Sig P320/M17 Modular Handgun System
In 2017, Sig Sauer beat Glock, Beretta, and other competitors for the U.S. Army’s M17 Modular Handgun System (MHS). The M17 is based on the Sig Sauer P320 and appears similar on its surface to other Sig pistols—but has several new internal updates from previous designs. The MHS consists of the full-sized M17 pistol and the compact M18, both of which are chambered for 9mm and distributed with seventeen- and twenty-one-round magazines.
Unlike previous Sig handguns, the P320 is a striker fired pistol that does away with a hammer and firing pin. The P320 also has a manual safety, a key Army requirement. The pistol is double action only, meaning a single trigger pull will both cock the pistol and release the firing pin, firing the gun. The P320 for civilians is available in 9mm, .357 SIG, .40 Smith & Wesson and .45 ACP.
5 Best from Smith & Wesson:
Smith & Wesson is one of the oldest, and most storied names in American firearms. Founded in the 1800s, the company specialized in revolvers and guns such as the No.3 and Schofield became synonymous with the Old West. Although Smith & Wesson is best known for its handguns,the company now makes guns of all stripes, from revolvers to pistols to their own version of the AR-15 rifle. Here are five of the storied company’s best contemporary offerings.
Smith & Wesson 686
Smith & Wesson categorizes its revolvers using a system of letters, with the so-called “L” frames set in the middle between small and large caliber guns. One of the most popular “L frames” is the Smith & Wesson 686 .357 Magnum. The 686 is capable of shooting both high powered .357 Magnum and lighter .38 Special ammunition. This gives shooters the option of training on .38 Special until they know the ins and outs of the revolver and then stepping up to the more lethal .357 Magnum when they feel comfortable.
Recommended: The Colt Python: The Best Revolver Ever Made?
The 686 has a four-inch barrel, an overall length of 9.6 inches, and weighs two and a half pounds. It also adjustable sights, a satin stainless steel finish, double action firing system and a six or seven round cylinder.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 was one of the first revolvers chambered for the powerful .44 Magnum round. A blued, six cylinder revolver with wooden grips and a classic style, the Model 29 became particularly popular after its use in the “Dirty Harry” series of films. The Model 29 is an all-steel handgun with heft, all the better to soak up the punishing level of recoil a user experiences when fired. Barrel length ranged from four to ten inches. The powerful .44 Magnum cartridge was particularly popular with gun enthusiasts and hunters who stalked dangerous prey. Discontinued in 1999, Model 29 was recently put back into production.
Smith & Wesson Model 442 Pro Series
In Smith & Wesson’s lettering system the smallest revolvers use the so-called “J frame,” and one of the smallest revolvers of all is the Model 442 Pro Series. Designed as a concealed carry revolver, the 442 is chambered in .38 Special and can handle more powerful, higher pressure +P rounds. The revolver frame is made of aluminum alloy to reduce overall weight with the cylinder itself made of carbon steel and barrel made of stainless steel. The 442’s cylinder holds five rounds, resulting in a narrower pistol that is easier to carry concealed. The revolver is double action only, meaning a single pull with both advance the cylinder to fresh round and release the firing pin, firing the gun. The 442 lacks a hammer, allowing for a smoother draw from under clothing.
Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0
Smith & Wesson’s successful “wonder nine” pistol, the M&P followed in the footsteps of the Glock to produce a highly effective, high capacity polymer frame pistol. The Military & Police Model, currently in version 2.0, has a low bore axis, which the manufacturer claims reduces muzzle climb and allows the shooter to get sights back on target faster. The M&P 2.0 incorporates a five-inch stainless steel barrel into a pistol with an overall length of eight inches. The double action pistol is available in nine millimeter and .40 Smith & Wesson, with the 9mm version sporting a seventeen round magazine plus one in the chamber, for a total of eighteen rounds. The pistol also features an optional loaded chamber indicator and optional thumb safety. Somewhat unique among pistols it comes with four different palmswell grip inserts for maximum ergonomic comfort.
Smith & Wesson 1911A1
The patent on John Moses Browning’s 1911 handgun design ran out long ago, and nearly all gun companies now manufacture their own versions of this iconic handgun. Smith & Wesson is no exception, producing its own S&W1911 E-Series pistols. The pistols are generally true to the final version of the 1911A1, with the exception of stainless steel barrels, skeletonized hammers, and in some cases an accessory rail for the mounting of lights and lasers. The company makes both full-size Government and smaller Commander handguns, the latter with a barrel three quarters of an inch shorter than the five-inch Government barrel and a slightly shorter slide. Commanders also feature bobtailed mainspring housings and aggressive checkering to help the shooter stay on target. The 1911 E-Series is generally true enough to form to satisfy 1911 purists.
5 Best from Ruger:
Sturm Ruger & Company, also known as Ruger Firearms, is one of the most well known and respected names in the American gun industry. Founded in 1949 by gun designers Bill Ruger and Alexander McCormick Sturm, the company started out producing an accurate and relatively inexpensive target pistol before branching out to other handguns and eventually long guns.
In 2016, the company reported manufacturing just under two million firearms, making it the second largest gun manufacturer in the U.S. Ruger is second only to Smith & Wesson in the handgun market and Remington in the pistol market. Here are five weapons that exemplify the company’s broad and varied line of firearms.
Ruger American Rifle:
First launched in 2011, the Ruger American Rifle was designed to be an accurate, inexpensive, mass-produced bolt action rifle for the modern hunting market. The American Rifle incorporates a number of features that used to be the province of more expensive hunting rifles, but due to modern manufacturing techniques could be brought down to a lower price point.
The American Rifle includes three features that make it an attractive rifle out of the box. The barrel is cold hammer forged steel, for long barrel life. The Ruger Marksman Adjustable Trigger has a pull weight of 3-5 pounds, allowing the shooter to customize the pull to whatever they feel most comfortable. The lightweight, synthetic stock is free floated, meaning the barreled does not touch the stock past the rifle’s action. This prevents undue pressure from being exerted on the barrel that could throw off accuracy.
The Ruger American Rifle is chambered in a wide variety of calibers, from .270 Winchester to .338 Winchester Magnum and including the new 6.5-millimeter Creedmoor round.
One of Ruger’s most technically interesting new weapons is the Ruger LCR revolver. Introduced in 2009, the LCR was a new design that fully took advantage of the latest in polymer and metal technologies to create one of the lightest revolvers on the market.
The Ruger LCR weighs just 13.5 ounces unloaded, achieving significant weight savings with its combination polymer and aluminum frame. Although common in high capacity autoloading pistols, the use of polymers in handguns is unusual. The LCR uses polymer where metal-quality strength is not an issue, such in the grip frame, but uses aluminum in the rest of the frame. The revolver uses a steel cylinder to safely handle high chamber pressures.
The LCR is equipped with a five-round cylinder and is capable of shooting both .38 Special and higher pressure .38 Special +P rounds. The gun is just 6.5 inches long and—coupled with a dehorned frame and lack of an external hammer the gun—is easy to draw from behind clothing. A rubber Hogue grip fully encases the backstrap, making the revolver more comfortable to shoot.
Ruger Precision Rifle:
Just as the Ruger American Rifle brought an inexpensive, accurate hunting rifle to the masses, so did the Ruger Precision Rifle. Built using modern manufacturing techniques, the RPR as it is known to fans is a quick way to get into the precision shooting hobby. Mated with a suitable optic, the RPR is capable of consistently making accurate long distance shots right out of the box.
Introduced in 2015, the Ruger Precision Rifle is based on the action of the Ruger American bolt action rifle inserted into an aluminum chassis of Ruger’s own manufacture. The Ruger also uses the same three lug bolt action for quick and positive lockups, as well as a cold-hammer forged steel barrel. The barrel is finished off with the Ruger Hybrid Muzzle Brake, which minimizes barrel flash while lessening noise and pressure waves to the left and right of the shooter—a welcome addition to those who regularly shoot from crowded shooting ranges.