Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Shoulder Thing That Goes Up?

Um...maybe this is why there's very little trust in anti gunners and politicians in general.
Is it too much to ask for a politician to know what she's trying to ban?

Here's one that's even better. Beware the deadly "Heat Seaking" bullet.
Many thanks to beerslurpy and sebbybean on YouTube

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What You May Find At A Gun Store

                              A Field Guide To Gun Shop Sales Men: Beware Of The Douchebag
There's a lot of truth in this video. If you spend enough time in gun stores you'll meet almost every character that he talks about.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Boobs And Hot Brass

  I guess the title says it all.

  If you shoot semi autos on a regular basis then the odds are great that you'll experience something like the people in these videos. It might be your brass, or it could be your neighbors from the next shooting station. The spent casing usually ends up down your shirt or in between your collar and neck.

  Cursing seems to help.

  The videos were kind of funny, but the message behind this post is that it's going to happen sooner or later, and to WATCH YOUR MUZZLE when it does.

Edit: I recently found this article about a woman shooting her fiancĂ©e after getting a shell casing in her shirt

Something A Little Different From A Gun Channel

If you liked this there's about another dozen songs on similar topics.

A Woman's Perspective - FateOfDestinee

Hmmm.....I wonder how many of us are guilty of at least some of what she is complaining about? Her reviews are a little different from a lot of the usual YouTube stuff.  Check out her channel for some good gun and knife reviews. FateOfDestinee

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tip O' The Day

Leather And Moisture:      Leather holds moisture so don't store your guns for a long period of time in a leather holster or gun case.

Glock Owners

This guy has some great vids and it's definately worth checking out his channel. Hell, it's worth looking at it just to see his take on those that work at gun stores.


Friday, August 24, 2012

S&W Airweight

This is an older version of the S&W Airweight. It's the Model 38-2 and is chambered for .38 Special. It's no longer in production but you can still find them on the used market pretty easily.
It was purchased many years ago by my wife and this is her CCW gun. Hogue grips replaced the factory boot grips and the gun was ported by Magnaport. Some of those choices were questionable but I'll discuss that later.

It's been replaced in the Smith & Wesson lineup by the S&W Model 638 Airweight which sells for around $400-$440 in my area.

Let's start with the basics. This is a 15.1oz revolver in it's original configuration. It's aluminum framed with a steel cylinder. Like most snub nosed revolvers it has a 2" barrel and is a 5 shot.
One big difference with this revolver is the hammer shroud. If you look closely you'll see about 1/8" (Or so) of the hammer spur showing. This allows you to cock the weapon for single action shooting or you can shoot it as a double action. The hammer shroud allows you to carry in the pocket while greatly reducing the chance of having the hammer snag the material. You can imagine trying to draw the weapon from a pocket with the normal hammer spur showing.
S&W and a few other manufacturers offer this feature on some of their revolvers. For those that aren't interested in being able to cock the revolver they offer models with a bobbed hammer in which the spur is removed or you can find models in which the hammer is completely covered. These also help in making the draw from a pocket much easier.

The sights are the normal J frame snub nosed fare. There is an integral front sight and a groove in the frame for a rear sight. The front sight is serrated to reduce glare.  Obviously they are not adjustable and they're nothing to brag about. They're OK for close range shooting but if your target is dark it can be hard to pick out the sights against the target.

The target above was 2 five shot groups (And 1 extra round that somehow was left over....gotta get a better target at the range next week). This was in double action at 7 yds. The gun shoots really well when you can see the target but as I said earlier, if you're shooting at a dark target the black sights are very hard to see. My middle aged eyes had a very hard time picking them up against this black background. As this is a CCW gun it's worth it to know what you can hit when the lighting is bad or the sights are hard to see.

I'll go back at a later date and add a target used for single action shooting. As you would expect it's much more accurate (And slower) shooting single action vs. double action.

Recoil really isn't too bad with the Hogue grips but the original Airweight grips left a lot to be desired.
They were the usual hard rubber boot grips that you can get two fingers on. The originals work well for concealed carry as they are pretty small.
I haven't seen any problems with the softer rubber on the Hogue grips but it is possible for the soft rubber on some handgun grips to cling to your clothing. This can make drawing harder but it can also cause your clothing to bunch up around the gun or stick to it instead of hanging freely over the weapon. If you're carrying concealed it would be a good idea to keep the clothing over the gun when you're bending, twisting, etc. This is especially true now that we've had a few more high profile shootings and if your handgun shows you may find those around you hysterically calling 911.
Felt recoil is greatly reduced using the Hogue grips and it's actually fun shooting this gun instead of a chore as when the original grips were on.
I'll probably put them back on for a later evaluation when I put this gun up against my Ruger LCR.

As this gun was in production for years and there's a lot of interchangeability among J frame revolvers it's not a problem finding aftermarket grips. There's some absolutely beautiful wooden replacement grips on the market as well.

The trigger is very good in single action and the double action pull is better than some of it's competition. I have no complaints at all about the trigger on this handgun. Unfortunately I neglected to get any single action targets but I'll probably remedy that over the next week or two.

This is a very light handgun and it comes in under 16 oz. It carries pretty easily but I will admit that it would carry a bit better with the original grips. The aluminum frame offers corrosion resistance and lighter weight. That's important for a carry gun as you simply won't carry it if it's annoyingly heavy. CCW are also exposed to moisture and perspiration more than the average home defense gun.
There are still enough steel parts showing to warrant basic care.

Lockup is tight. The cylinder releases easily. Extraction of the spent cases is very positive and I haven't had any problems with cases getting hung up under the ejection star.

I haven't measured the gap in between the cylinder and forcing cone. I have noticed a few revolvers over the  years having a tighter than normal gap. You run across this every once in a while.
A friend's S&W Model 10 was tight enough that the cylinder would start to drag on the forcing cone after just 1or 2 boxes of ammo. I've seen the same thing happen to another friend's Rossi and had it happen to one of my Rugers.  The dirtier the guns got the more the cylinder would bind up.
I doubt that this gun has ever had more than 2-3 boxes of ammunition put through in a single range trip but I haven't noticed any problems.

So let's talk about the barrel porting and grip changes. This isn't my gun and it's not set up for me. I carry concealed IWB with a Kahr CW9 or Ruger LCR. My wife rarely carries and when she does it's in a coat pocket or purse. The larger grips don't effect her as much as if she was carrying in a belt holster.  It's a trade off. The larger grips do make the gun harder to conceal and there is no getting around that. On the other hand they make it easier to shoot and the Hogue grips greatly improved her accuracy with the gun. She was miserable shooting it with the boot grips and while she doesn't really enjoy shooting the Airweight (Luvs the M1911's though) she practices more with it then she did when the original grips were in place.

We use HKS 36-A speedloaders for this gun. There are other brands on the market but these are fast, inexpensive, simple and work well. I generally get them for under $10 each.

BTW, this handgun isn't rated for +P ammo. If my sources are correct then 1998, the final year of production, is the only year in which this gun is rated for +P.
The current S&W Airweight (Model 638) is rated for +P.

The porting probably doesn't do much to help recoil on a gun with a 2" barrel. That's just my opinion. Even if it just cuts recoil by 5-10% (Real or imagined) then that's an improvement and a recoil sensitive shooter will appreciate it.
There are downsides to porting however. First of all there will be a nice large flash coming out of the top of your barrel and you'll see it when shooting in the dark or in dim lighting.
Secondly, the gases being vented out of the top of the barrel tend to smudge your front sight so that ends up  more gray than black after a few rounds. If you're using black sights then generally a nice dark front sight is preferred. If you paint your front sight orange for better visibility then the gasses will take the paint off of it.

Then there's shooting from the pocket.
If you're walking to your car in a dark parking lot you may have the revolver in a coat pocket and your hand on the gun. In a defensive encounter you may fire from the pocket if there's no time or space to draw. This is far from ideal but it could happen.
When shooting revolvers, unlike semi autos, you'll have fire coming out of the muzzle and from around the front of the cylinder where it meets up with the barrel (Forcing cone). When the gun is ported you'll also have fire exiting the top of the barrel. You'll have hot gasses leaving the gun in three different places.
Long story short....if you absolutely have to shoot from a coat pocket then push the gun as far away from you as your clothing will allow in order to keep from getting burned. You may or may not find your coat pocket on fire but regardless of that you don't want the hot gasses burning you when firing the gun.
Several years ago one of the major gun magazines had some photos demonstrating what your coat would look like after shooting from a coat pocket. I'm sure a search would easily pull them up. Until I find the the article I'd like to include a link to this excellent write up on the topic from Carteach0.
Again, this is inaccurate and dangerous but I could see it happening to someone that is surprised and finding themselves nose to nose with an attacker. Shooting from a coat pocket is an awful idea unless the situation is truly desperate and you have no time to draw. As for shooting from a pants pocket...I wouldn't do it or recommend it. I suppose it might be possible with some extremely loose pants but it would be almost impossible to get the gun pointed in the right direction IMO.

So in summary, this can be a hard gun to shoot accurately for a novice but it is capable of pretty good accuracy. This can be said for most small revolvers. The sights are mediocre but average for J frame revolvers.  It's easily concealable, reliable and reasonably priced. I'd recommend it without any reservations and I would recommend comparing it to similar revolvers instead of putting it up against semi autos when shopping for a CCW gun.

More Gun And Knife Reviews On This Blog

Tip O' The Day

Picking Targets:     This should be a given but I've noticed a lot of shooters picking targets that look fun and interesting (Zombies, bad guys, terrorists, etc) but are hard to see. I see this more at public indoor ranges instead of private ranges.
If you have black sights on your handgun and pick a black target don't be surprised if you have a hard time picking up the sights. This is especially true for small CCW guns that often have sights designed more for concealability instead of accuracy.
White sights against a white target are also hard to pick up and a lot of times you'll get glare on white targets at an outdoor range. Match your targets to your gun for the most productive practice.
I bet the middle aged and older shooters get what I'm saying.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't believe that everything should be absolutely perfect in order to shoot. Sometimes it's better to train when visibility is bad, it's hot/cold and noisy.  It's just that for most people shooting is an expensive sport/hobby and if you're going to get the most from your range time the gray/black zombie target may not be the easiest to see. This is especially true at indoor ranges as the lighting may be a bit dim.
New shooters may need every edge they can get in order to get the most out of infrequent range time. Sometimes it's a trade off in picking a fun and motivating target against something that's kind of blah that's easier to see with the handgun that you're using.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lewis And Clark Air Rifle?

This is just too cool and interesting not to post. Who knew that Lewis and Clark took an air rifle on their expedition? Who knew that it was lethal and originally a weapon of war instead of a toy?

So much for the argument by anti gunners that there were no repeating firearms around during the time of the Founding Fathers and they never could have envisioned high capacity and quick firing weapons.

Anyway.....this is worth a look if you're interested in firearms and history.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tip O' The Day

These are the 4 Rules Of Firearms Safety:

1) All guns are always loaded.

2) Never point the gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.

3) Keep your finger off of the trigger until your sights are on the target.

4) Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

Great YouTube Gun Reviewers

I think I'll try something different and add some great YouTube gun reviewers. Since I waste endless hours sitting on my butt watching gun & gear video reviews  I think I'll spread the distractions around to others.

This guy has great videos without all of the BS, posing, profanity and mallningery that makes up a lot of reviews.

For the most absolutely long and detailed gun and gear reviews I'd recommend this guy. 30 minutes for a gun review video might seem a bit long to some people. If I'm spending $600 on a pistol I'd like to know a bit about it and how it ranks against the competition. This reviewer pretty much covers everything.

I would be suprised if there's any firearms that this guy hasn't reviewed.

Something a little different from the usual YouTube gun reviews.

Tip O' The Day

Handgun Magazines:     With the exception of M1911 magazines it's almost always better to buy factory mags. Not all magazines are created equal and factory mags are usually better quality and have a better track record for reliability.
One aftermarket exception is Mec-Gar. They make magazines for many of the large handgun manufacturers. Depending on the gun, the only difference between a Mec-Gar magazine and the manufacturer's magazine may be the name on the wrapper.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tip O' The Day

Rimfires:    Do not dry fire rimfire rifles and handguns without using a snapcap. You can damage your gun.

Monday, August 20, 2012

CrossBreed Holster Review

I've been using this holster off and on for about a year and highly recommend it. I currently have 3 holsters for the Kahr CW9 and they all work well. The CrossBreed Supertuck Deluxe is my favorite for IWB carry and IMO works the best.

I'm a fan of  this holster because it's wide and spreads the weight out across your belt. Instead of having the load drag one portion of your belt/pants down the weight is distributed more evenly. There is also less movement along the belt with this holster vs some of the narrower ones I've used.

The SuperTuck does a very good job of keeping the gun close to the body. This should be a given with a IWB holster but I have others that let the gun print and I can carry my CW9 in the CrossBreed even in a t shirt without it showing.

Retention is very good and I have no worries about the gun falling out in normal use. If I had a job in which I was climbing ladders or crawling under houses all day I would probably go with something with a strap. For normal daily carry however this is a very good choice.

According to the Daywalker it's the love handles that provide the retention but I disagree and think that:
1) It's just a well designed holster and
2) She needs a few more chores.

BTW,  you have two weeks to return it for a refund if it doesn't work for you.

If you go to the CrossBreed website,ProductName
 you'll see that the holster comes with the SteelClip belt clip. It's an updated version of their earlier metal clip which I think was called the SnapLok.
I believe that I have the earlier version of this belt clip and while it worked pretty good I did have a little bending. I changed over to their J Hooks. So far I prefer the J Hooks to their original metal clips and I think that they work better with the thin 5.11 belts that I usually wear.
3 versions of their clips are available and I would like to see them eventually include straps like some of their competitors.
The belt clips can be adjusted for height as there are 3 holes on either side for positioning.

Horsehide (Add $15) or cowhide backing material is available. The horsehide is said to be more moisture resistant. The one shown to the left is cowhide. The holster portion is Kydex and there is a full length channel for the front sight.

This holster comes with the Combat Cut option. Material is cut away under the pistol grip to allow for a faster draw. The Combat Cut may sacrifice some comfort and increases the cost by $7.50. If I had to do it again I'd probably get the horsehide and fore go the combat cut.  I think it's a good idea but I'd probably rather have the comfort and extra material.

CrossBreed SuperTuck Deluxe with J Hooks and Combat Cutout

I tried a Galco shoulder holster for the Kahr for a few months and have been trying out a Ruger LCR for CCW off and on. I've come back to the CrossBreed and the Kahr since this is the most comfortable and concealable option that I have.  I have no complaints about this holster and  I would highly recommend it if you are deciding on IWB carry.

My CCW pistol doesn't have a manual safety. Instead it has a long double action trigger pull. One consideration that I always have when picking out a holster is can the holster material accidently get into the trigger guard and cause an accidental discharge. The odds are against this happening but there are a few stories posted on the internet by gentlemen that have had this unfortunately happen to them.
I feel pretty confident in the safety of this holster with my firearm.

So what do you look for in a concealed carry holster?

Concealability (Duh)
Good retention
Ease of draw and reholstering

This holster has all of this.

The price is currently $69.75 for the base holster without the horsehide, combat cut or J Clips.  It's not inexpensive and let's face's kind of fugly.
It does however work very well and if you can't carry comfortably then you're not going to carry regularly.
I think it's worth the money and the lifetime warranty is a nice extra.

More Gun And Knife Reviews On This Blog

Tip O' The Day

Loading The Chamber:    If you drop a bullet directly into the chamber of some semi automatics it is possible to break the extractor when the slide moves foward.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tip O' The Day

Holsters And Accidental Discharges:    When using a holster with your handgun it's a good idea to make sure that the opening is stiff and there is no soft, flexible material that can get into the trigger guard. There have been a couple of reports over the last year or so of gun owners using worn holsters or inexpensive universal holsters that are too soft and flexible. Some of those gun owners that had accidental discharges were decent enough to post information about the cause.
If any material gets into the trigger guard you may find that the trigger is pressed while you're trying to seat the handgun into the holster. This is especially true with handguns that have short trigger pulls and no manual safeties (Glocks, XD's, XDM's, etc).
So long story short...if you're using a nylon, leather, etc. holster then make sure that the opening is reinforced with extra material and still retains it's stiffness.

Mini AK-47 Blade Review

Weight:    2.9oz
Blade Length:    2 3/4"
Overall Length:    7 1/8"
Handle Length:    4 3/8"
Handle Material:    G10
Thickness:     3mm
Blade Steel:    Aus 8A (Hollow Ground)
Pommel Material:    6061 Aluminum
Price:     $60-$70

I hesitated to do a review on this knife despite having it for well over a year. I've carried this blade quite a bit and it's gotten some use but it hasn't been used hard. I decided to go ahead and give my opinion on what I've seen with this blade and what I haven't had the chance to test.

The first thing that you notice about this Cold Steel blade is the G10 handle material. It's just awesome. It gives extremely good traction. Actually it's the grippiest handle I've seen on a pocket knife. If there is a downside to the G10 scales it's the fact that if you carry this knife a lot you will shred your pocket in between the clip and handle. This is an easy fix with a little sandpaper and an allen wrench.
There is a little non functional jimping on the back of the handle but honestly I don't think that jimping is needed with these G10 scales. When the blade is open you'll find that your thumb rests on the thumb plate and this provides surprisingly good support. 
The shape of the handle is different from most of the other knives on the market. Some might use the word fugly instead of different. The handle really locks your hand in place and I cannot imagine another knife of this size giving such a good grip. The combination of the handle material, handle shape and thumb plate can't be beat.

Moving on to the next thing you'll see.... the blade is very sharp. I have more pocket knives than I know what to do with and this is by far the sharpest one that I own. Cold Steel does a great job in making sure that the blades leave the factory with a fine edge. It sounds like this should be a given but not all of the manufacturers can consistently do this.
I'll go one step further and say that these blades are ridiculously sharp. Until I was given this Mini AK-47 I hadn't been cut by a pocket knife in decades. I've cut myself 3 times with this one and two weeks ago my wife called me to tell me that she cut herself when borrowing this knife. Now it's possible that we are both clumsy and idiots but our Benchmades, Kershaws and CRKTs don't bite us.
Clearly the knife is cursed.
Even though this knife tends to bite it's owners I have nothing but good things to say about the blade. It locks up tight and there is no movement at all when it's deployed.  There is perfect centering when the blade is closed.
Instead of the usual thumb stud or Spyderco style thumb hole there is a thumb plate. I like it. It works well for one handed opening and you can get pretty fast deployment if you flick your wrist while using the thumb plate.  If you want faster deployment you can snag the thumb plate on your pocket as you draw it out. This is extremely quick and if you're interested there's tons of videos on YouTube showing this.
1) If you haven't sanded down the area under the clip you'll shred your pocket while doing this.
2) Um.....have a couple of band aids handy while practicing the wave opening method.          

The blade is blackened with Cold Steel's Tuff-Ex coating which is an aid in corrosion resistance and also reduces friction when cutting.  I don't know how it compares to the coatings on it's competitor's blades but I have no complaints with it.

The pocket clip is reversible for lefties and righties. You only get tip up carry however.  This knife comes with a clip on the right side and the pocket clip has a curve to somewhat match the lines of the grip. A separate left hand clip and extra mini torx screws are included when you buy the knife. Kudos to Cold Steel for not making the customer order a left handed clip if they're wrong handed.
The pocket clip is strong, reasonably attractive and attaches to a recessed portion of the handles. Unfortunately you don't get very deep carry with this clip.
The clip is blackened which is a plus for me when I'm considering a EDC knife. If I'm carrying it with the pocket clip I'm not trying to conceal it but I'd rather not advertise that I have it either. It's amazing how some pocket clips catch the light when they are polished or even have a matte finish.

The Tri-Ad locking system gives a strong, secure lockup. I don't worry about the blade closing while I'm using it. If you haven't seen the videos of Cold Steel showing the strength of their knives it's worth going to their website.

There is a 6061 Aluminum pommel that is drilled for a lanyard if that's your thing.

I usually make it a point to carry this knife when walking or bicycling. It's light enough that you don't feel it in a pocket and the clip is strong enough to ensure that it's not going to be lost. The handle gives great traction even with wet or sweaty hands and the blade can be deployed pretty easily.
The weight and corrosion resistance makes this a good knife to carry when exercising or when it's going to be exposed to moisture.  That's the niche that this occupies for me right's my bicycling knife.
If I needed a strong work knife however I would definitely use this knife and I think that it would make a very good camp knife as well. If heavier knives bother you this is also a good choice. The Mini AK-47 is light enough that it's easy to forget that you're carrying it.

The only criticisms that I have are the positioning of the pocket clip and the blade length. I would like for the knife to carry a little deeper and I would really prefer a 3" blade on this model. I also like a better blade/handle ratio.

I haven't had to resharpen this yet. It's held an edge pretty well so far and I usually find myself carrying this knife when I generally don't need one.

That's it. It's a very good knife and I think that it's worth the money.  I'd recommend it. If I'm carrying a sub 3" pocket knife I usually find myself grabbing a Benchmade Mini Griptilian most of the time. As it's in a different price category than the Mini AK-47 that shouldn't count against the Cold Steel.
Mini AK-47 alongside a Mini Griptilian

More Gun And Knife Reviews On This Blog

Tip O' The Day

Closing A Revolver's Cylinder:    We've all seen someone in a movie flipping a revolver's cylinder closed with a flick of the wrist. This works great on TV or in the movies but is horrible for the gun. You can break the cylinder stop or distort the yoke/crane when doing this.
It also makes you look like you have no idea what you're doing if you do this around people that know guns.
Shut the cylinder with your off hand and don't flip it closed.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Women And Guns

More and more women are joining the ranks of gun owners and shooters (And there is a difference in the two). Firearms manufacturers are tapping into this market as never before. I can imagine that it would be hard for many women to pick a handgun if they haven't grown up around firearms or don't know any gun enthusiasts.

As a first step I would suggest deciding what the gun is going to be used for. Is it going to be strictly for home defense, concealed carry, etc? Is it going to fill both roles? If it's a CCW gun then how is it going to be carried?

Next set a budget and figure in all of the extras that will be needed such as a cleaning kit, holster (If for CCW), extra magazines, speedloaders and most of all ammo and range time.

Decide between buying a revolver and semi automatic. How much experience you'll get should factor into the decision. Revolvers are generally easier to operate and more instinctive. They usually are more reliable out of the box and require less care. Some semi autos may be picky about ammo or magazines. On the other hand about 70% of new handguns produced are semi automatics so there's more to choose from. Some will also be less expensive than revolvers.

Pick a caliber that will work for you. I don't like anything smaller than 9mm or .38 Special for self defense but there's a huge market for .380 pocket pistols right now and they can be hard to beat for concealability.

Firearms novices will generally ask a male friend or family member for advice when buying a handgun. This is good and bad. It's always good to get advice from someone experienced but men often forget that they are helping a woman find a gun that's right for THEM. There's a lot of crossover in handguns and most will work well for a man or woman but there are a few things to look for when a woman is buying a gun.

When shopping for semi automatics it's important to check out the grip. Women generally have smaller hands then men and some pistols have very wide grips. This is especially true of those with high capacity magazines. A Beretta 92 may not fit a woman's hand as well a XDM or even a M1911 might. 
Basically find a handgun with a grip that feels right. Bear in mind that if the gun has a steel or aluminum frame you can usually find aftermarket grip panels for it and at least one manufacturer makes thinner replacement grip panels in aluminum. If you really like a pistol but the grips are  slightly too wide you may be able to fix that issue.

On the other hand a lot of the polymer framed handguns today have changeable backstraps that can be swapped out for different hand sizes. Most of the major handgun manufacturers have at least one or two models with this feature. I will say however that earlier polymer frame pistols were expected to be, "One size fits all" and while you could always find a slip on sleeve to make the grip larger it was very hard to make it smaller without finding someone to alter the grip ($$$).

Make sure that you can reach the pistol's controls (Safety, magazine release, slip stop) easily. If they are overly stiff or in an awkward location then you should probably look around a bit more. I remember buying a Bersa 383A many years ago that had a safety lever that was so stiff that it took two hands to move it. It took a few weeks of flipping it off and on to get it loosened up enough to work with just a thumb.  (BTW, make sure that the gun that you buy is right before leaving the dealer and don't assume that the one that you were looking at is actually the one that you're buying).

Check that you can easily reach the trigger and that it's not too heavy. There's a lot of different handguns on the market and a lot of difference in trigger pulls. A too heavy trigger pull will make you less accurate, tire you out earlier at the range and ruin your shooting experience.

How are the slide serrations? Can you get a good grip on them when racking the slide? How will they be when your hands are a little sweaty or oily? I once owned a Browning Hi Power that was a great gun except for the slide serrations. They were shallow and close together. They didn't give good traction and coupled with a heavy recoil spring it was almost impossible for my wife to rack the slide. This ruled this gun out for a shared home defense gun.

Can you load the magazine without too much difficulty? Some of the high capacity magazines can be hard to load once you get them over 10 or so rounds. This doesn't necessarily have to be a deal breaker as there are magazine loading tools available for most of the more popular pistols.

Revolvers are a bit easier to shop for but you still need to pay special attention to the grips and trigger pull. Ability to easily reach the trigger can also be a concern with revolvers. Bear in mind that most revolvers are double action so make sure that you can pull the trigger in double action as well as single action mode.

Make sure that you practice, build good habits and muscle memory. You'll be under a great deal of pressure if you ever need to use your self defense gun. You don't want to have to slowly figure out how to load it, operate a safety or clear a malfunction.

Tip O' The Day

Bullet Setback:     Some people that carry concealed unload their handgun every night. If you unload and reload the chambered round in a semi automatic over and over it is possible for the bullet to be pushed further back into the case. This will result in a higher chamber pressure and possibly cause a "Kaboom."
Regularly change which bullet you put on the top of the magazine when reloading and rotate (Shoot up) your ammo to prevent bullet setback.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Today Was Fun

Kimber Stainless Target II & Springfield Loaded
Both are in 9mm.  If the Springfield turns out to be reliable I'll compare the two after a few hundred more rounds are run through the loaded. As things stand right now the only thing that the Springfield has on the Kimber is appearance.

9mm M1911's

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Kimber Stainless Target II (9mm)

I bought this Kimber Stainless Target II about 8-10 years ago.  It was about $900 at the time and came with one magazine. The gun currently runs around $1100 in my area. I've only seen one in the local gun stores so that price may not be the norm.

I bought this pistol many years ago when I was shooting a local IDPA style match a couple of days per month. I had used a Springfield M1911, a Browning Hi Power, a Sigma and a S&W Model 10.  It was fun running through a bunch of my different guns but I wanted to actually compete with my peers instead of just dusting off my collection gun by gun. This is an easy gun to compete with and can make you look better than you normally would. Of course that is true of most good M1911's.

The gun is reliable. It runs absolutely everything that I can find to put through it. I was making a lot less money when I purchased this handgun and most of the 9mm ammo that I used was Silver Bear. The Kimber probably has at least a couple of thousand rounds of steel cased ammo through it. Over the last few years I mostly bought WWB but I've shot everything from Blazer to Fiocchii. I've used Speer Gold Dot 124 gr HP (+P) for a self defense load over the last couple of years. I would estimate that this pistol has over 8,000 rounds through it and has only had a couple of jams over the past decade.
Kimber recommended a 600 rnd break in period when I bought this gun. That's ridiculously high but it wasn't necessary with this handgun.
During one period I ran over 1,000 rnds through the gun without a cleaning or a malfunction. I eventually got bored with the test and ended it.
As I said earlier, this is a very reliable pistol and I would definitely buy it again.

I have two 9mm M1911's and about 12 magazines for the pair of them. 10 of the mags are made by Kimber and the other two are Springfield magazines. They all work well in the Kimber and I have very few complaints about them. They average about $28-$33 each.
The magazines are all 9 round, stainless steel and have witness holes down the side.
I've read that the 9mm magazines began as .38 Super mags. As the .38 Super is a longer bullet something has to be done to get rid of some of that empty space in the magazine. Kimber has a rib running down the back (inside) of the magazine to take up some of that space. This pushes the bullet a little further forward in the magazine. The only problem that I see with this setup is you may find the first bullet partially hanging out of the feed lips when pulling the magazine out of a tight mag pouch. I've seen this before with .45ACP M1911's using mags without the rib in back so it may not be a factor.  Other manufacturers use a different style of feed lips and that seems to help with this issue.
I have one Kimber mag that causes the slide to not lock open after the last shot. I can live with that and it's numbered and used as a training mag.
Springfield uses a different approach to taking up some of the empty space in the magazine body. They have a rib running down the front of the magazine and this pushes the bullet further back. I like this idea better in theory. It allows a little more of the feed lips to grip the top round. I've only had these magazines for a few months but they seem to work well. I've had the Kimber mags for years so I'll reserve judgement on which ones I like best until after some more range time.

 The Kimber mag is on the top in the photo on the left. The rib down the center of the Springfield magazine is easily noticeable on the bottom mag.

Note the spacer inside the Kimber magazine in the bottom photo.

The Stainless Target II has a bevelled magazine well and it's probably about the same as it's competitors.

The gun comes with an attractive aluminum match grade trigger and I have no complaints with it. Unfortunately I don't have  a scale. According to the factory the trigger pull is 4.0 - 5.0 lbs. I would guess that it's on the low side but I'll be honest.....I'm not one of those guys that claims to be able to simple pick up a handgun and guess trigger pulls. I usually judge the pull by, "It's pretty good," "Meh," or "Damn, that sucks ass."
Actually I'm a little pickier than that but I don't obsess over it. Good is good.  I will say that I shot Colt .45's for years in the military and have owned four M1911's. I've done all of the gun swapping that we all do when BSing at the range.  In my limited experience the Kimber has the best trigger that I've found coming from the factory in this price range.

The sights are adjustable and work well. They seem to be on par with the other  adjustable target sights on the market. They are serrated to reduce glare. The sight radius is 6.8"

The grips that come on the gun are black rubber and while they aren't that attractive they work OK. I'm not crazy about them but don't have any complaints about how they work. I, and my family, shoot in the summer and it gets very hot at the range. I cannot remember ever having any slippery grip problems with this gun.

Kimber calls this "Satin Silver." I think that it's more of a matte finish and it's reasonably attractive. I have not seen any wear on the finish despite using a kydex holster. This is a tight gun and there is no rattle at all.

The controls are pretty much the normal M1911 fare. The magazine release is where it's expected to be. It sets out a bit further than on the Government models but not so far that it's inadvertently pressed.  Mags drop free easily BTW.
The slide stop is just a slide stop. Nothing special there. I have medium sized hands and have to rotate the frame in my hand in order to reach it with my thumb (When engaging it) and I expect most will have to do the same.
The gun has an extended thumb safety. It has a very positive feel to it when flicking it on or off. It's still easy to manipulate without being overly stiff or loose.
The beaver tail grip safety works well and I've never had any issues with it. I make it a point to shoot left handed as well as with my strong hand and there's never been a problem with the grip safety.  Then again, I've never had an issue with any grip safety whether it's on a M1911 or a XDM. 

The gun comes with a 5" steel match grade barrel and stainless steel match grade bushing.
I've read some complaints from Kimber owners about their barrels rusting. I have not seen that and while this gun is not carried much it is shot a lot and only cleaned after 2 or 3 range trips. I might have a different story if it was a carry gun but as things stand today there have been no rust issues with this gun.

Unlike the .45ACP's the 9mm version comes with a 12lb recoil spring.  I finally changed it after getting two failures to go into battery during a local match. There have been no issues since then and honestly it's time for a lot of springs to be changed if I go by the round count instead of reliability.

There is a full length guide rod in this model. I was more familiar with the typical shorter rod that comes in the Government models when I bought this gun. Full length guide rods are now the norm for me.  As long as there's no reliability issues I don't care if the guide rod is short, long or two piece.

This pistol has an internal extractor. I like this due to the ease of cleaning and replacement if necessary. Internal or external doesn't really matter to me in the long run. I just want a gun that works. If all things are equal however I would pick an internal extractor.

The slide serrations work well. I don't really care about the serrations at the front of the slide but they are attractive and some might use them. The rear serrations give a good grip when your hands are wet or oily. They aren't the best serrations that I've seen but I have no complaints about them.

Take down is pretty standard for M1911's. A bushing wrench is a big help but you can take it apart without one.  Kimber did a good job on the internals as there are none of the  rough edges, tool marks, etc. that I've seen on other handguns. Of course for the price they should take care of this.

The action is smoooooth. Someone once described the Beretta 92's as having a very smooth feel when racking the slide. It was described as glass on glass. This Kimber is like that. I recently bought a new 9mm M1911 and have been sitting here comparing the two guns. The Kimber beats it hands down in every category except price and appearance.

Now for the specs:

Caliber:     9mm
Magazine Capacity:    9 rounds
Weight:    38oz
Height:     5.25"
Width:      1.28"
Barrel:      5" Match Grade barrel and bushing
Finish:      Matte Stainless Steel (Satin Silver)
Recoil Spring:    12lbs
Guide Rod:    Full Length
Extractor:      Internal
Trigger:     Aluminum Match Grade (4-5lbs)
Sights:    Kimber Adjustable (6.8" Sighting Radius)

Accuracy is very good and the gun will shoot better than I (and most others) do. I'll add some targets at a later date. Unfortunately I don't generally save targets and don't have Nutnfancy's attention to detail in this regard.

As expected recoil is minimal even with +P's.  9mm's from a full sized steel framed M1911 are a joy to shoot.

In summary this is a very good gun. It's reliable, accurate, fun to shoot and as the design has been around for over 100 years there is a huge aftermarket of parts, accessories and other goodies. It's an attractive gun without looking like something from Saddam Hussein's gun cabinet.
The downside's freaking expensive. You can get two used 3rd Gen Glocks and a new Kel-Tec PF9 for the price of one of these (And it only comes with one magazine).
It's also heavy when compared to other full sized service pistols. Some have no problem with carrying one concealed but I wouldn't want to do that on a regular basis. The break in period is a ridiculous 500-600 rnds. I understand that you're basically wearing in parts and it's a tight gun but.....500-600 rnds. Damn.

This is a great gun. I really like it and even though I buy a few new guns every year I always come back to this one. My wife and daughter hog it at the range, friends always want to shoot it when we get together and it's the most reliable M1911 that I've seen.
I consider M1911's to be in a class like Jeep Wranglers and Harleys. They are great but there's better models out there and you really have to want one. If you can put up with the price, heavy weight, limited magazine capacity and concentrate on the great feel, wonderful trigger and all around awesomeness of the M1911 then you'll be well satisfied.

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Monday, August 13, 2012

4.5" XDM (9mm)

  I became a fan of the XD after a friend bought the 5" .40cal. I put it up against my .40cal Browning Hi Power Practical and came away wanting the XD. I liked the gun and the price. I just didn't like it enough to put out several hundred dollars.
Then I picked up a XDM. It  felt like Springfield (Or the Croatians) made it for my hand. The XD felt really good and honestly  all of the major manufacturers do a decent job in designing ergonomic handguns that fit the hand. The XDM however takes it to a new level. 

I went from wanting a XD to having to get a XDM. The Browning went to a new home and a 4.5" XDM took it's place. I could not see ammo getting any cheaper and after the Obama Ammo Drought and price hikes of 2008 and 2009 I decided to make the switch to 9mm.  While the calibers that begin with a 4 still rule I still feel pretty confident with 19rnds of 9mm JHP +P. It's also nice being able to afford to shoot my handguns on a regular basis and that can be hard to do with .45acp and .40S&W.

  Back to the XDM.
  I'll say it again, the gun just feels right in my hand. As you no doubt already know the gun comes with interchangeable backstraps. I've tried them all and the medium fits me best. This happens to be the one that comes on the pistol. The textured pattern of the grip is excellent. Springfield calls this the Mega Lock Texture. It's a corny name but it definitely works.  The angle is very good and the thickness is just about right for my medium sized hands. 
  As I said earlier the ergonomics are outstanding. I shoot M1911's a lot and am used to rotating the gun in my hand a bit to reach the slide lock. Everything on the XDM is just where you want it. There is no need to change or rotate your grip to operate the controls.
  The magazine release is easy to reach without sitting out so far that it's prone to accidentally being depressed.

  The grip safety is not noticeable while shooting the handgun and works well for me. The trigger safety also is not an issue. It works, is not really noticeable and I generally don't think about it. That's as it should be. The slide lock is positioned within easy reach of my thumb and is easy to depress.

  I bought the model with the olive colored frame and black melonite coated slide. After mounting a light on it the XDM was named "The Halo Gun" by my daughter. Unfortunately Springfield stopped making the green framed version. You can now get the black polymer frame or the other black polymer frame.

  The slide either comes in a matte stainless or black Melonite finish. The barrel is also Melonite coated. I've been shooting mine for a few years now and have used it in few matches.  It has almost no holster wear despite using a Kydex holster. I won't claim that the gun is used hard but some other manufacturer's guns seem to scratch a lot easier than the XDM.

  The slide serrations work very well. I have no complaints about them. Most people don't give the slide serrations much thought and I never worried about them until I got a Browning Hi Power Practical. Long story short....the serrations were so shallow and close together it could be hard to rack the slide if the gun was oily or my hands were wet. My wife couldn't rack the slide at all on the Browning. This ruled it out as a shared home defense gun. 
  On the other hand both my wife and the Daywalker have no problems manipulating the controls on the XDM or handling the gun. As some people buy one gun for home defense it makes sense to buy something that the entire family can use.

  Take down is simple. I won't go into detail but anyone should be able to disassemble this gun without difficulty. Unlike some of the XDM's competitors, the trigger doesn't have to be pulled when disassembling the pistol.  This isn't an issue with me but it's a selling point for others.

   Magazine capacity is outstanding at 19 rounds. The magazines are beautifully made and stainless steel. They are a little pricey and I've yet to find any aftermarket mags for the Springfield. I have 10 mags (For 2 XDMs) and all function perfectly. How often does that happen?  One bit of good news is that Springfield puts their magazines on sale a couple of times per year.
  There are numbered witness holes on the back of mags to count your rnds.
It can get a little hard to top off the magazines and Springfield includes a loading tool with the gun. This tool works fine and I have no complaints. It's slow to use but that's the nature of the beast.

  The XDM's are currently sold in a large plastic case that can double as a laptop case if you remove one of the 3 layers of foam. Of course it might look a little odd with the Springfield name across the front and an accessory rail running down the side. Springfield Armory did a very good job with this total package. 2 (19rnd) magazines come with the gun. A Kydex paddle holster, a Kydex double magazine pouch and a magazine loading tool are included. An allen wrench for adjusting holster and mag pouch tension is also included. The usual literature and lock are also there.  One item that was well thought out is the magazine loader ($19). It will fit on the magazine pouch's accessory rail.
  The holster is pretty decent for what it is. Retention is OK and it's comfortable enough. I see a lot of the XDM owners at the range still using them. I've used mine in a few matches and wish that it was positioned vertically instead of diagonally but for all around use I think that it works well.  I don't know if I would pay $34 for it though. The mag pouch ( $34 too) is also OK but I would prefer it if the mags were positioned vertically instead of diagonally. The total package runs about $600 in my area.
  I think it's important to list the prices since you're getting a lot of extras when you buy this gun. Other than a cleaning kit and ammo the buyer is pretty well set up when walking out of the LGS with a XDM.
  I went on a bit about this package and there's a good reason behind it. I know a lot of handgun owners that don't own holsters. I also know a few that have a very hard time loading magazines and have never heard of magazine loading tools. While I'm sure that the Kydex goodies pump up the price it's still nice to have everything immediately handed to the buyer.
  There's a couple of stories floating around the internet about accidental discharges due to worn or cheap holsters and Glocks. I don't blame the Glocks. A new gun owner may not realize that it's possible for a soft fabric holster or even worn leather holster to get into the trigger guard.
  I remember reading a story years ago about the LA Riots. The author stated that some armed homeowners showed up at the gates of their community during the rioting. Many of them didn't have holsters and just tucked the handguns into pockets or belts. This is unsafe and looks unprofessional. If you're judged, especially by LEO, by first appearances do you really want to carry your gun like a criminal?
  As I said before, I went on a bit about the package but I really like this kit. It's a good setup for the average gun owner.

Here's a few quick specs:

Barrel:      4.5"  Match Barrel (Melonite Coated)
Trigger Pull:    5.5-7.7lbs
Length:     8"
Height:     5.6"
Weight:    32oz (Empty)

  The sights are dovetailed at the front and rear and are the usual 3 dot arrangement. They work OK but I wouldn't brag about them. They are just 3 dot sights and are probably no better or worse than the rest of them on the market. I plan to swap them out for the Dawson Precision sights this year.  The sights are rumored to be ridiculously tight in the dovetail and hard to remove.

  The trigger pull is 5.5lbs - 7.7lbs. I would guess that mine is on the low side of that range. The XDM seems to have an average trigger for a striker fired pistol. I'm not going to go into the reset, or how mushy this trigger or that trigger is. It's all subjective. Check out a XDM at your LGS.
  I will say that Glock does a better job with their trigger IMO.

  The slide has a Striker Status Indicator and Loaded Chamber Indicator. The XDM's all come with a match barrel.

  Most of this info has been the same thing that you've no doubt read on SA's website, the press releases and a bunch of other blogs.

  There is a picatinny rail on the frame as you've no doubt noticed. I keep a weapon light on my 4.5" XDM and this light had to be adjusted to fit the rail. No biggie. The odd thing is that the light doesn't fit the rail on my 5.25" XDM. It's only a minor adjustment to make it work but I still find it a bit odd that I can't just slap it on another XDM.  I can't say if it's the same for other brands of weapon lights.

  The gun is very accurate and I'll add some targets at a later date.

  Recoil is minimal (I know it's only a 9mm) it's very easy to get back on target.

  This pistol is very reliable. I'm currently disgusted with a very new, very expensive and very unreliable handgun that makes me really appreciate THIS Springfield.
I wish that I had kept a log on this gun but while I'm picky about my gear I'm not quite that picky. I can safely say that this XDM has over 3,000 rnds through it and has only jammed twice. Most of my shooting is with WWB followed by Federal. I've used Remington, Silver Bear, Fiocchi, Blazer and even some Tula. Everything runs in this gun. Ammo is high and most of my shooting is done with target loads.
I've put several boxes of Speer Gold Dot 124gr JHP +P's through it and that is my home defense and carry load. The only jams that I've had with this gun were when trying Winchester  SXT 147gr. a month or two after buying the gun. The XDM was out of the break in period.  I had two failures to go into battery with the same box. As this stuff is expensive I haven't tried it since and have stayed with Speer Gold Dots.

  Now for the grip safety. I don't mind it. Grip safeties have been around for over 100 years and I don't see a lot of complaints about them on M1911's. For some reason however it's heresy to put them on a polymer framed handgun.
  I don't care if my handguns have a grip safety or not. I just want it to work if it's there and I haven't seen any issues with them on my XDM's.
  I get that simpler is usually better and the more complicated a firearm is the more that can go wrong.  If we use that argument it would make sense to do away with all safeties on all guns in order to simplify them. We'd drop the transfer bar safeties on our revolvers and go truly old school
  I think that a large amount of hate for the XDM's grip safety comes from brand myopic gun owners. Some people get a little too into their guns. If they spent $500 or so dollars for a handgun then obviously it's the perfect gun and everyone else should buy the same. If another brand or model is slightly different than what they own then these myopic gun owners lose their minds. It doesn't matter what another consumer is looking for or how they are using the gun.
  Then there's the, "If you're wounded in the hand you may not be able to manipulate the controls" crowd. They say that you may not be able to properly depress the grip safety when shooting with your off hand and may have trouble using the gun with you're wounded hand. I'll agree that I would probably have trouble shooting with an injured hand but that would probably be true with any handgun.
  I've never had any issues shooting my XDM's left handed. My family members haven't had any issues and the other shooters at our local matches don't seem to have any grip safety issues when shooting left handed. I usually use a large framed .357 Magnum (Loaded with .38spl) and my XDM when teaching non shooters and novices. I have yet to see even the most inexperienced shooter have problems with the grip safety.
 I haven't seen a lot of horror stories about wounded GI's being unable to shoot their M1911's despite their wounds. As the M1911 and it's grip safety have been around for over 100 yrs there should be countless stories if there was a problem. There's probably two stories floating around the internet.
  Apparently the problem only exists with polymer framed pistols and gun owners that are very loyal to their favorite brand. But... if the grip safety is a deal breaker for you and you just can't live with it then guess what? The grip is plastic. The safety is plastic. Although I don't believe in bypassing safety features I bet there is some way to permanently join the two.

  In conclusion (until I remember something else at least), I would recommend this gun  without reservations. The only bad thing that I can say about it is it's pricier than some of it's competitors. A lot of friends and new shooters have shot this pistol and I have yet to hear a single complaint.  I'm the kind of guy that often gets buyers remorse but that hasn't happened with this gun and as I liked the 4.5" version enough to go ahead and add a 5.25" Competition model to the collection.

15 YDS

Edit:     This pistol didn't seem to like the Ultramax 9mm ammunition shown in the picture below. The groups weren't that bad, but I had more malfunctions with this ammo than I've had in the previous several thousand rounds of WWB, Tulammo, Federal, Speer, Blazer, Fiochii, etc. Other than with some Winchester hollowpoints, this gun has never jammed before.
  There is a very pronounced shoulder in between the bullet and the case of this ammunition. I believe that this is the cause of some of the malfunctions (bullets were sometimes hanging up on the feed ramp and not chambering. There were also two stovepipes).
  I'm not complaining. This stuff sold for what would be about $13 per box if I was not buying in bulk. It's hard to get 9mm today, and I'm paying an average of $17 per box for whatever I can find. I'd buy this ammunition again, but probably would not use it in my XDM if there was something else available.
 The Ultramax 9mm ran just fine in the Kimber and Taurus 24/7 OSS. Of course the Kimber eats everything without complaint.
 I wouldn't trust this ammo for anything important when using the Springfield, but it's still OK for casual plinking. This is merely meant as a warning for those with XDMs. Some guns are ammo picky. I hadn't run across that with this weapon, but it stands to reason that I would eventually find something that it didn't like. (Aug. 2013)

15 yds

Edit (Sept 2016):    It's been many years since I first wrote this review. I've bought many guns since then, but still love the XDM line of pistols. You'll notice that I added Tru Glo TFO night sights, and Talon Grips to my handgun. A Crimson Trace Rail Master has also been added, and it's a huge aid for older eyes.

Hmmm... I'm not too happy about the group on the left, but it was shot with "Iron Sights" and shooting as fast as I could get the sights back on target. I have no idea what the time was, but it was under 1 round per second.
The target on the right was shot while using the laser sight, and I can shoot MUCH faster with the laser.
I'm also a lot more accurate at 15-25 yards, but I'll admit that this laser is almost useless to me on a nice sunny day at an outdoor range (that's when the Tru Glo TFOs absolutely rock).

This model comes with two magazines (instead of the 3 that are shown). Naturally, the laser sight is not part of Springfield's package. The holster and magazine pouch, are OK and I've used them in matches a time or two.
A competition shooter, or concealed carrier will no doubt want to upgrade their holster and mag pouch.

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