May 8th, 2017 by asjstaff

Although the Ruby pistol became a procurement nightmare, it nevertheless armed French troops and scores of others throughout World War I and beyond. 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY ROB REED

The “Ruby” pistol is the result of France’s desperate need for arms in the early days of the Great War. By 1915, much of the French industrial heartland was under German control, and what remained under allied control was producing critically needed material such as rifles, machine guns, and artillery. As the conflict grew beyond even the most pessimistic expectations, the sheer volume of troops sent into battle literally exhausted the meager stores of small arms. To meet this rising demand for pistols for the trenches, the French contracted with the Spanish firm of Gabilondo y Urresti-Eibar for their Ruby semiauto pistol.

A right-side view of this Ruby pistol variant shows the ejection port and an extended grip housing a single-stack detachable magazine holding nine cartridges. The Ruby is a direct blowback pistol chambered in 7.65 (.32 ACP).

The Ruby made use of a prewar design largely copied (without license) from the Browning Model 1903. Among the changes are the deletion of the grip safety and a relocation of the manual safety closer to the trigger guard. The resulting Ruby is a direct blowback pistol chambered in 7.65 (.32 ACP). The pistol features an internal hammer and a frame-mounted safety that goes down for “FIRE.” The original magazine capacity was nine rounds.

The original contract called for the firm to produce 10,000 pistols a month, but the insatiable French demand for handguns saw the production numbers increased in stages until the incredible target of 50,000 pistols a month was set.

THIS IS WHERE THE STORY of the Ruby gets messy. Since Gabilondo y Urresti-Eibar could not hope to meet that production quota, they licensed out manufacture of the pistol to other companies. Although only four other manufacturers were originally contracted to produce the pistol, the firm eventually partnered with seven companies to meet French demand.

At the same time, French purchasing agents were individually contracting with other Spanish firearms makers to also produce the guns. By the time all the contracts were signed, roughly 50 companies were producing the pistol, either for Gabilondo y Urresti-Eibar or directly for the French. Soon, multiple companies (both legally and otherwise) were producing the pistol across the continent, making it a truly European weapon.

The result was chaos. The quality of the pistols produced varied widely from manufacturer to manufacturer. Some were good, others substandard, while others yet were simply unsafe to fire. At first the French tested every pistol, but soon went to batchlot testing instead. Even among the pistols deemed acceptable to issue, problems would arise after the guns broke in with use. Some references list the expected service life of the Ruby at only 500 rounds.

A left-side view reveals the manufacturer’s barrel markings (including the “GU” for “Gabilondo y UrrestiEibar” beside the grip) and the occasionally problematic safety lever.

As you can imagine, parts interchangeability – so vital for a service weapon – was lost as the number of manufacturers involved grew. Parts and magazines from one manufacturer would not work in another manufacturer’s pistol, and often parts would not interchange even within pistols made by the same manufacturer. Features such as barrel length and magazine capacity also varied from source to source as different manufacturers put their own spin on the design.

All in all, the Ruby became a textbook example of what not to do for small arms weapon procurement.

Still, the pistols were desperately needed, and almost as fast as they were produced they were sent to the front to be engulfed in the horrors of trench warfare. Records show that the French military had accepted an estimated 700,000 to 900,000 pistols by war’s end.

The large number of pistols produced has made the Ruby available in the U.S. collector’s market for decades. Some came home as souvenirs after WWI or WWII, while others found their way across the ocean in various import lots over time. The modern U.S. collector is unlikely to know the exact origin of his pistol, as many were imported prior to import marks became mandatory in 1968.

ALTHOUGH I’VE NEVER OWNED a Ruby pistol, I’ve had several opportunities to fire them. Their best attribute is their simplicity. Unlike other pistols from the same time frame they are a “modern” design with a one-piece slide and breechblock and what we would consider conventional controls. The safety lever is relatively easy to use, as is the European-style heel mag release. The pistol does not have a slide stop/slide release. On some examples I have seen, a rivet was installed to keep the safety from moving to the “safe” position. My understanding is that this is a postWWI French military modification.

The gun in the accompanying photos is an actual Gabilondo y Urresti-Eibar-produced pistol and owned by a friend. Recently, I was able to fire several magazines of modern-production .32 ACP FMJ through this particular pistol. Surprisingly (based on reputation alone), the pistol fired 100 percent of the time, with no misfires, failures to feed, or failures to eject. This is not always the case with these little pistols as, in addition to their hurried manufacture, they have by now seen an additional 100 years of often hard use. Obviously, it is important to have a qualified gunsmith check out any Ruby-type pistol before attempting to fire it. Besides the original manufacturing issues listed above, other problems may have arisen in the decades since these pistols were produced.

The condition of the original magazine is especially important, as a bad feed lip or worn-out springs will cause problems. Since most pistols only come with one mag, and magazine interchangeability is spotty at best, a bad mag can deadline an otherwise functional pistol.

The tiny sights make the pistols better suited for point shooting than precise aimed fire. The combination of the steel frame and low-powered .32 ACP cartridge reduces the felt recoil considerably. I was not able to bench test this particular pistol, but we were able to keep a full magazine inside a paper plate out to 10 yards. Accuracy began to drop considerably at 25 yards, and the best either of us could do was to keep about half the shots on a plate at that distance. The tiny sights and gritty trigger on this particular pistol made us work for even those results.

Although not rare by any means, except in certain variants, the Ruby pistol remains an interesting historical artifact. And even though it was hurried into production to meet insatiable wartime needs, the gun I tested still functioned as intended a century after it was produced. If nothing else, shooting a Ruby pistol is a way to make a tangible connection to the time when the French struggled to survive during “the war to end all wars.” ASJ

Posted in History Tagged with: , , , , ,

March 16th, 2017 by asjstaff

Greeley, PA – Kahr Arms is happy to announce that three of their popular CW9 9mm models are now California legal. These models include the CW9 in a Black Carbon Fiber frame, standard CW9 with front night sight and the very popular Cerakote Burnt Bronze.

 

The three CW9 models all feature a 3.6” barrel with conventional rifling, an overall length of 5.9”, and a height of 4.5” and each pistol weighs just 15.8 oz.  All three models offer a trigger cocking DAO, lock-breach, “Browning-type” recoil lug, and a passive striker block with no magazine disconnect. Capacity is 7+1.

 

The attractive CW9093BCF is one of Kahr’s newest finishes in a classic Black Carbon Fiber print.  This textured weave provides a 3-D dimensional appearance to the 9mm while also providing a textured grip that has a tacky feel in your hand. MSRP on the CW9093BCF is $495.00.

 

Next in the line-up is the CW9093N which features a stainless steel slide and a black polymer frame. It also features a drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight and a pinned in polymer front night sight. MSRP on this model is $495.00.

 

Last in the group is the CW9093BB. The Cerakote Burnt Bronze has been a popular finish for Kahr Firearms Group having introduced it in both the Kahr and Magnum Research product lines. The attractive brushed bronze finish always turns a few heads at the gun range and has proven to be the top choice of many shooting enthusiasts. The MSRP on that model is $482 and is now available for California gun dealers to buy from authorized Kahr Firearms Group wholesalers.

 

For more information about these three models, please go to www.kahr.com or check with your local gun shop.

Posted in Industry News Tagged with: , , , , ,

January 3rd, 2017 by asjstaff

SIG Sauer’s 9mm pistol feels both new and familiar, and is an impressive addition to the MPX line.

STORY AND PHOTOS BY OLEG VOLK

The MPX family of pistol-caliber firearms fixes the main flaw of close-bolt blowback designs: excessive bolt weight. Adapting the AR-15 platform to 9×19 Luger with a gas-piston action, SIG engineers cut the overall weight and the reciprocating bolt carrier in particular, making MPX lighter than other 9mm ARs and cutting the recoil intensity at the same time. The resulting weapon is available as a 16-inch carbine, and as submachine gun, short barrel rifle and pistol, all available with 8-inch or 4.5-inch barrels.

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

The magazine well and ambidextrous controls optimize an efficient operation.

In the carbine form, the 7.6-pound overall weight of the weapon is no different from a rifle-caliber AR-15, making it more of a practice version of the 5.56, with less expensive ammo, less concussive report but substantially similar handling and manual of arms. The shorter barrel and forend of the 8-inch SBR and submachine gun variants bring the weight down to 6 pounds, and collapsed length down to 17 inches.

Unfortunately, National Firearms Act restrictions make the SMG unavailable except to government or corporate users, and the tax stamp and yearlong ATF turnaround on approving applications restrict the SBR. That leaves the pistol as the less legally encumbered purchase that can be turned into an SBR at a later date.

The 9mm Luger cartridge generated far smaller volume of gas than 5.56x45mm, so the MPX gas port is almost right at the chamber to generate sufficient pressure for cycling. With most 9mm loads, 8 inches is sufficient to get most of the potential velocity increase from the limited case volume. With the A2 flash hider, the muzzle signature is nonexistent.

 Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

Takedown of the MPX is simple, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

As with other gas-operated pistol-caliber guns, the MPX favors full-power ammunition for reliability – in my testing, it ran perfectly with 115-, 124- and 147-grain SIGbrand defense and range ammunition, but short-stroked occasionally with wimpy commercial remanufactured ball. With full-power ammunition, MPX has less felt recoil than blowback guns had with subpar loads.

WHEN SUPPORTED, the MPX pistol is superbly accurate. When rested on an convenient cardboard box and sighted with a red dot, the pistol shot very small groups at 25 yards, especially favoring 124- and 147-grain SIG JHP ammunition.

Similar or slightly better results were obtained using the MPX submachine gun in semiautomatic mode. In auto mode, running at about 850 rounds per minute, it remains fairly controllable and will keep two- or three-shot bursts in A zone at 25 yards. The mechanics of the MPX design are very sound. Compared to HK MP5, it runs a good deal cleaner, especially when sound-suppressed. Takedown for cleaning and especially the reassembly are much simpler, with all bolt and carrier parts accessible with the removal of a single pin.

MPX ergonomics are similar to AR-15, but with an emphasis on ambidextrous controls. Slide lock levers and magazine release buttons are duplicated on both sides, a helpful feature. On the left side, the controls could use more separation, as trying to lock the slide back sometimes caused a dropped magazine. The transparent, metal-reinforced polymer magazines made by Lancer are extremely reliable, durable and were easy to load. While more expensive than typically used single-feed Glock magazines, they are far more convenient in use. Available in 10-, 20- and 30-round capacity, MPX magazines fit any purpose, from combat to concealed carry to shooting from a range bench.

THE PRINCIPAL DIFFERENCE between the SBR and the pistol is ergonomics. The pistol comes with a QD socket at the rear of the receiver, right under the rail for the arm brace or the stock. In theory, a solid shooting position can be established with the use of both hands and a stretched sling. In practice, holding a 6-pound weapon in outstretched arms gets tiring fairly soon. Practical accuracy is no better than with a conventional pistol, and the sling length and position make effective concealment difficult.

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.

An optional brace and suppressor add length and flexibility to the MPX.

 A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

A closer look at the bolt carrier recoil spring.

Furthermore, the ambidextrous charging handle retained from the AR-15 has a tendency to entangle with the plastic sling fixtures, pulling the bolt out of battery and disabling the gun. At close range, especially indoors, the MPX pistol would be more stable if fired from the hip using a green laser for aiming.

In my opinion, the best fighting pistol made by SIG would be something like a full-size P226. The MPX is terrific as a carbine or a submachine gun, but – thanks to filling a regulatory niche created by illogical government regulations – is a pistol in name only. In reality, it’s a stockless carbine and would be best treated as a pre-SBR that the owner gets to take home before the tax stamp arrives.

If NFA regulations and restrictions aren’t your cup of tea, the 16-inch version of the MPX is superbly accurate, has almost no felt recoil and has a proper stock without requiring a tax stamp. For unsuppressed use, carbine-specific 9mm loads, such as 77- (2,000 feet per second) or 115-grain (1,500 fps) Overwatch, provide flat trajectory and effective terminal ballistics. From the 8-inch barrel, Sig V-Crown defensive loads are superior. With lower muzzle pressure than the pistol it also suppressed even more effectively, particularly with the SIG subsonic 147-grain load.

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

The MPX is superbly accurate at 25 yards.

Unlike the 5.56mm AR-15, the MPX has no perceptible gas blowback reaching the shooter. Given the excellence of the MPX concept, we can only hope that NFA regulations would be rolled back in the coming year, putting all of its features into the hands of a large and very appreciative group of American firearms enthusiasts. ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on SIG Sauer’s MPX line, see sigsauer.com.

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.

With a stock attached via the QD socket, SIG Sauer’s MPX creates an impressive rainbow of 9mm brass.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , ,

May 25th, 2016 by asjstaff

Evaluating Guncrafter Industries’ Model No. 4 50 GI

Story and photographs by Oleg Volk

Handguns are almost always inferior to rifles in terms of accuracy and stopping power. Since defensive fighting usually happens up close, those qualities are important, but casual carrying of long guns is not socially acceptable in much of the world. The solution is to use the most powerful handgun that’s still practical for unsupported firing. Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 Hunting pistol attempts to create exactly that kind of weapon by combining 6 inches of barrel with a .50-caliber bore, the largest legally possible without National Firearms Act paperwork. That way, the projectile already has an impressive frontal area, 23 percent wider than .45 ACP, and 15 percent higher velocity for the same 230-grain bullet weight. For hog hunting use, slower but much denser 300-grain bullets are available. While less energetic than a hot 10mm auto load, the 50 GI is more efficient by not having to use as much of the kinetic energy to expand the projectile.

Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch, whether you’re carrying for self-defense or hunting hogs

Guncrafter Industries Model No. 4 50 GI packs a powerful punch, whether you’re carrying for self-defense or hunting hogs.

The 50 GI accomplishes all that with the pressure of only 15,000 pounds per square inch. With the 6-inch barrel, especially, it gives much-reduced muzzle blast compared to other powerful defensive chamberings intended to supplant .45 ACP. While the case has a rebated rim like .50 AE, it’s straight rather than tapered. Seven cartridges fit a regular 1911 magazine.

Gun reviewer Oleg Volk reports that the plain rear sight combined with a tritium front sight works well in moderate light, and it’s easy for the eye to pick up the chartreuse vial.

Recoil was the same as with a standard .45 ACP Government model, and the pistol showed impressive practical accuracy. Fired at the rate of about a shot per second, Model 4 gave one inch dispersion at 10 yards with all four loads. The sights as supplied were regulated for 230-grain HP and 300-grain JFP ammunition, with 185-grain HP hitting slightly lower and a 275-grainer an inch higher. At 25 yards, the groups predictably scaled to 2.5 inches, which is quite good for a fighting pistol with iron sights. The combination of plain rear sights and tritium front worked well in moderate light, with the eye focusing on the vial with ease. With the long slide providing a nice forward balance, the sights returned on target readily. Overall weight is only a couple of ounces more than a regular M1911. The pistol is available in a wide variety of finishes and with various sight options.

Unlike the texturing on some high-powered handguns’ grips, the 50 GI comes with enough to hold onto it while it kicks, but isn’t so rough that it’ll chew up your hands at the range. The reviewer reports that while it shoots like any 1911 out there, the difference is in how much impact it delivers downrange.

Magazines required a good smack to seat on a closed slide when full, and dropped free when empty. The textured slide release worked well, so that I didn’t even bother with dropping the slide with the weak hand. The degree of texturing was sufficient for retention, not enough to abrade the hands. Unlike .357 Coonan, the Model 4 in 50 GI didn’t require conscious wrestling back out of recoil. It shot like any other 1911, with the sole difference of delivering a greater impact downrange. The report was not noticeably different. The muzzle flash was not visible in daylight.

So for the cost of dropping the full capacity from 8+1 to 7+1, it is possible to get a well behaved but more powerful weapon with the familiar form factor. The only down side I found has been the price: the pistol lists for a bit over $4,100, magazines are $50 each, and the ammunition runs $30 to $50 per 20-round box. I plan on talking to a couple of manufacturers to see if cheaper target ammunition may be developed for practice. ASJ

A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.

A close-up of the wheelhouse of the 50 GI.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

April 1st, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

All of Heizer Defense pocket pistols have interchangeable barrels.

The makers of the pocket AR (PAR1) have done it again and now offer a pocket AK; The PAK1 – The Pocket AK Pistol chambered in 7.62x39mm.

Heizer Defense will launch this latest gem at the 2015 NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits Show in Nashville, Tenn. April 10 – 12.

While the price has not yet been set for this little gun, we can tell you that the PAK1’s barrels are interchangeable with other Heizer Defense pistols chambered in .223 Rem. and .45 Long Colt/.410 bore.

Other known models that Heizer Defense has produced are the PS1 “Pocket Shotgun,” and the Hedy Jane Empowered line of pistols designed for women. – ASJ

Heizer-Defense-PAK1-Pocket-AK_F

The PAK1 – The Pocket AK Pistol chambered in 7.62x39mm.

 

 

Posted in Media Releases Tagged with: , , , , ,

March 24th, 2015 by Danielle Breteau

Glock 43 Size Comparison

The folks at Triangle Tactical did an outstanding job depicting size comparisons for the Glock 43.

You can read the full article here.

http://www.triangletactical.net/2015/03/18/glock-43-compared-to-other-pistols/

Posted in Editor's Blog Tagged with: , , , , ,