The C96 ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is certainly one of the most iconic self-loading handguns of the First World War. Osprey Publications has recently published a title about the C96, written by Jonathan Ferguson, Curator of Firearms at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK. For those not familiar with the Weapon Series from Osprey Publications, they are written to give a well organized and explained, yet easy to read, description of a particular small arm. The books are generally 80 pages in length and supplemented with artwork and high-quality photographs. The Weapon Series of books aren’t meant to be a definitive guide, but instead more of a survey for those wishing to expand their knowledge in regards to any particular small arm.
Ferguson begins his final chapter with this quote, “Overall it has to be said that the Mauser pales in comparison with later pistol designs and would be unsuitable for today’s various military, police, and civilian needs. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that in 1896 there was simply nothing in its class to touch its firepower, reliability, and accuracy potential.” Summed up in two sentences is the story of the C96 from its debut in 1896 to the end of production in the 1930s. Although it was technologically advanced at the time, it quickly became outclassed by Browning and Luger designs.
But the Mauser is unique in its historical trajectory. Similar to many iconic firearms, it was beloved and loathed by criminal, soldier, cop, and civilian alike. And for that reason, Ferguson’s book really stands out in taking the reader on this Mauser journey.
One important point about Jonathon Ferguson’s position at the Royal Armouries is that he was able to use dozens of C96s that exist in the National Firearms Centre reference collection as images throughout the book. It is this access that really allows readers to get to know the design changes throughout the different variants that were produced.
The book begins with the development of the C96 with the operational requirement for a self-loading handgun. An interesting fact here is that the Mauser team specifically designed the handgun to not have a single pin in the operating mechanism holding the trigger and hammer together.
Ferguson discusses partial acceptance by some elements within the German Army, mostly as an alternative to a bolt action carbine in use by cavalry. Later on, the C96 would have to bow to the Luger as a substitute standard handgun. He then goes into describing the different versions and iterations as Mauser worked on different safety and hammer designs and even carbine versions. He ends the initial chapter by discussing the end of the Mauser C96 in the 1930s after over one million were made.
The remaining chapters discuss the C96 throughout the world and this is what I really like about it. He discusses Mausers that were extensively used by Chinese warlords, rebels in Ireland and Armenia, police in South America that continued to use Brommhandles into the 1960s and 70s and even adventurers around the world that relied on the C96 for defense in the bush. He also discusses the different copies of the C96 from Spain to China, both licensed and unlicensed. Interestingly, Chinese Norinco was still producing a domestic copy of the C96 into the 1970s as the Type 80 for paratroopers. It ended up as a failure and was never really issued.
As with many iconic small arms, names for them often vary from locality to locality. Ferguson makes specific mention of this throughout the book and even points out that Mauser as a company didn’t even have a standard nomenclature for the handgun throughout its production life. In China it was called the “Box Cannon”, in Ireland “Peter the Painter”, some British called it a “Bolo” for its use by a number of Communists/“Bolsheviks” after the First World War, among many other both official and unofficial terms. And of course throughout much of the English speaking world, the “Broomhandle”.
As always, I want to point out a few bits that the book could possibly have done better on. One point I would have really liked to see is in the conclusion that Ferguson could have discussed the current collector market of the C96 today, or even the subsequent reproductions and possible fakes out there. He spends time covering the image of the C69 in various Hollywood films which is important, but I would have liked at least a paragraph or two on the collector market today. Also, on page 64 there is a mismatched caption to photograph which should show the internal rate reducing mechanism of an Astra C96 copy, but instead only shows the external handgun. And this just because of my own interests but in one photo caption, Ferguson mentions that Ottoman C96s had their rear sights marked in ‘Farsi’ numerals. This is incorrect as Ottoman Turkish would have used Arabic numerals instead of Farsi ones.
If you are a collector of German handguns, you could probably duplicate the written contents of this book yourself many times over so it wouldn’t be for you. But, if you are a student of the First World War or early 20th Century small arms, want to get a gift for someone who is, or are simply more curious about this German steampunk handgun, then I would absolutely recommend this Osprey Weapons Series book for you.
The ‘Broomhandle’ Mauser is available from Amazon for $13.59 in the United States.
Magtech might not be the name that first springs to mind when you think of premium defense ammunition, but you could be looking for less expensive, but still decent defense oriented ammunition for rainy day storage or hunting. If that’s the case, this line of bonded ammunition may be pretty attractive. Bonded JHP usually performs pretty well. Let’s take a look.
So, a little disappointing that the heavy clothing prevented expansion. It shouldn’t be too surprising, given the lower velocity of heavy for caliber 9mm ammunition. I do wish Magtech had put a bit more R&D into this, though. It’s possible that something as simple as having slightly deeper pre-fail cuts or less antimony in the lead alloy would have resulted in perfect performance. There are a lot of factors to balance, though, and this bullet is already borderline on bare gel penetration. In case you were wondering, it doesn’t do any better from a short barrel.
Now, some folks might argue that it’s “good enough”. That’s a fair point, depending on your interpretation of “good enough” and what use you intend to put it to. Is it “good enough” in the sense that it’s still live ammo that pokes holes in stuff? Sure, I guess. Is it “good enough” for your carry pistol? My opinion is worth every penny you paid for it, but I don’t think so. There are too many solid choices that do meet the standards to settle for anything less than outstanding performance for carry ammo. Is it “good enough” to buy cheap and stack deep for the zombacolypse? Sure. Why not? That is, if you’re stacking pallets of FMJ for Armageddon and you decide to stack up some of this too, well, it beats ball ammo. Is it “good enough” for discrete pest control or hunting? Well, that’s the one place where this is probably a good choice. It penetrates deeply enough to be useful for most critters that you would decide to use a 9mm on. Pigs and ‘yotes don’t tend to wear jean jackets or jorts so it ought to still expand well. It was also reliably subsonic. It may even stay subsonic in a longer barrel.
Bottom line: it’s better than FMJ and cheaper than premium defense ammo. If you have a need for something in that category, it might fit, but there are other options along those lines, too.
Solid copper hollow points typically offer excellent reliability and are a solid alternative to traditional, lead core jacketed hollow points, especially in locales where lead is banned. This test features a Springfield Armory standard, 5″ 1911A1 firing Prograde’s loading of Barnes 185 gr TAC-XP through four layers of denim to simulate heavy clothing as well as bare ballistic gel.
First, let’s take a look at the numbers.
Average: 1,001 fps
Minimum expansion: 0.445″
Max expansion: 0.802″
Penetration varied substantially in the bare gel test, with a minimum of 13.4″ and a max leaving the gel block and stopping in the first water jug. To be honest, I did not expect the bullet to leave the 16″ block. In the future, we’ll use other gel blocks to get a more accurate measurement of penetration. That said, water tends to give about 1.8 times the penetration result seen in ballistic gel at this speed and the bullet did not dent the back side of the jug, so the total penetration is likely to be less than 19.3″ as a rough estimate. That would exceed the FBI max, but it’s important to note two things. The first is that, based on the performance of the other rounds, this is probably a statistical outlier. The second is that, while the FBI standard strongly penalizes ammunition that fails to meet the minimum (-9 points), it does not penalize bullets that exceed the max by nearly the same degree (-5 points). That’s because the FBI is not nearly as concerned about the “over penetration” myth as that guy with the greasy John Deere cap who hangs out at the end of the gun counter said you should be.
It is true that some law enforcement officers have struck an innocent bystander with a bullet fired through a bad guy. But it is far more common for uninvolved parties to be hit with projectiles that missed their target altogether. More to the point, I know of not one single instance where a private citizen, using legally justified deadly physical force, hurt an innocent bystander with a bullet that passed through the intended target. Not one.Conversely, there are many documented cases where innocent people were hurt by bullets fired by a perpetrator who was already shot, but didn’t stop quickly enough. Every shallowly penetrating, ineffective bullet that is fired gives the bad guy that much more time to do his own shooting. Except, he may not be as diligent in his aim and he is probably loaded with FMJ. It also means that you have to shoot more, and consequently have more chances to miss the target and hurt someone.
As far as the other measures of performance, there was some significant variation in the penetration depth for the bare gel portion, though all made minimum. I suspect this is due to the relatively low velocity causing variation in when expansion occurs, though I can’t say for sure. The degree of expansion was extremely uniform and weight retention was absolutely perfect. Overall, this is a solid performer and a good choice for defense, assuming it cycles in your pistol. As you can see, it did fail to feed in my Springfield GI Model 1911A1, but 1911s with throated chambers and polished feed ramps may do better. Non-1911 pistols like the XD or Glock 21 should have no trouble, but this does underscore the need to test your carry ammo in your gun.
Having compensators on pistols is not exactly new. Competitors have been porting pistols for a very long time. Go look at any open division pistol in USPSA or IPSC. However, since the Roland Special came out, we have seen an increasing trend in compensators for Glocks. This has led to companies like Archon Mfg to make compensators. As a fan of compensated pistols, I got the opportunity to check out their Glock compensator.
For those who have not had the pleasure of shooting a compensated pistol, You are missing out. With a good comp design, the gasses help mitigate muzzle climb and recoil.
Archon Mfg’s take on their compensator is actually different than their competitors. While many other comps do screw onto a threaded barrel, Archon’s comp does not require thread locker or set screws against the threaded barrel. Instead, they split the female threads and have two screws on either side. So all you need to do is screw the comp onto the barrel, then time it to the right position and tighten the two screws so the comp clamps onto the barrel.
One added benefit to a comp on a Glock is that now your weapon lights don’t get coated in muzzle blast residue. Most of the gasses are going out the sides and top. Very little of it is blowing down to the light.
One minor issue is what threaded barrel you use. I am using a Lone Wolf Gen5 Glock 19 threaded barrel. Some threaded barrels have different lengths.
The gap between the Glock Comp and your slide will vary due to variations in barrel length on aftermarket barrels.
This is as close as I could get the Archon comp onto the G19X with the LW barrel. Notice there is a gap and the rounded corners of the Gen 5 disrupt the look. If I used a Gen4 or lower Gen Glock, the aesthetics where the slide meets the comp would look better.
While their compensator was designed for the Glock pistol, it is not limited to just the Glocks. You can mount this compensator onto any pistol with a threaded barrel.
Sig Sauer P938 with Archon Mfg Comp
So I am a bit spoiled as my benchmark for compensated pistols is my STI Steel Master race gun. It is the flattest and softest shooting 9mm handgun I own or have ever shot. So how does the Archon Mfg compensator compare? It is not in the same league. Is the disparity just from the compensator design? I don’t think so. The STI Steel Master is a purpose-built race gun. It was designed to run compensated. Adding a compensator to a pistol does not mean it is a race gun now. Just like adding a spoiler to a car does not make it a race car. So does the Archon comp work? Yes. There is an appreciable difference with the comp than without.
Take a look at the video below. It is a side by side comparison of the Glock 19X with and without the compensator. The left side has the Archon comp and the right side does not. Both shots you can see there is still muzzle climb. However, pay close attention to the position of the 19X after the recoil. The gun is physically higher and I have to bring the gun back down on target. With the compensator, the 19X does not jump as high and is quicker to bring back on target for the next shot.
The difference is very noticeable on smaller guns like my Sig P938. I think it is because the barrel is so much shorter and there are more gasses to make the comp work better. Just like a spoiler, you need more air/gas for them to be effective. In open division pistols, shooters typically load hotter rounds just so there is more gas to act on their compensators.
No, it is not. But it is pretty good. The best part is their split design. It was very easy to swap between guns and since there is no set screw, the threaded barrels are not messed up. The overall length of the Archon compensator is a bit long.
Mounting it onto a Glock 19 gives the overall length similar to a Glock 34. I would have preferred a Glock 17 profile as holsters would be easier to find. Luckily I have my holster for my Glock 35 and this fits perfectly.
One idea I had would be to alter their design so that the compensator does not need a threaded barrel. They could get a batch of long barrels and mill a slot on either side. Similar to the KAC Hush Puppy Beretta barrel. Reposition the set screws to line up with those slots and now you have a compensator/barrel set up for states that ban threaded barrels on handguns.
There is a lot of love for semi-auto pistols nowadays, but it is hard to beat the reliability, power and clean manufacturing of a revolver. In this TFB Review, we take a look at the stout Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum with a 2 3/4″ barrel.
The Smith & Wesson Model 66 comes in two different configurations of barrel lengths from the factory. Consumers can either choose a 4.25″ or a 2.75″ barrel option. The specific variation of the Model 66 that we took to the range is the 2.75″ option.
The rundown of specifications for both Model 66 revolvers follows as such with only the barrel and overall length differentiating the two options:
The MSRP of the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is $849.
The Model 66 is a K-frame revolver by Smith & Wesson. The K-frame was originally introduced in 1899 specifically for the .38 S&W Special cartridge. So to see the Model 66 in a K-frame size as a .357 Magnum is pretty unique even if the outward appearance is pretty unassuming. It also boasts a 2-piece barrel, a full-length extractor rod, and a ball-detent lock-up mechanism.
Overall, the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is very close in size to a Smith & Wesson Model 686. Most people should appreciate the leaner K-frame of the Model 66 versus the beefier L-frame of the Model 686 if you are contemplating purchasing a shorter barrel length like this revolver we reviewed.
Unboxing the revolver at the range, it comes with your standard issue of contents. You receive an owner’s manual, cable lock, red chamber flag (plastic disc to set on the cylinder facing when closed) and a key set for the internal lock. From the factory it comes clean and dry; not excessively oiled or lubed.
To get a good feel for this revolver, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum target rounds were fired. The .38 Special rounds were very enjoyable, controllable and light to shoot. The .357 Magnum rounds were still controllable but had a lot more snap. The snap was not surprising, but the fact that it was easily controllable with the moderate-sized handle was a pleasant surprise. The power of the .357 Magnum cartridge hit your hand hard, but the dexterity from the rubber grip and its length helped control it.
The single-action trigger pull of the Model 66 was very light and crisp. The break of the trigger was definitive and clean. Even with the shorter 2.75″ barrel, essentially anywhere I aimed I was hitting that mark perfectly.
The double-action trigger pull was consistently heavy from the initial pull up until the break of the trigger. So while it was heavy, there was no feeling of stacking or a compounding resistance that would make you squirm wondering when the double-action trigger may finally fire. The break of the double-action trigger pull, just like the single-action, was definitive and smooth.
After methodically firing 100 rounds (50 rounds of .38 SPL and 50 rounds of .357 Mag), I gained a few other impressions and thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum.
After all of the firing stopped and the earmuffs came off I had a few more thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver. For one, I would have liked to have seen the rear sight have a white outline of some kind.
I hail from MN so this range day was conducted indoors and most indoor ranges (ironically enough) have really poor lighting in the shooter’s bay, but phenomenal lighting out by your target. As a result, even with young eyes, you have to work to drop that red ramp front sight exactly where you need it to be.
The Smith & Wesson Model 686, by comparison, comes with a white outline rear sight standard. I would believe these sights should transfer over easily enough and I would like to see those on the Model 66 as well.
I view the Smith & Wesson Model 686 as a benchmark of features and quality for revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum. So a lot of the comparisons I make will treat that as the yardstick.
A 2nd item that differs from the Model 66 in comparison to a lot of the other revolvers Smith & Wesson puts out is the black accents. On most Smith & Wesson revolvers the trigger, hammer, cylinder release and potentially other small pieces will be case-colored; that swirled look of almost running water on metal. It can be very beautiful when done well, but I thought the black accented features on the Model 66 was a refreshing change from what has become standard protocol for Smith & Wesson.
As you can see above, on the Model 66 the extractor rod, cylinder release, trigger, and hammer are all accented black. They appear more pronounced in a profile image like this and better match the black grips. In comparison to the Model 686, the case-colored pieces get almost washed-out when paired with a brushed stainless finish and are not as easily noticed or appreciated.
Another attribute of the Model 66 I liked was the satin stainless finish. You might be thinking that is not a big deal, but let me explain. Once again, a standard Model 686 provides a brushed stainless finish. Often times, you can see actual brush marks on a brushed stainless finish leading the user to almost believe a new revolver is… used. The satin stainless finish appears cleaner, exhibits no finishing marks and its matte appearance looks clean even after shooting a lot of rounds.
A final thought I have on the Model 66 is the black rubber grip. The rubber material is very tacky and gives you great dexterity when shooting .357 Magnum rounds. So all-in-all, the large grip accomplishes what it sets out to do which is give the user a sturdy purchase to control and accurately fire the revolver.
Since this is only a 2.75″ barrel, I would have liked to potentially see a little smaller grip even with all of those positive, previous comments. I would not put this specific variation of the Model 66 into the category of a range pistol even though it shot really well. Its outward appearance and likely intended purpose would be for carrying; whether that is concealed or open. So to have a shorter handle would benefit anyone trying to carry it.
In summary, I believe the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver is a well thought out pistol. The MSRP of $849 is still within a tolerable range for most people’s checkbooks and my few complaints about a possibly shorter handle and improved rear sight are more personal opinions than engineering flaws.
If you are contemplating purchasing the Model 66, I can confidently say after spending significant time with one that you would not be disappointed.
When it comes to typical range shooting and training, almost nothing beats the ring of a steel target when that bullet hits it’s mark. So while punching paper for those clover leaf groups is cool, practicing techniques like body armor drills is much more useful with proper steel. I started doing my research on quality target kits about six months ago and came up with a few solutions: today we take a look at the Complete Target Solutions – AKA CTS Targets – ABC ZONE AR500 Silhouette.
Before we dive in, I think it would be useful to talk about steel and its use in firearm targets. Despite what Hollywood action movies tell us, not all steel is created equal when it comes to bullet resistance. So without getting into the weeds of metallurgy and materials science – steel composition, manufacturing processes, heat treating and other techniques all contribute to a steel’s hardness. Again, as an oversimplification, hardness in terms of steel refers to its resistance to deformation when an amount of force is applied.
Levels of deformation (indentation) are what target (and armor) manufacturers use to determine what rounds in which their targets are rated. When it comes to centerfire rounds, that is commonly called AR500 steel, a trademarked designation. There are other levels of steel used in the manufacturing of targets – AR400, AR300, etc, some of which are used on rimfire-only targets.
A. AR500 Steel:
Long story made short, when shopping for steel targets, always read the manufacturers ratings for ammunition calibers, types, and standoff distances. Failure to heed the warnings can result in injury or death to the shooter or bystanders.
I was extremely impressed with the way CTS fit all the steel pieces, neatly wrappped into a compact shipping pack. Being nearly indestructible metal, it would have been easy to toss the whole kit haphazardly into a box and send it on its way. But the CTS Target ABC Zone Silhouette showed up in a normal size shipping box packed like clever origami. Heavy, but normal.
The ABC target kit came complete in three basic sections:
You’ll need to provide the following tools and supplies:
Estimated setup time: 20 minutes
The proper use of most steel targets involves the angling of the target face down towards the ground slightly in front of the target base. This ensures that the bullet deflection is down and into the soft dirt or sand rather than another angle that could cause dangerous ricochets.
In the case of the CTS Target, the Pro Hanger is held at a distance out and away from the stand, with an attachment point 2/3’s of the way up the silhouette. The kit also includes a heavy-duty spring that acts as a dampener as well as keeping the target face slightly forward.
1. Run the bolt through the hole in the target face.
2. On the back, drop on the heavy duty green spring.
3. Now drop on the Pro Hanger
4. And thread the nut onto the bolt
5. Now align all four parts of the X Ground Base so that the “claws” are curving into the ground and the bolt holes all line up with each other.
6. Thread the bolts through the two right side “feet”, through the stand and then through the left side feet.
7. Tighten the two X Ground Stand bolts as needed
8. Drop a 2×4 into the ground base and use the finger screw to hold it in place.
9. Drop the hanger on to the 3’ 2×4 and use the finger screw to hold it in place.
10. You’re done.
The included instructions were complete, although minimal – but honestly, if the pieces showed up without any guidance at all, most competent shooters could still assemble the kit without issue.
The CTS kit is very well made, with precision cuts, rounded edges and powder coating to prevent corrosion. The hardware is not off-the-shelf big box, but instead grade 8* bolts, which is important because they hold static loads, endure dynamic impact forces and possibly direct bullet impacts. If I had to guess, the complete setup weighs in at about 50lbs, divided in half (top and bottom) for transport, is heavy but manageable.
Everything else was straightforward and intuitive, making it time to ring the bell.
As expected, 9mm bullet impacts only removed the powder coating. My hope is that CTS will allow me to keep the ABC Zone Silhouette target for a few more months so that I can bring you a long term report on resistance to rifle rounds and other calibers.
From the packaging to delivery, to set up and shooting, CTS does an excellent job of presenting the shooting community with a high-quality steel target. Obviously, there are a handful of other steel target manufacturers to choose from and we might get a chance for some comparisons, but as it stands, my CTS experience was overwhelmingly positive and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their products.
Specifications, details, and pricing are listed below,
CTS competition grade AR500 targets. Designed for the competitive shooter and weekend plinker alike! This laser cut, heavy duty, reversible target is designed for years of use The ABC Zone target is adapted from the standard IPSC silhouette to cover only the A, B and C scoring zones. Made of 3/8” AR500 steel to last and with an audible feedback that will not disappoint. Simply apply a fresh coat of spray paint for a new target every time.
The CTS X Ground Base is an excellent option for those looking for a wide, sturdy base for their steel targets. This stand is great for the shooter looking for a mobile target set up or has ground not suitable to pound spikes. It pairs perfectly with our 2×4 Pro Hanger for an ideal steel setup.
The CTS 2×4 Pro Hanger is the perfect accessory for your CTS targets. The hanger is designed to hold a steel target at a slight angle to deflect bullet splatter downward. The spring assembly helps absorb some of the energy of your bullets reducing wear on your target. Pairs perfectly with the CTS Spike Base or Ground Base.