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Smith & Wesson M&P 380 Shield EZ

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.

An Old Beretta 92F Gets New Life

Old Italian police-issue Beretta 92F’s have been appearing on the market of late. Dating back to the late 1970’s and lacking the typical Italian hallmarks (which weren’t required when the gun is sold for law enforcement or military purposes), these guns can now be found in the $250 range. It’s worth noting that the magazine release on these is at the heel of the grip (instead of near the trigger guard) and they do have the dreaded import marks on them, making them somewhat less interesting to fussy collectors. But at just a few Washingtons more than a High Point, they are worth exploring.

I picked up one such pistol from Robertson Trading Post and was delighted to receive a gun in much better condition than many of the usual duty guns found at gun shows. There was some holster wear and the lanyard loop on the bottom of the grip was dented a bit, but I’m not sure that this gun has actually seen all that many rounds down the pipe. All in all, having a classic, all-metal niner for about $250 isn’t a bad deal at all. But is it worth it?

A Mixed Bag: Taurus Millennium PT111 G2

Taurus’s PT-111 Millennium G2 wades into the densely populated niche of compact polymer pistols at a price point that is hard to ignore. An MSRP of $300 and a street price of around $225 puts it a bit higher than Hi-Point cheap, but significantly less than other worthy competitors from Smith & Wesson and Glock. You’ll realistically be parting with at least three Benjamins for the Shield and four (or more) for the Austrian wunderkid, and that extra Benjamin saved with the Taurus is good for a healthy range trip (or two). But does the Brazilian really compete with the establishment?

Glock 17R: The Mysterious Non-Firing Glock

The impossible-to-own-legally Glock 18 and the we-can’t-have-nice-things-because-of-our-stupid-import-laws Glock 25 are the two guns most Glock collectors will never have in their collections. Of the weapons that mortals can own the Glock 17R may be at the top of the list. The “R” refers to the automatic trigger Reset. This allows the shooter to practice dry firing on a gun that looks and feels like a real Glock. But the gun’s design means that it can’t actually chamber and shoot a live round. Sounds great, right? I’ve learned that the 17R isn’t quite the training pistol nirvana that it’s cracked up to be.

Ruger Single … Seven?

Ruger’s Single Six is a venerable gun dating back to Bill Ruger’s early days, when the wild west cowboy mystique was alive and well and the market for single action guns was strong. Demand has ebbed and flowed over the years, but Ruger continues to produce them (albeit in a “new” variety with a transfer bar safety bar that makes it safe to carry “locked and cocked”). The Single Nine and Single Ten are chambered in .22 Magnum and .22 Long Rifle respectively. This makes the Single Seven something of an oddity in its .327 Federal Magnum chambering.

The Underappreciated Smith & Wesson 22A

The Smith & Wesson Model 41 has earned its place among the world’s finest .22 target pistols for good reason. And the SW22 Victory has been getting good press alongside Ruger’s Mark IV, which now joins the world of guns that can be taken down (and reassembled) by mere mortals. But what of Smith & Wesson’s forgotten 22A, which was made in their Houlton, Maine factory alongside handcuffs and other handgun parts?

The short answer: the 22A is a mixed bag, but given that new (or nearly new) examples can be found in the $200 range right now, they may be one of the best target .22LR bargains going.

The Lowly Smith & Wesson .35 Automatic

The “Smith & Wesson Automatic,” as it was advertised, or the “Model of 1913” as the collectors refer to it, is a gun that by all measures should have done well. Its innovations still delight and amaze, and were it not for some bad timing, this gun could have been far more influential than the historical footnote that it has been relegated to.

The basics: the .35 S&W Auto chambering is almost identical to the .32 Automatic Colt Pistol round that would come to dominate the world of semiautomatic pocket pistols for decades. Manufacturers knew that getting the public hooked on a particular caliber of ammunition with the manufacturer’s name in it was a source of free advertising (like the ubiquitous .38 Smith & Wesson round). In the early years of Smith & Wesson when the Model 1 was the only gun sold by the little company, it was sufficient to simply purchase ammunition for the Smith & Wesson, and the earliest ammunition was known thus.

The High Point of Shooting? Not Quite.

Regardless of how much money one has invested in high quality firearms, it’s difficult to not be piqued by Hi-Point Firearms. Their proposition is simple: a semiautomatic handgun at an MSRP of $219, that portends to have better quality than the usual Zamak-filled Saturday Night Specials. And since everyone is dumping their .40 S&W guns to go back to 9mm (or even to .380 ACP), it seemed like a good time to scoop up a nice used Hi-Point to see what they’re really about. A single Benajmin brought this lightly used example into my gun safe, complete with its owned logoed hard plastic case. So far, so good.