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BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL Miami 2002 - Heckler & Koch Mark 23 .45-caliber semiautomatic handgun

This superbly crafted sidearm is light enough for women and seniors, and it doesn't have the tremendous recoil of the old Colt blue-steel Army and Navy .45 models of yesteryear. Inspired by the great popularity of the Austrian Glock, it's a top seller in South Florida gunshops like Eagle Arms (14123 South Dixie Highway; 305-234-8446). At $763, without a box of ammo, it's not exactly cheap, but according to George Soler at Eagle Arms, the Mark 23 is safe to handle and a joy to use on the target range: "It's now the weapon of choice for the Special Forces and is seeing a lot of service in Afghanistan."

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