Ruger LCP II Pistol


by Dick Jones

The new Ruger LCP II is an excellent .380 ACP pistol that’s easily concealed, has some great features and is a solid shooter.

When I was a young man working behind a gun counter, the choices of truly small pistols were severely limited, and none were more than marginally effective. The smallest were the .22 short and .25 ACP semi-autos that offered less muzzle energy than many air rifles currently available. When one was purchased and the buyer was walking out the door, there was always a remark about the value of chocolate grips, or perhaps filing off the front sight in the event someone made the owner eat it or ingest it into some other orifice. There were Remington-pattern two-shot derringers available, but they were single action, heavy and antiquated. High Standard made a little double-action over/under .22 Magnum, and it was the best tiny gun to be found but offered only two shots and was still pretty heavy because it was all steel.

To get a small semi-auto in a more powerful caliber, one had to go to guns the size of the Walther PPK that Mr. Bond made famous, and a PPK is not a tiny gun by the standards of today. The PPK and other guns of a similar size were available in .32 and .380 ACP, and ammunition was full metal jacket only. I think James Bond was the only guy who saw the PPK as an effective stopper. There’s a new reality with modern defensive .380 ammunition; it’s now more effective than the standard round-nosed lead 158-grain load that 90 percent of law enforcement officers carried just a few years ago, and because of this, I consider a .380 a viable concealed carry gun when you simply can’t hide a bigger gun.


In the process of writing The Gun Digest Book of Concealed Carry Handguns, I reviewed the three most popular .380 sub-compact semi-auto concealed carry pistols. The guns I chose for the test were the Ruger LCP, the S&W Bodyguard and the Glock 42. While all were similar as sub-compact .380s, the three guns revealed a noticeable difference in approach to the same issue. The LCP was certainly the smallest and lightest, but with tiny sights and a challenging trigger. The Bodyguard was a bit larger, still with a long stroke trigger, but was a full featured semi-auto with a slide that locked back on the last round and sights that were more usable at a slight cost in concealability. The Glock was simply a sized-down version of the standard Glock product with all the features of any other Glock, smaller, but hardly a miniscule pistol. As a result, the Glock was easy to shoot, the Ruger was easy to hide and I chose the Bodyguard because it had slide lock and second strike capability.


A Great Gun…But
As I say almost every time I review a gun, we’re currently blessed with some mighty good choices in firearms, and it’s really hard to improve on what we have. Having said this, the LCP II is a big improvement over an already excellent concealed carry pistol. First impression is that it’s a bit bigger, but it’s just barely bigger than the original. When you operate it, you notice the big improvement, the trigger. The trigger on the older version was a long, double-action-type pull. The gun was already small, and guys with average-sized hands had trouble getting a full stroke before the index finger buried itself into their thumb. In spite of the long compression, the LCP didn’t have second-strike capability, meaning a second pull of the trigger wouldn’t fire the striker in the event of a dud round.

Another shortcoming of the earlier design was the lack of slide lock on the last round. There’s no doubt this omission was to allow lighter weight and simplicity, but it’s a nice feature to have, and most of us who shoot autoloaders have grown accustomed to the slide locking back. Still, the LCP was a very good gun, and at just over 9 ounces with a thin profile and shape, it was an easy gun to hide almost anywhere. Ruger sold tons of them, and it took a lot of LCPs to make a ton.


Striker-Fired Trigger in a Hammer Gun
The new gun corrects every shortcoming of the original. First is the trigger. It’s an excellent striker-fired-style trigger. The LCP II isn’t a striker-fired gun. It still has a hammer, but the trigger pull duplicates the bladed, two-stage trigger of a good striker-fired service gun. My test gun’s trigger broke at a reasonable 6 pounds. Light triggers aren’t a good idea on defensive guns in the hands of shooters who aren’t highly trained, and 6 pounds is reasonable. The first stage is light; the second stage is well defined, and while there is backlash, it isn’t excessive.


The next improvement is slide lock on the last round. The original LCP had a manual slide lock, and though it was a bit difficult for anyone with sausage fingers, it was functional. The LCP II locks the slide back on the last round, decreasing the time required for a reload by what would seem eons if it was required during a deadly force event. Fortunately, reloads for civilians in defensive situations are almost non-existent, but it’s still a great feature.


The third major improvement was in the sights. On the original model, the sights looked like they might have been an afterthought. They were tiny, but in good light, they worked well enough to produce silver dollar sized groups at 7 yards. The sights on the LCP II are substantially larger, though still smaller than the almost-full-sized sights on a Glock 42. These three improvements cover every area of concern I’ve heard about the original LCP and at a cost of about 1 ounce of weight and $90.00. The MSRP of $349.00 is very competitive in the sub-compact pistol market. Still, Ruger is betting the $259.00 price, and slightly lighter weight, merits keeping the original LCP in the catalog.


Range Impressions
Shooting the LCP II was much easier than the original and also easier than my previous favorite, the S&W Bodyguard. The two-stage trigger is easy to manage, and the sights are large enough to see. The grip is small, but a small gun can’t have a large grip. I fired it with both the flat magazine plate and the one with the finger hook. With the finger hook, it’s a two-finger arrangement. Without it, I could only get about half my ring finger on the grip. Grip texture is lightly stippled. One thing I noticed from the outset was the slide seemed easier to operate. On the original LCP, there was a separate stage at the beginning of the slide’s stroke. On the LCP II test gun, the slide stroke was smooth all the way back. This is not a big issue for most, but of real importance for those with low hand strength, like some women and older shooters.

There is recoil. Even a .22 that weighs 10 ounces will generate recoil, and a firm grip is required to keep it properly placed in the hand when shooting fast. Still, it’s capable of shooting ragged-hole groups at 7 yards, and that’s all you can ask of a gun this small. The Ruger-LCP-II-target-288x300sights were easy to see, but I think a three-dot system might make it a bit better in low light. I teach shooting to a lot of novice shooters and lining up three dots is an easy way to teach sight alignment to a former non-shooter. The LCP II is a gun that’ll be attractive to those new to the concept of daily, concealed carry. There were zero malfunctions with the three rounds tested.

The magazine release is easy enough to get to, especially for a small gun, and the LCP II doesn’t just release the magazine, it launches it. I particularly liked the fact that I can drop a magazine without it snagging on the heel of my hand, a common problem with many smaller pistols. The gun comes with only one magazine, and I’d have liked to have another to see just how fast I could accomplish a mag change with it. I suspect it would be about as fast as any compact pistol and faster than some.


The Fix Is In
In closing, the LCP II is everything one can ask for from a super tiny, reasonably powerful, decently accurate, easy-to-hide defensive pistol. Were I to revisit that test of the Glock 42 and S&W Bodyguard against the new LCP, the result would be different. The LCP II would be the clear winner because it has the best features of the other guns combined with substantially less size and weight. It’s certainly a good choice and maybe the best choice in the sub-compact pistol market.


Ruger LCP II
Type: Semi-auto, internal hammer-fired
Caliber: .380 ACP
Barrel: 2.75 in., alloy steel
Overall Length: 5.17 in.
Weight: 10.6 oz.
Grips: Integral with polymer frame
Sights: Integral on slide, rear notch and post front
Finish: Blued
Capacity: 6+1
MSRP: $349
Manufacturer: Ruger

Performance Data:

Winchester 95-gr. FMJ   
Best Group: 1.72 in.
Worst Group: 2.34 in.
Avg. Group: 2.01 in.

Winchester 85-gr. Train & Defend
Best Group: 1.02 in.
Worst Group: 1.94 in.
Avg. Group: 1.65 in.

Winchester 85-grain Kinetic HE
Best Group: 1.44 in.
Worst Group: 1.99 in.
Avg. Group: 1.88 in.

Accuracy data was the result of five, five-shot groups fired deliberately at a distance of 7 yards from a standing position.


Originally published by Gun Digest, April 13, 2017

Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

M&P by Smith and Wesson
At its core, the Shield is a polymer-framed, striker-fired pistol. The pistol falls into the broad category of compact handguns.

What separates this firearm from the rest of the pack of M&P pistols isn’t its overall length or weight. It’s the Shield’s girth, or rather the noticeable lack thereof. At a dead-skinny .95 in wide, this pistol is more that .2 in thinner than the M&P Compact.

Specs and marketing hype notwithstanding, the real test of a self-defense gun’s usefulness is on the range and on the street. If the gun isn’t reliable and accurate, what’s the point in a self-defense role? The Smith and Wesson M&P Shield delivers.

The reality of protection is that you never know when you’ll need it. Smith & Wesson took the power and features of their full sized M&P pistols and put them into a slim, lightweight pistol the size of your hand. The M&P Shield is an easy to conceal pistol that offers professional grade features with simple operation and reliable performance day or night. One million Shield owners can’t be wrong.

Extremely thin and lightweight – can be comfortably carried all day
Polymer frame with embedded stainless steel rigid chassis system
Striker-fired for short consistent trigger pull, every time
M&P’s patented take-down lever and sear deactivation systems allow for disassembly without pulling the trigger
Includes 2 magazines; 1 with extended capacity and one flus

Caliber: 9mm
Magazine Capacity: 7 rounds
Weight: 19 ounces
Barrel Length: 3.1 in
Overall Length: 6.1 in
Width: 0.95 in
Sights: three-dot, drift adjustable
Action: striker fired

Get yours at Calibers today!
Take advantage of the Smith & Wesson rebate offer!

SIG Sauer Announces MPX 9 mm Semi-automatic Carbine

By: American Rifleman Staff


Image result for mpx carbine

When SIG Sauer introduced the popular modular SIG MPX submachine gun in 2014, it hinted that a carbine model was in development. We’ve just gotten word that the long-awaited SIG MPX 9 mm semi-automatic carbine is being introduced at the 2016 SHOT Show

“For those who want the full feature set of the SIG MPX, but don’t want a short-barrel rifle or live in a state with restricted access, the SIG MPX Carbine is a great choice,” said John Brasseur, Director of Product Management for SIG Sauer, Inc. “Later, if the operator decides to SBR the carbine, it’s a simple change with a conversion kit.”

The carbine maintains all of the ergonomics of the SBR and pistol variants, but now with a 16″ hammer-forged barrel, along with a full-length aluminum KeyMod handguard which provides ample room for mounting lights, lasers and grips. Completely ambidextrous, the carbine is great for left- or right-handed operators with its dual-sided selector switch, magazine release, charging handle and bolt release. The three-position collapsing stock features integrated QD sling cups for fast and easy sling attachments.

The carbine operates from a fully-closed bolt, and the locking rotating bolt system offers enhanced reliability and safety in use. A short-stroke gas piston with auto-regulating gas valve allows the SIG MPX Carbine to run all weights and brands of 9 mm ammunition, from low-power training loads to +P duty ammo. No adjustments are needed to maintain rock-solid reliability.

Familiar AR-pattern controls and ergonomics reduce the training curve and are instinctive for anyone experienced with the AR system. A full-length picatinny rail allows for solid, consistent mounting of optics and targeting lasers. SIG Sauer folding iron sights come standard.

The SIG MPX Carbine is completely modular, and handguards and barrel lengths can be quickly changed over in the field. The barrel comes with the SIG three-prong flash hider.

Check back here starting Mon., Jan. 18 for complete SHOT Show coverage of these SIG Sauer firearms and more.

SIGM400 Predator
For predator and varmint hunters who prefer to hunt with a semi-automatic rifle, SIG Sauer has also announced that it has redesigned the SIGM400 Predator and added it to its long-gun catalog. The new Predator is based on the direct-impingement SIGM400 action, with enhancements optimized for hunters.

“Hunting with the modern sporting rifle had gone from fad to an accepted norm,” said John Brasseur, Director of Product Development for SIG Sauer, Inc. “With the SIGM400 Predator, hunters have an exceptional hunting rifle right out of the box, with no upgrades or additions needed.”

The 5.56 mm cal. rifle features a two-stage match trigger, a hammer-forged stainless-steel barrel (18” in 5.56 mm and 16” in .300 BLK), and top picatinny rail. Barrels are threaded for muzzle devices or sound suppressors. It also features a hard-coat anodized upper and lower receiver, six-position MILSTD telescoping stock, and five-round detachable magazine.



NRA-ILA Backs Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill

by American Rifleman Staff

NRA-ILA Backs Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Bill

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) announced on Monday that on behalf of its 5 million members, it backs the introduction of S. 446, The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (TX).

The full text of the press release is here:

Fairfax, Va.— On behalf of its five-million members, the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) today applauded the introduction of S. 446, The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017, sponsored by Senator John Cornyn (TX).

“The current patchwork of state and local gun laws is confusing and can cause the most conscientious and law-abiding gun owner to run afoul of the law when they are traveling or temporarily living away from home,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA-ILA. “Senator Cornyn’s legislation provides a much needed solution to a real problem for law-abiding gun owners.”

S446 would eliminate the confusing patchwork of state carry laws by allowing individuals who possess concealed carry permits from their home state or who are not prohibited from carrying concealed in their home state to exercise those rights in any other state that does not prohibit concealed carry.

This legislation would not override state laws governing the time, place or manner of carriage or establish national standards for concealed carry. Individual state gun laws would still be respected. If under federal law a person is prohibited from carrying a firearm, they will continue to be prohibited from doing so under this bill.

“Law-abiding citizens should be able to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense while traveling across state lines,” continued Cox. “We thank Senator Cornyn for his leadership on this important issue.” 

Concealed Carry Facts:

  • Every state in our nation recognizes the right of residents to lawfully carry a concealed handgun in public for self-defense – a right that more than 15 million Americans now exercise.
  • America’s experience with concealed carry demonstrates that the repeated anti-gun claim that concealed carry increases violence is factually incorrect. The available evidence shows that concealed carry licensees are exceptionally law- abiding. 
  • National reciprocity is already a reality in the 22 states that recognize all other concealed carry licenses or allow law-abiding non-residents to carry a firearm without a license.                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Only ten states still refuse to grant full faith and credit to the permits of other states, forcing lawful concealed carriers to surrender their rights when traveling through these jurisdictions. The consequence is obvious, as otherwise law-abiding citizens – including veterans, a single mother, a disaster response worker, a nurse and medical school student, and even a corrections officer – have become accidental criminals and suffered seizure of property, arrest, detention, and even prosecution because they failed to navigate the legal minefield that is the current state reciprocity system.

The bill recognizes the diversity of state concealed carry laws by making each person subject to the concealed carry laws of the state where they are present, including certain places off-limits to firearms and laws governing the defensive use of force. It merely allows out-of-state permittees to concealed carry the same way in-state residents already do.

As Congress considers the Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, gun control groups and their media allies will continue their disinformation assault on the bill. Armed with the truth, you can contact your member of Congress to set the record straight and urge them to support S. 446. You can also contact your member of Congress via the Congressional switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

To stay up to date on this issue and others, visit



Springfield Armory Introduces Laser Equipped 1911 Loaded Model

by American Rifleman Staff


Springfield Armory has optimized the 1911 Loaded Parkerized pistol for serious defensive use by adding Crimson Trace Lasergrips.


The Parkerized finish is designed to stand up to the rigors of daily carry while the full 5″ Government size makes it an excellent home-defense option too. 

“The addition of the laser means you can react more quickly in response to a threat,” says Springfield CEO Dennis Reese.“ I don’t know if there’s anything more comforting than that.” 

Those familiar with Crimson Trace Lasergrips will already appreciate the instinctive activation button, which turns on the laser with no switch manipulation required. And low-profile grip replacements means that customers can use their favorite Government size holster. As a self-defense model, the Loaded Parkerized comes standard with three-dot Tritium combat sights. 

“The goal of our Loaded product line is to provide customers with pistols that are ready to go, out of the box, with everything they might need for serious types of usage,” says Reese. “To us, Loaded doesn’t represent a single combination of features. Rather, we create a number of different configurations within the Loaded family to meet different types of customer needs.”

Because everyone’s definition of Loaded is a little different, Springfield Armory now offers six different models in the series, each with its unique set of features. For example, the LB Operator offers an extra round in the magazine, while the Lightweight Operator uses a forged aluminum alloy frame to shave extra weight for concealed carry applications. The traditional Parkerized and Stainless Steel models are forged with a traditional dust cover while the Marine Corps Operator, LB Operator, and Lightweight Operator models include Picatinny rails for more tactical use. 

Depending on the specific Loaded configuration, customers will find premium features such as ambidextrous thumb safeties, extended beavertail grip safeties with memory bumps, lightweight delta hammers, and extended triggers. Two included magazines and a very high quality polymer briefcase round out the package. 

Springfield Armory will be offering the Loaded Parkerized Crimson Trace pistol in .45ACP.

The Parkerized finish is designed to stand up to the rigors of daily carry while the full 5″ Government size makes it an excellent home-defense option too. 

“The addition of the laser means you can react more quickly in response to a threat,” says Springfield CEO Dennis Reese.“ I don’t know if there’s anything more comforting than that.” 

Those familiar with Crimson Trace Lasergrips will already appreciate the instinctive activation button, which turns on the laser with no switch manipulation required. And low-profile grip replacements means that customers can use their favorite Government size holster. As a self-defense model, the Loaded Parkerized comes standard with three-dot Tritium combat sights. 

“The goal of our Loaded product line is to provide customers with pistols that are ready to go, out of the box, with everything they might need for serious types of usage,” says Reese. “To us, Loaded doesn’t represent a single combination of features. Rather, we create a number of different configurations within the Loaded family to meet different types of customer needs.”

Because everyone’s definition of Loaded is a little different, Springfield Armory now offers six different models in the series, each with its unique set of features. For example, the LB Operator offers an extra round in the magazine, while the Lightweight Operator uses a forged aluminum alloy frame to shave extra weight for concealed carry applications. The traditional Parkerized and Stainless Steel models are forged with a traditional dust cover while the Marine Corps Operator, LB Operator, and Lightweight Operator models include Picatinny rails for more tactical use. 

Depending on the specific Loaded configuration, customers will find premium features such as ambidextrous thumb safeties, extended beavertail grip safeties with memory bumps, lightweight delta hammers, and extended triggers. Two included magazines and a very high quality polymer briefcase round out the package. 

Springfield Armory will be offering the Loaded Parkerized Crimson Trace pistol in .45ACP.


Heckler & Koch SP5K Pistol


Heckler & Koch will launch the new SP5K semi-automatic pistol (civilian sporting pistol)—which matches the look and feel of the iconic MP5K submachine gun—at the 2016 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Louisville, Ky. See a video from the exhibit hall here.

Designed and manufactured as a civilian pistol, the SP5K marks the return of the roller delayed blowback operating system to an HK commercial product, a system well-known for its accuracy and reliability. Originally developed on the G3 rifle, it has been used on many of H&K’s most memorable firearms of the last 60 years.

“The SP5K is a unique and historic HK pistol that captures the essence of the legendary MP5K but as a semi-auto handgun,” said Michael Holley, HK-USA vice president for commercial sales and marketing. “It’s equipped with a special ergonomic handguard that protects the shooter’s supporting hand and enables a stable and comfortable grip. A bungee cord sling is also included and makes shooting an SP5K easy. It’s a fun gun to shoot and goes a long way in recreating the experience of handling and firing a real MP5 subgun.”

The SP5K has been designed to duplicate the quality and fine details of the MP5, including its precision machined components. The same cold-hammer forged barrel used on the MP5K is found on the SP5K, ensuring a service life of tens of thousands of rounds. The SP5K is manufactured completely in Heckler & Koch’s Oberndorf factory in southwest Germany.

A Picatinny rail scope mount is attached to the upper receiver, allowing for an optional sight. The SP5K also comes with a custom-fitted, lockable, high-quality carrying case.


FMK 9C1 Gen II Review

FMK 9C1 Gen II 9mm Pistol

FMK 9C1 Gen II 9mm Pistol

Building and selling guns in the United States is not an easy task. Considering the strict governmental regulations, pressure from the anti-gunners, and a plethora of frivolous lawsuits, we don’t see too many new gunmakers cropping up these days. Not only is it refreshing to see a young gun company like FMK succeed in establishing its plant in the anti-gun state of California but it has chosen to provide its customers with 100 percent American-made pistols.

What’s more, FMK is not afraid to let customers know just how it feels about this country. The 9C1 pistol could have been stamped with the words “Made in America.” Instead, the ejector is marked “Proudly American,” while the frame says “Thank You U.S. Soldiers.” The slide plate contains the words “Freedom and Liberty,” with the magazine base plate reading “E Pluribus Unum.” These are the markings of the plain-slide version of this pistol. FMK also offers the Bill of Rights version of the 9C1 with the first 10 amendments to the Constitution engraved on the slide.

Pistol Feature
The FMK 9C1 is a polymer-framed semi-auto chambered in 9 mm. The overall dimensions of the pistol are similar to a compact GLOCK or medium-frame Taurus. Guns in this size range offer a useful balance of shootability and ease of concealment for legal carry. The 9C1 weighs 23.45 ounces unloaded, accepts 14-round magazines and features an accessory rail for lights or lasers.

The matte-black, carbon-steel slide is beveled and shaped to give it an interesting profile when compared with the common square-block slides of other polymer-framed pistols. The slide is topped with a low profile three-dot sight system. Five additional rear sights and two more front sights are included in the case. These are easily traded out to allow shooters adjustments for sight height and windage.

Removing the slide from the frame reveals an interior arrangement that has taken various cues from GLOCK design. The blued steel barrel is 4 inches long, and the recoil assembly consists of a captured flat recoil spring supported by a polymer recoil rod. Like other pistols in this class, almost all of the 9C1 safeties are internal, such as the striker safety, which prevents a discharge if the gun is dropped. The single external safety is located in the trigger where it’s released automatically as the trigger is pulled.

The 9C1 features two additional safeties not found on other striker guns. One is a magazine safety to prevent the pistol from firing if the magazine is removed. The other is a red plastic loaded chamber indicator located at the rear of the slide. It provides both a visible and tactile indication when the gun is loaded. Another feature not commonly found on semi-autos is a trigger that can be pulled to strike a cartridge primer a second time in case the round doesn’t fire the first time. This is a useful way to avoid having to run a clearance drill if the cartridge in the chamber has a hard primer.

FMK has paid careful attention to the 9C1’s ergonomics. Some pistols feature a dimple in the grip for the shooting-hand thumb to rest in. FMK has opted to extend the dimples into two channels running from the front to the back of the frame. The result is a noticeable narrowing of the grip for both the thumb and trigger finger. The trigger guard provides a more generous curve where it connects to the grip so as to give the middle finger more room.

The front of the grip has textured finger grooves. The sides of the grip are lightly textured and indented. These indentations do a terrific job of eliminating the blocky feel many polymer guns suffer from by providing a more intuitive resting place for the pads of the middle, ring and little finger. The indentation and texturing extend to the floor plate of the magazine.

The best of the many good features of the grip frame is the rubberized backstrap. This backstrap not only effectively reduces felt recoil, it hugs and grips the palm of the shooting hand to provide a comfortable, positive grip. The result is a grip that seems to mold to the shooter’s hand, instead of having to mold your hand to fit the grip. The 9C1 arrives with two magazines in a rugged, lockable, foam-lined hard case with a partitioned storage compartment for extra magazines or cleaning supplies.

At the Range
The 9C1’s promise of comfortable shooting proved to be true. The compact grip frame provides enough room for a full three-finger grip. The shock-absorbing backstrap is effective at reducing felt recoil. This was especially true when using standard pressure rounds. It felt more like shooting a .380 than a 9 mm. For anyone looking for a low-recoil defensive option, the 9C1 would provide a good choice without reducing the caliber size.

The slide requires the usual amount of grip strength and pressure to cycle as most mid-sized 9 mm pistols. The magazine release has a smooth surface but it’s easy to locate and operate. The blued-steel magazines are constructed in-house by FMK instead of a third-party vendor. They’re sturdy, well constructed and all four of the test samples, including a 10-round version, locked tightly and dropped freely.

A digital trigger gauge shows the 9C1’s long, smooth, Double-Action Only trigger weighing in at 7 pounds, 13 ounces. This places the trigger pull between the 10-pound-plus triggers of some pocket pistols and the 5-pounds-or-less pull of some safe-action and single-action pistols. Without any creep or stacking to get in the way of the stroke, the 9C1’s trigger is easy to work.

Formal testing produced shot groups that were not as tight as I would like to see with the ammunition used, but sufficient for defensive applications. The best single five-shot group from 25 yards using a bench rest was 3.75 inches. This group, and the best five-group average of 4.65 inches, was produced using Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FXT rounds. The next best group average of 5 inches was generated with Winchester 147-grain PDX1 jacketed hollow points, followed by an average of 5.2 inches from DoubleTap’s 124-grain +P brass-jacketed hollow points.

Ammunition reliability and practical close-range accuracy of the 9C1 proved to be solid. At 7 yards, it was easy to cut a ragged 2-inch hole into the center of the target with a variety of practice and defense-grade ammunition using off-hand drills. The only malfunction in the course of testing was a single failure to feed. This occurred during the first 50 rounds fired using inexpensive bulk ammunition. After that, the pistol ran flawlessly.

Final Thoughts
The FMK 9C1 9 mm pistol is easy to carry, comfortable to shoot and reliable with a variety of ammunition. With an MSRP of $399, this pistol is hundreds of dollars less than other polymer, striker-fired pistols in its class. The 9C1 should be especially attractive to shooters looking for a concealed-carry gun, full-caliber low-recoil defensive option or an affordable pistol for home defense. Buying this pistol will keep your dollars right here, supporting a company that’s willing to stamp its patriotic devotion to this country into the guns it sells.

Manufacturer: FMK Firearms
Model: 9C1 Gen II
Action: Double-Action Only, Fast-Action Trigger Available
Caliber: 9 mm
Slide: High-Carbon Steel
Frame: Black, Pink, or Tan Polymer
Sights: Fixed three-Dot
Barrel Length: 4”
Overall Length: 6.85”
Height: 5.09”
Width: 1.14”
Weight:23.45 ozs.
Capacity: 14+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” LH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: 2 Magazines, 7 Interchangeable Sights, Lockable Case
Suggested Retail Price: $399


Glock 43 Review

By Dan Zimmerman


The GLOCK 43 for this review was provided by the Kentucky Gun Company.

The GLOCK 42 was something between a huge disappointment and cruel joke on expectant gun guys and gals. A .380 single-stack? Been there, done that, bought the Colt Mustang clone, sold it for a larger-caliber everyday carry (EDC) gun. Now that Gaston’s mob has unloaded freight containers of 42s – which they wouldn’t have sold had they started with a proper 9mm single-stack pocket pistol – they’re finally ready to sell train loads of 9mm GLOCK 43s. Should diehard GLOCK jocks and pocket-carrying newbies hold a grudge or buy a 43? Let’s start with a simple comparison . . .

GLOCK 42 .380 (left), GLOCK 43 9mm (right)

The GLOCK 42 and GLOCK 43 are nearasdammit identical twins. To accommodate those larger, higher-pressure rounds, the GLOCK 43 is slightly longer, wider and five ounces heavier than its .380 predecessor. Ergonomically, it’s a distinction without a difference. Hold each gun in one hand (gangster style) and you’d be hard-pressed to tell them apart. They’re both single-stack everyday carry pistols perfectly designed for stealth and comfort.

Which is not to say they’re perfectly designed. GLOCK’s utilitarian aesthetic fails the timelessness test; it’s now about as chic as a Volvo 240D. But shrinky-dinking a GLOCK to near soap bar size certainly increases the cuteness quotient – from none to some. Still, there’s not much, visually speaking, to get exited about.

G42 left, G43 right, both holding 6+1.

Except the spare magazine! The G43 ships with both a flush-fit and an extended magazine. The flush-mount mag offers ultimate concealability. The extended mag may play peekaboo in small-pocketed pants, but it gives deep-pocketed owners (in more ways than one) welcome pinky purchase, increasing the 43’s shootability/accuracy by a measurable margin. If only they could fit one more round in the handle … nope. Six is your lot, no matter how you get a grip.


I suspect larger-fisted 43 buyers will go with the extended magazine or go home relatively empty-handed. Or hold the GLOCK 43 like the Three Stooges held a cup of tea (pinkies akimbo). Yes, there is that: the GLOCK 43 isn’t for our bear-pawed ballistic brethren – unless they like to practice close-up magic with a gun. In fact, accuracy observations below are void where prohibited by manual dimensions.

GLOCK also includes a rudimentary magazine loader with the 43.

The GLOCK 43’s biggest advantage over the 42 (other than stopping power): the tiny nine is an ammunition omnivore.

There’s no getting around it: the G42 was a picky eater. While the .380 pocket pistol shoots average pressure rounds of various weights all day long, the 42 chokes on loads that fall on the high and low ends of the pressure spectrum. We forgave it this ballistic trespass with the understanding that any armed self-defender who doesn’t test his carry cartridges for reliability, doesn’t get what he deserves. Or maybe he does.

I fed our Kentucky Gun Company-provided pistol several hundreds of rounds of ammo. The count included Winchester White Box, Federal Premium, Remington UMC and Magtech (both 115 gr and 124 gr weights). I also ran the 43 with Winchester 147 gr Train & Defend (our 2014 Reader’s Choice Ammo of the Year award winner), 124 gr Hornady XTPs, and 124 gr Remington Golden Sabers. I didn’t experience a single failure to feed, eject or throw lead downrange in a hurry.

As you’d expect for a gun that’s smaller than a pack of Wet Wipes, the GLOCK 43 is a snappy SOB, no matter what you feed it. Is this a problem? As RF likes to point out, accuracy is a function of distance. If you’re looking for a self-defense gun that shoots minute-of-bad guy at anything from zero to seven yards, the GLOCK 43 is your new BFF. With its very respectable 5.2″ sight radius, you might even want to aim before pulling the trigger.


Six shots at seven yards.


Which is not to say Jerry Miculek couldn’t use a GLOCK 43 to shoot the eye out of a newt at 50 paces. Once you get to grips with the 43, literally, slow-firing the gun reveals a firearm capable of 10-ring accuracy at bad breath-and-better distances. The 43’s GLOCK-standard U-shaped sights — love ’em or hate ’em — seem extra-large on such a small gun, and that’s no small advantage. TTAG’s JWT reckons all self-defense guns should have standard night sights and that makes a lot of sense. But again, the 43’s best deployed as a point-shooting point blank self-defense gun.

The G43’s trigger is no better or worse than any other GLOCK go-pedal. We’re talking about a 5.5 lbs. pull with a brick wall to bust through and a reset click that’s as hard to miss as Bruce Jenner in a bright blue dress. That’s supposed to be a selling point (the trigger, not Bruce’s dress). If you can shoot one GLOCK you can shoot them all. The longer, harder trigger pull on snub-nosed revolvers and some small semis (e.g., Ruger LC9) is probably a better bet for newbies who lack trigger discipline (i.e. all of them). But then there’s carry.

The G43’s diminutive size is its main selling point. It’s the GLOCK you can holster like a wallet. Not that you should. All guns need to live in a holster that covers the trigger. Here’s one we prepared earlier: a G43 seducing a SHTF Gear inside the waistband rig.


When carried in an IWB holster, the GLOCK 43 is the very soul of discretion  Slap in the flush-bottomed magazine, rack the gun (being extra-careful not to cover the ejection port), holster-up and tuck your shirt over the gun. Unless a sharp-eyed paranoid OCD gun guy spots the clips (not magazines) you’re as stealthy as a cloaked Klingon warship. Outside-the-waistband types are equally well served. Pop the GLOCK in the slot, untuck your shirt and Bob’s your uncle.

Bonus! [ED: Raison d’etre?] The G43 is small and light enough for pocket carry. If you’ve pocket carried a Smith & Wesson hammerless snubbie 642, the GLOCK 43 is an easy choice for EDC. If you haven’t, pocket-carrying the GLOCK 43 is well worth the price of admission. Nothing is as discreet and convenient as pocket carry. As always, you’ve got to practice extraction. But it’s better to have a GLOCK 43 and not need it than to not have a gun because it was too much of a hassle to carry it.


So what’s not to love? It’s not so much a matter of “Do you take this GLOCK to have and to hold” as the fact that there are lots of other compact single-stack 9mm fish in the sea, most with lower MSRPs. Some with laser sight options. Think Kahr CM9, Ruger LC9, Springfield XD-S and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (which offers greater ammo capacity). Not to mention the option of a frame-mounted safety (which the GLOCK 43 won’t ever possess). Or the siren song of some sexy little snub-nosed revolvers.

At the end of the proverbial day, the GLOCK 43’s greatest advantage is that it’s a GLOCK. Unlike the finicky 42, the G43 eats all ammo, delivering the “it goes bang every time” reliability that’s the brand’s hallmark. Which creates the confidence that is GLOCK’s advertised attribute. With the added appeal of easy cleaning (clear the gun first) and a predictable (if not prize-winning) trigger. All in a pocket-friendly package. Who can argue with that? Not me. The GLOCK 43 is my new carry gun.


Length: 6.26”
Height: 4.25”
Barrel Length: 3.39”
Width: 1.02”
Weight: 17.95 oz. (unloaded) 22.36 oz. (loaded)
Trigger pull: 5.5 lbs.
Capacity: 6+1
MSRP: $529

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability: * * * * *
Perfection, to coin a phrase. Unlike its little brother, nothing made the 43 balk.

Ergonomics (carry): * * * * *
The G43 feels natural in the hand, with a sure grip, particularly while using the pinky extension-equipped mag. Large-pawed shooters who aren’t using the G43 for a back-up gun (probably) need not apply.

Ergonomics (shooting): * * * * *
Comfortable enough to shoot at the range. You know, for fun. More than accurate enough for its intended use.

Customize This: * * *
As a new heater, mods are scarce. That said, there are more holster options sooner than there were for the 42. And given the gun’s popularity, lights, sights, replacement triggers and lasers will be along soon.

Overall: * * * * *
There are less expensive options and 6+1 capacity isn’t a lot. But the G43 is just the thing for shooters looking for a small, reliable, comfortable, acceptably-powerful every day carry gun.


Rock River Arms LAR-47 Review

by Marco Vorobiev  


I realized I was empty. Without delay I dropped the empty magazine out of the rifle and pulled a bright-orange Bakelite replacement loaded with 30 deadly 7.62×39 rounds out of my chest rig and slapped it into my AR. That’s right, AR. I didn’t suddenly go senile and stick the wrong mag into the gun, nor have I accidentally mistyped an “R” instead of a “K” in “AK.” Nope. No mistake here. I was testing Rock River Arms’ new LAR-47.

But the idea of chambering an AR in the harder-hitting 7.62×39 is hardly a new one.

AK or AR?
Neverending Internet battles over what caliber is better make for an interesting sidelight of the eternal AK vs. AR argument. Most likely it will never end as long as both platforms exist. Among the opposing parties there are those who base their opinion on real-life experience, but more often than not it’s mere perception. I love the lack of recoil in a 5.56. However, when combat ranges are drastically shortened and exceptional accuracy at longer distances isn’t required, the increased knockdown power of the 7.62×39 can really pay off.

As a result, several manufacturers have produced ARs in “Russian Short .30” caliber. That’s not a big deal when it comes down to just swapping the upper receiver. The tricky part, however, lies with the lower receiver and the mag well in particular. A new 30-round magazine had to be devised to accommodate tapered 7.62×39. And, to be polite, the result was somewhat less than perfect. The mag has to be transitioned from severe curvature to straight to fit into an AR mag well. This type of magazine presented several problems. A minor one would be the magazines not fitting into existing web gear. A major problem? Unreliable feeding in a sensitive AR.

The AK, on the other hand, was originally designed to fire the 7.62×39 cartridge and had a near-perfect magazine developed for it. In fact, the magazine design is so good that I’ll come right out and say it’s the best design for a combat rifle. Everything from the feeding lips to the mag-retention system is outstanding.

Having said that, I’m not trying to idealize an AK as the perfect battle rifle. It has its advantages but also lacks things, especially from the viewpoint of American shooters. I happen to be a big subcaliber fan, based on time spent as a member of a fighting unit in Afghanistan during the Soviet campaign in the 1980s. Naturally, you can conclude that my weapon of choice is an AK74 chambered in 5.45×39. But I had plenty of experience with its older .30-caliber sibling as well and have seen what both are capable of firsthand.

Moving to the States at the end of the ’80s, I quickly immersed myself in the wonderful gun culture that this country has to offer. As soon as I was able, I got my hands on an AR. Always drawn to the coolness of the rifle, I just had to have one. As soon as I got my own, I learned to appreciate the AR for the superb rifle that it is. Its accuracy, ergonomics and balance made me an instant fan. Even today one of my go-to rifles is Bravo Company’s BCM-4. But I did not totally swear off the AK. I like both rifles and over the years learned to appreciate the good features and work around the “bad” ones that—most definitely—both designs possess. Today I not only get to use ARs on a regular basis for work, I also get to observe these rifle in action at our school, where we teach both DMR and Fighting Carbine classes.

The Crucial Factor
Now, the prospect of an AR firing the familiar 7.62×39 round from an AK magazine was downright intriguing. But I did have a couple of reservations. (1) Would firing a larger projectile resulting in harsher recoil be detrimental to accuracy? (2) How would it feed a tapered round out of the “wrong” magazine? Magazine design is crucial to any feeding system. More often than not, perfectly innocent rifles get a bum rap for being unreliable because of badly designed or poorly made magazines. ARs are no exception (in fact, they’re most likely a leader in that department).

Though I was cautious, I also knew that the AK magazine design was robust and reliable. To see how it worked in the AR was something that I had to see for myself. If it worked, it would open a whole world of possibilities. From a military point of view, the ability to replenish your ammo at your enemy’s expense is a great asset for small units operating behind enemy lines, as I’ve learned. The ability to pick up loaded mags off a dead enemy during a firefight is indispensable.

For an average civilian shooter who, for years, has been shooting AKs due to the economical aspects of the rifles themselves, as well as the attractively priced ammo, having the ability to use the same already-paid-for mags and cheap ammo will make for an easy transition to an AR platform.

So, after a few phone calls with my editor I had a new Rock River Arms’s LAR-47 on its way to me.

The LAR-47 Arrives
The rifle arrived in its hardcase accompanied by two plastic 30-round magazines made by Master Molder of Wilson, N.C. It looked like your average AR except maybe for the weird mag well. The only other things suggesting it was something else were the two black plastic 30-round AK magazines that were included. Closer examination of the magazines revealed great attention to detail. I proceeded to take apart the LAR-47. It came apart as any AR should and revealed no hidden surprises. As I continued to play with the gun, I immediately noticed that it came with no rear sight—pretty common for new ARs these days. Granted, there’s no shortage of rear sight options. I had Midwest Industries’ SPLP folding sight handy that I quickly installed.

Next, since the LAR-47 came with standard CAR-15 handguards, I decided to install Midwest Industries’ SS-series drop-in handguards in case I felt like installing any accessories. I added a TangoDown front vertical grip, and with that I was done. One thing I should mention: Just as on any AK, the precise placement of the grip is dictated by the curvature of the magazine. The LAR is not an exception.

The rest of the gun was in line with any other AR. It was equipped with a standard M4 collapsible stock and regular pistol grip. The triggerguard is unique—it had to be changed to accommodate the magazine release latch that is cleverly designed to be operated by the trigger finger or, more conventionally, with the thumb by either right- or left-handed shooters. I shouldered the gun a few times and noticed that it was extremely comfortable and, strangely, somewhat reminiscent of an AK. This is probably due to the rifle’s weight distribution. The LAR-47 sports a much heavier barrel than its 5.56 compatriots. Also, a fully loaded AK magazine substantially outweighs that of the standard AR, placing more weight toward the front of the gun. That put a smile on my face, as I felt a familiar feeling coming over me. Other than that, the LAR-47 bears little resemblance to the AK both visually and operationally. The rifle’s action, incidentally, was as smooth as you would expect from Rock River.

Feeding the Rifle
Next, without any hesitation I inserted the plastic magazine into the rifle’s mag well and clicked it in place. It went in like butter. A few words about the LAR-47’s mag well: It is basically an AR mag well that is cut roughly in half diagonally. It also serves as a guide for the magazine. After inserting the mag that was provided with the gun and taking it out, I examined the magazines closely. They seemed to be well made out of hard plastic and, without a doubt, would serve their intended purpose on the range. But it’s doubtful that they will be as robust as the original AK mags that are made out of steel entirely (or at least are reinforced with steel). No worries. I had a full line of various AK magazine at my disposal, and I immediately wanted to see which of them would fit the LAR. And that is where I encountered my first disappointment. Note that when I say “disappointment,” I mean for me personally and in no way due to the gun design and its intended use. When this gun was on its way, I was already imagining how I would slap the Russian 75-round drum into it and blast away at targets with extreme prejudice.

Well, all of my dreams vanished as soon as the drum mag failed to insert into the mag well. Disappointing, but not the end of the world, as I also had several 40-rounders that fit like a glove. The rest of the mags went in without a hitch except for early Soviet aluminum ones (due to the magazine’s guide ribs) and a Polish military black polymer mag. However, the ones that did fit latched in tight and did not display any of the play or wobble that is common in any AK.

The only one thing that was left pertaining to the magazine retention was the dreaded AK “magazine pushup.” Well, I inserted the Soviet steel magazine into the LAR, stock into the ground, balanced myself on the gun and performed the pushup. The gun and the mag held. One thing worth noting is that although the mag-release latch is design to be operated with the trigger finger, when it is depressed the magazine does not drop down and has to be removed with the other hand. Once again, not a big deal because I would prefer to swap my mags using my thumb anyway.

At the Range

In preparation for the range trip, I wanted to make sure I had several different magazines, as I wanted to see if the new gun fed well from most commonly available AK mags. One also can assume that I wasn’t going to just put the new LAR rifle through its paces, but I was going to run it side-by-side with the rifles that were initially designed to fire the 7.62×39 cartridge. So I also had two of my personal 7.62×39 AKs ready—a standard AKML (the railed version of standard AKM rifle) and an AK-103 (the most recent model of the 7.62×39 AK). Both were equipped with side-mount rails so I could test all rifles with the same red dot and optical sights.

To make things pretty equal, I chose standard, similarly priced red dot units—Valdada’s RDS Edge and Vortex’s StrikeFire. I also picked the Hi-Lux CMR 1-4×24 scope, which I consider pretty close to ideal for any carbine. The ammo I used was the commonly available and inexpensive Wolf 122-grain FMJ steel-case stuff.

I was all set for a fun day of frolicking and debauchery at the range, though my initial excitement quickly subsided once I heard the forecast. It was going to be an absolute scorcher. However, duty calls, and after a short drive I was setting up at the 100-yard range. I saw no need to get any closer since I had laser bore-sighted the new LAR-47 and all the scopes I was going to use.

First I wanted to check the LAR’s functionality. I wanted to know if the new rifle would feed out of all the magazines that fit in it. I loaded a Master Molder mag with Wolf ammo and shoved it into the gun, pulled the charging handle and got ready behind my iron sights. With much anticipation I pulled a trigger and—nothing! A quick look into the ejection window revealed a double feed. I quickly cleared it, recharged the LAR, pulled the trigger and the gun went bang. That hiccup would be the only one for the entire day with the Master Molder magazines.

The rest of the magazines functioned as they should except for a Romanian steel mag that had two misfeeds, which underlines the importance of testing magazine function.

Next was accuracy. If I was going to run the new LAR-47 rifle against anything, it had to be the AKs. First I got behind a good old wood-clad AKML and produced four-inch groups. My AK-103 did slightly better and scored three-inch groups with open sights.

Then I slapped a magazine into the LAR-47 and went to work. I have to admit I struggled a bit with getting on target at first due to the original gun not having the rear sight. Luckily, the Midwest Industries’ folding SPLP sight had windage adjustments and I had a front sight adjustment tool. I quickly adjusted the sights and, once on paper, fine-tuned things. Results were more than satisfactory, with solid three-inch groups. Next I shot the rifles with red dot sights and was able to tighten my groups somewhat, with the AKML scoring three inches, the AK-103 2½ inches and the LAR-47 producing a 2¼-inch winner. Not bad considering that most of the red dot scopes have two- to three-MOA dots. The Hi-Lux scope helped to tighten my groups even further only marginally.

Needless to say, I was pretty impressed with performance of the Rock River gun. Though the LAR-47 did produce the best groups, they were only slightly better than my other guns and not enough to declare it a clear winner. It did, however, outperform the AKs in other areas such as felt recoil and ergonomics. Shooting the LAR was very much like shooting any other AR—it felt well balanced. The large AR buffer spring and heavy barrel reduce felt recoil enough to make it really easy to keep the gun on target. By the time I left the range, I felt that I would have to have an LAR-47 of my own.

Final Thoughts
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the somewhat inadequate performance of the 5.56 round. Though for the most part such opinions are usually simply based on perception, in some cases they are not without merit. Naturally, common sense tells us with all things being equal, the heavier .30-caliber bullet will generate more energy. But all things are not always equal.

In ballistics, there are several factors that affect bullet performance, but the main things remain the effective range and terminal velocity. Within the constraints of an intermediate cartridge, that’s where twist rate comes into play. I can discuss twist rates and terminal velocities all day, but really it all comes down to one thing: To achieve the stability of a heavier bullet, a lighter one must spin at a higher rate. Hence the 1:7 twist rate for .223 round and 1:8 for the Russian 5.45×39, whereas the 7.62×39 AKs have a 1:9.45 twist. The LAR-47’s twist of 1:10 comes pretty close to the .30-caliber AKs in that regard. Though faster, smaller bullets perform exceptionally well, at distances past 600 yards a regular 5.56 round runs out of breath. At that distance it will no longer knock down the LaRue Tactical resetting sniper targets, whereas the 7.62×39 continues to carry enough energy to take down those targets even past 1,000 yards.

Although average gunfight contact distances have  closed drastically in recent years (rarely reaching past 400 to 600 yards), the prospect of having an accurate carbine that can sling a heavy bullet with precision at distances up to 600 yards is still a good one. And that’s where the LAR-47 comes in.

Black rifle shooters often refer to themselves as being an AR or AK man and can cite the advantages of each platform. The same people often highlight the shortcomings of the opposing rifle. Many AR sympathizers wish they had a harder-hitting AR, and many AK lovers wish they had improved ergonomics. Well, now you have both with the LAR-47. It should appeal to shooters across the “AK vs. AR” battleground.



Gun Review: Cx4 Storm

By: Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

Beretta released the “Cx4 Storm” in 2003, hoping to compete in the law enforcement market. The case for the Cx4 is strong, since it’s a lightweight, accurate, reliable blowback-operated carbine that allows an officer to use the same magazine as his or her 92 FS or Px4 pistol. Unfortunately for Beretta, most departments have opted for AR-15s and M-4s, so the Cx4 never really achieved the type of US LEO market acceptance that I imagine Beretta would have hoped. But that doesn’t mean the venerable Cx4 isn’t a viable option . . .

 Courtesy Joe Grine



 Courtesy Joe Grine

The Beretta Cx4 Storm is a blowback-operated polymer-framed carbine that fires from the closed bolt. The simple blow-back action ensures perfect reliability. It weighs in at a very light 5.75 lbs and has an overall length of 29.5 inches. Available chamberings include 9x19mm and .40 S&W; Beretta recently discontinued production of the .45 ACP version.

The Cx4 is fed via pistol magazines that are inserted Uzi-style (i.e. through the pistol grip). The advantage to this system is that it is easy to insert magazines even in complete darkness, because the trigger hand gives you a point of reference for the location of the mag-well.

The Cx4 sports a 16-inch, 6-groove, RH twist barrel which is both hammer-forged and chrome lined.

Courtesy: Beretta USA

The Cx4 isn’t fully ambidextrous, but most of the controls are reversible. From the factory, the Cx4 is set up for right-handed operation, including right handed ejection. In about five minutes (or less with practice), the operator can reverse the extractor and ejector, the safety (1), the magazine release (2), the cocking handle (3), and the ejection port cover (4) for left handed use. The only control that is not reversible is the bolt release lever.

The fixed thumbhole stock can be adjusted in length via the use of up to three 15mm (.6 inch) spacers.  In my opinion, pretty much every thumbhole stock sucks on a tactical rifle. However, the Beretta Cx4 is not nearly as bad as others I have tried.  In fact, it is about as good as one might expect, given the political limitations Beretta was faced with.

Ergonomics and Operator Controls

Courtesy Joe Grine

The biggest selling point for the Cx4 has got to be its lightweight, comfortable design. It feels as comfortable as a broken-in set of Ferragamo Derbys. I’ve fired scores of different pistol caliber carbines and SMGs, and perhaps none feel as good in the hand as the Beretta Cx4. Even the legendary HK MP5 feels big and clunky in comparison, and an UZI feels like a boat anchor next to the Cx4.

One of the most important design criteria of the Cx4 was the use of pistol-like controls. Beretta intended to ensure that police officers using their pistols such as the 92F or Px4 Storm could make easy transitions to the Cx4. In this regard, Beretta’s engineers designed the magazine release and bolt release to be in familiar locations for pistol shooters.

Courtesy Joe Grine

The Cx4 is festooned with safety features. A manual safety blocks the trigger, and can be engaged regardless of whether the bolt is open or closed. The carbine also features a bolt travel stop safety, a firing pin block safety, a hammer block / drop safety. Should the carbine be dropped or struck against an object, the bolt travel stop safety will not allow the bolt to cycle.

As an additional safety feature, Beretta added a loaded chamber indicator on the ejector.

The Trigger

The plastic factory trigger is a definite low point, and is primarily what made me initially have reservations about the Cx4. For some reason, Beretta still has an old-school mindset when it comes to triggers on tactical rifles and carbines. In short, Beretta likes them heavy.

As a former Army officer, I get the fact that heavier triggers equate — at least in theory — to fewer negligent discharges. But the US civilian market definitely places high value on 3-5 pound triggers. So Beretta choosing to put heavy triggers on their tactical rifles frustrates me to no end, since I know that Beretta doesn’t do that with their shotguns. My Beretta Silver Pigeon III shotgun’s trigger breaks at around 5 lbs. As it should.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Unlike the Silver Pigeon, the factory Cx4 trigger pull is long and creepier than Joe Biden. To make matters worse, the overall trigger weight is in the bowling ball range — about 10-12 pounds range. That’s entirely unacceptable. While it’s possible to master a heavy trigger with practice, I found myself frequently pulling the lightweight carbine off target a bit as I attempted to “squeeze” the trigger. Needless the say, it was fairly obvious to me that the trigger is the “limiting factor” when it comes to accuracy. As mentioned above, I eventually replaced it with the excellent Sierra Papa mods.

I have one other interesting and little-known fact about the Cx4 trigger. The trigger assembly contains a small ball bearing that rolls back in forth in a cradle. When the carbine is pointed up or down above a certain angle, the ball bearing moves in a manner that causes the trigger pull to increase by a few pounds. I don’t know exactly how it works, but I do know that it is possible to remove that little ball bearing for a smoother trigger. I have shot well over 3000 rounds without the ball bearing with no effect on accuracy or reliability.


The Cx4’s iron sights are unique and it took me a while to get to appreciate them. The front post sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation, but it does require the use of a proprietary tool (included).   The rear sight is a simple “L-shaped” sight, similar to World War II issue M-1 carbines or Enfield No.4 mk 1s.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

I learned how to shoot using sights on my Ruger 10/22, but I was never really a great shot with those Ruger sights. However, I really started to master irons at age 14 when I shot M-16A1s at my first JROTC summer camp. The instructors taught us to use the protective “ears” on U.S. military front sights as an aiming “aid” by lining them up with the circle created by the rear aperture, as shown in the photo below. I actually try to back off the rear sight far enough so that the ears “touch” the circle, but not everybody uses that technique. In any event, these outwardly curved “ears” have been a standard on every U.S. military rifle since the Model of 1917.

U.S. Army File Photo

But the U.S. military design is not the only one that uses the protective shield of the front post sight as part of the aiming system. For example, the famous HK front sights are either curved inward or create a complete circle, and can be used to make a very intuitive a “circle in a circle” sight picture.

The Beretta Cx4 does have protective ears, but it is less intuitive as to how you can use them as aiming aide because they don’t turn outward like the U.S. military, nor do they make an obvious circle like the HK front sights. However, if you only focus on the outer edge of the Cx4 front sight ears, it does make a circle pattern, and you can use those outside edges to mirror the “circle” pattern created by the rear peep sight. It works, but it is not as obvious or intuitive as the HK sights.

But let’s not kid ourselves… that beautiful aluminum picatinny is just screaming for optics, and I don’t see too many guys running the Cx4 with irons in any event. Slap an Aimpoint T-1 on that puppy and you won’t need to worry too much about iron sights!

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

One really nice feature is that both the front and rear sights can be pushed down out of the way when using optics, as shown in the photos above.


Courtesy Joe Grine
L-R: 30 rd, 20 rd, and 15 rd magazines.

Beretta makes two versions of the Cx4. One version uses magazines that are compatible with the Px4. The other is compatible with “90 series” of pistols (92F/96 etc) mags. If you have the version made for the Px4 mags, 8000 series magazines (using optional adapters),you can use P92/96 and 8000 series magazines by purchasing two separate magazine inserts.  In either case, the magazines are made by Mec-gar, and are extremely high quality.

The one thing that I found a bit odd is that the 20 and 30 round magazines come from the factory with extremely heavy springs. The first time I loaded them it was extremely difficult to get them loaded to full capacity, even using the factory magazine loader accessory.   Thankfully, the magazine springs lightened up over time, and now it is possible to load them to capacity even without the loader.


Courtesy Joe Grine

The Beretta Cx4 is relatively simple to disassemble. A single metal-reinforced polymer non-captured “disassembly latch” holds the upper and lower receivers together. It can be removed by pushing it out from either end.   Next, the bolt assembly can be removed by backing it out of the upper until you reach an index point, where the charging handle is removed. Once the charging handle is removed, the bolt carrier can be removed out of the rear of the upper receiver.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe Grine

The extractor, ejector and spring guide assembly are held in the bolt assembly via a “retaining spring,” which is a “horseshoe” shaped leaf spring.   Once you remove that spring, everything pretty much falls out. Pay attention to the way the extractor and ejector are positioned, because the direction of ejection is reversible depending on which side of the bolt carrier you install the extractor and ejector.   The design is both simple and ingenious.

Courtesy Joe Grine

Courtesy Joe GrineThe trigger housing can be removed from the lower receiver. Rather than explain how to do it, I will simply direct you here for a step-by step video.

Accuracy & Reliability

One definite high point for the Cx4 is its utter reliability. Since I purchased the Beretta, I have fired roughly 5000 +/- rounds through the weapon without a single malfunction of any kind. I typically don’t run the cheapest ammo out there, but I’m not running the expensive stuff either. Mostly, I run a combination of gun show reloads, UMC, Winchester (mostly Wally World white box), Tula Brass, Blazer Brass, and American Eagle. Again, the Cx4 eats it all up with boring regularity. Just how I like it.

Courtesy Joe Grine
50 yard group (UMC 124 grain ammo).
Courtesy Joe Grine
100 Yard Groups (UMC 124 Grain)

Accuracy of the Beretta was a bit disappointing at first, with groups averaging roughly 2-3 inches at 50 yards. As mentioned above, the trigger group clearly is the limiting factor to achieving peak accuracy. I probably could have spent a bunch of time and money “learning” the trigger’s quirks, but instead I went the aftermarket route. Indeed, accuracy improved once I installed the Sierra Papa modifications. Shown above is a particularly nice 50 yard group and some “typical” 100 yard groups which I achieved with the Sierra Papa upgrades and a 6x scope (not shown).  Make no mistake, even as modified, it’s still not a target trigger.  But it’s a lot better than it was. More on that below.


Courtesy Joe Grine

Beretta typically is fairly generous with its accessory package, and the Cx4 does not disappoint in this regard. It includes an excellent polymer hard case, two 15-round magazines, a magazine loader, a sight adjustment tool, a cleaning kit (rod, bore mop, bronze brush, and jag), gun lock, and one two-inch section of rail which can be mounted on either side of the firearm.

Note: If you buy a new Cx4, pay close attention to the warranty card. The Cx4 comes with a “1(+2)” warranty. What that means is that it comes with a one year warranty, but if you send in the warranty card within 30 days of purchase, Beretta will extend the warranty for two additional years.

Sierra Papa “Upgrade” Parts

Pic 21

As discussed above, the OEM version of the Cx4 Storm is an excellent design but has a few annoying quirks / flaws. If you want to improve your CX4 to make it go from “good” to “great,” you owe it to yourself to check out Sierra Papa.  As they state on their website, their goal is to “improve the breed.”

The owner, Brian Montgomery, is a retired airline pilot who became a Cx4 enthusiast soon after the carbine was released. With an extensive engineering and manufacturing background, he began figuring out ways to improve the weak links in the system. The photo below shows both the Sierra Papa parts and the tools needed to install them. SP used to allow the purchaser to install the parts, but their current policy is to require you to send your trigger pack to them so that they can inspect the unit and decide whether a sear clip is needed. Click here to learn more for the reasoning behind this new policy.

Sierra Papa completes the work very quickly, ensuring a typical 7-10 day door-to-door turn-around time, including shipping.

Courtesy Joe Grine

In the photo below, you can see the difference between the OEM plastic hammer and the SP Stainless steel hammer. In the event the photo does not speak for itself, trust me when I tell you that the SP is a gorgeously milled part that vastly improves the trigger pull. The factory OEM part is very light, and only generates enough inertia when driven by a powerful hammer spring to ensure sufficient energy to reliably operate the firing pin. Unfortunately, the “heavy” hammer spring, in turn, requires a heavy trigger pull. Thus, when you switch to the heavier Sierra Papa hammer, you can also use a lighter hammer spring, which can be operated by a lighter trigger.

Courtesy Joe Grine


Out of the box, the Beretta Cx4 is diamond in the rough. It shows great potential because it’s utterly reliable, light, and compact. However, the plastic hammer makes for a heavy, creepy trigger pull that robs the carbine of its inherent accuracy. The government-mandated thumbhole stock is well-designed, but still detracts from the otherwise good handling characteristics. Fortunately, Sierra Papa can fix these faults, and turn the Cx4 Storm into a real Ferrari. Admittedly, like a Ferrari, these aftermarket mod turn the Cx4 into an expensive project, so you have to decide if it is worth the cost. By the time you invest in a number of 30-round mags, rails, optics, and the Sierra Papa upgrades, you can easily have $1500-2000 into the project. I can easily justify the initial investment by recognizing that the 9×19 chambering will pay for itself in ammo saving: even if you shoot a relatively conservative 2000-3000 rounds a year, the cost savings add up quickly. However, $2k is a big number, and I realize that for many folks it is simply out of the question.

In thinking about pistol caliber carbines, there are lots of options. At the top of the market you have HK SP-89s, HK-94s, and HK UMPs. Colt and JP make 9mm ARs that are really nice, but again they tend to be rather expensive. Sig-Sauer just released the excellent MPX ($1600-ish), and I am definitely going to buy one in the near future. The CZ scorpion Evo 3 is also on the market and comes in at a highly competitive price. At the lower end of the price scale, Kel-Tec’s Sub 2000 is a nice gun if you can ever find one, and the Hi-Point 995 is ugly but apparently works pretty well. The Taurus CT-9 would have been serious competition for the Beretta if Taurus had addressed the 10-round magazine problem, and figured out a way to make the CT-9 a bit more compact. But instead Taurus has discontinued importation of the CT-9, so it’s DOA.

Despite the other options, I think the Beretta offers a professional, bet-your-life-on-it patrol carbine for a very competitive price. Once I solved the trigger “issue,” I really started to like… er.. love…  this carbine, and I can recommend it without any reservations.   Indeed, it makes a fine addition to my Beretta collection.  Better yet, all of my friends who have shot this gun walk away saying “I gotta get me one of those.”  That is high praise and it is well deserved.

Courtesy Joe Grine


Importer: Beretta USA; (301) 283-2191;
Calibers: 9×19 (as tested), .40 S&W; (.45 ACP Discontinued).
Action Type: blowback-operated semi-auto

Frame: molded techno-polymer upper and lower.
Barrel: hammer forged, chrome lined, 16.25inch, six-groove, RH twist
Magazine Capacity (9×19): (10, 15, 18, 20, 30)

Sights: aperture rear, post front adjustable for windage and elevation
Trigger: single-stage 10+ lbs.
Overall Length: 29.7”
Width: 2.5”
Height: 7.5”
Weight: 5 lbs., 12 ozs.
Supplied Accessories: hard case, manual, short rail section, spare magazine, magazine loader.
Street Price: $600 -$800.


Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Accuracy (Stock): * * *
The barrel is inherently accurate, but the 10+ lb. trigger robs the gun of its accuracy potential.

Accuracy (with Sierra Papa Modifications) * * * * *
Ah, much better.

Ergonomics & Aesthetics: * * * * *
A true Ferrari.

Reliability * * * * *
Eats anything, never jams.

Customization: * * * *  
It’s not an AR platform, but the basics are covered. Point taken away due to no aftermarket folding stocks. Bonus point for using Beretta 30-round mags.

Overall: * * * *
Once you get the Sierra Papa mods, there are few 9mm carbines that are superior to the Cx4, and those that are cost 2x more than the Beretta.

Courtesy Joe Grine