After being out of production for several years, High
Standard Manufacturing is now producing the Automag II
pistol that was previously produced by AMT in Irwindale,
California and Galena Industries in Sturgis, South Dakota.
For a bit of history on the gun, I refer you to Paco
Kellys article on the Automag II. Todays article deals
with the reintroduction of that fine pistol design.
Like most good things, they are never fully appreciated
until they are gone. So it was with the original Automag II. Manufactured
from 1987 until 2001, quality varied greatly, but basically, they
were pretty good pistols. The Automag II has achieved somewhat
of a cult following, and are seldom seen on the used market. I picked
up a six-inch model back in October at the huge Tulsa gun show,
and it is a real tack driver with its preferred ammo.
High Standard has made a couple of improvements to
the original manufacturing process, but stayed true to the Automag
II design. The barrel is now threaded into the chamber block, instead
of brazed as in the originals, and they are heat treating parts
that were prone to being too soft in the originals. High Standard
also eliminated the tiny chamber holes that were used to delay blowback
operation on the originals. First offered in the six-inch barreled
version, with shorter barrels to be offered later.
I recently received one of the new AMT Automag II
pistols in for review, and have been shooting it quite a bit since
it arrived. The Automag II is a very good-looking pistol, slim and
trim with contrasting matte and polished stainless areas on the
slide, and an all-matte finished frame. The gun wears Pachmayr
Signature synthetic rubber grips, with a thin layer of rubber also
connecting the two panels and covering the front strap of the frame,
providing a very secure hold. The fully adjustable sights are the
high profile Millett style with a white outline rear and
a white line up the center of the front ramped post. The front
of the trigger guard is squared off, for those who like to shoot
with a finger supporting the hold in this position. The pistol has
a full-length stainless recoil spring guide rod, and a removable
barrel bushing. The magazine is of stainless construction,
with a plastic follower, and it holds nine rounds of .22 Magnum
ammo, for a total loaded capacity of ten rounds. There is
a hammer-block thumb safety on the left rear of the slide, which
is easily reached by the strong-hand thumb of a right-handed shooter.
The Automag II has a slide release in the familiar position to most
shooters on the left side, and the slide locks open after the last
shot is fired. The magazine is held by a heel-type catch, and is
released by pressing rearward on the catch. I prefer this type of
magazine release on a field gun to the more popular thumb button
release. There is little chance of the release on the Automag II
being accidentally pressed, and losing the magazine. It is a good
design, and adds also to the trim lines of the pistol. The Automag
II is a single action design, requiring that the hammer be cocked
prior to firing the first shot, either manually, or by retracting
the slide to chamber the first round from atop the magazine. Subsequent
shots re-cock the hammer as the slide cycles, ejecting a spent cartridge
case and chambering a fresh cartridge.
This is as good a time as any to address the .22 Magnum
cartridge. Some regard the .22 Mag as a weak little cartridge, suitable
only for ground squirrels and the like. That is a mistake. I have
a very high regard for the little magnum. It offers very good penetration
on flesh, and hits as hard as many larger calibers that are regarded
as good choices to solve distasteful social encounters. I often
recommend the .22 Magnum for a concealed carry or home protection
gun for those who, for whatever reason, cannot handle the recoil
of more powerful handguns. With very little recoil and muzzle rise,
a good .22 Magnum can easily be used by most anyone to accurately
place several shots rather quickly on target. Looking at the
video demonstration by clicking the top picture to the right, the
light recoil and easy controllability is readily apparent. In a
fixed breach pistol such as the Automag II, the .22 Magnum really
shines, giving higher velocities, and therefore more power, than
revolvers of like size; this is attributable to the Automag's lack
of the barrel/cylinder gap of the revolver design.
To illustrate this, I compared the velocities of the
Automag II with those of two of my favorite .22 magnum revolvers;
a Ruger Single Six Hunter
with a seven and one-half inch barrel, and a Taurus
Model 941 with a five inch barrel, using a few different
.22 Magnum cartridges. The results are shown in the chart below.
Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are
listed in grains. The chronograph testing took place using a PACT
chronograph, with an air temperature of 53 degrees Fahrenheit.
As can be seen in the chart, the Automag II clearly
displayed higher velocities than did the two revolvers, sometimes
as much as a 200 fps advantage, with most loads giving about a 150
fps edge to the AMT over the long-barreled Ruger. The most impressive
gains were shown with the heavier bullets. The chart shows higher
velocities for the five inch Taurus than it does for the longer-barreled
Ruger. This is no misprint, but is a clear indication of the relation
between a good, tight barrel/cylinder gap and high velocity.
Of course, the AMT with no barrel/cylinder gap outperformed both.
I like the high velocities posted by the two CCI
loads, but they occasionally failed to fully cycle the slide, sometimes
leaving an empty cartridge in the chamber or hung up in the ejection
port. Likewise the same problems occurred with the Winchester
Supreme 34 grain loads. This AMT prefers bullets of a full
40 grains and with high velocity. The 45 grain Dynapoint
ammo, with its low velocity, sometimes also failed to fully cycle
the slide on this AMT. The best performer, in both accuracy and
reliability, was the PMC Predator ammunition. It is also
one of my favorite .22 Magnum loads for several of my revolvers
and rifles that are so chambered.
Accuracy testing included each of the types of ammunition
listed above. The trigger pull measured five and one-quarter pounds,
and released crisply after a slight amount of take-up. All loads
were fired on paper at a range of twenty-five yards, with a gentle
breeze and an air temperature of sixty-seven degrees Fahrenheit,
from a bench-rested two hand hold position. Every load tested
grouped into less than three inches, with most doing better. The
Winchester Supreme grouped into just over two inches, with the PMC
Predator going under two inches for five shots, consistently, when
I did my part.
I really like the AMT Automag II, and am glad that
it is back in production. Weighing in at 34.2 ounces with
an empty magazine, it is relatively light, and very slim, making
for easy all-day carry in a good holster, such as the one pictured
here from Simply Rugged Holsters. This pancake design carries
the Automag II either on the strong side or as a cross draw, and
offers good protection and secure retention of the weapon, while
allowing quick access when needed. It is an excellent holster to
wear strong side for concealed carry, or as a cross draw when wearing
a backpack or riding an ATV, tractor, horse, or in a vehicle. Rob
Leahy hand crafts each holster one at a time in his shop in
Alaska, and has a quick delivery time and very fair prices.
He makes holsters to fit just about any handgun ever made, using
quality materials, practical designs, and expert craftsmanship.
The Automag II is a very versatile little handgun,
good for hunting, plinking, or self-protection with the ammunition
chosen for the situation at hand. It carries well, is accurate,
and reliable with the ammo that it prefers. It is a highly versatile
piece, and a lot of fun to shoot. Dealers can order the Automag
II directly from High Standard manufacturing.
Check them out online at: www.highstandard.com.
For a look at Rob Leahys Simply Rugged and Grizzly
Tuff holsters, go to: www.simplyrugged.com.
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Click pictures for a larger version.
The new AMT Automag II .22 Magnum pistol from High Standard.
The Automag II is equipped with fully-adjustable, high-visibility
Millett style sights.
Hammer-block safety is simple and effective.
The magazine catch is on the heel, which is a good design for
a trail gun.
The Automag II (center) offers a performance edge over a couple
of Jeff's favorite .22 Magnum revolvers, the Ruger Single Six Hunter
(top) and Taurus Model 941 (bottom).
The Automag II proved to be both reliable and accurate with
proper ammunition. Shown are some of the loads Jeff used in testing.
Some shooters look upon the .22 Magnum with disdain, but it
is among Jeff's favorite small-bore calibers.
A good field gun needs a good field holster, and it is hard
to beat the utility, craftsmanship and affordability of this versatile
pancake design from Simply Rugged.
The Automag II has always been a fine design, and it is good
to see it getting a new lease on life from the folks at High Standard.