Categories
Shotguns

Escort Versatile Tactical Shotgun: A New Series of Scatterguns for the Rifle Crowd

Escort SDX 12 Gauge Shotgun

HatsanUSA, the exclusive US importer of firearms from Escort Shotguns, announced a new line of gas-operated scatterguns at SHOT Show 2020.

The new Escort Versatile Tactical Shotgun (VTS) series is designed to replicate many of the controls and features of the AR15-style rifle. The concept is to have shotguns that will very familiar in the hands of shooters who are comfortable with modern rifles.

Escort is making a range of VTS variants. Initially, the company will offer the DF12, SDX and BTS shotguns to the US market.

Let’s take a look at each.

Escort DF12

Escort considers the DF12 as the premier VTS model.

Escort Df12 Shotgun

Offered only in 12-gauge, the gun is magazine-fed and can chamber both 2.75″ and 3″ shells. The standard magazine capacity is 5 rounds while a 2-round mag will also be available for hunters and others needing more limited capacity.

Like an AR-style rifle, the DF12 has an upper and lower receiver that is held together by a pair of pins. Also like an AR, the upper and lower separate for easy cleaning and maintenance. The receiver halves are made of black anodized aluminum. Escort does not identify the aluminum used other than “aircraft alloy.”

The DF12 barrel is 18″ long and is hard chrome plated. It is internally-threaded for chokes and ships with a slug-friendly cylinder bore choke brake. Included with the shotgun are full and improved cylinder (F and IC) chokes.

Sights consist of a rear aperture in the carry handle with a front post. However, the carry handle is removable, so Escort includes flip-up sights the raplce the carry handle and front tower. You can also add your own optic.

The DF12 is available in two colors: black and flat dark earth (FDE) Cerakote.

Escort SDX

The SDX shares a similar configuration as the DF12, but has two significant differences.

Escort SDX 410 Shotgun

First of all, the SDX is available in both 12-gauge and in .410 bore. So, if you are looking for a lighter shooting shotgun, the SDX might be a better choice than the DF12.

The other major difference is that this gun uses a polymer lower and forend instead of aluminum. According to the company, the magazine well has metal guides to ensure proper magazine seating and increased durability.

Like the FD12 shotgun, the SDX is available in both black and FDE.

Escort BTS

Escort BTS 12 Gauge Bullpup shotgun

Using the same operating system as the two other shotgun models, the BTS reconfigures the package into a compact bullpup format. Keeping the 18″ barrel, the company is able to reduce the overall length of the shotgun by 9″. This gives the BTS a significant advantage in maneuvering.

Like the SDX, the BTS can be had in 12-gauge and .410 bore.

Gas System

AR shooters might expect to see a gas tube running above the barrel from the front sight tower. That is not how Escort designed this system.

Instead, the company developed a gas piston that floats around the barrel of the shotgun. According to the company, this improves the efficiency of the system while decreasing the overall weight and size of the shotgun.

Escort VTS Gas Piston System

By having the piston coming back with equal pressure above and below the barrel, muzzle rise should be reduced. In theory, the recoil should be closer to a straight push backward.

Final Thoughts

Modern rifle-style shotguns are not an entirely new concept. However, this seems to be a more complete approach to the design. Shooters have three different variants to choose from – two AR-style and a third in a bullpup configuration.

For me, reliability is always a key factor. For a semi-automatic shotgun, I expect it to run with light and heavy loads without a lot of tweaking. I look forward to seeing how the Escort VTS line does.

Pricing starts at $589.99.

Categories
Handguns

Diamondback DBX – Dual Piston Pistol

Diamondback DBX Review on Range

Diamondback Firearms announced the new DBX pistol at SHOT Show 2020. The new gun is chambered for the 5.7×28 cartridge and has a variety of interesting features that might grab your attention.

So, let’s not dally about and jump right in.

General Information

The new Diamondback DBX is in the general style of an AR pistol, but it should be readily apparent that it is not as simple as that.

Diamondback Firearms manufactured this semi-automatic pistol as a locked-breech design with a dual-piston gas system. I’m looking forward to getting some time with this gun to see how the system is designed.

Diamondback DBX at SHOT Show in 5.7x28

Unlike some of the alternatives, this is a bottom feeder with the magazines inserting in the AR-standard position. The gun runs on FN Five-seveN 20-round magazines. However, the company has also announced that a second gun that will feed from the Ruger-57 pattern magazines will also be released. One magazine is included.

The 8″ barrel is threaded. It comes fitted with the company’s new DBX muzzle device.

Up front, the forend has M-LOK attachment points on the left, right and bottom for a wide range of accessories. Included with the gun is a Magpul handstop kit. For a gun this short, I like that the company includes this as a standard accessory.

Review Diamondback DBX Pistol at the Range

Diamondback includes a side folding arm brace with the pistol. It attaches to the Picatinny rail on the butt end of the gun.

Specifications

Here is a breakdown of the Diamondback DBX specifications:

 

Diamondback DBX

caliber

5.7x28

capacity

20+1

barrel length

8"

overall length

16.1" without brace

height

7.3" without sights

weight

3 lbs with empty magazine, without brace

frame

7075 aluminum

finish

hardcoat anodized matte black

MSRP

TBD

What Gives?

The new Diamondback DBX is one of several new guns recently announced for the 5.7×28 cartridge. Additionally, there have been some new ammo additions like the Speer Gold Dot self-defense load.

Why the sudden surge of interest in this cartridge?

I don’t have any inside information, but I believe all three guns were developed independently. This suggests that the sales and design teams at three different companies reached the same conclusion on the market data they had. That conclusion: there is enough market demand for guns chambered for the cartridge to make the projects financially viable.

So, what happens when three companies move to satisfy the same demand?

Diamondback DBX LEft Side

In this case, I believe it will work out well for all of the companies.

Starting with the Ruger-57, there has been a lot of discussion surrounding the cartridge. When CMMG announced its own rifles and pistols (along with AR conversion kits) in 5.7×28, even more people took notice. With a third company jumping into the pool, it will make a lot of people ask “What am I missing?”

Will those people turn into buyers? I think a lot of them will. With the support of premium ammunition for self-defense, target shooting and small game hunting, the cartridge suddenly has a life I did not expect to see.

I look forward to a Diamondback DBX review, but what do you think? It is hard to carry concealed – after all, you can’t slip it into a Ruger-57 holster, but for a home defense weapon, it might be a great choice. Are you interested in this cartridge and/or pistol?

Categories
Rifles

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW: New Pistol & SBR

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW camping with beautiful girl

Days ahead of SHOT Show 2020, Daniel Defense teased to a new firearm – something that looked like it could be a PDW.

Well, that’s just what they released. Say hello to the new Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW.

Available in both pistol and SBR configurations, the new AR-style weapon system is designed to be both compact and easy to transport. With a 7″ barrel, the pistol version has an overall length of 20.75″. The SBR is slightly longer at 21.0″. This suggests it should be able to fit into backpacks or specialized weapons packs like the ESS Stealth Backpack.

Daniel Defense PDW SBRDanielDefense PDW Pistol

At launch, the guns will only be chambered for the  300 BLK cartridge. Over time, the company could introduce other cartridges depending on customer demand.

Pistol variants will be equipped with a Maxim Defense CQB Pistol Brace in lieu of a stock. SBR versions are NFA items, meaning additional paperwork and tax stamps, but you get a Maxim Defense CQB Gen 7 collapsible stock.

Daniel Defense DDM4 PDW

“I believe our new DDM4 PDW is the absolute best gun you can buy to protect your family. And protecting our families is the most important thing any of us can ever do,” said Daniel Defense President & CEO Marty Daniel. “It’s accurate, easy to shoot, and compact. I couldn’t be any prouder of this groundbreaking product.”

Additional features of these guns:

  • 7″ barrel with 1:7″ twist
  • barrels are cold hammer forged with S2W profile
  • enhanced buffer system that ensure reliable operation with short barrel, subsonic loads and suppressor use
  • 6″ MFR XL flat front rail
  • SLR M-LOK MOD2 handstop
  • linear comp to redirect muzzle blast forward
  • ambidextrous GRIP-N-RIP charging handle
  • Made in the USA (of course)
  • Pistol MSRP: $1,865
  • SBR MSRP: $1,935

Daniel Defense expects to ship both versions of the DDM4 PDW by the end of February 2020.

Daniel Defense PDW for home defense

I don’t know about you, but the SBR with a suppressor looks like it would be a fun gun to run and worth the two stamps.

Categories
Ammunition

Federal Terminal Ascent Ammunition

Terminal Ascent Bullet Performance at 1000 yards

Announced in time for the 2020 SHOT Show, Federal Premium unveiled a new line of hunting ammunition called Terminal Ascent.

In simple terms, this is a new line of ammo that claims:

  • match-grade accuracy,
  • deep-penetration at all ranges,
  • reliable expansion at low velocity,
  • high weight retention and
  • lethal terminal performance at all ranges.

While this ammo might be considered long-range hunting ammunition because of its great performance at distance, the reality is it is an “all-range, all-velocity” line that is said to perform no matter where your target is.

Let’s jump into some of the features of this new line.

General Construction

Federal designed these loads to blend the best characteristics of expanding big game ammunition with the exceptional accuracy of match-grade rounds. While compromise loads can leave the user unsatisfied with all aspects of a round, Federal Premium believes the Terminal Ascent line successfully combines all of the best attributes.

How did the company manage this?

Bonded Design

Many hunters want high weight retention as this is a good indicator that the bullet will stay in one piece and penetrate deeply. When taking a game animal, a shoulder shot is common meaning the bullet has to penetrate heavy bone to reach the heart and lungs for a humane kill.

Federal Terminal Ascent Long Range Hunting Ammunition

Hitting an animal at close distances means the bullet velocity will be high, which can cause over expansion and fragmentation in some bullet designs. A bonded round means that the jacket and core have been joined during the manufacturing process and will not separate when hitting a target.

In other words, bonded bullets are unlikely to shed weight and are likely to penetrate deeply enough to hit vital organs.

Terminal Ascent bullets have a solid shank: a thick copper base that supports the lead core. Combined with the bonding process, the shank helps ensure the bullet has high weight retention after hitting the target.

Slipstream Tip

Polymer tipped bullets were once seen to be a gimmick by some in the industry. Performance in the field tells a different story. It now seems that nearly every manufacturer has at least one bullet line with a polymer tip.

Slipstream Tip on Terminal Ascent Bullet Ammo

While the Terminal Ascent bullet has a polymer tip, it is not a common plastic point. Rather, it is a patented hollow core tip that initiates the expansion of the bullet at lower velocities.

During the testing of other polymer tipped bullets, Federal engineers determined that the expansion of bullets was inconsistent once the range reached 600 yards. This was due to the velocity loss at those ranges.

Initial experimentation showed that drilling a hole in the very tip of the bullet allowed for expansion at lower velocities which extended the useful range of the bullet by several hundred yards. With a hollow polymer tip, target media would enter and cause expansion – very similar to how the hollow point bullet works.

However, the hole at the front of the tip degraded the bullet’s flight characteristics. It almost seemed to circle back to square one. Would you need a polymer tip for your polymer tip?

The solution was a hollow polymer tip that did not have a hole in the exposed end. Through experimentation, the Federal design team discovered that the point of the hollow tip would break off on impact with the target. That would allow target media to enter the polymer tip’s hollow core and initiate expansion.

Federal Premium Terminal Ascent Hunting Ammunition

This design – called the Slipstream Tip – greatly improved the expansion of the bullet at lower velocities while maintaining the ballistic characteristics of the standard polymer tipped rifle bullet.

Another aspect of the Slipstream Tip that enhances performance is the choice of material. Federal uses the same polymer as it uses in its Trophy Bonded Tip which puts the softening temperature at 434Ëš F.

Terminal Ascent vs Precision Hunter Tips

It appears to me that the Terminal Ascent line is a direct competitor to the Hornady Precision Hunter line. In that line, Hornady uses a Heat Shield tip to prevent tip softening and to improve expansion at distances beyond 400 yards.

Is the Terminal Ascent better than the Precision Hunter? I have no way of even guessing at how the two match up in the field. And the bullet weights used by each company are different in each caliber. So, there is no direct comparison of the G1 BC either.

Except for two cartridges: the 300 Win Mag and the 300 WSM. Both companies selected 200-grain bullets for these cartridges. Here is how the factory specs match up:

 

Terminal Ascent Velocity

Precision Hunter Velocity

Terminal Ascent G1 BC

Precision Hunter G1 BC

300 Win Mag - 200 grains

2,810 fps

2,850 fps

.608

.597

300 WSM - 200 grains

2,810 fps

2,820 fps

.608

.597

I’d argue we can’t make any definitive statements about the two based on this information alone. However, it would seem the two lines are going to be in the same ballpark of performance. I’m looking forward to seeing field results.

AccuChannel Grooving

Federal developed a new process for adding grooves to a bullet shank to improve accuracy and reduce barrel wear and fouling.

For many people, the engineering for the new AccuChannel Grooving is getting into the weeds a bit. So, I’ll keep it simple.

Essentially, engineers performed a series of experiments and learned how to reduce the number of grooves needed on a bullet shank to achieve the same level of performance. By reducing the number of grooves, you can improve the ballistic coefficient (BC) of the bullet.

Likewise, the team found a way to improve the groove geometry to further reduce drag on the bullet.

Loads and Specs

 

Bullet Weight

Velocity

Energy

G1 BC

6.5 PRC

130 gr

3,000 fps

2,598 ft-lbs

.532

6.5 Creedmoor

130 gr

2,825 fps

2,304 ft-lbs

.532

.270 Win

130 gr

3,000 fps

2,598 ft-lbs

.493

.270 WSM

136 gr

3,240 fps

3,171 ft-lbs

.493

.280 Ackley Improved

155 gr

2,930 fps

2,955 ft-lbs

.586

.28 Nosler

155 gr

3,200 fps

3,525 ft-lbs

.586

7mm Rem Mag

155 gr

3,000 fps

3,098 ft-lbs

.586

.30-06 Sprg

175 gr

2,730 fps

2,897 ft-lbs

.520

.308 Win

175 gr

2,600 fps

2,627 ft-lbs

.520

.300 Win Mag

200 gr

2,810 fps

3,507 ft-lbs

.608

.300 WSM

200 gr

2,810

3,507 ft-lbs

.608

Ammo will be sold in 20-round boxes. Suggested retail pricing will start at $42.95 for a box and go up from there. Actual pricing is set by the dealer, and I expect to see many of these loads closer to the $30-35 range.

Final Thoughts

Terminal Ascent Ammo from Federal at 2020 SHOT Show

The final word on these new loads will be offered once they make it into the field. But for now, this line looks impressive. I am eager to see what they can do.

If you get some on the range or out on a hunting trip, how about leaving your observations in the comments below. I’ve got a lot of readers who appreciate hearing how these loads perform in real-world conditions.

Categories
Handguns

Ruger-57: New 5.7×28 Pistol

Ruger-57 Pistol

I like it when companies do unexpected things. Sometimes these outside-the-box ideas change the industry while other times they simply become a curiosity. Either way, it keeps things interesting.

The Ruger-57 is one of those unexpected pistols.

In the days leading up to the SHOT Show, Ruger is rolling out its new products for 2020. Yesterday, the company announced the Lite Rack LCP II. Today, the latest is a handgun chambered for the 5.7×28 cartridge.

Let’s take a look at what this new gun offers.

Quick Note

This gun has been selling out as soon as they hit the shelves of the local dealers. Here are a few online sources you can check for the gun. Purchases through those sites are affiliate links and help pay my bills.

Gun Design

The new Ruger-57 is a full-size pistol with a polymer frame. It has a barrel just short of 5″ and a modest weight of 24.5 ounces.

Ruger-57 Side View

It is a semi-automatic, blowback design. Ruger designed the hammer-fired gun with a 1911-style thumb safety. The safety is ambidextrous for ease of use regardless of which hand grips the pistol.

A front fiber optic sight with a fully adjustable blacked-out rear sight is standard. The gun is red dot ready. Ruger sells multiple mounting plates for the addition of an optic like the Burris FastFire and Vortex Venom.

Standard magazines hold 20 rounds. However, the company also offers limited capacity 10-round magazines for shooters who live in less-free states.

The 5.7×28 Cartridge

There is a good chance that some of my readers are not familiar with the 5.7×28 cartridge.

5.7x28 Ammunition for Ruger-57

That’s understandable as the cartridge has never secured a large part of the firearms market. Nevertheless, it is a caliber that offers a blend of low recoil, high velocity and the reliability of a centerfire round.

In general terms, it is a cartridge with a bottleneck case and a bullet with a diameter of 0.224″ (5.7mm.) Bullet weights range from about 20 grains to about 50 grains. The cartridge could be thought of like a thinner, shorter .221 Fireball though I have no information that suggests the Fireball directly influenced the 5.7×28 design.

Lightweight projectiles tend to make for less recoil and increased velocities. In my own testing, for example, I found the SS197 load with a 40 grain Hornady V-Max bullet averaged 1,683 fps from a 4.8″ barrel.

FN Herstal developed the round in response to a NATO request for a small arms cartridge that could be fired from a pistol and personal defense weapon (PDW) and could penetrate body armor. Although the cartridge and companion firearms were never adopted in any significant quantity by military units, the cartridge and guns have found use in law enforcement and sporting contexts.

Other than the new Ruger-57, there are few companies manufacturing firearms chambered for this cartridge. FN builds the Five-seveN pistol and PS90 rifle chambered for the 5.7×28. There are also several smaller companies that make or previously made specialty guns for the round including the AR-57 and Masterpiece Arms MPA 57.

Speer Gold Dot 57x28 Ammo

While ammunition selection is fairly limited, Speer introduced a new Gold Dot defensive round for the 5.7×28 at the same time Ruger released this new pistol.

The Speer load uses a 40-grain bullet and will be sold in boxes of 50 rounds. The MSRP is about $1/round but street prices are expected to be about $35-39 for a box of 50.

Holster Options

For self-defense, predator control or just plinking on a camping trip, there is a good chance you will need a holster for your new Ruger-57. Fortunately, Ruger had the good sense to work with a number of companies to ensure there would be carry rigs available at launch.

Check out my Ruger-57 Holsters Guide and see what is available.

Specifications

 

Ruger-57

caliber

5.7x28

capacity

20+1

barrel length

4.94"

overall length

8.65"

height

5.6"

weight

24.5 oz

grip frame

polymer

finish

matte black

MSRP

$799

Final Thoughts

I have a positive first impression of the new Ruger-57.

Ruger-57 Review

As I always say, the proof will be in the shooting. Even so, I am intrigued by this gun and have high expectations for its performance and the amount of fun it can provide.

The guns are not cheap by Ruger standards, but it is an all-new design and there are costs associated with that. Compared to the FN Five-seveN, the pistol is significantly less expensive – by more than $600. That will definitely bring more shooters to the 5.7×28 niche. I hope that means we will see more ammo made for it as well.

Categories
Handguns

Ruger Lite Rack LCP II in .22

Ruger LCP II in 22 LR

In the run up to the 2020 SHOT Show, Ruger announced a new pistol chambered for the .22 LR called the Lite Rack LCP II.

In what appears to be a riff off of the incredibly popular Smith & Wesson M&P 380EZ line of pistols, Ruger highlights the ease of slide manipulation and soft recoil of the Lite Rack.

The new Lite Rack has a number of interesting features that sets it apart from the existing LCP line. Let’s jump into them right now.

Quick Note

This gun has been selling out as soon as they hit the shelves of the local dealers. Here are a few online sources you can check for the gun. Purchases through those sites are affiliate links and help pay my bills.

Lite Rack

Ruger Lite Rack LCP II in 22 LR

Ruger appears to have recognized a need for easier to manipulate slides. For years, many people with poor upper body strength have struggled with slide operation. On small guns with heavy recoil springs, this has been a significant issue.

While many people can master slide manipulation with a good technique some people are simply unable to do so.

For these folks, the new Lite Rack LCP II may be a good option.

Ruger designed this pistol to function with a light recoil spring. This means there is less resistance to the slide being pulled back. But, working in concert with the lighter spring is the new Cocking Ears.

Cocking Ears

Most handgun slides have serrations to assist the shooter with gripping the metal when working the action. To further improve the shooter’s grip on the slide, Ruger uses pronounced Cocking Ears.

Ruger Lite Rack Cocking Ears

Located at the extreme rear of the slide, the Cocking Ears jut out from both sides of the gun to provide a ledge for the hand to press against. This should, in theory, improve the shooter’s ability to push/pull the slide.

Heckler & Koch included similar ears on its popular VP9 duty pistol. When I reviewed the HK VP9, I found the ears improved my hand’s grip on the slide while maintaining a sleek profile.

Unlike the HK device, Ruger’s Cocking Ears appear to be a machined part of the slide.

New Floorplate

Ruger updated the LCP II floorplate on this model. Compared to the simple pinky extensions available on the .380 ACP variants, the new plate is a little beefier.

The additional bulk is likely needed to fit a full 10 rounds of .22 LR into the magazine.

Whatever the reason, the floorplate does add extra real estate on the pistol’s grip. Many people will appreciate the extra length.

Rimfire Not Centerfire

Light Recoil from the Ruger LCP II Lite RackLight Recoil from the Ruger LCP II Lite Rack

While .380 ACP ammunition is not abusive, it can still provide harsh recoil to a newer shooter in a small, light handgun. A .22 LR is a much lighter recoiling load.

For the new shooter and those with upper body strength issues, the Lite Rack LCP II may be a fantastic option.

New Thumb Safety

 

Right Side View of Ruger Lite Rack LCP II

Like many .22 LR pistols, the Lite Rack LCP II has a thumb safety. It is quite pronounced and should be easy to operate by anyone regardless of hand strength.

Pushing forward on the safety deactivates it and allows you to fire the gun. The safety is on the left side of the gun only.

The pistol also uses the trigger safety to help prevent accidental discharges.

Specifications

 

Lite Rack LCP II

caliber

.22 LR

capacity

10+1

barrel length

2.75"

overall length

5.2"

height

4.0"

weight

11.2 oz

grip frame

polymer

finish

matte black

MSRP

$349

Final Thoughts

I like the new LCP II in .22 LR. It incorporates a number of features that will make it appealing to a range of shooters. As a guy with increasingly severe arthritis, I am happy to see another company offering a gun that can work for people with reduced hand strength.

The new Lite Rack LCP II has the same suggested retail price as the standard .380 ACP model: $349.