Handguns 2005

Expect a strong year for self-defense and rimfire shooters

Outdoor Life Online Editor

If you had to quickly sum up the 2005 SHOT Show handgun introductions, you'd be on target if you said personal defense is the predominant theme. Nevertheless, some interesting developments are also occurring in the rimfire and hunting markets.

Look for a bumper crop of new 1911 models, with a number of them in calibers other than the traditional .45 ACP. The AMT Back Up series returns, along with some new DAO semi-autos from other makers. Smith & Wesson continues its recent trend of providing a "complete self-defense package" via S&W; handguns factory-equipped with Crimson Trace laser grips; those who wander in wild "bear and kitty" country will find several compact big-bore revolvers.

Long-barreled rimfire semi-autos are getting some play, and S&W; has a new flat-shooting .45-caliber big-game cartridge for its X-Frame revolver that should excite serious handgun hunters.

With the sunset of the assault-weapons ban, look for gunmakers to begin providing high-capacity magazines for those handguns designed to accept them (but that had been limited to 10-round "blocked" magazines under the ban). That could be a quick accessory sale to your customers who own such handguns.

**Browning **
This year Browning unveils a new version of the venerable Buck Mark rimfire semi-auto: the Buck Mark Hunter. It features a heavy, round 7.5-inch barrel and an integral scope mount base and is equipped with a Pro-Target adjustable rear sight and a Truglo/Marble fiber-optic front sight. Cocobolo target-style grips are standard. SRP: $360. Booth #401 and #513. (801-876-2711; www.browning.com)

Bushmaster Firearms
The new Carbon 15 Type 21S Pistol is a compact, high-capacity, 3.5-pound, gas-operated semi-auto handgun that features the same controls as Bushmaster's popular rifles, and accepts all Bushmaster magazines (a 30-round magazine is supplied). The upper and lower receivers are molded from Carbon 15 material. The 7.25-inch barrel is chambered for the .223 Rem. and features a full-length anodized Picatinny rail that includes integral front and rear iron sights. The windage-adjustable rear sight is a combination of ghost ring and precision aperture. The front post offers elevation adjustments. Front and rear sling swivels are standard. A quick detachable compensator on the muzzle controls recoil and is removable via a spring-loaded collar. An under-forearm Picatinny rail is available for the installation of accessory lights and laser sights. Booth #1700 and #3997. (800-998-7928; www.bushmaster.com)

Crusader Group
The company's name may not be familiar, but veteran handgunners know its products. Formed in 2004, Crusader Group now controls the production and distribution of the original High Standard rimfire and .45 ACP target pistols, as well as the entire AMT/Auto-Mag line. High Standard target pistols had been available under its own banner for several years prior to the formation of the Crusader Group, but AMT had ceased production in late 2001. Its assets were acquired by Crusader last May, and this year, selected AMT products are making their return.

The AMT .380 DAO Back Up is now available again, faithful to the original specifications. With a five-round magazine capacity, a 2.5-inch barrel and a weight of 18 ounces, this stainless-steel semi-auto was very popular as a compact self-defense pistol-and should be once again. SRP: $350

A slightly larger version of the same basic design is available in 9mm, .38 Super, .357 SIG, .400 Cor-Bon, .40 S&W; and .45 ACP. Magazine capacity is five or six rounds (depending upon caliber), and weights for the stainless-steel pistols run between 23 and 25 ounces. SRP: $406 to $459.

The original-specification .22 Magnum Auto Mag II and the .30 Carbine Auto Mag III will also be available this year. The Auto Mag II has an SRP of $549; SRP for the Auto Mag III has yet to beetermined. Crusader Group is new enough that the company did not have its own Web site up and running as of press time, but its products are available for viewing at www.highstandard.com. Booth #155.

[pagebreak] CZ-USA
Introduced in 1975, the CZ 75 is considered by some experts to be one of the best semi-auto handgun designs on the market. To celebrate its 30th anniversary, CZ-USA is announcing a limited run of a 30th Anniversary Edition-with special serial numbers from 1 to 1,000.

Built on the CZ 75B 9mm, the Anniversary Edition features special engraving, 24-karat inlays, 24-karat plated controls, high-polish blued finish, engraved blond-finished birch grips and 15-round magazine. SRP: $761.

High-capacity magazines are back, and CZ will be shipping them with those models originally designed to accept them.

In addition, CZ USA is introducing the CZ-75 Compact in .40 S&W.; The steel frame features an M3 accessory rail for lights or lasers and incorporates an ambi-dextrous manual safety. Magazine capacity is 10 rounds, barrel length is 3.87 inches, with an empty weight of 37.8 ounces. SRP: $594. Booth #4295 and #5887. (800-955-4486; www.cz-usa.com)

FNH USA
The FNH FNP polymer line will expand this year with two new models. The new FNP 40 features a four-inch barrel, 10- or 16-round magazines, an interchangeable mainspring housing that allows the gun to be fit to the shooter's hand and a rail system for attaching tactical lights or lasers. It offers the same double- and single-action mechanism as the FNP 9.

The FNP 9-M is a compact version of the standard FNP 9 and offers the same operating features. It has a 3.8-inch barrel, with an overall length of 7 inches, and weighs in at 24.8 ounces. Magazines of 10 or 16 rounds are available. Booth #1301. (703-288-1292; www.fnhusa.com)

Heckler & Koch
H&K; will be dressing up five of its most popular models with desert tan, green or gray frames in a one-time limited offer for 2005. The available models are the USP 40, USP 40 Compact, USP 45, USP 45 Tactical and the Mark 23.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the P7 pistol, H&K; will bring out a limited edition (500 units worldwide) of the P7M8, featuring special engraving and checkered walnut grips and packaged in a wooden presentation box with a specially minted commemorative coin. Booth #1701 and #1709. (703-450-1900; www.hk-usa.com.)

Kimber
Interest in 1911 pistols remains strong, and Kimber addresses that with the introduction of a dozen new model variations in 2005. The LAPD .45 ACP "SWAT" pistol is now available in a stainless-steel version as the Stainless TLE/RL II. It offers all the features of the standard model, including an integral light rail on the frame. SRP: $1,167.

The Warrior Model is the commercial version of the .45 ACP Kimber pistol that was selected for duty use by a special U.S. Marine Corps unit. It incorporates a traditional internal extractor, premium KimPro black matte finish, light rail, standard-length guide rod, night sights, ambidextrous safety, special grips, lanyard ring and extended magazine bumper. SRP: $1,250.

The Stainless Target II is identical to the existing full-size stainless-steel .45 ACP target pistol but is available in 9mm and 10mm calibers. It offers adjustable sights as well as a match-grade barrel, chamber and trigger. SRP: $1,046.

The Pro TLE/RL II .45 ACP is a blued carbon steel, carry-size version of the larger model and incorporates a four-inch barrel with a no-bushing bull barrel. SRP: $1,061.

For those who prefer stainless-steel construction, the Stainless Pro TLE/RL II is the identical pistol, but with a stainless slide and frame. SRP $1,197.

The Tactical Pro II 9mm offers all the features of the Tactical Series .45 ACP 1911 pistols (including an aluminum alloy frame with front-strap checkering, extended beveled magazine well, four-inch match bull barrel/chamber/ trigger and gray-and-black laminate grips) but in 9mm. SRP: $1,108.

Fans of the 10mm may want to look at the new Eclipse Custom II. This pistol has all the features of Kimber's Eclipse Series, including a stainless-steel slide/frame, black matte-finished recesses and small parts, match-grade barrel/chamber/trigger, night sights and gray-and-black laminate grips. SRP: $1,208.

The Raptor II is a full-size .45 ACP 1911 with unique cosmetic features that include highly polished flats, logo grips, front and rear slide serrations, flat-top slide and an aggressive snake-scale-pattern finish. SRP: $1,204.

If the Raptor II is too big and too garish for you, take a look at the Pro Raptor II. It's the same .45 ACP pistol, but with a black matte finish and a more compact four-inch barrel. SRP: $1,089. Booth #1413 and #1915. (800-880-2418; www.kimberamerica.com)

[pagebreak] Smith & Wesson
The big news at S&W; this year is the new .460 S&W; Magnum-a high-velocity .45-caliber hunting round developed jointly by S&W;, Hornady and Cor-Bon whose velocity will exceed that of the .454 Casull. It will make its debut in a five-shot X-Frame DA revolver (Model 460 XVR Extreme Velocity Revolver) with an 83/8-inch barrel featuring a detachable muzzle brake. The .500 S&W; X-Frame line will expand with an 83/8-inch DA revolver featuring the same muzzle brake as the 4-inch Model 500.

S&W; will be introducing a number of other revolvers this year, and those who favor a compact big-bore self-defense revolver may find what they're looking for in the Model 21 Thunder Ranch. This special-edition collector's model-made of blued carbon steel-is a round-butt, N-frame six-shot .44 Special DA revolver with a 4.2-inch tapered barrel. Grips are classic smooth wood. Sights are a pinned half-moon service front sight with a fixed rear notch. The Thunder Ranch logo is engraved on the side-plate with 24-karat gold plating, and a laser-etched glass-top presentation case is included for display.

The .45 ACP, using full- and half-moon clips, will be available in a new Model 625 Jerry Miculek Professional Series DA revolver with a four-inch barrel. The five-shot Model 60 .38/.357 will now be available in a five-inch-barrel, adjustable-sight version. The new Model 619 .357 is a seven-shot, four-inch-barrel, L-frame replacement for the existing Model 65, while the Model 620-with the same frame, caliber and barrel size-replaces the Model 66. The two-inch-barrel Model 423 and 637 .32 H&R; Magnum will now be offered with Crimson Trace laser grips.

In the semi-auto arena, the new Model 990L will be introdu.

The Tactical Pro II 9mm offers all the features of the Tactical Series .45 ACP 1911 pistols (including an aluminum alloy frame with front-strap checkering, extended beveled magazine well, four-inch match bull barrel/chamber/ trigger and gray-and-black laminate grips) but in 9mm. SRP: $1,108.

Fans of the 10mm may want to look at the new Eclipse Custom II. This pistol has all the features of Kimber's Eclipse Series, including a stainless-steel slide/frame, black matte-finished recesses and small parts, match-grade barrel/chamber/trigger, night sights and gray-and-black laminate grips. SRP: $1,208.

The Raptor II is a full-size .45 ACP 1911 with unique cosmetic features that include highly polished flats, logo grips, front and rear slide serrations, flat-top slide and an aggressive snake-scale-pattern finish. SRP: $1,204.

If the Raptor II is too big and too garish for you, take a look at the Pro Raptor II. It's the same .45 ACP pistol, but with a black matte finish and a more compact four-inch barrel. SRP: $1,089. Booth #1413 and #1915. (800-880-2418; www.kimberamerica.com)

[pagebreak] Smith & Wesson
The big news at S&W; this year is the new .460 S&W; Magnum-a high-velocity .45-caliber hunting round developed jointly by S&W;, Hornady and Cor-Bon whose velocity will exceed that of the .454 Casull. It will make its debut in a five-shot X-Frame DA revolver (Model 460 XVR Extreme Velocity Revolver) with an 83/8-inch barrel featuring a detachable muzzle brake. The .500 S&W; X-Frame line will expand with an 83/8-inch DA revolver featuring the same muzzle brake as the 4-inch Model 500.

S&W; will be introducing a number of other revolvers this year, and those who favor a compact big-bore self-defense revolver may find what they're looking for in the Model 21 Thunder Ranch. This special-edition collector's model-made of blued carbon steel-is a round-butt, N-frame six-shot .44 Special DA revolver with a 4.2-inch tapered barrel. Grips are classic smooth wood. Sights are a pinned half-moon service front sight with a fixed rear notch. The Thunder Ranch logo is engraved on the side-plate with 24-karat gold plating, and a laser-etched glass-top presentation case is included for display.

The .45 ACP, using full- and half-moon clips, will be available in a new Model 625 Jerry Miculek Professional Series DA revolver with a four-inch barrel. The five-shot Model 60 .38/.357 will now be available in a five-inch-barrel, adjustable-sight version. The new Model 619 .357 is a seven-shot, four-inch-barrel, L-frame replacement for the existing Model 65, while the Model 620-with the same frame, caliber and barrel size-replaces the Model 66. The two-inch-barrel Model 423 and 637 .32 H&R; Magnum will now be offered with Crimson Trace laser grips.

In the semi-auto arena, the new Model 990L will be introdu