Monday, June 10, 2013

Fulton Armory* M1 Carbine Review


Fulton Armory* M1 Carbine Review

Introduction

The M1 Garand has become the most famous military battle rifle every made, but a lot of people forget the importance of its little brother, the M1 Carbine. Interestingly enough, the M1 Garand and M1 Carbine only shared one common feature, they both used a rotating bolt design, but otherwise the operating systems were completely different. The M1 Carbine was introduced during World War 2 as a supplement to the trusty M1911 .45 sidearm for use by paratroopers and specialized military factions. Almost a dozen different contractors built the M1 Carbine for war use and at least one manufacturer still makes them today, making the M1 Carbine the most manufactured firearm of World War 2.

...A History

In the late 1930’s, after the M1 Garand had reached its final stages of design and adoption, the Army Ordnance received reports from random branches of special operations that the M1 Garand was too heavy and unwieldy for their needs. Shortly there after, a program was started (and not officially supported until 1941) to create a lighter infantry rifle that was more powerful than the standard sidearms of the time (M1911 and M1917 revolver) but more maneuverable than the cumbersome M1 Garand and/or the heavy Thompson Submachine Gun. Army Ordnance had already developed a new cartridge that all prototype rifles should be chambered in, that cartridge was the 
.30 Carbine. This new, smaller cartridge still used the same 7.62mm diameter bullet but only had a bullet weight of 110 grains as opposed to the .30-06’s 152 grains. As well, out of an 18 inch barrel, the cartridge topped out at 1,990 feet per second while the massive .30-06 cartridge left a 24 inch barrel at a devastating 2,700 feet per second. 
Winchester had been working on a new rifle for the military, but it was a larger rifle similar to the M1 Garand. It was designed by John Moses Browining’s brother, Jonathan “Ed” Browning, using the .30-06 cartridge and a new operating system dubbed the “M2 Winchester Military Rifle”. Unfortunately, Ed Browning died in May of 1939 and never complete the rifle. Later that year, at the request of some Army brass, Winchester hired David Williams, a former prison inmate that, once released, began perfecting firearm designs he started while incarcerated. One of his designs was a short stroke piston system which caught the eyes of Army officers whom recommended him to Winchester. 
Winchester had high hopes that Williams could complete some of Brownings designs, including the M2 rifle. After a series of test by the Marine Corps, it was determined Brownings original design wasn’t reliable enough. Williams incorporated his short stroke piston and changed the bolt from a tilting design to a rotating design similar to the M1 Garand. By 1941, Williams had changed the rifles design to be much smaller and was able to shave off nearly five pounds. After a few more prototypes and tests, the M1 Carbine was officially adopted on October 22, 1941.
(c) Copyright Point-of-Aim Productions, 2013




Design

The M1 Carbine is a small rifle sporting an 18 inch barrel and weighs in at a mere 5.2 pounds. The unique feature of this rifle is its operating system. It uses a rotating bolt similar to the M1 Garand, but the way it works is completely different. The M1 Carbine uses a short stroke gas piston. When the bullet is fired, the gases become trapped in a chamber under the barrel that houses the piston, the force of the gas pushes the piston against the operating rod, which in this case is not connected to the piston. The force throws the operating rod back, cocking the hammer and rotating the bolt. The design proved incredibly effective.
The first models featured a flip rear sight that had two aperture settings and no bayonet lug. Prior to D-Day, an M1A1 version was created for paratroopers that included a folding stock for easier carry. Throughout the war, some rifles were arsenal reworked and silently dubbed the M1A2 which included an enhanced rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation and included a bayonet lug, these are what are most commonly seen today on the collectors market. 
Shortly before the Korean War, the M1 Carbine was re-worked once again and included two huge changes. An entirely new trigger group and sear as well as a selector switch. Dubbed the ‘M2 Carbine’, these were able to be fired in both fully- or semi-automatic. A heavier, rounded bolt was added to decrease rate of fire and a new 30 round magazine was created. These saw action mostly in the Korean War and was contracted out to many other countries for their militaries. An incredibly rare M3 model was developed that added an infra-red scope. These saw very little action. 

Customization

As with the Fulton Armory* M1 Garand Review, this review also has an asterisks (*) after ‘Fulton Armory’, and again, for the same reasons. The Carbine used in our tests started life as an arsenal refurbished rifle that had a Standard Products receiver with an Underwood barrel. It was originally refinished by James River Armory of Baltimore, MD  whom did a great job on the wood and metal, but the barrel was completely shot-out and wasn’t accurate at all. Frustrated, I threw the rifle in my safe where it sat for a few years. I sent the rifle to Fulton Armory in December of 2012 for a complete rebuild. New sights, new operating rod, new extractor, metal refinishing, and most importantly, a new barrel. The barrel is a “match quality” Fulton Armory barrel that is guaranteed 3 MOA with Match ammo. None of this was cheap, however. Everything added up, I spent well over an extra $1200 for the upgrades. Add that to the $750 original price and that is one expensive M1 Carbine!


Performance

But was the extra $1200 investment worth it? ABSOLUTELY! One thing I do wish I had done was their National Match trigger job. It was introduced shortly after I picked my rifle up and as a self proclaimed trigger snob, I would have thoroughly enjoyed it. The new rifle was tested, as always, with a number of different types of ammo. We used Remington UMC, Prvi Partisan, Federal American Eagle, and DoubleTap. We also
tested a few hand loads out of the rifle, but more on that later. All of the ammo gave us good results out of the rifle. Nothing to write home about, but at the same time we didn't have any ‘Match’ ammo to work with. Hornady had recently introduced their Steel Match ammo, but we couldn’t get our hands on any. The best group we shot from the rifle at 100 yards came from the DoubleTap which was a little over 4 inches. 
The fun came when we started testing our hand loads. We had two sets and both used a Hornady 110 grain FMJ. The first set used Alliant 2400 powder which is usually a magnum pistol powder but was said to be very good with the .30 Carbine. It shot about the same as the other rounds so nothing too spectacular from the lightest charge to the highest charge. We shifted to Hodgdon H110 which is also a magnum pistol powder and one that I use with great success in my .357 Magnum (See the Ruger GP100 Review). We were able to shoot a 2.5 inch group at 100 yards on two occasions. Most fell in the 3-3.5 inch group sizes. We were very happy until we saw over pressure signs in the cases. Luckily the most accurate shots came from lighter charges than those. 
We had zero malfunctions from the purchased ammo but we did have issues with our hand loads. We figured out it was a sizing and seating issue with too heavy of a crimp. A few more batches with the fixes and we have had zero issues after 300 rounds. 
(c) Copyright Point-of-Aim Productions, 2013


Final Thoughts

M1 Carbine’s these days are pretty plentiful on the used market, ranging in price from $400 for old beaters to over $2000 for early models with matching parts. Auto-Ordnance still makes new M1’s for around $800 and the reviews I have heard are good but I have never shot one myself. Fulton Armory M1 Carbine’s start at around $1500, but they are customizable. You can get them with different sights, trigger mods, and they now offer a paratrooper stock option. The M1 Carbine has always been a favorite rifle of mine just because its fun and easy to shoot. Got a chance to pick up a nice M1 Carbine? Do it.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Fulton Armory* M1 Garand Review


Fulton Armory* M1 Garand Review

Introduction

The M1 Garand has become one of the most recognizable firearms in the history of firearms. The ironic part about the M1 being the standard service rifle of the U.S. Military was the fact it was designed by a Canadian. John C. Garand began designing the M1 rifle in 1919 and didn’t finish until 1928. The M1 has one of the most storied histories in firearms and because of its reliability and accuracy, General George S. Patton dubbed it, “The greatest battle implement ever devised”. Now it is our turn, to decided if that is still a true statement.


...A History

Throughout American history, the rifle has always been the go-to firearm of any outlaw, cowboy, or soldier. Up until the implementation of the M1 Garand, the Springfield Armory M1903 was the rifle that was standard issue for the U.S. Armed forces. After World War 1, it was decided that a new type of rifle should be designed to gain a further advantage over the enemy and in 1919, trials began on the new rifle. Interestingly enough, it was decided that the soldiers on the front lines weren't engaging enemies out to past 200-300 yards and thus the potent .30-06 Springfield cartridge was not needed. A new cartridge, designated the .276 Pedersen, was designed as a replacement and thus, new rifles were to be chambered in that cartridge. John Garand worked with Springfield Armory to design a rifle to win the new trials and ultimately it came down to the improved “T1” designation which was tested in August 1928 against the .30 Thompson semi-automatic rifle. It wasn’t until 1932 that it was decided to be the clear winner in all the joint military tests (after many revisions) and final work went onto the rifle. While the .276 Pedersen cartridge looked promising, Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur made the decision to re chamber the rifle in .30-06 for the simple fact there were millions of .30-06 rounds left over from the Great War, as well as it being much easier to re-tool existing machinery for lighter bullets instead of a whole new cartridge. The M1 ball round was initially tested, but the 173 grain projectile was tough on the gun, and the excessive operating pressure of the cartridge wreaking havoc on the gas system of the M1 warranted a new type of .30-06 cartridge. Dubbed the M2 ball round, the new 152 grain bullet excelled in the new rifles and the U.S. Military officially adopted the United States Rifle, Caliber .30, M1 in January of 1936.

(c) Copyright, Point-of-Aim productions, 2013


Design

The M1 rifle was a marvel of modern engineering. It was the first rifle to use a gas operated rotating bolt design. Up until then, the semi-automatic rifles being tested used a delayed blow back design that didn’t fare well in tests. The rifle used a clip-fed design which then was revolutionary, but today seems archaic. The ‘En-Bloc’ clip hold 8-rounds of .30-06 Springfield ammunition (the .276 Pedersen models held 10 rounds). The clip is inserted from the top of the rifle and then ejected upon the last fired round making a distinct ‘ping!’ noise. Pre-1939 Garands used a ‘gas-trap’ type system that was very complicated and difficult to manufacture. It was dropped very soon after adoption for a simple drilled gas port. Either way, gases from the fired round exit a hole in the barrel and then push a long piston operating rod back which unlocks the bolt, the bolt rotates and the fired brass is ejected. 
The sights on the rifle are fully adjustable for windage and elevation via the rear disks. It has a small ‘peep’ aperture for the rear sight and a standard military post for a front sight. The rifles weigh in at a hefty 10 pounds, but that weight helps dampen the recoil of the robust .30-06 round. It sports a 24” barrel and is accurate out well past 600 yards. The trigger on military models is two-stage and breaks around 6 pounds. The military versions have standard walnut stocks and were parkerized. Most of the time the Military used a Zinc-Phosphate parkerizing solution that gave a grey-green color to the metal. In some cases a Manganese-Phosphate parkerizing was used that game a more black finish. Most surplus rifles round today will have the former. 

Upgrades

The gun reviewed is from Fulton Armory*. Now why the little asterisk (*) next to the name? I use that because the rifle isn't a 100% Fulton Armory rifle, it was made by Springfield Armory in the mid-1940’s. However, there were many things wrong with the rifle that needed to be fixed. Being from central Maryland myself, Fulton Armory was a mere 10 minuets from my house. Fulton started with their acclaimed ‘technical inspection’ and came back with some very upsetting news: almost everything needed to be replaced. The rifle was re-barreled back in the 1950’s and was in bad shape. The operating rod was worn as was the gas cylinder. There were a few other internal problems that needed to be addressed so I told Fulton to do what they needed to do. Close to $1800 later (more on that in a moment) we had a top notch match worthy rifle. The rifle was detailed stripped, re-barrel with a Fulton Armory match quality barrel made by Criterion, new operating rod, new firing pin, new sight base and adjustment disks, a few new springs and small parts and everything tightened to Fulton tolerances. What threw the price up higher was my option for higher quality parts and National Match upgrades. A service was done that removed the barrel band and epoxied a few things in place for better accuracy. National Match front and rear sights were installed as well as a National Match trigger job which allows the trigger to break at a crisp 4.5 pounds. What I love about the trigger is Fulton makes it so the first stage of the trigger pulls at a soft 2 pounds and the second stage breaks at 2.5 pounds. It is a phenomenal trigger. The sights were adjustable at 1” increments for both windage and elevation. Fulton offers a true National Match rear sight base with 1/2” adjustments.  While the prices were high for all of the upgrade, they were more than worth it in my opinion.



Performance

After an initial investment of $1000 on the rifle, and then to invest another $1800 a few years later you would think the rifle would be the best rifle ever made. Well, you’d be right! This M1 rifle is by far the most accurate semi-automatic rifle I own. The match sights and trigger offer a crisp and accurate sight picture with the perfect match trigger. 
First ammo tested was Greek M2 Ball military surplus. As expected, the ammo functioned flawlessly and gave great results out of the 24” Match barrel. Grouping was good at around 1.5-2” in 100 yards. Recoil was stout from the .30-06 but not punishing. We had no feeding issues, squibs, or ejection failures. Average velocity was a little over 2700FPS. Next up was some Hornady M1 Garand Match ammo. It was topped with a 168gr A-max bullet with velocities reaching close to 2700FPS but falling slightly short. Accuracy was astounding as it was truly a match offering. Average grouping was 1” at 100 yards with some three shot groups average a hair over 3/4”. Recoil was mild, close to the M2 Ball round. Again, no failures. We also fired some cheap (figuratively speaking) Remington UMC 150gr FMJ ammo that functioned well and gave average accuracy on par with the M2 Ball round with softer recoil. Finally, we tested my handloads. First up was a Hornady 150gr FMJ Boat-tailed bullet on top of Alliant’s Reloader 15 powder. Average velocity was 2750FPS with groupings in the same range as the M2 Ball. Some groups shot tighter than others, but overall 1-2” was what it came to be. Recoil was very mild and even with the velocities just shy of the M2 ball round, recoil felt much softer. Finally we shot my match loadings. A Hornady 168gr bullet on top of Winchester 748 powder. Peak velocity was at 2680FPS, the loading was stout and accuracy was as good if not better than the Hornady match loadings. Very satisfied with the loads. We wanted to get our hands on some DoubleTap M1 Garand match ammo that uses a 155gr Hollow Point Boat Tail bullet (possibly a Sierra Match King) but sadly, couldn't get our hands on any in time for the review. Overall, indeed a Match worthy gun.

Final Thoughts

Can you get an M1 Garand for less than $2800? Absolutely! The CMP offers sub-$1000 M1 rifles, but conditions vary. Brand new Fulton Armory rifles start at $1700, but some can go well over $3000 with the right upgrades. Their super match peerless rifles have special upgrades like glass bedded actions and Kreiger medium weight barrels. Those very well could shoot the fleas off a horses back at 600 yards (please don't try it, for the horses sake!). Fulton Armory quality is unsurpassed. The ONLY manufacturer that could come close might be MilTech, but I have not had the pleasure of handling (or even seeing) one of their rifles. If you are looking for a top quality M1 Garand that is super accurate and will last longer than you, look into Fulton Armory... you wont be disappointed. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sig/Sauer P220 Review


Sig/Sauer P220

Introduction

Designed in World War II, the SIG Arms P210 has been considered the most reliable and most accurate 9mm handgun ever produced. Discontinued shortly after the war, it demands high dollars on the collectors market and the re-introduced models run $2000+. Shortly after the war, SIG Arms teamed up with subsidiary J.P. Sauer and created a pistol for the Swiss military that has become the flagship firearm from Sig/Sauer. With a storied history that rivals most popular firearms, the P220 is a favorite among civilian and soldier alike. 
(c) Copyright Point-of-Aim Productions, 2013

...A History

During World War II, while the SIG Arms P210 didn’t see widespread use, it was incredibly popular with those who did use it. After the war, SIG decided it wanted to replace the pistol with something more modern and decided to collaborate with J.P. Sauer of Germany. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that the pistol would finally take shape. Taking Browning’s tried and true lock-breech design, they made a pistol with a number of unique features that really separated it from others on the market. In 1975, Switzerland was the first official country to adopt the “Pistole 75” in 9mm as their sidearm. Japan and Denmark adopted the pistol shortly after, but mainly for their special forces group. As said above, there were a number of design changes that made it very unique over other pistols using Browning’s design. One of the main differences was the fact the P220 doesn’t use locking lugs on the top of the barrel but instead lock the barrel and slide together with an enlarged breach area on the barrel, locking into the ejection port. What was great about this, was it simplified manufacturing. It used a single piece of sheet metal for the slide and an aluminum alloy frame to keep the weight down. Newer P200 series pistols use a machined slide made of steel and, in some cases, a steel frame. 
The other feature that stood it apart was the use of no external safety. Instead, the pistol used a Double Action/Single Action system that used a de-cocking lever to drop the hammer. The heavy double action trigger pull helped eliminate accidental discharges if the gun was being carried. 
The original P220’s had a hell mounted safety like many German made guns but was quickly moved to the left side of the grip. The original P220’s were imported into the U.S. under a contract with Browning under the monicker “BDA” or Browning Double Action. They were offered in three difference calibers: 9mm, .38 Super, and .45 ACP. The .38 Super saw very minimal production and are extremely rare today. 
Later, Sig/Sauer would be able to import the guns into the state on their own under the P220 monicker and after a brief period would manufacture them solely in .45 ACP. And interesting note is that back in Switzerland, the military wanted a smaller version of the P220, so Sig chopped the barrel to 3.9” and shortened the grip. The subsequent pistol was subbed the P225 and saw extensive use overseas and minor use here in the states. The P225 was discontinued in the early 1990’s and are pretty easy to find on the collectors market. To fill the market in the U.S. for a similar pistol chambered in 9mm, Sig introduced the P226 in 1984 for military trials and included the same design features as the P220, but included a double stack magazine that held 15 rounds. That pistol would later be chambered in .40 S&W and .357Sig. 

Performance

The pistol tested was my brothers P220ST, which features a Stainless Steel slide and frame. It is significantly heavier than the standard P220 that uses the aluminum frame but counter acts the recoil well. The grip is very comfortable, being a single stock design similar to a M1911, and the extra Houge grips certainly adds to the comfort. The sights are not the normal 2-dot system, instead the P220 incorporates something similar to a Beretta M9, a white dot front, with a middle hash rear. I actually really like this and have rethought my position on three dot systems. The sights came up quick and target acquisition was smooth. 
The double action trigger pull came in around 10 pounds while the single action came in around 4.5 - 5 pounds. There was a good amount of take-up but the break wasn’t like glass, but not mushy either. All the levers were very positive, the de-cocker let the hammer down softly and the slide release was normal. The front strap of the grip has vertical serrations that help a tiny bit, nothing like sharp checkering, but its a subtle help. 
We used a few varieties of ammunition, as we always do, but pricing of .45ACP and scarcity has made it difficult to get large quantities. We tested a number of hand loads made by my brother with different bullets and powders. We did use a good amount of Winchester White Box and Remington UMC (both 230gr FMJ) which both performed well respectively. We were able to acquire some Hornady Critical Defense, Zombie Max, XTP, and Steel Match. We wanted to get some DoubleTap and Gold Dot but, alas, we couldn't find any at time of review. Bullet weights varied from 185gr to 230gr and MOST performed well. Interestingly enough, the Zombie Max ammo wasn't as accurate as the Critical Defense even though they are, for all intents and purposes, the same bullet. The XTP defense rounds faired well, but at almost $30 for a box of 20, they were to expensive to re-test. What I found to be fun, was that the steel cased “Match” ammo from Hornady was flawless. Next to the XTPs, they shot the best and the recoil was much milder (plus they were hollow points!) 
We used a number of different hand loads, mostly using Hornady projectiles and also Rainier to keep costs even lower. Powders used (among others) were Blue Dot, Bullseye, Power Pistol, and Unique. WE had velocities on the low end with Bullseye going a bit over 700FPS and loads with Power Pistol reaching +P velocities at over 1000FPS with a 230gr bullet!! (thats over 510ft/lbs of energy... getting close to standard 10mm Auto loadings). Needless to say, we didn’t shoot very many of those. We found loads that shot INCREDIBLY well out of the P220 and were able, at one point, to blow the bullseye out of a 6”x6” target at 25 yards... free hand (my brother did anyway, not me). It was impressive with the P220 to say the least.
(c) Copyright Point-of-Aim production, 2013

Final Thoughts

The Sig/Sauer P220 is a fine firearm. The stainless version tested was a second hand purchase and, at the time, they didn't make it anymore. Sig has since re-introduced a stainless version under the ‘Elite’ moniker that has a few upgrades over our version. Wan’t one? It’ll run you a cool $1300 MSRP. The standard P220’s usually run just south of $1000 MSRP but you can usually find them for mid $800’s dealer price.  They aren't cheap compared to some of the other pistols on the market, but are on par with higher end pistols like H&K. Overall, I am a big fan of the P220 and will own my own one of these days. If you don't mind the extra weight of an all stainless gun, go for it... otherwise the standard P220 in .45ACP is a winner. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

An glimpse of things to come...

A few reviews and videos will be released shortly. Working on both Sig P220 and P228 reviews, look for the P220 first. Picked up a Bulgarian AK74 parts kit the other week that is caked in cosmoline... look for a video about stripping the cosmoline and cleaning all the parts. Will be shooting some more reloading videos to include .40S&W and 10mm Auto on the Hornady Lock-n-Load progressive press. I have a lot for you guys coming up so stay tuned!!!

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Thanks for checking us out!

Eric

Thursday, April 4, 2013

.45 Colt Reloading!!

Our first reloading video is up and ready to view! Expect more videos to come in the future detailing the Rock Chucker Supreme single stage press as well as the Hornady Lock-n-Load Progressive press.

http://youtu.be/w_6FIy6sQbc

Thanks for watching!

-Eric

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Springfield Armory XD/XD-m Review


Springfield Armory XD/XDm

As far as striker-fired pistols ago, Glock pretty much had that market to themselves. In 2002, Springfield Armory reached a licensing agreement with HS Produkt of Coratia to market their military issue sidearm, the HS2000. The pistols became so popular, that at one point in 2008, I was told that the XD models were outselling Glock pistols 2:1 in many firearm retailers. In 2008, Springfield introduced the XDm line of pistols that added a number of improvements to the original XD line and as of 2012, they also have the XD-s line that has been an incredibly popular pocket pistol chambered in both .45ACP and as of early 2013, 9mm Luger.

...A History

When Glock introduced their first striker-fired polymer framed pistol to the market in the late 1980’s, it took the market by storm and has become one of the most popular semi-automatic pistols ever. Smith & Wesson tried in the 1990’s to replicate their fame with the Sigma line of pistols, but unfortunately, came under suit from Glock over copyright issues. Glock was THE company for striker fired pistols, and had the law enforcement and civilian markets to themselves. 
In 1991, a designer by the name of Marko Vukovic and his team designed a gun known as the ‘First Croatian Pistol’ and was praised, however ran into quality issues because of manufacturing during the Croatian War of Independence. Design changes continued into 1995 with the release of the improved HS95 and again in 1999 with the HS2000. The Croatian military was so impressed with the improvements in the HS2000, they adopted it as their standard military sidearm. 
Springfield Armory heard about the pistols success and decided it would like to market it in the US. In 2002, Springfield Armory was able to negotiate licensing rights and re-named this pistol the ‘XD’ (or X-treme Duty) and released the pistol in 9x19mm. Between 2002 and 2006, the XD line of pistols grew in popularity and were sold in calibers such as .40S&W, .357Sig, .45GAP, and .45ACP. Different barrel lengths and grip sizes made the pistol popular for Concealed Carry as well as Duty Carry for Law Enforcement. In 2006, the XD-45 won the title of Handgun of the Year by a number of major publications and in 2009, the updated XD(m) won the same prize.



Image copyright 2013 Point-of-Aim Productions


Design

The XD is based, like most modern semi-automatic pistols, off of John Browning’s locking breach design. Glock, Sig Sauer, S&W, and other popular pistol makers use the same design for its proven reliability. The XD pistols are based off of polymer frame and steel slide similar to a Glock or M&P. Unlike the Glock, the XD incorporates either one or two external safeties, as well as multiple internal safeties. The XD sports a grip safety similar to a 1911 as well as a thumb safety on select models. As well, the pistols include a trigger safety identical to the Glock as well as a firing pin safety so if the pistol is dropped, the firing pin cannot strike the primer of a live round. Many critics have talked down the grip safety as not needed on a striker fired gun, and I have to agree with them. Even on 1911 pistols, the grip safety has become less of a safety mechanism and more of a grip position and cosmetic feature with high ride variations from many custom pistol makers. 
Take-down is similar to most striker fired guns in that there is a take down lever that must be rotated clockwise 90 degrees and then taking the slide off. The XD’s (as well as most pistols) requires the trigger to be pulled before taking the slide off... a feature that has been eliminated in the XDm line. The XD pistols are available in a Tactical model (5” barrel, full sized frame), a Service model (4” barrel, full sized frame), a Compact model (4” barrel, compact frame), and a Sub-Compact model (3” barrel, compact frame) and are available in 9mm, .40S&W, .357Sig, and .45ACP (as of 2012, the .45GAP is no longer offered). All versions come with different finish options including flat dark earth and OD green. The XDm versions come with standard 4.5” barrels and full sized frames, 3.8” barrels with full sized frame, and the competition version that sports a 5.25” barrel and cut-out slide... again available in multiple calibers (with the exception of .357Sig) and finishes. 


Performance

We tested two different XD models, my personal XDm with 4.5” barrel in .40S&W and an XD Tactical model in .45ACP (courtesy of my brother). We tested a number of different types of ammunition from factory loads and our hand loads. The triggers on the standard pistols are long and squishy but break rather crisply around 5lbs. Me, being the trigger snob, elected to have trigger work done to my XDm shortly after purchase and had almost all take-up removed and the trigger lightened to 3.5lbs. 
We tested a variety of Remington UMC, DoubleTap, Hornady XTP and Critical Defense, Winchester White Box, and Federal “Walmart special” ammunition. The Hornady and DoubleTap (surprise, surprise) performed the best with groups ranging from 1.5” to 3” at 15 yards (free hand). Winchester and Remington performed well, but the groups weren’t as tight ranging upwards of 2.5” to 4” at 15 yards. Federal is almost not worth addressing considering it was inherently inaccurate out of both guns. We even cleaned the guns and tested Federal again, but no luck. I have no doubt some American Eagle (also made by Federal) or some of their HST or Hydra-Shock ammunition would perform better. Our hand loads were a bit finicky. It took a long time for both of us to find the right ‘load’ for each firearm, going through easily a dozen different projectiles and powders from different manufacturers. We both finally found our pet loads and they performed the best of all tests, but it took longer than it did for both my Glock 20 and Colt Delta Elite. 
One fun thing I did do, was get a .357Sig swap-out barrel for my XDm from Storm-Lake. The .357Sig round has always intrigued me and it has become a blast to shoot! The barrel went in with no problems and is top notch in accuracy. The .357Sig round, while snappy, is pleasant to shoot. My pet load of a 124gr Sierra JHP over Unique powder is, as I said, snappy, but very accurate and fun to shoot. 
The sights on both guns are 3-dot variations and work well. Grip angle is similar to a 1911, so it is comfortable and not to aggressive. As I said, the triggers I am not that big of a fan of, nor the grip safety but they work well for others. The XDm carries a ‘Match Grade’ barrel, but we really couldn't see a distinct difference in accuracy between the stock XD barrel and the XDm’s match grade offering. 
The XDm touts new grip textures and slide serrations which were nice additions, as well as ambi-mag release and a new slide profile. The grip texture worked well and were slightly more positive than the standard XD. The slide serrations were more aggressive and offered more grip than the standard XD. Triggers are almost identical as is the firing mechanism. Overall, both well performing firearms.

Image Copyright 2013 Point-of-Aim Productions

Final Thoughts...

I purchased my XDm in the fall of 2008 as my very first handgun. At the time, some gun shop in the area were reporting the XD series of pistols were out selling Glock’s 2:1. That doesn’t seem to be the case today, but I got a good deal on mine so I didn’t really care. MSRP on most of the XD line will range about $650 to $800 and vary from shop to shop. Besides the trigger, I am a big fan of the XD and XDm series of pistols, it was a great first pistol for me, and seeing so they are still incredibly popular and available in multiple caliber offerings, they are certainly worth a look between those, the Glock, and M&P series of pistols. 


Friday, March 29, 2013

Smith & Wesson M&P15 Sport


Smith & Wesson 
M&P15 Sport

The AR-15 rifle is arguably the most popular modern sporting rifle in existence. Contrary to popular belief, it originated as a civilian rifle in the late 1950’s and was later adopted at the standard issue military rifle in the early 1960’s under the moniker of M16, the true assault rifle. The rifle has been chambered in a number of different calibers ranging from .22LR to .50 Beowulf and everything in between. With Smith & Wesson’s foray into the AR market, they innovated the classic design as their own and have made some of the most accurate, reliable, and affordable AR-15’s on the market.

...A History

If you were to compose a list of the top ten greatest firearm innovators of all time, everyone knows John M. Browning would be #1. But there was a man by the name of Eugene Stoner that would easily be in the top five, but sadly, a lot of people still don’t have any clue who he is. Stoner, a former Marine, was hired by ArmaLite in 1954 as their chief engineer. He was asked to design and develop new small arm designs for the U.S. Military. Most of his first designs didn’t see much production, until he designed the AR-10. One of the breakthroughs was the use of aircraft grade aluminum and new innovations in plastics instead of the traditional walnut and steel. This allowed for a lighter firearm that was easier to carry and fire. It was chambered for the then new 7.62x51mm cartridge (.308 Win) and had better control overall in testing for fully-automatic fire than the prototype T44 rifle that later became the M14. Unfortunately, the M14 was adopted over the AR-10, and the rifle fell by the wayside. 
In the late 1950’s, with the requests of the U.S. Military, both of Stoners chief engineers, Robert Fremont and Jim Sullivan designed the AR-15 from the basic AR-10 design and chambered it for the new 5.56x45mm cartridge. After the adoption of the rifle at the M16, Stoner sold the rights to the design to Colt and left ArmaLite in 1961. Colt became the chief manufacturer of M16 and AR-15 rifles up until the late 1980’s and early 1990’s when other builders started licensing the design.
Fast forward to SHOT Show 2008. Smith & Wesson introduced their first two version of the AR-15, the M&P15 and the M&P15T, only difference being the ‘T’ model had a rail system and flip up sights. Since then Smith & Wesson has manufactured over two dozen different M&P15 rifles and many police departments around the country have adopted them as their standard rifles. The M&P15 Sport was introduced in 2011 as a ‘budget’ rifle and became one of their most popular models to date.

Design
Image copyright (c) Point-of-Aim Productions, 2013




The M&P15 Sport is based off the standard AR-15 design in that it uses the tried and true direct gas-impingement design. The sports a standard 16” barrel with a basic hand guard and front sight/gas block. The barrel is the crown jewel of this rifle. It doesn’t use the regular government profile barrel but more of a medium contour barrel. The gas black sports a standard .75” thickness and the barrel is just a tad smaller. It also uses the unique 5R rifling system with a 1:8” twist rate instead of standard six-grove rifling with either a 1:9” or 1:7” twist rate. The 5R rifling has 5 groves that are tapered on each edge and are opposite with the lands instead of six groves that are opposite of each other. This is suppose to be less taxing on the bullet itself allowing for less deformity and better accuracy. 
The sport model omits some standard features of the AR-15 that, in my opinion, aren’t needed. The first is the forward assist. While the bolt carrier group has the notches to accept a forward assist, the upper receiver resembles the original M16 in that it is “slick side” and has no forward assist. It also doesn’t have the dust cover for the bolt carrier group. Another omission that doesn't make that big of a difference. It comes standard with a flat top receiver and a Magpul MBUS rear sight, A2 grip and A2 birdcage flash hider. Also included is a standard, chrome lined bolt, carrier and gas key with a standard 6-position butt stock. Nothing special about this rifle cosmetically compared to other rifles, and the price reflects that.


Performance

Before I purchased the M&P15, I owned a Ruger SR-556 which in itself, is a great firearm. But it did have some shortcomings, which made me sell it and look for a new rifle. I had heard a lot of great things about the M&P rifles, among others, and read a lot about the Sport model. For $650, I couldn't pass it up. We used a plethora of ammunition to not only break in the rifle, but sight it in, and just test. We started with Black Hills ‘blue box’, Federal M193 and M855 military contract, Hornady steel match and v-max, as well as Wolf and Silver Bear. One thing that surprised me was how fast the barrel broke in. In LESS than 50 rounds, the barrel was broken in and ready for sighting in. I was shocked, to say the least. Most of the ammo we used were .223 Remington spec, so they were pretty mild with bullet weights between 52 and 55 grains. The Federal ammo, however is 5.56mm NATO spec, so they were much hotter, especially the M855. Even them being hotter, they were all VERY accurate. Since purchase, we have fired easily over 2000 rounds of ammunition out of the rifle, included hundreds of rounds of Wolf steel cased ammo... without a SINGLE malfunction. We had ZERO issues with Wolf ammo, or any steel cased ammunition for that matter. On top of that, the Wolf ammo was actually really accurate out to 100 yards. Now, when I say accurate, I don't mean half and inch at 100 yards. With iron sights, Wolf 55 grain FMJ ammunition printed a hair over 3” at 100 yards.... consistently. The Federal and Hornady ammo shot much better averaging about two and a quarter inches or better at 100 yards. 
As a bug-out gun, the rifle was sighted in for 50 yards instead of 100. Obviously group sizes shrunk at 50 yards versus 100, but accuracy was TOP NOTCH. For a gun that only cost $650, I would have thought it should have cost well over $1000 with its accuracy. The sights were fine, basic A2 style front sight and Magpul rear. The trigger was nothing to write home about, but if you are keeping the M&P a ‘battle’ rifle, the 6.5lb trigger is fine with enough practice, you don't want a 3lb Geizzlle trigger (although they are amazing!) on anything besides a marksman rifle. The rifle is very light and very comfortable to shoot. The hand guards are smaller than standard AR-15 hand guards, but that is a welcome change. It is a simple, no frills AR-15 that shoots much better than anything in its price range.


Customization
Image copyright (c) Point-of-Aim Productions, 2013

The AR-15 is considered the “Man’s Barbie Doll” and it is very accurate. I changed A LOT of the rifle, just to taylor it to myself. There is nothing wrong with the stock rifle, but I love customizing things, and the AR-15 is the perfect platform to do so. The first to go was the collapsable stock. I added a Magpul STR stock for the added cheek weld and butt pad. It is a very comfortable stock, and I added it in Flat Dark Earth (FDE). Also added was a FDE Magpul MIAD grip to give my big paws a better grip on the rifle. An enlarged charging handle was added as well as the Magpul BAD level to help with fast reloads. The Magpul ASAP sling system and an MS3 sling we also added, but I have yet to really use those. On the front end of the gun, the A2 flash hider was replaced with the newest Surefire 5.56 muzzle break, which does and amazing job of reducing recoil and acts as amount for Surefire’s SOCOM Suppressors. The front sight base was replaced with a Yankee Hill low profile gas block and the hand guard was swapped for a Troy Industries 13” Alpha Rail. It is a low profile rail that is fully modular and very comfortable to hang onto. Also added were Troys “squid grips” in FDE that occupy the mounting holes similar to rail covers. Magpul rail sling mount and GEN2 front sight round out the custom features. 
Accuracy didn’t change with the additions, and still shots spot on at 50 yards. The muzzle break was a great addition as was the rail, it is very comfortable to shoot free hand. 


Final Thoughts

There isn’t enough that I can say about the Smith&Wesson M&P15 Sport. It is a solid platform, with superb accuracy and phenomenal reliability with any ammunition put through it. There are hundreds of other AR-15’s on the market, but none, in my opinion, can match the quality and accuracy for the price of the M&P15 Sport. If you are looking for a new AR-15, or even you first AR-15, you NEED to look at the M&P15 Sport. 
Unfortunately, in todays political climate, MSRP has risen on the rifles and I have yet to see them lately for anything less than $1000, and they are very hard to come by. I think once everything cools down, and prices return to normal I would recommend picking one up and enjoying it as much as I have. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Video's suspended

Hey all,

Unfortunately all range-based video reviews have been suspended until further notice.

I will continue to write my reviews but I wont be able to film them until approval from the range. This really isn't a big deal, there were regulations in place that I did not know about so I was asked to stop filming. Just following the rules. I need to get approval from the Executive Board for the range in order to film there so hopefully that wont take long.
\
No worries folks, just wanted to make everyone aware!!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just a heads up....

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up. I am currently in California on business and wont be back until next week and because of my schedule it wont be until the week AFTER that I will be able to do any more filming.

The first video to be recorded will be the Ruger GP100, followed by the Uberti 1873 El Patron. I am trying to acquire some 9mm ammo (incase anyone hand't noticed... its a BIT scarce these days) so I will be able to do the Hi-Power video.

We have some cool things in the making such as the Springfield XD/XDm pistols and yes, my Smith and Wesson M&P15 Sport is in the works, ;-)

Thanks for reading guys!!!

-Eric

www.facebook.com/pointofaim
pointofaimpro@gmail.com

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Browning Hi-Power


Browning Hi-Power

The Colt M1911 is arguably the greatest handgun ever made. But what if I told you that its inventor, John Moses Browning, had another design that was more reliable, just as comfortable, and carried more ammunition? Most young guys (30 years old or less) would raise their eyebrow at me or call me nasty names but a small, generally older, group may get bug eyed, excited, and shout out, “THE BROWNING HI-POWER!”. They’d be right. The Browning Hi-Power (or just Hi-Power) also considered, ‘The King of the 9mm’s”, was the last great design of John Browning, and has been used in over 50 countries as their standard issue military sidearm starting in 1935 and continuing on through today... yet he never got to see it finished.

A History...

John Moses Browning (1855-1926) is arguably the greatest firearms inventor of all time. He has over 128 firearms patents in his name and has licensed them to various manufacturers such as Colt and Winchester just to name a few. He is the true Godfather of firearms and thanks to him, we have most of the designs for todays automatic and semi-automatic firearms. A lot of historians will credit his greatest invention to the great M1911 pistol, a pistol which is still used by active duty military and police to this day, 102 years later. 
In the early 1900s, the French military was looking for a new military sidearm for its troops and had some pretty strict requirements. It had to hold at least 13 rounds, be effective out to 50m, be compact and lightweight, have an external hammer, external safety, and be easy to assemble and disassemble. The firearms manufacturer Fabrique Nationale (FN) of Belgium got a hold of John Browning and asked him to design them a firearm for such a task. Unfortunately for Browning, all the 1911 patents he held he sold to Colt so he was forbidden to use them in the design of his new pistol, so he went back to the drawing board. He designed and built two separate prototypes, one being a direct blowback design, the other a locking breach design. Unlike his 1911 design, both used a new double-stack magazine for the increased capacity that didn't make the grip a lot larger. Interestingly enough, the original design was striker fired, similar to a Glock operating system. In early 1928, a designer by the name of Dieudonn√© Saive took a lot of Colt’s patents and incorporated them into the gun such as the removable barrel bushing and take down sequence (the Colt patents had expired the the same year). Saive took over the design after Brownings death and finished it in 1934 to include a 13-round magazine instead of 16 and incorporated the barrel bushing into the slide and simplified the take down process. In 1935, the first P-35 pistols were off the assembly line, and ready for the French military.  Unfortunately, the French military did not adopt the Hi-Power, but the Belgian military did.

Author unknown

The Design

To compare a 1911 to a Hi-Power is really comparing an apple to an orange. Are them similarities? Yes... they are both guns. The locking system, takedown, magazine, grip angle, firing mechanism, recoil spring, and chambering are all different, however. Both use a single action firing system in which the slide has to be manually operated to chamber the initial round and uses a manual thumb safety, similar to the 1911. Having the barrel bushing incorporated into the slide itself (essentially eliminating it) allowed for an easier take down and a redesign of the recoil spring and guide rod. This made it a much simpler design. Instead of having seven separate slide parts, (the slide, barrel, bushing, guide rod, recoil spring, and recoil spring plunger) it was simplified to four (barrel, slide, recoil spring, guide rod) making it MUCH easier for field striping. Utilizing the 9mm Parabellum cartridge helped as well, as it allowed for easier control and higher magazine capacity. One gripe a number of people have (myself included) was the addition of a magazine disconnect safety. This ‘safety’ disconnected the trigger from the rest of the fire controls with a plunger than came into contact with the magazine in order for it to fire. Besides being annoying, it made the trigger pull on the Hi-Power much heavier. Luckily, this can be fixed by either removing the safety, which is not recommended if you intend to use a Hi-Power for CCW or even home defense, or having a gunsmith polish all the internal surfaces and switch out springs. 
Since the Hi-Powers introduction in 1935, FN has made some design changes (see, improvements) to the gun. The firearms were originally sold with either adjustable or fixed sights which are still available today. In 1962 the internal extractor (shared with the 1911) was changed to an external version to aid in reliability and has stayed that way since. There have been other additions to the gun such as ambidextrous thumb safeties, throated barrels, and three dot sight systems which came in the 1980’s. Various other model changes have happened mostly in the American market like re-chambering’s to .40S&W and .357Sig which required a beefier slide and recoil spring to accommodate the increased pressures. A .30 Luger model was made, but that model was primarily for the European market.  There was a model labeled the BDA, or Browning Double Action that added a Double Action/Single Action function to the firearm, it has since been discontinued. Today there are two base models available: The Classic Hi-Power with a hight gloss blued finish, walnut grips, and either adjustable or fixed sights, as well as the Mark III variant with a matte black finish, plastic grips, and fixed sights.  All still remain incredibly popular to this day. 
Author unknown

Performance

For this review we have both a Classic Hi-Power made by Browning Arms Co. with fixed sights and a Argentine Hi-Power made by FM (NOT FN or Fabrique Nationale) it resembles the Mark III. The FM version, M-95 Classic, carries a “Colt Style” slide that is more rounded and resembles a 1911 rather than a traditional Hi-Power. The model used was discontinued in 2002.  Older models of the FM have the exact same fine lines of the original Belgian Hi-Power.
Both pistols are fantastic shooters. When you put one of these pistols in your hand, it just fits. Even with its double stack magazine, it really feels great. The sights on the FM version are nice 3-dot sights which I prefer in my pistols. The adjustable sights on the Browning are very nice and positive, holding their adjustments perfectly. We fed a variety of ammunition through theses guns including 115gr and 124gr handloads, Winchester 115gr White Box and Silver Tip JHP, Hornady Critical Defense 115gr, Ultramax 115gr, and Military Spec 9x19mm NATO 124gr. All rounds ran flawlessly out of each gun with the exception of the Ultramax. In the Browning model, there was a catastrophic case rupture that actually broke the grips and the rear sight. It was not a good day (this was done prior to filming the range review). The FM version was fortunate enough to not have this issue, but it did have some feeding problems with the Ultramax. All that aside, accuracy was stellar out past 25 yards. The NATO rounds were noticeably hotter than the rest of the ammo, including the Critical Defense. 
One thing that stood out to me as a negative was the trigger pulls. The FM version pulled at a staggering 9.5lbs and the Browning came in a bit less at 8lbs. That’s just obscene for a self defense gun, ESPECIALLY for a single action. I expect that in a revolver, not an automatic.  However, there are many examples of both models that have much better triggers breaking around 6lbs.
Take down of both was exactly the same and as smooth as could be. Considering the drastic price difference between the Browning-made and FM-made version, there were pretty much on par with accuracy and reliability. 


Final Thoughts

When looking for a 9mm chambered self defense gun with a classic look and feel, look no further than the Browning Hi-Power. It has a natural feel, with a great fit and finish and accuracy to match. Sure, it is a lot more expensive than some alternatives like a Glock or an M&P. MSRP coming in at just under $1100 for the Mark III and just under $1200 for the Classic it is easy to see why someone would choose a Glock or an M&P.   But to be honest, it’s about the history rather than the “tactical” look of the more modern polymer pistols. Luckily, secondhand Browning’s can be found for less than $700, and if you can find an FM made Argentine model they will come in well under $400 for just as nice of a gun. But for most purists, its all about the Browning made versions. 





**Special Thanks to my brother, PJ, for allowing me to use, and review his two favorite (and very cherished) Hi-Power pistols.**

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Uberti 1873 Cattleman, 'El Patron'


Uberti Cattleman El Patron

No single handgun was more important or as well known as the Colt Single Action Army revolver. Released in 1873 and issued to the U.S. Army as their standard issue revolver, it became incredibly popular among citizens as a defensive firearm because of its ease of use, revolutionary self contained cartridges, and three barrel length options ranging from 4.75” to 7.5”. Between 1873 and present day well over half a million pistols have been manufactured in over half a dozen different calibers and a handful of different finishes.


Image copyright Point-of-Aim Productions 2013

A History...

When someone says the name “Colt” in todays firearm community, the first thing they most likely would think of the M1911. Personally, I go even further back to the Paterson revolver of 1836 or even the Walker. But my all-time favorite is the Colt Single Action Arm of 1873. The Single Action Army (or SAA) was pivotal in the modernization of revolvers and even the metallic cartridge. Was is the first metallic cartridge revolver? No, Smith and Wesson beat them to the punch with the Top Break which was chambered for the .44 S&W American and .44 Russian cartridges. The U.S. Army adopted the S&W Model 3 (Top Break) in 1870 to replace the 1860 Colt Army pistols and had them chambered for the .45 Schofield cartridge. When the SAA was introduced in 1873, Colt chambered them for a new .45 Long Colt cartridge. The .45 Long Colt (or .45LC) had a longer case than the .45 Schofield and was more powerful. One distinct advantage that the SAA had over the Model 3 was that it could chamber not only the .45LC, but also the .45 Schofield which made it more popular amongst the troops. After 1875, The U.S. Army standardized the SAA for everyone. 
The SAA was replaced in 1892 with the Colt Model 1982, a Double-Action revolver manufactured chambered in .38 Long Colt. All the remaining SAA’s were sold to civilians. There were technically four different barrel lengths available for civilians. A “Calvary” model that had a 7.5” barrel, an “Artillery” model with a 5.5” barrel, a “Gunslinger” model with a 4.75” barrel, and a VERY rare “Sheriff's” model with a cut down 3.5” barrel that didn't have an ejector rod. Interestingly enough, the .45LC was NOT the most popular chambering for civilians. In 1873, Winchester released their Model 1873 Repeating Rifle, or “The Gun that Won the West” which wasn’t chambered for the .45LC. What was appealing to civilians was that they could get there long gun and and sidearm chambered in the same cartridge, which in most cases was the .44-40 Winchester Center Fire (or WCF) but also .38-40 WCF, .32-20 WCF, and .25-20 WCF were popular.  
There have been three “generations” of the SAA. The ‘First Generation’ was manufactured between 1873 and 1941. Up until 1896, a single screw was used to hold in the base pin that retains the cylinder into the frame. After 1896, a spring loaded button was retrofitted to all new SAA’s which also indicated the transition to stronger steel for use with modern smokeless powder instead of black powder. Most of the models were available in a color case hardened frame finish with blued cylinder and barrel with black rubber grips. During WW2, colt ceased production of the SAA to focus on the M1911 pistol. Production restarted in 1956 up until 1974, and these models were considered “Second Generation” models but had no significant differences to the first generation models. In 1976 a change in barrel thread pitch (how it attaches to the frame) and using a solid cylinder plug instead of removable plug marked the start of the “Third Generation” models. They were only produced in limited numbers at first through Colts Custom Shop up until 1992. In 1994, production resumed 100% due to the jump in Cowboy Action Shooting popularity and continues today. 
In 1959, seeing a gap in the market for Colt revolvers due to the popularity of ‘spaghetti western’ movies, a man by the name of A. Uberti started Uberti Firearms to create exact replicas of famous Colt, Remington, and Winchester firearm designs. The Italian based company became very popular among Hollywood directors since they couldn't get their hands on the authentic firearms and were much less expensive. Uberti now manufactures over two dozen different firearms that were originally designed between 1860 and 1900.

The Design

The model that we are working with today is one of Uberti’s newer versions of their Cattleman revolver. In 2010 Uberti released their ‘El Patron’ variation of the Cattleman that added a number of upgrades that really appealed to me. The El Patron, at first glance, for all intents and purposes, is a Single Action Army revolver. What is cool about it versus the other Cattleman revolvers, however, is that it uses Wolff high performance springs, a numbered cylinder, steel back strap and trigger guard, a wide front sight, and checkered walnut grips. I am a true trigger snob, I will admit it. One pull of this trigger will satisfy ANY trigger snob. It is SUPER light, no doubt from the help of those Wolff springs. The function of the hammer in all four stages is crisp, positive, and smooth as silk. Not one hiccup in the operation of this revolver. The El Patron model tested sports a 5.5” barrel and is chambered for the .45LC, however, they are also available in 4.75” and 3.5” barrels in either .45LC or .357 Magnum. Finishes are also choosable as either a blued cylinder and barrel with a color case-hardened frame (tested) or stainless steel. These pistols are through and through Colt replicas, but function and shoot like genuine Colts (bold statement, I know).


Performance
Image copyright Point-of-Aim Productions 2013


I had very high hopes for this revolver as it stood in a very large shadow. Luckily, it was able to hold its own very well. We didn’t test too many different types of ammo as .45LC just isn't very easy to find and don’t come in many variations. Usually you find either light ‘cowboy’ loads that propel a 250 or 255 grain bullet at around 700 feet-per-second or you get nuclear loads by Buffalo Bore and Double Tap that were made for shooting from the massive Colt Anaconda and has velocities over shadowing that of the .44 Magnum. We were able to acquire Winchester Cowboy 250 grain lead loads, Federal American Eagle 255 grain lead loads, Hornady 255 grain lead loads, and two of my hand loads. All performed VERY well with the exception of the Federal loadings. They weren't as accurate as the Winchester or Hornady. I wanted to procure some Double Tap “Standard Pressure” loads that were to replicate the original black powder loadings of 1873 but never was able to. Recoil on all the ammo was very mild since they were lower velocity, only leaving the muzzle at around 750 feet per second on the high end.
My two hand loads had good results as well using an Oregon Trail 250 grain lead bullet. I worked up a ‘cowboy’ load and a ‘standard’ load. The cowboy load used Trail Boss powder while the standard load used Unique. Velocities were very mild with the Trail Boss, averaging only 630 feet per second. My standard loads, however, were hot, hot, hot! They averaged 930 feet per second with the hottest load being almost 960 feet per second which is on par with what the original black powder loading was. I did notice that the edges around the grip where it attaches to the frame are very sharp and while shooting my standard loads cut my thumb on one side. The lighter loads didn't even effect me but when I started shooting the hotter stuff, my thumb took a licking. 
All the factory ammo cycled without a problem but my hand loads decided to get stuck a few times in rotation. It looked to be either a worn rim on the cartridge or the primer was just a bit too high. Easy fix, but annoying never-the-less. The  ejector rod functions smoothly with no hang ups and, unlike Ruger single actions, had a smooth edge on the underside as to not to cut you while using it. Disassembly was simple and fast with only three pieces total (frame, takedown pin, and cylinder). Something to note was the fact that the barrel is a bit larger than standard .45 caliber barrels. Not to get TOO technical, but most .45 caliber barrels are around .451” wide... the Uberti runs about .454” wide so that brush you would normal use to scrub a barrel may not even grab the lands and grooves. Just something to note.


Final Thoughts

Who wouldn’t love to have a genuine Colt Single Action Army revolver? I know I would! The only issue is their steep $1400 plus MSRP.  Granted... is IS a genuine Colt we are talking about, but in this day and age, a replica will sure get the job done... especially at a $620 MSRP. The cool part about the Uberti’s is the fact that the regular model Cattleman revolvers come is a crazy amount of versions ranging from a 4.75” Stainless Steel frame chambered in .357 Magnum to a 7.5” Color case-hardened frame in .44-40 WCF. They have so many different finishes and variations that the possibilities are almost endless. One model I’d like to get is their “Old West” model that has a worn steel finish with the original screw in frame instead of the spring loaded button (essentially an early first generation replica). 
As of this writing, Uberti has released a new model called the ‘Horseman’ that mimics more modern firearms like the Ruger Vaquero and Blackhawk in that is uses a captive recoil spring and a transfer bar mechanism for safety instead of the old school exposed firing pin. Which ever model you choose to go with, it is worth taking a look at the Uberti’s.