From a company for whom uniformity has been the coin of the realm, Glock has introduced the RTF2 (Rough Textured Frame), a new texture package that they debuted on the .40 caliber Glock 22.  The square rear cocking serrations have been replaced with a series of distinctive, rear-facing crescents, and the grip of the pistol has been completely changed.  In the place of the usual pebbled sides and checkered front- and backstraps, the grip frame is covered with minute, pyramid-shaped protrusions that they call “gripping spikes.”  Intended to enhance the feel—and control—of the pistol in extreme conditions, the pyramids cover the front, rear, and sides of the gun, as well as in the dished-out thumb rests and the frontstrap fingergrooves, which are otherwise unchanged.

glock-20sf.jpg2009 also sees the introduction of their Short Frame (SF) 10mm pistols, a model intended to address the major shortcoming of the Model 20 and 29—the fact that their grips were so large, the pistols were difficult to handle.  Following close on the heels of their successful SF pistols in .45 ACP, the SF Models 20 and 29 will still chamber the stout 10mm Auto cartridge, but in a package with a grip diameter that can be reasonably handled by most shooters.

issc-m22-2.jpgISSC M22
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it’s appropriate that the M22 comes right after Glock.  Looking a lot like a Glock 18 at first glance, the M22 is a polymer-framed, .22 LR copy of the Glock, adding only a slide-mounted safety and what appears to be an exposed hammer—much as Walther’s P22 did when it was downsized from the P99.  It’s even made in Austria.

Although introduced at last year’s show, Kahr’s diminutive new .380, the P380, has just become available; look for coverage of it by Harris in the near future.  Along with the P380, Kahr/Auto-Ordnance has also announced the opening of their new custom shop.

kahr-presentation-grade-m1911.jpgIn addition to custom work performed on customer-supplied pistol, they also offer two packages: the PM9 Black Rose Edition, which features a high-polish slide with engraved logo, and the Presentation Grade M1911, a polished blue .45 with nickel silver accents.

Among Kimber’s offerings this year is their Tactical II line of M1911 pistols.  While they’re available in steel, with a light rail, all three sizes (the full-size Custom, the mid-size Pro and the compact Ultra) are also offered with a lightweight alloy frame—a feature Kimber pioneered last year with their lightweight laser-equipped Crimson Carry pistols.  In addition to the standard .45 ACP chambering, the Tactical Pro II comes in 9mm, a smart move for those who are beginning shooters, recoil sensitive, or simply prefer the 9mm cartridge.

kimber-aegis.jpgAnother of their 9mm pistols also received a minor facelift for 2009.  Due to popular demand, their lightweight, narrow-framed Aegis (which is available in all three sizes, but only chambered in 9mm), has received a hammer with a meaningful spur on it.  While the original Aegis had a sleek, spurless hammer that could not be cocked without cycling the pistol—and could not be lowered manually, period—many end users requested one that could be manipulated in the traditional fashion.  Although the original design was pretty slick (and they weren’t alone, I’ve seen at least one custom pistol from a generation ago with a similar hammer) it’s fair to consider this an improvement.

nighthawk-t3s.jpgNIGHTHAWK CUSTOM
2009 brings a series of firsts for Nighthawk’s T3 compact, an Officer/Commander hybrid M1911 with a compact grip frame and mid-size slide/barrel combination.  Originally chambered in .45 ACP, it’s now offer in 9mm and .40 S&W as well, as can be had in stainless-steel, making it the first-ever stainless pistol from Nighthawk.

They have also continued their collaboration with famed pistolsmith Richard Heinie.  In addition to the PDP .45 and Tactical Carry pistols that Heinie designed (and which carry his sights), last year saw the introduction of the aptly-named Lady Hawk, a Commander-sized 9mm built for those with smaller hands.  This year, however, is something completely different: a 6” longslide 10mm intended for hunting use.  Although the final production details haven’t been sorted out yet, the one shown at SHOT had no sights at all, with a compact red dot mounted at the rear of the slide.  All in all, a striking package.

Nighthawk has also just acquired a holstermaking business, so stay tuned as they bring their pistol prowess into the leather field.

Although Para is known for its high-cap M1911 pistolsas well as its LDA double-action autos, the two new models that caught my eye this year are both single stacks, and both single-action.  The first, the LTC, is a 4 ¼” barreled, full-framed M1911 (read: Commander-sized) chambered in 9mm, a combination that has been appearing elsewhere this year.  Aside from the obvious reduced recoil, 9mm ammo is still cheaper than .45 ACP, which mean’s this pistol’s introduction is well in step with the direction our economy appears to be headed.

para-gi-expert-01.jpgSimilarly, their GI Expert M1911 is a bare-bones, no frills .45 that debuts at a lower price point than their other factory custom pistols.  Aside from the obvious cost advantages, this allows the buyer to take a step back to the way custom .45’s used to be built: you bought the gun, shot it, figured out what you needed, and added on accordingly, rather than buy the gun already-customized.

Let’s also not forget that Para offers a pair of Gun Rights pistols, and makes a contribution to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action every time one is purchased.  Considering the current political climate, a donation to the ILA is an investment in our future freedoms, whether you make it through the purchase of a Para pistol or not.

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