out a second mortgage on my house to buy one. $1100+ is WAY WAY WAY too much for a pistol like this.

The one thing that nobody seems to want to talk about is how unaffordable the shooting sports have become and how shooting has increasingly become a rich man's game. The more people who can afford to shoot and enjoy the shooting sports, the more people who will care about their gun rights at the ballot box. People alienated by being priced out of the market will be less likely to care about their RKBA since they can't afford to exercise it anyway.

As I see it, the biggest problems the industry has right now is that the price of entry to too high for too many people and there are too few places where people can safely and legally shoot. I say we ought to tackle those problems first before we worry too much about what fancy new whizbang thing has just come out.

Michael Bane said...

Anon, we are tackling those problems...I had a major strategy meeting with the NRA on the issue of sport/target shooting on public lands, which is a critical issue here in the West.

There is so much public land that a private range structure never truly developed, so closing public lands to shooting is a disaster. I have fought the USFS antigun machine before and won. We, including the NRA, are gearing up to fight again, and it is going to be, euphemistically, a poo-poo-storm-extraordinaire! But we will win, because we can't afford to lose.

RE: Prices, I believe you are wrong in your statement...there are plenty of inexpensive entry level guns, more than ever before. In fact, in past podcasts we've highlighted the best buys — and many of them are simply amazing. You actually have a choice between half-a-dozen major manufacturers for a $600 1911 with all the bells and whistles that will run right out of the box.

Polymer-framed service pistols — ounce for ounce the best, most reliable handguns ever made — are readily available at very reasonable prices. You can find amazing deals in used guns — for example, the superb SIG 225 remains for sale at less than $400 (sometimes a lot less)...make no mistake, the 225 is a world-class pistol, available for kibbles and bits.

Taurus has built their company on affordable Taurus lightweight snub is carried as often as its expensive S&W brethern.

You've just got to look around!


Anonymous said...

can you get more than one magazine for the new Bren 10?



Michael Bane said...

Instead of an extra magazine, you get a piece of sheet metal, a stiff piece of wire, 2 pieces of plastic to create the floorplate and follower and a book titled, "Make Your Own Magazines For Fun & Profit$!"

Just joking...honest!!!!


Perdurabo said...

MB, I'm really glad you and the NRA are fighting to get more public land available for shooters but keep in mind that in much of the rest of the country, there isn't nearly as much public land for shooters to utilize.

Down here in the Republic of Texas there very little public land and what little there is is either too far from major population centers to be of any use or shooting is disallowed there. Most shooting happens at privately owned public ranges or on private rural land down here. In the past decade there have been quite a few public ranges around here that have closed up due to due mainly to encroaching civilization (read: idiots who move close to a range and then complain about the noise), high liability insurance premiums and general pain-in-the-assitude red tape from all levels of government. I know the NRA has programs to help public range owners operate safely, receive financing and have more affordable liability insurance, but it doesn't seem like its anywhere near enough. Few people want to deal with the issues involved to open up new public ranges and shooting clubs it seems and there needs to be a more concerted effort by the shooting community to tackle those barriers to entry for new range operators, whether they be legal, political, or financial.

As for high prices, I still think that most new product out there is still pretty steeply priced for the average Joe/Jane American and I don't even have to mention the still outrageously priced ammo situation.

Only 6-7 years ago it was possible to buy 7.62x39 for $65/1000, surplus 7.62 NATO for $125/1000, 9mm for $3.75/50rds and .223 for $95/1000. One could buy police buyback surplus Glock 17s for $250 and "sporterized" FALs for $400. Politics more than economics has done more to undo this and now I'm lucky if I can get a single round of even steel cased .223 for less than a quarter shipped. Even the much-touted "cheap way to practice" .22lr has almost doubled in price from $8/500rds just 5 years ago to $15/500 today. Reloading components have risen in price commensurately as well, so much so that at best you are really only saving yourself the 11% FAET by reloading. Sure, I guess you could say shooting can still be "affordable" if you shoot .22lr or reload, but if most people's shooting budget has at least doubled over the past 3-4 years, how much less do you think they are going to shoot to compensate? All those panic-bought AR-15s and Glocks acquired in the last year or so do nobody any good if very few can afford to put any rounds downrange or even find a place to do that legally.

Brandon, DRTV forum name BML325 said...

See Michael I told you you'd not regret going to the Robinson booth. On one hand I have applauded the owner in the past for being his own man and not selling out to the large conglomerate corporation that is buying everyone up and making his rifle his way.

But on the other hand it was a pain in the rear having to wait so long for the conversion kits to become available, and now lots of us have been waiting for over a year to see the XCR-M in .308 and hopefully other calibers.

Anonymous said...

Defeat those in government that are threatening our Second Amendment rights and prices for ammo and guns will fall. Part of the run-up in guns was caused by the "hot-and-cold-running-money" that was all over the place, pre-2008. The bottom fell out right then, but the market didn't have a chance to react before we had a new presidential election. Then the country voted for change they shouldn't have believed in, but did and the threat to RKBA became real. Prices for all things "shooting" went skyward. They'll only come back when we re-claim America and restore our Constitutional Rights.
DO NOT BELIEVE THE LIES THAT WE ARE ABOUT TO BE TOLD BY THE PROGRESSIVES AND THE REST OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY! They do not "hear" us. They are only trying to change their spots and fool us again!
Life Member

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