Needing Gun Advice

Longtime Friend and Reader James L. sends the following email:

I’m writing for advice for my son-in-law.  He already has a Colt 1911 and is considering getting a companion carbine, a High Point 4595TS.  I know you had a nice .45 carbine but don’t remember the make.

He is considering this because of California’s (spit) 2018 law making ammo purchase akin to buying a firearm.  It will require the whole background check and a permission slip to purchase, and then, only from a FFL licensed dealer, in California (spit).  No out of State purchases allowed.

Might you have any words of wisdom on the subject?

I’ll refrain from advising that his s-i-l move out of California altogether, and concentrate on answering the request.

The market for semi-auto carbines in .45 ACP has dried up completely. Only High Point is currently making one, and I’ve heard more bad than good about their offerings in general — if you’re making goods to a low price point, the Iron Law Of Quality Compromise cannot be denied. I used to own a Marlin Camp 45 carbine and loved it because it used 1911 magazines and it was fun to shoot; but Marlin no longer makes it, and in any event, it was not very rugged and certainly not as reliable as today’s pistol-caliber carbines.

Also, the current asking price for a secondhand Camp 45 seems to be well over $1,000, which is risible: you’re buying a curio more than an actual go-to semi-auto carbine.

Anyway, what’s left in California-legal .45 carbines? Not much. Here’s the Hi Point, by the way, at $400-odd:

…and after that, the pickings get slim and the prices much fatter. The Auto-Ord Thompson 1927A1 Commando retails just under $1,500:

…and it’s heavy and unwieldy into the bargain.

Then there’s the Kriss Vector at just over $1,500 and which looks badass and tacticool:

…and frankly, I’m amazed that California allows so scawwwy-looking a gun inside its borders.

Frankly, I don’t think that any of those options is a decent one. I get the impression that Reader James’s s-i-l can’t afford to drop over a grand on a carbine — if he were, I’d suggest he ignore all the above and get an M1 Carbine in .30 Carbine (which I think is still legal in CA providing that you have only 10-round magazines — the 15-rounders are streng verboten).

I recall seeing a while ago that some company was modifying the Carbine into a .45 ACP gun, but I don’t know any more about that.

Anyway, as the s-i-l in question is looking for a way to escape the stupid and onerous (by intention) California ammo laws, adding a new caliber would of course be counterproductive.

So he might as well get the High Point; or he should move out of California to the actual United States, where such stupid laws and regs are laughed out of the legislature if so proposed.

Bloody California.


  1. I’ll give Four pieces of advice Our Host will not:

    1) Throw the f*king ring in the f*king volcano and move the f*k out of modor. Well, to be fair he WOULD make this but set it aside.

    2) If your desire is to have a pistol and a carbine in the same caliber, either step up to 10mm, which gives you a couple options, or go to 9mm, which gives you a plethora of choices. Alternatively switch to a revolver/lever gun pair.

    3) Get a California legal rifle in something you like and start buying your ammo in bulk. The hassle is the same whether you’re buying 50 rounds or 5000, right? So buy 5000 at a time.

    4) Work the pistol up to it’s maximum performance, get a red dot setup for it, and then train train train until you can get body hits at 200 yards. Then you don’t need a .45 carbine.

    1. Will O’Blivion . . .

      Great handle. Love it.
      As a follow-on to your 3rd comment, I was thinking some sort of lever gun chambered for .357 magnum would be plenty potent. Train with .38spc and if the SHTF, well, full house .357 hollowpoints. If they’re legal in Kalifornistan, that is.

      – Brad

      1. Have you considered the Mech-Tech carbine conversion units for either a 1911 or a Glock? I don’t own one myself but I’ve heard good things about them.

        1. Assuming they’re still CA available and legal when assembled, I can recommend the Mech Tech CCU. I have one in 10mm, companion to a Delta Elite pistol, but any full size 1911 frame will work given caliber-correct magazines. Current ones can use an AR style stock; It accepts optics, and at 50-100 yards it is acceptably accurate.

          He can pick one up and try it with his existing 1911 frame, then get another frame for full time setup if he likes it.

          The downsides for me: complete takedown is complex (but not regularly needed). And it has ‘openings’ in the bottom where the frame attaches that could allow crud to enter, so its not the ideal field gun. For a 16″ carbine its a bit on the heavy side.

  2. It’s not CA compliant…but that would be an insult in some circles. Palmetto State Armory recently started offering AR-style dedicated Glock mag 45 lowers and pistol and carbine length uppers. I have become a big fan of AR pistols with “arm braces”.

  3. The folks above have all made worthwhile suggestions, especially about escaping Kali, so I’ll partially repeat only one: Not one, but two good lever rifles in 357 magnum. Two is one, one is none, etc. Lever rifles reload slowly, so the fastest response is gained by grabbing a full rifle while someone refills the empty one. In fact, budget permitting, get 3 rifles (if there’s room in the budget for a 4th rifle, make that one a .44 magnum).

    357 mag picks up about 350 FPS going from a 4″ revolver barrel to a 20″ rifle barrel, and that provides sufficient power at 150-175 yards to be effective. A 20″ barreled rifle will hold 10 rounds in the tubular magazine and 1 in the chamber (add 1 in the mag for 38 Special), and in trained hands it can command a 150 yard radius easily. Kim mentioned the Marlin Camp Carbine, which was a good gun until it became a rare collector’s item – too expensive to buy, too valuable to shoot much or take a chance on breaking it. I’ve had a couple, and Kim hits all the salient points on them; what he didn’t mention is that at its best, with the limitations of the 45 ACP cartridge – it is a semi-auto handgun cartridge, after all – 100 yards is stretching things, especially with 230 grain bullets. Semi-auto cartridges don’t benefit as much as revolver cartridges regarding velocity gains when they move to a longer barrel.

    FYI, Jim West of Wild West Guns in Anchorage has terrific ghost ring sights for Marlins and Winchesters, and lever rifles being a requirement for Cowboy Action Shooting, there are now a large number of gunsmiths who are pretty good on them.

    Lever rifles don’t attract the crazy lefties the way EBRs do, so pretty much no one will care about them. I realize the s-i-l has an attraction to 45ACP, but to my mind he’s unreasonably limiting himself; yes, it means adding a cartridge, but 38 Special/357 Magnum is pretty common.

  4. Just Right Carbines makes a CA compliant .45 ACP carbine. No idea how good they are.

  5. Another vote for a .38/.357 lever gun. The Rossi M92s are pretty solid rifles – decent accuracy and minimal recoil. I gave about $400 for one a couple of years back. An older Marlin would be another good choice. Henry’s are nice but a bit more expensive and some folks prefer a loading gate to the tube style magazine. Most pistol caliber lever guns carry at least 12 rounds and that’s two revolver cylinders full of social interactions in a compact high velocity package. Since I live in one of the redder states I’m not all that familiar with what the Peoples Republic of California will do to reloaders next year, but I do know that the straight wall .38 special and .357 magnum cartridges are some of the easiest to reload and most economical of powder.

  6. I meant to add earlier – TNW Firearms makes their Aero Survival Rifle. Available in several pistol calibers, easily converted between calibers, takedown and stash in a back pack. I have a buddy who swears by his.

  7. A couple of options worth considering. The KelTec Sub2000. Nice reliable and foldable. It can be found in a number of calibers and magazine types. Also from KelTec is their SU 16. A foldable, incredible light, 223 that takes ar mags. I have to second the idea of an M1 carbine. The whole purpose why it was designed was to give close quarters protection to a couple of million GIs. I also believe the griping about the 30 carbine cartridge was and is BS. It is a wondeful little gun and round.

      1. Kim is correct. Beretta discontinued the .45 version. They are available on the used market and can be made California compliant with a Kydex shield to block the “thumb-hole” stock, then it becomes a “featureless” rifle.

      2. I didn’t know they made one to begin with, otherwise I’d have suggested it.

        I have one in 9mm, because that’s what my Beretta 92 shoots. And all three of my Glocks, my P7 and my wife’s CZ75, and her M&P Shield shoot, and it’s a pretty decent carbine.

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