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Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols

Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols

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Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols

698 pagine
8 ore
Feb 28, 2011


No semi-auto shooter should be without the essential tips, techniques and advice features in this book!

On of the newest members of the Gun Digest family of authoritative reference books, The Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols contains information and entertaining articles by some of the nation's premiere semi-auto experts, including Dave Workman, Chris Christian, and Kevin Michalowski.

From target models to personal protection guns, from rimfires to large-bore centerfires, The Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols contains everything the informed shooter should know when contemplating a purchase: current offerings, chamberings, retail pricing and used-gun values. Also included:

  • A comprehensive manufacturer and resource directory
  • Informative articles with advice from the nation's top semi-auto experts
  • Comprehensive catalog section features currently available semi-auto pistols and accessories
  • An exhaustive manufacturer and resource directory
Feb 28, 2011

Informazioni sull'autore

A lifelong firearms enthusiast, Dan Shideler is the editor of Standard Catalog of Firearms, Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices, Modern Gun Values, Gun Digest and other Krause Publication titles. He is also a frequent contributor to Gun Digest Magazine and other national firearms publications. He lives in northern Indiana.

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Gun Digest Book of Semi-Auto Pistols - Dan Shideler

The Gun Digest®

             Book of



Edited by

Dan Shideler

©2005 KP Books

Published by

700 East State Street • Iola, WI 54990-0001

715-445-2214 • 888-457-2873

Our toll-free number to place an order or obtain

a free catalog is (800) 258-0929.

All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a critical article or review to be printed in a magazine or newspaper, or electronically transmitted on radio, television, or the Internet.

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 2004098420

ISBN: 0-89689-174-7

eISBN: 978-1-44022-439-3

Designed by Patsy Howell

Edited by Dan Shideler

Printed in the United States of America


In The Shadow of A Legend

by Kevin Michalowski

The All-New Browning Hi-Power SA SFS

by Chris Christian

Pint-Sized Powerhouses

by Dave Workman

Practical(ly) Perfect

by Rick Sapp

Let There be Light!

by Kevin Michalowski

Stick it Where the Sun Don’t Shine!

by Rick Sapp

Punchin’ Paper in 2005

by Chris Christian

The Perennial Pee-Wee

by Dan Shideler

The Neglected 357 SIG

by Jay Anderson

Is Your Self-Defense Load Up to the Task?

by Chris Christian

Product Review: Comtac/Peltor Shooting Muffs

by Jim Schlender

Testfire: The NEW .25

by Dan Shideler

Testfire: Czech It Out!

by Steve Smith


Modern Gun Values

Centerfire Handgun Cartridges — Ballistics & Prices

Rimfire Ammunition — Ballistics & Prices

Periodical Publications

Arms Library



By Kevin Michalowski

When the United States military adopted its first auto-loading service pistol, the cavalry charge was still an accepted and effective means of fighting wars. In the nearly 100 years since that pistol first hung on the hips of American soldiers, the face of modern conflict has changed immeasurably.

The Colt Model 1911 has seen it all. The gun has been dragged through the mud, dunked in the ocean, scorched and polished by desert sands and frozen by bitter mountain winds. Battle-hardened mercenaries and over-achieving bull’s-eye shooters have used it to good effect. It has been torn down, declared dead and rebuilt more times than anyone can remember. In all corners of the world, the 1911 earned its legendary status by being a versatile and effective tool for any number of users. Some say it is the greatest gun of all time. That’s a great way to start an argument.

The 1911 is a shooter’s gun. Hand a 1911 to anyone even remotely familiar with a pistol and he’ll know what to do with it. That says a lot, but does it say enough?

Legend? Yes. But Unsurpassed? Well…

That John Moses Browning created a work of art when he designed what would become the Model 1911 pistol is without question. Yet, between that first design and today, changes in everything from metallurgy to manufacturing have been eroding the 1911’s dominance. Chambered in 45 ACP, the round for which the gun was built, the model 1911 is a robust pistol. But to show you just how much things have changed over the years, consider that in the past some shooters described the gun and the round as producing heavy recoil. My father-in-law, a U.S. Marine who saw combat in Korea, still thinks the 45 ACP kicks like hell. Compared to the 44 Remington Magnum, 454 Casull or the 480 Ruger the recoil of the 45 ACP is simply noticeable and for most shooters it is quite manageable.

Field stripping a 1911 (right) is not tough, but field stripping a Glock is so much easier. The difference is in the design and the manufacturing techniques. John Browning didn’t have CNC machines and high-tech polymer molds. He had to machine and file his stuff pretty much by hand.

But just as no art critic can change the beauty of a painting by pointing out some faults, I don’t want to be accused of deriding the 1911 by claiming that some modern pistols are better. Still, as much as I will try to make this an objective look at various pieces of machinery, firearms selection is still a very personal and subjective decision. Just as tastes in art have changed over the years, so too have perceptions of the 1911. And they will continue to change.

Perception No. 1: The 1911 has the quintessential feel of a pistol

The feel of a pistol is perhaps the most subjective of the criteria used to judge one. Just about any experienced shooter will talk about the perfect grip angle and ergonomics of the 1911. It’s so good that other gun makers have tried to copy it. The Ruger 22/45 and more recently the Springfield Armory XD series polymer pistols mimic the grip angle and the XD even utilizes a grip safety. But is that feel a product of ergonomic testing and development, or is it just the feel of 90-year-old gun that’s so common everyone knows how it’s supposed to feel? The 1911 was a trusted friend in two World Wars and two major anti-communist police actions. It worked. Men came to count on it. And when they no longer had government sanction to defend their lives with that pistol, they used the same gun for their target games. Perhaps shooters came to accept, then later love, the feel of a 1911 the way one would embrace any other everyday object. It became the standard because it was the most commonly used tool – the one to which most shooters could relate.

Take this little test. Make a fist. Now maintain the fist and quickly, at shoulder level, point your index finger at the wall. There’s the grip angle of the Glock.

This speaks to pointability, recoil control and the natural ergonomic principles that create better shooting. The bore axis on the 1911 is higher than most of the newer pistols in its class. The higher the barrel is above your hand, the more leverage the gun has working against you as the projectile is fired. As a result you get more felt recoil. Custom gunsmiths have been working to reduce the height of the bore axis on the 1911 for years. Most of them apply a different grip safety and modify the rear of the frame to allow the web of your firing hand to be higher.

Modern Smith & Wesson, Beretta and H&K pistols build this lower bore axis right into their design. Springfield Armory kept the angle the same, but designed the polymer frame to get your shooting hand higher. It feels like a 1911… only better. The 1911 design wasn’t even 20 years old before the military attacked it with the first round of changes. Following World War I the changes that became the 1911-A1 were adopted for various reasons, one of which was that many doughboys reported that shots from their pistols were going low. It may have been the result of those tiny original sights, or perhaps shooters were adopting that natural Glock angle and instinctively pushing the muzzle down as they thrust the pistols forward at the charging enemy. The end result left soldiers with a new arched mainspring housing that was supposed to help keep the muzzle up. It was a quick fix and typical of a government agency that thinks hardware can overcome a training deficiency.

The feel of a pistol starts with the magazine. Here a 1911 mag sits next to that of a Glock 31. The Glock mag holds more ammo, but is typically too big for most shooters. Eight rounds or 13, you make the call.

By the time World War II boiled over, the stopping power of the 1911 had become legendary. Soldiers and even some law enforcement officers had used the pistol just about everywhere and the word was out. The 1911 in 45 ACP made the old 38 Special look as wimpy as it really was. With all that good press, the 1911 became the gun to have. After the war, with millions of 1911s issued around the world, the gun to have was indeed the gun everyone did have, and perhaps that legendary feel is the result of so many people singing the praises of a legendarily effective weapon.

But before I get accused of hating the feel of America’s favorite sidearm, I should also point out that for the average shooter, the Glock 31 chambered in 45 ACP is just too fat to allow for a good shooting grip. You’ve got to have a pretty big hand to get your fingers around that double-stack 45 ACP magazine. As a result, Glock has recently created the 45 GAP (Glock Automatic Pistol) to provide 45 ACP ballistics in a package that fits into the original Glock 17 frame. That original frame, built to handle the 9mm round, provides a much better fit for the average shooter. Long before the appearance of the 45 GAP, the 40 S&W split the difference between the power of the 45 ACP and the size and magazine capacity of the 9mm. Today the 40 S&W challenges both the 45 ACP and the 9mm in terms of popularity, especially among law enforcement agencies.

In real terms, most single-stack 45 ACP pistols, regardless of the maker, are easy enough to grip. During the dark days of the so-called assault weapons ban, when pistols were limited to 10-round magazines, many thin and small guns created what amounted to a new class of pistols. With the law now history and high-capacity magazines once again legal, given the same general size of grip frame, what would you rather have: eight rounds of 45 ACP, 12 rounds of 40 S&W or 45 GAP or 17 rounds of 9mm?

Before you decide, don’t just pick up and hold the pistol in the gun shop. Find a way to testfire it.

Perception No. 2: The 1911 is a marvel of engineering

It was in 1911. But as revolutionary as the pistol was when it was first built, modern design and production techniques leave the 1911 looking like what it really is: a springboard for better ideas. John Browning himself came up with the Browning Hi-Power, a 9mm pistol almost as legendary as the 1911. Even Jeff Cooper, the man who is close to making us all believe the 1911 can walk on water, described the Hi-Power as a fine pistol, but he added that it’s a shame the gun is not made in a caliber of consequence. The point is the Hi-Power is an advancement of the 1911 design. And even if you agree that all modern auto-loading pistols owe their action and some part of their heritage to the 1911, you must also agree that many of the new designs are simpler, more efficient and just plain better.

The situation that immediately comes to mind is the feed path of 1911. The bullet, as it is stripped from the magazine, goes on a roller coaster ride before arriving in the chamber. Is it any wonder that 1911 owners all know about things like ramped barrels, internal polishing and workshop magazine adjustments? A whole industry has sprouted around making the 1911 feed reliably with anything other than ball ammo. Yes, you can make the 1911 design ultra-reliable. Springfield Armory did it for the FBI contract pistols, but it was a challenge. And didn’t anyone notice the look of surprise when a 1911 actually passed that grueling set of standards?

Modern designers have taken the great attributes of the 1911, improved on them and incorporated them into today’s pistols. One for instance is the Beretta M-9, the sidearm that replaced the venerable 1911 in the U.S. arsenal. The M-9 using the same basic function of the 1911 — reciprocating slide, locked-breech barrel and magazine feed — will digest anything. In most cases it will even take in and spit out crappy handloads. But using them voids the warranty.

You will never have to worry about hand-fitting a barrel in a Springfield Armory XD or a Glock. You won’t have peened locking lugs and if you buy a different barrel for such a pistol, you don’t have to wonder if you get the link, too. The beauty of advancing technology is that designers have been able to use John Browning’s original ideas and make them better. I would argue that holding on to old ideas purely for nostalgia’s sake puts you at a disadvantage.

Perception No. 3: The 1911 is indestructible

The 1911 is one tough gun. I’ve seen video of a police officer smashing the side window of a car with his 1911 before firing at an armed felon. The gun never malfunctioned and the shots were on target. But put a 1911 side-by-side with some newer designs and start feeding the guns magazine after magazine and see which one malfunctions first. Your arm will be sore from the recoil but you’ll find that some of the new guns, especially the polymer models, will take abuse like you never dreamed of and still continue to function AND hold their accuracy.

The 1911’s barrel assembly (left) is deceptively simple, but there is a lot that can go wrong. The locking lugs have to be perfect, and you’d better have them fit by a professional. The link can give you trouble – and where’s that bushing, anyway? Do you need a target bushing or something that allows the gun to be reliable? Thanks to modern technology, the Glock barrel (right) wins the ease of use contest. No fitting required.

This Tanfaglio 10mm auto owes its existence, as do most all large-frame autos, to the 1911. But by improving on the 1911 design, this little pistol is more reliable with a more powerful round.

Every pistol wants to grow up to be a 1911… only better. Thanks to modern design and production, they can be.

Yes, factory original Glock sights are weak and fragile, but the rest of the gun goes on forever. Sure, you’ve heard all the slide separation stories about the Beretta but such incidents were rare and have been corrected. There surely have been complaints about the 1911 as well; it’s just that shooters and gunsmiths have had 90 years to correct things. And even with all that time and effort, I would still put a box-stock polymer pistol from just about any maker up against a box-stock 1911 in a 5,000-round torture test.

The two most-tested pistols in the world have to be the Beretta M-9 and the Glock. The SIG very likely won the U.S. military pistol trials but the contract went to Beretta for political reasons, a subject that has ignited feature-length arguments. The fact remains, however, that the test was tough and Beretta passed. The test devised by the Austrian Army for the Glock pistol was even tougher. The 17 criteria included a 20,000-round test that required the pistols to be disassembled, measured for tolerances and reassembled after 15,000 rounds. Then they had to complete the final 5,000 rounds. When Miami PD was considering the Glock, the pistol was dropped, kicked, run over with a vehicle, doused in salt water and sand – you name it. The gun never failed and in 1987 Miami became the first big police department in the United States to issue the Glock.

While the 1911 is a tough pistol, its design elements are more than 90 years old. There are better ways to build a barrel; better ways to lock it to the slide and better ways to make pistols feed and function. The 1911 still works, but the newer designs are simpler and stronger.

Perception No. 4: The 1911 can be all things to everyone

Now, we’re talking about the true strength of the 1911 design! There are two reasons that the 1911 is the most customized pistol in the world. First, because it can be so easily customized. Second, there’s usually a need. And with 90 years of history, there is not a part or screw or pin that has not come under scrutiny. If someone can make a dollar by creating a part for the 1911, he will be making that dollar far into the foreseeable future.

Barrel bushings, mainspring housings, hammers, sears, safeties — you name it and someone somewhere is making an aftermarket part, accompanied by what is very likely a legitimate claim that the part improves the performance of the 1911. As a cynic, I am required to say, That’s because the 1911 needs so much improvement. As a realist, I am compelled to say, These modifications, whether they be major or minor, allow the shooter to make the gun work for his specific requirements. It will be a while before shooters are turning the Glock or a Springfield Armory XD into an ultra-high-tech IPSC race gun. The parts just aren’t there and the modifications are currently pretty difficult. The 1911 benefits from the economy of scale. Make parts for a gun with a 90-year track record and you have a big market. Get one percent of the 1911 market and you have something. Get one percent of the SA XD-40 market and you might just be catering to 100 other guys and me.

There’s a reason why more than a dozen firms make 1911 pistols and several dozen more do custom work and aftermarket parts. The demand for the parts is there. People love the 1911 and our economy requires that such a demand be satisfied.

Are other pistol designs better? You bet. But those pistols are standing in the shadow of a legend and it’s really easy for shooters to say, Yeah, that (insert the name of your favorite new design) may work now, but let’s see what happens in 90 years.

Both the Charles Daly 1911 and the Glock 31 provide passable accuracy at 7 yards. Had I not pulled the last shot on the Glock the three-shot group would have measured about an inch. And I didn’t need to change the bushing, slick up the trigger or install a new hammer spring.




The classic single action Browning Hi-Power

gets a 21st-century trigger

By Chris Christian

Introduced in 1935 by the famed FN works in Belgium, the P35 Browning Hi-Power Pistol is considered by many to be John Browning’s finest handgun design. Based on the single action, locked breech operation of the Model 1911, the Hi-Power made significant improvements to that design by omitting the unnecessary grip safety and separate barrel bushing, adding a staggered magazine that would hold 13 rounds instead of seven rounds (albeit in the smaller 9mm caliber instead of the 1911’s 45 ACP offering), changing the grip angle to make it a more natural pointer, adding a magazine safety, and reducing the handgun’s width to create a slimmer and far more graceful pistol.

The Browning HP-SFS proved to be a serious shooter during the author’s bench rest tests.

In terms of pure mechanical design, it is reasonable to assume that if the Hi-Power had been introduced prior to the Model 1911, the latter may never have seen production. But that didn’t happen. Both were introduced in the twentieth century and both have enjoyed successful careers, particularly among the world’s military organizations, as classic single-action semi-autos.

By the late twentieth century, however, the classic single action semi-auto (SA) design had been replaced by the military – and by the U.S. law enforcement community and many civilians – with either a double-action design or the Glock-type trigger mechanism. There’s a simple reason for that, and it doesn’t stem from mechanical efficiency.

If you want a SA semi-auto ready for instant one-handed use you either carry it cocked and locked, or with the chamber loaded and the hammer at the half-cock position where you can thumb-cock the gun on the draw. In either case, the hammer is cocked in the holster, and in today’s politically-correct world, that scares the hell out of the politically-appointed bureaucrats who run the departments and agencies.

The end result has been a wealth of double action service pistol designs that ride the holster in the politically-correct hammer-down position. All are quick to use and can be employed rapidly with either hand. But that comes at a price: the lengthy DA pull for the first round does not equal the crisp, consistent trigger on the SA auto and can make a precise first shot problematical. With those designs that shift to the SA mode for subsequent shots, the shift in pull weight and trigger position can affect accuracy as well.

One well-known gun writer of years past even went so far as to call the double action design an ingenious solution to a non-existent problem. I don’t agree with that. Reality is reality, and a cocked-and-locked handgun in a holster can be a problem for many, even if it is only one of perception.

That problem does exist. And the new FNH (Fabrique Nationale Herstal) Browning Hi-Power Safe Fast Shooting (SFS) trigger design could be an ingenious solution to it.

According to FNH, like contemporary DA designs the SFS action carries the hammer in the politically-correct down position. Yet, like its classic SA predecessor, one has only to swipe the thumb safety to be in command of a single-action semi-auto with a totally consistent trigger pull! The concept was intriguing, and I ordered one for testing.

The Newest Hi-Power

Even though it is a full-sized, steel-framed handgun, the Browning Hi-Power is not a handful. Its trim and graceful lines make it noticeably more compact than the 1911.

Introduced in 2003 by FNH, the new HP SFS is outwardly identical to the classic steel-frame Hi-Power SA model. With the gun available in both 9mm and 40 S&W with either a blue finish with walnut grips or black matte with plastic grips, I opted for my normal big bullet/ black finish mode and chose the 40 S&W in black matte. The fit and finish on this gun were Belgian to the core–meaning flawless! And the matte finish was much richer and more luxurious than anticipated. The gun arrived in a fitted plastic foam-lined case containing the expected paperwork and a cable lock. Also included was a rather neat little takedown cleaning rod that stores in a hollow plastic handle not much bigger than a pack of Lifesaver candy, yet contains a bristle and bronze brush along with a three-piece brass rod. Very slick!

A slick little take-down cleaning rod was included with the gun.

The only difference between the SA and SFS versions of the Browning Hi-Power is the trigger mechanism. Field stripping is the same.

Three magazines were provided. Each holds 10 rounds and features a bottom spring drop-free feature. Sights consist of the standard Hi-Power low-profile fixed models in a three white bar pattern. The ambidextrous thumb safety and magazine safety are identical to those of the SA Hi-Power, and the steel-framed SFS field strips in the same manner.

With the SFS placed side-by-side with the SA version, you can’t tell them apart. Until, that is, you begin to operate the gun. The SFS trigger mechanism is an innovative and, in this writer’s opinion, very worthwhile feature.

But it is unique. It does not equate to any other firearm on the market (or one that, to my knowledge, has ever been on the market). That requires a thorough explanation of how this trigger system works.

There are four hammer positions available on the HP-SFS: 1) hammer fully down; 2) half cock; 3) SFS position; and 4) full cock. We’ll start with the full cock position.

At full cock the gun is ready to fire when the single action trigger is pulled. In this position the frame-mounted ambidextrous safeties cannot be engaged. You can’t carry a Browning Hi-Power with the SFS trigger in a traditional cocked and locked Condition One state. You either pull the trigger to fire, or move the hammer to one of the three other positions.

The fully down hammer position should NEVER be used with a round in the chamber, because it drops the hammer into contact with the inertia firing pin where a blow on the hammer could fire the gun. Its only practical value is when storing the firearm in an UNLOADED condition where, at a glance, anyone familiar with the Browning SFS could surmise the chamber is empty.

To bring the hammer fully down, remove the magazine, rack the slide to the rear and clear the chamber, let the slide go to forward lock, reinsert the magazine with the slide closed to activate the magazine safety (using an empty magazine is advised by FNH) and pull the trigger. You can also lower the hammer manually with the thumb by depressing the trigger, but there is no point in it. In this position the frame-mounted safeties do not function. You can cycle the slide from this position, but it takes a significant amount of strength. It’s easier to thumb cock the hammer first to cycle the slide.

The half-cock notch has only one practical application, in this writer’s opinion, and that is for those who prefer to carry with a loaded magazine and an empty chamber. Theoretically, it could be used with a round in the chamber, thumb cocking the gun when drawn, but as we’ll see in a moment, that’s more complex than needed for loaded chamber carry. In this position the hammer is held away from contact with the firing pin, the safeties do not function, and the slide can be cycled.

To reach the half-cock position from full hammer down, just ease the hammer back slightly. From full cock, retain the hammer with the thumb, pull the trigger to release the sear and then release the trigger and lower the hammer to half cock. For those who carry or store chamber-empty, this can be a useful position because it takes less effort–but not by much–to rack the slide to chamber a round than the full hammer down position requires.

That leaves the SFS position. After putting over 1,000 rounds through the gun and carrying it concealed for two months, I’m convinced it is the only hammer-down position needed for any situation.

To achieve the SFS position from full-cock, just push the hammer forward. It takes no effort. That locks the hammer slightly to the rear of the half-cock position where it is prevented from any contact with the firing pin. The frame-mounted safeties automatically engage and the slide is locked. This is the only hammer position where the thumb safeties are in play.

To activate the gun, swipe either ambidextrous safety to disengage and THE HAMMER AUTOMATICALLY SPRINGS INTO THE FULL COCK POSITION. With a round in the chamber (and a magazine inserted) the gun is ready to fire. If you prefer to carry chamber empty, this is also the easiest position to cycle the slide and chamber a round from, since the fully cocked hammer removes a lot of spring resistance.

If the SFS hammer position is the only one used–and no other is actually needed–the manual of arms for this pistol is simple. To load an empty pistol, lock the slide back, insert the magazine and drop the slide to chamber a round. Then push the hammer forward. The gun is ready to carry, chamber loaded, hammer down, in complete safety.

To render the gun inoperable, just remove the magazine. The magazine safety prevents the chambered round from firing, even if the hammer is cocked. To clear the gun, remove the magazine, disengage the safety to free the slide and cock the hammer, cycle the slide to the rear to remove the chambered round, then drop the slide and push the hammer forward.

(left) HP-SFS in the SFS hammer position. Swiping the thumb safety. . . (right) . . .brings the hammer to full-cock position.

Although it is a unique trigger system, it takes very little time to learn. In fact, I was totally comfortable with it before running through the first box of ammo!

On the Range

Prior to hitting my backyard range I field-stripped the Browning and lubricated it lightly. A quantity of fresh premium factory loads was on hand for the test, including Cor-Bon’s 135-gr. JHP and 135-gr. Powerball, PMC’s 155-gr. Starfire JHP, Winchester’s 180-gr. SXT, Federal’s 155-gr. Federal Hydra-Shok and new 180-gr. law enforcement HST load, and Remington’s venerable 180-gr. Golden Sabre. All fed and functioned perfectly. In fact, there were no malfunctions of any type during the entire testing procedure.

Initial firing was what I call my get-acquainted routine. I found a holster that fit the gun adequately, spread empty 12-ounce beverage cans across the ground from 15 to 25 yards and, working from the holster, tried to see how fast I could bounce them. It’s not a particularly scientific procedure. But when it comes to learning how a gun handles, balances, points, how sharp the sights appear, and–in short–how the gun functions in the real world, I haven’t found a better one. When you are rapidly engaging ill-defined multiple targets at varying ranges, where hits and misses are instantly revealed, you can learn a lot about the gun. After a couple of 250-round sessions, I was left with a large pile of scrap aluminum and some very positive impressions of the new Browning SFS.

The author found the Browning offered the same excellent handling as its single action version, and it took little time to get used to the innovative trigger.

The Hi-Power has always handled well for me and this one was no exception. It found its way from holster to hand to target quickly. Disengaging the safety as the gun came to target was no different from the single action Hi-Power, even though the hammer started at the SFS position. In short, that part was – as the philosophically-immortal Yogi Berra once observed – deja vu all over again.

Placing the gun on safe resulted in a few fumbles early on. I’m a right-hander, and my right thumb initially wanted to flip the safety up and down. When that didn’t work, my left thumb started finding the hammer to push it forward. By the time I was about to empty the first box of ammo, the left thumb won, and the gun was pretty much running itself. It took a lot less time than I had figured it would to become totally comfortable with the new trigger mechanism.

The compact fixed sights featured a three white bar picture. Some shooters may like that, but I’m not one of them. With three identical white bars I wasn’t finding the front sight (in a close/fast shooting situation find the front sight!) as quickly as I would prefer. So I found some fluorescent orange nail polish (amazing what the kids are wearing these days) and made the front sight orange. That worked well.

The gun was shooting a touch left, but a couple of quick taps with a big flat punch to drift the rear sight in its dovetail fixed that, and the sights and I began getting along famously. All three magazines were rotated and each functioned perfectly. I was particularly impressed with their drop-free feature. A small spring at the rear base will pop that magazine out of the gun right now! – whether it’s empty or retains rounds.

All magazines would hold the advertised 10 rounds, although getting the tenth round in took some pressure. With ten rounds loaded, however, it took a firm rap, sometimes several, to seat a full magazine during a tactical reload with the slide forward. I started loading just nine rounds per mag and regard that as a minor point. If you can’t get it done with nine in the mag, one in the chamber, and two extra nine round magazines at hand, you probably aren’t going to get it done with full 10-round mags.

The magazine situation wasn’t a concern to me. I routinely download mags by at least one round anyway. The trigger pull was another matter.

The FNH manual states it will be between five and a half pounds and 11 pounds. I feel that five to six pounds would be perfect for this gun in its intended self-defense role, and wouldn’t want it any lighter unless I were shooting the gun in stock IDPA competition. But, that’s not what I got. Early on I could tell the trigger was adequately crisp, but pretty darn stiff. When I finally tested it with a spring gauge I found I was pulling 9.5 pounds!

I was hardly surprised

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