Are These the 5 Best 9mm Handguns and Hunting Rifles Ever?
Video Analysis: Pentagon Needs More Air and Missile Defense Weapons & Must Address New Threats
By Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest
(Due to reader interest we have combined these two posting into one for your reading pleasure.)
5 Best 9mm Handguns on the Planet
The 9mm Luger, invented before the Great War, is one of the longest serving gun calibers in history. Introduced in 1901, it has served in virtually every conflict since then up until today. From World War I’s German army to the British army fighting ISIS in Syria, the Luger round has served militaries for over a century. Despite its age, the 9mm is more dangerous than ever before, due to innovations in ammunition lethality that squeeze greater performance out of the bullet.
Adequately powerful and compact, the 9mm Luger round received newfound popularity in the 1980s when the so-called “Wonder Nine” pistols upended the dominance of revolvers and large caliber handguns on the U.S. market. It is the standard handgun caliber for NATO members, with many armies on their second or third generation 9mm pistol, and was recently re-adopted by the U.S. Army for its new issue M17 Modular Handgun System. The 9mm Luger round will be around for many more years. Here are five of the best guns the round is used in.
The Glock 19 was one of the first Glock variants produced. Released in 1988, it was basically the same handgun albeit with a shorter barrel and grip. This reduced the magazine capacity from seventeen rounds to fifteen, but also produced a pistol that was easier to conceal. Today, it is generally acknowledged among handgun enthusiasts as the best Glock model for all-around use. The Glock 19 has been adopted by the U.S. Navy SEALs, U.S. Army Rangers and a modified version competed for the U.S. Army’s Modular Handgun System competition.
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The Glock 19 has an overall length of 7.36 inches and a barrel length of 4.01 inches. It is a double-action pistol, meaning that after a round is chambered the pistol only requires pulling the trigger to set the firing pin and fire. Subsequent shots will also only require a single trigger pull. This eliminates the need to cock the hammer prior to firing but does introduce a slightly longer trigger pull. The basic Glock design incorporates three safeties, including a firing pin and drop safety, as well as a trigger safety. It does not have an external manual safety mechanism.
The Sig P226 was originally developed from Sig Sauer’s P210 pistol as a replacement for the long-serving .45 ACP 1911A1 handgun. The resulting pistol failed to win the contract, which went to the Beretta M9 instead. Although the U.S. Navy also picked up the Beretta, early problems with metal quality resulted in cracked slides among pistols with high round counts. SEALs, who experienced defect-related accidents, turned to the Sig P226 instead, calling it the Mark 11. Adoption by U.S. police forces further raised the P226’s profile.
The P226 is an all metal handgun with a metal frame. It has a fifteen-round magazine, an overall length of 7.72 inches, and a barrel length of 4.11 inches. Loaded, the gun has a weight of 2.28 pounds. Like the Glock 19 the P226 is also a double action pistol, although it also has a single action mode allowing the pistol to be manually cocked. It also features a decocking lever to lower the hammer without pulling the trigger.
Heckler & Koch VP9
One of the newest 9mm Luger handguns is the Heckler & Koch VP9. Introduced in 2014, the VP9 is like the rest of the handguns on this list a high capacity, twin-stack handgun with a steel slide and polymer frame. The VP9 carries up to fifteen rounds—as many as a Glock 19. This German-designed pistol has dimensions similar to the G19 and P226 and uses a cold hammer forged barrel for increased accuracy and barrel life.
Unlike older pistols that utilize a hammer, the VP9 is a striker-fired pistol. Striker-fired pistols use a spring-loaded firing pin that is partially cocked by pulling back and releasing the slide. Pulling the trigger completes the cocking action and releases the firing pin. As a result, striker fired pistols are immune to any accidental discharge that does not involve pulling the trigger—such as dropping the handgun on a hard surface.
A new feature—increasingly common in handguns—of the VP9 is the ability to tailor the pistol’s grip to a wide variety of hand sizes. Each pistol comes complete with a number of removable backstraps and grip panels to reduce or enlarge grip width, with a total of twenty-seven different size configurations available for small to large hands.
Smith & Wesson M&P
The Smith & Wesson M&P (Military and Police) was first introduced in 2005 and as a hybrid of two previous guns, the Sigma and the SW99. Like the rest of the guns on this list, it has polymer frame and steel slide, a large internal magazine (seventeen rounds) and a striker-fired operating system. The M&P has aggressive good looks, with serrations on the slide to promote a better grip, and a built-in Picatinny rail under the barrel for mounting lights and laser pointers.
Smith & Wesson claims that the M&P’s low bore axis reduces muzzle rise and allows the shooter to get back on target faster. In many respects it is similar to the Glock 17—including magazine size—but one reviewer has pointed out that it is slightly larger and heavier. The M&P also features a loaded-chamber indicator which tilts upward when a round is in the chamber, ambidextrous controls and four interchangeable palm swell inserts of different sizes to accommodate different hand types.
Originally developed in Croatia as the HS2000, the Springfield XD (“Extreme Duty”) handgun has enjoyed considerable success in the United States. The XD externally resembles a Glock, from nearby Austria, though is somewhat blockier in appearance. The standard service model features a four-inch barrel—par for the course on this list—and a double-stack magazine that holds up to sixteen rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition.
The Springfield XD combines a number of older and newer features from other guns on this list to create a fairly unique and impressive package. The XD has a grip safety like the one on the Colt 1911A1 handgun, that prevents the gun from being discharged unless gripped properly. It also features a trigger safety, like the Glock, a drop safety that prevents the striker from being released, and a loaded chamber indicator like the Smith & Wesson M&P. A flip of a lever allows the pistol to be quickly field stripped for cleaning.
5 Best Hunting Rifles on the Planet
Hunting, more than other countries in the Western world, lingers in America’s DNA. While the number of hunters in Europe and the rest of the industrialized world has declined with the rise of cities, hunting is still a major sport in the United States. Hunting is particularly popular in rural and suburban areas and large, stable populations of game, including deer, moose, and wild pigs are liberally distributed across North America.
(This first appeared several months ago.)
For many in rural areas hunting rifles are tools not only for sport but for procuring a supply of meat. The best hunting rifles are a combination of firepower, portability and affordability. Hunting rifles must be as reliable as possible to ensure they’re ready when a fleeting opportunity for a shot arises, and to put down dangerous game such as pigs that will readily turn and attack hunters.
The Weatherby Company was founded in 1945 by Roy Weatherby, and quickly came to be known as the West Coast purveyor of bolt action hunting rifles. In the 1960s, Weatherby partnered with Howa Machinery Company Limited of Aichi, Japan for the production of the new Weatherby Vanguard rifle. The Vanguard was meant to be a more affordable alternative to Weatherby’s Mark V series rifle, which the company marketed as an exclusive, high-end rifle. The less expensive Vanguards thus became more ingrained with mainstream hunting America than the rest of Weatherby’s product line.
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Howa manufactures the Vanguard’s action and barrel, and the rifle typically minute of angle—or better—accuracy out of the box with match ammunition. The action is an unusual, but effective mixture of a standard Mauser-type action and M16-style claw extractor. Vanguards are available in sixteen different calibers from the .223 Remington suitable for varmints to the .375 Holland & Holland.
The Browning BAR hunting rifle is actually based on the Browning BAR of World War II fame. The wartime BAR was invented by prolific firearms inventor John Moses Browning and introduced in 1918. Fully automatic and firing the powerful .30-06 cartridge, the BAR was the M249 squad automatic weapon of its time, serving the U.S. army in both the Pacific and European theaters.
The BAR sporting rifle is an adaption of the wartime rifle, modified to run semi-automatic only. The sporting BAR also feeds from a 3–4 round internal detachable magazine, and is available in typical rifle calibers for mid-sized game, including .243, .308 and 7mm. A Safari version of the rifle is available in .338 Winchester Magnum for taking down large game. Lightweight with mild recoil, even the .338 BAR weighs just eight pounds three ounces—a mere pound more than a Browning bolt action rifle in the same caliber.
Remington Model 700
Quite possibly the most popular long gun of the twentieth century, the Remington 700 has dominated the bolt action hunting market since its release in 1962. Remington sold more than five million Model 700s between 1962 and today, in more than 900 variants.
The Model 700 is a “push feed” action, meaning the bolt pushes the round into the breech, where the bolt is safeguarded by the company’s famous “three rings of steel”: one ring of steel surrounding the bolt, a second ring formed by the butt of the barrel, and a third ring formed by the forward receiver ring. The result, Remington says, is an extraordinarily safe action that won’t blow up in the user’s face. It also results in a extremely strong, consistent action lending itself to a high level of accuracy.
In the 1980s the Model 700 adapted into the U.S. army’s M-24 Sniper Weapon System, and in 2010 the army began upgrading those rifles to the new M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle standard. The conversion involved converting a .308 long action rifle to .300 Winchester Magnum, and the fact that the army saw no issues with converting a used .308 action to the more powerful .300 WM is a testimony to the strength of the 700’s receiver. The Model 700 is also a popular platform for civilian precision rifle shooters looking for an accurate, easily customizable rifle.
Ruger American Rifle
Ruger introduced the American series of medium bolt action rifles in 2011. The American rifles are a triumph of mass production: a strong, safe action rifle that is both lightweight and accurate. The rifles are feature packed, including cold hammer forged barrels, lightweight synthetic stocks, an integral bedding block and free floated barrel, and a user adjustable trigger. The American rifle is available in calibers ranging from .223 Remington to .30-06 Springfield.
The American series rifles are very affordable, with a street price often under $400. The combination of features and the attractive price tag has prompted some gun writers to describe the rifle as the Remington Model 700 for the twenty-first century. A strong aftermarket selection of parts is available for the American Rifle for shooters interested in building an entry-level long range precision rifle.
Winchester Model 70
A contemporary of the Model 700, the Model 70 is known as “The Rifleman’s Rifle” and produced by the world famous Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Winchester made it is name during the ninteenth century with a series of famous lever action rifles and carbines, including the Winchester Model 1873 (“The Rifle That Won The West”) and Model 1894.
First produced in 1935, the Model 70 borrowed the elements from Mauser’s bolt action rifle design, particularly the claw extractor and controlled round feed. A lightweight rifle with a handsome walnut stock and diamond checkering, the Model 70’s popularity exploded after World War II, when a booming economy fueled a resurgent interest in the shooting sports. In the past eighty years, Winchester has offered the Model 70 in virtually every rifle caliber ever made, introducing the new 6.5mm Creedmoor caliber for 2018.
In 1999 the Model 70 was named “Bolt-Action Rifle of the Century” in 1999 by Shooting Times magazine. A simple, strong bolt action design, the Model 70 could easily see production for another 100 years.
Kyle Mizokami is a writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in The Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and The Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
Image: Creative Commons.