CategoriesGun Reviews

Atomic Heart — An Alternative History of the Soviet Union

Atomic Heart was sold to me like this, “It’s Soviet Bioshock, and you play as a mentally ill secret agent.” That was enough for me, plus it was free on Game Pass, so I dived in. I enjoyed Bioshock and nontraditional RPG first-person shooters, and Atomic Heart had a hook. A hook and a controversy. It was made by a Russian studio and released near the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They have not commented on it and say they do not comment on political affairs. Take that for what you will. I’m just reviewing the game as a gun guy.

Into the World of Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart takes place in 1955. An alternate 1955 in which a Soviet scientist discovered something called Polymer, which is a programmable liquid that led to massive technological gains. The Soviets stomped the Nazis by 1942, but the war had a heavy toll. The Soviets created robots, some humanlike, some not. They became the world’s workforce, and the Soviets became the most powerful superpower in the world.

Atomic Heart begins in a Soviet utopia but things go wrong quickly.

They have cities in the clouds, robotic workforces, flying drones, and cars. It’s the Americana version of the Soviet Union. Your character Major Sergey Nechayev is a WW2 veteran and special operations Major with some interesting memory problems. The setting is wonderful, huge, vibrant, and unique. It’s certainly something new and strays away from gray alleys and the urban environments you’ve seen everywhere. It’s a very interesting world to explore and enjoy.


Apparently, the game has been in production for years now, a rather slow production. It’s made using Unreal4, but you can’t tell. The game is absolutely gorgeous. I’m playing on an Xbox One, and it looks great. The enemies, the weapons, and the environments are all sharp and good-looking.

The enemies range in variety quite a bit, with varying appearances signifying which enemies do what and their weaknesses. Being able to identify these threats with good graphics makes it easy to throw the right kind of lead.

Robot boss fight in Atomic Heart
This guy needs a round of 7.62×39 to his face.

The downside to good graphics on the last generation’s engine and hardware is long load times. Lord forbid you to die and have to sit through an ultra-long load screen. I suggest sitting with a book because the game can be fairly difficult, and you might spend some time staring at your load screens. More than enough to read all the tips.

The Story of Atomic Heart

The story starts in one direction, and well, it has some twists and turns. It’s not what you expect, and it’s a great story. I really don’t want to spoil it because the game is still very new, and plenty of people haven’t gotten a chance to play. Most first-person shooters I play are fairly plain as far as the story goes. This game has an ambitious story mode. The only time it underdelivers is with your player character. He’s not super fleshed out, but his interactions with his technologically advanced glove, Charles, help a bit.

The characters are interesting, especially Granny. It’s a unique romp, and it’s tough to say much more about it without giving anything away. The world really establishes itself with this soviet world. In fact, we even get a mention of Mr. Kalashnikov if you pay attention.

The Shooting and More

Atomic Heart offers you a small but interesting and upgradeable arsenal, but more than that, they offer you, Charles. Charles, your super-powered AI glove gives you the ability to mix shock, telekinesis, and freeze into your gunplay. The powers and shooting aren’t an ‘or’ ordeal. You don’t have to choose between guns and power.

The two work together, and your telekinesis can toss an enemy in the air, making them vulnerable to gunfire. Shock can do damage, and stun enemies, and so on and so forth. The powers mix in easily and quickly with the gunplay, adding a new degree of fun destruction to your threats.

looking down a rilfe barrel in a dark room in Atomic Heart video game.

Oh, and this game isn’t easy. Well, maybe it is on the easy mode, but on anything else, the game tends to be quite difficult. Luckily the controls are pretty tight, and if you die, you die. It’s your fault. Nothing more than that. The game doesn’t play soft, and the threats are real. Most of the common enemies can throw a serious punch at you as you play.

The shooting is pretty standard if you eliminate the powers. The game allows you to aim down sights, and the sights are realistic. The recoil is present and punchy, and the game gives you enough options to keep things flowing. Not to mention melee weapons are present, from the Swede, a fire ax to the improvised weapons you can build and fight with.

The Guns of Atomic Heart

Atomic Heart offers you a bit of a mixed bag in terms of the arsenal. All the weapons are great, but they are either entirely made up or very real. Guns like the Makarov, KS-23, and AKM are present and provide that Soviet-era military technology. With that said, I find it hard to believe that with all their tech advancements, the Makarov would have succeeded.

The AK atomic heart
Customization goes far in this game.

I, as a shotgun nerd, love that the KS-23 is in the game. The KS-23 is a Russian four-gauge shotgun that uses barrels made for anti-aircraft guns. It’s rare to see it in a game, so I’m happy to see it. Although the recoil seems to be a bit low for a four gauge admittedly, I have no experience with an actual KS-23.

The fictional weapons include the Dominator, the Electro, the Rail Gun, and a few others. Sadly no PPSH-41s in the future. The game allows you to upgrade your weaponry to add different effects to its design. The upgrades are not just performance-based but also give the guns a new look depending on the upgrade. Your ammo can use the elements to deliver spicier blasts to certain foes.

The KS23 in Atomic Heart video game
My early upgrade KS23 features a heat shield and rifle sights. Oh and you can do a +1 for max capacity.

Oh, and make your shots count. Finding extra ammo isn’t always easy, and it’s fairly scant. Luckily, along your journey, you can find these booths that not only upgrade weapons but also allow you to create ammo, health packs, etc.

The Atomic Heart Beat

Atomic Heart is very much a Bioshock-style shooter, and that’s perfectly fine with me. It doesn’t seem like we are getting a new Bioshock anytime soon. A Russian design team also provides a different look at the Soviets, and it’s an interesting take on our old enemy. Give it a play. It’s one of my favorite games of 2023, for what that’s worth.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Best Guns of Call of Duty

How do you pick the best of anything? It’s always subjective to the user and their situation. It’s tough to always be objective, so I won’t even pretend to be. On a subject like video game weapons, I feel comfortable letting my hair down. The Call of Duty series has been chock full of guns since day one and today I’m talking about the best guns of Call of Duty. Most of these guns have been real, or at least closely based on real guns.

The COD armory includes a bit of everything from WW2 to now. Picking my favorite guns from such a huge series wasn’t easy. I had to really sit down and think about what guns from the game leave an impact. What guns can I remember from games I played two, four, five, or even 14 years ago?

That’s not an easy question to answer, but I found a way to dig up five that made an impression on me.

Call of Duty 1 — FG-42

Call of Duty 1 strove to be a bit different than most WW2 shooters of the era and wasn’t afraid to feature oddballs like the FG-42. This rifle was made by the Nazis for their paratroopers. When the Nazis jumped into Greece as part of Operation Mercury, their performance was embarrassing. They were hit hard by the dug-in force, and some paratroopers were even clubbed to death by the Greeks.

The German paratroopers jumped into Greece armed with only handguns and were required to fetch their rifles and support weapons from crates. That tends to be a bad plan. Thus, after a near defeat, the paratroopers needed a new weapon—something compact that could take the palace of a rifle, a submachine gun, and a light machine gun. What they got was the FG-42. This bullpup rifle feeds from a side-mounted magazine and fires the 8mm Mauser.

THE FG42 was a super gun in Call of Duty 1.

The gun featured a number of interesting design choices. This includes closed bolt operation for semi-auto and open bolt for full auto. The weapon had a bipod and could be fitted with an optic. In Call Of Duty, you could even find FG-42s with accurate ZF4 scopes every now and then. In COD, it was one of the best weapons and a bit of a super weapon in its design.

Black Ops — ASP

Black Ops was the perfect game to feature the ASP. This Cold War crusade had you playing as a black ops soldier working around the world and often in ‘enemy’ territory. That’s the perfect palace for an ASP—a special pistol designed by Paris Theodore for concealment by special agents, spies, and black op soldier types.

The name was an acronym for his company, Armament Systems, and Procedures. Paris would take a S&W Model 39 and trim the barrel, slide, and grip to minimize the gun’s size. He then melted every corner to make it snag-free and implemented his Guttersnipe sight system. He replaced the grip panels with clear Lexan grips and cut the magazine to allow the user to look through the grips to judge capacity on the fly.

The ASP in Call of Duty: Black Ops
In Call of Duty: Black Ops the ASP Guttersniper sights were present and accounted for. (Activision)

It’s a clever design and was apparently used in some hotspots around the world. The Supervisor of Security of the US Embassy in Saigon reportedly carried one. It’s a neat design and niche pistol that showed the Black Ops creators did their research.

Black Ops 2 — SRM 1216

Black Ops 2 broke ground by using a non-linear narrative for its campaign, with missions in both the past and future. In the future portions, one of the shotguns is the SRM 1216. This futuristic shotgun features a 16-round rotating magazine. The magazine is made up of four tubes that hold four rounds each. In real life, it’s a semi-auto shotgun, but in the game, it’s full auto. SRM Arms did make full auto variants as prototypes.

SRM 1216 Blackout 2
The SRM 1216 got famous from Black Ops 2. (Activision)

In the game, the magazine tubes are used realistically and rotate after every four rounds are fired. In the future, the SRM 1216 seems to be a general issue firearm with the US Navy as Sailors on the USS Barack Obama are wielding them.

It’s a bit of a niche gun as is, but it’s the perfect future shotgun for these sections of Black Ops. It’s reproduced well in the game and is a blast to use. In single-player, it’s a bit silly with extended magazines that don’t gain any length.

Call of Duty: World At War — M1918A2 BAR

The Browning Automatic Rifle is a Call of Duty staple. Seeing as how they made their bones making World War 2 games, it makes sense that it’s popped up in basically all of the WW2 games. The one COD that the BAR stands out to me is World At War. In real life, the BAR was a squad support weapon, but in most Call of Duties, it’s basically an assault rifle.

The BAR in World At War was beastly. (Activision)

In World At War, it functions like a squad support weapon. It’s a big, powerful gun chucking .30-06 bullets at people rapidly. When it hits the bad guys, it takes them down, going as far as removing body parts as it cuts through a wave of Japanese attackers. On top of that, the gun can use the bipod to stabilize the weapon for better accuracy. Oddly enough, the bipod increases the rate of fire as well.

It’s not totally realistic, but it’s one of the few times the BAR feels like it’s being used as a support weapon and not just an assault rifle. It’s got recoil, and it feels like it has weight and power. In real life, it most certainly did.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare — M16A4

Call of Duty Modern 4: Warfare changed the gaming world, delivering a modern experience for the first time in Call of Duty history. It broke ground and was a huge success. It was so popular it was even a notable boost to video game content on YouTube. Modern Warfare 4 featured the most modern weapons of 2008, including the typical M249 SAWs, the M4, and of course, the M16A4.

The M16A4 was well represented in the remaster of Call of Duty.

The M16A4 is the last variant of the M16 used by military forces. This full-length rifle rocks a KAC handguard and flat top upper that’s optic-ready and willing. The game came out a year before I shipped to boot camp, and little did I know the day I stepped foot on Camp Geiger, I’d get my first M16A4 issued to me.

In the multiplayer mode, the M16A4 became the meta. It was the gun to use if you wanted to maximize your kills. A burst was a death ray that was accurate, powerful, and capable. You’d frustrate other players to no end by wiping through them with the M16A4. It was the gun of the game.

My Favorites

For me, these are the best guns of Call of Duty. They are the guns I associate with certain games and, to me, were the most memorable ones that made the biggest impact. I’m one person, and I know there are a lot of COD players out there, so did any of these appeal to you? What do you think are the best guns of Call of Duty? Share below!

COD Guns cover

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Equalizer 2: Saturday Night At the Movies

I love when Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua team up. Regardless of the movie’s overall quality, it’s always entertaining. Sometimes the films are fantastic, like “Training Day,” other times they are highly entertaining, like “The Magnificent Seven.” “The Equalizer 2” falls solely into the second category. This film pairs Washington and Fuqua to make an entertaining action movie that’s not too deep on story, but fairly original in character.

What’s “The Equalizer”?

I watched the first “Equalizer” in 2014 and enjoyed it, but little did I know “The Equalizer” is a reboot of a 1980s TV show. In 2021 another TV show launched separately from both the movies and the original show. The origins show was about a man named Robert McCall, who was an American covert operative who looked to atone for his past by doing good for people who needed help. In the show, he put an advertisement in a newspaper. The show had a case-of-the-week vibe and was a spy-like thriller. McCall drove a sweet Jaguar and used various gadgets to solve crimes.

The films follow a similar idea. McCall is played by Denzel Washington, and he is a former covert operative. He retired to live a life of peace but, on occasion, uses his old skills to help people. In the film, he doesn’t put an advertisement in the newspaper, although, at the end of the first film, he answers a Craigslist ad.

In “The Equalizer 2,” he is a Lyft driver and kind of just finds trouble through his daily interactions. McCall is a former Marine who worked for the DIA and likes to keep using his skills to help people.

That’s an odd way to carry a MAC-10.

Equalizer — A Messy Plot

The beginning of “The Equalizer 2” isn’t very focused. It’s almost a series of vignettes of Robert McCall interacting with Lyft customers and his neighbors, and reading books. In the first scene, he’s established as a badass as he beats down several men on a train and rescues a young girl.

Then we get scenes of him trying to mentor a young man from his building. He entertains and tries to help a Holocaust survivor find a painting stolen by the Nazis. He beats the hell out of a group of young executives who abused and assaulted a woman, and somewhere between all this, we get the tiniest breadcrumbs of a plot.

The Equalizer is willing to help his neighbors....with a gun.
The Equalizer is willing to help his neighbors—with a gun.

The main plot has McCall’s friend and former partner investigating a murder and then getting murdered herself in a staged suicide. This triggers McCall to investigate and figure out what happened. Betrayal is afoot, and McCall faces off with a team of his former DIA colleagues, promising to kill them all.

A promise he predictably keeps.

The Equalizer 2 — The Last Act Is the Only Act

As the movie moves along, the only real act is the last act, which takes place in a seaside town that is being ravaged by a hurricane. This does create an original setting and also allows Robert to be a little less outnumbered. He’s facing his peers, and the hurricane helps make him a slightly more believable one-man army. McCall finds the bad guys, lures them into a trap, and proceeds to kill them all. His mentoree gets kidnapped and saved, predictably.

The Equalizer 2
The weapons all wear modern accessories.

Even though the plot is messy and seemingly disjointed, the movie is still entertaining. Sometimes violent-justice porn just feels good to see. Real life isn’t always fair, and sometimes it’s nice to see the bad guy get his arm broken or get shot in the face. The reason why it works is that we crave justice and are frustrated with our system. On top of that, Denzel isn’t your standard action hero. He’s stoic for sure, but also quiet and seemingly gentle with most people. He’s intelligent, a reader, and a man who seems like he could be your dad or brother, or friend.

When it’s time to whoop ass, he flips the switch and gets things done. He usually gives his villains a chance to do the right thing. When they don’t take that chance, he deals with them. He’s not the typical vigilante like the Punisher or Batman, but that’s what he is, to be fair.

It’s not a movie that will win awards or will stand out, but for a couple of hours, you can eat popcorn and enjoy Denzel Washington being awesome.

This appears to be a night-vision optic.

The Guns and Gun Play

“The Equalizer 2” is not a super gun-heavy movie. At least it’s not a gunfight-heavy film. We see a smattering of guns throughout the film. The Equalizer himself is skilled with a firearm but doesn’t seem to bring one to fights. He often disarms opponents and arms himself to the teeth. From gangbangers to Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) mercenaries, he’ll take you down and arm himself.

The last act is where we see the most gunplay. The DIA-turned-mercs bring an arsenal of high-end firearms to befit for a team of hardcore, highly trained mercs. McCall kills one of them and takes his Sig-Sauer MPX fitted with a Trijicon MRO, Maxim stock, weapon light, and suppressor.

The MPX gets a little action.

One of the other baddies carries a nice Daniel Defense MK18, and the third carries a Sig Sauer MCX. Our big bad guy comes to the fight armed with a Daniel Defense Mk12. The shooting and action are all competent, but nothing stands out as crazy good or bad. All of the guns are well-equipped with accessories. In one scene, I’m almost positive the MCX has a MAWL attached to it. Our Mk12 has a bipod and what appears to be a night vision optic, although our view through the optic makes it seem like a normal day optic.

My pro tip for the mercenaries: why wear Multicam suits in a seemingly suburban beachside town? Normal clothes with windbreakers, hoods, and glasses would be a bit better for fighting in the rain. Also, this is one of the rare times when your camo stands out.

Enjoy the Action

This movie won’t blow you away or give you those “John Wick” vibes. It’s just a fun action flick that certainly kills a few hours. I doubt we’ll see “The Equalizer 3,” but if we do, I’m down to see McCall bring justice to the unjust.

CategoriesGun Reviews

An Initial Comparison and Review

There are many aftermarket modifications to Glock’s stock trigger, from simple parts (e.g., connectors) to replacement triggers/trigger bar, to drop-in trigger groups, to larger kits also replacing the striker and additional springs. Though Glock has always warned against secondary market parts to ensure the warranty and safety of their products, they have allowed such modifications within an Unlimited division in both indoor and outdoor Glock Sports Shooting Foundation (GSSF) matches. The two factors that previously united all these aftermarket modifications were 1) they were all designed to change the ergonomics and trigger press weight in an effort the improve the trigger with better fit and/or lighter press, and 2) they were manufactured by secondary market companies. Now, with a single email released by Glock during the January 2023 SHOT Show, Glock has changed the second factor by introducing their own Glock Performance Trigger (Currently $99.00).

Currently, there are no plans to ship any Glocks with the Performance Trigger pre-installed and it is offered by Glock as an accessory to be installed in pre-existing 9mm Glocks. The Glock Performance Trigger can fit: 

  • Glock 17 Gen5
  • Glock 19 Gen5
  • Glock 19X
  • Glock 26 Gen5
  • Glock 34 Gen5
  • Glock 45
  • Glock 47
  • MOS versions of those same guns.

Glock is advertising these triggers for those wanting a flat-faced trigger with a lighter trigger press while maintaining the Glock Safe Action System.

Additionally, Glock warns that the triggers should be installed by certified Glock armorers and only in the listed Glocks. ¹

The new Performance Trigger, installed in a new Glock 17 Gen5 MOS along with a Burris Fastfire optic.

The Mechanics

Another factor that unites most previous aftermarket triggers is that they utilize the basic engineering of the stock Glock Trigger simply adjusting trigger bar angles, polishing surfaces, and/or replacing springs. The Glock Performance Trigger utilizes a redesigned trigger, trigger bar, and trigger mechanism. This likely was developed due to Glock wanting to adjust the trigger press and ergonomics of the trigger face
while maintaining the safety standards of a Glock-produced accessory.

It is of note that the trigger bar is not only different in the Glock Performance Trigger, but it also engages in the trigger mechanism housing differently. Specifically, there is a spur on the trigger bar that needs to be seated properly on a spring within the housing for the trigger to operate properly. The trigger comes with a rubber band holding this configuration in place, but if the bar comes loose, the trigger bar will reseat without engaging the spring within the trigger mechanism, resulting in a dead trigger.

Glock 17 Gen 5 Performance Trigger
A close-up of the new Glock Performance Trigger showing the differences in the trigger bar and the spring mechanism in the trigger mechanism housing.

An objective test conducted by the author compared an unfired Performance Trigger to an unfired stock trigger from the same Glock 17 Gen5 MOS. Glock reports the stock trigger at 26 newtons or a 5.8-pound trigger press. The trigger press for both triggers were measured and averaged across twenty trigger presses with a Lyman digital scale and then these averages were adjusted to match the factory-listed specs of the stock trigger. The stock trigger press was consistent across measurements and the starting position and reset position of both triggers were near identical. The stock trigger had a trigger press of 5.83 pounds (Standard Deviation (SD) = .21 ounces) while the Performance Trigger had an even more consistent trigger press of 3.56 pounds (SD = .09 ounces). The objective result was that the Glock Performance Trigger had a consistent trigger press of 2.27 pounds lighter than the stock trigger.

Comparing the Gen5 stock trigger (top) to the new Glock Performance Trigger (bottom).
Comparing the Gen5 stock trigger (top) to the new Glock Performance Trigger (bottom).

The Subjective Experience

Though objectively a lighter trigger press with a flatter trigger face, the proof is in the experience. The subjective experience supports the objective data. Overall, if you are used to the standard Glock stock trigger, the newer flat-faced trigger may take a little getting used to; however, this flat-faced trigger has been common in non-Glock aftermarket trigger replacements as well as in other manufacturers’ guns.

The trigger press is subjectively a smoother experience moving from initial trigger movement until hitting the wall, then break (releasing the striker to fire the gun). This break is not only a lighter press but also slightly crisper and more consistent than the standard stock trigger. In this way, the Glock Performance Trigger is similar to other aftermarket triggers.

Following the break, the reset is more similar to a standard stock Glock trigger coming consistently and noticeably, but also further forward compared to many other aftermarket triggers. This does differ from other products available that often have a ‘softer’ and quicker reset. Overall, the trigger experience is cleaner, lighter, and very consistent.


For those competing in Glock-sponsored shooting events (GSSF indoor and outdoor), there has already been a clear ruling from the GSSF that the Performance Trigger is considered a ‘stock’ addition as it is manufactured by Glock. This means a Glock equipped with the Performance Trigger does not change division. If the Glock had been designated as a Stock gun of Stock MOS, the addition of this trigger does not change that designation. It will be interesting over the next year to see how many stock guns at GSSF events start utilizing this trigger as it does provide a lighter and more consistent trigger press.

Carry Use

I will openly admit I am biased against carrying a defensive gun that features any internal modifications. However, as this trigger comes from the original company and carries their continuing warranty and assurance of safety, I could see those wanting a lighter more consistent trigger in their carry gun considering this accessory for it. Additionally, the similar uptake prior to trigger break and continued presence of a trigger safety further support considering this trigger for carry use.

Overall, there was nothing during my dry fire or live fire testing that suggested any areas of concern for safely carrying a Glock featuring a Performance Trigger, outside of the reduced trigger press.


Glock has made an impact with the release of their own “aftermarket” trigger. The cost versus benefit, when compared to other aftermarket trigger options, results in a solid product at a relatively lower price point that also provides an improved shooting experience. The bonus of a better trigger experience without potentially compromising safety and reliable function or voiding the Glock warranty will also appeal to some users. Finally, the fact that the Glock Performance Trigger can be used for competition without impacting the division that the gun shoots in will further appeal to some.

I will close by adding my voice to others that wonder why this trigger is not set to become the standard trigger in stock Glocks; maybe that will be one of the reveals for the Gen6 Glocks.

¹ There are videos posted online showing how a minor modification to the frame area where the trigger mechanism housing is located then allows this trigger to be added to previous generations of the Glock 17, 26, and 34. This modification obviously would not be covered by Glock’s warranty of the product.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Federal .38 Special Lead Round Nose — Smooth Feeding Target Ammo

My experience with Federal Ammunition harkens back a few decades. As snipers for our state law enforcement agency, we were always issued Federal ammunition (and also for our duty weapons most of the time). Federal Match 168 grain boat-tail hollow-point ammunition proved to be 100% reliable in our sniper rifles, as well as incredibly accurate. We never had an issue with it, and it gave completely reliable performance.

In my personal weapons, I’ve used Federal for decades too. One of my favorites has been their Hydra Shok line of ammunition, especially for my 9mm handguns.

.38 Special 158 Grain Lead Round Nose

Recently, I received some 158-grain lead round nose target ammo in .38 Special for testing. It is their American Eagle line, which I’ve used for years and which has proven to be very reliable. I’ve never experienced a misfire with it, nor had any other issues.

The ammunition arrives in a 50-round box, which is standard for most pistol ammunition. This ammunition is categorized as “Practice” ammunition for the range.

Federal’s American Eagle .38 Special 158-grain Lead Round Nose ammunition is economical when compared to other ammo. It is also reliable.

Considering its solid, lead, round nose construction, it wouldn’t be a great choice for defensive purposes, although, at one time, my agency actually issued this round to us as duty ammunition.

The projectiles are loaded into brass cases, which can then be used for reloading if desired. Another nice aspect is that this ammunition is made in the USA. It’s always good to support American companies.

Federal lists the muzzle velocity from a four-inch barrel on this ammunition as 770 feet per second. This is not surprising, given that it’s among the heavier .38 Special loads out there.

The Test Guns

I used two guns to test this ammunition. The S&W 642 Airweight revolver and the Rossi R92 lever action carbine.

S&W 642

The 642 is a lightweight revolver with an alloy frame. The barrel and cylinder are stainless. The hammer is enclosed, commonly referred to as “hammerless,” which is great for drawing because there’s no hammer to snag. What’s more, it can be fired from inside a pocket reliably because there is no hammer to get hung up on the inside of the pocket.

The little revolver weighs 14.4 ounces, making it extremely convenient to carry. It’s small, too—just 6.3 inches long. Sights are integral and fixed. The barrel length is 1.875 inches.

S&W 642 with American Eagle .38 Special target ammo
S&W’s 642 is an old favorite for carry. Very light with no external hammer, it slips into a coat pocket easily. The American Eagle target ammo performs perfectly in this revolver.

Rossi R92 Lever Action Carbine

Rossi’s R92 lever action is a copy of the Winchester 1892 carbine, made in Brazil. The caliber of the carbine is .357 Magnum, but it will also handle .38 Special. The capacity is eight rounds. This gun wears a barrel that is 16 inches in length, which makes it very handy, light, and fast handling. Sights are a front post and a rear buckhorn.

Loading is accomplished via a side gate in the receiver. The R92 weighs 5.68 pounds. The overall length is 33.7 inches. Both factors contribute to this being a very light, short carbine that is a joy to handle.

Rossi R92 lever action and American Eagle target ammo
The American Eagle 158 grain Lead Round Nose target ammo fed perfectly through the Rossi R92 carbine.

I’d long desired a .357/.38 lever action carbine for several reasons. The handiness was always appealing. The round itself, when fired from a carbine, experiences far more velocity than when fired from a revolver. Low recoil was another attractive factor.

And these days, the .357/.38 is cheaper than rifle caliber hunting rounds, which are currently over $1 per round in most cases.

Length of Rounds

As far as the Rossi carbine is concerned, the length of the rounds is relevant. How so? Because it’s chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge. The length of the 158-grain .38 Special rounds is about the same as the 158-grain .357 Magnum rounds. That means they’ll both feed similarly.

I’ve fired shorter, lighter .38 Special rounds through the  Rossi, and occasionally a live round will pop out the top ejection port. That’s because the carbine is set up to fire full-length .357 Magnums. This is a common occurrence with pistol-caliber lever actions; those shorter rounds sometimes sneak out while feeding.

I actually set the Magnum rounds next to the .38 Special rounds being used here and compared them. The length of both was the same, which was promising as far as feeding was concerned.

Another advantage of the Federal 158 grain Round Nosed Lead round is their profile. The nose shape helps with feeding in the Rossi carbine because the round nose goes right up the feed ramp and into the chamber. It helps keep feeding smooth.

At The Range

S&W 642

Firing through the little Smith & Wesson 642 held no surprises. Reliability, of course, was perfect as always. Muzzle blast and recoil was about average for the .38 Special. Recoil was certainly far less than with +P rounds. Understand, the incredibly light weight of the S&W 642 means that you’re going to feel it whenever you shoot.

We were shooting against steel targets rather than trying to eek out the last shred of accuracy for this range session. The ammunition was somewhat limited, so we decided to just have a little fun and see how the rounds performed against steel.

Ejection from the 642 was positive as it was with rounds from other brands. All in all, the American Eagle target ammo worked just fine.

A shooting range with steel targets.
Our test range abounded with steel targets.

Rossi R92 Carbine

At the outset, I was hoping that the 158-grain .38 Special rounds would feed through the Rossi without a hitch. My fears were unfounded, as feeding went smoothly. I attribute it to the long length of the 158-grain rounds. None of the rounds popped out the top ejection port, so that was a win. No doubt, the round-nosed profile helped a lot in the feeding for this platform, too.

Firing .38 Special rounds through the R92 carbine is especially fun because there’s virtually no recoil. It’s almost like shooting a .22 Long Rifle, except it’s launching a 158-grain projectile instead of a 40-grain bullet. Muzzle blast is very tame as well.

Without a doubt, the 16-inch barrel increased the muzzle velocity of the .38 when compared to the four-inch factory test barrel. As I don’t have a chronograph, though, I couldn’t be certain just how much the increase is.


The American Eagle 158 grain Lead Round Nose ammo from Federal are a winner. Muzzle blast and recoil are tame. Feeding is slick and smooth. Accuracy is certainly acceptable. I highly endorse them for practice and training.

The fact that this target ammo sells for $29.99 per 50-round box allows us to practice more because it’s priced lower than the majority of other rounds out there.

It’s a good idea to stock up on some of these while they’re available. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? This is definitely the quality ammunition that you need.

CategoriesGun Reviews

Buffalo Bore 25 ACP 60 Grain Hard Cast Ammunition

When the topic of the 25 ACP cartridge comes up, I inevitably think of one of the late Jeff Cooper’s musings on that little round. He cautioned us to “carry a 25 if it makes you feel better, but never load it. If you load it, you may shoot somebody. And if he finds out about it, he may be very angry with you.”

While Cooper may have been selling the 25 a bit short, there is no denying that the 25 ACP is about as light of a self-defense option as you can get. Stories of moms and pops dropping hoodlums with a single shot from a 25 are easily countered with anecdotes of the round skipping off the human skull and a general inability to stop a determined attack.

I love the 25 ACP as a historical footnote in the history of the concealed carry handgun, but there is no denying that the round is diminutive, and finding a suitable load outside punching paper is frustrating. The available self-defense hollow point offerings don’t work as advertised and adequate penetration is only guaranteed with some 50-grain full-metal-jacket loadings.

Some years ago, I asked the folks at Buffalo Bore about the viability of producing a 25 ACP load. Buffalo Bore is well known for loading its cartridges as high as possible while staying within safe SAMMI pressures. To my surprise, I was not the only interested party. In 2022, Buffalo Bore announced two 25 ACP loadings including a 60-grain hard-cast flat-point loading. It was a load I could not refuse testing.

Buffalo Bore ammunition next to a Beretta Bobcat.

The Buffalo Bore 25 ACP Round

Buffalo Bore produces the Outdoorsman line of high-velocity, hard-cast lead flat-point bullets designed for penetration. A hard-cast bullet is a cast lead bullet mixed with trace elements of tin or antimony to make it harder and more resistant to deformation. The flat nose profile allows for better crushing of tissue and a straighter line of penetration over a round-nosed projectile. The Outdoorsman load is designed for big animals and can be had in rounds like the 38 Special, 357 Magnum, 10mm, on up.

A box of Buffalo Bore ammunition with two rounds displayed.
Buffalo Bore’s approach was simple. Use the 25 ACP’s limited case capacity to boost velocity and pair it with a heavy, non-expanding projectile whose job is to penetrate.

Buffalo Bore took the same concept and miniaturized it to create a load with the best chance of penetration in the 25 ACP. The round is loaded in Starline brass and uses a 60-grain hard-cast lead bullet with a flat nose. The Buffalo Bore load is heavy-for-caliber, given that most 25 ACP loads run from 35-grain hollow-points to 50-grain ball ammunition. Despite having a heavier bullet, Buffalo Bore gets this load out at an advertised velocity of 850 feet per second—over 100 feet per second faster than the best commercial 50-grain loads. When we are talking about velocities this low, that difference is significant.

The Test

The 25 ACP pocket pistol is much maligned. Polymer 380 pistols have more or less taken over the same role in this century that the 25 had in the last. Some have even said that a pistol in 22 Long Rifle is a more powerful option. So I decided to evaluate Buffalo Bore’s 60-grain load alongside some other cartridges.

First, I shot the Buffalo Bore load alongside Aguila’s 50-grain full-metal-jacket loading over my Caldwell Chronograph from a distance of ten feet to check the velocity of both rounds. Buffalo Bore prides itself by printing advertised velocities based on shooting real guns, rather than test barrels. Through my Beretta 21A Bobcat with a 2.4-inch barrel, I shot a five-shot string with an average velocity of 858 feet per second—very close to advertised. The Aguila load clocked in at 772 feet per second.

Next, I shot through stacked pine 2x4s to test barrier penetration from the same distance. I fired a pair of rounds from both loads. I did the same using 22 LR CCI Mini Mags out of a Ruger Wrangler and 380 ACP Federal full-metal-jacket using a Ruger LCP.

The entrance wounds of a shot 2x4.
The entrance holes of the 22 LR and 25 ACP loads tested.
A view of the backside of a shot 2x4.
A single Buffalo Bore round almost made it through the 2×4. All other rounds besides the 380 never came close.

Load, Muzzle Velocity, and Penetration

22 LR 40 grain CCI Mini Mag (3 3/4 inch barrel), 1087 fps., .85 inch

25 ACP 50 grain Aguila FMJ , 772 fps., .90 inch

25 ACP 60 grain Buffalo Bore, 850 fps., 1.12 inch

380 ACP 95 grain Federal FMJ, (2 3/4 inch barrel), 882 fps., 1.18 inch

*Furthest penetration depth measured from entrance to base of the projectile.

Although the 22 LR had the advantage of being fired out of a longer barrel, it was outperformed by both 25 ACP loads. Both 380 projectiles broke through the first board but were stopped by the second. One Buffalo Bore round bulged the back of the first board, but all the other rounds failed to come close to the other side.

Next, I shot four rounds of the Buffalo Bore load into a stack of Clear Ballistics 10% ordinance gelatin blocks fronted by four layers of denim. Despite the round’s flat-nosed profile, three out of four began to veer off from a straight path after the twelve-inch mark. Two came to rest at the bottom of the second block at the 17.5-inch mark. One penetrated straight to the fourteen-inch mark. All three of these rounds tumbled in gel, but the wound tracts had no cavitation. In essence, they resembled straight, icepick wounds. The last round penetrated straight and did not tumble, hitting my backup block and stopping at the 21-inch mark. In previous testing using the same setup, I could reliably get 10-12 inches of penetration using standard 50-grain ball ammo.

Two gelatin blocks with 25 ACP projectiles inside.
One round penetrated straight to the 21-inch mark, while the others stopped between the 14-17½-inch mark. I could not match this performance with a 22 LR, even out of a rifle.
A wider shot of the first two gelatin blocks and wound paths from the Buffalo Bore load.
A wider shot of the first two gelatin blocks and wound paths from the Buffalo Bore load.

To say that the Buffalo Bore load overperformed is an understatement, but that performance is of limited value if the round is not reliable. Most 25 ACP pistols, whether they are new or not, are usually old designs optimized around the one load that was around for the longest time—the 50-grain ball round.

Buffalo Bore’s 60-grain flat-nose load is far enough outside the parameters of a typical round-nosed 25 ACP ball or hollow-point load that it may cause feeding issues. The manufacturer’s website cautions us to test this load to ensure proper feeding. For my own edification, I decided to shoot for accuracy to see if there would be any cycling issues. I could reliably place eight rounds into a fist-sized group at seven yards and recoil was equally as mild as the 50-grain ball load, although quite a bit more powerful. I had a single round’s nose get caught against the top of the barrel. This was only one of the twenty rounds I had available for testing, and I am confident this load will be 100% reliable with another box or two through the old Bobcat. But that flat nose can be an issue for some pistols.

Parting Shots

It can be cliche to think that modern is always better. In the case of the 25 ACP and the 380 ACP polymer pistols that largely replaced it in the concealed carry market, that sentiment rings mostly true.

Guns like the Ruger LCP and the S&W Bodyguard are not the easiest handguns to use, but they are easy to carry and bring much more power to the fight. But there are still some compelling reasons to opt for the 25. As small as the polymer 380 is, many 25-caliber pistols are smaller still and the sedate caliber can make it easier to shoot well.

I don’t believe Buffalo Bore’s 25 ACP loads are going to bring about a quarter-bore renaissance. But their efforts to bring that little round to the next level show that there is still plenty of demand for the round with serious use in mind.

CategoriesGun Reviews

All You Need To Know About the 25 ACP

The 25 ACP round has been used in self-defense for over 100 years. Although considered underpowered today, the 25 is still a useful tool. It’s also a historic footnote that paved the way for the modern pocket pistol we now take for granted. Follow along as we explore both the history and ballistics of a small round that is anything but diminutive.

In the 1980s, Seecamp attempted to modernize the concept of the pocket 25 ACP with its LWS 25. It is perhaps the best and one of the few still in production.

What Came Before

In my time rubbing elbows with fellow concealed carriers, I have often asked what round they consider to be the bare minimum in terms of ballistic power. While we have to admit that all pistols are underpowered compared to a good rifle or shotgun, some pistol rounds are better than others. Many prefer to carry a mid-size or subcompact pistol chambered in 9mm Luger, while a pocket pistol chambered in 380 ACP will suffice if the wardrobe dictates it. The 380 ACP is moderately powered, pushing a 95-grain bullet at about 900 feet per second out of a typical pocket pistol like the Ruger LCP. A pocket pistol chambered in 25 ACP can get a 50-grain bullet out of the tube at 750 feet per second.

An elderly Montgomery Ward catalog featuring some of their revolvers for sale in 1895.
Montgomery Ward & Co.’s catalog from 1895 shows us the state of concealed carry in that moment. The company sold typical Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers, but most of their ad space was given to inexpensive pocket pistols in dull chamberings. (Montgomery Ward and Co., Catalogue 1895, (New York: Skyhorse Pub., 2008,) 466)

In the context of modern concealed carry attitudes, the 25 ACP stinks ballistically. But if the round is so terrible, why was it introduced in the first place?

The long and short of it is that firearms even less powerful than the 25 were common for concealed carry. Although big brands like Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Webley did well in sales of large .44 and .45 caliber pistols for martial and police service, these companies and dozens of others, both known and obscure, sold pocket pistols like hotcakes to a civilian market that had to contend with ordinances that prohibited the open carry of firearms.

Ease of carry and the ability to get a jump on an opponent outweighed power. The Remington Model 95 derringer chambered in the dinky .41 Short was a perennial favorite, as was a smattering of revolvers chambered in 22 Short and 32 S&W like the Colt Open Top Pocket and Iver Johnson Safety Automatic. In Europe, small revolvers like the Velo Dog weren’t uncommon in a coat pocket.

25 ACP round next to a .22LR round
Small-bore rimfire pistols were common in the late 19th century. The 25 ACP is indeed small, but centerfire and less prone to dud rounds.

When John Browning created the 25 ACP and designed his FN Model 1905 pistol around it, he was out to build a better pocket pistol. The Model 1905 was a small, blowback-operated semi-automatic pistol that could go into a gentleman’s vest pocket. The 25 ACP cartridge is centerfire and more powerful than the 22 Short. The 1905 held more rounds than its contemporaries, like the 5.7 Velodog, and could be fired more quickly than the typical derringer.

Walther PP (top) and Beretta 418 (bottom)
As compact as this Walther PP in 32 ACP is, it is large compared to the Beretta 418 chambered in 25 ACP.

The Rise and Fall of the 25 ACP

After its debut in 1905, the 25 ACP was more immediately popular in Europe than in the United States, largely in part due to the World Wars. Although never designed for a martial role, pistols like the FN 1905, Mauser 1914, and the Beretta 418 saw use as both private purchases and official issuance to those in non-combat roles. It is little wonder that when Ian Fleming tapped into his past as an intelligence officer during the Second World War to create the martini-guzzling super spy James Bond, the character was initially armed with a Beretta 418 in 25 ACP.

The United State Army issued some Colt Vest Pockets (Colt’s version of the FN 1905) during the Second World War, but the reception of the 25 ACP in the American market had a slower burn. Although guns like the Colt Vest Pocket make for a classic hideout gun of the Prohibition era, small-framed revolvers chambered for .32 S&W Long and .38 Special were far more popular. But the 25 ACP’s acceptance picked up after 1945. Returning GIs came home with plenty of captured handguns. Large firms like Browning, and Beretta sought the American market, as did smaller consortiums like Astra and Tanfoglio.

In the decades since the end of the war, if you wanted a pocket pistol there were two viable options: opt for a small-frame snub-nose revolver like the Smith & Wesson Chief’s Special or the Colt Detective Special or run a 25 ACP pistol like the Beretta 950 or the Baby Browning. If you didn’t have as much cash to spare for either, an Astra Cub or something similar would suffice.

Unfortunately, the choices grew worse before better. The Gun Control Act of 1968 regulated the importation of foreign handguns by subjecting the models in question to a point system that determined whether a handgun had a sporting use. The 1960s was not a decade of universal bliss and the GCA was championed as an effort to limit the number of small handguns on the street. Manufacturers responded in kind. The grip frame of the Walther PPK was extended to meet import requirements. Browning successfully licensed their design through PSA. Beretta chose to construct a manufacturing facility in the United States. Others, like Astra, pulled out of the market entirely.

In response to the drought, American firms filled the void. Bauer produced unlicensed, though high-quality, copies of the Baby Browning. Seecamp created the LWS 25, a double-action-only pistol designed for instinctive point shooting. Others like Bryco, Jennings, and Raven produced inexpensive 25 ACPs that lacked the refinement and build quality of their European counterparts.

In attempting to disarm criminals of their cheap, concealable Saturday-night-specials, the GCA ultimately created more of them to the benefit of the criminal and the detriment of law-abiding citizens in need of protection. In 2003, Kel-Tec introduced the polymer-framed P3AT, an eleven-ounce double-action pocket pistol chambered in 380 ACP. The age of the modern pocket pistol had begun and by then, the 25 ACP was synonymous with criminality and junk.

A Beretta Bobcat posed next to a Ruger LCP.
Most 25 ACP pistols are based on older designs and tend to be smaller than even the smallest 380 ACP pistols available now. But some, like the Beretta 21A Bobcat (left) is comparable in size to pistols like the Ruger LCP. (right)

The 25 ACP Today

There are entire sections of gun store counters nationwide filled with small-framed 380 ACP pistols designed for pocket carry and priced to sell—and they do sell! By all metrics, guns like the Ruger LCP and the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard 380, are just as light as the 25 ACP pistols of old and pack an objectively bigger punch.

Likewise, the 22 Long Rifle cartridge has grown in capability. This rimfire round had been around since the end of the 19th century, but in the 1980s, compact autoloading handguns like the Beretta Bobcat were becoming more common. Likewise, reliable, high-velocity loads like the CCI Mini-Mag and Stinger served to mitigate some of the issues associated with rimfire rounds. Despite all of it, the 25 ACP has yet to die.

Some pistols were made in such huge numbers that the demand for the ammunition persists. Several manufacturers still produce 32 S&W for the millions of small break-top revolvers that were around when the 25 ACP came on the scene. Likewise, millions of 25 ACP pistols were made, and it appears that the people who have them are using them for serious work.

Although not nearly as cheap or plentiful as the 22 Long Rifle and the 380 ACP, several foreign and domestic manufacturers load both full metal jacket as well as defensive hollow point 25 ACP ammunition.  Among the latter include known lines like the Hornady Critical Defense, Hornady XTP, and Speer Gold Dot. The ammunition situation mirrors firearm availability. There are many 25 ACP handguns to choose from, but most of them are decades old. Unlike pistols chambered in those other calibers, it can be tricky to find a new handgun in this chambering. Currently, Beretta, PSA, Seecamp, Phoenix Arms, and North American Arms offer a 25 ACP pistol.

Compared to a true service cartridge, the 22 LR, 25 ACP, and 380 ACP fall quite short in the ballistics department. All of these fall low on the power and handling spectrum, but the differences between them are more than academic.

The 22 Long Rifle shooter has the benefit of cheap, practice ammunition and plenty of handguns to choose from. Some experts have stated that the 22 LR is more powerful than the 25 ACP. That is technically true, but effectively false.

Most 22 LR ammunition is designed for a rifle barrel and is chronographed out of a rifle-length test barrel from the factory to give an advertised velocity. The CCI Stinger, for instance, has an advertised velocity of 1640 feet per second. Out of a pocket pistol with a much shorter barrel like a Beretta 21A, that same round will clock in just north of 1000 feet per second. This is still impressive compared to a 25 ACP 50 grain load traveling at 750 feet per second. But you are getting that velocity with a lighter 32-grain bullet that lacks the sectional density of the jacketed 25 load.

In this caliber, 50-grain hardball is the winner. A comparable solid 40-grain load like the CCI Mini Mag will have a similar sectional density as that load, but velocity is knocked down to 850.

25 ACP hollow point bullet paths through 10% ballistic gelatin
25 ACP defense hollow points are available but they generally underperform despite giving greater velocity out of a pocket pistol. In denim-fronted 10% gelatin, they seldom expand and the hollow point cavity creates too much drag. Penetration in this medium is between 8-10 inches.

In a block of 10% Clear Ballistics gelatin fronted by four layers of denim, the 25 ACP hardball load can reach 12 inches of penetration. The CCI Mini Mag 40 grain load reaches to the 10-inch mark. Similar tests using 2x4s as penetration mediums confirm that the 25 retains a marginal advantage in the pocket pistol arena over the 22 LR. And despite the advances in 22 LR ammunition, the round is still a rimfire. It uses a heeled bullet that tends to collect debris and the rim priming can still be faulty. Even with the best ammunition, dud rounds still happen.

The case against the 25 ACP is more compelling when compared to the 380 ACP. Defensive 380 loads are hit-and-miss when it comes to penetration and hollow point expansion but there are a few that work quite well. With a full-metal-jacket or Buffalo Bore’s 60-grain hard-cast load, the 25 ACP can achieve comparable penetration but there will not be any expansion.

On the whole, the .380 is going to poke bigger and deeper holes in whatever you are shooting, and it will do it out of a pocket platform. The cost of the .380 is controllability. Although less powerful than a service caliber like 9mm Luger, the .380 ACP can be snappy when touched off in a lightweight pistol. It takes more mental and physical preparation to hold the pistol on target for quick follow-up shots. While you trade off ballistic performance in most cases with the 25 ACP, what you get in exchange is an even smaller handgun that is much easier to shoot for the end user.

Jeff Cooper once advised us to “carry a 25 if it makes you feel better, but never load it. If you load it, you may shoot somebody. And if he finds out about it, he may be very angry with you.” But how do we square the history and usage of the 25 ACP when he also opined that the No. 1 rule of a gunfight is to have a gun? By today’s standards, the 25 ACP isn’t much and there are scant few new pistols chambered for it. The world has moved on and bigger is better, right? Well, not always. And in those situations where a bigger gun can be counterproductive, a properly loaded 25 ACP pistol not only beats having no gun, but is, and has been, a proven and useful tool.

CategoriesGun Reviews

The Best Guns of American Western Movies

Westerns are a significant part of American media, especially with big names like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. Just about everyone has heard of them, if not seen their movies. Many foreigners think of America as the wild west stereotype to this day, which goes to show the sheer impact of the old movies many of us know and love. And, of course, there’s the classic theme of charming cowboys saving the west—or sometimes bandits in black clothes causing havoc.

But what’s a cowboy or a bandit without a gun? Just about everyone in the old west is armed with a revolver if not also a shotgun or lever-action of some kind. Typically, the weapon of choice in old Western films is paired with some crazy handwork and tricks (most of which we don’t recommend attempting to replicate at home).

Tonight, we’re looking at a few classic guns of old American Westerns. Who knows, maybe we’ll inspire you to start up “True Grit” or “The Outlaw Josey Wales”.

The Searchers — Colt Single Action Army

John Wayne in his famous form as a cowboy in the wild west, armed with a Colt Single Action Army. (Photo Credit: The Searchers, Warner Bros.)

A western isn’t a western without a Colt Single Action Army (SAA). This revolver is known for its recognizable design from its plow-handled grip to its solidly built frame. To this day, the old-time revolver is still being produced by the same model, even with new versions available. The SAA is alive and well in the 21st century.

In “The Searchers, Ethan Edwards (played by John Wayne, because of course) returns home to Texas after the Civil War to find members of his brother’s family killed or abducted. He finds out members of the Comanche tribe are guilty of the crime and vows to save any survivors. The SAA revolver is anachronistic as it was made in 1873 but the movie is set in 1861-1865. Edwards, among several others, uses the pistol on their mission to save the surviving victims throughout the film. 


  • Type: Revolver
  • Caliber: 45 Long Colt
  • Capacity: 6-round cylinder
  • Length: 13 inches
  • Action: Single-Action

How the West Was Won — Winchester Model 1873

Lou aiming a winchester rifle on a train in How the West Was Won movie
Lou fires his Winchester Model 1973 on the train, trying to defend himself against Grant. (Photo Credit: How the West Was Won, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

“How the West Was Won” covers 50 years of expansion in the west to make way for settlers. The story is told from the perspective of several generations of the Rawlings and Prescott families. The Winchester Model 1873 is a significant rifle as it’s seen historically as the rifle that “Won the West.” So, of course, it has to be used in a movie all about the West. It was relatively affordable while it was made and worked well. Not only was it popular centuries ago but it’s still a much-loved platform today. Who doesn’t love a good lever action?

In the movie, this rifle gets used the most during a shootout on a train. Zeb Rawlings (played by George Peppard) runs into an old enemy, Charlie Gant (played by Eli Wallach) boarding a train at Gold City’s train station. Previously, Zeb had killed Charlie’s brother, which resulted in threats toward Zeb and his family. After finding out that the local marshal can’t—or won’t—help, Zeb takes it into his own hands.

Zeb suspects that Charlie is on the train to steal a shipment of gold, so he prepares to ambush him with the hesitant aid of Marshall Lou Ramsey (played by Lee J. Cobb). Lou and Zeb use their Winchesters to fire at Gant throughout the conflict. This is just one of many strides the families take in this film to expand the west. Things used to be a bit more lawless. 


  • Type: Carbine
  • Caliber: .44-40 Winchester, 44 Henry, .38-40 Winchester, .357 Magnum, and others
  • Capacity: 7 to 14-round tube magazine depending on caliber
  • Length: 49.3 inches, but depends on specific production
  • Action: Lever-action

Unforgiven — Spencer 1860 Saddle Ring Carbine

Will aims his Spencer 1860 Saddle Ring Carbine at Davey around the corner of a rock.
Will uses his Spencer 1860 Saddle Ring Carbine to aim and fire at Davey. (Photo Credit: Unforgiven, Warner Bros.)

“Unforgiven” starts when Quick Mike (played by David Mucci) cuts up a prostitute’s face. The local sheriff brushes it off, so the other prostitutes in the area put a $1000 bounty on Quick Mike’s head. William Munny (played by Clint Eastwood), Ned Logan (played by Morgan Freeman), and the Schofield Kid (played by Jaimz Woolvett) team up hoping to get the bounty. Ned uses a Spencer 1860 Saddle Ring Carbine, claiming to be the best shot ever. He later hands it off to William to take a shot at the outlaws.


  • Type: Carbine
  • Caliber: .56-56 Spencer rimfire
  • Capacity: 7-round internal tube magazine
  • Length: 47 inches
  • Action: Lever Action

Red River — Remington 1866 Derringer

Tess Millay pulling her Remington 1866 Derringer out of her sling sitting at the table with Dunson
Tess takes her Derringer out of her sling at the order of Dunson, shocked he noticed she had it. (Photo Credit: Red River, United Artists)

“Red River” is a film based on the historical Chisholm Trail in 1867 following a cattle drive. Tom Dunson (played by John Wayne) has sworn to kill Matt Garth (played by Mickey Kuhn) as he claims he’s a thief. Tessa Millay (played by Joanne Dru) meets Matt eight days before Dunson arrives at her camp and falls in love with him, but she can’t go with him once he leaves. 

She ends up confronting Dunson about his intent to kill Matt. She slips a Remington 1866 Derringer into her shoulder sling but Dunson calls her out and tells her to take it out of her sling. Laying his own revolver on the table, he says the gun wouldn’t have done her any good. The incredible concealability of derringers does a lot to recommend them, but having only two shots to fire is less advantageous. Nonetheless, she couldn’t conceal it from Dunson.


  • Type: Handgun
  • Caliber: .41 rimfire
  • Capacity: 2 shots, fired one at a time
  • Length: 4.875 inches
  • Action: Hammer-fired

The Wild Bunch — Browning M1917

Lyle aiming the Browning M1917 during a shoot out.
Lyle uses the Browning M1917 against Mapache’s men during a final shootout. (Photo Credit: The Wild Bunch, Warner Bros.-Seven Arts)

One that is less common in old American Westerns is the Browning M1917. The hefty machine gun was used in several wars and still holds a great reputation today. In “The Wild Bunch,” a group of old outlaws seeks out one more heist before they retire. Heading to Mexico, they decide their final task will be stealing the United States ammunition train, which they intend to give to General Mapache’s revolutionary army. 

They steal a Browning M1917 for Mapache as a gift. In a comical scene, Mapache (Emilio Fernández) attempts to shoot the machine gun single-handedly. It is then used in combat by the outlaws in a fight against the Mexicans. It should be noted that this firearm is likely an anachronism due to the timeframe of the movie being prior to its creation. But it’s still cool to see it on film as an interesting historical machine gun.


  • Type: Machine Gun
  • Caliber: .30-06 Springfield
  • Capacity: A 250-round belt
  • Length: 38.5 inches
  • Action: Full-auto

CategoriesGun Reviews

Looking for affordable .308 for Range Work? PMC Bronze

Back during the chaos of the pandemic, ammo prices shot up. Components were scarce and demand was high, so you took what you could find. Now, just about everything is readily available again and PMC Bronze .308 Winchester is setting a high standard of performance at a price that seems like the good old days.

The full-metal-jacketed rounds are ideal for those who genuinely practice with their .308s. If you are a high-volume shooter or really enjoy range time with an AR-10, PMC is a solid option.

While the 147-grain projectile is on the lighter end of the .308 family, these boat-tailed bullets provide consistent repeat accuracy at the low end of the price spectrum.

PMC Bronze .308 Winchester

  • 2780 FPS
  • Reloadable brass casings
  • Clean-burning powders
  • Boxer primers
  • Boat tail FMJ bullets
  • Medium- to long-range target ammo
Running a gun like the Ruger SFAR can eat a hole in your wallet. It doesn’t have to be that way. PMC can help with that.

What is the 147-grain .308 good for?

That’s a fair question. The 147-grain bullet was originally designed to run in belt-fed machine guns. It is brass jacketed, and there’s no hollow point hiding behind the jacket.

Consider the requirements for a belt-fed gun. The rounds are going to get beat to hell before they ever get in the chamber, so the projectile needs to stand up to some abuse. And accuracy—while important—isn’t really a requirement. Or not the first priority, anyhow.

If you need a sturdy round that will run well, the 147 is a solid choice. And it has made the progression over to becoming a popular range ammo for practice and competition. It is good for running on steel and paper.

The PMC has brass jackets, boxer primers, and the brass cases are reloadable. PMC's volume allows them to produce at volume with solid components without running up the costs.
The PMC has brass jackets, boxer primers, and the brass cases are reloadable. PMC’s volume allows them to produce with solid components without running up the costs.


PMC is a South Korean company known for their quality. They make all of their own components, so they control the quality control. They make millions of rounds annually, and many in the industry put them at number four, volume-wise, for ammo producers.

Yet stateside, they’re not renowned for their precision. They make exceptionally accurate ammo, but you’re more likely to find the value end of the spectrum—the range ammo. With their volume, though, this makes sense.

PMC is running up cost with packaging or marketing, and that's reflected in the price.
The PMC .308, on sale, runs less than $1 a round.

But make no mistake—this is not bargain-basement range ammo. PMC produces consistent performance and reliability. The .308 brass is even reloadable. PMC isn’t dumping garbage on the US market in order to maintain margins; they’re relying on their volume of production to keep costs reasonable.

How does it shoot?

I ran the 147-grain .308 through two platforms. The first, a Ruger SFAR, is ideal for the 147 grain on the range. I didn’t push it past the 100-yard mark as I was on a short range. The shots were consistent, as expected.

Shooting with the Ruger with a low-powered scope, the PMC performs very well. This group was shot standing, braced, but it shows what's possible. You don't have to give up accuracy, even in range ammo.
Shooting with the Ruger and a low-powered scope, the PMC performs very well. This group was shot standing, braced, but it shows what’s possible. You don’t have to give up accuracy, even with range ammo.

For high-volume runs with a .308, ammo can get pricey. That’s really the sweet spot for PMC.

The other gun I was working on was a Remington 700. I’m new to the Model 700 and I was trying to learn the nuances of the trigger. The best way to do that is to put rounds down range.

The Remington Model 700 has a long track record of performance. Even with varied grain weights, the gun shoots straight. This is from 100 yards, off a bipod.
The Remington Model 700 has a long track record of performance. Even with varied grain weights, the gun shoots straight. This is from 100 yards, off a bipod.

I sighted in with the 147-grain PMC and ran round after round, feeling for the break on the 700 (which is just over five pounds).

At the risk of stating the obvious, I’ll note that the PMC wouldn’t be my first choice for hunting with the Model 700. Not that it isn’t capable. It is. But the round isn’t designed for expansion.

But the accuracy at 100 yards is impressive. I wouldn’t hesitate to hunt hogs with this platform and ammo combination. I tend to hunt hogs with semi-autos and prefer magazines with stellar capacity. But a single shot placed perfectly can be even more effective.

These boat-tailed FMJs are going to penetrate. Pass-through is likely. So accuracy is paramount.

But I keep coming back to the range.

Though you could hunt with PMC Bronze ethically, that’s not its intended purpose. This is ammo designed to help you hone your skills.

When you need to get warmed up for fall or learn the feel of a new gun, the PMC shines. On sale, the PMC runs less than a dollar a round. That’s a steal for .308 in this new era of ammo inflation.

CategoriesGun Reviews

CCI Blazer Brass 10mm Auto 180gr FMJ — Brass Case Reliability

Pistols in 10mm are quickly taking over the market allowing shooters to have a pistol that they can hunt with or have as a backup gun while out in the woods. While most 10mm shooters care about Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) due to the need for a cartridge that expands, there is still a need for 10mm target ammo for practicing with the firearm. This ammo needs to shoot with zero malfunctions and stay consistent in your gun. CCI Blazer is a great option, in brass cased 10mm 180gr Full Metal Jacket (FMJ).

CCI Blazer

CCI Blazer has always been a go-to when it comes to target ammo for pistols. It is trustworthy with a great price tag. It is also surprisingly well stocked throughout stores and online retailers, even in this day and age with the ammo struggle.


A box of 50 rounds of CCI Blazer Brass 10mm Auto Ammo 180gr FMJ is $29.99 at GunMag Warehouse which puts it at less than $0.60 a round. Other retailers are showing $39.99 a box currently.


  • Brand: CCI
  • Caliber: 10mm Auto
  • Bullet Weight: 180 Grain
  • Muzzle Velocity: 1200 FPS
  • Applications: Target
  • Material: Brass
  • Round Count: 50
The CCI 10mm Auto has always shown consistent primer seating and bullet seating. The powder ratios have shown consistent with good groupings and no malfunctions.

CCI Blazer 10mm Auto Review

Mostly, I shoot CCI blazer ammo when it comes to 9mm things such as USPSA or 2-Gun matches. I haven’t had one malfunction due to ammo and I’ve been shooting their 9mm 115gr and 124gr 9mm since I started shooting pistol matches, which was about six years ago. I stick to brass-cased rounds, as I just don’t trust aluminum-cased 9mm from anyone.

I’ve been using the CCI Blazer 10mm Auto since I received my Sig Sauer P320-XTen pistol a couple of months ago and have not had one malfunction.

The Groups

Target ammunition is usually used for practicing with your firearm, shooting drills, and shooting close-range USPSA/IDPA matches. This doesn’t mean that you should skimp on ammo quality though. Target ammunition that can group and shoot without malfunction is still needed for these uses.

It was already verified that the CCI Blazer 10mm shoots without malfunction however the grouping wasn’t verified. To verify this I shot a couple of groups at seven yards with my iron-sighted Sig P320-XTen.

cci 10mm groups staying in the black at 7 yds
These two groups were performed at 7yds with CCI 10mm Auto 180gr ammo and a SIG P320-Xten. The ammo performed without malfunction and groups stayed in the black. This shows that this target-shooting ammo can stay consistent in load and performance.

10mm Drills for the Indoor Range

Other than grouping drills there are also other drills that can be completed in an indoor range inside 25 yds with a single target. As most indoor ranges don’t allow drawing from the holster, these won’t include holster draws. These drills will help you learn recoil management with a 10mm and just get some reps in with your firearm.

Bill Drill

This one is simple but can show a lot of issues, such as time management problems and trigger freeze. This drill can be done with or without a holster. The goal is to keep all six rounds within the A box of the target under time.

To start, place your target at seven yards and start with the pistol on tape/bench ready. You can move the target in close such as three yards if this is your first bill drill and you haven’t placed all six rounds inside of the A box.

On the beep, fire six rounds at the target under time. The trick is to go fast, with well-placed shots.

Obviously, the recoil with 10mm makes this a little spicier.

Dot Torture

This drill is often used to warm up before other drills. The specific target for this drill has multiple dots, each instructing you to shoot the dot a certain way. For example, shoot five shots weak hand, or fire one round on this dot and another round on the second dot in one iteration. Doing this with your 10mm gun will really show where your weak points are when dealing with a larger cartridge.

The Dot Torture Target can be downloaded on or purchased on cardstock in a multitude of places. Just give it a quick google search.

Doubles Drill

The Doubles Drill by Ben Stoeger has you shooting two rapid-fire shots just as you would in a USPSA match. It can be done with one target at an indoor range with no holster draws.

Other CCI Ammo Options

CCI is known for its primers and its ammunition. In the reloading game, CCI primers are slowly coming back to the shelf in pistol, shotgun, and small/large rifle. .22LR is another popular CCI product that comes in many different options. Blazer ammunition specifically is offered in many different calibers and grain weights.

  • 9MM
  • 380 Auto
  • 357 Magnum
  • 38 Special
  • 40 Smith and Wesson
  • 32 Auto
  • 10mm Auto
  • 30 Super Carry
  • 45 Colt
  • 44 Special

Case Type and Reloaded Ammunition

When it comes to pistol ammo, even if you do not choose CCI Blazer Ammo, it is best to stick with brass case ammunition that is not reloaded. Many people are selling reloaded handgun ammunition online and it is just not worth the risk as many things can still go wrong. Bullets might not be properly seated, too much powder could be dropped into the case, there could be worn primer pockets or the primer might not be fully seated. As far as the case material, brass is just more durable and gives fewer issues across the board. Is a broken gun or injury worth it for $.05 savings per round?

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