Saturday, August 25, 2012

REVIEW: Glock 19 Gen 4



UPDATE:
3/22/2016 - OC Custom Trigger install

If you've read the other articles on my blog, it's pretty clear that I've wanted a Glock but have struggled with the grip. The grip is too thick for my small hands and angle has always felt funny to me. I've been impressed with Glock's quality, reliability and functionality but the dang thing felt awkward in my hand. Just about every gun owning friend of mine owns a Glock so I get to shoot them quite regularly and that regularity has convinced me that I didn't want to drop $600 on one...until now.

I was on my way to Nashville to see a Predator's hockey game when on a whim, my wife and I stopped at Outpost Armory.  I planned to look around and leave but that didn't happen. I spotted a case full of Gen 4 Glocks and thought to myself, "Oh well, I might as well see if that modular grip makes any difference." I asked to see a G17 Gen 4 and wow! It was an entirely different pistol. The thing fit my hand perfectly (smallest grip option of course)! This was it! This was what I've been waiting for!

I looked over at my wife and she could tell by the look on my face that I was going to buy another gun. Fortunately for me, my wife is pro-gun, and pro-shoes, and I don't hassle her about buying shoes. She shrugged and gave me the thumbs up. "Go ahead, get it." It's not that I have to have permission to buy a gun, but if you've read my Smith and Wesson AR15 article, you'll see that asking before I drop over $600 on a firearm equals marital bliss and not asking equals...well, you know. Nevertheless, I got the nod and forked over the dough.

Now, I needed to decide on a model. After playing around with just about every model of Gen 4 they had, I settled on the G19. It's chambered for 9mm, my favorite caliber, it's sized for concealed carry and came with three fifteen round magazines. Perfect.

The first thing I did when I got home was dry fire it a few dozen times. I noticed that the Gen 4 trigger was a lot heavier than the older Gen 1-2's that I had been shooting. I went over to my buddy Doug's house and dry fired his Second Gen G27. Sure enough, there was a huge difference. I know what you're thinking, Doug's G27 has had 1,000 rounds  through it and my G19 has had, um, one–the test round. But that wasn't it alone, the Gen 4 has a heavier trigger.

Next, while at the range, breaking it in, I tested the pull with my buddy Bruce's Lyman trigger gauge and damn, the G19 was returning an average measurement of 6.25lbs! That's almost a full pound more than the 5.5lbs that Glock claims on their website. I had to fix this.

After the success with my Ruger SR9, I immediately bought a Ghost Rocket 3.5 Trigger kit with Trigger Control Connector, Reduced Power Firing Pin Spring, Reduced Power Trigger Spring, and Reduced Power Firing Pin Safety Spring. The kit also comes with an Armorers Plate that allows you to release the firing pin for disassembly as you go through the trial and error filing of the trigger over travel. This is a frustrating process but if you do it correctly, the results are nothing short of miraculous. I'm not a gunsmith and I don't mind telling you that my mechanical skills are moderate at best, so if I can do this, you can. There are a lot of YouTube videos that you can watch that will help if you get stuck.

The result was worth the effort. The trigger pull went from 6.5lbs to 5.6lbs! Not quite the 3.5 that the Ghost Rocket suggests but close enough. Also, the take up is around 1.5mm and there is zero, I repeat ZERO creep. Once you take up the trigger, one billionth of a millimeter and the gun fires. It's like pulling the trigger on a cocked Kimber 1911.

Trigger reset is a minimal 1.5mm. Hear and feel the reset click and another billionth of a millimeter and BANG! The Ghost Ultimate kit delivers big time! NOTE: The website clearly states that the trigger kit is for home defense and competition/target shooting only and I can see why. The trigger spring is so light that after a shot is fired and you remove your finger from the trigger, the spring will not pull the trigger far enough forward to lock the trigger safety. And since Glock's only safety is that tiny piece of plastic, the kit renders it's only safety inoperable. This fact has made me wish I had bought the longer, target friendlier, G17 since I will not be carrying the G19 for self defense. Too bad too, since it's such a sweet piece of hardware. The solution is simple, all I need to do is put the old trigger spring back in, but dang, I love what the kit has done to the trigger feel!



Shooting the G19 is pure bliss. For me, it's everything that Glock embodies with a useable grip. Doug and I took the pistol out to the range and set a couple hundred rounds through it. We shot it next to his G27 and my Ruger SR9. As much as I love the SR9 trigger (with Ghost), the Glock 19 (with Ghost) beats it, hands down. Once you take the the trigger up and it hits the sear stop, the SR9 has a about a millimeter of creep before BANG. The Glock, as I said earlier, none.

Other than that, the SR9 and G19 are very similar in feel, recoil and accuracy. I'm a bit more accurate with the G19 but as average of a marksman as I am, that's not a real test.

We shot everything at my favorite defense distance, fifteen feet. The results were impressive even before the trigger job. See embedded video above. We were shooting Walmart Winchester white box and Federal red box 9mm, plus a small sample of Hornady Critical Defense just to see how it fed. Zero malfunctions of any kind. No stove pipes, no F2F, no F2Eject, nothing but flawless, enjoyable shooting.

So, I've gone from not liking Glocks all together, to liking everything but the grip, to liking everything but the new triggers. That's a big deal for me. I love my G19 and am looking forward to getting the spousal nod as soon as the G21 comes out in Gen 4. If you're a Glock fan, it's an easy choice, if you're not, do yourself a favor and at least take one for a test drive. I think you'll be impressed.



UPDATE #1:
Trigger polish and OC Custom Trigger

I ordered a trigger from Orange County Custom Triggers and while I had the Gen4 G19 torn apart I thought I'd do a total trigger job at the same time. I started with YouTube.

I found this step-by-step tutorial, from GlockMods, on smoothing a Glock trigger by polishing all of the metal-on-metal parts to a mirror finish. The photo above is from that video and the link to the video is below. If you want a fun and very easy way to make your Glock trigger feel like butter, this is the trick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_PuY29jsis

Here's how I did it. I started with 2000 grit, wet-dry sand paper to eliminate all rough edges. I even polished places that were inconsequential just because I had the time. Next, I pulled out the Dremel and some Mother's Chrome Wheel Polish. Lastly, to get that mirror finish that you see in the picture I concluded with my silver metal polishing cloth. When I was done I could see my reflection in all of the metal parts. Next was the trigger install.

I bought the one with the red trigger safety because I thought it looked nice. I did not buy the over travel eliminating block because I already had the Ghost Ultimate with over-travel elimination. But, if you don't have any over-travel control, get the $20 block. It's worth it!

Installation is easy and there are a variety of videos out there if you get stuck. The final result was a very short, very smooth, very crisp 4 lb. 12oz. trigger pull. But I didn't stop there. I watched another video where a guy pointed out that at some point Glock started making their triggers harder to pull by adding a bump on the side of the striker safety tab. He mentioned that by grinding that down it would remove up to two pounds of trigger pull. I can attest that that statement is fact. I took used my Dremel to reduce (not remove) bump and now I have a confirmed short, crisp 3 lb. 5 oz. trigger. It's absolutely amazing. So amazing that until I buy a second OC Custom Trigger (for $40, why not?) with the bump in place, I will NOT CARRY my G19 as a self-defense weapon. It's a dream to shoot but I don't want any legal troubles if I ever have to pull the trigger, even to save my life. I have a
dozen other sidearms that have 5-pound plus defense carry triggers to choose from so the Glock has been relegated to a fun, accurate range gun. It's also a, "Wow" gun in that when I let friends shoot it (after a clear warning) they inevitably say, "Wow!"

Sad really because I no longer get to use my Tactical Justice, black and zombie green, Kydex holster that I love so much.

I took the gun to the range just yesterday and put a few mags through it and I still can't help saying to myself, "Wow."


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Don't Look Down The Barrel of a Shotgun!

Have you ever looked down the barrel of a shotgun? If you say "no," GOOD! This guy experiences a misfire and stupidly looks down the barrel of his shotgun to see why the shell didn't go off! Well, the delayed primer does go off. Just so you know, the video shows no blood, no brains. The guy is lucky as hell. And I thought my misfire was stupid.

This is horrible.


video

Saturday, February 25, 2012

REVIEW: Ruger SR9

Any time I buy a gun, I always wonder if I'm going to like it over the long term. I've bought a couple that felt good in the store, had great reviews but in practice, don't get much range time. These days, I'm much more critical of my purchase decision and one question I always ask myself is, "Will I want to shoot this gun a lot?" Without actual range time, it's a hard question to answer while standing at the gun counter, but I do think about it.

That's the question I asked myself about the Ruger SR9. Luckily, I had the opportunity to shoot one before I bought one and I really liked it. Now with the SR9c available, I was torn between the two. After critical review, and input from my wife, we went with the full-sized SR9. I initially bought the pistol for IDPA and target shooting with little intent in carrying. Now that I've put it though the ringer, I kind of wish I had bought the SR9c. I'd like to carry this puppy. Kind of. Plus, with the extended magazine, it can "act" as a full-sized shooter from time-to-time, even though the SR9c has a slightly shorter barrel.

 Now that the gun has over 500 rounds though it I feel like I can write a solid review on the product To put it simply, the Ruger SR9 is a solid performer. Watch the embedded YouTube video and you'll see my buddy Doug shoot an amazing group from 15-feet...the first time he picked it up!



Let's start with the trigger. When you pick up an SR9 at the store, the first thing that will make you furrow your brow is the trigger. Unlike most pistols, but like the Glock, the trigger doesn't rebound after you pull it unless the slide is activated. Once the slide is activated, the trigger pops forward. When dry-firing the gun, you'll notice this instantly. It's odd as hell. But in practice, the slide blows back, resetting the trigger, so you don't notice.

Another thing you'll notice is how crisp the trigger breaks. It's amazing. It's obvious that Ruger reverse engineered the Glock trigger but made enough changes to keep the patent police away. The one thing that isn't Glock-like is the trigger weight. It's definitely heavier. So, to remedy that, I installed a Ghost Ultimate 3.5 lb. trigger bar reset on mine. Even for me (no smithing experience), the trigger job was really easy and I highly recommend this set. I searched for a YouTube video that showed how and followed the instructions. It was easy. After installation, I dropped in a snap cap and dry-fired it a few times, initially disappointed in the change. But after 200 rounds at the range, it's definitely 4.5 lbs or less. Notice in the YouTube video, the light trigger catches Doug off guard at one point and results in an inadvertent follow-up shot and a one o'clock flier in his otherwise fantastic standing, freehand group at 15 feet.

The next modification I made was to remove the magazine disconnect. The magazine disconnect renders gun unusable when the magazine is removed. I don't like that feature, so I disabled the disabling. That too was super easy.  I followed a simple, and well done, YouTube video (Click here to see it). Just bear out the guy's initial crude comment, geez.


Another  modification that can be done is removing the loaded chamber indicator. Galloway Precision makes a kit that allows you to remove the indicator and replace it with a black or silver blank. Even though the LCI looks like a shark fin when a round is in the chamber, I'm not removing mine. I like that added level of awareness and since I removed the magazine disconnect, it seems logical for me to know when a live round is in the chamber. If this were an SR9c and I was carrying it? I'd have made the modification.

As for shooting? Sweet. The SR9 is very accurate, reliable and shoots like a dream. It's easy to quickly get the gun on target and keep it there through 18-rounds of fire. The gun is ergonomically sound, the sights are easy to acquire and with the Ghost Ultimate installed, the trigger is a dream.

The fourth time to the range, my friend Brian was shooting it and got a failure to feed. I wasn't watching him shoot so I don't know if it was a limp wrist issue, bad ammo or the gun itself. But it happened once in the first 500 rounds. I think that's acceptable at this point. If it keeps happening, I'll be worried. But for now, I'm not concerned.

Since this isn't a concealed carry gun, I added a Hogue Handall grip sleeve to it and it makes it even better. Without the grip sleeve, the gun is comfortable and easy to control, the grip sleeve just makes it all the better without being too thick.

The SR9 is a pistol that has a few of oddities like the weird trigger, the huge loaded chamber indicator and the magazine disconnect--all of which can be remedied. But it also has that solid Ruger reputation for quality and reliability.

But overall, I'm really glad I bought it and I can tell you, that this gun will get shot on a regular basis. I have a feeling it will push my S&W M&P 9mm to the back of the safe.

I plan on taking it to a practical pistol event soon and I'll let you know how it goes. As you know from reading this blog, I'm not an expert marksman so I need every advantage I can get when the clock is ticking and points are being scored.

If you are on the fence about buying one of these, I'd take the plunge. If you're waffling between the SR9 and SR9c and it's going just be "another 9mm or .40" you have in your safe, I'd go with the compact for it's concealability and convertibility--options. If you're going to compete in practical pistol events, I'd go full-sized. Even though the 9c has extended mags, the mag collars could be awkward when dropping and reloading unless you glued them into place (see this YouTube video where are guy talks about this problem and offer an ingenious solution--at 2:40). Plus, the longer barrel will give you a better sight picture. If you're wanting a solid, daily carry gun, the 9c is the obvious choice.

Like I do with lots of my reviews, I'll post updates are more rounds are fired.

UPDATE #1:
I've been reading and viewing material about cutting 1.5 coils off of the firing pin spring. I've been a little afraid to try it but figured, what the heck, and did it. The Ghost Trigger Bar Reset gave me about 4.5 lbs on a digital trigger pull device and after cutting the spring, the trigger feels even lighter. I have not measured the pull with a measuring device but it's lighter for sure. The next question was, will the mod prevent the gun from firing. Answer: No, it works perfectly. I've gone from liking my Ruger SR9 to absolutely loving it.

From RUGER FORUM:
Here's an easy way to lower the trigger pull on the SR9 if you want to (i learned this trick off of another forum and thought i'd share it, 'cause it works!). it's easy, i'm no gunsmith, but the effect is dramatic... mine went from around a 7+lb pull to around a 4.5lb now, it's clicking sweet, and after hundreds of rounds since, just as reliable as stock out of the box.

(1) take out the striker assembly like you would to remove the magazine disconnect safety.

(2) you'll notice the striker spring... that's what you're after.

(3) either take out the little cross pin to free the striker spring, or as in my case, you can leave the spring on and take apart nothing else (as long as you have a skinny nose, sharp as hell, pair of wire clippers like I had handy...).

(4) clip off only 1 or just a half of a coil off of the striker spring, then reassemble the pistol and try it out with some dry-firing to feel where you're at. after clipping 1 whole coil i recommend clipping more if needed in only half coil increments, reassembling each time to feel the effects... i think i took off maybe 2 and half coils and my trigger pull is at about 4.5-5lbs...

...seems the striker spring in the SR9 is more robust then it needs to be in order to have enough punch to effectively and reliably strike and ignite the primer on a chambered round (compared to a glock or m&p, etc. for comparison), so what you are doing is removing some of the "stacking" weight, while preserving enough spring for the gun to function reliably...

as i said earlier, the effect is dramatic, if you do it right you'll be psyched!
when i get a "just in case" replacement spring from ruger, i'm going to explore the limits of how light i can drop the pull weight without affecting reliable function... for now, it's awesome, and way way better than stock.

cheers.


Video How To here:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

HOW TO: Build a Target Stand

I belong to both an indoor and outdoor range. They both have advantages and disadvantages. One of the disadvantages of the outdoor range is how complicated it can be to paste up, or replace, targets at an outdoor range that is flooded with other shooters. No electric zip-line. I used to have to wait for an opportune time to call the range "cold" then run out and paste up a single target. The first time I did that, I immediately knew I needed a system that let me put more targets down range.

A friend of mine bought several metal target stands at Brownell's but there are some serious problems with them. The slightest breeze blows them over unless he put sand bags on the bases. I didn't want to have to drive around with small bags of sand in my trunk. Also, those crazy target stands are $42 each! That seems like a lot of money and if I bought three of them, think of all the bags of sand I'd need to keep them upright?

So, I put my mind to work and came up with my own design. I wanted something sturdy, something with easily replaceable parts (in the event it gets shot, which it does) and I needed it to be easy to transport–set up and take down. This is what I came up with...and it only cost me $46.92.


Click on the image to enlarge it.

Every part was bought at either Lowe's or Ace Hardware and the construction time (my first time through) was about three hours. I'm not a super carpenter and my plans had a few flaws that needed to be overcome during contraction. So, you're build time might be longer or shorter than mine. Overall, it's been an awesome target stand. I get so many range members asking me where I "got it", that I decided to post how I built it so you can build one yourself if you're so inclined.

The photos are for a second stand that I recently built so I can now put six IPSC targets down range if I'm really wanting to do a lot of shooting or if I want to run some multi-target drills or if my wife and I want to play some target games with our .22 pistols. Those .22 shooting games are extremely fun and more fun than shooting round targets hour after hour.

One of my favs is HORSE. Works just like the basketball version. Call your shots before you shoot. You shoot into a 1x1" circle, your opponent shoots into that same 1x1" circle. You shoot into a 1/2"x1/2" square, your opponent has to hit it too. You shoot a two-shot snowman, your opponent has to do it, etc. You miss, your opponent  takes the lead and call his/her shots. There are a ton of printable target games online.

Back to the target stand.



Here's the parts list with prices as of January 2012:

I use Treated Lumber for with weight.
1 - 2x4x8  $1.97
2 - 2x2x8  $5.94
1 - 1x2x8  $1.97
1 -  6 foot Tru-fit deck rail with pre-cut slots  $5.33
2 - 3/8 Carriage Bolts  $1.46
2 - 3/8 Wind Nuts  $1.96
2 - 1/4 Carriage Bolts  $1.46
2 - 1/4 Wing Nuts  $.98
8 - 2x3 Simpson 90º angle joint plates  $9.84
4 - Flat Washers $.44
2 - Screen Door Handles  $7.58
1 - Pack of Simpson Screws $7.99
Pieces of wood to use a shims $0 (Paint Stirs can be used. Lowe's will give those to you for free)

Total Cost: $46.92

First you need to cut the lumber. I used a miter saw.
-Cut the 2x4 into three pieces. Two pieces that are 30-1/2 inches and one that's 25-1/2 inches.
-Cut the Tru-fit rail into two pieces, one that's 25-1/2 inches and one that's an even 25 inches. Make sure you trim the extra 1/4 off each side so the one piece is shorter but the slots still line up.
-Cut a 51" piece out of the 1x2
-Cut two 60" pieces from the two 2x2s then with the left over 72" (36" from each 2x2) make three 15" pieces.

That's all the cutting you'll need to do. You should end up with a pile of wood that looks like this.












Next, using the 90º Simpson brackets and Simpson self-tapping screws, attach the 25-1/2" inch Tru-fit rail piece and the 25-1/2" 2x4 to one of the 30-1/2" pieces of 2x4. The 30-1/2 piece will be one of the side feet. Notice how the center pieces are not flush with the side piece. Make sure you do this so your stand will sit even (and not rock around) on slightly uneven ground.

Also, notice the spacing. I have the 2x4 at the back and the Tru-fit about 2/3 of the way toward the front. This measurement doesn't need to be exact, it just adds to the stability.


Now, attached the other 31-1/2" foot. Click on the picture so you can see where I drilled the holes in the Tru-fit rail piece.

The finished product should look like this.










Now, drill holes in the 25" Tru-fit that precisely match the ones in the 25-1/2" Tru-fit rail piece. Then use two washers, carriage bolts and a wing nut to loosely attach the two pieces.
Once the two Tru-fits are attached, insert the 60" 2x2 legs into the outer slots. Here is where the problem arrives. The legs are 2x2 but the slots are 2x2 1/4 so the legs aren't snug and they wobble.








This is where I used wood glue and an old paint stir stick to make spacers. Window shims will work here too. I trimmed and glued the spacers down then clamped down the wing nuts and let it sit for a while. This fixes the problem.















Attach your screen door handles at a spot that you determine to be a balancing point. You'll be carrying the stand both assembled and disassembled. Disassembled, it makes lifting the heavy treated lumber base into your truck. To get the stand on and off the range quickly, so everyone can get back to shooting, you'll be carrying it assembled. That balanced spot keeps the stand from tipping while you're carrying it.




Now, you'll need to take the 60" 2x2s out and drill holes in them 18" from the top. Then take the 51" 1x2 and attached the three 15" 2x2 pieces. Two should be attached even to each side of the 51-incher and the third piece should be centered. I used wood glue and wood screws to attached the pieces.

You'll line up the cross bar with the holes in the 2x2s, mark them and drill so you can pass a washer, carriage bolt and wing nut through the pieces as shown.

I built four of these cross-bars and carry an extra to the range in the event a bullet breaks one. I've found that the bullets don't shatter the treated lumber like they do kiln dried pine. In all the years I've had this stand, I have an old cross-car that's riddled with hole but I still haven't replaced it. 

There you have it. At three target, solid, wind-proof target stand for only $46.92, plus tax of course.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

REVIEW: Ruger LC9

When the Ruger LCP was announced, there was instant anticipation that led to a buying frenzy that led to huge back orders. The colossal success of the little .380 caused writers, reviewers and bloggers to speculate that a 9mm had to be in the works. It was obvious that if Ruger built a Light Compact 9mm it would become an instant hit and sell like hot cakes, just like the LCP had.

It didn't take a psychic to predict they'd build it, so it wasn't a surprise when Ruger announced the LC9. I read everything I could get my hands on and from what I was reading, it looked like Ruger had build an amazing little firearm.

Luckily for me, my best friend was looking for a new carry gun to replace his KelTec P-3AT and he fell in love with the Ruger LC9. So, it was easy for me to get my hands on one. Today was cold, windy so we took his brand new LC9 to the indoor range at Shooter's Depot to break it in.

This first thing I noticed was how freaking thin the grip is. It's truly mind-blowing how thin Ruger was able to mold the polymer grip. To keep a small pistol with the recoil of a 9mm, you need an aggressively checkered hand hold, like Ruger molded into the LC9. The thinness makes the pistol disappear when worn inside the waistband (to the wearer and others) even when wearing form fitting clothing. I carried the LC9 for a few days and it's the most comfortable 9mm I've ever carried.



At the range, the little pistol shot really well. There are a few minor irritations that I need to address so bear with me and I'll get back to the good stuff really quickly. First, the trigger pull is really long and must be fully released to reset it. It's not a hard pull, just a really long one. The length of reset makes it really hard to keep the pistol on point during shots over 15-feet and during quick fire drills. It's not impossible, it just requires a little more concentration. In reply to this consistent complaint, Galloway Precision built a $60 trigger kit that is supposed to cut trigger travel in half and it doesn't look all that hard to install. Also, I've read that removing the magazine disconnect lightens the trigger pull. See the video in this review to see what I'm talking about.

While I'm at it, Galloway Precision also sells a kit that allows you to replace the loaded chamber indicator with a piece of metal that matches your slide, in essence making it disappear. Personally, I like the indicator, and while big, it's effective. I've left mine on my Ruger SR9. 

My second niggle is that the rough textured grip, that keeps the little gun from squirming around in my hand while shooting, began abrading the skin over the bone at the base of my thumb. I noticed it after just four magazines but it got worse as we kept shooting through 250 rounds.

Lastly, like most all semi-auto pistols, when the magazine is empty it's very difficult to release the slide using the slide release lever. But when the magazine has at least one bullet in it, the slide release is easy to actuate. Not so on the Ruger LC9. Even full of rounds, the slide release is extremely difficult to actuate. This might be due to the stiff newness of the gun but it seemed unusual to me. I'll update this review as time passes. Also, comment below if your experience is different than mine in this respect.

That being said, the gun is built like a tank. Something that's really important for a small gun. Unlike the little Ruger LCP, the sights are useable and spot on. Most importantly, right out of the box the Ruger LC9 never failed once as it ate it's first 250 rounds of Winchester White Box, Federal and Remington ammo.

If you've read my review on the Taurus PT709 Slim, you'd know the it's my concealed carry gun. I love it. So, it was natural for us to compare the two small 9mm pistols that were designed specifically for concealed carry.

Holding the two guns side-by-side, you'll notice that the Ruger feels more solidly built than the Taurus. I have had nothing but perfectly reliable functionality from my 709 Slim, but the LC9 lives up to the solid build reputation that Ruger has earned and feels like a top quality piece of hardware.

A couple other Ruger wins: I've had to buy Pearce magazine extensions, the Ruger comes with both flat and extended base plates. I added a Hogue grip sleeve to increase the texture, the LC9 has plenty of grip. The one nicety that the Taurus has going for it is the trigger pull thing I mentioned earlier.

Both pistols ended up delivering more than acceptable accuracy at defense distances but the Taurus repeatedly gave us tighter groups especially as shot cadence increased. We both took turns testing this at a variety of distances from four to fifteen yards and the results were consistent.

We believe the difference was in the trigger, the fact that the Taurus has had about 800 rounds through it (the Ruger was cleaned only test shot at the factory) and the comfortable Hogue grip I installed (which makes the grip much, much thicker than the LC9 and less concealable). This shooting result surprised me. I truly expected Doug's Ruger to outshoot my Taurus in every test. Needless to say, the pride in my little Brazilian shooter went up a notch but so did my growing admiration for the LC9.

Just for the fun of it, we ran our targets out to 15-yards and shot several magazines to see if we could hit anything at that distance. I did fine at 21-feet, but I don't mind saying that Doug consistently kept his shots on the paper while I was all over the place and even missed the target entirely a couple of times. I've included a photo of his best group at a crazy 45-feet. He took his time, slowly pulled through the long take-up and measured every shot; the results were impressive. Very nice shooting if you ask me.

Personally, I feel that Ruger hit a solid triple with the LC9. The gun is crazy thin, it's built like a Hum-vee and it gobbles cheap ammo without complaint. If the trigger reset was shorter and the slide release easier, I'd call it a home run. Would I bet my life on it? Yep. Do I want one? You know, I kind of do.

UPDATE #1:
We've had the Ruger LC9 at the range several times now and it keeps getting better and better. It's got over 300 rounds through it and has yet to have a single failure of any kind. It's funny how much longer it takes to increase shot counts with a gun that has a seven round magazine compared to one that has a seventeen round magazine.

The Grip Tape WORKS!
Some notes: The long, double action trigger is a non-factor at 5-yards or so, but at 7-yards, accuracy is much lower than on a good, single-action compact nine. At fifteen-feet, Doug continues to produce four-inch groups slow fire and eight-inchers at one-second shot intervals. But at 21-feet, the shots bloom out a lot. We have talked about adding the effects of stress to that distance and his comment was, "I hope my attacker is seven yards or closer."

Every time I shoot the LC9 I can't get over how thin the grip is. It's an engineering masterpiece. But one thing that Doug and I both have issues with is the smooth thumb cutout and smooth upper part of the back strap. As small guns do, the Ruger can wiggle around a bit as you work your way though 8-rounds. So, Doug, ingeniously made a paper pattern then traced it onto a piece of left over Tractiongrips grip tape. It's not a perfect fit, but it's close enough and it really, really helps. If you want a perfect fit, Tractiongrips makes a great looking, percut set for the LC9 that can be bought here (LC9 Tractiongrips).

In my opinion, Ruger needs to checker this area but until they do, I think just about every LC9 owner would benefit from some grip tape.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

REVIEW: Browning Buck Mark–The Valentine's Day Gift

What'd you get your wife for Valentine's Day? Flowers? Chocolate covered strawberries? I've done all those things and they're great gifts but I went for something different this year. I got my wife a Browning Buck Mark and mounted a TruGlo reflex Red Dot sight on it. In addition, I got her three additional magazines and a thumb-saver loader. Happy Valentine's Day. I've already done a Buck Mark Review (click here) so I'm not going to completely re-review the gun. The reason for the purchase is that my wife loves to shoot .22. I do too for that matter. The problem was that my Ruger Mark III Hunter with 7" barrel was a little nose-heavy for her. Plus, it never hurts to have a couple different brands of .22 pistol in the house.



The stock Buck Mark:
Weight: 34 oz.
Overall Length: 9.5"
Barrel Length: 5.5"




The stock Mark III:
Weight: 41 oz.
Overall Length: 11.12"
Barrel Length: 6.88"


That extra seven ounces and couple of inches in length isn't immediately noticeable but after a fifty rounds or so I noticed that she'd begin to wobble a bit causing shots to fly. 

Since Valentine's Day is on a Tuesday this year, I though it'd be fun to get it sighted and broken in this weekend, so I gave her the gift early. It was a freezing cold day with snow flurries so we went to the indoor range at Shooter's Depot. I thought it'd be fun to see how it shot against my ever-reliable Ruger Mark III Hunter. We shot around 350 rounds, about 250 though the Buck Mark and about 100 through the Mark III. We were shooting while both standing and seated, bench-resting. 

First off, the Buck Mark was brand new and the Mark III has over 2,000 rounds through it.  Everything about the Buck Mark was stiff--the trigger, the slide and the magazine drop. So, the results are a little bit skewed, but not by much. I feel like the stiff trigger was the only think that effected groupings at the distance we were shooting. 

My first impressions were that I really like the soft Ultragrip RX (URX). The grip feels like it could have been made by the grip-masters at Houge. I also liked the crisp trigger release. Also, I loved the weight.

video

While standing, the Browning was significantly easier to keep on target. I felt like I could keep the red dot from wobbling with less effort than with the Ruger. If that was true for me, then I knew I had to be even more of a factor for my wife. After a few magazines, she smiled at me and said she liked the pistol. That's good. She seemed to be shooting it well. 

After about 15 magazines, we put the two guns head-to-head. Instantly we realized that while the Ruger was heavier, we were still producing tighter groups with it. While sitting and bench resting, the results were the same, the Ruger produced tighter groups. My assessment was that the lighter trigger, longer barrel and extended break in were the reasons but whatever the reason, it was a consistent result. 

Seated: On a two-inch target we were easily staying within the confines of the target and with a little concentration shooting one-inch to half-inch groups. Remember, we were only 21-feet away. The smallest group we could get out of the Buck Mark was just under an inch while the Ruger returned a several of .4" groups. 

Standing: We shot at 5.5" Caldwell Orange Peel Targets and were easily staying within the 5.5" inch target rings. The Buck Mark returned several scattered 4" groups but the Ruger gave us better gouts and sub 3-inch groups time after time.  Click on the images to enlarge them.


Toward the end of our time at the range I got an unpleasant surprise. When the Browning's slide blows back, it opens on both sides. My natural shooting grip put my left hand thumb in the bite of the closing slide. Look at the accompanying photo and you'll see what I mean. This isn't a big deal, but something to be aware of.

Despite the bite, I love the Buck Mark and look forward to seeing how it shoots after it gets broken in a bit more. I'll update the review once that happens.






UPDATE: February 16, 2012:
After 500 rounds two things have happened. First, the pistol is really dialed in. At 7-yards, We're consistently been getting tight 10-shot groups that I'm happy with. For an off the shelf shooter, it's performing well in regards to accuracy. Swap a Tactical Solutions barrel and shoot expensive ammo and those results could be improved, but for a fun gun, eh, close enough.

The second development is that we're getting regular misfires! It seems that the firing pin isn't hitting the rim of the .22 cartridge hard enough to fire the round. It was happening during the first trip to the range but I thought that maybe I hadn't cleaned the pistol thoroughly enough or something. So, I gave the gun an extra good scrubbing and it's still happening. I'd say once every 30 rounds. I'm going to Google this problem and look for a solution and see what I can do about it. I'm not opposed to some light gun smithing. I actually find it to be fun. No matter, I need to solve the problem soon.  I'll keep you posted. Post a comment if you've had this happen with your Buck Mark and what you did to solve it.


Monday, February 6, 2012

REVIEW: Pearce Grip Extensions

When I needed a thin conceal carry gun in 9mm, I opted for the Taurus PT709 Slim and I love it! (see review here) It shoots well, never jams or fails to feed through hundreds and hundreds of cheap practice rounds and has eaten a box of expensive 9mm Hornady Critical Defense and a box of Federal Hydra-Shok Personal Defense Ammo without a single problem. I've even ordered a Crimson Trace Laserguard for it (hasn't arrived yet)!

While I can handle a .380ACP or .25ACP with one finger on the trigger, two on the grip and a pinky dangling free, the recoil of +P defense ammo makes it hard to keep the pistol from squirming around in my hand. To get all three fingers on the grip I ordered Pearce Grip Extensions for the magazines. I instantly liked them but worried that they would compromise the purpose of a short grip pistol, concealability. A quick test in my Crossbreed IWB holster revealed that there is virtually no difference in the ability to conceal the PT709 Slim with the Pearce Extensions installed. It does make it tighter in baggy cargo pant pockets but in a holster, no difference.


The Pearce Extensions are well made and fit perfectly in the notch at the bottom of the grip. I'm really glad I bough them and would recommend them to anyone that has a compact conceal carry gun that wants to cure dangling pinky syndrome. Even though I said I could handle my Taurus 738 TCP with two fingers on the grip, now that I've used the extensions on the Slim, I'd like to see Pearce make them for the little TCP.

UPDATE: August 28, 2012
Pearce now makes a pinky extension for the Taurus 738 TCP (see review here). Note that if you have a TCP with a serial number that ends with a "C", the extension will need minor filing to fit properly. 

www.pearcegrip.com

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sig Sauer 522 vs. Smith & Wesson AR15-22

What's your definition of fun? Let me rephrase, when it comes to SHOOTING, what's your definition of fun? I got the opportunity to shoot a Barrett Model 82A1 and that was FUN! But at around $3 a shot (military surplus prices, store prices are closer to $5 a shot) the experience is expensive fun. I shot a .44 Mag Ruger Super Redhawk with a Simmons scope and that was fun...for about five rounds. The second five shots moved the needle from fun to painful. Personally, I prefer cheap all day fun.

Two friends of mine got a couple of .22 rifles, one was the Smith and Wesson M&P15-22 (MSRP $499) and the other was the Sig Sauer 522 (MSRP $734), and asked if I wanted to take them to the gun range. How could I say no? I was about to find out how easy it is to run through 1400 rounds of .22 in just a few hours.

Rising ammo prices haven't decreased people's desire to shoot. It's just "encouraged" people to be more frugal. It's similar to gas prices. Higher gas prices don't stop people from driving, but is has influenced car buying and trip decisions. As ammo prices have increased, people are shooting less 308 (or 30-06, .30-30, etc) and are shooting more .22 or .223. While .223 isn't all that expensive in comparison to some calibers, it's not .22 cheap but it is a lot more fun. If you and a couple of buddies want to throw 500 rounds down range, it'll cost at somewhere around $150 (on average at the time of writing). On the other hand, 500 rounds of .22 LR will cost you about twenty bucks. Swap enough .223 for .22 and you've bought a Sig 522 or a S&W M&P15-22 with the monetary difference.

Remember, this article is about maximum fun with minimum expense. Enter the Sig 522 and S&W M&P15-22. Out of the gate, these rifles shoot as differently as they look. The S&W .22 has a gritty trigger that seems to break with less consistency. It feels like the same hard to pull, gritty trigger that's on my S&W M&P15 (read review here). On the M&P15, I can tolerate it, (though at some point I'm going to replace it with a Timney or Gazzelle drop in) but on on a .22, it's ridiculous. I had to seriously concentrate to keep shots on target at 50 to 75 yards as I pulled through the sandpaper trigger pull.

On the other hand, right out of the box the 522 has a light trigger that's buttery smooth and breaks at a consistent point shot after shot after shot. To me, that's how a trigger should feel and it's perplexing that a company as big as S&W doesn't share that belief. Chock a big one up for the Sig.

Both rifles have adjustable, telescoping composite stocks. In addition to telescoping, the stock on the Sig folds, Swiss style, so the rifle can be shot from the hip and/or packed in a small space. I think the folding stock if more beneficial for storage than shoot as it felt extremely awkward (and inaccurate) shooting it without wedging it against my shoulder and looking down the barrel.

Speaking of feel, to me, the Smith felt so much more natural as I alternated between the two guns. The Sig has a cool, futuristic look that I like but I couldn't get the same secure purchase on it that I could get when holding the traditional looking M&P15-22. Personally, the Smith was just more comfortable for me to shoot. That's a small advantage to the M&P15-22.

When you're shooting .22, you'll go through a lot of ammo, or at least you should, and the Smith has a really handy feature that makes loading the magazine really, really easy. The magazine has a slot that runs down the side with a thumb relief tab attached to the follower. This allows you to take out the spring tension and drop rounds into the mag with blazing speed and virtually no thumb pain (see accompanying photo, click to enlarge). The Sig doesn't have this feature thus forcing you to press the tiny round against fully sprung round at the top of the stack. This isn't an issue as you load the first few mags, but my thumb quickly got a tender spot on it that made me dread loading the Sig's magazine while I could load the Smith all day with no fatigue. It's crazy how a simple addition make such a huge difference. Chock up a big one for the S&W.

Lastly, I found the groupings tighter and more consistent with the Sig, even though it has a shorter barrel. I attribute the better accuracy to the smooth trigger. I casually picked up the rifles and shoot them downrange from a standing position and could not get the accuracy out of the Smith that I could out of the Sig. In a seated position with the rifles in a rest, the accuracy was much closer. In my opinion, pistols and rifles are meant to be held in combat or sport positions, not vice clamped into a rest. The enjoyment is a test of person AND equipment and a hard, gritty trigger effects both of those variables at the same time. I have to give accuracy to the Sig even though they were similar in the rest.

Both of these guns are extremely fun, and cheap, to shoot. The Smith is more comfortable to hold and easier to load while the Sig is more accurate and has that buttery smooth trigger that I love. If I were to buy one, I'd buy the Smith and Wesson M&P15-22 and get a trigger job done to it and it would still be less expensive than the Sig. Then, I'd shoot the dog out of it, probably 1,000 rounds a session for the same price as a 25 count box of .223!! That's what I call fun.