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Tested: Carolina Arms Group Trenton Tactical

The M1911 pistol market continues to expand at a rate that defies easy explanation. Today, an example of this classic firearm can be purchased from almost every major handgun manufacturer. And while entry-level .45s still exist, most M1911s today come with a variety of cosmetic or functional upgrades, and the biggest trend is for firms to build high-end versions, right from scratch.

One company that is fairly new to the market—and that is the maker of the gun reviewed here—is Carolina Arms Group. This North Carolina-based firm is heavily staffed with veterans, and has a declared dedication to producing the best possible versions of the classic M1911-pattern handgun. Its first product, the Trenton pistol, is named for the reliability-under-stress character displayed by the ragged soldiers of George Washington’s Continental Army in the Battle of Trenton, N.J., on Dec. 26, 1776.

For this report, it provided a sample Trenton Tactical chambered in .45 ACP. The gun is made from forged carbon steel finished in a flat, tactical black color. Contours are of the familiar M1911A1 pattern, with manual and grip safeties, a Commander-style hammer and a left-side magazine release. A departure from the norm is the full-length recoil spring guide. Carolina Arms manufactures most of its own small parts in house.

The pistol’s beavertail grip safety has been hand-fitted to the frame (l.). The Trenton Tactical pairs a black, wide-notch, combat-style Dawson Precision rear sight with a red fiber-optic front sight, both of which are drift-adjustable (r.).

From a distance, the Trenton has the typical M1911 look and could be confused with other makers’ products. But its high levels of fit and internal finish are readily apparent when cycling the slide and dry firing the gun. There is little play in the fit of the slide to the frame—only enough to ensure they function properly together. That movement is very smooth, as is the shorter travel of the overtravel-adjustable trigger in its slot. The trigger break was crisp after the typical amount of slack, and measured right at the manufacturer’s stated 4-lb. specification. Like most modern guns of this pattern, the Trenton has a beavertail grip safety, and, in this case, it appears to have been perfectly fitted to the receiver. The Trenton’s thumb safety is bilateral, while the hammer is a skeletonized version of the round Commander style. There are angled cocking serrations at the rear of the slide.

Several useful shooter amenities have been worked into the Trenton design. Crafted from G10 laminate, the gray-black stocks by VZ Grips feature a coarse pattern of vertical channels accented with lateral grooves. This aggressive pattern is abrasive, but works well for shooters who need some extra texturing to help them hold on to the gun while firing. A further positive grip comes from an attractive but functional treatment applied to the frontstrap and mainspring housing. Instead of checkering or vertical grooving, these surfaces bear a series of overlapping oval-shaped depressions that work well to enhance purchase.

The Trenton’s designers may have wanted to build a very traditional gun, but they also included several modern enhancements for practical use. The front sight is a red-fiber-optic unit, as used on a number of other modern guns, which is matched with a Dawson Precision rear sight with a black sighting surface and a wide notch. It is an arrangement well-suited to a variety of shooting situations. The Carolina Arms Group marks its new pistol with a stylized eagle head and wing, contoured into a letter “C.” Logos appear on both sides of the slide and both stocks; the slide also reads “Carolina Arms Group” on the left and “Trenton” on the right.

One additional feature needs to be mentioned. The maker’s pistols all feature barrels manufactured by Kart, which are designed for installation by professional gunsmiths. Kart-made barrels have earned a reputation for exceptional accuracy.

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Army to Gunmakers: Show Us a New 7.62mm Service Rifle

U.S. Army weapons officials have launched a survey to see what gunmakers can offer for an off-the-shelf 7.62mm Interim Combat Service Rifle.

The May 31 request for information, known in acquisition parlance as an RFI, on behalf of Product Manager Individual Weapons, is an attempt to “identify sources for a combat rifle system” and determine the potential cost and lead time to deliver up to 10,000 weapon systems, according to the document.

The request comes in the wake of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told lawmakers Congress last week that the M4 Carbine‘s current 5.56mm round can’t penetrate modern enemy body armor plates and that he’s considering arming infantry units with rifles chambered for a more potent 7.62mm cartridge.

“The rifle must be a Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) system readily available for purchase today. Modified or customized systems are not being considered,” according to the document, which specifies that the caliber must be 7.62x51mm.

Milley told Senate Armed Services Committee members May 25 that Army officials at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning in Georgia, have developed a new 7.62mm round capable of penetrating enemy body armor plates similar to U.S. military-issue rifle plates such as the Enhanced Small Arms Protective Insert, or ESAPI.

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Taurus Introduces Spectrum .380 Pistol

New for 2017, Taurus announced the introduction of a brand-new .380 ACP pocket pistol in the company’s lineup: the Spectrum.

“We looked at the .380-carry segment of the market and wanted to address the needs of offering a concealed carry gun that is as comfortable as it is aesthetically pleasing,” said Anthony Acitelli, CEO of Taurus. “Because of improved performance and new innovation within the personal and home-defense ammunition categories, the .380 ACP has become a formidable caliber to carry. This small package now packs a powerful punch with the Taurus Spectrum.”

Taurus focused on several design elements in order to improve upon current offerings in the pocket-pistol market. First, the company tackled ergonomics. The company designed the Spectrum with a number of unique contours to allow the gun to better fit in users’ hands, enabling a more secure grip. The extended magazine that comes with the gun holds seven rounds and features a finger groove to better aid in control.

“The industry has missed the mark on developing a micro pistol that melds ergonomics and usability that is safe and easy to manipulate,” said Dusty Sroufe, director of Product Development. “Our desire at Taurus was to create a gun that is pleasant to shoot at the range as well as carry with confidence. The Taurus Spectrum is the complete package consumers are seeking.”

The company also focused on recoil management, using soft-touch materials to improve retention. These materials are also removable, allowing consumers to add personal touches to their firearm. According to Taurus, the soft-touch material works in wet or dry conditions to provide a solid gripping surface and is not affected by heat or cold. To clean the material, simply use soap and water.

Taurus also incorporated the same soft-touch material into the slide in order to facilitate racking, doing away with traditional slide serrations. These slide inserts are also interchangeable for customization.

The company focused on the trigger as well. According to Taurus, the Spectrum trigger is a long, smooth pull that falls within the 7-9-pound range. It is a true double-action striker system. The action features a non-energized striker that has no initial load applied in cocking. For added safety, the company also incorporated a firing-pin block into the gun.

Other safety features include a simplified takedown procedure that requires no trigger pull for disassembly. Simply turn the takedown pin and separate the slide assembly from the frame. The gun also features a reversible magazine release.

Magazine capacity of the Taurus Spectrum is six rounds, seven with an extended magazine. Two magazines are included with the pistol. The gun features integrated low-profile sights that are part of the stainless-steel slide. The overall length of the Spectrum is 5.4 inches, while the height and width are 3.82 inches and 0.89 inch, respectively. Total unloaded weight is 10 ounces.

The Taurus Spectrum is available in standard and house color options. Standard color options include black, gray or white frames; black or gray overmolded color options and a black or stainless-steel slide. House colors come in the following options: black frame, flat dark earth overmold and black slide; white frame, cyan blue overmold and a stainless-steel slide and gray frame, mint overmold and black slide. Other special-edition colors will be released throughout 2017.

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5 Best-Selling Semiautomatic Handguns Share 2 Qualities: Concealable, Effective Defense

The 5 best-selling semiautomatic handguns in the U.S. all have two things in common: They’re easily concealable and fill the need for a personal defense weapon.

Motley Fool’s Rich Duprey looked at monthly reports of best-selling new hndguns identified by online auction house GunBroker.com to compile the list. Here’s how the five best-selling handguns stack up in Duprey’s analysis:

1. Ruger LCP — This gun “more than lives up to the task” of concealed carry suggested by its name, which stands for “lightweight compact pistol,” said Duprey. Its price tag, which is about $260, is an attractive feature of this .380 ACP pistol.

The LCP II addresses many of the shortcomings of the original Ruger LCP introduced in 2008, improving the gun’s sights and trigger, according to The Daily Caller.

This gun also made Breitbart‘s list of pocket guns that are “great guns for mothers and grandmothers who realize they are the first line of defense for their children or grandchildren should trouble strike.”

2. Glock G19 and Smith & Wesson M&P Shield (tie) — The Glock 19, a single stack handgun with a 15-round capacity, retails for about $600. This gun will be carried by the Marine Corps Special Operations Command’s elite Raiders, Military.com noted, calling the gun a “reliable, easy-to-maintain 9mm pistol.”

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With Trump in the White House, Hearing Protection Act looks good for 2017

A Republican trifecta in Washington next year will likely see action on a bill to remove firearm suppressors from National Firearms Act regulation after 82 years.

The Hearing Protection Act was introduced last October by U.S. Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., and currently has 78 bipartisan co-sponsors from 34 states. Since then, the HPA has been among the top 10 most-viewed bills on Congress.gov almost every week since it was introduced.

However, with a slim Republican majority in the Senate unable to override a near-certain veto from President Obama, the bill has been in doldrums.

Now, with the White House under new management next year, advocates for the measure feel signs are looking up and will likely return to the next Congress with a fresh mandate.

“Imagine for a second that we lived in a world where you had to pay a $200 tax to buy a pair of earplugs,” Knox Williams, president of the American Suppressor Association, the industry trade group for the devices, told Guns.com on Wednesday. “Now, imagine that even after paying that tax you still had to wait 8 months before you could bring your earplugs home with you. As silly as that sounds, it’s the world we live in with suppressors in the NFA.”

Williams is buoyed by the fact that suppressor ownership is at an all-time high, topping 900,000 nationwide. Most importantly, three states in recent months — Vermont, Iowa and Minnesota — have legalized suppressor ownership for civilians, bringing the total to 42.

“The Hearing Protection Act is about one thing: giving the law abiding citizens of our country the ability to protect their hearing while exercising their right to hunt and recreationally shoot without the onerous burden that the National Firearms Act places on suppressors,” he said.

In speaking with Utah-based SilencerCo CEO Josh Waldron in April, the suppressor wonk made it clear that the HPA in its current form is something of a dress rehearsal for a Republican chief executive.

“It’s a really important bill, but we’re doing it for education,” Waldron said. “We’re getting it queued up so that when we do have someone in the White House that’s not a looney tune, it’ll go through quickly and that’s really what we’re doing. We’re setting this up for success in the future.”

Although Trump has not gone on record as supporting NFA deregulation, Donald Jr. visited SilencerCo in September and made clear it was definitely on the table.

Further, the National Rifle Association wasted no time in mentioning suppressors and their safety attributes on Election Night.

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How Trump Could Make It Way Easier to Carry a Gun Across America

If a man from Utah wanted to drive from Salt Lake City to Virginia Beach with a pistol strapped under his coat and a concealed carry permit from his state in his wallet, he could legally do so—just as long as he takes a 200-mile detour to avoid passing through Illinois, where his Utah concealed gun license won’t be recognized.

A concealed carrier from Miami, meanwhile, could drive straight up I-95 without any problems until he got to Maryland, which doesn’t accept any out-of-state concealed carry licenses whatsoever.

Replacing this patchwork quilt of what are called “reciprocity” agreements with a federal right-to-carry standard is a top political objective of the National Rifle Association, which spent more than $30 million to elect Donald Trump. The incoming president promised to deliver that change during his campaign, and the NRA has been quick to remind him of his commitment.

The gun group’s top executive, Wayne LaPierre, used his first post-election communication with members to repeat his demand for a law that requires states to accept a permit issued by any other state, declaring “the individual right to carry a firearm in defense of our lives and our families does not, and should not, end at any state line.”

For many gun owners, the concerns are logistical: Embarking on a road trip with a gun means researching state laws and the possibility of long detours. Carrying a concealed weapon with an invalid permit is a felony offense in many states. Advocates invariably compare concealed carry licenses to drivers licenses: Why is the right to self-defense so limited if Americans can drive across the country with just one license?

But opponents say a federal mandate would force states that exclude people they deem high risk to accept licenses issued in states with looser standards. Existing training requirements for concealed gun permits vary greatly: from quick and cheap online courses, to 16 hours of in-person training with supervised live fire. As the Trace has reported, 26 states will issue a permit without requiring an applicant to demonstrate shooting ability.

Lindsay Nichols, a staff attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, argues that the fact that state standards vary so widely gives lie to gun rights proponents drivers’ license analogy. She points out that states recognize one another’s drivers licenses because “states have almost uniformly adopted strong standards with regards to driving. They require drivers tests in a uniform manner in a way that doesn’t apply to guns.”

Many states also allow people who live elsewhere to apply for their license—and easy-to-obtain licenses draw applicants nationwide. Utah’s requirements, for instance, are seen as among the laxest in the nation. And two-thirds of all people with a Utah-issued permit now live out of state.

In short: Under national concealed carry reciprocity, states that impose high bars through their own permitting systems could be undermined by the loose standards in place elsewhere.

“I would have a grave concern about the public safety effects,” says Douglas Gansler, a former Maryland attorney general who in 2012 joined nine other state attorneys general to condemn an earlier federal reciprocity bill. “The people of Maryland don’t want lots of people walking around the state while armed.”

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Incomprehensible’ that Gun Makers Aren’t Liable for Misuse of Stolen Guns

On Friday morning Connecticut Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis struck down the Sandy Hook families’ lawsuit against Remington Arms; a suit that was filed after a legally made and sold AR-15 was stolen from its owner and used to kill innocents at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Hillary Clinton responded to the dismissal of the suit by calling it “incomprehensible” and reaffirmed her determination to change laws so that crime victims can sue gun manufacturers.

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