Ballistics by the inch

Reprise: Beretta CX4 Storm .45 ACP/Super review.

Prompted by my friends over at the Liberal Gun Club, this is another in an occasional series of revisiting some of my old articles which had been published elsewhere over the years, perhaps lightly edited or updated with my current thoughts on the topic discussed. This is an article I wrote for Guns.com, and it originally ran 12/26/2011. Images used are from that original article. Some additional observations at the end.

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I like pistol-caliber carbines (PCCs). I think that they are a very good solution to a number of problems. However, the toughest thing about a PCC is finding one you can shoot well. In addition to some cowboy action carbines, there are plenty of other options out there – Kel Tec Sub 2000, Kriss Vector, there’s even a few Hi-Points – but the Beretta CX4 Storm is one of the best I’ve shot.

Beretta has been around forever, and they have more than a little experience in making firearms for a very wide range of applications. They designed the CX4 (and the MX4 military version) to be lightweight yet reliable for personal defense and sporting purposes. For this use, it is ideal.
Beretta CX4 Storm Review
Right out of the box the CX4 Storm is fairly basic, but offers a huge range of personalization possibilities. It’s easy to adjust the overall length of pull, to accommodate both those who have shorter arms and for apes like me. It has a Picatinny rail on the top for optics, one on the side for whatever, and one on the foregrip, which can be extended out under the barrel. Additional rails can be added at several locations, and you can load this gun down with enough tacticool stuff to make a mall ninja drool.

Standard sights include a front post, which is adjustable with a provided tool, and a rear sight with two apertures – a smaller one for long range/accuracy and a larger one for quick target acquisition. Both sights fold down and out of the way if you want to put a different kind of optics on the top rail.

One very nice feature is that the gun is designed to be easily converted from right-hand to left-hand use. The magazine release, the safety, the ejection port are all reversible with minimal gunsmithing skills, and most buyers can probably do the change themselves without difficulty.

The gun is also very ergonomic – which makes it easy to shoot it well. First time I picked it up I put all eight rounds (I was shooting the .45 ACP model) into a ragged hole less than an inch across at 25 yards. This is one of the main reasons that I like PCCs – the increased stability and sight radius of a carbine, combined with minimal recoil, make them very easy for even a novice to shoot well. The CX4 Storm is light enough (under six pounds) to not be wearying, yet heavy enough to absorb the recoil of .45 ACP rounds without any problem whatsoever. Part of the ergonomic design is the balance of the carbine, which helps it to point naturally as well as allow moving easily with it.

As you would expect with a firearm made by Beretta, the quality is top notch. Fit and finish are excellent – there are no rough spots or small gaps, no problems with the magazine seating properly, no difficulty with the charging handle or safety that I experienced, though others have reported some problems getting the safety to engage/disengage in the past. The specs for the gun state that it has a hammer-forged and chrome-lined barrel for long life and easy cleaning. All in all, it feels solid and gives you confidence that it will last for many years.

At $915, the MSRP is higher than you’ll pay for many other good quality pistol-caliber carbines, but it is not outrageous and you know you are getting a firearm you can trust (or depend on the manufacturer to stand behind if you have any problem.) And new ones can be found for around $700, as well as good used ones for a significant discount.

Bottom line: the Beretta CX4 Storm is a fine gun, which does everything it is designed to do, and there’s a good reason why most owners love them. If you get a chance, give one a try in your favorite caliber.

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Since I wrote that almost six years ago, I’ve gotten my own Cx4 in .45 … and then beefed it up to handle the additional power of the .45 Super cartridge. I’ve also added mag extensions, a Vortex Venom reflex sight, and an inexpensive 4 pistol mag storage pouch.  This is what it looks like now:

And yes, that’s a guitar case in the top of the image. With a little padding, the Cx4 fits perfectly, and surprises people. 😉

If you haven’t guessed, I still really like it.

 

Jim Downey

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November 1, 2017 Posted by | .45 ACP, .45 Super, .450 SMC, Discussion. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Working within your limitations.

I love my Cx4 Storm carbine, as I have mentioned and reviewed. Particularly once it was set-up to deal with the additional power of the .45 Super cartridge, it has proven to be a reliable and formidable home defense gun.

But there is ONE thing I don’t like about my Cx4: in .45 ACP/Super, the magazines only hold 8 rounds. Beretta doesn’t offer a larger capacity magazine.

Wait — let’s make that TWO things I don’t like about my Cx4: the standard magazine fits up inside the mag well, such that it can be hard to extract and may pinch your hand if you try to do a quick change of mags.

Wait again, there’s a THIRD thing: while there’s ample room for it in the composite buttstock, Beretta didn’t see fit to include storage for one or more additional magazines.

Grr.

OK, so here are some solutions I came up with to deal with these problems.

The first two problems are fixed by an after-market product which extends the standard mag by two rounds, and is designed such that it fits with the bottom of the mag well and won’t pinch your hand during a fast magazine change: Taylor Freelance Extended Magazine Base Pad. They’re not cheap, but they’re well made and work fine.

To deal with the storage problem, I picked up an inexpensive 4 pistol mag storage pouch, intended to go on a belt or MOLLE system. With three simple snap-on extensions, I was able to fit it so that it held snug to the butt of my carbine, as shown:

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Here’s the back, showing the snap extensions:

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And lastly, I positioned the pouch ‘upside down’, so that when the velcro tab is pulled, the mag slips out, positioned ready to insert into the carbine. As you can see:

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Since I am right-handed, the mag pouch doesn’t get in my way, and it puts an extra 40 rounds immediately available such that I don’t even need to take the carbine down from my shoulder in order to quickly reload.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a good workable solution to the limitations of the Cx4. And now I love my little carbine even more.

 

Jim Downey

October 16, 2016 Posted by | .45 ACP, .45 Super, .450 SMC, Discussion. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An absurd comparison. Or is it?

We had another of those wonderful & rare mid-50s January days here today, so I decided to get out for a little range time.

In addition to the other shooting I did (basically, practice with some of my preferred CCW guns), I also did a little head-to-head comparison between a Smith & Wesson M&P 360 J-frame in .38 Special and a Colt Anaconda in .44 Magnum.

Wait … what? Why on Earth would anyone even consider trying to do such an absurd comparison? The S&W is a very small gun, and weighs just 13.3 ounces. The Anaconda is a monster, weighing in at 53 ounces (with the 6″ barrel that mine has), and is literally twice as long and high as the J-frame. The .38 Special is generally considered a sufficient but low-power cartridge for self defense, while the .44 Magnum still holds a place in the popular mind as ‘the most powerful handgun in the world‘ (even though it isn’t).

Well, I was curious about the perceived recoil between the two, shooting my preferred loads for each. The topic had come up in chatting with a friend recently, and I thought I would do a little informal test, just to see what I thought.

So for the M&P 360 I shot the Buffalo Bore .38 special +P, 158 gr. LSWHC-GC which I have chrono’d out of this gun at 1050 fps, with a ME of 386 ft-lbs.

And for the Anaconda I shot Hornady .44 Remington Magnum 240gr XTP JHP, which I have chrono’d at 1376 fps, with a ME of 1009 ft-lbs. (Actually, I don’t have a ‘preferred carry ammo’ for this gun, but this is typical of what I shoot out of it. Were I going to use it as a bear-defense gun, I’d load it with this.)

My conclusion? That the M&P 360 was worse, in terms of perceived recoil. In fact, I’d say that it was *much* worse.

It’s completely subjective, but it does make sense, for a couple of reasons.

First, look at the weight of each gun, compared to the ME of the bullets shot. The J-frame is 13.3 ounces, or about 25% of the 53 ounce weight of the Anaconda. But the ME of 386 ft-lbs of the .38 Special bullet is 38.25% of the ME of the .44 Mag at 1009 ft-lbs. Put another way, the J-frame has to deal with 29 ft-lbs of energy per ounce of the gun, where the Anaconda has just 19 ft-lbs of energy per ounce of the gun. That’s a big difference.

Also, all that recoil of the J-frame is concentrated into a much smaller grip, when compared to the relatively large grip of the Anaconda. Simply, it the difference between being smacked with a hammer and a bag of sand, in terms of how it feels to your (or at least, my) hand.

Thoughts?

 

Jim Downey

January 31, 2016 Posted by | .38 Special, .44 Magnum, Anecdotes, Discussion. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dealing with power, part II: Recoil.

Yesterday I took advantage of the unseasonable warmth to get out to the range and have a bit of fun & practice:

Cans

Yeah, those cans jump pretty good when popped with .45 Super rounds, particularly out of my Cx4 Storm.

Which, this time out, was a lot more fun to shoot than when I last took it out. Because I had gotten around to adding a slip-on recoil pad to it. Specifically, one of these: Pachmayr Decelerator® Slip-On Recoil Pads (Not a paid ad, and I got mine from a different seller.)

Because while you want to take steps to manage the power of a round like the .45 Super on the INSIDE of your firearm, you also have to take steps to manage the recoil you experience on your body. Or you’ll avoid practicing. Or will develop bad habits (flinching, grimacing & closing your eyes, etc). Or you’ll be spending money on painkillers, bruise ointments, and massages that you can more profitably spend on ammo/components.

While I like the overall design and ergonomics of the Cx4, the thin rubber ‘recoil pad’ it comes with doesn’t actually do much to tame the recoil, particularly out of .45 Super rounds. So I spent some time looking over different products to help with that, and settled on the Decelerator. Here’s how it looks on my gun:

Left

And:

Right

I was really pleased with the difference it made. Easily knocked off at least half of the felt recoil. Probably more like 3/4ths. And the added lengthening of the stock isn’t at all a problem for me with my long arms.

And of course, if one of my friends wants to prove how macho/masochistic they are, it’ll slip right off … 😉

However you do it, take into consideration how best to manage recoil in your firearms. I’m not recoil-shy. Never have been. But it just makes sense to be kind to your body over the long haul.

 

Jim Downey

PS: the optic is a Vortex Venom holographic red dot sight. So far, I really like it.

December 23, 2015 Posted by | .45 Super, Discussion. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments