What I Like About Beretta

Beretta is the oldest name in firearms manufacturing. The company has had the same family ownership for well over 500 years. Beretta is the current supplier of handguns for the majority of the United States Army personnel that use handguns and is in the running for the next generation of handgun the Army may choose.

Stoeger Cougar 9mm
Stoeger Cougar 9mm

My first Beretta was a Cougar, Model 8000. Actually, it wasn’t really Beretta, but was a Stoeger Cougar. Beretta designed the Cougar line and produced it for many years, but when they acquired the Turkish company Stoeger, for some reason, they moved the Cougar tooling to that location and Stoeger started producing the Cougars. They come in 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP, but mine was a 9mm. This is a sturdy gun, very easy to operate, accurate and trouble-free. My son Phillip owns it now, so it’s still in the family and we use it in some of our instruction classes to introduce new folks to handguns. It now sports a nice-looking set of wood grips.

I followed up the Cougar with a PX-4 Storm 9mm. One thing that sets the PX-4 and Cougar apart is the way their barrel lock/unlock mechanism operates. When the gun is fired, the barrel rotates almost a quarter of a turn before it unlocks and starts rearward. This turn actually absorbs some of the recoil, making these guns relatively soft-shooters. They’re made of steel, so their weight helps absorb recoil as well. I find the slides easy to operate on both guns and when we use them for our Handgun 101 classes, many of the students also find them easy to operate.

Beretta PX-4 Storm
PX-4 Storm

The PX-4 comes in several configurations.  The Type C has no external safety. Type F has an ambidextrous external safety/de-cocker and Type G has the ambidextrous lever, but it only works as a de-cocker, not as a safety. Mine came from the factory as Type F, but I converted it to Type G when I was using it as a carry gun. The safety on these guns is pushed up to go off and to me that’s an unnatural motion that I would just as soon not have to deal with when under pressure.

If you practice good trigger control an external safety is simply an extra item that is not needed in a handgun, especially if the safety is somewhat hard to get off. These guns are double/single action guns, so the double-action first trigger pull is plenty of safety.

Beretta makes the PX-4 in Compact and Sub-Compact models. Both work well for concealed carry. The Sub-Compact does not have the barrel-rotation recoil-reducing feature that the Compact and Full-Size models have. All of the models discussed come with 3-dot sights. I’ve had night-sights installed on both the Cougar and the PX-4.

Beretta M9
Beretta M9

My next Beretta was an M-9, the military designation of the Model 92F. I don’t shoot this gun much, but I’ve no doubt it’s a fine shooter. People in the military seem to have a love/hate relationship with them, but that’s true of all military guns. I’ve noticed that a whole bunch of former Army guys who come through our License to Carry class are shooting Beretta M9s as their personal defense guns.

Beretta Stampede
Beretta Stampede 45 Colt
Beretta Bobcat
Beretta Bobcat

I’ve got two more Berettas. One is a Beretta Bobcat 25. I took it in on trade and consider it just a nice-to-have small gun. It’s a tip-up model that might come in handy if you just absolutely have no strength to rack the slide on any type of semi-automatic handgun.  The other is a cowboy gun, a 45 Colt Beretta Stampede. It’s the prettiest of my cowboy guns. It shoots pretty accurately and could be used for self-defense if needed.

What I Like About Colt

Other than my fascination with Cowboy guns, I saw no reason to buy a Colt semi-automatic and had witnessed a lot of reasons not to. Second only to Kimber, for the first three years we were in the handgun license training business we saw more failure to feed (FTF) and failure to eject (FTE) issues with Colts than other brands. To be fair, the Colts showing up at our classes ranged from old WWII models somebody’s daddy had in a drawer for 40 years without cleaning, to new production Colt New Agents and other small guns, somewhat prone to fail anyway if you don’t hold them correctly. Why would I buy a Colt if all I got was grief? Historically, Colt has been a great brand, but their ownership has changed often over the years and quality control seemed to have taken a beating at times.

Colt LW Commander
Colt LW Commander

Things changed a couple of years ago when a wholesaler’s rep called with some special offers, one of which was a Colt 1991 model at a very affordable price. The price was so good I bought the gun just to say I’d owned a Colt. It surprised me. It worked, and it shot quite well. I kept it for awhile and decided since I my preference is for Commander-sized 1911s (4.25 inch barrels), which I find easier to carry and conceal, I sold the original Colt for a profit and bought a Colt Commander. Loved it! I loved it so much I sold it and immediately bought a Lightweight Colt Commander to replace it. I toyed with that Commander a bit, putting on first this set of grips, then that set of grips on it, until I settled on a set of nice Colt-branded rosewood grips. That Colt is now in my daily carry rotation and I’m proud to wear the Colt cap when I’m carrying it. I can shoot it well and I’ve never had any type of feeding or ejection issues with it.

Colt M45A1
Colt M45A1

Once I got over my hesitancy to own a Colt, another one caught my eye, this one a Marine Close Quarters Combat pistol, the M45A1. I like this gun so much, I bought a custom-leather inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster for it. I’ve shot all my favorite defensive rounds in it with no failures and some pretty good bragging rights targets. I’m now a Colt fan. I finally got my D.M. Bullard leather holster broken in so the big Colt draws easily from it. I carry this gun when I’m feeling frisky and I feel good about the history behind Colt and our fighting forces.

I have a Colt 1911 .22 made by Walther and imported by Umarex. And, I’ll someday, probably, I hope, own a real Ace .22 Colt 1911 that belongs to my mother-in-law. My father-in-law bought it during WWI for her home protection while he was away at sea. They didn’t pay a lot for it then, but since there weren’t many of these made, it now has a significant value attached to it for collectors. She wants to hang onto it, but I asked her to put a note in the box saying when she’s gone, David gets the Colt. We’ll see.

All of my Cowboy guns are clones, but the handguns mimic the Colt Peacemaker Model 1873. Now that was a gun!

What I Like About Sig Sauer

SP2022
Sig Sauer SP2022

Here is my upfront disclaimer – I love Sig Sauer Handguns! My history with them started right after I got my first Concealed Handgun License. At that time Cheaper Than Dirt Outdoor Adventures in North Fort Worth ran weekly promos and posted them on their website. It was worth checking every week to see what was on sale that week. One week I saw a Cheaper Than Dirt ad for a Sig Sauer SP2022 for $399. My buddy who really knew guns told me that was an unheard of price for a Sig Sauer. He said he had never seen a new Sig of any kind for less than $500. So at his urging I bought one. At the time I knew very little about semi-automatics and the fact that this was a double-action only pistol didn’t bother me. When I took it to the range, however, that little fact became a real downer. This particular gun had apparently been set up for a police department concerned with liability so much they wanted to make sure their triggers were never pulled accidentally. It had a 14-pound trigger pull! Not for just the first shot, but for every shot. I joked with my buddy that I could start that trigger pull, go to the bathroom, get a cup of coffee and be back at the firing lane before the trigger reached the breaking point. Then for the next shot I’d have to do the same thing all over again. This was not a very good introduction to Sigs.

Fortunately, I was able to sell that gun and replace it with a double-single action version of the same gun. That was more like it. The SP2022 has a polymer frame where most of the other Sigs before that time and even after it, have steel frames. That’s why the lower price. But as far as quality goes, you can’t really tell any difference between an SP2022 and say a P226 or P228 that cost several hundred dollars more. Mine is a 9mm, but you can also get this gun in a .40 S&W. It’s a great value.

P226
Sig Sauer P226 Elite

My second Sig was almost given to me. I traded a gun of a much lesser value for it, and my buddy knew it was a disparate trade, but he just wanted me to have a P226. It’s a P226 Elite .40. I carried this gun a bunch when I first got it. Shot it a lot, too. I’m going to be perfectly honest with you. There’s nothing not to like about this gun for most people, but for me carrying it is a problem because the extended beaver tail gouges me in the ribs. I’ve got a lot of guns with beaver tails that don’t, but this one does. And it’s a .40 caliber. Great defensive caliber, unless you have arthritis, and I do. So I’ve backed way off on shooting .40s. For home or car defense, though this gun is great! And I think I’ll always keep it because it was really more of a gift than a trade.

I’ve got another P226, this one a 9mm. It’s a Legion model, which means it has several features that set it apart. This list is straight from Sig’s promo on the gun.

Sig Legion226
Sig P226 Legion
  • Reduced and Contoured Elite Beavertail
  • Frame Relieved Under Trigger Guard
  • Legion Gray PVD Finish on Slide and Frame
  • Custom High Checkered G-10 Grips
  • Grayguns Intermediate Reach Adjustable Trigger
  • Enhanced Action with Short Reset Trigger
  • Low Profile Slide Catch and Decocking Levers
  • Solid Steel Guide Rod
  • Electro-optics X-RAY™ High Visibility Day/Night Sights
  • Enhanced Checkering on Front Strap and Under Trigger Guard
Sig Sauer M11-A1
Sig Sauer M11-A1

The Grayguns trigger makes this gun a joy to shoot. There is a P229 Legion that has a shorter barrel. I see it exists, but can’t find any in stock as of this writing. What I have found is an M11, which is the Military designation for a hybrid between the P228 and P229. Sig has mixed the features up between these two models from time to time, so there’s not a whole lot of difference in some of them. The technical aspects on the originals say the P229 has a milled stainless steel slide; whereas the P228 has a folded carbon steel slide. Supposedly the P228’s construction is fine for 9mm, but not for the heavier .357 and .40 calibers. Whether you have a P228 or P229 in hand, either one is basically a shorter barreled P226. The M11 is cool because it’s issued to various branches of the military and is Flat Dark Earth in color.

Sig Emperor Scorpion Carry Pistol
Sig Emperor Scorpion Carry Commander

My favorite Sig pistol also happens to be pretty close to my favorite pistol of all. It makes me look good at the range and it makes me feel good when I carry it. It’s an Emperor Scorpion Carry 1911 Commander. When I do carry it, which is often, I have nine rounds of .45 ACP on tap with another 30 rounds in spare magazines on my belt on my support side ready to go. The gun is thin, with a rounded butt, which makes it easy to carry and conceal and when I shoot it, I’ve been able to consistently put 9 rounds into a hole the size of a quarter from 10 to 12 feet away. I have done this every time I’ve shot this gun, regardless of the ammunition used. I don’t have any other guns that do that. So I guess you could call it my “go to” gun, the handgun I would grab if I could only grab one when the excrement hits the fan.

We sell a lot of Sig Sauer handguns in our gun shop and we see a lot of them on the gun range during our classes. All of us at Texas Gun Pros have confidence in them. And, we like them. There are other models I haven’t covered. The Sig P250 is a modular gun with the ability to transform in size and capacity. The Sig P320 is a striker-fired handgun with the same features. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing not to like about them. The Sig 938 is a single-stack 9mm that Sig says is their best-seller. If a single-stack 9mm is your cup of tea, the 938 is one of the best options available.

Sig Sauers are pricey compared to a lot of other brands, but they’re worthy of the extra price tag. They are well-made, very accurate, durable and reliable. And though many of them are made in America, they’re basically German engineering. So think of them as the BMW of the gun manufacturers. Their rifles are used by the military and law enforcement all over the world because of the accuracy, reliability and durability with for which they have become famous.

What I Like About Smith and Wesson

One of the oldest names in American Firearm companies, Smith & Wesson has so many models from which to choose, it could take a book to cover them. I’m just going to cover the ones I currently own. I would say currently and formerly own, but I still have every Smith & Wesson I have acquired. That should tell you something.

Model 10 .38 Special
S&W Model 10

The first was as 6-shot .38 Special revolver, a Model 10-9. This was my father’s gun and I started carrying it on camping, hunting and fishing trips from the time I could drive. When I got to Vietnam I was somewhat surprised to find they assigned this very same revolver, or one very similar to it, as part of every flight crewmember’s equipment. It’s funny, we consider this not enough gun for self-defense these days, but back then it was considered enough protection for us if we were stranded in the jungle waiting for help to arrive.

S&W Model 686
S&W Model 686

While we’re discussing revolvers I want to familiarize you with the Model 686 Combat Magnum, which is my favorite .357 Magnum. It’s a heavy gun, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it actually holds 7 rounds of either .357 Magnum or .38 Special. I have a nice Crossbreed IWB holster that fits it, so on occasion, just because the mood hits me, this one becomes my carry gun. I’m most comfortable carrying it in the Appendix position on the left side, which makes it a cross-draw situation. Why?  Because it works.

There’s no question that .357 Magnum is a caliber that will stop a bad guy or girl if you hit them practically anywhere except maybe an extremity. Seven rounds on tap is almost, but not quite like having 9 rounds in one of my 1911 .45s BUT, the 1911 can be reloaded in a snap and the .357 would take a couple of minutes.

Okay, enough said about revolvers – Smith & Wesson makes them as good as they come. People in the know call them K-Frames, L-Frames, N-Frames and probably some more, which honestly confuses the heck out of me. I can’t ever remember which is which, so I just call them by the model number.

In the semi-automatic world, the currently most popular Smith’s are the ones in the Military & Police, or M&P line. These were designed with law enforcement in mind, but they’re a great choice for men or women as a concealed carry or home defense gun. If a Glock is like a Toyota, an M&P is a Honda, or maybe a Nissan. It just gets down to a matter of preference and my preference has always been for an M&P over a Glock, primarily because of the way it fits my hand and the difference in recoil. Many people say the grip angle and the bore axis make the M&P shoot a little softer in the various calibers than other guns in the same category. It has certainly been my experience and I’ve asked various shooters their impressions and they seem to back me up on that.

My first M&P was a .40, then got a 9mm, then a .45. I like them all, but I’d rather shoot the 9mm or .45 than the .40. That doesn’t mean shooting the .40 is bad, it’s just a little snappier then the other two calibers. I’ve carried the .45 as a daily carry gun on numerous occasions. There’s a .40 with light and laser in the drawer beside my bed. I’ve got a tricked out 9mm with Viking day/night sights, an Apex trigger and a Flat Dark Earth/FDE finish. That’s probably my favorite.

S&W M&Ps

Notice something about the guns in the pictures above?  They’re all essentially the same size. If I were to add a .45 ACP to the picture, it would be the same size, too! That’s a great thing about these guns. Shoot the .22 to have fun and to practice. Much of what you will do will transfer over nicely to the guns that that are more expensive to shoot. You can get a compact in each of these calibers, as well. The compact .22 is one fun gun to shoot! In fact, it’s advertisements proclaim, “.22 pistols are fun to shoot. Ours is funner!

All of the M&Ps have compact versions. And there is the slim version in 9mm and .40 called the Shield. I don’t own a Shield, but we’ve sold a ton of them and I’ve watched people shoot them during our License to Carry Qualification. I’ve watched people group their shots so that they make a big hole in the center of the target and not much beyond, which is very impressive. Recoil doesn’t seem to be an issue with the Shields either, so for a thin, single-stack carry gun, this has to be one of the better choices.

M&P 22 Compact
M&P 22 Compact

My compact is a .22 and I really enjoy shooting it. As far as a plinker goes, or for target practice on paper, it’s hard to beat. Something about this little gun and the Ruger SR-22 make me wish I was a boy again, out rambling through the woods and ready to run up on a snake or a pile of cans and bottles just begging to be shot full of holes. I don’t do that anymore, but I have grandsons and granddaughters and these are perfect little plinking guns for them to use to put into practice their gun safety and marksmanship training.

S&W 1911 SCEIf you’ve read very much of my blog you know I’m a 1911 fan. Not just a 1911 fan, but in particular a 1911 Commander fan. “Commander” is the term the industry, starting with Colt, uses to describe a 1911 with a 4.2 or 4.25 inch barrel. One of the guns in my concealed carry rotation is a very fine lightweight Smith & Wesson SC-E-1911 Commander. The SC indicates it has a scandium frame, which makes it lightweight.  The E stands for Enhanced and simply means they’ve added pretty much any feature you might want on the gun. Scandium is a very expensive metal, so there’s not a lot of scandium in the frame. It’s mostly is aluminum. But the gun is lightweight and it has other features I appreciate and some that are above and beyond. Night sights and ambidextrous safety are a given for me, but this gun also includes front and rear grip checkering for a better grip. The top of the slide has lines that help cut down on glare. The cocking serrations are fish scale shaped and front and rear. They work quite well. An added feature is the rounded butt, which helps in keeping the gun concealed. I call this one my “Sunday go to meeting gun.” It’s so darn pretty and it’s practical, too!

Smith & Wesson has been around a long time and has many models I’ve not discussed or even experienced, but suffice it to say you will not be disappointed with the brand should you decide to buy one or several.

What I Like About Ruger

I have more Rugers than any other brand of firearm. When I began to “rediscover” the joys of firearm ownership, after maybe 30 years of living in the city, raising a family, and working at jobs that were in no way related to what I thought my life would be like when I was a child, the first handgun I bought was a Ruger. Honestly, I bought it because I saw it one day in a gun shop, it was pretty, and at $300 wasn’t going to raise too much havoc with the family budget. That gun was a Ruger New Model Blackhawk .357 Maximum. No, I didn’t misspell that. Maxium is bigger than Magnum and that’s what it is. I’m not going to take time writing about that gun here, because I’ve already written about it in one of my earlier blog posts. That gun still occupies it’s place in my safe along with a bunch of cousins.

The cousins all look similar, but they are in different calibers and have different capacities. Barrel lengths differ slightly, as well, but they’re all from the same family.

Ruger Single Actions

Ruger Shopkeeper and .44 MagnumThere are a couple of additional Single-Action Rugers in my collection. One is a classic, a New Model Blackhawk .44 Magnum. The other is a Lipsey’s exclusive shopkeeper Ruger Bearcat .22. When I shoot the .44 it’s with .44 Specials. When I let someone else shoot it, they can shoot the Magnums if they want. The little shopkeeper is a perfect size for introducing shooters with small hands to the world of shooting revolvers.

Ruger Double ActionsThe Ruger cowboy revolvers are great, but they also have some excellent double-action revolvers, too. I have a nice Wiley Clapp GP-100 in .357 Magnum that’s an excellent personal defense gun for home or out and about and an engraved SP101 .357 Magnum that’s too pretty to shoot.

My favorite Ruger is the .45ACP Lightweight Commander that’s the subject of this post I’ve written in detail about before, so I’ll skip that for this article. If you’re not up-to-speed on that particular 1911, check that article out. It’s the gun that made me fall in love with the 1911 platform.

When Bill Ruger started his company back when I was a year old, his first model was a semi-automatic twenty-two that was the backbone of the company for its formative years. That model went from the Mark I to the Mark II and then the Mark III stage, of which there are a lot of variants. One of the variants, the 22/45 is called that because it shoots .22 cartridges, but has a grip that’s reminiscent of the 1911 .45.  We use that gun in our NRA Basic Pistol class to introduce new shooters to the world of shooting with a gun that is easy to shoot and very accurate.

Ruger Mark III HunterMy favorite model of these is the Mark III Hunter with the 6 & 7/8 inch barrel on a stainless steel frame. Mine has a red dot sight mounted on it and I could easily use it to shoot mistletoe out of oak trees if I still did that. Since I don’t and mostly shoot paper, I like making really small groups in paper with this Ruger Mark III. My son Phillip was shooting it at the range the other day and he enjoyed rapid-firing it with the holes all going into a small cluster.

I know people who love the Ruger LC9s and the SR series is always a favorite defensive pistol for many. As I write this, Ruger has just announced a new Ruger American Pistol that is sure to be a winner. It will be a while before these are in circulation, but I plan to try one out so I can pass along my own judgement and comments about it.

Ruger firearms include a lot of rifles, as well as revolvers and semi-automatics. There’s not a loser in the bunch!

What I Like About Springfield

Springfield XDm 45When my father died and left me a little cash, I thought I’d treat myself. The first handgun I bought that I paid more than $500 for was a Springfield XDm in .45ACP. I was drawn to the Springfield because of what I’d seen over and over in our Concealed Handgun License range classes. People who shot Springfields tended to make one big hole in the center of the target. I knew from that experience the Springfield was accurate. I also knew the reputation of the company and how well made the guns are. The XD series is made in Coatia. Go figure. They sure make them rugged there.

It’s a big gun, but I got a Crossbreed SuperTuck holster to fit it and carried it. I carried it a lot until my conversion to 1911s. There is nothing negative I can say about this gun.

One of my sons and a lot of my friends have the single stack XDS models, 9mm, .45 and now .40 S&W. The only one I’ve personally shot is the XDS. 45 and it shoots pretty much like a 1911. I was surprised at how little recoil I felt. I wasn’t surprised at it’s accuracy. I follows the pattern of almost every Springfield I’ve seen.

Springfield Lightweight OperatorAmong the favorites that come through our shop are the EMPs, which are kind of baby 1911s and the the Range Officer Compacts. For some reason when it comes to Springfield, I like the bigger 1911s. I’ve had a stainless steel loaded 1911. Beautiful gun but a little heavy. The one I have now and which is in my carry rotation is a Springfield 1911 Lightweight Operator. Operator is Springfield’s code for “it has a rail”.  Loaded, by the way, is Springfield’s code for “it has adjustable sights.” I find it interesting that my full-size Springfield 1911 is a very comfortable carry gun. I guess it’s because it has a lightweight frame. It’s also a every comfortable gun for me to shoot, especially with ARX ammunition.

Champion is the name Springfield gives to the 3-inch 1911s. Springfield make guns of every size and configuration imaginable. There’s not a bad one in the bunch. In fact, we’ve learned from some conversations with Springfield engineers that they overbuild all of their guns.

There was a Springfield that had a recall a couple of years ago. It was the XDS, not long after it was launched. Somehow Springfield discovered there was something like a one in two-million chance that a gun could go off when the slide slammed forward. Unacceptable, even though we always keep our guns pointed in a safe direction, right?  Springfield launched a highly successful and well-publicized recall, and hopefully got them all back, modified and back into the dealer or retail customer’s hands, along with an extra extended magazine for the trouble. Springfield Armory is a name in firearms you can trust. They come out with new models pretty regularly. Among the more popular ones this past year were the Mod 2s, which have an improved grip based on some interesting research they did. The Mod 2s started with the Compact line, but will most likely permeate the entire line of XDs before it’s all said and done.