Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Guns I Went To See And The Guns I Want

Firearms manufacturers really don't have any incentive right now to introduce new guns as they are selling everything they produce. I'm sure many of them have new designs ready to go when the market for guns appears to be slowing. Because of this, I didn't expect to see many new guns at the recent NRA Annual Meeting. I did, however, have a couple I wanted to check out.

The first firearm that I really wanted to see and handle was the Mossberg 500 Bantam Tactical 20 gauge shotgun. It is an 8-shot 20 gauge pump with a 13" length of pull and a ghost ring sight. I have been looking for a youth-sized shotgun for the Complementary Spouse in 20 gauge. I want her to have a self-defense shotgun.

According to the specifications from Mossberg, the Bantam Tactical (Model 54300) weighs 6 pounds, has a 3" chamber, and has a cylinder bore. It is drilled and tapped for a scope or red dot sight if you want to add it. The MSRP on this shotgun is $485 but the rep agreed that the street price should be around $400.

I found the shotgun easy to handle, pumped smoothly, and easy to get on target. The front blade sight has a red insert which makes it easy to see. This shotgun is going on the buy list. I really liked it and it would work for either the Complementary Spouse or myself. It isn't too short but just right.

Mossberg also makes a model (54301) with the same 8-round capacity but equipped with a pistol grip and adjustable AR-style stock. While it is more adjustable with a length of pull ranging from 10 3/4" to 14 5/8", it is heavier by 3/4 of a pound and the tang safety is hard to manipulate with a pistol grip. It is more "tacticool" but it just didn't do much for me. It also lists for $121 more.

The other firearm I wanted to examine was the Zastava Mini-Mauser with the Mannlicher stock. It is imported from Zastava of Serbia by Century International Arms and is available in both .223 and 7.62x39. I thought it would be a fun rifle to have. Given that it was coming from Serbia and that it was being sold by Century, I thought it might not be too expensive.

The rifle weighs just less than 6 pounds, has a 5 round integral magazine, and has a  18.11" barrel. The stock is made of European walnut and comes with an oiled finish. Trying it out, the trigger pull was smooth and crisp but the bolt could have used some work. From what I can find on the Internet, the street price is around $500. For that price, I'd have to think about it a lot more. I know that Ruger, Savage, and CZ also make or have made bolt action rifles in 7.62x39.

While I did check out a number of other firearms companies and saw a lot of guns that I liked, there was only one that made the buy list. That is the CZ 75 Shadow SAO.

It just fit my hand right and the trigger...oh, the trigger. It is essentially a custom trigger in a production gun. I had thought of a 1911 in 9mm but I decided why not a pistol in the caliber for which it was designed.

From CZ-USA's description:
When building the SAO (Single Action Only), focus turned to creating the best trigger pull possible. Fitted with a redesigned unit originally used in the CZ 75 Champion, the hammer of the SAO is slightly wider with modified sear engagement, resulting in smoother release and more positive ignition. The CZ single action aluminum trigger has an overtravel adjustment screw and pulls at 3.5-3.8 lbs. To further smooth the trigger pull and improve trigger reset distance, the CZ 85 Combat-style slide without a firing pin block is used. Lighter springs (15 lb. recoil, 16 lb. main) create a smoother, more consistent action and the CZ 75 SA wide ambidextrous safeties give more purchase and better positioning of the thumb.
I'm used to the CZ 75 as I have a couple of Tanfoglio Witnesses which are clones of it. They are nice pistols but this goes to another level. The MSRP on this is $979 but I've found it for less. Now to start searching for one in stock.


  1. I wasn't really looking for guns at all in Houston, but found myself lusting over the lightweight ARs from Daniel Defense. In comparison, my Colt AR feels like I'm lugging a Garand. Then they went and gave that soldier a new house and everything, and it really made me want to give them money! I think I'm going to queue up for a custom build through their website...

    1. @David: They are lightweight. I didn't play with one this year but did last year. They are top notch and who can argue with good people who do that for vets.

  2. Nice choices, but I do like the CZ's as small rifles... Just sayin...

    1. For $100-200 more, I think the CZ is the much better rifle. If you can find the Ruger Hawkeye M77 at a reasonable price, I'd say the same for that as well.

  3. That CZ Bolt Action in 7.62x39 looks VERY tempting, especially since one can still get ComBloc Ammo more readily than 5.56 Nato.

  4. John! Only 3 on your list? Dude, you are so falling behind!

    I have to say that the more time I spend with Marty Daniel and all the guys at Daniel Defense, the more I want to give them money. They are the living embodiment of a "class act." They live their values, and it has been an honor to work with them. Make really nice guns, too.

    I didn't really get a chance to walk the floor in Houston, but I was shopping for some specific projects, as it were. I am going forward with the "Get Michael Home" rifle/pistol lightweight travel pack. I have a take-down AR and my usual carry gun for most cases, but I want to put together the perfect pack for (to borrow a phrase) the slave states. Talked to Browning about a take-down BLR lever gun in .223, which I'd pair with a .357 revolver (probably my Ruger GP100). My Miroku-built Winchester 73 is coming home on Monday, along with the Tavor I bought on the spot after shooting it at SHOT.

    I'm also enamored with small, eclectic companies. Gordon Bond at Bond Derringers has pretty much perfected the Remington pattern derringer. His newer. smaller "Back-Up" to me is a far better (and less expensive) alternative to the flashy hi-zoot newcomer that never seems to be available for sale. The guys at Cabot Guns have truly redefined the 1911 with state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques (I can't wait to send some time at the factory!). They built a crazy good gun for Joe Mantegna's "Agent David Rossi" character on CRIMINAL MINDS, with an amazing set of grips from Wicked Grips honoring Am vets from the Vietnam War. Yes, they're expensive, but state-of-the-art always starts that way.

    And I would kill, KILL I tell you, for MagPul's restored VW Minibus! I'd even take one without the chain gun...

    Michael B

    BTW, great to see you at the party...tell your Significant Other that she was missed!

  5. BTW BTW, back before my Sweetie discovered 3-Gun, I built up a 20 gauge Rem 870 for her. I got the base gun like 10-years ago NIB for $100 at a local gun store going out of business. Shortened the barrel...added a Nordic little self-defense gun for less than $200 all in.

    Of course, now my Sweetie has an FNH SLP 12 gauge for competition and for "comfort" when I'm on the road.


  6. Just when i think i have all the guns i need..... they pull me back in!

  7. I have the CZ Custom shop built CZ75B SA Target, now discontinued. I can recommend them w/o reservation. The Shadow SA has no firing pin block resulting in an even better trigger. Lucky you. My CZ75 broke the extractor at 15,000 rounds. Clean it out around the extractor spring now and then to prevent that from happening. Excellent guns. I prefer the rubber base pads and added them to my magazines.