The AR pistol has come a long way, especially the handgun caliber platforms. While the first pistol designs did experience growing pains, at this time there are lots of viable options to examine. The CMMG “Banshee,” which a friend of mine recently bought, is a perfect example of the new breed of pistols.
Colt introduced the original AR “pistol” – the 9mm AR - SMG R0635 - in 1982. After discovering the gas impingement system in the M16/AR15, firing from an open bolt, didn’t work well they went with a blowback system, firing from a closed bolt, using a standard M16/AR15 lower receiver with an adapter to accept modified 9mm UZI magazines. Since then, and after a lot of other “experiments,” handgun caliber carbines and pistols have gained new traction, and a lot of reliability.
The Banshee I fired is the “300” series in .45 ACP. The five-inch barrel is threaded, and covered with a CMMG M-Lok handguard. The receivers are forged – with an integrated trigger guard on the lower, an ambi-safety, MOE grip, and single stage mil-spec trigger. Weight is 4lbs 9oz. with a total length of 19.2” when the CMMG “Micro/CQB RipBrace” is collapsed. A Cerakote finish tops everything off, and it’s available in a variety of colors. You feed it with Glock mags.
My shootin’ ‘n training buddy Ed brought the Banshee over to zero the red-dot. I wasn’t really expecting to like it; now I’m kinda' wishing I had one. The pistol is light, especially with standard capacity pistol mags. It was reliable, even with some very questionable old Israeli training ammo that had a weird truncated bullet. I had some nice carry ammo to test, but ran out of time.Even with I.M.I. ammo it was accurate enough to hit headshots at seventy-five yards. I have no doubt better ammo, and discovering what the Banshee likes best, would have improved accuracy.
Ed had installed an ALG Defense Advanced Combat Trigger, so getting a good clean break was no problem. The Aimpoint dot made it easy to obtain and hold a steady sight picture. Take your time, follow the fundamentals of accuracy – Aim, Hold, Press and Follow-Through – and you were rewarded with a hit every time. The light recoil made it easy to follow up with as many accurate shots as the mag held.
The more types and calibers of AR pistols I fire the more I like them. (I recently got the fire Ruger’s new PC Charger pistol in 9mm, and while not an AR platform I like it, too.). They’ve got some great application for self-defense, especially for home defense. Plus, you can’t deny the fun factor of shooting a great weapon, that’s reliable and accurate. Take a platform like this, add personal touches like light, lanyard/sling and maybe a suppressor – which really tames noise and recoil on a handgun caliber – and you’ve got a great package that fits a lot of needs. And someday, when the ammo shortage is a thing of the past, handgun rounds will still be cheaper than rifle ammo.
Tiger McKee is director of Shootrite Firearms Academy, which is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. He is the author of The Book of Two Guns, AR-15 Skills and Drills, has a regular column in American Handgunner and makes some cool knives and custom revolvers. Visit Shootrite’s Facebook page for other details.