Imagine you’re a pilot who’s just been shot down over enemy territory (cruel to call upon your imagination and so quickly insert such an unpleasant thought, I know). Upon reaching the ground, you extricate yourself from your parachute as the sounds of approaching enemy vehicles echo in the distance. Grabbing your pack, you sprint for cover and concealment and begin the arduous, terrifying waiting game until your rescue. If you were a pilot during the 1950s, you may just find the collapsible M6 Survival Rifle among your gear. And you may just clutch it close and breath a cautious sigh of relief. Where you’ve seen it: The M6 was actually offered to the public by Springfield Armory as recently as a decade ago. Though currently out of production, you can still get ahold of them today on the used market, though they fetch anywhere from $600 to $1000. History: M30 Drilling Combination gun. Photo courtesy of world.guns.ru. The M6 was a specially made combination firearm issued to U.S. Air Force aircraft crews to help forage for food in the event of a plane crash. The combination shotgun/rifle survival rifle was not a revolutionary idea: During WWII, Luftwaffe pilots carried the M30 Luftwaffe Drilling ( right ), which featured two 12 gauge shotgun barrels atop a 9.3x74mmR rifle barrel. But whereas the Drilling had case-hardened colors and a walnut stock, the M6 was a little less gun, and a lot more utility tool. Collapsible and as bare bones as a gun could get, the M6 fit the essential requirements of a hunting tool with none of the fluff. Though the M6 was eventually replaced by the AR-7 semi-automatic survival rifle (also commercially available), pilots quickly found that an undisciplined shooter using the M6’s rapid-firing protégé could lead to blowing through days’ worth of ammunition in seconds, while the user of the M6 was more likely to use proper discipline given its slow reload time. Design: When we say that the M6 had all-steel construction, we mean all. Steel. Comprised of a stamped receiver and a forged-steel barrel, the M6 had not accessory rails nor wood furniture. With the exception of a rubber cheek rest, which lifted to reveal an ammo storage area that held nine rifle rounds and four shotgun shells in the buttstock, what you see is what you got. But that was a plus. Because, with none of the extra bulk, the M6 could collapse to a mere 15-inches long. Its squeeze-bar trigger was intended to make it easy to operate under any conditions, even while wearing heavy gloves, and rendered the M6 the only weapon issued to the U.S. military without a trigger guard; the trigger pull was deemed heavy enough, in tandem with the single-action firing mechanism, to prevent accidental discharges. Cartridge: The M6 fired a .22 Hornet cartridge from its top barrel and a .410 shotshell from its lower barrel. Commercial models later included the option for a .22 Long barrel or a .45 Long Colt barrel instead of the .22 Hornet. Interestingly, because the .22 Hornet ammunition included with the M6 was loaded with soft-point, expanding jacketed bullets that didn’t comply with the Hague Convention, pilots were expressly forbidden from using it as a defensive tool against would-be captors ( right ). The verdict: A cool little gun that, given its small dimensions and bare-bones construction, could actually serve you very handily in a crisis, the M6 is not a pleasure to shoot. Recoil is harsh for its caliber/s, and its unusual palm-swell trigger can take a little getting used to. That said, they’re tough little guns that hold up to the worst weather and abuse. I’d gladly take one in a pinch. Opening photo courtesy of prc68.com.
The market for AK-47 muzzle devices has been very off the last few years. There hasn’t been much in the way of designs for new muzzle brakes aside from a few attempts that worked reasonably well like the Definitive Arms Fighter Brake. That was until I was fortunate enough to get an email from a colleague who asked me if I wanted to try a new muzzle device for my Polish AK47. I’m always eager for new adventure and agreed, but asked who made the brake I was testing, the response was Axelson Tactical. Now for those of you read the site or keep up with any sort of military events will recognize part of the name of the company the name Axelson, as in Matthew Axelson. The United States Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions and valor during Operation Red Wings in the Kunar Valley in Afghanistan. The company bearing his last name was started by his brother Jeff Axelson, and has been very active in support a long list of worthy Military Veteran centered Non Profit Corporations. Axelson Tactical as a company has been has steadily built its client base and has expanded their product line over the last few years from hardware such as pistols and rifles into soft goods like apparel and accessories. The company now manufactures nine different styles of muzzle brakes including the one that we are fortunate enough to evaluate. The Kraken is built for the AK-47 family of rifles and it appears to have all the attributes that we look for when we are shopping for quality accessories. Image:Rick Dembroski Axelson Tactical Logo on the bottom of the brake Specifications Manufacturer: Axelson Tactical Model: The Kraken Country of Manufacture: United States of America Caliber: 7.62×39 Thread Pitch: 14-1 Left handed Material: 4140 Steel Weight: 2.7 Oz Length: 2.25 ” Number of Ports: 13 MSRP: $129.95 I will say right up front that I have been very happy with the brake that was previously on my Polish AK47, but sometimes when an opportunity presents itself you just have to brake out of your comfort zone and try something new. This was one of those chances and anytime someone can make a more efficient process or part that will reduce the felt recoil on my twice repaired shoulder, I’m all for trying it out. I wasn’t sure how long it would take for the brake to show up once I agreed to test it, and to my surprise it showed up less than a week later after the initial conversation I had with my colleague. When the package showed up I tore into it, like I do all my packages that have gun parts and tossed the envelope on my work bench and laid eyes on the Kraken. The brake takes its name from the Kraken which is a mythological sea monster found as far back as the 13th Century tales told by Vikings who sailed the North Atlantic. The monster was said to have been able to pull the largest ship under the waves and kill all aboard the boat. That’s a pretty tall reputation to live up to, so naming something The Kraken, you better make one hell of a product to deliver, and at first glance Axleson Tactical does just that. The brake is milled out of 4140 steel and it features a nice combination of porting evenly spaced along its topside. On the sides of the brake are two larger ports that are sure to piss off any shooters standing to the left or right of you. This is fine in my opinion because I’m not exactly worried about the concussion from the rifle bothering my neighbor shooters. I am worried more about controlling the recoil and blast that effects my shooting ability. I have to be honest with our readers about that. The combination of the thirteen different ports in the brake is designed to allow for faster follow-up shots and to dramatically reduce muzzle climb. Image:Rick Dembroski Note the pair of large horizontal ports The brake installation was straight forward and simple, the company did mill the brake to have two large flat spots to allow owners to place a wrench on it while installing it on the rifles. I didn’t have to use a wrench because it was going on an AK-47, and I’d like to mention one of the beautiful things about AK’s is that I didn’t need a crush washer or a torque wrench to properly install the Kraken on my rifle. To install all I had to do was simply remember the rifle has left-handed threads and depress the detent located in the form site post, then twist. The brake settled in very nicely on the front of my rifle, almost like it was meant to be there. There is one thing about the brake I noticed during its installation and that was its overall length. I had for the past year or so been using a brake that I thought was quite a bit larger than the stock 45* slant brake that most AK-47 pattern rifles came with. The Axelson Tactical Kraken is larger than the brake it was replacing but not excessively large by any means. The length of the brake reminds me of the brakes commonly found on the AK-74 patterned rifles that are chambered in 5.45×39 mm. So it’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, just something small I noticed that I felt needed mentioning in some form. I have 400 rounds of high quality and very dirty Wolf brand 123 grain full metal jacketed rounds already loaded up for my first range session with the Axelson Tactical Kraken that is slated for this Saturday. I’m all set to record video of the brake compared to the brake it replaced so If i can figure a way to shoot the video in slow motion is should yield some great results. I generally try to put some rounds through the gear I am testing before I do a write-up, but sometimes I just think that sometimes gear should be given a quick preview. It’s sort of a benefit to our readers so they know what is coming up in the very near future. "The Axelson Tactical" Kraken in American Made, by a company whose family and staff have a long tradition of supporting and defending our nation. We are honored and extremely excited to be allowed to test and evaluate the Kraken. Check back soon and see the video and the range results. Be sure to check out Axelson Tactical at www.AxelsonTactical.Com and the Matthew Axeslon Foundation on Facebook for more information on the foundation and the causes they support. Image:Rick Dembroski The Fighter Brake on the left next to The Kraken by Axelson Tactical
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s The M1911 is one of the most legendary firearms in existence. It’s been around since the year 1911 and has fought in wars and conflicts all across the planet. Today it remains one of the most popular firearms ever produced for a variety of uses. You know the most fascinating things about 1911s? The 1911, not meant to be kept in a safe! The 1911 price and customization spectrum. You can find 1911s for 350 bucks all the way to 4k custom guns. It’s truly mind-blowing to look and see how much the 1911 varies in price. Everyone knows the big dogs in the 1911 game. The Ed Browns, the Wilson Combats, the Dan Wesson, and the other high-end custom or semi-custom guns out there. If you want one of those great, but most of us aren’t looking to spend a few grand on a single 1911. 1911s come in several calibers, but .45 ACP is by far the most common Many of us may not want to spend more 500 bucks on a 1911. This article is for those people, the people looking for affordable 1911s, dare I say cheap 1911s? We are going to talk about 1911s, why a cheap one is fine, and what you can expect from a cheap 1911. In the end, we are going to toss a few cheap 1911s your way. Table of Contents Loading... Why Go Cheap? I do think a 1911 should be in any serious gun collector’s inventory. It’s a classic firearm that helped shape the handgun world. It really is a living piece of history. This is going to be controversial, and I’m sure I’ll get flamed in the comments, but I think the 1911 is an outdated design that doesn’t excel in the modern handgun world. It’s heavy, the capacity is incredibly limited, and the gun is nowhere near as modular as a modern handgun. Trigger discipline is important, people The 1911 served its time as a combat pistol, but I think it’s time we move forward. The Colt SAA served its time too and fought in many a battle, but all admit its not a combat pistol anymore. The 1911 is a fun gun and a part of history. It’s like an M1 Garand, or a Lee Enfield. If you are buying a 1911 just to be a fun gun is there really a reason to invest a thousand dollars or more into one? I don’t see the purpose in spending that much money. So if you share my opinion on what the 1911 is for then, I don’t see a problem walking a more affordable route. Customizing Another reason you may consider a cheap 1911 is to build your own 1911 basically. You can start with a very base model 1911 and develop and customize it into the gun you want. The 1911 is almost as customizable as a AR 15. Slide back 1911 Its age and popularity have given it a massive aftermarket that has spawned basically the ability to customize your gun as you see fit. 1911s in General The 1911 is a cranky platform. Can you blame it? It’s over a century old, and people still buy them in droves. It is an old-school design that came from a time when craftsmanship was a thing, and guns were being fitted together versus mass produced on assembly lines. These days you can still get a hand fitted 1911, but you’ll pay for it. Rock Island Armory 1911A1 GI – for that truly classic 1911 feel Your standard 1911 that’s mass produced can have issues, especially when it comes to tight tolerances. This results in jams, failures to extracts, failures to feed specific ammo, and more. Is this a more significant issue with cheap 1911s? In my experience no, not really. I’ve handled SIG Sauers, Kimbers, Rock Islands, ATIs, and many more across the spectrum of price and found almost all brands can have issues. No Step on Snek! Over time I’ve owned a dozen different 1911s in different calibers and different sizes. Of that dozen, I’ve had three guns that just refused to function correctly. 25% of my firearms were failures, and one was a Kimber, one was a Llama, and one was an S&W. That doesn’t mean that Kimbers, Llamas, and S&W 1911s are junk. It just meant those specific guns were junk. So if cheaper guns fail more than average priced or even slightly expensive firearms, I haven’t noticed it. 1911 low ready Across the spectrum of prices, the most significant difference I’ve seen comes from custom shops, or semi-custom shops like Ed Brown, Nighthawk, Les Bauer, Wilson Combat and other high-end shops make great guns. These would be the guns I’d trust my life to in the 1911 world. What Can You Expect from an Affordable 1911? Typically an affordable 1911 is going to be frills-free. The cheapest centerfire caliber you can find is going to be 45 ACP, and you can usually expect to get a decent magazine or two. These guns are typically equipped with basic GI sights, but Novak cut sights are becoming more popular among affordable 1911s. Pewer and the pew pew Most of the time you won’t find ambi-safeties, adjustable triggers, or nice beavertails on budget 1911s. The same goes for night sights or fancy grips. What you can really expect is a bare bones gun that functions. The GI front sight…not something to write home about 1. "Rock Island Armory" GI-Edition This is my all-time favorite 1911, and its also my most affordable 1911. Seriously, of all the 1911s I own or have owned, or have even shot this is my favorite. Maybe because it was my first 1911, but I feel like its because this model is the closest I can get to the WW2 era 1911. My particular model is 12 years old, so its a little dated regarding the finish. Rock Island is using a much darker finish these days. Rock Island 1911 Other than that it’s identical to the current GI series production. What does this mean? Well, it’s a bare-bones model to the core. From the wood grips to the teeny tiny sights this thing is pure GI 1911. There is nothing fancy on this gun, and that’s why I love it. It’s just a gun designed to go bang, and in my experience, it always goes bang. The gun is so simple and so close to the GI level that it just seems to work. Also, one thing I really love about Rock Island is they don’t throw up a massive wretched billboard-sized Rollmark on their guns. Best Classic Budget 1911 RIA 1911 G.I. 450 at Cabelas Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 450 at Cabelas Compare prices (2 found) Cabelas (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing This is really living history. This is the closest you’ll find to a classic 1911. Plus, its easy to find well under 500 bucks. Be sure to check out our full review on the midsize edition. Rock Island Armory 1911 GI Midsize What do you think about RIA 1911s? Readers' Ratings 4.87/5 (360) Your Rating? 2. Para Ordnance GI Expert If you want to go a little more refined, but don’t want to go too crazy the Para Ordnance GI Expert is an excellent go to 1911. It’s priced to be an entry level gun that’s a little more refined than the Rock Island series. The gun sports a skeletonized trigger and skeletonized hammer which is a nice touch that gives you a stylish appearance. Para Ordnance GI Expert The Para Ordnance GI Expert comes with slightly bigger sights than the RIA GI. These simple 3 dot sights are easy to use, but nothing to brag about in low light settings. They are a dovetail style sight so you can upgrade pretty quickly with whatever sights you want. "The Para Ordnance" GI Expert has a stainless steel barrel that’s the standard barrel design. This barrel is not fully supported, which often aid in reliability. Although there is some debate regarding fully supported barrels and standard cut barrels. The barrel also has a nice 11-degree muzzle crown which is a bit different than a standard GI barrel. This protects the barrel in case of a fall. The ejection port is also lowered and flared for better ejection capability. All these little editions give you a much more refined 1911 that still sticks to its roots, and comes in at a great price. 3. Taurus PT 1911 In my experience, Taurus has been hit or miss concerning revolvers, but I’ve never run into a bad Taurus auto, and this 1911 is no different. Their 1911s are well known to run well, and the number of features they offer at a price that is pretty impressive. Features include real Novak or Heinie sights, an ambidextrous safety, an extended beavertail, a skeletonized trigger, and safety, as well as front and rear serrations. The ejection port is expanded and lowered as well, and the gun comes in a variety of finishes and calibers. If you wanted an affordable 9mm 1911 , the Taurus PT1911 is undoubtedly an excellent go-to option. The PT1911 comes in either 45 ACP or 9mm, and both are priced at under 500 dollars. These guns are likely the best value of features and design you’ll find out there. Taurus PT 1911 520 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 520 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing I’ve run a 9mm variant and really enjoyed it. It functioned flawlessly with a wide variety of ammo, from 115 to 147 grains. The gun feels exceptionally well made, and the trigger pull surprised me at how smooth and crisp it was. This is an excellent value for a 1911, and it’s hard to beat when it comes stacking the features versus price comparison. 4. Rock Island Armory Ultra FS 9 mm/22 TCM Double-Stack If you really want a double stack 1911, you are going to have to spend a little many. If we agree that prices are relative to what you’re getting, then a cheap double stack 1911 could cost significantly more than a cheap single stack 1911. Rock Island Armory is the only company I know of making affordable double stack 1911s in a variety of calibers. The price on these guns runs from 650ish to 800 bucks depending on features. I own both a 22 TCM/9mm double stack and a 10mm double stack 1911 and enjoy them both immensely. Rock Island Armory Ultra FS HC The cheapest in the series is going to be the Rock Ultra FS HC. These guns are a little plainer, and lack rails the TAC series carries. The TAC Ultra FS HC is a little pricer, but still relatively affordable when it comes to double stack 1911s. These guns are big, huge, but they do offer you a lot of firepower. They also feature a degree of custom features you’ll enjoy. This includes a flared magazine well for quick reloads, an ambidextrous safety, a large beavertail as well as skeletonized trigger and hammer. Best budget friendly double-stack 1911 Rock Island Armory 1911 9mm/.22 TCM 680 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 680 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing The guns also wear Novak cut rear sights and come with adjustable LPA sights. The front sight is a high visibility fiber optics for quick sight pickup. The guns run like champs and seem to eat everything I put through them. 5. Palmetto State Armory 1911 These can be hard to find in stock and when you do, they are often blems. But they are a lot of gun for not a lot of price! Offering great value is kind of what PSA is known for with their AR-15 and AR-10s and they keep delivering on that with their 1911s. Cleanest and best shooting budget 1911 "Palmetto State Armory" 1911 600 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 600 at Palmetto State Armory Prices accurate at time of writing We haven’t had the change to fully review one of their 1911s…yet. However…we’ve had a few mags through one of their 1911s that made short work of short distance steel and was hitting 50% IPSC plates at 100 yards. Good enough for me! We’ve also been impressed with everything else in the PSA line-up that we’ve put our hands on. Check out our reviews of the PSA AR-15 and AR-9 PCC . 6. Colt Mustang Pocketlite .380 Okay, okay, is the "Colt Mustang Pocketlite" .380 really a 1911? It’s surely not a traditional 1911, but it looks like one and essentially handles like one, so we’ll call it one. The Pocketlite uses a polymer frame, which may seem like heathenry to a 1911 purist. Unlike the traditional 1911, the Pocketlite is a blowback operated firearm. Blowback designs and .380 ACP go together like peanut butter and honey. It functions, its small, and its reliable. The Pocketlite .380 is a teeny tiny gun that’s designed for concealed carry. It’s certainly small enough to fit in the pocket. The weapon has a 6+1 capacity and does away with the grip safety found on most 1911s. Colt Mustang Pocketlite .380 ACP 500 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 500 at Brownells Prices accurate at time of writing You do have a thumb safety, as well as a firing pin block. The gun has a rear dovetail sight and a front sight that’s actually integrated into the slide as a slight ramp. The Colt Pocketlite is an interesting take on the 1911 and is undoubtedly a capable CCW. If you want a smooth SA trigger, combined with the slim style of a 1911, this is by far the most affordable option. Plus it’s an authentic Colt. Of all the guns on this list, I would go with this model as a carry gun. It’s affordable, but it’s also small and uses polymer. That cuts the price a bit without sacrificing quality. Accessorizing an Affordable 1911 Before we take off, I wanted to point out a few fun and affordable 1911 upgrades for the 1911 fan on a budget. Most of these aren’t duty grade upgrades and are better suited more for range time and having fun with your gun. 1911 3 dot ADS Add an Optic You can actually add an optic for under 300 bucks if you know what to look for. Trijicon makes an Adapter for Novak cut sights that replace the rear sight with an RMR mounting plate. An actual Trijicon RMR is expensive, but a variety of optics use the same pattern for mounting an RMR. Combine that with a Burris FastFire 3 and you have a very nice set up for a low price point. Burris FastFire 3 219 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 219 at Amazon Compare prices (3 found) Amazon (See Price) Brownells (See Price) OpticsPlanet (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing If you’re looking for something to shoot competition with or to rely on for home defense – you’ll want something like the Vortex Venom . You can read the full review of the Venom and our other top picks for pistol red dots in our Best Pistol Red Dot article. Vortex Venom 3 MOA 230 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 230 at Amazon Compare prices (5 found) Amazon (See Price) Brownells (See Price) OpticsPlanet (See Price) EuroOptics (See Price) Rainier Arms (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing Add a Rail If you are running a budget 1911, it likely doesn’t have a rail to accommodate any kind of light or laser. Adding one without permanently modifying your gun is possible with the Recover Tactical grip and rail system. These polymer grips actually add a rail to your dust cover. Recover Tactical CC3P Grip and Rail System 50 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 50 at Amazon Compare prices (2 found) Amazon (See Price) Brownells (See Price) Prices accurate at time of writing They make the design a little bit bulkier than average, but its a very cost-effective way to add a rail to your gun. I was surprised at the durability and function of these grips. While they seem a little cheesy, they do work as intended. Recover even produces a holster designed for carrying a light equipped 1911 with the Recover Tactical grips on it as well. Recover Tactical Holster 50 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 50 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing Just Some Simple Grips If you just want to spice up your grips, then you can always call on Magpul. Everyone knows Magpul, but it seems like not many people know they make 1911 grips. These polymer grips are simple, comfortable, and affordable. Magpull 1911 Grip 19 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing View Details 19 at Amazon Prices accurate at time of writing They look nice and come in a variety of finishes. Magpul has always made good gear, and I doubt they’d make anything that sucked. Wrapping Up The 1911 is a fun platform. The all-metal design, the single action trigger, and the big ole’ 45 ACP all come together to make something uniquely American. The good news is 1911s don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. They certainly can, but you have a ton of different options at almost any price range. If you are just looking for a fun gun for the range or the collection I wouldn’t hesitate with a more affordable 1911 option. What is your favorite 1911? Do you EDC one? Let us know in the comments!
Trending: Best Places to Buy Ammo Online and [Buyer's Guide] 7 Best AR-15s Buying a used gun can be a daunting task. It’s one thing buying a brand new gun–those should be fine, right? But buying one that’s been run by an unknown number of shooters (and shots) is another story entirely… Before you buy a gun make sure you know the gun’s MSRP and what it’s being sold for at other stores and online. If you’re looking to get a break on a gun purchase by buying used or know someone who is, read on. These are our tips for how to buy a used gun. Table of Contents Loading... Pick a Gun, (Not) Any Gun For the purposes of this article we’re assuming you’re after a gun to use, not a collector’s item. The first question to ask yourself is the same as when choosing any gun: what do you need? Are you in the market for a new carry gun, looking for a pistol for plinking, or interested in trying your hand at competition? Small bore rifle competition shooters on the line. If your purpose is buying a gun for your significant other and they didn’t tell you they want a specific model and caliber, pump the brakes. This usually ends up being a guys-buy-girls-gun scenario and I have one word for those: don’t . Give us a break! Unless you know exactly which gun she wants because she is either well-versed in firearms or has tried a bunch of models out for herself, don’t do it. Let her–or him–choose her–or his–own gun. We also have our Favorite Handguns for Women list (actually chosen by women). Choose the model and caliber of your gun carefully, remembering that just because a specific gun is popular or being posted all over social media doesn’t mean it’s the gun for you. We’re all individuals with differently sized hands, varying grip strength, and an assortment of skill levels. If you’re buying a used gun for concealed carry make sure it not only fits your hands but can be concealed. The last thing you want is to belatedly discover your latest purchase prints so blatantly a blind man could spot it from fifty feet away. Don’t know what you’re talking about… nothing to see here! And if it’s competition guns you’re after, study the rulebook for whatever you’re planning to try your gun hand at–IDPA, USPSA–and for the specific division you’d like to compete in. Make sure the gun you buy can actually be used in competition. 3-Gun: Benelli M2, CZ75, AR-15 In a Perfect World… If things were perfect you’d be able to test-shoot any gun you were considering purchasing. There would be a neatly-kept log of rounds fired through it, cleaning schedules, and parts replacements. Every moment of use would be recorded for your perusal. Sometimes you find cool stuff at gun stores. That isn’t how it works, though. Just as you’re not going to find used cars with meticulously-kept records you’re not finding guns that way. In fact, you are way less likely to find a gun with any kind of written record. Most gun owners flat-out don’t think of it. Check All the Parts Taking the time to check all moving parts for functionality might seem obvious but would you really think to push and prod every part? When you’re examining a used gun at the counter, take the time to check All the Parts. Here’s a handy checklist for various platforms… Semi-auto handguns: Does the slide move smoothly? Does it lock back? (You won’t be able to find out if it locks back as it should when a mag is empty without live fire but you can at least lock it back by hand.) When you lock the slide back, rotate the gun so you can see the underside of the slide. Do the ears of the slide have extremely uneven wear? Does the safety not only move as it should be work properly? Does the slide lock work and can it be manipulated easily? Do magazines drop smoothly and can they be seated in place without being slapped or forced? Are the sights firmly in place or are they loose or other off, and can they be adjusted or tightened? On a 1911, is the grip safety working or did the previous owner disable it? How does the trigger feel during dry fire? Does it function well and reset properly or does it stick or otherwise fail? Look at the slide to make sure there isn’t uneven wear. Revolvers: Is the cylinder well-fitted to the frame or does it rattle? Does the cylinder align with the barrel? Does the cylinder rotate? Can the hammer be manipulated well and does it work reliably without sticking? If there is a safety, does it work? Does the cylinder release work as it should? If it has a front blade or otherwise fixed sight, is it in good shape or has it been damaged? If it has replaceable sights are the firmly in place and can they be easily adjusted? How does the trigger feel? Is it working right? Check revolvers to be sure the cylinder fits well and is not loose. Also check to see I the cylinder lines up correctly with the barrel. ARs: Does the charging handle work and can you lock the bolt back? Does the bolt cycle smoothly? (You can at least check basic operation using the charging handle and dry fire.) Does the magazine drop free of the magazine well or does it hang up? Can you seat the magazine fairly easily or does it get stuck? How about the safety, does it both move well and perform as it should? Try out the trigger, does it at least work? Yes, you can easily replace a trigger but if something is wrong with it right off that’s a warning sign that the gun itself may not be a good idea to buy. Is the handguard tightened and unmoving or is it loose? Are the sights–if there are any–usable and secure? Is the Picatinny rail usable and undamaged or has it been bent and dinged in ways that will make it difficult to use? If the rifle has a telescoping stock, does it work? If the AR in question has a telescoping stock make sure it telescopes, collapses, and stays where you want it without slipping. Bolt-action rifles and pistols: As above, check safeties, triggers, and magazines if there is one. Does the bolt cycle beautifully or is it sticky and clumsy? This does depend on the quality of the gun, too, so it’s up to you whether you’re going to hold out for a glass-smooth bolt or if you’re fine using one that’s a little rough. Is the barrel in good shape and can you check it at least with a light (bore scope would be way better)? Lever-action rifles: See above lists for shared features. Can the lever be manipulated easily and does it cycle the bolt smoothly (yes, “smoothly” is a key word here)? The lever of a lever-action rifle should move fairly easily and should not get stuck or otherwise malfunction. The Takedown Take the time to field-strip the gun. This gives you the opportunity to get a much closer look at the parts and also will let you know how well everything fits together. Field-strip 1911s and other semi-autos for a closer look at parts and possible wear. This doesn’t apply only to handguns, either. Open up those ARs, pull the bolts from bolt-actions, and at least remove grip panels from revolvers. Of course, you do need to know what you’re looking at (or take someone with you who does). Don’t just consider aesthetics and external movement. Open the gun up and check things out. Where to Buy You’re most likely to end up at your LGS–Local Gun Store–when you’re gun shopping. Meet Zeke. Personally I think shop dogs legitimize gun stores big time. When possible, go to a store where you are confident in their honesty and they have a solid reputation. Your risk level goes up when you wander in the door of a random LGS. Take the time to talk to the guy behind the counter but don’t take his word as gospel. Just because someone works at a gun store does not mean they have the tiniest shred of knowledge on a topic. As for shooting the gun, most of the time you will not be able to test-fire guns at the store but it doesn’t hurt to ask (obviously that means they have to have a range). Just because someone works behind a gun store counter they’re not automatically experts. Do ask questions but take what is said with a grain of salt. Online purchases are certainly popular now but there are major drawbacks to buying a used gun from an unknown source on the internet. Unless the gun is backed by some sort of legitimate guarantee you have no recourse if something is horribly wrong with it. Consider limiting online purchases to transactions with people you know either personally or through a reliable friend. Curious about buying used guns online? Check out our Best Places to Buy Used Guns Online and our full review of Guns.com to read about our experiences!) Pawnshops can be a great place to find a hidden gem but the odds of a good deal are slim. Then there’s the honesty factor and the likelihood the person working the register doesn’t know the first thing about firearms. If your own knowledge is lacking, that’ll present a serious problem. Maybe not this pawn shop though. The bottom line is to be aware of the risks involved with how you go about buying your used gun. Know the risks and decide how comfortable you are with them. If you’re meeting up with someone…check out our How to Buy A Used Gun Safely guide. Also, be familiar with the laws where you’re buying to be sure it is handled legally. For example, some states require a 4473 be filled out even for private sales. Do not count on someone else to know the laws, learn them yourself. Ignorance is not an excuse. Guarantees Many, if not most, brick-and-mortar stores offer some sort of guarantee . It may be an incredibly brief one like having 48 hours to shoot it and find fault or you’re stuck, but there’s typically something in place. You probably won’t get one of these, but hey, you’re saving on new-gun prices! If the seller refuses any sort of guarantee, whether at an LGS or online, that doesn’t necessarily kill the sale. Just stop and consider the wisdom of the purchase. Maybe it’s just fine and maybe it isn’t. This comes down to trusting your gut and the reputation of the seller. If it’s a private sale obviously you aren’t getting a guarantee. The good news is you’re far more likely to be able to test-fire the gun if it’s a private purchase. Meet the seller at the range and run the gun a bit. Don’t be upset when a private seller won’t give you some sort of guarantee. The SME Okay, so your buddy may not be a Subject Matter Expert but maybe they know more than you do about the gun you’re looking to buy. Don’t be afraid to ask for help buying a gun whether it’s new or used. Odds are good you’re buying that gun to use it to defend your life so treat it with importance. Y’know, friends like us! What I don’t recommend is trusting social media to answer your questions. There are far too many people out there who think they know everything and type in a confident manner who are flat wrong and will only hinder, not help. This is a great time to mention industry publications, both print and web. There’s a pervasive belief out there that any print magazine gun review is horrifically biased and untrustworthy but web-based reviews are totally cool. I mean, not to toot our own horn, but we like to try and keep things honest and above board! Here’s the deal with honesty in gun reviews. You cannot and should not try to claim a specific publication is good or bad across the board. That depends more on the writers. Some writers are more honest than others. Some editors will edit negative comments out but by and large, they leave it as it was written. I recommend following specific writers rather than publications (almost all our PPT writers also have work in other publications!). Also, keep in mind reviews are specific to the person who wrote them meaning their experience may not reflect yours. And finally, no, writers are not given handpicked, perfect guns. Review guns are taken from the same stack of guns that go to your LGS. Take advice with a grain of salt but do be willing to take help. It’s a major purchase. Make it count. Dollar, Dollar Bills A quick word on cost. Before you deal with an LGS, an online seller, or a private sale, know what that gun is worth . Find the MSRP just so you know what the manufacturer originally asked. Then go find used models–you can do this online–and make a list of the asking prices. Cash Cannon Remember that price depends on wear and be capable of checking wear for yourself. Know your numbers before you walk in the door to be sure you are getting a fair price. Have a Gun Get a gun. Get more than one gun. It’s always good to have at least one backup in case something happens to your concealed carry gun (whether it ends up as evidence taken in the aftermath of a self-defense shooting or, more likely, a part breaks). Same goes for competition and hunting. ‘Murica Backup is good and so are options. Being a well-rounded shooter matters more than many gun owners realize. There really is something to be said for the ability to shoot multiple guns well rather than only one. In fact, there are self-defense applications for those skills; what if you find yourself in a situation where you end up with a borrowed gun or one grabbed off the ground? Parting Shots Take the time to do your research and don’t be afraid to get hands-on and then walk away. You can always go back. Don’t rush into a purchase. But do buy used guns. There’s nothing wrong with pre-owned and you can never have too many guns. Thinking about buying a used gun for the first time? Ask your questions in the comments. Old hand at buying used guns? Share your insights with us below. You might also want to check out the Best Places to Buy Guns Online and then our huge Gun Reviews section .
On October 7, 1999, Washington State Trooper James E. Saunders, 31, was shot multiple times at point-blank range while conducting a traffic stop involving a pickup near the intersection of 28th Avenue and Lewis Street in the Tri-Cities, Washington. This may have gone largely unnoticed across most of this great nation, but it this community in Washington State with great force. Trooper Saunders was an outstanding Trooper and my friend. Forty-nine officers were killed in traffic-related incidents during 2014, which was an 11 percent increase from 2013. This may not appear to be a large number considering the number of law enforcement officers employed within the United States, yet, no matter the number, it’s too many. These numbers do not reflect the number of officers being confronted with guns or other weapons and sustained injuries from those encounters. I have been employed as a police officer since 1988. I worked narcotics undercover for 3 years and have been a detective since 1998. I love my community and this job. Through my experience, I know that the two most dangerous situations an officer finds himself or herself in, is conducting traffic stops and responding to domestic violence calls. You would think it would be serving search warrants and arrest warrants for dangerous felons. It is not. In those situations, the officers know that there is danger in conducting those tasks. Not everything can be anticipated, but threat assessments are documented and safety considerations are addressed. This can take hours or even several days. Obviously this cannot occur every time an officer conducts a traffic stop. When that officer approaches a driver’s window or passenger window, he/she does not know who is in that car, why they are driving in a particular manner, and whether there are underlying circumstances (other than a traffic violation) that the occupants might be worried about. And most of all, the officer is wondering if anyone in the vehicle is armed and motivated enough to avoid being apprehended. After all that being said, I want to add that I am a strong advocate for our Constitutional Right as American citizens to bear arms. However, I also believe in being safe while doing so. I was asked to write as an LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) what LEO’s would like to see to make the citizen and the officer safe. I cannot speak for all LEOs or what each LEOs response might be. So instead I will present some tips that I would follow and have practiced when stopped. (No one is a perfect driver and “we” don’t all know each other.) I keep my hands on the wheel. If it’s dark outside, I turn my dome light on. This allows the officer a clear view and a safer environment. I would advise the officer that I have a concealed weapons permit. I would then tell the officer if I have a weapon on me or in the car. I would then tell him or her where that weapon is in the car. I would NOT reach to show the officer where it is or remove it from my holster. (I know, I know, but believe me, it happens.) If I did not have the weapon, I would also advise the officer of that as well. States differ and may or may not reflect a concealed weapons permit when running a driver’s check or vehicle registration. In addition, some States require occupants declare whether weapons are being transported. Washington does not require a declaration of a concealed weapons permit or having a firearm on board. However, it is frequently reflected when conducting a driver’s check. I know it would greatly relieve the officer knowing I was being forth coming, rather than the officer having to inquire. After advising the officer of my weapon, I would ask for direction from the officer regarding how he/she would like me to precede, giving the officer a sense of control and ensuring both of our safety. If I need to reach for my wallet or other article I would just let the officer know what I am retrieving and where it is located. I try to keep all the required documents in one easily accessible location. This way, I am able to provide the officer all the documents without rummaging around in center consoles and glove boxes. If I had failed to follow my own advice and the officer returned to his/her patrol car without my insurance card, registration or other document, I would NOT jump out of my car to give it to him/her after finding it. I would wave my hand outside my open window in an attempt to get the officer’s attention. As an LEO I would thank the citizen for letting me know. And quite honestly, I would probably give the driver a break depending on the violation. Again, I cannot predict how each officer will respond, but my response would be positive. Think safe, be safe.