One of the unsung inventions of the industrial revolution was the go / no go gauge. Most mechanical parts have only a few critical dimensions, and the go / no go gauge was used to make sure the part fit, in the most literal sense.
Among the rarities of Smith & Wesson’s earliest years is the gutta percha case. Between 1850 and 1861 almost 5,000 of these cases were manufactured. The cases’ fragile plastic and delicate hinges have whittled the number of survivors down to an estimated 250 cases, if that.
Until last year the gun that fit my body geometry the best was a Smith & Wesson M&P 1.0 with the Apex sear and trigger. I now seem to shoot my 19X with more accurately than both my M&P and my Glock 34. The Glock 48 may change that calculus once again, and for reasons I may have never imagined.
The story is well documented by now, but it’s worth repeating. After the 1986 FBI Shootout in Miami, the FBI started to believe that their .38 revolvers were out of date. In 1989 the 10mm Auto round was selected by the FBI for its superior penetration, but the round’s snappy recoil proved too much for some, and the milder .40 S&W round was adopted as a compromise. .40 S&W has waxed and waned in popularity (and seems to be waning at the moment, making .40 handguns a potentially good buy), but the 10mm Auto round maintained a small but steady band of followers. This Colt Delta Elite dates to 1989, and while it’s got a bit of wear and tear on it, the gun’s heft does a surprisingly good job of managing the recoil.
The M1951 Beretta pistol is the most recognizable ancestor of the Beretta 92, whose importance to the world of firearms can hardly be understated. One variant was the Helwan 9mm pistol, which was a clone of the M1951 that was made in Maadi Factory 54 located just south of Cairo, Egypt. While I haven’t found any really comprehensive accounting of the Maadi factory’s history with gunmaking, it is well known that the Maadi factory also produced AK-47 variants (and perhaps other guns) for many years.
Launched in 1908 and in production for forty years, over 400,000 of these tiny Colt semi-automatic pistols came out of the Hartford factory. I decided to put a few hundred rounds through one at the range to see how it stacks up to the myriad of pocket pistols that are being sold over a century after this gun’s introduction. This particular gun shipped from the Colt factory in June of 1930 to a dealer in Chicago, and it’s not bad looking for pushing 90 years old.
In 2010 I purchased this pistol at a farm auction in Stem, North Carolina. The gun felt sleek and precise and seemed well worth the $200 that I bid it up to, but I had no idea at the time what a gem I had stumbled into. The Model 70, chambered in .32 ACP, is one of the most precise pocket-sized handguns I’ve ever shot.
Smith & Wesson’s venerable J frame revolvers have long set the standard by which all other compact revolvers are judged, and with good reason. Any gun that has been in production for over 50 years has necessarily undergone a variety of changes, but the basic package being sold now looks very much like the Chief’s Special that made its debut almost 70 years ago. J frames have appeared in many configurations over the years, but for many (this writer included) the Model 60 is the zenith.
Long story short: this may be the best gun of 2018.
The EZ has the same basic profile as the more common Shield models, and you’ll feel right at home if you’re already used to the M&P line. The notable differences are the chambering in .380 ACP (previously the only Smith .380 offering was the bodyguard), the backstrap safety (just like on a 1911), the magazine with a built-in thumb follower (like on the Ruger Standard), and the very light recoil spring that makes the slide very easy to manipulate.