I Carry Spotlight: American Firearms

posted on July 2, 2021

KelTec P50 (MSRP: $995)

A hallmark of American firearm manufacture is innovation, and the KelTec P50 certainly showcases plenty. Let’s start with the round, the 5.7x28 mm, which began life several decades ago as a PDW round for FN’s P90 submachine gun. Sometimes dismissed as a hot .22 Magnum, the 5.7 more or less languished as a boutique round for years, with only two firearms, both pricey, available to shoot it. Fast-forward to the late 20-teens, and more and more firearms started making use of the small cartridge.

KelTec wanted a large-format pistol that could use the PS90’s 50-round magazine for this round, and designed the P50 to accept the magazine in a top-loading format. It’s an interesting design that works, and with the already minor recoil of the 5.7 round, turns it into a quite controllable package. There’s a ton of engineering packed into this PDW, whether you want to use it as one or just have a conversation piece at the range. 

Colt Anaconda (MSRP: $1,499)

We covered the Python in the .357 Magnum revolver Spotlight last Independence Day, but no roundup of American guns would truly be complete without a Colt snake gun. Couple that with the iconic .44 Magnum round, and the Anaconda is a perfect addition to this list. Yes, the .44 Magnum round is intimately linked with a different manufacturer’s revolver, but we’ll cover them as well.

Hallmarks of the Colt Anaconda include the rich stainless steel finish, the ventilated-rib-topped barrel, a recessed, target crown for accuracy and drilling and tapping for addition of optics if desired. It’s a target pistol, certainly, but there’s a significant history of target pistols in the American firearm industry. The Anaconda offers classic looks, .44 Magnum power and supreme accuracy in a modern version of a timeless revolver. 

Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander (MSRP: $4,499)

While we covered the 1911 in another Independence Day “I Carry,” there’s simply no way a discussion of American pistols would be complete without including one. In this case, it’s the custom, bespoke 1911 – the “barbeque gun” if you will – that’s of interest in this spotlight. With entries from Wilson Combat, Cabot Arms, Les Baer, Ed Brown and others, there are plenty of exotic, super-high-end handguns to choose from.

In this case, we’ve selected the Nighthawk Custom Agent 2 Commander, which blends classic and modern together seamlessly. With an Agency slide milled for a red-dot optic, the Agent 2 offers the precision we expect and demand from a high-end 1911 along with the rapid target acquisition afforded by a quality red-dot sight. 

Smith & Wesson SW500 .500 Magnum (MSRP: $1,339)

When “Dirty Harry” Callahan uttered the immortal line, “But being this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world,” most gun-savvy folks knew that it, in fact, was not the most powerful. In 1971, the year the film was released, the .454 Casull had been around for more than a decade, and eclipsed the .44 Magnum for power.

It may have taken a few years, but Smith & Wesson finally rectified that inconsistency in 2003 with the release of the .500 Smith and Wesson Magnum. This necessitated a frame even larger than the N-Frame used for the .44 Magnum, and resulted in Smith & Wesson adding the X-Frame to its lineup. Currently available in both .460 S&W Magnum and the giant .500 Magnum, the X-Frame truly represents the American spirit of “bigger is better.”

Springfield Armory Saint Victor .308 Win. Pistol (MSRP: $1,412)

How do you make the AR platform even more of an American icon? Turn it into a large-format pistol. The concept is hardly new – Bushmaster’s Arm Pistol was taken from a 1960s bullpup design considered for the Air Force and was in production in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Large-format pistols have seen greater and greater commercial success recently, and while certainly not an EDC option, they have significant advantages for home defense.

Springfield Armory’s Saint Victor series offers a two-piece blast diverter, SB Tactical SBA3 brace and M-Lok attachments on the fore-end for accessories. A 10.3-inch barrel keeps the pistol maneuverable while maintaining most of the velocity of the .308 Win., and a nickel-boron, flat-face trigger is an upgraded GI variant. Whether for home defense or simply having fun on the range, the Saint Victor 308 Pistol definitely puts the large in large format.


X Vision Thermal sight
X Vision Thermal sight

First Look: X-Vision Optics Thermal Reflex Sight

X-Vision Optics is releasing a new thermal reflex sight offering an excellent price to performance ratio and also designed with versatility in mind.

First Look: Hornady RAPiD Security Safe Keypad Vault

Keep your defensive firearm is secure and away from prying hands.

First Look: High Speed Gear Vigil EDC Belt

A durable and low-profile belt that helps you carry your gear without standing out from the crowd.

First Look: Mesa Tactical Sureshell Carrier with RMR Mount

Mount a red dot to your shotgun and keep your spare shotgun ammo close at hand.

The Best of the Blowbacks: Mauser HSc and the Heckler & Koch Model 4

In the April 2022 issue of Shooting Illustrated, this column looked at my all-time favorite carry gun, the Colt Model M or 1903/1908. This month we look at my favorite European semi-automatic, the Mauser HSc and its cousin, the Heckler & Koch Model 4.

Wilson Acquires New Ultralight Arms

The bolt-action rifle manufacturer joins other companies such as Lehigh Defense and Chip McCormick Customs.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.