Blog reader Jim Burke asked about the new Honor Guard, an 8+1 shot 9mm subcompact pistol with polymer frame. I spent some time today with the gun and its maker, Gary Ramey, and with some folks who unlike me were able to test-fire it on Media Day. All looks good so far. I’ll be getting one to test for American Handgunner magazine. Nighthawk Custom has its first Browning Hi-Power, made specially for them by Browning and then given Nighthawk’s own Cadillac/Ferrari upgrade. Trigger pull is excellent, and Nighthawk’s Shawn Armstrong assures me it is drop-safe, unlike early High Powers. The frames are made by Browning WITHOUT the usual magazine disconnector, which a lot of American pistoleros hate. Removing it from the gun allows an unscrupulous prosecutor to claim, “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, for you to convict the defendant of manslaughter, you have to believe he acted recklessly with his gun. You have seen the proof: he deactivates the safety devices on deadly weapons!” With this particular Browning, it came from the factory without that feature, and while I didn’t tear down the one on display to examine it, Shawn told me the mag disconnector safety can’t be retrofitted. Therefore, that blood is out of the water should you come to trial for an action involving this pistol. I have an assignment to test this one for American Handgunner too, and am looking forward to it.
Smith & Wesson’s new Victory model .22 looks like one of their low-priced plinkers,
but the S&W rep I talked to swears that from a machine rest, it shoots like their bigger, heavier, and justly famous Model 41 precision target pistol that has been winning championships since 1957. In the hand, it feels more solid than it looks, and reminds me of the pre-war Colt Woodsman. Trigger is surprisingly good and, for a truly match-grade pistol, price is surprisingly low. I want to spend more time with this pistol.
For me, though, the hit handgun of the show is one I’ve asked Springfield Armory for since they introduced the 9mm EMP a decade or more ago. The Enhanced Micro Pistol is a tiny gun that shoots 2” groups, and was scaled down from the original 1911 design to fit the overall length of the 9mm cartridge, which made it the first 1911 9mm that could be counted on to feed reliably out of the box. Mine became an often-carried favorite of mine, until it was torn away from me by my evil girlfiend became a token of love that now belongs to my sweetie, the only such pistol owned by a Princess of Polymer Pistols infamous in shooting circles for her anti-1911 rants. It won me several IDPA BUG (Back-Up Gun) matches, and at least one IDPA match in the Enhanced Service Pistol division against full size, tricked out 1911s, long barrel Glock 34s, etc. Back then, I implored Williams to make one with a longer slide for more advantageous sight radius, and a longer grip-frame to extend the 9+1 magazine capacity to 10+1, the maximum allowed in IDPA. That request has been answered this year with the EMP4, whose configuration now resembles a slightly thinner Colt Commander. This is the one gun I’ve seen here that gets my “Most Likely I’m Going To End Up Owning One” award if it turns out to shoot as good as it looks. The smaller grip frame and shorter trigger reach makes us average-size guys feel like a six-foot-four John Wayne holding a regular 1911 .45, but it ain’t about machismo: it’s about getting more flesh and bone wrapped around the grip to stabilize the gun, and more finger into the trigger guard to give more leverage for fast, sure trigger-pulling.
On other fronts, I missed meeting gun expert Richard Mann, for whose work I have a lot of respect, at the Galco booth. However, Galco’s Mike Barham showed me the new sling Richard designed, appropriately called the RifleMann sling. In can be used as a hasty sling, of course, but also more or less like a marksman’s sling, and like the Ching Sling popularized by the late, great Jeff Cooper. What particularly intrigues me is that the sling can be quickly locked onto the shooting arm instead of the support arm, which could be a game-changer in certain awkward or disadvantaged positions. I’m getting one. Or two. Or three…
And, finally, in the matter of the 5.11 Tactical Yoga Pants: I am ordering a pair, which will be tested by my beautiful surrogate stepdaughter, a second degree TKD black belt and pistol-packing ex-Marine. One blog reader who will remain nameless, and whose twisted sense of humor is frighteningly like my own, suggested that I model a pair. A much more suitable model is depicted in the attached photos.