Handguns that Surprised Me...

This is a discussion on Handguns that Surprised Me... within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Hello. When I was younger, single, and essentially spending my money on only guns, reloading supplies, and ammo, I tried many, many, many handguns. Some ...

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Thread: Handguns that Surprised Me...

  1. #1
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Handguns that Surprised Me...

    Hello. When I was younger, single, and essentially spending my money on only guns, reloading supplies, and ammo, I tried many, many, many handguns. Some I still have. These were the ones that surprised me. Though my favorite types of pistols quickly became 9mm Hi Powers and .45 1911 pattern guns, I also had amassed quite a few that simply did better, significantly better, than I'd expected. I still have some of those and continue in this vein today, though I am not so driven to try and own each and every new gun that comes down the pike.

    Anyway, here are some handguns, pistols & revolvers, that worked their way into my stable and that I have no intention of getting rid of:


    This S&W Model 642 is the first stainless in the Airweight line that I ever owned. I simply preferred blued guns and normally carried either a Model 37 with a home-bobbed-recontoured hammer or the blue steel/alloy frame Model 042/442. I finally gave into the stainless steel's easier maintainance against rust. The surprising thing is that I now pick up an extra stainless/alloy Airweight when I find one like new and at a very decent price! I have enough of them to equip an octopus, but never would have considered one had it not been for that first Model 642.


    I wound up with this Ruger SP101 after several months of search for a like-new 3" Model 65 (no lock) to augment my 3" Model 64. The surprising thing about the little Ruger is that I actually like it better! The DA pull was initially not as smooth as the Smith, but it got quite nice and I could stage it quickly for rapid DA shots. The factory grip fits my hand perfectly and this one is stock as a stove other than my smoothing the edges of the trigger. I expected it to be "just" a car gun or something from the second tier in the long run, but it surprised me and has become quite a favorite.


    Both the Star Model BM and the 9x18mm Makarov have proven themselves to be quite good little pistols, particularly when considering that both could be had for under $200 not so very long ago. The little Star 9mm has proven itself a reliable little thing (except with Golden Sabers which it absolutely refuses to feed) and the Makarov feeds well and groups far better than expected. "Richard," who posts here and elsewhere, kept singing their praises so I wound up with a Bulgarian and latter a couple of East Germans.
    I enjoy shooting them quite a lot. Both of these little things seem to offer considerably better performance that I initially expected.



    This early Taurus PT92 has never missed a stutter. It does not have the tens of thousands of rounds downrange that my bevy of Hi Powers and 1911's do, but it has been shot quite a bit. The fixed sights are exactly "on" and it groups pretty well. I'm not a big fan of this Beretta/Taurus design, but I seem to just be unable to get rid of this one. When I bought it, I figured I'd shoot it a bit and trade it off. The surprise is that I just cannot do it.


    This Star Model B 9mm was purchased when I saw an ad in the "American Rifleman" offering both them and the Super B (brand new) for sale in the US at very good pricings. It also said that these were "last run" guns. The first centerfire autopistol I bought years earlier was an older Star Model B (NIB) for the princely sum of around $75.00, including a box of ammo!) This particular gun's fixed sights hit extremely high so I had Lou Williamson install some Millett adjustables. The gun groups pretty darned well and has been reliable. I spent more customizing it than I did for the gun, but the slim Star autos just have a certain "grace" about them for me. I would not be afraid to use this one in a fight. This one surprised me in that I really didn't expect to do much but shoot it now and again, but I just liked the gun so much that I wanted it "upgraded" and have never regretted it.


    This Norinco 45 was a "shooter" from the get-go. The sights were too small for me and not regulated to the POI, but I home-tinkered this one, but did have a gunsmith (Scott Mays) install the fixed sights which are regulated such that POA=POI. This one groups decently, but nothing special. Its reliability has been great. The surprising thing to me is that I like it as is and am not inclined to try and tighten up its groups. It does around 3 to 3 1/2" @ 25 yards with most loads.


    A while back I did an article in a gun magazine about Capt. Dave Sample's Patriot on-line class after handling/shooting/trying-to-steal
    a friend's gun that had been made in that proceedure. The gun was well-fitted, grouped like a bat out of you know where, and was reliable; it still is. When my friend and his son decided to build another gun each, I was invited and jumped in. I went for a long-slide .45. The surprise is that it works perfectly, groups very well, and has become a most favored pistol! I was afraid that I'd wind up with an expensive gun that didn't work. Surprise! I was wrong. I am exceptionally proud of this pistol. I just have a "thing" about long-slides and that I have one with about 90 hours of my fooling around with that ACTUALLY works, makes it even better. I am TRYING to resist the urge to do another.



    Though not a fan of the .380 or 9x18mm Mak cartridges, I gotta say that this little Bersa surprised the heck out of me. It has never malfunctioned and the sights are dead-bang "on." The price was very reasonable and the DA/SA trigger pulls are better than on my Walther PP and the Bersa doesn't bite me (slide bite) as does the Walther. I may not be a fan of the cartridge, but I am a fan of the Bersa 380.


    This S&W Model 24 was purchased used, but like new at a very good price. I had always liked the .44 Special round (handloaded) but was not prepared for how "taken" I wound up being with this S&W N-frame. It is a pleasure to shoot and with "honest" .44 Specials, I don't think it is "lacking" in the power department for critters in my part of the world. With loads it "likes", it's accuracy has been astounding...at least to me.


    This Star Model 28 has been customized by Lou Williamson. Large and heavy for caliber, this 9mm groups very, very well. It is like shooting wadcutters from an N-frame S&W. It's inherent accuracy and single-action trigger pull both surprised me greatly. The former can be exceptionally tight with loads it likes while the former IS exceptionally light and clean.


    This customized Hi Power was my first and I call it "Number One." It is not surprising that I like the old thing greatly, but the two best shots I ever made were with this pistol, one right after the other, and both shots were witnessed by 2 other people. They were surprised...but not as much as I was, but I lied and said something like, "What? Don't ya'll do that with your guns? Nothing to it." I am not going to mention the shots here for they were probably luck mostly, but it is danged surprising when it happens twice in a row! (This pistol was also sort of a "surprise" to a would-be burglar one night!)

    How about you? Do you have any handguns that have surprised you good or bad?

    Best.

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    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    I really love that Star BM of yours. I have been eyeing one at my local shop for a while. It needs a little exterior work but it is very mechanically sound. I think I remember reading a write up on your website about the BM.

    BTW I love your website. You have great articles and I have enjoyed reading them. Keep up the good work.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

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    Senior Member Array WJP9's Avatar
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    Great collection....fun read. Thanks for that. Really like that Norinco.
    -Bill

    "Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it."

  5. #4
    1951 - 2011
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    Hello and thank you both very much for the kind words. It is nice when a handgun surprises pleasantly.

    Of course, they can do it in not so nice ways, too....

    Best to you and yours.

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    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    I know that parts are almost non existent for the BM. Can you tell me of anywhere I could purchase wood grips for one? I would also want to swap out the sights. Any suggestions and tips would be appreciated.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

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    Senior Member Array hsuCowboy98's Avatar
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    Awesome collection, and great narration to go along with it.

    Its funny how certain guns just jump at you and stick. Ive got a whole safe of wanderer's I cant seem to part with.
    Fear No Evil.

  8. #7
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello Doc Holliday. I am not aware of any wooden grips readily available for the Model BM, though the BKM did come with factory checkered wooden stocks and these would fit the BM.

    The good folks at the link below might be able to provide useful information in this regard:

    http://p223.ezboard.com/fcurioandrel...armsforumfrm28

    I also believe that Mr. Hakan Pek makes beautiful wooden grips for the Model BM:

    http://www.imageseek.com/hakan/

    On the sight issue, I am not aware of anyone making either a front or rear sight for the Star Model BM. IF the current sights match up POA vs POI satisfactorily, measure both and get the ratio in heights; that way when you know how high the new rear sight is, you can get the appropriate height front sight without so much trial and error as is often around when such things are done. On the Model BM, the rear sight covers a vertical steel pin that holds the firing pin in place. A rear sight will probably require milling a larger dovetail in the rear and that's fine as it would remove the factory dovetail, but I'd shorten the base of the new sight IF it is significantly deeper than the factory sight...unless the gunsmith advises that it's not necessary. Were I choosing a rear sight, I'd look long and hard at King's King-Tappen rear sight with my second choice being their Hardballer rear. On the front sight, I am not sure if the slide is thick enough for the dovetail for either Heinie or Novaks. This is something a 'smith would have to tell you. A front sight of the right height could be made and then silversoldered to the slide and there may be some that can be staked.

    hsuCowboy98: Man, you are right about certain "jumping guns" and their "staying power."

    Best.

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    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    Mr. Camp....very nice. I like the lil' stories that go with each photo.
    I like those Star's also. You have some very nice models.
    BTW...finally got around to finishing the book. Just wonderful. I hope you are about finished writing the second story. I NEED that book !!!

  10. #9
    1951 - 2011
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    Hello, artz. I've been busy on other projects and have not even come close to finishing the second novel. Sorry about that. Not to worry though, I think that Robert Allen Omar and Mr. Tauber will probably get to meet...

    Best.

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    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    Sssaawwwwweeettt !!!!

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    Distinguished Member Array dimmak's Avatar
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    one of the best posts I have seen here....
    Thanks...
    "Ray Nagin is a colossal disappointment" - NRA/ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox.


    "...be water, my friend."

  13. #12
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello and thanks very much. I'm glad that the post was of interest. Something that I tried to put "between the lines" as they say is that it's been my experience that some really good shooters don't always have to be the highest priced.

    That said, some of the higher-end handguns I own have done better than I ever expected of them as well, but the biggest nice surprises have been on the less costly ones for me.

    Best.

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    Steve - a more than pleasurable read that was and thank you for posting that.

    I will for sure agree with you re Bersa .380 - I have been involved in buying three! That M24 too is a very fine piece and being an N frame devotee would like to find one eventually.

    I guess too my Mak (a Russian marked) has also like you been pleasantly surprising but then seems many folks agree with us.

    One other of mine I have come to enjoy a lot is the 1927 Sistema which after a tweak from 1911 Tuner coupla years ago on hammer, sear and disconnect - is now a very fine shooter. I wanted to get rid of the ''silly'' GI front site but hesitate to change the gun that much, despite having fitted a Chip' trigger - which of course I can reverse easily.

    One other gun I was almost surprised with from get go was the FEG Hi Power clone - and tho that was a ''stopgap'' until I got my BHP Practical, proved to be a fine shooter, my only reservations being re it's metallurgy and longevity.

    There are probably some others in the category of your post but these come to mind initially.


















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    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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    Mr. Camp.....I am huge fan of your website and postings here.....your post/thread was another great one.

    My first gun was (is) my Browning HP Mark II, which I purchased in 1986. It's been through a lot over the years; got me a second place award in an LE/military only shooting match in 1990, went with me to Mas Ayoob's LFI I and II, was my first concealment gun and has fired thousands of rounds. I almost (foolishly) sold her off in 1989 as a butter bar USAF lieutenant...and I'm glad I didn't.

    She is my keeper....
    USAF: Loving Our Obscene Amenities Since 1947

  16. #15
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    Hello and thanks to all for their posts.

    srfl: I think you wound up making the right move in keeping the Mk II. I foolishly let mine get away. A very good friend of mine who has now passed on told me to never get rid of a gun you like...

    I should have listened better.

    Best.

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