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
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.
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.
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.
For years John Donovan of Castle Argghhh! has told me that my link to his Glock 18 video sent him more traffic than any other referrer. Last weekend we both got to shoot one.
The Glock 18 on full auto was more controllable than what I had heard on the Internet playground. The 33 round magazine kept it running a good long while, too. I count nine or 10 bursts in that video followed by a single shot.
The BAR was my favorite of the historical guns. Nice piece of history designed by John Moses. That Thirty Aught Six makes it a little bit of a bear to fire in full auto, though its 18 pound weight helped controllability.
The German MG42 had a very distinct sound. Even when a dozen guns were going at once you could always tell when someone was firing the MG42 due to the high cyclic rate. I just missed firing this one myself. SayUncle shot it, they said “this is the last ammo belt,” the next two guys in front of me shot it and I stepped up to the line to discover that was all she wrote. It goes through ammo in a hurry.
I’d love for someone to count the number of rounds fired in this short video. It sounds like three shots, but it’s three high speed bursts.
KRISS was on hand demonstrating their line of .45ACP pistols, SBRs and submachine guns along with the Sphinx pistols. They were nice guys, very patient and professional, and they ran a good line. The subguns were very controllable and had all the bells and whistles, including suppressor options, red dots, folding sights and forward grips.
Here’s Tam of View from the Porch shooting all three versions and displaying some fine gun handling skills. You’ll also see Reuben (not sure of the spelling) of KRISS doing the orientation. Great guy to have on the line.
I didn’t get to shoot this one, so I just imagined shooting a full auto M1 Garand from standing. Sebastian from Snowflakes in Hell described it as “brutal” but he still came off the line with a smile on his face. He don’t want no teenage queen.
Great ergonomics. Very satisfying. This was surprisingly easy to shoot off the bench with a bipod, but I’m not sure how controllable it would be standing. There’s a reason militaries have switched to assault rifles. The full auto AR-15s were a breeze to shoot in comparison.
There were a couple of Maxim Guns on hand. With their big carriages they’re made more like artillery pieces than infantry weapons. Here’s the crew-served device for loading cartridges into the belt. One person loads cartridges into the hopper and the other cranks. I was told the design prevented cartridges from going in backwards.
Many thanks to LuckyGunner for inviting me and for all their hard work. Likewise for the volunteers who manned the stations and kept things running, and for the people who donated their arms for us to try.
Special thanks to the person who lives next door and doesn’t mind the sound of machine gun fire for two days. Best neighbor ever!