Walther P99

As handguns go, the Walther P99 is something of an odd duck - the magazine release is strangely placed for those of us accustomed to a thumb button (or a European heel-mounted catch) the multi-stage trigger is awkward if you shoot a double-action or striker pistol, magazines are nowhere near as common as those of the competition, and the earlier models employ a proprietary rail for which adapters or accessories are few and far between.

By accounts those three hitches would knock a pistol out of the running as a serious carry/zombie/match gun.  The saving grace of the P99, however, is in the grip.  In all the handguns I've picked up over the years, none sits half as comfortable as Walther's little pistol that could.  Close your fingers around it and the P99 feels like it was poured in place.

Not owning one personally, I also think they look neat.  Sort of that business/classy look that the Germans pull off with such aplomb.

Smith & Wesson M&P 40

The first revolver I ever owned was a Model 10 Smith & Wesson, chambered in the ubiquitous .38 special.  It was an older model with the tapered barrel, engraved down the backstrap for the Royal Hong Kong Police, and drilled at the bottom of the frame for a (missing) lanyard ring.  Once outfitted with a set of beater wooden grips, it was in my estimation a neat fit for what's broadly considered one of THE service handguns of the 20th century. 

Around 2005 or so I began to hear rumblings of a new Military & Police model.  Later, working at a gun and pawn joint, I got my first look.

I was decidedly unimpressed.

Being a twenty-something luddite, I took umbrage at this new form of marketing witchcraft.  An M&P, in my way of thinking, was a six-shot .38 special.  It could come in any number of configurations - fat barrel, skinny barrel, round or square butt, any general length - but was at heart a chunk of blued forged steel with a pedigree stretching back over a century.  Generations of police had carried one.  The American GI might have taken an M&P up the black sand beach at Iwo Jima or on cold high-altitude bombing runs over Germany.  Umpteen hundreds of thousands of Americans owned one, whether on their bedside table or in a shoebox in the closet.  The Military & Police name had a history

And this new model was none of that.  Rather, it was some kind of automatic, a polymer horror of all things, chambered for 9mm and 40 S&W, and replete with all manner of gimmicks.  Accessory rails!  Internal locks!  Multiple backstraps!  High-capacity magazines!


But in fairness the new M&P really wasn't that bad.  For a usurper to the name it really did bring a lot to the table.  People who didn't like the shape and size of a Glock seemed to take to it well.  It pointed more naturally for some.  The trigger wasn't great; mostly early models were gritty and somewhat uneven, but in time those would smooth out.  And no matter my opinion of the 9mm (or inexperience with .40 S&W) there was something to be said for that extra capacity. 

I still toy with the idea of getting one in .45ACP. 

Mossberg 500 Cruiser

There exists some debate as to the feasibility of a shotgun with a pistol grip as opposed to a conventional stock, especially for prolonged use.  My personal experience is that no, you really don't want to be shooting one for more than a couple of rounds, counter to what the latest zombie movie or the gloriously over-the-top action movies may imply.  They do look pretty cool, though.

The big advantage of a pistol grip on a shotgun is one of maneuverability.  With roughly a foot gone from the back end you generally don't run into as many obstacles, which is great if you're doing the kind of shooting that involves confined spaces and short range - say, across an average room, or hunting rats in an air duct, or fending off zombies from the comfort of a dumpster - and doesn't place a great deal of importance on accuracy. 

They're also a good way to tenderize the wedge between thumb and forefinger on your dominant hand, which after a while can diminish the accuracy of what one of my friends generously calls 'more a hand-held claymore mine than a firearm'.

But for shooting minute-of-Volkswagen across the range of an average barroom?  Pure epic fun.  I hear the intimidation factor can be pretty high, too, although I don't care to check personally. 

The animal here is the fairly commonplace Mossberg Cruiser model which, along with its breacher-model cousin, is as short as you can get a shotgun without venturing into NFA territory.  The 500/590 series are the company's counterpart to the Remington 870 and - to a much lesser extent - the Winchester 1200/1300 family.  The Cruiser designation implies the pistol grip, shorter magazine, and 18-inch barrel, while the heat shield seems to be optional.  Either way, it's a shotgun built for the purpose of being easily handled inside a close environment (such as a patrol car, if the name is any indication). 

Not something that much appeals to me (I'm an 870 fan, and I much prefer a Speedfeed birdshead as an alternative) but probably one of the more recognizable whippet guns out there.