It’s the most famous pistol ever produced. More than 100 years old, the design has endured largely unchanged. Almost every pistol manufacturer throughout the world has made one at some point or another, and yet most attempts at improvements fall short and John Moses Browning’s design continues along the same as it has since 1911. That’s right, the 1911 pistol is an icon and is revered by many as quite possibly the perfect design.
Sure, metallurgy and materials technology have allowed for newer more modern designs that incorporate super-light super-strong polymer components. Advances in cartridge development has created loads with faster muzzle velocities and bullets with better expansion. But JMB’s famous design persists as a viable combat pistol.
This year, the 100th anniversary of the military’s adoption of the design, many manufacturers have come out with commemorative models of the 1911. Rumors circulated around the internet and were whispered in hushed tones at the 2011 SHOT Show by retailers and manufacturers alike anticipating the announcement that Ruger would be bringing to market their own variation of the 1911.
At long last Ruger has confirmed the rumors in a recent press release announcing their reincarnation of the design.
Ruger is proud to announce their new SR1911, an “All American” classic rendition of John Browning’s most famous handgun design. The public debut of the Ruger SR1911 pistol will take place during the NRA Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania April 29 – May 1.
The single‐action .45 Auto Ruger SR1911 features a bead‐blasted stainless steel frame and slide, precision CNC machined for a precise slide‐to‐frame fit. The stainless steel barrel and bushing are produced simultaneously, from the same ordnance‐grade barstock, for a precise fit and improved accuracy. The slide features rear cocking serrations and a dovetailed three‐dot sight system with a Novak® rear sight and standard front sight.
“We are very proud to offer a 1911 pistol, an icon of American gun design and manufacturing,” said Ruger CEO Michael Fifer. “In this 100‐anniversary year of the introduction of the Government Model 1911 it is only fitting that such a firearm be completely manufactured in America with all American‐made components.”
The Ruger SR1911 pistol features a titanium firing pin and heavy firing pin spring, which negates the need for a firing pin block, offering an updated safety feature to the original “Series 70” design without compromising trigger pull weight. An extended thumb safety offers improved manipulation and an oversized beavertail grip safety provides positive function and reliability. A visual inspection port offers visual confirmation of a round in the chamber.
Positive extraction is facilitated by an improved internal extractor. The plunger tube for both the slide stop and thumb safety is integral to the frame and will never shoot loose. The swaged link pin also will not shoot loose. The SR1911 uses a skeletonized hammer and an aluminum, skeletonized trigger with an adjustable over‐travel stop. The Ruger SR1911 features a standard recoil guide system and flat mainspring housing.
The Ruger SR1911 grips feature a Ruger logo in checkered hardwood panels. Each pistol is shipped with one 7‐round and one 8‐round stainless steel magazine, bushing wrench and a soft case. The SR1911 will fit currently available 1911 size holsters.
The SR1911 slide and barrel bushing are both CNC machined from a single piece of stainless steel bar stock to ensure that both pieces fit together perfectly. The frame and plunger housing of the pistol is investment cast as a single piece as well.
The most notable thing about Ruger’s SR1911 is that it uses an older design that does not incorporate Colt’s Series 80 firing pin block. The Series 80 design, and the similarly designed Swartz safety device, consisted of a series of levers that blocked the firing pin, preventing the gun from firing unless they were moved out of the way by depressing the trigger. This additional lock-work, by necessity, made the trigger more gritty and difficult to pull. By eliminating the Series 80 firing pin block and going with a light titanium firing pin and stronger firing pin spring, Ruger made the trigger that much lighter and smoother. The trigger itself, along with the hammer, features the lightweight skeletonized design sought after by many 1911 aficionados.
From humble beginnings crafting durable nylon web gear and packs in a garage back in 1993, BLACKHAWK! has grown into a large corporation offering thousands of products for military, law enforcement, firefighters and EMS, as well as for hunters and self defense. Every product produced by BLACKHAWK! is thoroughly tested under the harshest conditions to ensure that it will hold up and perform when needed the most. In short, for BLACKHAWK! products, failure is not an option.
We spoke with Ty Weaver, Senior Manager of BLACKHAWK!’s Special Operations Division to learn more about the history of the company and what goes into the development of their battle-proven equipment.
Ty Weaver BLACKHAWK! was started in 1993 by a gentleman named Mike Noell., He was actually an active duty SEAL at that time. He was in Northern Iraq on patrol hunting SCUD missiles and one of the straps on his backpack failed, which was bad enough on its own, but they had just found out that they were in the middle of minefield when that happened. So, he decided if he ever got out of that, he’d start making gear that the guys could depend on ’cause he wasn’t impressed with the quality of the issued gear at that time.
He went back, to his East Coast SEAL station in the Norfolk area at Dam Neck. He started designing and building gear out of a 2 car garage in Virginia. He started doing backpacks, load bearing harnesses and things like that.
Cheaper Than Dirt That’s still kind of BLACKHAWK!’s bread and butter isn’t it?
Ty Weaver Yeah, that’s the emphasis. We’re a very diverse company now. We were purchased by ATK in April of 2010—and continue to expand our product offerings. ATK has a number of well-known brands under the umbrella–Federal Premium, Speer, CCI, Weaver, Champion, Alliant Powder and RCBS to name a few. It’s a great fit.
Cheaper Than Dirt Anytime companies can work together under a single umbrella such as ATK, we see so much more product compatibility and so many more innovative products being developed.
Ty Weaver Yup.
We take it so seriously because, all of the guys in the Special Operations Division, we’ve been there. We’ve been in those fights and we know what it’s like when a piece of equipment fails. It’s not all about the money. This is about people’s lives, you know. It really is that important to BLACKHAWK! and that’s why the company has grown substantially since Mike started it. We’ve always had that philosophy of always taking care of the end-user at first.
It doesn’t matter if it’s law enforcement, the military or commercial. We look at the entire market and ask “What do we need? How can we make stuff better, lighter, stronger and faster?” So we work on that.
Cheaper Than Dirt All this gear is designed to be used in areas where failure is really not an option.
Ty Weaver Right, and we take that into account you know. We had crossed over in the last few years into the commercial market and done some packs with Real Tree camouflage, but we don’t really do a separate line. We take existing packs and reconstruct them the same way as we do for a military Special Forces unit. We’ll just change some colors, maybe change a few features on it to get into that specific, what we call “Different Mission Profiles,” whether it be a military mission profile or law enforcement, or commercial. We look at our mindset, asking where is the equipment going to be used, and then we specifically design for that.
Cheaper Than Dirt That’s a really good point because a lot of Cheaper Than Dirt customers are law enforcement and military. We also have a lot of customers who are simply supporters of the Second Amendment. They’re hunters, campers and people who are looking for gear that can survive being abused and being tossed in the closet and hauled out and expected to perform out every couple of years.
Ty Weaver Yeah we design and build our gear to the extremes. You buy one of our BLACKHAWK! three-day backpacks, it’s going to last you for 20 years. Through the years, with the different design changes, we control raw materials very closely and we’re always looking for new products out there to make our stuff lighter, stronger and faster. We’re consistently striving to put the best product out there that we can.
Cheaper Than Dirt What goes into the development process? How are BLACKHAWK! products developed? Do you just have a bunch of guys sitting around a table with a whiteboard and some scraps of paper, scribbling down ideas?
Ty Weaver These days, it’s all end-user driven. Once again it could be in law enforcement, military, civilian commercial, hunters or nearly anybody that we get feedback from. One of the most critical ways we do that now, for the last 6 years, we’ve had a Special Operations Divisions where I work and we have about 12 guys who are all prior law enforcement, military or both, all with an average of 20 years experience in the field.
We go out and do training for law enforcement and military. We do demonstrations, we outfit military units and things like that. Having that interface with the end user, we’re constantly getting feedback.
Teams will tell us “Hey we have this mission profile, can you build us something to accomplish this mission?” or “This holster is great, but we want it to do this: can you modify it this way?”
Cheaper Than Dirt You’ve actually got boots on the ground. You’re directly interfacing with the end-user in order to develop your products.
Ty Weaver Absolutely. For the Special Operations Division, with the team members we have throughout the United States, there are several guys that work at our headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, but the rest of us are in the field all the time. We work out of our house, I mean we work for the factory and obviously are full time employees, but we work in different areas throughout the country as well as all over the world.
Cheaper Than Dirt Let’s talk about one of your new products that you’re coming out with for 2011. You’ve got a new high performance fighting uniform, and one of the features we see on it is an integrated tourniquet system. That’s something that was directly driven by the military, wasn’t it?
Ty Weaver Absolutely, yes. It started off with one of the guys on our Special Operations team, Matt Willette, who was doing a tactical medical course with a guy named Dr. Keith Rose. Keith had done deployments to Afghanistan; he was in a convoy of what are called “technical vehicles” which are basically Toyota pickup trucks. One vehicle in front of them was hit in the front with an RPG, and the driver who was a good friend of his was stuck in that vehicle. They couldn’t get him out and he actually bled out.
Dr. Rose came up with the idea “Hey, if we would have tourniquets on his body in position, we could have saved his life.”
We looked at it, and there are so many ways you could use that. We’re considering, as we expand our apparel line, getting into hunting clothes. If you have a hunter out in the middle of nowhere by himself, and he goes up a tree stand and falls, and somehow a stick goes into his leg and hits an artery, what’s he gonna do? If he has the tourniquet system right there, with one hand he can apply that tourniquet. That’s the thought process, to just incorporate life-saving features in to the actual uniform itself.
Cheaper Than Dirt That same thought process goes into all of your items. You take military application and police applications, and make them into commercially viable products.
Ty Weaver It’s really neat, the way we operate. We have guys in every branch of the military, some guys are canine handlers and on SWAT teams, so when we look at new products it almost always comes through what we call the “SOD” (the Special Operations Division) and we look at it and give inputs on all different aspects.
“How can we make this better?” or “Did you think about this?” just trying to cover as many bases as possible. We strive to get the most use out of every part we build as possible.
Cheaper Than Dirt Let’s talk holsters for a minute. We’ve seen more and more of these holsters come out that accommodate pistol mounted lasers. As lasers become cheaper, less expensive and more readily available, more and more end users, not just police and law enforcement, but regular people carrying concealed handguns are looking for a way to carry that weapon securely concealed in a holster that can accommodate a laser. Can we look forward to seeing more laser holsters coming out from Blackhawk?
Ty Weaver Oh yeah, I mean that simple line that we have now, we already do nylon, leather and the polymer based SERPA holsters, and the SERPA holsters are already designed from the ground up so that when you reholster your weapon, if you have a Crimson Trace laser mounted to your weapon it’ll already accept that.
We also have light bearing holsters. One of the new items we’re coming out within the next 6 to 8 months is our concealed CQC holster light bearing. We did it as a level 3 duty holster for law enforcement. Now we’re taking it a bit farther so that people can carry a concealed weapon with a weapon mounted light as well.
As we go along, we’re developing more and more holsters for different brand weapons, but also incorporating the different accessories that are available out there in the market.
Cheaper Than Dirt Holsters are one those things that you can pretty much chase the long tail of the market forever. There’s almost a never ending possibility of different combinations of lights, lasers, and other accessories. How do you decide where to draw the line and what holster to customize for a specific gun/laser/light combo, and what to go ahead and stick with a universal-style nylon holster for?
Ty Weaver Well, look at holsters like our SERPA line. Obviously it’s expensive to do a mold for every gun, and you have a left and right hand version of each so you have two molds at a minimum, but we look at the industry out there and we have great connections. Within our Special Operations Division we have a guy who worked for SIG for several years. I worked for H&K for seven and a half years, and we have great relationships with people at GLOCK and Springfield, so we get input from them. They let us know what the most popular models are and what’s selling.
A lot of manufacturers will come to us and say “Hey can you do a holster for this weapon we’re going to come out with,” and we get ahead of the curve on that as well. One of the unique things is that we do the traditional leather and nylon, but one of the unique things about the SERPA is it’s a modular system.
For example, if you buy the CQC holster, it comes with both a paddle and a belt mount. But if you want to turn it into a shoulder holster you don’t have to buy another holster, you just buy the shoulder holster mount. If you wanted to buy an adapter to put it onto MOLLE gear or the PALS type of military webbing, we have that mount so that you don’t have to buy a whole new holster to accommodate that mission profile. Now you just buy an accessory and mount that holster on to it.
We’ve also done the quick disconnect system which is an 8 point gear system where you can mount this to any of the platforms and literally, within few seconds, mount and remove the holster and move it from platform to platform.
It actually started when the German military came to us and said “Look, we want to build a holster from our thigh to our chest, because we are out on foot patrol and we have our weapon on a drop leg holster, but once we mount up on a vehicle, we can’t access that when we’re sitting and it’s very difficult with your body arm to access it like that, so we want to be able to transfer to a chest platform.”
So that, even if you’re driving a vehicle, you know you’ll be able to access the weapon. We did that for them and now it works with all the components of the SERPA. I think there is a total of 12 different mounts we do now.
Cheaper Than Dirt With these new quick-disconnect mounts, can you move that setup with the gun still secured in the holster?
Ty Weaver Absolutely, the weapon’s in there, the trigger guard is protected, so it’s safe and law enforcement really liked it when they saw it. There are times when they’ll have to take the bad guy into the prison, and they’re checking into the Sally port and they’ve got to check their weapon. Now, instead of pulling the weapon out, clearing it, and putting it into the lock-up, they could just hit the quick disconnect, take it off, put in the lock-up, come back out and within just a few seconds they’re done.
Cheaper Than Dirt That’s a fantastic safety feature. Everybody knows that the more you handle a weapon, the more chance there is to have an accident. We all follow standard safety practices, but you’ve just eliminated one of the ways of having a negligent discharge.
Ty Weaver That’s what the SERPA holster has been all about. The natural draw of the SERPA, when you physically position your trigger finger in the same place on the slide as you are drawing the weapon, there are no un-ergonomic actions.
Within the Special Operations Division we do a one day SERPA holster instructor class. We teach people that if they are handed a pistol that the way they grab it is the same way you draw it out of that holster. The unique thing about it is, whether it’s a CQC holster, a Level 2 Duty or Level 3 Duty, a tactical drop leg, it’s the same consistent draw, no matter which mission profile you’re in.
Cheaper Than Dirt You’re basically training good muscle memory, and training good habits by doing that.
Ty Weaver Absolutely.
Cheaper Than Dirt You have an entire new line of EMS pouches, many medical pouches, and utility pouches.
Ty Weaver Absolutely. You know, we were surprised. We learn everyday too. You know, we took on the Special Operations Division guys and he has headed up our fire and EMS line. He’s the director of that now, and he got together and brought in a lot of end users from different fire agencies, from volunteer to big city agencies and held focus groups.
We started looking into this and one thing we found is that these agencies will spend millions of dollars on a fire truck, and then use equipment bags that they have their equipment in that are just substandard.
We suggested building and equipping them with better heavy-duty bags, and these guys were just ecstatic. They didn’t even know that the capability was out there to build to that level. If you ever go through a fire station, their individual equipment and their fire trucks are just the best that you can get, but it was just the support equipment that really hadn’t been brought up to a high standard.
We saw a real opportunity in there and that entire division for us is just taking off by leaps and bounds. We’re getting so much good feedback from these people thanking us for building this gear. They’ve told us “We had certain bags that, every year we were replacing them. Now that’s gone away. Now we have more options.”
Cheaper Than Dirt Just like in the military, people’s lives depend on this gear, and that’s an important point to remember. It may not be the user of the medical equipment that has so their life depending on it, but they’re using it to save somebody else’s life.
Ty Weaver Absolutely. That makes all the difference you know. If you’re on a search and rescue mission and you have to carry gear up into the mountains, and that bag falls apart like Mike’s backpack did in Iraq 17 years ago, it’s the same type of situation. It all affects whether that person is going to live or die. If you can’t get there with the equipment you need, it makes all the difference in the world.
Cheaper Than Dirt BLACKHAWK! is making that difference, and I know everybody appreciates it. Having quality gear is important to us all.
I want to thank you for taking the time to talk to us and explaining a little bit about the history of BLACKHAWK! as well as what goes into the development of your products.
The new SOST round from Federal Cartridge was engineered for the United States Marine Corps as a supplemental/replacement round to M855 green tip with more desirable terminal characteristics. NSN # 1305-01-573-2229, designated as the MK318 MOD-0, this round was designed as a “barrier blind” round and has superior penetration and better ballistic stability when shooting through glass, car doors, and other barriers where lesser rounds might be deflected. It was engineered after the Marine Corp identified barrier penetration issues with the M855 round. This new round utilizes a 62 grain open tip boat tail hollow point bullet with a lead core and reverse drawn copper jacket that creates an open tip.
From the press release from ATK:
MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Alliant Techsystems (ATK) announced today that it has received a $49 million contract from the U.S. Navy to produce a new special operations ammunition round with improved accuracy, stronger barrier penetration, and a lower muzzle-flash. ATK Security and Sporting developed the round in partnership with the Naval Surface Warfare Center – Crane Division under the Special Operations Science and Technology (SOST) ammunition program.
The SOST ammunition will be manufactured in 5.56x45mm and 7.62x51mm calibers, and is short-barrel optimized. It is designed for use with the MK16 and MK17 Special Operations Combat Assault Rifle Weapon System. Production will be performed at ATK’s Federal Premium Ammunition plant in Anoka, MN. Deliveries are expected to be completed in 2015.
“ATK is the clear leader in developing new ammunition technologies for commercial use,” said Ron Johnson, President of ATK’s Security and Sporting group. “We are now applying our research and development capability to satisfy the needs of our special operation forces.”
The new SOST 5.56mm and 7.62mm ammunition adds to ATK’s portfolio of specialized ammunition, including long-range products for both law enforcement and military applications.
ATK is an aerospace, defense, and commercial products company with operations in 24 states, Puerto Rico, and internationally, and revenues of approximately $4.8 billion. News and information can be found on the Internet at www.atk.com.
We’ve got an exclusive first look at Lone Wolf Distributors’ brand new .40 caliber race gun. This custom race gun was developed in part by Team Cheaper Than Dirt! shooter Patrick Kelley, and incorporates Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame and their hybrid ported Werewolf slide.
In August of 2008 experienced CNC machinist Phil Cashin acquired MasterPiece Arms from founder Gary Poole. With his extensive experience in precision metalworking, Phil set about to take the high quality firearms already produced by MasterPiece Arms and improve them even further by upgrading the manufacturing process.
Beginning with MPA’s existing line of MAC based Defender pistols, Phil expanded into the defensive carry pistol market when the Protector .380 was introduced. We sat down with Phil to talk about how MasterPiece has grown into the company that it is today, and to learn a bit about what goes into the design and production of high quality pistols like the Protector .380.
Cheaper Than Dirt: How did you get started in the firearms industry?
Phil Cashin: Well, I became involved in the firearms industry through an acquisition of MasterPiece Arms from the original owner, a gentleman by the name of Gary Poole back in August of 2008.
I had known Gary for years and he contacted me regarding some of his capital equipment, which is the business I used to be in. I used to buy and sell capital equipment earlier in my career and then I got out of selling equipment and got into manufacturing. That’s actually my background, precision machining and manufacturing.
Cheaper Than Dirt: MasterPiece Arms manufactured all of their firearms in the United States prior to your acquisition of the company, and that’s a tradition you’ve been proud to carry on.
Phil Cashin: Yes, MPA products have always been one hundred percent US made.
Cheaper Than Dirt: After your purchase of MPA, you updated the production facilities to an ISO 9002 certified facility, correct?
Phil Cashin: Well, when I purchased MPA I also owned, and still run, a very large, very sophisticated machining and metal work company that is located just outside of Athens Georgia.
When the acquisition took place there was a transition from the previous facility where MPA was located in Carlson. The manufacturing and assembly was moved over here to our location, so we basically just absorbed the manufacturing of the components. We brought online our quality system and some of our manufacturing techniques and continued with the design enhancements. Gary had developed a very good sound design into MPA’s products. Our equipment and manufacturing techniques are faster and newer and/or efficient and more capable. We just kind of added the best of both companies together.
Cheaper Than Dirt: So MasterPiece has always created very high quality firearms, all you did was bring them into the 21st century and upgraded everything?
Phil Cashin: Exactly, that’s right.
Cheaper Than Dirt: When you came on board they were already manufacturing the MPA 30 and the MPA 10 is that right?
Phil Cashin: The products that MPA was producing at the time of the acquisition was the Defender line, which included the 930 series, what we call the Mini-9. The original has the charging handle on the top of the upper receiver, more in line with the original MAC design. Gary developed the side charging version that puts the charging handle on the left side of the upper receiver, thereby allowing a Picatinny rail to be mounted to the top of the receiver, which lets the shooter attach any number of aiming devices such as holographic sights or a laser on top. But primarily, holographic sights are what seemed to work best with all of those weapons. The Defender is based on the original MAC design and, of course, that was manufactured initially as a full-auto weapon. The original sights on the weapon are not what most people would consider sophisticated.
Cheaper Than Dirt: MPA developed a similar MAC version that fires with a closed bolt.
Phil Cashin: I wouldn’t say we developed it, I would say we perfected it.
The problem with many of the other companies in the past that have manufactured MACs in a closed bolt design is the gun worked wonderfully in an open bolt. When the ATF required us to go to a closed bolt design, there had to be some engineering changes to any number of instrumental components throughout the entire gun to allow it to function more effectively with a different design than what it was originally designed for.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That was because, for those of our readers who may not be aware, the ATF declared that any open bolt gun, whether or not it actually functions as such, is in fact fully automatic impact machine gun.
Phil Cashin: What had happened was that they allowed the semi-automatic open bolts production of these weapons for a period of time until it became very apparent that anyone could, without even looking on the internet since it didn’t exist back then, with a file and about fifteen minutes spent modifying certain internal components you could convert the gun back to full auto.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You went in and made some other very specific changes to the pistol, for example creating a model that allows the use of Sten magazines so that you have got increased parts availability and magazine availability.
Phil Cashin: Well how the change took place on the nine millimeter version, which includes both the Mini-9. The Mini 9 being the 930 series and the full sized 9mm being the 30 series. It was produced with the Zytel mag, which is a polymer magazine and the reliability was okay.
One of the things that Gary did when he got these going with Masterpiece Arms was he changed the design to accept Sten mags because they were pre-ban and were of a very good quality and very reliable. It was a better, more reliable design, and the same thing goes for the Grease Gun magazines and the .45.
That same design still carries on today. Even in our current production models we use new and reproduced Grease Gun designed magazines. They are just an exact copy of the Grease Gun mag, but they are newly manufactured.
For the 9mm, due to how scarce Sten mags have become, and the volumes in which we were selling these guns, we worked with Tapco in Kennesaw Georgia and we developed a polymer version of the Sten magazine. It’s a polymer magazine that fits right into our weapon, and works extremely well. Of course it’s much lighter than the Sten mag and it’s a very attractive product. All of our weapons on the nine millimeter side are shipped with the Tapco version of the Sten magazine.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Now you have expanded into the Protector line. What prompted the expansion into concealable pistols from the tactical Defender line of pistols and rifles. Where did that jump come from?
Phil Cashin: The history of our company is built around the MAC design and our little Protector series has absolutely zero resemblance to the Defender line.
The reason that we decided to start manufacturing the Protectors was the fact that we wanted to get into more of a mainstream product line into the firearms market as well as to bring an increased awareness of the Defender line. Not everybody who sees a MAC immediately thinks of Masterpiece Arms. They may think of MAC, RPB, SWD or some of the other more poorly designed weapons.
The design principle of a weapon being a fully machined, both the lower receiver and the upper slide out of solid 4140, is a more expensive technique in manufacturing the weapon, but it’s one that we are extraordinarily good at. The Protector line was our effort to continue to bring high quality weapons at a low cost into the defensive handgun market.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have mentioned in the past that there are no cast or injection molded parts on this gun.
Phil Cashin: That’s correct, there is no forging, there are no castings, there are no metal injection molded parts (MIM) parts. Everything is, with the exception of obvious items like springs and a couple of other laser sheet metal parts like the shield on the trigger bar, everything is fully machined out of solid billet steel.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That’s a more expensive process, and yet we have various models of the Protector for sale for less than three hundred dollars, which is quite affordable compared to most of the pocket pistols.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely. It’s a fully machined premium design in a moderate price range. The pricing strategy that we used took an enormous amount of consideration, and I will get to that in a second.
Getting back to that the reason why we did it: We talked about the design getting our products into a more mainstream market. The manufacturing technique that we are using is one of our core competencies. Performing high tech, very high precision, CNC production machining where you can hold the tolerances down, when you can get cycle time down, you can significantly reduce your manufacturing costs.
On top of that, we do everything in house, with the exception of springs and magazines. All of the critical components we manufacture ourselves. We do our own heat treating, we rifle the barrels, we machine all the internal components of machining centers and CNC Swiss. For us, being able to control the manufacturing of you know all the critical components is very important.
One of the reasons why we try to do everything that we can ourselves because ultimately you are in the control of your own destiny. You are not having to rely on the manufacturing challenges of another supplier. Without a part to the gun, you can’t ship the products. If you’re missing the firing pin, a trigger, or a hammer, the product is not going out the door.
My predecessor Gary Poole had a pretty significant role in the development and manufacturing of the old Autauga pistol. That was a very small subcompact concealed carry .32 ACP pistol that very much resembles the Protector. We have made some design changes externally to make the gun more attractive.
There have also been an enormous number of changes internally to the weapon. The Autauga was a gun that Gary had developed for a company called Autauga Arms over in Alabama that is no longer in business. The lower receiver was a casting, the upper slide was a casting, all the internal parts was castings, and the gun did pretty well in .32 caliber, but because of the size of the weapon they were never able to even consider going to the 380 because of the increased strength of the round.
Cheaper Than Dirt: So the Protector kind of evolved from this earlier design then?
Phil Cashin: Yes, now they are the same.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s not like this pistol has just kind of arrived on the out of the blue. You’ve kinda had your finger on the pulse of the concealed carry market for some time. Recently we have seen an enormous increase in the number of .380 pistols that have been released onto the market along with the increased availability of concealed handgun licenses to lawful gun owners.
Phil Cashin: Oh absolutely and, I think, rightfully so. I use my own personal experience, which is another part of the reason why we designed this Protector. The ability to carry in a concealed manner and not advertise the fact that you are carrying, having the right by the Second Amendment to protect myself, and especially with way that the world is today, I have felt personally that it is necessary to carry a weapon the majority of the time. I had a lot of problems finding a weapon that I could carry comfortably because I didn’t want to carry a holster on my belt or in the back of my pants or on my side, because it was just uncomfortable. You know it just didn’t really provide the level of concealability that I was looking for.
In the summer weather, whatever the situation is, I am able to exercise my right to carry a weapon and not advertise the fact that I am doing so. Some of the polymer weapons are very nice products and they are quite reliable. They make good pistols. They are not as small as ours, but they still have a fair amount of concealability to them. Ours is just smaller and, the accuracy and performance is consistent with some of these other pistols that are quite a bit larger.
Ours is more of a premium design. I like to hold metal in my hand. It’s more of a traditional design. Making the decisions to get into that crowded .380 market, we didn’t want to create just another polymer .380.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s important to point out that, with the all metal design, you do have a little bit heavier gun. It’s a little bit more controllable with that extra weight there.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely. Do you want to shoot a .380 with a feather or do you want to have something a little bit more, delivering more substance, to absorb the recoil. There is an absolute relationship between weight and recoil. The heavier the gun, the less recoil. It reduces muzzle flip and with that little recoil you get to the point where it’s quite manageable.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Some of those other lightweight polymer .380s really do beat you up. I don’t think anybody wants to fire more than one or two magazines at the range, and as everybody knows, you have to practice with what you carry in order to be effective with it.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely yes, that’s absolutely correct. In that aspect, controllability and comfort in shooting really went into the design of the weapon. If you look at the profile, the grip design, the radius on the front of the grip where your finger sits below the trigger guard, the gun is really engaged in your hand when you grab the weapon.
Compared to some of the other versions that are out there that have a straight grip, or just don’t have that comfortable of a design, the Protector is very comfortable. Without going into some of the other specific names, some of the other ones that I have owned in the past, some of which I still do own, they always feel like they are going to jump out of your hand when you shoot them.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have also made some recent changes and upgrades to the Protector to make it even more controllable, tell us a little bit about those.
Phil Cashin: Well, with any manufactured product, as time goes by and you get feedback from customers you improve on techniques. You find new and better ways of making a product more enjoyable to utilize You want to be able to submit improvements to the design, and that’s what we have done here recently with a couple of primary items, one being the grip extension, and the second being the new profiled trigger.
Specifically to talk about the grip extension having that additional basically seven hundred and fifty thousandths, three quarters of an inch, sticking out of the grip on the front of the weapon in the form of that extension gives the shooter basically more leverage to control recoil.
Cheaper Than Dirt: And just one more finger is sometimes all you need to have a more effective grip.
Tell us about the trigger design because I have seen, especially some female shooters shooting these little double action pistols, that it can be difficult with that really long trigger pull to actually be able to pull the trigger. What is the trigger change that you have made, how does it help reduce the trigger pull?
Phil Cashin: It just made the shooting experience more comfortable on the trigger finger. What we did is change some of the radiuses on the bottom of the trigger. We are able to extend the length of the trigger to eliminate the amount of gap between the bottom of the trigger and the trigger guard. It’s now measured in the thousandths. When the gun is being fired, what it does is keep the trigger finger on the trigger and off of the trigger guard.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That’s important. For those that haven’t fired many double action pistols, your finger actually slides down the trigger as its pulled.
Phil Cashin: That’s exactly right, yes.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Your design makes this a little bit more comfortable?
Phil Cashin: On these double action only pistols, the trigger is positioned on a hinge or on a pin at the top of the trigger. Basically it swings as a pendulum. When the trigger is moved back towards the rear of the receiver then the finger naturally is going to slide down towards the bottom. The path of least resistance is moving the finger towards the bottom of the trigger.
With the new design, what we have done is we have changed the radius on the bottom of the trigger and we actually were able to lengthen to the trigger to keep the finger on the trigger during the shooting sequence rather than sliding off or making some contact with the trigger guard.
With the return of the slide forward and then the return of the trigger forward, it basically eliminates that friction that would occur between the bottom of the trigger finger and the top of the trigger guard.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We have seen some reviews already come out about the .380 Protector, and one thing that I have seen people complain about is the magazine and dry firing the pistol. Your design is very unique. Tell us about the magazine design and how it interacts with the trigger spring.
Phil Cashin: The way the gun is designed, you have the trigger and you have a boss on the trigger. How the trigger interacts with the hammer is that you have a trigger bar, which basically is a CNC laser cut piece of spring steel, that really attaches the two to each other, and then you have a torsion spring that returns the trigger back forward at the end of the shooting cycle.
You then have a shield that goes on the top of the trigger bar and the torsion spring, and then basically sandwiches that end of the mechanism together below the grip.
On the underside, that trigger bar is right inside of the magwell. Because of the size of the weapon you have limited amount of space to accomplish you know the design principle of the weapon. When the magazine is in the weapon it somewhat acts as the retaining feature for the trigger bar and holds the trigger bar in place on the trigger and the hammer.
When someone is dry firing the weapon without the magazine in place, then the correction is quite simple. You take the flat head screw or the fastener out of the grip, you take the grip off and take the shield off and basically reattach the trigger bar onto the hammer and the trigger. It takes about thirty seconds to do it.
Cheaper Than Dirt: To be clear, it’s not that people cannot dry fire the pistol, and it’s not that if you do dry fire the pistol with the magazine removed that it will break, it’s simply that the parts won’t be in the correct configuration, at which point you have disassemble and reassemble in the correct order right?
Phil Cashin: That’s correct. What it really gets down to is the intended use of the weapon and functionality. Obviously if this had any negative effect whatsoever on the function of the weapon under its intended use, then the design would have been changed. Under normal shooting experiences you are always going to have the magazine in place when you are pulling the trigger. When you are firing the weapon you are going to have the magazine and the magwell, and there is typically going to be ammo in the magazine when you are going to be shooting the weapon.
If you look at an abnormal situation, let’s say for whatever reason the shooter removes the magazine from the weapon and there is still a round left in the chamber. That’s worst case scenario if for some reason that the shooter takes the magazine out prematurely or it’s the last shot or whatever the case may be, it will absolutely still fire.
After that there is a chance that the trigger bar will come off, but then at that point in time you know the intended function of the weapon is done. In 100% of all normal shooting techniques and usages of the weapon, that condition cannot and will not happen. It has never happened.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s important to point out that unlike some other firearms that intentionally are rendered inoperable with the magazine removed, the Protector can still fire with the magazine removed.
Phil Cashin: The Protector can still fire the last round. That’s right.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Which has rendered your lifesaving tool useless. Now the Protector is not really designed for combat reloads though?
Phil Cashin: That is correct. The basic thing behind the mag design is, this is not a combat pistol. If a person is carrying a weapon and they feel it is necessary to carry extra magazines, it’s important to remember that ours is a backup gun. It’s a close quarters gun. It’s not a gun that the policeman is going to take into a fire fight or a soldier is going to use in combat. It’s a gun that you are going to use when you are in very close quarters and you know typically you are going to fire one full magazine of ammo. One design that seems to be prevalent on a lot of these .380 is the mag release mechanism. It is a very simple and very inexpensive way of designing it, and one that we actually did consider, but the downside that it presents is the problem of premature mag release.
Cheaper Than Dirt: If I am carrying one of those polymer ones in my pocket, one thing that can happen is that when it is pressed against your body the magazine catch can be depressed. When you go to pull the gun, the magazine just pops out.
Phil Cashin: Yes, and if you really think about that, that is going to happen in that scenario in all weapons nearly ninety nine percent of the time. However, when you get into its intended use in protecting your life in a close quarters situation, the last thing in the world you want to have to worry about is whether or not the magazine is going to be in the weapon when you pull it out.
There are two situations where the magazine can cause a problem. One, like you say that, if you sit on the weapon. The other situation can occur when you are grabbing the weapon to pull it out of your pocket holster or, depending on your state laws, if you are just pulling the weapon out of your pocket and you are doing so in a quick manner because of the situation that you are in. Even if you are just practicing for that potential situation that could occur, your thumb, if you are a right handed shooter, is going to be right where the mag catch is located. On a button type system when you grab the weapon and you are squeezing the weapon to get a good grip on it, and you have adrenaline going through your body and your thumb is right at the location of the mag release button, if you push the button in then you have got either a no shot or, at best, a one shot pistol.
Cheaper Than Dirt: With your design then you are officially basically reducing the number of points of failure.
Phil Cashin: Yes, because ours is not a push button type, it’s a rear slide type. You basically have to slide the mag catch button backwards towards the rear of the receiver. What that does is it pull the notch free so that the magazine could come out. You cannot push down on our mag release button to get the magazine to come out. You actually have to have to take your finger and slide it back.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Did you include a slide lock on the Protector?
Phil Cashin: No there is no slide lock.
Cheaper Than Dirt: And that’s just because of space requirements I assume?
Phil Cashin: For this type of weapon we just didn’t see that it was necessary to have a slide lock or a last round hold-open design.
Cheaper Than Dirt: There is really only one control on the weapon then, and that’s the trigger.
Phil Cashin: That’s correct.
Cheaper Than Dirt: What other new products here we look forward to seeing from Masterpiece Arms?
Phil Cashin: We have our Defender line, and one of the things that we just came out with recently is the Mini 9 Tactical Carbine, which is based on what is probably our most popular Defender, the Mini 9. It has a limited quadrail and it has a low profile fully machined buttstock and comes with a holographic sight and a vertical foregrip. It’s like a tactical package and we introduced that right here at the beginning of the year in the SHOT show.
With the Protector series we are in the process of developing a 9mm version of the .380 Protector.
Cheaper Than Dirt: A big brother to that little 380?
Phil Cashin: That’s correct; yeah it will be slightly larger in size but still have the same in design methods, principles and the look of our Protector series.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We didn’t really talk about it that much, but you also have the Protector available in .32 ACP
Phil Cashin: That’s correct, yeas.
That’s a very small percentage of our sales, and probably not rightfully so. For a female shooter, unless she is quite experienced, the .32 is a more easily controlled round. It has less recoil, and with the new ammunition technology that is out there the .32 can do some damage. I want to be able get one.
Cheaper Than Dirt: As they say, the gun you have is always better than the gun you don’t?
Phil Cashin: That’s absolutely correct.
Cheaper Than Dirt: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about Masterpiece and some of your new products and explaining a little bit about the Protector line.
Phil Cashin: It’s my pleasure. The basic theme of what we do at Masterpiece is really just the accuracy and the reliability that goes into the manufacturing techniques and the engineering of the products. It really has enhanced the enjoyment of shooting the weapon, especially in our Defender line, and of course there is the reliability of the Protectors.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have really proven that you know you don’t have to pay you know a whole lot of money to get a really high quality, fully machined, reliable pistol.
Phil Cashin: Our ability to get our manufacturing costs down, to manufacture everything internally, has allowed us to focus on that particular price range. It’s a good price point, and one that we feel comfortable with. We feel we have a slight advantage over a polymer design when it comes to the price, quality, and reliability we can offer.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You know, sometimes people see a gun that’s priced fairly low, and they see that price and think to themselves “That can’t be a high quality firearm.”
How do you deal with that, what do we tell customers when they ask us how MasterPiece Arms can afford to produce a quality arm at such a low price?
Phil Cashin: That’s a great observation. Really how overcome that stigma is just to continue to produce a quality product. By doing that we continue to bolster the good reputation of the weapon. People are going to find problems no matter what, whether it is in that trigger bar issue, or something else. We really have spent an enormous amount of time evaluating the weapon to create practical defensive handgun. If there was anything that had a negative effect on the function of weapon in a defensive situation, we would have changed it.
Outside of that it is just a matter of getting the weapons into the hands of the dealers, distributors, the gun blogs that are out there, and the various gun writers.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We have got our own model of the Protector in .380 and we are going to reviewing it soon as well as posting some videos on it.
Listen, I think that’s about all I have got for you, and I want to thank you again for your time and the insights you’ve given us into MasterPiece Arms and your development of this wonderful little pocket pistol.
The company which would later become known as Mauser was started on July 31st in 1811 when Friedrich I of Wurttemberg founded a weapons factory in the small hamlet of Oberndorf deep within the Black Forest of Germany. Commissioned as a royal weapons forge, the factory opened the next year with 133 employees.
The forge was moderately successful throughout the 19th century. Then, in 1867 Wilhelm and Paul Mauser devised an ingenious rotating bolt system for breechloading rifles. Their new system was extremely simple to operate, making it much faster and more reliable than comparable systems of the same era. The advantages of such a system were soon made evident. By 1871 the most recent version of the bolt system was utilized in the standard issue German battle rifle. Designated the Gewehr 71, the rifle was chambered for a massive 11x60mm blackpowder cartridge. In 1888 the Germans adopted the 7.92x57J cartridge which, with minor modifications, would later become the well known 8mm German cartridge around which almost all Mauser rifles were later designed. Improvements to the rifle included a box magazine introduced by Vetterli, and a newly modified extractor that did not rotate with the bolt and which helped to prevent double feeds.
With the introduction of the Model 93, a smaller cartridge was introduced: the 7x57mm. Stripper clips were used to quickly load the five round box magazine of the M93. The 7mm Mauser as it became known was widely adopted by Spain, Chile, Argentina, and a number of other Latin American countries. The rifle made its claim to fame in the historic battle of San Juan Hill where 700 Spanish soliders held off an attack of over 15,000 US troops for more than twelve hours. Naturally, the United States recognized the inherent advantages of the Mauser design and incorporated many of its characteristics into the 1903 Springfield.
The Americans weren’t the only ones who noticed the incredible performance of the M93 Mauser. Soon after the Cuban battle of San Juan Hill, militaries throughout the world began flooding the Mauser factory with orders for the rifle. More versions of the rifle were quickly developed for Turkey, Brasil, South Africa, Iran, China, and Sweden. The South Africans again proved the worthiness of the Mauser design in their confrontation with the British during the Boer war, prompting the United Kingdom to develop what would eventually be the SMLE – the standard of British infantry units until the 1950s.
But rifles weren’t the only arms manufactured by Mauser. The company pioneered the autoloading pistol market with their “broomhandled” Mauser pistol. The C96 as it was designated was produced between 1896 and 1936 and saw action throughout World War I and II. By the time it was discontinued, over 1,000,000 pistols had been produced. The Mausers were finally given control of the factory in 1897, naming it Waffenfabrik Mauser AG.
Finally, in 1898, the most famous Mauser design was released: the M98. This design was the pinnacle of Mauser rifle design and included all of the previous improvements that had been made to earlier models. The German military adopted the rifle designating it the Gewehr 98. Carbine models of the M98, the K98, were brought online in the beginning of World War I, but saw little service and are still rarites that are highly sought after by collectors. An extremely short carbine referred to as the Karabiner Kurz (short carbine), or K98k, was used as the primary German infantry weapon from 1935 through the conclusion of World War II.
At the end of World War II the Mauser factory was seized by Allied forces and eventually placed under French control. The factory was completely dismantled and all records destroyed. Mauser engineers Edmund Heckler and Theodor Koch along with Aled Seidel recovered what they could and later founded German arms manufacturer Heckler and Koch. Allied forces maintained control of the Mauser factory until 1952 when Mauser was finally allowed to resume manufacturing firearms. Mauser continued to manufacture military rifles with varying degrees of success. A focus on NATO heavy arms soon became their new focus. In 1999 SIG purchased a stake in Mauser, and the civilian firearms porion of the company was spun off to form Mauser Jagdwaffen GmbH
We unveiled a custom built .40 caliber pistol assembled from Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame and USPSA Open division legal Werewolf slide and compensator. No sooner had we released this little sneak peek than we became inundated with people wanting to know where they could acquire their own Glock based competition race gun.
We called up J.R. from Lone Wolf Distributors to talk about the gun and learn more about Lone Wolf’s custom division.
Cheaper Than Dirt Lone Wolf has been manufacturing aftermarket products for Glock pistols for some time now-
J.R. Since 1998.
Cheaper Than Dirt What were some of the first products that Lone Wolf got started manufacturing?
J.R. We started out with basic items actually. I used to run with the crew from Aro-Tek, and at the time I was doing a TV show called “Sportsmen of the Northwest, it was a cable access show and we were doing all things that go bang. Our motto was “We’ll go fishin’ when we’re out of ammunition.”
I hooked up with the Aro-Tek crew, and that was about the time that Glock first came into the US. With Aro-Tek and Glock being synonymous in parts, I got hooked up with the Glock crew directly and ran with them on all of the early tournaments during the inception of the GSSF (the Glock Shooting Sports Foundation).
Cheaper Than Dirt It’s the aftermarket parts that are your main bread and butter, right?.
J.R. Yeah, we cater to the guy who owns a hot rod and wants to tweak his engine and put on headers and mag wheels. Our customers usually own multiple Glocks and tweak them all of the time. They want to do the best that they can, and that comes down to equipment sometimes.
Cheaper Than Dirt How do you go about developing these various parts? Do customers come to you and request various items?
J.R. Sure. Of course it used to be just mass quantities of alcohol and we’d just dream something up *chuckles*
No, I actually have a background as an action pistol shooter and also ran the cable access program, and we used to team up with these guys and listen to them and what they wanted in a gun. Being an innovator is just an act of listening.
People would say “You know, if this part did this, it would be better, and you could make an improvement over here too,” and I knew the right people in the industry who could do those things and bring them to market. Now with our status in the industry where it is at, I have people come to me all the time with ideas and suggestions for new products or improvements to existing products.
Cheaper Than Dirt What about concealed carry and defensive pistols? Can we expect to see more parts that are aimed at competitors in IDPA?
J.R. Yes, in fact I have a few plans to get into that. For IDPA, you need to produce 2,000 units per year to qualify for certain divisions, and they’ve got some regulations in there that make it difficult for a new gun manufacturer to get into.
Cheaper Than Dirt Lone Wolf has experienced rapid growth over the years, moving from basic parts and aftermarket accessories into becoming a full custom gun shop.
J.R. The custom gunworks that we have going is still in its infancy. We’re not actually releasing the completed guns just yet. We’re still doing them as custom builds for the customer. Some of the guns that you’re seeing, including the one that you tested, are project guns that we’re doing. Patrick Kelley’s is one of those. He helped us develop these pistols.
Here’s the thing though: If we began building custom guns using the parts that we have now, as soon as we build more than 50 guns we fall into the higher BATFE tax rate of 11% for firearm manufacturers. Once that happens, the price has to go up. Right now we’re just selling cheap parts.
Cheaper Than Dirt So there is a bit of a regulatory hurdle you’ve got to overcome if you make the decision to move into building actual firearms instead of just selling parts.
J.R. I full well plan on overcoming that hurdle, probably some time within the next year. I’ve got some concept designs that I’ve sent out to the USPSA and asked them where we need to be to meet their requirements and make 500 units. I could produce 500 units tomorrow, but it’s the additional 11% tax that the ATF charges and once you get that on there the cost of the custom guns we would be building goes up by that amount.
Cheaper Than Dirt Can we expect to see any “bare-bones” custom guns produced by Lone Wolf? Something along the lines of an STI Spartan maybe?
J.R. Right now I can get you into a bare-bones Timberwolf frame pistol with everything, all Lone Wolf parts, for around $700 I think.
Cheaper Than Dirt Team Cheaper Than Dirt! member Patrick Kelley helped develop one of your Timberwolf based race guns, and we got to take it out for some range time just the other day.
J.R. What you may not know is that Pat Kelley and I have been friends for, well, forever it seems like. I’ve squadded with him time and time again at numerous shoots, helped promote different shoots with him, so we have a lot of history together. What you may not know is that I bounce a lot of projects off of Pat and he gives me his input.
Like I said earlier, I rely on a lot of input from my friends in the shooting industry. We’ll bring in a new project and I’ll get their input and they may come up with 15 changes that they would like to see made, and we may incorporate 10 or 11 of them. It just makes it a better system all the way around.
Cheaper Than Dirt So the gun that we’re featuring here, is that just a standard Timberwolf frame with a Werewolf upper?
J.R. Actually I built that gun years ago when we were putting some ideas together, and Pat took a photograph of it in a low-light situation and we named it “Flash” because through that photograph we could see that we were achieving 100% gas dump. That compensator is really, really effective. Phenomenally effective.
The whole idea was that we could develop a system that could dump everything and keep it within 2-inches. If you look at the high speed photograph that Patrick took you can see that there is no bounce, that the red dot sight doesn’t move. That gun is going to be fast.
Cheaper Than Dirt You’ve virtually eliminated all of the muzzle rise.
J.R. Yup, it’s a beauty. The development of that gun has only been inhibited by access to a dot sight. I’ve gone to virtually every micro-dot sight manufacturer and tried getting them to cooperate and lower the price of the optic.
The Optima, and before that, the C-More, was the brainchild for all modern micro-dot sights. Ira K., when he introduced the C-More at SHOT Show, I was there when that happened and that was the biggest thing that had happened to the shooting industry in some time.
Tasco got involved and they brought in the Optima. When it was first introduced the Optima was $300 and that was just unacceptable. I bought the Optima for $300 and was incorporating it into our handgun designs even then. Fortunately for us, when Tasco went out of business after they ran into financial problems and went belly up, I was getting Optimas for $99 and then we could retail them out for $125 and add a base. Now you’re talkin’.
But we were doing dot sights way back then, and incorporating them into our designs. I was selling 100 of them a month.
Cheaper Than Dirt You’ve been machining slides to take these micro-dot sights for some time then.
J.R. Yes, for many moons. The problem was, when the Optimas ran out, nobody could bring them in. I actually tried to buy it, and of course everybody is familiar with the Doctor sight, but that was still $300-$400. I couldn’t get anybody to work with me, so we scrapped the whole project.
Cheaper Than Dirt At least until the Burris FastFire came out.
J.R. Burris jumped right on board actually. The Burris guys were out there and I had seen one of their samples. I had to meetings with them, made a few suggestions, and they made a couple of changes, some of which they were going to make anyway. Next thing you know we were able to introduce it as an OEM part, and that really pays off for the consumer.
Cheaper Than Dirt Some people express concern about the FastFire holding up to the recoil of the slide…
J.R. It’s just going to hold together. It’s solid-state, it holds together just fine. Nothing can happen.
The best thing is that Burris really wants to work with us. We were able to work together, bring the price down, and put it into an affordable package
Cheaper Than Dirt We’re Cheaper Than Dirt, and our customers are really bargain conscious, so it’s always great to see an affordable package like that be made available. Not everyone has thousands of dollars to throw away.
J.R. You’ve hit the nail on the head. IPSC and action shooters aren’t cheap, but they do need to maximize their dollars. If they’ve got $100 they want the most that they can absolutely get for that $100.
Cheaper Than Dirt What you’ve done then is take Glock’s parts interchangeability, their reliability, and take it the next step forward and push the envelope until you’ve created a fantastic race gun that can be assembled by almost anyone with a basic knowledge of the firearm.
J.R. Right. In the early years we were pretty much ignored by Glock because the majority of people just wanted a stock firearm that went bang every time. We were off into the race gun scene however. We were finding ways to make the gun run faster and faster.
Cheaper Than Dirt And make it faster you did. Most race guns are like finely tuned F1 cars that take a lot of maintenance and a lot of fine tuning and tweaking to run reliably. How does Lone Wolf overcome that?
J.R. We deal with it. When you see a high speed photograph of Pat Kelley with 5 empties rolling off his knuckles, most people look at that and marvel at the fact that there is no muzzle rise and comment that “He’s got to be the fastest shooter in the world.”
I look at that photo and I’ll tell you, that gun is riding right on the verge of failure to eject. The thing is, it can run on that edge all day long and that’s what makes it as fast as it is.
Cheaper Than Dirt So part of what you do is find that edge, push out and find just how fast you can go.
J.R. There you go. You find that edge, you find that point where the gun is running right at the point of failure, and then you pull back just a bit to make it reliable. It may take just a hairs’ breadth to tip that gun over the edge and have a failure to eject or some other malfunction, but we keep the gun running just on this side of that line.
Cheaper Than Dirt And that’s just what you manage to do is find that edge, pull back a hair, and then put the finished product into production and into the hands of shooters.
Now we’ve heard some rumors that, in the next few weeks, customers are going to be able to build and order their own custom guns online. Is there any truth to that?
J.R. Where we are at now, I’ve got a full time IT guy who writes code for me, and where we’re taking this is that you’ll be able to pull up the components you need and put it together online.
We’ve got a brand new facility, a million dollar facility. Right now we’re at 4,000 square feet but we’ll be moving up to 8,000 square feet. We’ll have a custom assembly line right there and in-house refinishing. Right now we contract out some of that, but things are changing big this year. Especially with the introduction of our new AR platform built all around Glock.
Cheaper Than Dirt Tell us a bit more about that.
J.R. It’s based on an AR, but it takes Glock magazines and it will run 9mm, .40 S&W, .357 SIG, and .45 GAP on one platform, and then we’ve got .45 ACP and 10mm on the other platform. We’ve built both receivers already. Once we do the 10mm we can do all of the custom wildcat calibers on it.
It’s a great short range carbine, perfect for law enforcement. We’ve got ones in full auto now too. I don’t know if you had the opportunity to see the newest one at SHOT Show, but it created a lot of buzz. We’ve got a lot of AR manufacturers who want us to license it through them also.
Cheaper Than Dirt Any plans to do that?
J.R. We can’t. I just want to make sure that it’s done right. At the end of next month we should start releasing them, and I want everyone to know that they came from Lone Wolf.
This has been a three year project, and we’ve had very limited production of the G9 for now. We just want to make sure the quality is there and that the firearm is done right.
Cheaper Than Dirt It’s really been a pleasure talking with you and learning more about how you make these fantastic firearms, and I can’t wait to see these pistol be put into full production. You’ve got some really exciting products coming out now.
J.R. We do, and we can’t wait to get them out to you.
MasterPiece Arms has unveiled their newest addition to the Protector line, the .380 Premium. With fully machined aluminum grips and a hard anodized frame, this is a dress gun you can feel comfortable slipping into a suit pocket or clutch purse.
From the press release:
MasterPiece Arms new Protector Model, the MPA380P, is a US manufactured conceal carry pistol built on a fully machined 4140 stainless steel lower receiver and upper slide. Demonstrating MPA’s central philosophy to build only high-quality, precision engineered firearms, the new MPA380 “Premium” subcompact, semi-auto pistol sports fully machined aluminum grips with a bead blasted finish protected by a clear anodize coat. The MPA380P pistol is a Double-Action-Only with a 5+1 magazine capacity, plus the extended magazine pad for added shooting comfort. Every MPA pistol comes in a lockable case with one magazine and an owner’s manual, plus the additional relief of knowing your MPA comes with a Lifetime Warranty. MSRP is $345.90 and the pistol is available now at Cheaper Than Dirt!
Kahr has long been known as a manufacturer of high quality pistols. High quality usually doesn’t come without an equally high price tag. But advances in manufacturing technology and stronger materials have opened the door and allowed Kahr to begin making more affordable pistols that retain the same level of reliability and attention to detail that Kahr has earned the reputation for.
The new CM9 uses less expensive MIM (metal injection molding) and takes less machining operations to produce. Kahr cut costs even further in other ways such as only including a single magazine instead of two or three. MSRP is expected to be $565, although actual dealer prices my vary.
From their press release:
Kahr Arms is pleased to kick off their newest series of Kahr pistols, the CM series. The new line begins with the Kahr CM9093 which is based off of Kahr’s most popular 3″ barrel 9mm model the PM9093.
The CM Series takes the value priced features from Kahr’s CW series (3.6″ Barrel 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP models) and incorporates these features into a smaller 3″ barrel package. The CM9093 has the same external dimensions as the PM9093 which make it ideal for concealed carry by licensed civilians and law enforcement personnel. The CM9093 is chambered in a 9×19 caliber, has a 3.0″ barrel and an overall length of 5.3″, with a height of 4.0″. The pistol weighs in at 14 ounces plus 1.9 ounces for the 6 round stainless steel magazine. Differences between the CM models and PM models are that the CM9093 has a conventional rifled barrel instead of the match grade polygonal barrel on Kahr’s PM series; the CM slide stop lever is MIM (metal-injection-molded) instead of machined; the CM series slide has fewer machining operations and uses simple engraved markings instead of roll marking and finally the CM series are shipped with one magazine instead of two.
Kahr’s seven patents are incorporated into the CM9093 resulting in benefits not available in other compact semiautomatics on the market today. The black polymer frame features patented 4140 steel inserts molded into the frame in the front and back for added rigidity and strength which can withstand firing thousands of rounds. Kahr’s incomparable cocking cam trigger system employs a patented cam to both unlock the firing pin block (passive safety) and complete cocking and releasing of the firing pin. The system provides a “safe-cam action” and unbelievably smooth double action only trigger stroke, fast to fire in critical defensive situations. Many lower cost compact semiautomatic handguns on the market today did not have firing pin blocks in their design.
Kahr’s two patents covering the offset recoil lug and the trigger bar attachment allow Kahr’s barrel to fit lower in the frame and since there is no hammer the shooter’s hand is further up the grip resulting in less felt recoil and quick follow-up shots. The CM9 boasts real sights which are drift adjustable in the rear and a pinned-in polymer front sight featuring a white bar-dot configuration. Finally the slide does lock back after firing the last round – another feature missing on a number of lower cost compact semiautomatic pistols.
The CM9 slide is only .90-inches wide and is machined from solid 416 stainless stel with a matte finish. Each gun is shipped with a single 6 round stainless steel magazine with a flush baseplate. Magazines are made in the USA, plasma welded, tumbled to remove burrs, and feature Wolff Gunsprings. The magazine catch in the polymer frame is all metal and will not wear out on the stainless steeel magazine after extended use.
Kahr offers the CM series at a great value price but did not compromise on the features, accuracy, or reliability found in all Kahr pistols.
Kahr CM9 Specifications
Double action with Browning style recoil lug
14 ounces (unloaded)
Black polymer frame, matte 416 stainless steel slide
We’ve got an exclusive sneak peek at this new pistol from Lone Wolf Distributors. Developed with the assistance of Team Cheaper Than Dirt! member Patrick Kelley, and USPSA Open division compliant, this .40 caliber race gun is one of the nicest we’ve seen.
Keep a close eye on this blog for more details as we’ll go over all of the go-fast goodies this pistol comes with and bring you more photos and videos in the next few days.
USPSA has released the official schedule of matches for the Area Championships held across the country. Cheaper Than Dirt! will be sponsoring a number of matches including the Area 1, Area 3, Area 4, Area 5, and Area 7 Championships, in addition to the Texas State Open and Indiana State Championships.
SEDRO-WOOLLEY – The U.S. Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), the leading action pistol organization and national governing body for the sport of practical shooting, announced the 2011 dates of all eight of their popular regional handgun championships.
The 2011 USPSA Area championship schedule is as follows:
“The USPSA regional structure is one of the most exciting and demanding competitive series in the shooting sports,” said Michael Voigt, president of USPSA. “Not only do the matches determine the best of the best in a region, but because of the outstanding level of competition across the country, winning all eight is one of the most difficult challenges in our sport, and has only been done once.”
In 2010 Max Michel of Team Sig Sauer, competing in the Open division, became the first shooter in USPSA history to win the same division title in all eight regions.
With over 19,000 members and 375 affiliated clubs, USPSA is the largest of the action pistol shooting sports. The run-and-gun sport of practical shooting was formally established in 1976 but traces its roots back to the 1950’s and the quick draw “leather slap” competitions that grew out of America’s love affair with the TV westerns of that era.
Today the sport represents the upper echelon of the shooting sports with many of its top shooters actively training law enforcement and military units on shooting techniques and equipment developed in competition.
Winchester ammunition has issued a recall for certain lot numbers of its .223 caliber Ranger ammunition. This recall only affects .223 caliber Ranger ammunition loaded with 64 grain Power-Point bullets.
Olin Corporation, through its Winchester Division, is recalling six (6) lots of its RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® (PP) centerfire rifle ammunition (Symbol Number RA223R2).
Lot Numbers (last four characters): DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51
Through extensive evaluation Winchester has determined the above lots of RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition may contain incorrect propellant. Incorrect propellant in this ammunition may cause firearm damage, rendering the firearm inoperable, and subject the shooter or bystanders to a risk of serious personal injury when fired.
DO NOT USE WINCHESTER® RANGER® 223 REMINGTON 64 GRAIN POWER-POINT® AMMUNITION THAT HAS A LOT NUMBER ENDING IN DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51. The ammunition Lot Number is ink stamped inside the right tuck flap of the 20-round carton, as indicated here:
To determine if your ammunition is subject to this notice, review the Lot Number. If the last four characters of the Lot Number are DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41 or DK51 immediately discontinue use and contact Winchester toll-free at 866-423-5224 to arrange for replacement ammunition and free UPS pick-up of the recalled ammunition.
This notice applies only to RANGER® 223 Remington 64 Grain Power-Point® centerfire rifle ammunition with lot numbers ending in DK01, DK11, DK21, DK31, DK41, and DK51. Other Symbol Numbers or Lot Numbers are not subject to this recall.
If you have any questions concerning this RANGER® Law Enforcement ammunition recall please call toll-free 866-423-5224, write to Winchester (600 Powder Mill Road, East Alton, IL 62024 Attn: RA223R2 Recall), or visit our website at www.winchester.com.
Barrett firearms have long been known for their impressive quality, accuracy, and reliability. The most well known Barret, the .50 BMG caliber 82A1/XM107 has made quite the name for itself through its impressive performance in military operations around the world.
Recently, Barrett announced the retirement of the Model 82A1. The XM107 has now been revamped and crafted into a replacement rifle, now dubbed the M107A1. From their press release:
It may be related to the Model 82A1®/M107®, but the M107A1 is far from a simple evolution. Driven by the demands of combat, every component was re-engineered to be lighter yet stronger. The result? A high-performance rifle that weighs four pounds less than the original M107, but is every bit as tough.
Designed to be used with a suppressor, this one-of-a-kind rifle allows you to combine signature reduction capabilities with the flawless reliability of the original Barrett® M107. An all-new bolt carrier group has been designed that is key to making the rifle suppressor-ready. its titanium four-port muzzle brake is engineered to work seamlessly with a quick-attach Barrett .50 BMG Suppressor.
The lightweight aluminum upper receiver features an integrated, rigid 27 MOA optics rail. Inside the upper receiver, the bolt carrier rides on a hardened steel, anti-wear strip for added durability. A thermal-guard cheek piece protects the user’s face from extreme heat or cold.
Advanced design and manufacturing make the M107A1 more precise than ever. The rear-barrel stop and front-barrel bushing are bolted and bonded with a compound similar to that used on space shuttles. A titanium barrel key and fully chrome-lined bore and chamber add to the rifle’s durability.
Enhanced modularity is also a key feature. The rifle’s rail-mounted aluminum rear grip can easily be reconfigured. The newly designed titanium and polymer monopod is easily adjustable from either side.
The M107A1 rifle’s lower receiver includes a new aluminum recoil buffer system that’s optimized for use with a suppressor. The bolt carrier’s components are protected with a mix of ultra-hard PVD coatings and advanced nickel Teflon® plating that increases lubricity, is corrosion-resistant and greatly eases cleaning.
Numbered witness holes on the magazine are just another example of how even the smallest detail makes a powerful difference.
Retail price list reflects U.S. commercial sales only. For international, military, or law enforcement pricing, please contact Barrett.
Many shooters who love the idea of firing cheap, plentiful, .22 Long Rifle ammunition have long flocked to .22 conversions for their pistols and rifles. Many have just as quickly been turned off by the various issues encountered trying to reliably feed rimfire ammunition through a semiautomatic firearm.
Enter the M-22: Winchester has developed a new .22 caliber rimfire round that promises to feed and function reliably in most high-capacity semiautomatic firearms. From their press release:
Winchester® Ammunition continues to invest in its rimfire product line with the development of a new 22 LR round for use in Modern Sporting Rifles (MSR).
New for 2011, this bullet is designed and packaged specifically for use in the growing number of high-capacity MSR 22 LRs. The new M-22 features a 40-grain Plated Lead Round Nose bullet optimized for reliable feeding in high capacity magazines. In addition, the M-22 utilizes non-corrosive priming and clean burning powder that delivers an ultrafast 1255 fps velocity and exceptional accuracy.
“The M-22 is designed for the high capacity MSR and provides a smooth functioning, affordable option with great accuracy,” said Brett Flaugher, vice president of sales and marketing for Winchester Ammunition. “We made the M-22 available exclusively in a 1000-round bulk value pack to meet the demands of our customers at an attractive price point.”
The new M-22 LF Bullet features:
• Velocity: 1255 fps
• Grains: 40
• Bullet Type: Plated Lead Round Nose
• Cartridge: 22 LR
• Availability: 2011
Winchester is Proud to be a Leader in the Shooting Sports
Winchester® Ammunition pledged $500,000 to permanently endow the NRA’s Marksmanship Qualification Program, thus becoming the exclusive sponsor of the officially renamed Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program.
The Winchester/NRA Marksmanship Qualification Program is a self-paced shooting development program. Open to adults and youngsters alike, the program measures an individual’s shooting proficiency against established par scores in 13 courses of fire across three disciplines: pistol, rifle and shotgun.
I had the opportunity this weekend to swing by the NRA’s Whittington Center located just outside Raton, New Mexico. To say that the Whittington Center is one of the finest shooting facilities in the United States would be an understatement. The grounds are beautiful, the scenery absolutely breathtaking, and the amenities top notch.
Founded in 1973, the crown jewel of shooting facilities anywhere in North America, the 33,000-acre Whittington Center is home to the NRA’s finest events. Located near beautiful Raton, New Mexico, the Whittington Center hosts many competitive, educational, and recreational activities in all shooting disciplines. This world-class hunting venue provides shooters with the finest and most comprehensive facility in America year-round.
The Whittington Center Gun Club offers its members a variety of shooting ranges, including ranges for smallbore rifle, high power rifle, black powder, trap, skeet, sporting clays, hunter sight-in, PPC, smallbore rifle silhouette, highpower rifle silhouette, long range pistol silhouette, hunter pistol silhouette, benchrest, and practical pistol.
For young men and women, NRA Whittington hosts an annual Adventure Camp. It offers the chance of a lifetime for youths to learn about firearms and experience the thrill of tracking and stalking big game. All activities are under the guidance of the most skilled firearms instructors and outdoor specialists in the nation. Situated on some of the wildest country left in the West, there is no summer camp experience quite like it in the world.
Imagine yourself in wild mountain country near Raton, New Mexico, where cougars still roam and the skies are so wide you can almost see back in time. Back to the days when Ute raiding parties rode over the mesas. Back to when legendary mountain men like Jim Bridger and Kit Carson knew every trail between Raton and Santa Fe. Puffs of black powder smoke drifted into the clear mountain skies as buckskin-clad hunters brought down mule deer and elk, antelope and bear. These men were marksmen, some of the finest America has ever known. Their very lives depended on shooting and wilderness skills. Bridger and Carson are gone into the pages of history, but their spirit lives on. You’ll find it in the wild Rocky Mountains of northern New Mexico, where the NRA Whittington Adventure keeps the legends of our frontier history alive.
You Can Experience America’s Wild Frontier
How would you like to experience some of the wildest country left in the West, learning to hunt, shoot, and sharpen your outdoor skills? This is exactly what the NRA Whittington Adventure offers; a chance for young men and women to learn about firearms and experience the thrill of tracking and stalking big game, all under the guidance of the most skilled firearms instructors and outdoor specialists in the nation. There is no summer camp experience quite like it in the world.
Where Shooting & Outdoor Adventure Come Together
The NRA Whittington Adventure instructors will teach you the fundamentals of pistol, rifle, muzzleloading, and shotgun shooting skills with safety always foremost in mind. They’ll introduce you to the fine art of competitive shooting, rifle and pistol silhouette, and bullseye disciplines plus skeet and trap shotgun savvy. Or, how about learning to shoot black powder muzzleloading rifles, much like those the mountain men used? How about firing high power rifles at targets 1,000 yards away? Or even the thrill of a deserted mining town in Van Houten Canyon?
Experience the Outdoors in the Shadow of the Rockies
All good outdoorsmen know the fundamental skills crucial to the hunt. During the NRA Whittington Adventure you’ll learn more than just the basics. You’ll learn skills like wilderness map reading, how to prepare a hunting camp, animal tracking, how to use game calls, care of downed game, and an understanding of wildlife management techniques. The counselors want you to experience the magnificent Rocky Mountain back country during this adventure. You’ll go on a simulated big game hunt with a few days and nights under the stars. When this adventure is over, you will have gained knowledge and some of the outdoor skills needed to survive in wild mountain terrain. You will also have the opportunity to become Hunter Safety qualified in New Mexico. Maybe most important of all, the NRA Whittington Adventure is designed to encourage leadership and team spirit. You’ll be involved with a group of young people willing to cooperate in a true outdoor learning experience, an adventure like no other in America, in a setting that will take your breath away.
Come to the Best of the Rocky Mountain West
The NRA Whittington Center is without a doubt the most complete shooting center in the nation. The camp includes 33,000 acres of rugged western terrain, 10 miles southwest of Raton, all in the scenic high mesa country of New Mexico. As you might have guessed, the beautiful landscape abounds with wildlife. You’ll sleep in the Whittington Center’s log cabin housing units and eat in the dining facility.
A Total Equipment Package Plus Expert Training
The NRA Whittington Adventure supplies all firearms and ammunition. Pistols, rifles, shotguns, and blackpowder guns will be provided at the camp. You will be asked to bring your own shooting glasses and hearing protection, as well as your own personal outdoor items such as sleeping bags and hiking boots. But don’t worry, the Whittington Center will provide a complete list of equipment and travel information needed for this unique outdoor experience.
Skilled People Ready to Make Your Stay Worthwhile
The NRA is proud of the staff assembled for the NRA Whittington Adventure. All of the adult instructors possess tremendous outdoor and shooting skills. They were chosen because of a demonstrated ability to work with young people. A camp health officer will be on site (each camper will be asked to provide a current physical prior to the camp).
If you can’t take advantage of the lodging offered on site, local hotels are easy to find, and the one I stayed at offered an NRA discount.