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Old 04-17-2010, 22:59   #1
bac1023
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Top of the line range pistol comparison - LONG READ

While a thread like this takes a great deal of time and energy, I thought I'd share my opinions on some higher end range/target pistols, in case somebody is in the market for one. The PMs I gotten over time suggest that there are quite a few people here who appreciate guns like the models in this thread.

Some of these are strictly target/competition pistols, but some others are/were not actually intended for that purpose. However, I feel their overall quality and capabilities make them superb range guns.

While most of these are no longer produced, most are also readily available on the used market. A few of these are still built today, in an age where heavy metal, high quality pistols are fewer and farther between.

I'll also state the obvious and say the following is merely one man's opinion, not fact. I'm going to state some useful facts, such as composition, weight, and action type, but this body of work is based solely on my experience and preferences. Its also limited to my collection, so if your favorite pistol isn't listed, I either don't own it or don't feel it performs in the same class as the others in my hands. Fair enough?

The last thing to mention before starting, is that there are absolutely no 1911s in this test. Many of you know I'm an avid 1911 collector and I've said many times that its my favorite pistol. However, I post plenty about them already. For the sake of this work, they are watching from the sidelines.

The players here are as follows, and I'm going to group them a couple different ways:

First by caliber.


9mm:

Sig X-Five L1
Sig P210-6
Pardini GT-9
S&W PC952
Sphinx Competitor
HK P7M8
Benelli B76
MAB PA-15
Walther P88
Browning HP Competition


40S&W:

HK P7M10
CZ 75 Champion
Beretta 96 Steel I


45ACP:

HK Mark 23
S&W PC945


38 Special:

S&W 52


38 Super:

Tanfoglio Limited



Now by intended purpose.


Race/Competition/Target:

Sig Sauer X-Five L1
Pardini GT-9
Sphinx Competitor
Browning HP Competition
Tanfoglio Limited
S&W 52
CZ 75 Champion


Military/Service:

HK P7M8
Benelli B76
MAB PA-15
Walther P88
HK P7M10
HK Mark 23


Somewhere between:

Sig P210-6
S&W PC952
Beretta 96 Steel I
S&W PC945


Since I'm rating these as range guns, obviously some have a distinct advantage, but I'll get started. All ratings use a 1 to 10 scale, with 10 being the best.

I'll start with 9mms, which is my favorite range caliber.
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Old 04-17-2010, 22:59   #2
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Sig X-Five L1

Frame: Stainless steel
Slide: Stainless steel
Unloaded weight: 46.2oz
Price: $2000-$2500
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 10
Trigger: 10
Ergonomics: 9
Grips: 10
Sights: 9
Controls: 8
Finish: 10
Build quality: 10

Overall rating: 9.5

What's not to like? Hand built in Germany, the X-Five Level 1 is a supremely capable pistol. The trigger is incredible and also fully adjustable, the Nill grips are second to none, and the gun can group at 100 yards. On top of all that, its fit and finish are truly a sight to behold. It may be the best pure shooter Sig ever built.

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Sig P210-6

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 34.6oz
Price: $2500-$4000
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 9
Trigger: 8
Ergonomics: 8
Grips: 9
Sights: 5
Controls: 4
Finish: 7
Build quality: 10

Overall rating: 7.5

While its a legendary pistol, the P210 is showing its 60+ year age here. Regardless of the rating, it one of my favorite pistols. However, there are reasons it only rates a 7.5 on my scale. In all fairness, the P210 started life as a military gun, not a target pistol, so its ergonomics aren't as nice as some modern models. What really hurts the score is the rather thin bluing on the frame and terrible frame mounted safety. Its one of the most awkward in all of handgunning. Still, the P210 is a Swiss legend that will keep rising in value. I'm looking to add a heavy frame model one day.

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Old 04-17-2010, 23:00   #3
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Pardini GT-9

Frame: Aluminum
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 38.0oz
Price: $2000
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 9
Trigger: 10
Ergonomics: 7
Grips: 8
Sights: 8
Controls: 9
Finish: 8
Build quality: 9

Overall rating: 8.5

Here we have a very specialized target pistol in the Italian Pardini GT-9. It rates a solid 8.5 on my scale and one of my favorites at the range. The trigger is its strongest point, as is the overall smoothness of the gun. Its just a very slick pistol. The aluminum frame keeps this large pistol under 40oz, but its still very solid all around. I believe they're imported only through Larry's Guns these days.

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Smith & Wesson PC952

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 40.4oz
Price: $1500-$2000
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 10
Trigger: 9
Ergonomics: 8
Grips: 8
Sights: 10
Controls: 6
Finish: 10
Build quality: 10

Overall rating: 8.9

Only a very poor safety kept this stellar pistol from a rating over 9. Since the safety doesn't come into play at the range, its probably my favorite non-1911 target pistol. Build quality, finish, and attention to detail are impeccable. Along with the X-Five, I shoot this gun 100 yards on occasion with surprising results. Again, like the X-Five, it may be the best pistol S&W ever built, which says a great deal.

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Old 04-17-2010, 23:00   #4
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Sphinx Competitor

Frame: Stainless steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 40.8oz
Price: $2000
Action: DA/SA

Accuracy: 8
Trigger: 5
Ergonomics: 9
Grips: 8
Sights: 8
Controls: 8
Finish: 9
Build quality: 9

Overall rating: 8.0

Sphinx pistols are CZ clones built in Switzerland with EAA parts. They're very well done overall, but tend to cost a good deal more than their just as capable CZ counterparts. The Competitor was one of the top of the line Sphinx 2000 series pistols. The big difference here is the DA/SA action, which hurts its trigger rating since I much prefer SAO pistols for target use. Ergonomics are typical CZ, so I love them.

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HK P7M8

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 30.2oz
Price: $1000-$1500
Action: Squeeze cocker

Accuracy: 8
Trigger: 7
Ergonomics: 9
Grips: 8
Sights: 7
Controls: 8
Finish: 7
Build quality: 9

Overall rating: 7.9

The P7M8 gives up quite a bit to the competition as a range pistol. While its fixed barrel helps keep its accuracy with the others, its just not the same platform. Build quality is fantastic, though the P7 bluing has always been on the thin side. They do fit my hand very well, hence the high ergonomic rating. All told, these are very high quality, unique duty pistols that just happen to perform well at the range. As a target pistol, its overmatched by most of this company, but that's certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

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Old 04-17-2010, 23:00   #5
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Benelli B76

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 34.6oz
Price: $600-$900
Action: DA/SA

Accuracy: 8
Trigger: 5
Ergonomics: 6
Grips: 7
Sights: 7
Controls: 5
Finish: 7
Build quality: 7

Overall rating: 6.5

Why did I include this, you ask? Well, because its an accurate, fixed barrel steel pistol. While its clearly overmatched here, it is a nicely done pistol and certainly very rare. Once again, the DA/SA trigger didn't help its rating, nor did the horrendous safety and odd mag release. Ergonomics are average, but the pistol puts a smile on my face, simply because its so unique. It also has the accuracy to hold its own in this group of high performers.

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MAB PA-15

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 40.8oz
Price: $600-$800
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 6
Trigger: 8
Ergonomics: 9
Grips: 8
Sights: 5
Controls: 9
Finish: 7
Build quality: 8

Overall rating: 7.5

Honestly, I love this French service pistol. It reminds me of a Browning HP, but with a much, much better stock trigger and a more solid feel. The ergonomics, grips, and controls are outstanding for my hands and I love the near 41oz of weight at the range. It features a rotating barrel, as a cool touch. Accuracy may not be quite as good as most the others, but there's no doubt the MAB belongs in this comparison. It actually rated as high as the Sig P210. While its not comparable on many levels, its makes up for quite a bit because it fits me well.

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Old 04-17-2010, 23:01   #6
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Walther P88

Frame: Aluminum
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 31.6oz
Price: $800-$1300
Action: SA/DA

Accuracy: 8
Trigger: 7
Ergonomics: 7
Grips: 6
Sights: 9
Controls: 9
Finish: 7
Build quality: 8

Overall rating: 7.6

The P88 is Walther's aluminum framed service pistol introduced in 1988, hence the name. The price was nearly $1000, which was unheard of in the late 80's, and ultimately doomed the pistol. Aside from all that, what we have here is an outstanding quality service pistol that performs very well at the range. It has one of the best DA/SA triggers I've ever used and some impressive accuracy as well. Controls are well-placed and completely ambidextrous. While I didn't rate these pistols on looks, the P88 may be the nicest looking of the bunch.

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Browning Hi-Power Competition

Frame: Steel
Slide: Steel
Unloaded weight: 36.4oz
Price: $800-$1200
Action: SAO

Accuracy: 7
Trigger: 7
Ergonomics: 9
Grips: 8
Sights: 6
Controls: 7
Finish: 6
Build quality: 8

Overall rating: 7.2

This was FN's attempt to make a competition ready Hi-Power out of the box. While they managed to ruin all the HP's great looks in the process, it does have some enhancements worth discussing. First would be the trigger, it feels about half the weight of standard HP and certainly helps improve its accuracy. The longer barrel also helps, as does the extra weight attached at the end of the slide. While I love the control placement, the small safety is so hard to manipulate, it managed only a "7" rating.

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Old 04-17-2010, 23:15   #7
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tagged for future reference, thanks for taking the time to write the review
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Old 04-17-2010, 23:32   #8
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Great comparison Bac. I do love that Pardini.

I've wanted an X-5 since they were introduced.
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Old 04-17-2010, 23:35   #9
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Where do you live Bac and when do you go on vacation?



Nice presentation. Very nicely & tastefully done.
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Old 04-17-2010, 23:36   #10
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Very interesting! Thanks!!!

So when you came up w/ the numbers for the trigger how did you go about it... Feel plus trigger gauge??

e.g. for a gun w/ a trigger of "5" in this setting could it be a "8" in a home defense setting and vice versa?

I know I would not want a 2-3 lb trigger in my nightstand gun.

BTW: The biggest surprise to me is that the SIG 210 was rated so low. I trust your evaluation, not calling you out. I've only read about them.

Could you make a list form the above of the gens that can also fill the home defense role. eg I have a P7M8 and while ts not my go to gun I would have no problem trusting it for self defense. I also have a revolver that is great for the range but due to its light trigger I never would use it for self defense.
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Old 04-17-2010, 23:45   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moeman View Post
Very interesting! Thanks!!!

So when you came up w/ the numbers for the trigger how did you go about it... Feel plus trigger gauge??

e.g. for a gun w/ a trigger of "5" in this setting could it be a "8" in a home defense setting and vice versa?

I know I would not want a 2-3 lb trigger in my nightstand gun.

BTW: The biggest surprise to me is that the SIG 210 was rated so low. I trust your evaluation, not calling you out. I've only read about them.

Could you make a list form the above of the gens that can also fill the home defense role. eg I have a P7M8 and while ts not my go to gun I would have no problem trusting it for self defense. I also have a revolver that is great for the range but due to its light trigger I never would use it for self defense.

Sure moeman.

The trigger rating was done only by my preference, weight, and feel. They all have good triggers, but for the range, I prefer SAO with a light, crisp break. The CZ Champion, X-Five, Pardini, and the PC Smiths have the best, in my opinion.

As for the P210, its an old military pistol desin being compared to a bunch of modern target/competition guns. The small sights also hurt its accuracy, so one rating can affect another. Now, there are P210s with larger target sights, mine isn't one of them.

Based strictly on quality, the P210 is second to none. Its a legend for good reason.

As for home defense, I wouldn't use the big, bulky pistols like the X-Five, Pardini, Mark 23, or Tanfoglio. I also wouldn't use compensated pistols, such as the Champion or Competitor. The S&W 52 is out because of the ammo it fires. All others would do fine as an HD weapon.

Hope this helps.






.

Last edited by bac1023; 04-17-2010 at 23:48..
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Old 04-18-2010, 00:02   #12
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Great thread and a lot of really good info. Thanks for taking the time to post it.
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Old 04-18-2010, 00:49   #13
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Absolutely great thread. Sig X-Five. Mmm.
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Old 04-18-2010, 03:29   #14
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Excellent job! I'm not surprised you put my favorite (X-Five) on the top of the list.
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Old 04-18-2010, 04:36   #15
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Great review
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:44   #16
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An instant classic thread. Thanks a lot, Bac. This is as close as most of us will ever get to testing these magnificent specimens.

And great photography, as ever.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:55   #17
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Great thread! Thanks for taking the time to post it. I really like the 952 and 945. Reading your various posts here on GT has definitely helped me develop a taste for fine firearms.
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Old 04-18-2010, 07:57   #18
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So many words!
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:07   #19
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So many words!
Believe me, I know.

I was determined to get it done and completed it all in one day. Threads like this are cool and I enjoy working on them to an extent, but it can get tiresome real quick.
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Old 04-18-2010, 08:38   #20
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Based on reading this & knowing that you have every 1911 ever made, I'm guessing that you:

1. Have a good job
2. Are not married! (I don't know any married guys that have this many guns)
3. Have a good carpet cleaner
4. Are the envy of many people on GT, myself included
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