Category Archives: Handguns

2105 American Handgunner Special Edition

This GIANT 2015 Special Edition Is Available Now!

Add This Bonus Issue To Your Collection Of Handgun Resources.

The American Handgunner Special Edition is the best source for the latest trends in handgun equipment, handgun care, history, ammunition and handgun accessories. Inside this issue are top notch articles from the world’s best writers. The comprehensive catalog section provides a year-round handgun buying resource for readers of all interest levels.

Here’s What’s Included In This 180-Page Edition:

45_caliberA .45 CALIBER CONCEPT — Design Your Own All-American 1911.

.22 TCM AUTO— Hi-Velocity Micro-Magnum!

POWER UP! — Dan Wesson’s Elite Titan 10mm.

THE .38 SUPER — Over 80 & Better Than Ever.

single_shotONE SPLENDID SINGLE SHOT –H-S Precision’s Model 200P.

THE LEGENDARY SMITH & WESSON MODEL 41 — Premier .22 Tackdriver.

ONE WICKED WHEELGUN — Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center 686 Plus.

kimberA LUCKIER NUMBER — Ruger’s 7-Shot Single Action .327 Federal.

HAND-CANNON HOGS — Guncrafter Industries’ .50 1911.

LOINHEART INDUSTRIES 9MM — Style And Substance From Seoul.

POINT OF AIM VS. POINT OF IMPACT — How To Bring ‘Em Together.

freedom30 YEARS OF FREEDOM ARMS — Wyoming’s Premier Revolver-Maker.

GUNCRANK DIARIES — Assume This, Not That.

THE SIXGUNNER — Bond Arms .45/.410 Derringers.

THE INSIDER — Is Velocity Overrated?

THE INSIDER — Those Fabulous .44s

KIT UP — Cool New Gear


GUN GIVEAWAY — Win EAA Compact Lady SAR B6PL And More.

NEW PRODUCT SPOTLIGHT — Hot new products you must have!

BUYER’S GUIDE 2015 — Catalog of guns, knives, lasers and lights

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Exclusive: Carries Well, Shoots Well

Sometimes smaller guns make the Concealed Carry Favorites list because even though they’re more difficult to shoot, they’re at least small and easy to conceal. Practice, however, does wonders to make small guns more shootable.

Sometimes larger guns make the list because while they’re difficult to conceal, they’re fantastic shooters. A little clothing creativity, however, does wonders to help conceal larger guns.

Sometimes a smaller gun shoots really well and that’s when you know you’ve got something good for concealed carry. In fact, after just a few sessions on the range and a few months of concealed carry, the Ruger LC9 headed to the top of my Concealed Carry Favorites list. Here’s why:

!DSC_6585The Ruger LC9 is thin, lightweight and therefore easily concealed. It carries comfortably in a Versacarry or Galco Stow-N-Go holster (both are inside the waistband) without gouging my side or feeling out of balance. Yes, I wore a gun belt and yes that helped. It always does, even with smaller and lighter guns. Although you can put a shortened magazine baseplate on it, it doesn’t do all that well in a front pocket.

The Ruger LC9 is enough gun. With 7+1 rounds of 9mm on board, I’m carrying more than a typical revolver and more than enough for a civilian defensive situation.

The Ruger LC9 is feature packed. Some may disdain the magazine disconnect safety and chamber loaded indicator; that’s a discussion for another day. The LC9’s best features, however, include its long, double-action trigger pull and frame-mounted thumb safety — an interesting combination. Some prefer none of these features on a pistol and understandably so, but as long as a person follows the the basic gun safety laws and trains appropriately with them, they should not be a hinderance.

But here’s what I really like:

!DSC_6581In my range or training sessions I am able to quickly and safely draw the Ruger LC9, sweep the safety off, and consistently put rounds into the center mass of the targets at which I am aiming. The sights, while small, are still functional enough for this kind of short range work. The double action trigger, while long, is very smooth, and doesn’t work against me in terms of accuracy or speed. And every round chambers, fires, and ejects reliably.

Like I said, sometimes you can find a gun like the Ruger LC9 that carries well and shoots well.

What have you found that meets that criteria?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Ruger and other firearms related companies at the Guns Magazine Product Index.

Exclusive: Don Hume Front Pocket Holster Review

You can, and many prefer, to “drop a J-frame in a pocket” when heading out for a quick trip to the corner for gas or bread or whatever. And that’s the beauty of the gun: it is lightweight but powerful and as familiar as the back of your hand. With regular practice, you can get to the point where you reach your hand into your pocket and your fingers instinctively find their way around the gun. Familiarity can breed contempt, of course, and in dropping a J-frame in your pocket you might also drop something else in your pocket, potentially complicating retrieval in an emergency. Better to drop that J-frame in your pocket with it in a pocket holster. One good choice: a Don Hume pocket holster. Two good reasons: better grip and protected trigger.

Better Grip

DSC_6355Don Hume’s 001 Front Pocket #3 Holster — fitting a wide range of J-frame sized guns such as the S&W 36, 37, 60, 317, Airlite, 650, .38 Chief’s Special, Charter Arms Pathfinder, Undercover, S&W Bodyguard .38, 49, 442-1, Airweight, 638-2, 640, 642-1 Lady Smith, 649, 940, and Taurus 85 — does a stand up job of keeping a J-frame, well, standing up. With a gun properly holstered and the holster properly pocketed, you can put your hand into your pocket as if you’re, well, just putting your hand into your pocket and end up with your hand gripping your J-frame, ready to draw. In other words, the holster puts the stocks of your gun right there, albeit nonchalantly.

After some break-in time, the Saddle Brown holster not only holds the gun just right but also lets it go at just the right time. If you inadvertently start pulling the holster out with the gun, the holster’s leather hook will catch on in the interior of your pants pocket and keep the holster in while the gun comes out.

Protected Trigger

DSC_6356The other benefit of using an actual holster in a pocket is that the trigger remains protected. Stories abound of keys, pens, and other objects that found their way into the same pocket as the J-frame and got in the way of the gun or worse, caught in the trigger itself. Using a pocket holster isn’t a good reason to go ahead fill your pockets with stuff — it’s better to have nothing else in your pocket but your holstered gun — but at least the trigger will be guarded.

The Don Hume holster you see here retails for $40 and can be used in left or right side trouser or jacket pockets.

How do you carry your pocket gun?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Don Hume and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Product Index.


Exclusive: Kahr CW380 ~ Less Than, More Than

Kahr’s new CW380, while small, would be too small to hold and shoot well and, therefore, less than ideal for use as a concealed carry pistol. At least, that’s what I initially thought.

After all, I figured, it’s less than five inches in length. And it’s less than four inches in height. And it’s way less than an inch in width at the slide. Moreover, it weighs less than 11 ounces. It fires a .380 cartridge — a round that is less than what some would consider adequate for self defense. Indeed, the barrel is less than 2.6 inches in length and so, I thought, it would be less than accurate at any distance past three yards.

Once I received the CW380 for testing, however, it’s less-than physical dimensions were a wonder to behold. It is downright tiny. While it doesn’t look like a toy, it’s smallishness, relative to many other handguns, is amazing. There’s hardly anything to it, size or weight-wise. I immediately placed it in my front jeans pocket where it hid easily. Suddenly I wanted this less-than firearm to more than function on the range. I wanted it to fire reliabily and accurately and not result in my getting carpal tunnels from contorting my strong hand around it to make it work.

k4 - CopyBrushing aside any notions of pre-cleaning or breaking in, I headed for the range, hoping to put my shots inside the proverbial pie plate at seven yards without any fuss. This, I opined, was a more than reasonable expectation for a pocket pistol with a barrel barely longer than many snub-nosed revolvers. A box of HPR .380 self-defense ammunition would get this exercise started.

While prepping to shoot, the Kahr CW380 sort of disappeared in my very average sized hands. Two fingers wrapped around the stocks but seemed to have enough purchase to handle whatever recoil the fired rounds would produce. Manipulating the slide required a firm grasp on the stocks with my strong hand and a firm grasp on the slide with my weak hand — a maneuver which covered virtually the entire slide from front to back. At first the recoil spring fought me; after a few rounds it seemed to loosen up and was easier to handle.

k1 - CopyLoading the CW380 was easier than I thought: the rounds slid into the six-round magazine easily and the magazine seated postively. When pointing the CW380 at the target, my trigger finger naturally pointed forward, against the slide, and reached to just past the muzzle. Without yet shooting it, the CW380 had reached some kind of limit for me. Its less-than dimensions couldn’t be any smaller and still be reasonable to shoot well.

I racked the slide, chambering a round. Aiming down range, I placed the pad of my trigger finger against the wide, smooth trigger. The knuckle of my shooting finger seemed to stick way out to the right. The rear notch sight sat atop the three-quarter inch slide which sat atop my hand. While I was clearly holding the CW380, it seemed like I wasn’t holding on to a lot of anything.

I squeezed the trigger.

k3 - CopyFiring the CW380, all the less than attributes of the gun proved to be more than adequate to the task.

The Kahr’s trigger stroke was long but more than smooth and broke cleanly. Six times. When the round fired, the muzzle jump was more than controllable. The gun stayed in my grasp and easily came back on target for a follow-up shot. Six times. The rounds found their way to a printed paper target — at about seven yards distance — with admirable consistency and accuracy. Six times. All that, right out of the box. For a gun that’s less than on so many levels, it’s more than enough gun.

Watch for additional less-than / more-than reports of how the Kahr CW380 carries and functions over time. In fact, if you have any specific questions you’d like me to address, just leave a comment here.

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Kahr Arms and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Product Index.

Exclusive: Regrets!

Most gun owners have a story or two of regret, usually the result of ridding themselves of a beloved firearm. Call it “seller’s remorse” or whatever, why anyone would sell a beloved firearm, I don’t know. But I think “beloved” at times gets redefined or at least reprioritized as we go through life. A variety of factors can contribute to this: Sometimes finances get tight and something’s gotta go to help pay a bill. Sometimes we are wooed by other firearms and something’s gotta go to pay for the cost of the new gun. Sometimes it is just sheer foolishness. One of my stories of regret is the day I got rid of my Smith & Wesson K-22 Masterpiece. I’d like to think it was out of necessity but it was probably just foolish.

How I Got It

3 I’ve always enjoyed firearms and shooting but didn’t really get into it until after graduating from college, when, not surprisingly, I could actually afford to purchase firearms and ammunition. I had already inherited from my grandfather a beautiful Remington .308 semi-auto hunting rifle. Unfortunately, I could never get out to hunt to actually use it. And I wanted a handgun. And a friend wanted my Remington. And he was willing to part with his K-22 in order to get it. So, we traded, straight up. He got a fantastic rifle. I got the K-22, in excellent condition, in the original box, with the original manual and owner documents, and even with the original wax wrapping paper. I was thrilled to get the K-22 but someday I’ll write the article about how I wished I had never parted with that Remington rifle.

The K-22 provided years of faithful service, firing .22 bullets down many a range with incredible accuracy. Credit the six-inch barrel, super-smooth trigger action, and easy-to-see iron sights that never needed adjusting. I plinked away in single action, easily hitting empty shotgun shells, one after the other, at over 10 yards. I fired in double action, putting all six rounds into a paper plate at over 30 yards. I cut smiley faces into paper targets, shot through the same quarter-sized hole, round after round, and shattered clay pigeons placed against plywood at the outdoor range. After firing 60 or 70 rounds I would wipe the gun down and do it all again. Afterwards, cleaning the K-22 always resulted in a beautiful, shiny metal handgun with wood target stocks that was perfect in every detail and a true classic.

How I Let it Go

2Soon, I became interested in concealed carry and my home state of Michigan became a “shall issue” state. Even though six rounds of .22 in a full-sized steel revolver with a six-inch barrel is better than nothing for a carry gun, I wasn’t about to carry the K-22. I wanted something smaller with a bit more punch and settled on another classic: A Smith & Wesson 642 — an aluminum-alloy framed .38 Special built on the smallish J-frame. It weighed only 15 ounces, sported a 1.875-inch barrel and carried five rounds of +P. Perfect.

Except I didn’t have the money to purchase it. What I did have was an old 7mm Mauser rifle and the beloved K-22 Masterpiece. I visited my local gun dealer who offered me hardly anything for both of them. Convinced that the S&W 642 would easily win the practicality test, I handed over the Mauser, the K-22, and chipped in some additional cash. The 642 came home with me.

The Aftermath

1Not many range sessions have gone by where I haven’t wanted that K-22. And not just for myself. I’ve had the privilege of introducing several young people to firearms and shooting and every time wished I had the K-22 to start them off. Yes, other firearms can fill that first-gun role, but not as well, especially not for younger shooters who struggle to keep a heavy stainless steel S&W 686 revolver aimed at a target or, unless they’re a bit older and stronger, to rack the slide on a Glock.

The 642 was a nice gun, of course, and fairly accurate for a snubbie. But, being so light in weight, it quickly became tedious to shoot for more than, say, 25 or 30 rounds. Sure would be nice to have that smooth, old six-shooter .22 back… Ironically and regrettably, the 642 is no longer with me, either. I foolishly traded it in for another gun. But that’s another story.

What firearms do you regret letting go?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Smith & Wesson and other firearms related companies at the GUNS Magazine Product Index.

Exclusive: DeSantis Scorpion Holster Review

For the concealed carry of a handgun I generally regard plastic holsters as those to be used when I need to put a holster on or off quickly and more than once per day. In other words, I’m usually not planning on wearing a plastic holster for a significant amount of time — surely not all day. But that’s exactly what I did when I tried on the DeSantis Scorpion to carry a Kimber Super Carry Pro. Yes, this massive piece of plastic fits inside the waistband and comfortably carried that 1911 almost all day long.


“Plastic” is a broad, generic term for the material that’s used in making some holsters today. In the case of the Scorpion, it’s actually Kydex, a custom combination of materials that is rugged, durable, and formable and often used in holster manufacturing. The Scorpion’s construction is nothing short of robust. No part of it feels weak or thin; in fact, it feels so strong that, until you put it on, you think it can’t possibly be comfortable to wear. More on that in a minute.

des2 - CopyThe Scorpion is comprised of two panels of Kydex — one that forms the body side or back of the holster and the other that forms the front side of the holster. The two pieces are custom formed to hold a handgun in between and attached together with strong rivets. Two very strong belt loops are affixed to the front of the holster for inside the waistband carry.


Installing the Scorpion on your person takes a few seconds, some tugging and shifting of shirts or pants, an adjustment of the belt, and so forth. It’s not quite a struggle to get it on but it takes some work. Once the Scorpion is riding at about 3 or 4 o’clock, slide the pistol into it and it’ll seat, held in place by the friction of the two Kydex panels in front and in back of it. The Scorpion carries the Kimber Super Carry Pro at a slight forward cant, which put the bobtail up and near my right side, helping to conceal it.

The Scorpion’s design puts all that Kydex in a natural curve around your hip and, while you know it’s there, you’ll be surprised that you don’t feel more of it. Standing, walking, sitting are all very possible with the Scorpion but the rigid Kydex will quickly let you know the new limits to your range of motion with a pressing feeling in leg or hip. Admittedly, this holster takes some getting used to and became more comfortable as time wore on. I could move or function with the Scorpion as I do with most other gun/holster combinations.


des3 - CopyWhile installing it takes some work, the resulting ability to easily carry and draw the Kimber seemed worth the effort. The holster offers an accessible combat grip with no fuss in letting the gun clear the holster during deployment. And, being the firm design that it is, the Scorpion allows for easy one-handed re-holstering if needed. Finally, it’s easier to remove the Scorpion than it is to install it: Remove the gun and render it safe and then pull the front tab off your belt and then the back tab and then slide it out. Done.

Available in right or left-handed models in black, the DeSantis Scorpion retails for $67.99.

What’s your experience with plastic holsters?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on DeSantis and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Product Index.

Exclusive: S&W 686 — Classic Defined

The Smith & Wesson 686 is a C-L-A-S-S-I-C. Here’s why:

C – Calibers: .38 Special and .357 Magnum

These multipurpose cartridges have been around for a long time and show no signs of kowtowing to other calibers that are, what, half their length. Available in everything from target loads to personal defense loads to hunting loads, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum rounds offer outrageous versatility. Fired from the S&W 686, the .38 Specials register only the slightest of recoil. The .357 Magnums, however, thunder and roar, but keep you coming back for more.

L – Long DA and Light SA Trigger Stroke

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better DA/SA trigger stroke in any gun. The S&W 686 double action stroke is long, somewhat heavy, but amazingly smooth. Still, you can double tap steel silhouettes with terrific effectiveness. Because the sheer size and weight of the gun absorbs some of the recoil, you’re back on target easily. Click the hammer back for a single action stroke and you’re rewarded not only the pleasing sound and feel of highly engineered internal mechanisms aligning and locking in place but also with a legendarily easy press to break the sear and fire, affording greater accuracy.

A – Accurate


A four-inch barrel is meant more for defensive or combat purposes than accuracy but the accuracy you do get from a four-inch S&W 686 only adds to its effectiveness in any situation. In other words, where you aim, you hit. The windage-adjustable rear notch and red ramp front sight provide a time-proven means for putting bullets on targets at a variety of distances. With a little practice, you can easily ring steel silhouette targets at 65 yards distance shooting double action.

S – Stainless Steel

Stainless is not no-maintenance but it is much lower maintenance than regular blued steel. Plus it looks great. Shiny and durable, you can subject it to fairly harsh conditions without fear of any significant wear or harm. In a world dominated by black plastic pistols, the big stainless revolver makes a stunning statement no matter where it is deployed.

As an all steel gun, it is heavy (39.7 ounces) and feels solid. It’ll eat .357 Magnum rounds all day long, reliably sending the bullets down range the same way every time. Pop open the cylinder and smack the ejector rod and empty cases drop away. All the parts work together in perfect harmony, a masterpiece of metallic beauty.

S – Sure

Many people love revolvers because they are inherently reliable. Sure, a revolver can have problems but the vast majority of them are mitigated by doing the most natural thing — squeezing the trigger again. For the person interested in arming himself or herself who can only invest in the most minimal training and practice, a revolver is a sure thing. Pick it up or draw it, squeeze the trigger, and it fires. To fire again, squeeze the trigger. If a round fails to fire, squeeze the trigger again.

I – Introductory and Intelligent

A revolver’s ease and surety of use makes it a good choice for a beginning shooter who is just learning the basics. Basic ballistics and safety matters can be made more clear with a revolver and having to stop and reload after only six or so rounds allows for a smart break in which a shooter can correct any problems without getting carried away. But the 686 is also a good choice for an experienced shooter who wants to maximize a myriad of factors, including the recipes for his hand loads, trigger stroke practice, and more.

C – Customizable

What else can you do with such a basic gun? Plenty. Adjust the sights for longer range shooting … install a mount and scope for target shooting or hunting … Stagger the kinds of rounds to be fired for maximum defensive efficiency … Swap the stocks for any number of other stocks that emphasize target shooting, combat effectiveness, conceal-ability, or just downright good looks.

The Smith & Wesson’s classic 686 retails for $829 and the Smith & Wesson website suggests its best uses are “recreational, home protection, and professional / duty.”

How would you use it?

— Mark Kakkuri

Exclusive: Taurus PT 1911 AL-R

Near the top of my list of Unsung Handgun Heroes resides a Taurus PT 1911 AL-R, a great house gun or car gun with a long list of standard features and, before it was discontinued by Taurus, a decent price tag. At first glance, you might not like it, but I’ll declare that after a few years of use, Taurus’ take on the 1911 makes this classic fighting pistol more useful than ever. If you can find one, you should buy it.

Full Featured

Now in its 103rd year of service, the 1911 design will never go away. Part of the reason is because manufacturers such as Taurus create 1911’s such as the one you see pictured here. Taurus currently offers nine 1911 variants. This Taurus PT 1911 sports an aluminum frame and Picatinny rail (hence, “AL-R”) and 19 standard features that on other pistols can be costly upgrades. Standard on this pistol: second 8-round magazine; extended magazine release; beveled magazine well; front and rear slide serrations; ambidextrous safety; 30 LPI checkering on the front strap ; 30 LPI checkering on the mainspring housing; 30 LPI checkering on the trigger guard; Novak low-profile standard sights; custom shop trigger job; skeleton-serrated trigger; target hammer; beavertail grip safety with memory pad; custom internal extractor; lowered and flared ejection port; polished feed ramp and barrel throat; custom-fit barrrel with gauged bushing; full length guide rod and reverse plug; and custom slide to frame fit.


All of these features pile on top of the classic Government model configuration and, in the Taurus PT 1911 AL-R, measure out to an overall length of 8.5 inches and a weight of 33.6 ounces. As such, this pistol’s best use is duty as a house gun or car gun. Yes, you can carry it concealed, but not well. It’s just better deployed elsewhere, especially when you can add a light or laser to its Picatinny rail.


Well Priced

Given the list of standard features and the pistol’s original MSRP of $870, the Taurus PT 1911 AL-R immediately strikes as a tremendous value. And it is. You get a lot of custom features without having to pay a typical 1911 custom price. My three favorite standard features on this 1911 are the ones that for me increase the functionality: the front and rear slide serrations, the 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, and the custom shop trigger job. These simply make the PT 1911 AL-R an easier gun to handle and shoot. Prices for used PT 1911 AL-R’s will probably run well south of $870; that can only mean greater value.



My three years of experience with the PT 1911 AL-R– which includes hundreds of rounds fired downrange — have proven the pistol to be an accurate, reliable handgun. It wasn’t perfect out of the box; a couple early rounds got hung up on the feed ramp and a couple failed to extract. But after cleaning and lubricating — religiously — and firing more rounds, the PT 1911 AL-R has ran well. Firing this gun produced a bit more kick than I expected from a full-sized 1911 but the front-strap checkering and the grip panels made muzzle control and target re-aquisition very manageable.


Finding a used Taurus PT 1911 AL-R might prove difficult as the gun wasn’t offered for long. If you can’t find one, Taurus offers two other PT 1911’s with Picatinny rails but neither of those with the lightweight, aluminum frame. Of the railed models, the Taurus PT 1911SS-1 retails for $944.88 and weighs in at 32 ounces, 1.6 ounces less than the AL-R version. So while you can buy a current Taurus PT 1911 that’s lightweight and equipped with a rail, the PT 1911 AL-R was the original and on the used market, should be available for far less than retail.

What guns are on your list of Unsung Handgun Heroes?

— Mark Kakkuri

Get more information on Taurus International Manufacturing and other firearms related companies at the American Handgunner Company Index.

Colt Martial Handguns

150 Years Of High-Quality Military Might!

Just this morning I read Colt Defense LLC is getting an order from the US Marine Corps for new 1911 .45 pistols. Funny how things change: Colt getting an order now is news, where for nearly a century and a half the word “Colt” was almost (but not totally) synonymous with American military handguns.

The following is a quick list of Colt handguns carried into combat by American servicemen. In the beginning there were cap and ball revolvers: .44 Walkers, three variations of .44 Dragoons, Model 1860 .44s and both versions of “Navy Colt .36s” which collectors call Models 1851 and 1861. Next adopted were cartridge firing single actions such as Colt’s .44 Richard’s Conversion, the ever-famous Colt Single Action Army .45. Then starting in 1892 and running to 1909 the lamentable double action .38 Colts were adopted by the US Army, Marine Corps and Navy.

Although it was a sure bet all American military forces would transition to a self-loading pistol in the early part of the 20th century, twice the US Government had to turn to Colt for stop-gap revolvers. The first time resulted in the Model 1909 .45 Colt. The government even devised a refined .45 Colt cartridge with much wider rim than used in the SAA so the ‘09’s star-type extractor would function flawlessly.

In 1917 President Woodrow Wilson decided to stick America’s nose in Europe’s horrendous war. Not nearly enough Colt Model 1911 pistols existed to equip the rapid buildup of troops. This time Colt was prevailed upon to use little spring steel “half-moon” clips devised by some bright light at Smith & Wesson so that rimless .45 Auto rounds would function in double action revolvers. This resulted in the Colt Model 1917 revolver, again based on the New Service double action. In just a couple of years the government bought over 150,000 Model 1917s from Colt.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino

>> Click Here << To Read More About The Colt Martial Handguns

American Handgunner Jan/Feb 2013

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