Month: December 2021

The Best New Pistols of 2021

2021 has been one heckuva year. The world is a crazy place, and the last two years have been trying.

The good news is that the firearms industry hasn’t slowed down. We’ve seen the release of some truly awesome firearms, and today we are going to point out the top ten new pistols of 2021. 

1. SIG P365X & P365 380 ACP

SIG’s P365 is one of the most popular carry pistols on the market. SIG has expanded the line to numerous new models, and this year they introduced two very promising variants of the P365.

I’ve tagged them as one gun on this list because, well, it just makes sense. 

 

SIG P365X pistol
SIG P365X Pistol

The P365X brings the best features of the P365XL to a smaller platform. The P365X gives you the XL’s slightly larger grip module for a sure grip, as well as an optic cut for attaching a micro red dot. Heck, SIG even tossed on the X series flat-faced trigger to improve your trigger pull and offer you more control. 

SIG P365X with Optics
SIG P365X with Optic

The P365 380 variants haven’t hit our shores yet but bring a lighter, lower recoiling option to the P365 world. The gun promises to use a lighter recoil spring to make charging the weapon easier, and the smaller 380 ACP cartridge promises a much more controllable firearm. 

 

2. S&W Shield Plus

The classic Shield long dominated the concealed carry market, but was starting to feel awfully outdated when the P365 took over.

S&W went back to the drawing board and brought us the Shield Plus.

Shield Plus Pistol
S&W Shield Plus Pistol

The Shield Plus offers you a flush 10-round and extended 13-round magazines in a platform hardly larger than the 8-round single stack Shield. 

The Shield Plus is perfect for Shield users looking to carry something with more capacity and firepower. A few extra rounds are a lot better than fewer rounds.

It’s an easy transition, and for looking for an alternative to the P365, here we go. 

3. FN 509 LS Edge 

The FN 509 might not have won the Army’s MHS contest, but it has gained a lot of popularity in the civilian, security, and police markets. Brinks guards now carry FN 509 pistols, and several police departments have adopted the gun, including the LAPD. Various models of the 509 have come to be, but the FN 509 LS Edge might be the very best. 

FN LS Edge Pistol
FN LS Edge Pistol

The LS Edge model is massive. It’s a full-sized, 17-round pistol designed for competitive use but could be one heckuva home defense or duty gun.

This pistol is semi-custom and comes complete with an amazing flat-faced trigger, suppressor height sights, and lightening cuts to improve balance and reduce weight. 

FN LS Edge with Optic and Light
FN LS Edge with Optic & Light

This optics-ready pistol makes it easy to mount a dozen different optics via its plate system. Add a light to the massive rail, and you’re ready to go.

 

4. Ruger MAX-9

Another P365 competitor emerges from Ruger in the form of the Max 9. Ruger did it right with this pistol. 

Ruger MAX-9 pistol
Ruger MAX-9 Pistol

It’s optics-ready for a micro red dot, has 10-round and 12-round magazines, and comes in 9mm. It’s a very capable pistol designed for concealed carry.

It’s super small, easy to conceal, and the trigger is surprisingly impressive.

Ruger MAX-9 Pistol
MAX-9 Pistol in Action

It’s very light, and Ruger ensures everyone gets what they want with both manual safety models and non-manual safety options.

Ruger went hard out of the gate with this micro-compact, and I can surely respect that. 

 

5. HK VP9L OR 

2021 seems to be the year of handguns, both big and small.

The VP9L OR certainly sits on the side of being bigger rather than small. It even packs 20-round magazines

HK VP9L pistol
HK VP9L OR Pistol

The L stands for long slide, and it comes with a five-inch barrel and the resulting sight radius for fast and accurate shots. Additionally, that OR stands for Optics Ready, and who doesn’t want an optic on their big pistol? 

The VP9 is already an outstanding pistol, and the longer slide and optics-ready design make it an extremely easy-to-shoot gun. 

HK VP9L OR
HK VP9L OR Pistol

This massive gun isn’t great for concealed carry, but for home defense and duty, it’s tough to beat.

 

6. Taurus TX-22 Competition 

Most of the guns on this list are aimed at defensive use, and some double as competition guns. This is the only gun on the list aimed purely at competitive use.

The Taurus TX-22 takes the award-winning TX-22 design and adds an optic and a 5-inch bull barrel.

Taurus TX22 Competition
Taurus TX22 Competition Pistol

It’s extremely accurate, holds 16 rounds, and the addition of a red dot adds range and speed to the gun. 

The TX-22 Competition is a big gun that’s easy to handle. With that said, anyone can handle the TX-22. The Competition model reduces the slide to keep things balanced and ensure reliability over thousands and thousands of rounds.

TX22 with Optic
TX22 with Optic

It’s a sweet pistol priced from competition or plinking. 

 

7. Adam Arms AA19 

The Glock 19 has long been the Glock of choice for many shooters. Adam Arms took that design and pushed it forward.

The AA19 gives you a custom Glock right out of the box suitable for defensive use and concealed carry. They redid everything from the frame and slide to the internals and beyond. 

AA 19 Pistol
AA 19 Pistol

The frame utilizes a different grip angle and implements a higher trigger undercut and slightly longer beavertail. The slide is decked out with deep serrations and is optic cut to accommodate a dozen different optics via a plate system. Plus, they thread the barrel, making it perfect for attaching a muzzle device. They do all this at a great price as well. 

 

8. Glock 48 MOS 

The Glock 48 gave us a single stack Glock 19, which was cool, but the Glock 48 MOS gave us a modern single-stack Glock 19.

Glock 48 MOS Pistol
Glock 48 MOS Pistol

This ultra-thin pistol implements an optic cut across the top and a rail system below the barrel. You can implement a TLR-7 SUB and Holosun 507K and have a very modern and carry-friendly pistol. 

The Glock 48 MOS brings you a very capable fighting pistol that’s also very concealable. It makes the original G48 look outdated by comparison, and the MOS addition makes it a tough carry pistol to beat if you don’t mind the extra size. When paired with Shield S-15 magazines, your Glock 48 MOS offers you what’s an effectively a thinner Glock 19. 

 

9. Girsan MC P35

The Girsan MC P35 brings up a Browning Hi-Power clone at a very affordable price point. Since Browning stopped making Hi-Powers, their prices have only gone up.

Girsan MC P35 Pistol
Girsan MC P35 Pistol

The MC P35 offers an affordable option for those that want to experience the Hi-Power design without breaking the bank. 

Girsan makes impressive handguns for the price, and the MC P35 follows an already proven design. It comes complete with a 15 round magazine, adjustable rear sights, and famed single-action design the Hi-Power is known for. 

 

10. B&T Station Six 

My final handgun of 2021 is the B&T Station Six. This is a bit of a wildcard as it’s a 9mm or 45ACP, single-shot firearm with an integral suppressor.

B&T Station Six pistol
B&T Station Six Pistol

This gun traces its lineage back to World War 2 with the SOE and the Welrod pistol. The B&T Station Six is a modern variant of that integrally suppressed single-shot pistol. 

It’s superbly simple and all kinds of cool. It’s a single-shot pistol but does feed from a magazine and works almost like a bolt action design.

It’s simple and offers you all the silence of a suppressor without all the noise of a slide clacking back and forth. I can’t wait to get my hands on a Station Six and silent pop cans in the backyard. 

Conclusion

2021 has been a good year for handguns. This is just the ten best, in my opinion, and there have likely been dozens of other handguns released. With that in mind, what’s been your favorite release? Is it on the list? If not, tell us below! 

You Bought Your First Pistol – Now What?

The Mag Shack

You bought your first pistol, Now what?

 

If you’ve been paying attention to the news, it’s been a banner season for the past 20-some-odd months for the firearms community. Each and every report coming out from industry organizations like the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the NRA, as well as the raw data from the FBI’s NICS portal show that the American public is in a frenzy of purchasing firearms, ammunition, magazines (hopefully from here at The Mag Shack!), and other accessories.

It’s not just the traditional, some say stereotypical, firearms purchasers either. A huge new demographic of Second Amendment supporters is entering the fray, spurred on by the perfect storm of a regime hostile to the right to keep and bear arms, the potential for civil unrest, and of course the thankfully-receding coronavirus pandemic. Regardless of motivation, a lot of new people are exercising their right to keep and bear arms. Big sellers like AR-15s are flying off the shelves, but the most common purchase is handguns and pistols. Whether it’s a GLOCK, a SIG Sauer, or a Heckler & Koch sidearm, everyone wants a good blaster at their side.

Enthusiasm for the right to keep and bear arms is great, and it’s something that should be encouraged. However, just buying a pistol and running down to the range is, to be blunt, an unwise course of action. There’s a bunch of things that need to be considered.

The best way to sum it up is – “You bought your first pistol, now what?”

Chances are, your new pistol purchase came with the basics. The firearm itself, a few magazines, probably a gun lock, a manual, and something calling itself a cleaning kit. In theory, the gun is good to go. In reality? Not so much.

The most important thing to consider with your first pistol, of course, is how to properly use it. After properly clearing the weapon, read the manual. Yes, it seems a little “nerdy”, but to be blunt, a pistol isn’t a Playstation. It’s a tool, which if misused, can contribute to severe injuries and even loss of life. The pistol’s manual should cover the basic manual of arms for the firearm, along with instructions on how to take it down for cleaning and maintenance, along with basic precautionary statements specific to the gun.

Along those same lines, the next step should be seeking out proper education. As foolish as it would be to attempt to teach oneself to drive a car, no one should be self-taught with regard to handling a firearm. Your local gun range may offer classes, and if not, should have advice on whom to talk to about getting some training. A good starting point is the NRA-endorsed Basics Of Pistol Shooting (BOPS) course. It’s definitely a “Guns 101” class, and perfect for the new pistol owner.

Once you’ve settled the educational matters, the next steps will seem a lot easier.

For example, ammunition selection. That pistol you just purchased is just a rather odd-looking paperweight unless you have the ammunition to feed it with. However, all ammunition is definitely not created equal. There’s a few things you’ll need to know to get situated with regards to ammo.

  • Caliber – Thankfully, most pistols are clearly marked with what caliber ammunition they will accept. 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP are the most common that you’ll see. However, when purchasing your ammunition, always double-check you are getting the correct ammunition for your gun. There’s a whole world of calibers out there, and it can be easy to mix them up when purchasing. For example, 9x19mm, what we commonly call just “9mm”, can be mixed up with a strange Russian caliber called “9x18mm Makarov”. Note – this will not function in your 9mm pistol. Don’t even try to force it, either. Just triple-check your purchase.
  • Full Metal Jacket vs Hollow Point – When perusing those ammo shelves, you’ll see a whole spectrum of bullet types, but the two main “groups” are Full Metal Jacket, aka FMJ, and hollow point, aka HP. The difference is simple really. An FMJ round is a soft metal projectile completely encased in a harder jacket. It’s what comes to mind when most people think “bullet”. An HP round is a little more sophisticated. The projectile has a “pit” in the tip of the bullet, which causes it to expand when hitting a target. Typically FMJ rounds are for training use, as they are cheaper, whereas HP rounds are designed for defensive use, as their expansion characteristics lead to incapacitating a target faster. Plus, hollow points by their very nature are less likely to over-penetrate, i.e. hit a target and keep going. Remember, you’re responsible for every bullet that leaves your gun, no matter where it stops.
  • Brands – With training, one can be a little more flexible with ammunition selection. Whether it’s imported steel-cased ammo or domestic brass-cased ammo, as long as it goes “bang”, you should be good to go. With defensive ammo, remember that this will be the ammunition you are trusting your life to. There are all sorts of wild and exotic ammunition out there, but most of that hasn’t been proven in real-world testing or duty use. The best bet is to stick to major known brands of domestic or European origin. Brands like Speer, Federal Premium, Hornady, Sierra, Winchester, and Black Hills are preferable. All of the above have been in the business for decades, or longer, and know their science. Again, your life depends on your ammunition.

OK, you’ve got your pistol, some magazines for it, and some ammunition picked out. You’ve got some training and you’re getting ready to actually carry the gun out into the real world. Shoving it in your waistband is a recipe for disaster though. So, you’re going to need a holster.

Much like ammunition, there’s a whole universe of holsters out there, from numerous companies, big and small. However, for daily carry, there are a few things to consider.

  • Buy a holster made for your specific gun and its configuration. You’ll see a lot of on-sale specials for so-called universal holsters, which are basically just chunks of padded fabric that can accept a firearm. Stay far away from those. Look for a holster for your specific gun. If it has an optic or light attached to it, the holster must specifically accept those accessories as well.
  • The holster should be rigid and not flexible in any way. Typically this means the holster is made of a plastic material called Kydex. Form-fitted by a heat process, a Kydex holster is precisely molded to your pistol.
  • Retention. The holster must retain the firearm and release it only when it is drawn with authority. A good spot check is to place your (unloaded please!) firearm in the holster, turn it upside down, and see if it moves or drops free. If it stays put, the retention is acceptable. More sophisticated holsters will have an active retention system where a button must be pressed to release the firearm. Make sure the holster stays in its place on your hip. Also along those lines, get a real gun belt if you plan on carrying.

As you become competent with the basics of your first pistol, you’ll find that you may start to outgrow certain features of it. Often, the first thing people think of upgrading is the sights. Most pistols from name manufacturers ship with a decent set of factory iron sights. However, technology has been on the march for a moment. Once a “tactical toy”, red dot sighting systems are now becoming standard, even for the beginner. The principle is simple, a small red dot is projected up onto a small piece of glass situated into an attached housing secured to the slide of the firearm. Much like the heads-up display in a fighter jet or luxury car, the dot appears to drift in the air. Properly zeroed-in, a red-dot sight provides a marked advantage over traditional iron sights, in that one only needs to focus on one point of aim rather than three. However, if you previously trained on traditional sights, a red-dot does take some getting used to. That being said, a quality red-dot can often cost as much as the gun itself, so it may be a down-the-line purchase.

With those pieces settled, you’re ready to train. Holster, pistol, ammo, maybe a decent red dot sight, and skills. You’re going to start eating up some ammo, finally. Worth noting though is that your pistol is doing something pretty stressful – it’s containing a small explosion and directing the force in a given direction. Your pistol is a wonder of modern engineering, but it’s not impervious to the laws of physics. Things wear out and need maintenance and replacement.

Much like a motor vehicle, a little preventative maintenance goes a long way. After every range trip, it’s a good recommendation to clean your pistol according to the methods proscribed in the manual. Step one should always be clearing your firearm of any live ammunition. Make sure it’s impossible for any ammo to make it into your firearm during the cleaning and function check process.

There’s a ton of cleaning solutions and lubricants on the market. Good brands include Hoppe’s, Breakthrough Clean, and Break-Free. Generally, a good practice is to use the solvent to remove the carbon fouling, copper residue from the bullet jackets, and unburnt powder. Follow that up with lubrication on the “working surfaces” of your pistol, i.e. wherever metal moves over metal or plastic. While you’re there, check the function of the trigger, recoil spring, and other moving parts. Check for cracks and unusual wear on critical components like the barrel. If you see a crack in anything, bring your firearm to a competent gunsmith for service. FYI – this is why you should have a backup pistol as well. If your main gun is down for service, you want something to use in the meantime.

Along those lines, worth noting is that you aren’t carrying your gun 24/7. Sleeping with it under the pillow is ill-advised and not recommended. So, you’ll need a place to keep your firearm. Fortunately, there’s plenty of options nowadays, that recognize the need to secure unattended guns, along with the need for rapid access in case of an emergency. In this case, it’s wise to do your research with regards to a proper security container or safe for your pistol and other firearms. A lot of the “off-brand” bedside safes can be defeated with a $2 magnet or a stout hammer.

Worth noting is that technically, most “gun safes” aren’t really safes at all. They are classified as “security containers”. In the industry, a “true safe” is what you imagine a safe as – a big hulking chunk of steel and iron. True safes cost thousands of dollars and weigh thousands of pounds. To be fair, that’s a graduate-level purchase. If you’re just looking for a place to keep your pistol at night and away from casual tinkering by untrained persons, a decent biometric container will do the trick. Brands like Vaultek and Hornady typically receive favorable reviews.

The things needed to be addressed after purchasing your first pistol may seem daunting at first. Add that to the fact that by arming yourself, you’re assuming a grave responsibility in addition to exercising an inherent right. However, unlike most “learning curves”, the process of really getting on point with your new pistol can be fun and rewarding. Making a ragged hole in a piece of paper at the range from 20 yards away puts a smile on everyone’s face.

Be safe, learn your new acquisition, and most of all, enjoy the process. Welcome aboard.