LuckyGunner Shoot Semi-Autos: Coonan, S&W M&P, Kel-Tec PMR, RFB and KSG

The Luckygunner shoot was mostly about fully automatic weapons, but there were plenty of interesting semi-autos to shoot.

Yesterday: 7 Full Auto Videos from the LuckyGunner Machinegun Shoot 2011
Today: Video and Notes for non-Full Auto Guns
Thursday: People Pictures and Some More Guns

Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol .22 Magnum

Of the three Kel-Tecs I liked the PMR-30 pistol the best. It’s the second coming of George Kellgren’s Grendel-30. As with the Grendel, Kellgren followed up the pistol with a rifle that shares the same magazines.

Chris Maynard with the Kel-Tec PMR-30 Rifle

Chris Maynard with the Kel-Tec PMR-30 Rifle

With its plastic frame the PMR-30 pistol is amazingly lightweight – just 14 ounces without a magazine. If I’m dreaming up a backwoods survival scenario I’d much rather have one of these than a silly AR-7.

Even with the light weight it was easy to control on rapid fire. The green and red fiber optic sights are easy to see even in bright sunlight. I wasn’t crazy about the heel-mounted magazine release, but with 30 rounds in a magazine I didn’t need to use it very often.

Kel-Tec RFB Rifle .308 Winchester

I liked the RFB (Rifle, Forward-Ejecting, Bullpup) second best. The RFB is another example of George Kellgren designing something out of the ordinary that a lot of people found compelling.

It was compact and easy to shoot. Noisy, but it’s a .308 with an 18 inch barrel so I guess that comes with the territory.

Kel-Tec KSG 12 gauge

Gun boards all across the Internet lit up when Kel-Tec announced the KSG (Kel-Tec Shotgun).The KSG has two 7 round tubular magazines under the barrel and a switch to select which barrel is feeding the gun. You have 14 rounds total, with the option to load each magazine with different types of ammo – birdshot, buckshot, slugs, or specialty rounds.

The KSG is interesting, but finicky. It was balky to load compared to any pump or auto shotgun I’ve ever used. As I was scraping rounds into the tubes I dreamed of a nice, slick, chrome-plated shell lifter. Likewise, the magazine selector switch is about as smooth as a corn cob in an outhouse.

One advantage of a pumpgun over an autoloader is that it works with a variety of shotgun shells. Not so for the KSG. The specimen on display jammed repeatedly on the load we were shooting, locking up the action.

The KSG is an intriguing design, but the execution seems finicky and not ready for primetime. I’d rather have a sleeker, lighter pumpgun with better ergonomics and no ammunition hangups. I’d only get the KSG if I desperately needed the two 7-round tube magazines and could train with it enough to compensate for its quirks.

Coonan 1911 .357 Magnum

The Coonan is pretty much what it says it is – a 1911 that fires .357 Magnum. Some of the parts are 1911 standard and some aren’t, but if you’ve shot a 1911 you’ll feel right at home with the Coonan.

Last year I gave the Coonan 1911 in .357 Magnum some ribbing. I got to shoot one this weekend. It shot fine. Recoil was very manageable, as you’ll see in the video below. Are they supposed to slidelock after the last shot? This one never did on three magazines.

Me Shooting a Coonan 1911 in .357 Magnum:

They’re OK guns if you just gotta have a 1911 that fires .357 Magnum, but I just don’t see the point. With that barrel length you can get near-.357 Magnum factory load performance out of a .357 SIG or 9mm +p+. In return you’ll get a much larger selection of guns with double the magazine capacity and a grip that’s shorter from front to back. Or if it’s a classic 1911 you want there’s .38 Super.

To me the Coonan only makes sense if you’re handloading something much hotter than factory loads. Even then, you’re just getting an extra round in the mag +1 in the chamber vs. a revolver and you’ll have to swap springs when you change loads. I’ll stick to my revolvers when I’m shooting .357 Magnum. 1911-philes may of course feel differently.

S&W M&P9

With all the cool kids buying M&Ps I wanted to shoot SayUncle’s S&W M&P9. I had shot an M&P before, but hadn’t given it much consideration. The grip does feel a little better than a Glock. What I was really curious about was the LaserGrip option.

I love LaserGrips. One gripe I’ve had about Glocks has been that there wasn’t a great way to use a CrimsonTrace LaserGrip. The wraparound units seemed kludgey and enlarged the grip. The new LaserGuard that attaches to the rail seems better, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your holster.

With the M&Ps there is a non-kludgey way to attach a CrimsonTrace LaserGrip that doesn’t increase the grip diameter or limit your holster selection. The M&P LaserGrip goes in the replaceable backstrap. No muss, no fuss. I had wondered if activating the laser with your palm would be awkward, but it wasn’t. It just worked with my normal grip and I never had to think about it. Win.

Gun Links

Video of the Kel-Tec KSG shotgun being fired. It doesn’t look bad at all for a 12 gauge. Muzzle flip seems pretty mild. The inline design probably helps there.

Chris Byrne looks at 1000 yard rifles and what it costs to run 10,000 rounds through them when you include the rifle, reloading components and barrels. .338 Lapua and .50 BMG are expensive, bubba.

New S&W Bodyguards. Major re-design with plastic frame, completely new assembly procedure, ambidextrous cylinder release and integrated laser. Yee haw.

S&W Governor six-shot .410/.45 Colt/.45 ACP. Smith & Wesson must want some of that sweet, sweet Taurus Judge money, though Tam makes a good point:

I don’t mean to cast aspersions on any certain demographic, but in my experience, the Venn diagram of those who are willing and able to dump a kilobuck on a brand-name Scandium alloy revolver and those who think a .410 revolving shot pistol is the bee’s knees contains very little in the way of overlap.

Meanwhile Taurus ups the ante by showing off a 28 gauge Taurus Judge. So .410 is roughly 64 gauge. Going from .410 to 28 gauge is a pretty big step. Shotgun shell revolvers aren’t my cup of tea, but I’ll bet this will rekindle interest in 28 gauge guns and ammo. I always like seeing old cartridges make a comeback, so I see the 28 gauge Judge as a good thing.

Top Shot Season 3 is casting. Thanks to Andrew for the tip.

Range Report Index (Gun Reviews)

These are all of the gun reviews I’ve published. This index will be updated when new reviews are added to the site.

Armalite AR-7 (.22)
Bersa Thunder (.380)
Browning Buckmark (.22)
Glock 23 (.40)
Glock 26 (9 mm)
Glock 30 (.45)
Hi-Point (9 mm)
Kel-Tec P3AT (.380)
Kel-Tec P11 (9 mm)
North American Arms Black Widow (.22)
Para-Ordnance LDA (.45)
Para-Ordnance LDA Carry (.45)
Ruger 22/45 (.22)
Ruger Mark II (.22)
Ruger P95C (9 mm)
Short Magazine Lee-Enfield (SMLE) rifle (.303 British)
SIG P220 (.45)
SIG P229 (.40)
SIG P232 (.380)
Smith & Wesson 22A (.22)
Smith & Wesson 317 (.22)
Smith & Wesson 686 (.357)
Walther P22, silenced (.22)

Range Report: Glock 26 and Kel-Tec P11 (9 mm)

With more states switching to “shall issue” carry permits, more citizens are carrying concealed weapons. Consequently there are more small guns on the market, and in larger calibers. This week I look at two baby 9 mms. I was curious to see how well such small guns soaked up recoil. I found that recoil was manageable for both guns. Experienced shooters shouldn’t have any problems.

keltecp11.jpgKel-Tec P11
The P11 has three things going for it: size, weight, and price. Cost is around $250, which is amazing for a 9 mm. Granted, it doesn’t look expensive, either, but it’s a lot of gun for the money.

The P11 was clearly designed for concealed duty. A few years ago, a gun this small would have been chambered in .32 or .380, but the P11 shoots the more powerful 9 mm. Thanks to a polymer frame, it weighs just 14 ounces, which is lighter than all but the titanium models of Smith &Wesson’s venerable J-Frame .38s, long the standard in hideout guns. Even with a full magazine the weight is just 20 ounces.

The P11 uses a double-action only trigger: each shot requires a long, heavy trigger pull. A DAO trigger is safer, since the long, heavy pull makes you very aware of your trigger pull. This could be a good feature if you’re pocket carrying (it means you’re less likely to give yourself a 9 mm vasectomy). Small as these guns are, though, a holster of some kind is desirable.

The trigger pull, for my tastes, is just too long. The anticipation of waiting for the trigger to finally fall is ruinous to accuracy. For best accuracy, you’re not supposed to know exactly when the gun is going to go off, but the trigger pull shouldn’t be so long that you have to wonder if it’s ever going to go off.

2011 UPDATE: A while back I shot a friend’s P11. For whatever reason I found the trigger on his to be remarkably good. I shot freakishly well with it, in fact. It’s possible the trigger benefits from a break-in period.

g26.jpgGlock 26
The Glock 26 has the standard Glock trigger, which is pretty good. Like the Kel-Tec, the trigger pull is the same weight and length from shot to shot. Unlike the Kel-Tec, the trigger weight and length are very reasonable.

The 26 is built on Glock’s subcompact frame. If you have a larger Glock in 9 mm the 26 will accept the same magazines. The unit I shot was equipped with a Pearse magazine grip extension, which made the handle long enough to be comfortable. One Glock isn’t very different from the rest, so I won’t repeat myself. If you’re interested you can read my last Glock review.

The Kel-Tec is a decent gun for the money, and has a good reputation for reliability. If you can train yourself to overcome the long trigger, it’s a bargain. It’s especially good if you need a gun that small and light. However, if I’m ever shopping for a baby 9 for holster use and have the extra 250 bucks, I’d gladly spend it on the Glock 26. The difference in construction quality and trigger make it worthwhile. My friend who shot both guns with me agreed: with money no object, the Glock 26 is the better gun.

Followup Notes
This weekend I went with SayUncle to christen his new Glock 30. The Glock 30 is the .45 caliber version of the 26, and is similarly impressive. The other week I reviewed the Walther P22 and mentioned that a woman in my CCW class had one. I questioned how good of a choice that was for a defensive weapon. Apparently she did, too, because when SayUncle and I saw her at the range this weekend she had traded in the P22 for a Glock 26 and loved it.

Glock 26 Kel-Tec P11
Capacity 10+1 10+1
Barrel 3.46 in. 3.1 in.
Length 6.29 in. 4.6 in.
Height 4.17 in. 4.3 in.
Width 1.18 in. 1 in.
Weight Empty 19.75 oz 14 oz
Street Price $500 $250

Read more Range Reports for other guns