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My Favorite Guns

Posted here, for your enjoyment, QS's favorite guns of all time. And remember these helpful tips: An armed society is a polite society. Write your congressmen in support of freedom to carry and carry concealed. Join the NRA. Never clean a loaded crossbow. Guns don't kill people, ninjas do.

Colt 1911A1
John Browning, surely the most gifted firearm designer of all time, first developed the Colt 1911 autoloader. This .45in single-action autoloader then proceeded to become one of the most widespread pistol in the world. It's been over 80 years since it went into service, but millions are still in use all over the world today. Beyond the traditional sentimentality held towards this handgun, it is still a formidable weapon: the .45 in ACP round packs a wallop and the drop-cam recoil operation has been duplicated in hundreds of later gun designs.

Many companies, such as Para-Ordnance, have introduced double-stack versions of the famed Colt pistol. The P14, P13, and P12 (with 14, 13, and 12 round capacity respectively) are wonderful guns, and they've also introduced .40 S&W calibers in the .45 P-series frames, called the P16, P15, and P14. All of these designs use a slim double-stack magazine that is quite marvelous at getting high-firepower into a small package. The P16.40 was the second gun I bought, and I am delighted with it.

Franchi SPAS-12
The appearance of the SPAS-12 speaks to me of both beauty and elegance, as well as deadly ferocity. This is a weapon whose appearance alone makes it quite clear you don't want to be on the receiving end. It is a semi-automatic shotgun, but it can be worked as pump-action if necessary, like when firing specialized ammunition that might not be powerful enough to work the gas-operated autoloading mechanism. This is a personal favorite of mine among the shotguns. The folding stock also sports an optional special hook device which wraps around the users forearm, allowing the weapon to be fired and carried single-handedly (but be careful of broken wrists). These shotguns are so mean looking, I was informed I would never be allowed to keep one in my apartment. We shall see...

Freedom Arms
The revolvers of Freedom Arms are, without a doubt, some of the finest quality firearms the world has ever known. Not only are they very beautiful, but their guns are made to the tightest tolerances and are known the world over for their accuracy and reliability. The .454 Casull is their baby, and delivers, on average, twice the kinetic energy of the .44 Magnum. In addition, the 555 series is chambered for the .50 Action Express. Not surprisingly, most Freedom Arms revolvers can only hold 5 rounds, since fewer rounds equals a stronger cylinder. You may note how similar the grip of the Freedom Arms revolver to those of Bisley revolvers. It is considered the best design for handling heavy recoil.

Heckler & Koch G11
A unique weapon, to say the least. The G11 was designed specifically with the three-round burst in mind, hoping to maximize firing rate while minimizing recoil until all three bullets had cleared the barrel. The result was a weapon with a considerable speed of some 1800 rpm in 3-shot mode. In addition the chamber slides backwards within the outer casing during the three shots, reducing any recoil felt during the initial two rounds fired.

The design utilizes a rotating chamber. The caseless 4.73mm rounds are fed vertically downward into the chamber, which then turns 90 degrees to align with the barrel and fires. No shells to expel means a faster firing rate and a cleaner mechanism, as dirt is less likely to work its way into the internal mechanism. The front-loading clip holds fifty of the caseless rounds, which resemble bullets embedded in a small rectangular brick of propellant. The magazine loads upon a track in the front of the weapon, above the barrel. Two additional magazines can be slotted on either side of the magazine in use. The 4.73mm caseless rounds are square in cross-section, so there is less wasted space within the magazine, and less room for dust and dirt to get in.

I recently noticed that Wesley Snipe's "Fusion Gun" in Demolition Man looked suspiciously like a Heckler & Koch G11...

Heckler & Koch PSG-1
The PSG-1 is considered one of the most accurate production sniper rifles available. It's big and it's heavy, but damn, can it shoot. The mag holds 5 rounds of 7.62mm NATO (.308 Winchester) ammunition, the most common sniper caliber. It comes standard with a 6x power scope, lacking any iron sights.

Heckler & Koch Mk. 23 Model 0
When the call from the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) went out for a silenced "offensive handgun" in .45 ACP to be used behind the lines, Heckler & Koch responded. With a vengeance. Enter the H&K Mk. 23 Model 0.

One of the most obvious features is its long slide and extended barrel. The end of the barrel is threaded to accept the Knight's Armament Comp suppressor. Racking the slide back reveals the green rubber o-ring designed to keep everything nice and snug. The frame is a matte black plastic, which helps reduce weight. It has a separate frame-mounted safety and decocker.


The H&K Mark 23 spawned off a smaller civilian cousin known as the USP (Universal Self-loading Pistol) and the USP Compact. This was followed by a limited number of civilian version Mark 23's (they don't say USSOCOM on the side) for an asking price of around $2,000.

Ithaca M37 Stakeout
The Stakeout is a trimmed down version of the Featherlight, developed in 1937. The result was an easier-to-handle 12-gauge that also concealed well under a long coat. It's a rough customer, carrying only 4 rounds in its tubular magazine (plus one in the chamber), and being without a shoulder stock, it takes a well-trained operator to withstand the strain on the wrist delivered by the hefty pistol group. It's a nice bit of work, though, and has been regarded as a promising design since its introduction almost 60 years ago. What distinguishes the Stakeout from most other pump-actions is that it expels empty shells out the bottom of the receiver, not the side. The model 37 Stakeout is a popular police model, as it is easy to hide, due to its very short length. Ithaca went out of business in '95, though some of its stock will still be available for a limited time. There are rumors that Ithaca may soon be in production again.

Kahr K9
The introduction of the Kahr K9 took the concealed-carry community by storm. This diminutive 9mm has an all-steel construction, making it tough enough to handle even the high pressures of +P loads. It holds 7 shots in its single-stack magazine and fires double-action-only (with a glass smooth trigger). The real feature of the K9 is its tiny size and slim profile. Kahr made an easily concealable autoloader that is thinner than even the compact double-stocked Glocks. The K9 is available in matte black, satin chrome, matte stainless, "Birdsong Black-T", and a wonderful electroless nickel that shimmers like a dream and cleans very easily.

Magnum Research Desert Eagle
The Desert Eagle .50 Action Express is one of the most powerful autoloaders on the market. It is also available in .357 Magnum, and .44 Magnum, but the .50 inch chambering is supposedly more accurate and delivers a bit more of a punch. Firing this massive handgun, you might expect the recoil to be rough, and you would be right. However, I have fired the Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum, and I swear to you, the recoil was practically nonexistent, especially compared to my S&W Model 29. Unlike other autoloading pistols, the Desert Eagle is rare in that it is gas operated, using the escaping gasses of the bullet to cycle the chamber, like an assault rifle.

One of the more famous big-bores, this model is very popular in TV and movies, whenever a really big pistol is needed. It has been used by Arny on several occasions, such as in The Last Action Hero and Eraser (killed a gator with it, he did). The Desert Eagle is produced under license in the U.S. by Magnum Research. Recently, Magnum Research began making all 3 chamberings of the Desert Eagle built on a single frame, so that to switch from .50 to .44 involves only the swapping of a barrel (the rebated rim of the .50 is about the diameter of the .44's rim), and to switch to .357 involves changing both the barrel and bolt. They've also just introduced a barrel for the .440 Cor-bon, a .50 AE necked to a .44 caliber (.429) bullet.

Marlin Lever-Action Carbines
I've always liked the look of the Winchester Model 94 lever-action carbine, except for the straight-line stocks. Marlin, though, makes stocks with pistol-grips, which I believe sit better in the hand and just plain look nicer. One of the most common calibers for lever-action rifles is .30-30 (.30 WCF), but they are also available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .45-70, and many others. One of the great things about lever-action rifles is their relative low cost. My Marlin 30AS cost me $200 used, and came with a Tasco 2x sight already mounted.

Mossberg Model 590 Mariner
The Mossberg M590 is one of the few production shotguns to withstand the rigorous tests of the U.S. military forces. This thing is a serious piece of hardware. It's a nine-shot (8+1) 12-gauge pump-action with a 20-inch smoothbore barrel. The Mariner is covered with a nickel-teflon coating that provides serious corrosion protection. Its short length makes it ideal for home-defense and the super-capacity provides more than enough firepower for anything you might go up against. This was my first shotgun purchased.

Pancor Jackhammer
The Pancor Jackhammer looks like something out of a Star Wars movie, possibly carried by a group of irate Storm Troopers. It is sleek, compact, black, and quite deadly. Its frame is made out of a hardy new plastic, reinforced with glass fiber, making it one hell of a tough character. The Jackhammer utilizes a gas-operated design, like used in most assault rifles. The drum cassette, which can be loaded with standard 12-gauge shotgun shells, clips in just behind the grip, in a bullpup fashion. With a firing rate of 4 rounds per second, the 10 shells that it holds might not last very long, but so what? The Jackhammer is capable of firing on full automatic, making it one of the nastiest customers around.

Ruger Mini-14
The design for Ruger's Mini-14 was based upon the M14, which fired the 7.62x51mm (.308 Winchester) cartridge and was once adopted by the U.S. Military as the standard battle rifle. Only the Mini-14 is chambered for the smaller 5.56mm (.223 Remington) round, hence the name. The Mini-14 is a very popular semi-automatic sporting rifle, and accessories seem to be so abundant for it, you can get them just about anywhere. The Mini-14 is considered a good home-defense longarm, as the 5.56mm cartridge is light and has decent penetration and range.

Ruger's Mini-30 is similar, except that it fires the 7.62x39mm Soviet cartridge, referred to as an "intermediate" round, because of its shorter length than the 7.62x51mm NATO and its reduced muzzle energy and recoil.

I own a stainless steel version of the Mini-14. In addition to the beautiful polished wooden stock that it originally came with, I also have a synthetic frame, with side-folding stock and pistol-grip. This, coupled with the 40-round magazine I have, make the Mini-14 look rather intimidating.

Ruger Vaquero
The Ruger Vaquero has actually become more popular in Cowboy-style shooting than even the famous Colt "Peacemaker". The reason for this seems to be a matter of cost, as even current production Colt Single Action Army revolvers (3rd Generation) are hideously expensive. The Vaquero, however, retails at less than $450, and can often be found even cheaper. Ruger's revolvers are well-known for their strength and reliability, not to mention the company's dedication to customer satisfaction.

Smith & Wesson Model 29
The original Dirty Harry revolver, and my first purchased firearm. Without a doubt, my favorite handgun is the Smith and Wesson model 29 .44 Magnum. It has been said by some that this is the closest thing you can get to an all-purpose pistol. It can be used for game hunting, plinking, self-defense, varminting, target shooting, you name it. I personally have a preference to revolvers to begin with, and another liking to the big-bores. This gun easily fulfills both requirements. Quite simply, this sucker is a hand-held cannon, reportedly getting a one-shot stopping potential of 97 percent. With full powered loads, the Model 29 was at one time the most powerful production handgun on the market, but now with the .50 AE, the .454 Casull, and the new .500 S&W being factory produced ammo, the .44 Magnum is no longer king of the hill.

A lot of people like to decry the stopping-power of the .44 Magnum and .44 Special, saying that the .44 Magnum is too powerful, and that the .44 Special is too anemic. Baloney. Yes, certain loads of the .44 Magnum may be over-penetrative, but there are .44 Magnum loads, like those by Cor-bon, better than any .357 cartridge you'll ever find. Simply put, the .44 Mag can do anything the .357 Magnum can do, and better. At the very least, you could load a bullet of the same weight to the same velocity and get the same energy with a bigger hole. On the other end of the spectrum, compare the .44 Special to the .38 Special. How can the .44 Special be too anemic, but the .38 Special be a wonderful, all-around defense load? The only weakness for the .44 is its size: a true pocket .44 Special revolver would be reduced to 5 rounds. Wound channel still counts for something, boys and girls. Sometimes bigger really is better.

SIG-Sauer
The Swiss company SIG has a reputation for quality and excellence. The SIG-Sauer firearms are SIG's design manufactured by J.P. Sauer & Sohn in Germany for export. SIG has a wide range of 9mm and .40in automatics available, and they have recently put out the P229, fitted to fire a bottlenecked .357 inch round, called the .357 SIG. (The bottle-necked .357 SIG follows the "light and fast" philosophy.) This is simply a highly reliable and accurate series of handguns, and I think most any gun enthusiast will agree. Too bad that in this instance, price is a reflection of quality and a good SIG will set you back a bit. Pictured here is the P226, which went up against the Beretta 92FS for the contract of the new U.S military service pistol. While it didn't win, it did gain quite a bit of popularity from the contest. SIG's are common among government agencies, such as the FBI. Just ask Fox Mulder.

Steyr AUG
The Steyr AUG (Armee Universal Gewehr) is a well-known and widely used weapon. It fires the 5.56mm round, like the popular Colt M16A1, and was ergonomically designed, fitting well into the hands of the firer. The weapon has modular components, allowing it to be converted to a submachine gun, light machinegun, and a carbine version, shorter by 10 centimeters. The AUG is one of the few truly ambidextrous assault rifles available, the ejection port being easily movable from one side to the other (very important for a bullpup rifle). The magazine is transparent, allowing the user to easily check the ammunition at a glance.

Taurus Magnums
Taurus is quickly becoming one of the market's premiere gun manufacturers. While originally dealing in a line of licensed Beretta automatic-clones, they've stepped into the revolver trade and Taurus revolvers are some of the hottest new items available. Many of their models are tried and true designs, but they've also brought to the world compact 5-shot snub-nose .357 magnums, as well as a 7-shot .357 magnum. Most of their revolvers are available with an integral compensating system, like those found on custom target shooting weapons, to reduce felt recoil and muzzle flip. The Taurus M44 (chambered for the yummy .44 Magnum) was listed in Guns & Ammo's Best Buys of '95.

Taurus' newest magnum revolver is the Raging Bull, an extra-heavy barreled double-action revolver chambered for the .454 Casull. WOW! Talk about your big guns!

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