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.


SIG buys General Robotics
SIG buys General Robotics

SIG Sauer Acquires General Robotics

Israel-based General Robotics makes communications devices, remote weapons stations and surveillance drones.

First Look: Bear & Son CB10N Slide Lock Knife

A 4 ¼ inch blade, cocobolo grips and a fast opening slide lock make for a nice little knife.

Review: The Smith & Wesson Equalizer

Smith & Wesson’s new Equalizer takes the proven formula of the EZ series to the next level. 

First Look: PARD Optics TD5 Thermal / Nightvision Scope

Night vision, ambient light and thermal optics, all in one scope.

Fightin' Iron: Rent-A-Gun?

Creating and/or maintaining movie guns is a complex business, and some prop houses are virtual wizards of weaponry.

The Rise Of The “Wonder Nine”

There was a time when 9mm semi-automatic pistols were not the default option for concealed carry.


Get the best of Shooting Illustrated delivered to your inbox.