We’d give a prize here, if we could. Rounding a tight corner, we literally bumped into Roy Brown Jr., DDC vice president. Suffice it to say we’re glad we did, as he introduced us to the “Hard Charger” side-charging system, as well as company co-founder and President Cameron Hillman.
These Marines—hence the “Devil Dog”—have got something in their Picatinny-mounted device. Side-charging is obviously the big draw, avoiding as it does any optics entanglements, and diminishing greatly the wrangling of your AR/MSR to get far enough back with the off hand to cycle the action for charging, clearing, whatever.
But it’s an understatement of some proportion to say that’s all the Hard Charger buys you. Non-reciprocating? Check. One-handed operation on gear or a static object? Check. With either hand? Check. Cross-handed, including ambi? Check and check. Then there are three mounting options (forward, mid and rear) to eliminate any chance of interference with your sight mount, and five handle styles from subdued to extended competition. Perhaps you get the idea.
Since they sent us home with one on the spot, watch “First Gear” for a full report soon. But as we said, it’s an easy prize winner.
We think a lot of folks may have walked by the Beretta APX with a “meh.” Mistake.
True, there are a lot of similar handguns out there—striker-ignition, swappable grip/frame modules, even serialized “cores.” But as far as we know, Beretta is the first to put all of these in the same platform.
Lots of other things are working well too, including a short-reset trigger, ambi slide release and swappable mag catch. Our favorite, albeit by a tiny margin, is the slide treatment: Whether you prefer to run the slide from in front of the ejection port or behind—or even ill-advised “slingshot”—we couldn’t see any deficiencies. Ultra-solid purchase with hands wet or dry—even gloved—ought to make manipulations extremely sure.
We’ll hope to have a more extensive report soon—the shooting kind!
American shooters seem more than content with a steady diet of short and long firearms from Kimber. Theirs is another booth that is “ample” to say the least, and with good reason: Shooters of every stripe were cheek by jowl getting the feel of everything from ultra-discreet carry pistols to mid-sized revolvers to hunt-of-a-lifetime, dangerous game rifles like the Talkeetna (.375 H&H) or Caprivi (.375 H&H, .416 Rem. Mag. or .458 Lott).
Our photo is a carry gem of recent release—the Micro 9 Desert Night. Out-of-the-box equipped with Crimson Trace Lasergrips, we’ve shot a recent forebear a lot. As an all-metal gun with 1911-style controls and six or seven round capacity, it’s a soft-shooting treat that will answer many calls—from old-fashioned fun at the range to serious, bump-in-the-night defense.
EAA has been bringing fine CZ mostly-clones to our shores for a long time, though they’ve put their own unmistakable and excellent mark on an already-fine design. The best known are the “Witness” pattern Tanfoglio-made semi-autos based on the CZ-75. From surprisingly discrete polymer-framed guns up to full-on, all-steel masterpieces, few lines have the variations and versatility you’ll see from EAA.
What snapped our head around was nestled among their big-dollar (and fabulous) match guns—the Gold Team Xtreme “open” division contender and new “Limited Custom.” Either of these leave us a touch light-headed, but now there’s a polymer-framed Witness Match pistol, too. While we think there are many reasons to run an all-steel Limited gun, the “P” tickles a sort of “mercy” switch: It’d sure be nice to figure out whether Limited is the thing for you with a $768-MSRP pistol (as opposed to ~$2,500) on the front end of a buy. If yes, start saving for the big boy and consign that “P” to light-carrying field use. If “no,” you’re a dunderhead. Ooooooh gee—did we say that out loud?
When we think of the rotten, dangerous run all our friends in law enforcement have had the last couple of years, the ABDO LE system we saw on co-display at the EAA booth looked heaven sent.
The short version is … well, actually, a short version is impossible. Suffice it to say that ABDO consists of a body-worn camera on steroids. It auto-“ons” when an officer breaks leather; it links to the dispatcher; it links to the commander; it links to Google Maps; it links to the holster; it prevents tampering; it bread-crumbs a weapons theft; it proximity-locks a car vault (this will be available to us civilians, too); it changes your oil.
OK, that last we made up. But “holy cow” justified, Bat fans?
Expect to hear a lot more on this in the near future, but we can’t believe the world won’t shortly be beating a path to this incredibly versatile, life-saving, BS-disproving, provocation-sparing door.
We just plain bullied a slot for Inland’s new-manufacture M1 Carbines, and here’s why: It’s arguably the original, at least in terms of a 20th-century semi-auto, pistol caliber carbine. We grant that .30 carbine is technically a rifle round; we skate on the fact that it’s a straight-walled one in a slope-shouldered era. If that doesn’t convince, the bullet weights, velocities and useful ranges should.
Unreasonably compared to the stellar M1 Garand (both then and now) it’s still a fine, fun shootin’ iron. Decidedly handy in terms of weight and length, the gentle recoil and undemanding springs make it a treat for almost every shooter, especially those of lighter stature. Another hidden goody are 15-round magazines: Not only is this a worthwhile defensive count at need, but it’s accomplished without hanging the rifle up in vehicles or indoors—just as intended when it reached the battlefields of World War II in ’42.
Post-war surplus ammo carried it to popularity after the war, though that is long gone. New manufacture at reasonable prices ought to support a fitting rebirth.
Our friend Tom Kaleta met us early on the exhibit floor, and said all there really is to say about Blue Force’s “Micro Trauma” kit: “We carry a firearm hoping we never need it. This you hope never need either, but look how many more situations it can prevent disaster in.”
‘Nuf said. It’s a miniscule mass of life-saving essentials that allow you to get a loved-one, friend, or needy stranger to the real pros, yet is one-hand deployable, discreet and complete.
The sort of thing we’d rather have on our conscience, frankly.