Category Archives: Pistols and Revolvers

US M17 Pistol Comes with Ball and Hollow-Point Ammo

From Mark Miller we learn the following:

According to Jane’s “The US Army has confirmed that its new XM17 handgun is to be a 9 mm Sig Sauer model P320 and the contract allows the government to buy Sig Sauer’s proposed XM1152 Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and XM1153 Special Purpose (SP) ammunition and training rounds.”

The secret to making (new) 9mm outperform (existing) 9mm, which the RFP required, was, per Mark, “hollowpoints.” Presumably, the XM1153 is the holllow-point, and the 1152 an improved ball round. The actual RFP also requires numerous oddball rounds like blank and dummy.

It’s interesting that SIG introduced new hollow-points last year, and new ball ammo in 125 and 147 grain at this year’s SHOT Show.

Mark’s conclusion:

While the P-320 is a great choice for the M-17, we may find that hallow point ammunition makes a much more significant contribution to U.S. defense than their gun.

He’s probably correct there.

Mark’s site, The Arms Guide, is becoming a regular stop on the net. Check it out.

 

Seecamp Pocket Pistols

Lee Williams was delighted to find a manufacturer at SHOT whose products he knew well, but one that he’d thought was pining for the fjords: L.W. Seecamp, a maker of high-quality pocket pistols in .32 and .380.

[T]he L.W. Seecamp Co. is back, and according to Christopher Garvey, their program manager, they’re increasing production.

Chris had three models at SHOT Show 2017, in .25, .32 and .380.

They’re everything you want in a back-up handgun.

The fit and finish is incredible — there’s not a sharp edge on the gun. The slide to frame fit is fantastic. It feels like the slide is moving across oiled glass. The trigger is stiff — eleven pounds — but it’s clean.

Thing is, family-owned manufacturer L.W. Seecamp has not been dead, but they haven’t been promoting their guns much because, as one of the first little DAO pistols, with a following that approaches fanaticism, they sell sufficiently well without further promotion. Lee references that when he says:

[T]he small, precisely-machined pocket autos made by the L.W. Seecamp Co. have always been something of a legend — a cult following.

First, they were difficult to obtain. The had waiting periods that sometimes stretched for years.

Second, they were expensive — very expensive compared to other pocket autos.

But more importantly, they were reliable as hell

Lee’s going to test a couple of the pistols, and we’re looking forward to seeing his report.

In fact, despite the company having been in business for many, many, years, and having produced the pocket pistol line since 1981, this was Seecamp’s first trip from their western Massachusetts plant to SHOT — ever.

Call the flip-phone old-fashioned? The Seecamp LWS has been in production since a cell phone filled half our trunk.

Unlike a lot of small pocket pistols, the Seecamps are beautifully made and highly reliable. Parts primarily are made of machined stainless steel castings, and the gun comes from the factory well “melted” for pocket carry. It has no sights. As Seecamp says in their entertaining and informative FAQ:

If shot placement is so important, why no sights?

An exhaustive NYPD report (NYPD SOP 9) revealed that in 70% of recorded police shootings (the majority under poor lighting conditions) officers did not use sights while 10% of the time officers didn’t remember whether sights were used. In the remaining 20% of the cases, officers recollected using some form of visual aid to line up the target ~ which could be the sights themselves or just the barrel.

The NYPD statistics showed no correlation between an officer’s range scores and his ability to hit a suspect at close range. The mean score for NYPD police officers (1990-2000) for all shootings is fifteen hits per 100 shots fired, which is almost the identical hit ratio seen among Miami officers ~ who in the years 1990-2001 fired some 1300 rounds at suspects while recording fewer than 200 hits. Almost unbelievably, some NYPD figures show 62% of shots fired at a distance of less than six feet were complete misses.

The 1988 US Army training manual for pistols and revolvers [FM 23-35], in apparent recognition of the disconnect between sighted shooting at the range and the ability to score hits in short distance combat, wisely calls for point shoot training at distances of less than fifteen feet. The ability to shoot targets at 25 yards using sights sadly seems to provide little or no advantage in close combat. Nor are there recorded instances where an officer required a reload in close combat. When reloads do occur, there is no immediate threat to the officer’s safety and the perpetrator has usually barricaded himself in a defensive posture. A study by Etten and Petee (l995) showed that neither large capacity magazines nor the ability to reload quickly was a factor in shootings.

Speed reloads at short ranges just don’t happen, and practicing paper punching at long ranges using sights appears to prepare one for short range conflict to the same degree it prepares one for using flying insect spray. (Hitting an annoying yellow jacket buzzing a picnic table without spraying the guests or the food might be better practice for combat than long range paper punching. So might a plain old-fashioned water pistol fight.)

In the FWIW department, of 250 NYPD police officers killed in the line of duty in the years 1854-1979 there was only one instance where it could be determined an officer was slain at a distance of over 25 feet ~ by a sniper 125 feet away. Of the 250 fatal encounters, 92% took place under fifteen feet and 96.4% under 25 feet. In the remaining eight instances the distance was unknown.

But how do I qualify at 75 feet without sights?

If you hold the LWS pistol at a 45-degree angle semi-gangsta style there is a groove formed that can be used as a sighting toolThe 25 yard shooting proficiency test for carry qualification required by many issuing authorities is absurd. It’s a request to perform a feat that would land you in jail if you ever tried to perform it “in self-defense.”It’s like passing a driver’s test that requires you to slalom between traffic cones at 120 miles an hour. Seventy-five feet shooting proficiency is not too much to ask from a police officer who may be firing at a barricaded target, as the ability to drive at high speeds is not too much to ask from a Trooper pursuing a fleeing vehicle, but it’s ridiculous to ask it of civilians. Shoot an “assailant” at 75 feet. Then try to find a lawyer good enough to keep you out of prison.On the one hand the law demands that you use deadly force only when you are in danger of serious bodily injury or your life is threatened. On the other hand they demand that you have the ability to commit a long-range homicide with a firearm before they give you that right.

Using sights at shorter ranges invites problems

In order to use sights a shooter has to put at least one hand in front of their face. This obstructs the view behind the hand they have placed there. When the focus is on the upper torso of the threatening individual, the lower portion of that person is partially or completely hidden from view by this deliberately chosen visual obstruction. The closer the target, the greater is the degree of visual impairment that may cause the shooter to fail to recognize potentially important information below the sight picture.

Statistics show pistol sights generally go out the window once shooting starts; however, this does not mean sights are not used prior to the commencement of hostilities. We can see on reality TV police programs numerous instances where officers in a Weaver stance point guns at suspects who are in absurdly close proximity to them.

With both hands in front of one’s face, one is less able to recognize whether a possible threat is reaching for a gun or a wallet when the landscape below the target area is blocked from view. One might perceive movement but one cannot see what is being moved. There is no doubt in my mind accidental shootings of unarmed individuals have in many instances been caused by sight shoot training, in which a trained focus on a clear sight picture leaves one necessarily with an incomplete view of the important overall scenario.

The potential hazard of losing perspective of the complete picture of the environment is well illustrated by American Matthew Emmons. He lost what appeared to be a safe Gold medal in the 2004 Olympics by shooting, with great accuracy, holes in his neighbor’s target. Overmuch concentration on the bull’s eye, which can be achieved with sights that exclude distracting but possibly important stimuli, may assist in hitting what one is aiming to hit but it can do so at the great cost of making an improper choice of target.

Suggestions for achieving proficiency

Other than range practice of point shooting at realistic combat distances (under fifteen feet), here’s what you can do to achieve proficiency, making sure you are using an unloaded pistol:

  1. Dry fire the pistol to get acquainted with the trigger pull. Dryfiring will not hurt the LWS. Slow deliberate dry firing will helpyou get acquainted with the pull, but make it a snappy pull once youget the feel because you’ll never use the slow pull to defendyourself. (Please keep in mind ‘unloaded’ guns are probablyresponsible for most accidental shootings, so never under anycircumstances point the pistol at any living thing or something youare not prepared to suffer the consequences of shooting.)
  2. Repeatedly pick up the pistol and point it towards a targetwithout looking at the gun. Holding the gun in that position, bringyour eyes down to examine whether the position of the gun lines upwith the target. As much as you can, keep your arm straight withoutallowing it to interfere with your vision. A straight arm makes formore accurate pointing. (The pocket slipper laser aimer is also agood training tool for getting you on target. If a threat arises youshould not be thinking of the pistol, which should become anextension of yourself, but on the threat that faces you.)

Most of those who buy pistols for self defense shoot infrequently. At the distance at which handguns are likely to be used for self-defense this doesn’t bother me as much as it perhaps should. Who doesn’t have a shotgun or some other weapon stashed away, seldom or never used, that they wouldn’t hesitate to bring center stage if there was a forced house entry. People who buy pepper spray and Mace don’t normally feel the need to practice a thousand squirts to feel comfortable they can hit an assailant. And, as mentioned, the studies seem to show little practical benefit from long distance range practice. I’d rather go up against a target shooter than an individual who plays occasional paintball.

Sorry for the long excerpt, but you needed it all. (To their recommendations for proficiency, we’d add that practicing with a laser round has absolutely helped us with first round snap shots from our DA CZ P-01). In fact, the FAQ is a perfect illustration of how a small company that lets its character shine through can thrive in a forest of huge competitors: go Read The Whole Thing™. WeaponsMan.com will still be here when you’re done chuckling, and learning, and calling your dealer to order a Seecamp. (Bear in mind, it’s a bunch more money than a Kel-Tec or Ruger LCP. Think of it as self-defense jewelry).

Seecamp also links to this comparison size chart (.pdf) of in-production small-caliber defensive guns, and to some other comparative-sizing tools (linked below).

The first Seecamps were not original guns, but were double-action .45 conversions made in the 1970s. They were unique in that they were a DA conversion of the 1911 that looked good and worked well. As custom guns, they were premium priced for the day. About 2000 of these were made, and they all are now, along with a few hundred limited early “Restricted” and “Special” editions, the holy grail of Seecamp collectors. Yes, we said Seecamp collectors. Can you spot the .45 in this photo by Seecamp collector and expert John Dommer?

The first original Seecamp was the LWS-25, which has been out of production but was reintroduced at SHOT, to the delight of all of us fans of the tiny but admittedly weak caliber. Building on the mechanism of the rare (in the US) CZ-36 and CZ-45 pocket pistol, Larry Seecamp produced a small, reliable, high-quality pocket pistol.

The major parts of the Seecamp pistols are machined investment castings of 404 stainless; there are some stainless stampings and turnings, and the magazines are made, also of 404 but of sheet in this case, by a trusted subcontractor (complete details are on Seecamp’s website). The website says this about the pistol’s design:

We have been making the basic design essentially unchanged except for caliber upgrades since about 1981. The pistol is a traditional CZ 45 type double action only design with one notable feature. The pistol’s magazine safety is unusual in that when the magazine is removed, not only is the trigger blocked but also the slide cannot be pulled to the rear far enough to allow the hand loading of a round. As with other designs, applying pressure to the trigger while removing the magazine can deactivate the magazine safety function and so the finger should always be away from the trigger when this is done.

The .32 and .380 have some different internals from each other and the .25, but all three are the same size. Almost 40 years later, the late Larry Seecamp’s original design continues to be size- and feature-competitive with modern pocket pistols. When initially introduced, the Seecamps were smaller and lighter than other .32s and .380s, but the advent of new products, like the North American Arms’ Guardians and the Kel-Tec P-32, means Seecamp is now playing in a crowded market. Seecamp helpfully provides a comparison chart (.pdf) of several small DA pocket pistols’s dimensions, and a set of overlay photos that show a solid LWS pistol and various shadowed competitors. It also links an independent chart / poster of practically every current production .32 or .380 with dimensions.

Of course, the downside of a powerful pistol in a very small form factor is that it’s not a joy to shoot, with prodigious noise and blast, but that’s true for the whole class of guns, not just the Seecamp or any one of them.

There’s even a California edition which has passed CA and MA testing in .32, and is hoped will pass soon in .380. It adds a trigger-block safety, which gun designers Kamala Harris and Maura Healey demanded. (Can we get a, “Heil Healey!” from the serried ranks?)

In addition to the website, a far more informative website than one usually encounters in pocket-pistol world, Seecamp also supports an engaging forum well stocked with enthusiasts and experts in this small American pocket pistol. The website hasn’t been updated to show the reintroduction of the .25 yet, but they’re already showing up at dealers.

Some More SIG Updates: MPX, M17 (P320) Pistol

MPX Price …Going Up!

Word at SHOT was that the MPX versions that are shipping — pistol, carbine, and SBR — are selling well, but that the company was planning to raise prices by $300 a unit, and to delete the accessories that used to come with one: QD sling, cleaning kit, etc. The backup iron sights are still included, as is one magazine. Source of that “word”? The staff at the SIG booth!

In 2015, when MPX pistols began to ship, Max Slowik wrote in Guns.com:

Along with the announcement SIG is publishing the official MSRPs. The base SIG MPX-P is listed at $1,576, the SIG MPX-P-PSB at $1,862 and the  SIG MPX SBR at $2,062. While guns often retail for less than suggested prices, we don’t expect that to be the case with the MPX for a while until demand drops off.

The numbers on the SIG website have already changed, although the price increases are less than $300 a unit. Here’s a table of what’s what.

SIG MPX Models List Price
SKU MPX Model 2015 2017 Δ Price 2017-15
MPX-P-9-KM MPX-P Pistol $1,576 $1,852 $276
MPX-P-9-KM-PSB MPX-P-PSB Pistol with SIG Brace $1,862 $2,084 $222
MPX-9-T-KM-SBR MPX SBR 8″ Short-Barrel Rifle $2,062 $2,123 $61
MPX-K-9-T-KM-SBR MPX-K SBR 4.5″ Short-Barrel Rifle $1,957 n/a
MPX-C-9-KM-T MPX-C 16″ Carbine $2,016 n/a
© 2017 Weaponsman.com

Friends asked a SIG rep, “Why?” The booth guy didn’t know, and called someone else over, who said, and we quote: “We’re not making enough profit at the present price.” So presumably they’re making some profit on an MPX, and the $200-300 price increase and the deletion of $50in accessories should drop right down to the bottom line. (They don’t expect many buyers to use the online accessory discount vouchers).

For comparison’s sake, the MSRP on the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 S1 pistol is $849 in black and $899 in FDE. The carbine version is $999 (muzzle brake) and $1049 (fake suppressor). There is no factory SBR.

Humility and a Sense of Honor

That’s what Lee Williams said he found at the SIG booth after the MHS M17 selection was announced. One of the SIG personnel told him the contract was “daunting,” and they’re going to be busy. Read The Whole Thing™ and the rest of Lee’s SHOT coverage.

Humility and a sense of honor today at the Sig Sauer booth

Andrew Branca on the SIG Buy: $207/each

Andrew had an interesting write-up at Legal Insurrection, the most interesting parts of which to us were (1) that he’s been carrying a 320 for a while, and really likes it, and (2) that according to sources of his (how come our sources didn’t have this?) the Army is paying for the SIGs (exclusive, we presume, of such accessories as suppressors) only $207 a pistol.

That might explain where the extra $300-400 per MPX is going.

Andrew is also a rare user of a manual-safety SIG, and that brings us to…

What a SIG P320 Safety Looks Like

Because most of you haven’t seen one in the flesh-and-blood (or steel-and-polymer), here’s an excerpt from the P320 Manual.

4.2 Manual Safety Equipped Pistols

The SIG P320 is offered with an optional ambidextrous manual safety. The manual safety mechanically blocks the movement of the trigger bar so the trigger cannot be pressed to the rear.

To engage the manual safety, rotate the safety lever upward with the thumb of the firing hand. The manual safety is ambidextrous. Pressing up on the lever from either side will rotate the opposite lever upward, engaging the manual safety. The slide can still be manipulated with the manual safety engaged.

And one of our commenters found this fascinating little detail in the manual:

If your P320 is fitted with a Tamper Resistant Takedown Lever, removing the grip module is not authorized. You must evacuate the pistol to the next authorized level of maintenance to have this performed.

This certainly seems like something put in place for police agencies and military services, to prevent the Incredible All Destroying Lance Corporal from monkeying with the pistol. The Tamper Resistant Lever needs a tamperproof spanner screwdriver or bit to be removed, marking it as an armorer job rather than operator maintenance. (It would be a rare gunsmith who doesn’t have a set of these screwdrivers, these days. Several manufacturers use them on non-user-maintenance parts). No idea if the military’s M17 pistols will be equipped with this feature, but it would not be surprising.

Reactions to the SIG MHS Win

New Hampshire Reacts

As you might imagine, local media here in the ‘Shire is a little bit excited over this, especially as SIG is saying that these pistols will be produced here in what we call the Portsmouth plant (it’s actually across the Newington line — the former Pease AFB, where the factory is, straddles the town line. These towns are in Rockingham county, in the lower right corner of the map on the right). On the one hand, newspapers (the Portsmouth Herald, Foster’s Daily Democrat of Dover, and the Manchester-based Union Leader) all went with the press release rewrites or cribbing from military-news websites, and have no local reaction in their stories. On the other hand, local talk radio, and the comments at the newspapers’ stories, have been highly positive. On the gripping hand, gun-culture folks encountered at FFLs (it was a pick-up-the-GunBroker-haul kind of day) were beyond positive. Grouchy old men were emitting giddy chuckles.

SIG-Sauer Reacts

SIG itself totally confounded our expectation of a slow media response and got pictures of their XM17 winners (full-size and compact, replacing the M9 and M11)…

…and a press release out Friday — maybe late Thursday, SHOT time. Text of the press release:

SIG SAUER, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Army has selected the SIG SAUER Model P320 to replace the M9 service pistol currently in use since the mid-1980’s. Released in 2014, the P320 is a polymer striker-fired pistol that has proven itself in both the United States and worldwide markets. The P320 is the first modular pistol with interchangeable grip modules that can also be adjusted in frame size and caliber by the operator. All pistols will be produced at the SIG SAUER facilities in New Hampshire.

The MHS Program provides for the delivery of both full size and compact P320’s, over a period of ten (10) years. All pistols will be configurable to receive silencers and will also include both standard and extended capacity magazines.

“I am tremendously proud of the Modular Handgun System Team,” said Army Acquisition Executive, Steffanie Easter in the release. “By maximizing full and open competition across our industry partners, we truly have optimized the private sector advancements in handguns, ammunition and magazines and the end result will ensure a decidedly superior weapon system for our warfighters.”

Ron Cohen, President and CEO of SIG SAUER, said “We are both humbled and proud that the P320 was selected by the U.S. Army as its weapon of choice. Securing this contract is a testimony to SIG SAUER employees and their commitment to innovation, quality and manufacturing the most reliable firearms in the world.”

Well done, getting the word out, Ron and guys. We take back all our snide comments about your media shop.

Not Everyone Excels at Publicity

We’re not so thrilled with the MHS Team; in a world of increasing government transparency, they’ve emitted a lot more squid ink than information. When will we get a report on the course of the tests and how the various contenders did? The Army released this information from all the tests that led up to the 1911, and we got some information from the tests that led up to the M9. But the MHS Team has been treating the public like mushrooms: kept in the dark, and fed on horse $#!+.

A Glock Fanboy Reacts

Hey, you knew it was coming. Here’s Pete in The Firearm Blog. A taste:

Fanboy? Sure, call me names, throw rotten food at your devices, raise your torches and pitchforks. Listen to some Nickleback for crying out loud. But even if you pray to a different god, be it Sig, S&W, FN or some pot metal creation you got at a show a few years back – Deep down, you know the US Army should be carrying GLOCKs as their new handgun.

Read The Whole Thing™.

What’s a Nickleback?

 

SIG Wins Army MHS Contract – Up to $580 Million

A version of the SIG P320 modular pistol has won the Army’s Modular Handgun System contract, and has been tasked to provide pistols, accessories such as holsters and suppressors, and ammunition.

The pistol will replace the M9 and M11 pistols over the next ten years; then those firearms will join the M1911 and M1873 in honored retirement.

Is this what they want? The SIG P320 family. The compact is the “Goldilocks” midsize — about the same size as a G19.

The DOD slipped the contract out on the last day of the outgoing Administration, perhaps because of noises from the Senate that were encouraging incoming Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis to cancel the program, the initial phase of which has already cost $350 million. Alternatively, it could simply be that the Army’s bureaucracy at Picatinny just got done shuffling the papers today.  Complete text of the DOD contract announcement:

Sig Sauer Inc., Newington, New Hampshire, was awarded a $580,217,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the Modular Handgun System including handgun, accessories and ammunition to replace the current M9 handgun.  Bids were solicited via the Internet with nine received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 19, 2027.  Army Contracting Command, Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, is the contracting activity (W15QKN-17-D-0016).

OTR notified us from his sources at around the same time that one of our readers flagged us to Soldier Systems Daily in the comments to another post.  Soldier Systems Daily was, as far as we know, the first publication online with the story. CWCID.

The P320 has been well received, more so than the hammer-fired P250 that had teething problems that cost it the Federal Air Marshals Service contract some years ago. Tam Keel put a thousand or two rounds downrange from one last year; the NRA awarded it the Golden Bullseye for Handgun of the Year in June.

Stand by for an announcement from SIG (their PR shop works slowly and indirectly at the best of times). This is where their press release would be, if they had one.

This may fill in some of the blanks that we don’t know from the one-paragraph DOD contract announcement:

  • What color? The contract suggested the military preferred a brown or FDE shade of weapon, like the P320 Compact shown dismantled above.
  • What caliber? SIG submitted both 9mm and .40 S&W firearms.
  • Pure striker-fired, or with safety?

If the news hits before our post goes live in about 11 hours, we’ll add an update below.

Congratulations to the hard-working team at SIG, and condolences to the eight other teams that competed for this contract. The problem with any such competition is that choosing a “best” from a field of very good firearms (or anything else) is inherently subjective and difficult. If you recall the JSSAP trials that yielded the M9, runners-up included SIG’s then-flagship P-series DA/SA pistols, Smith & Wesson’s generation of DA/SAs, and several others that, like the SIG and Smith, found markets elsewhere, just as the rejects, this time including Smith and Glock among others, will this time.

Updates

The Firearm Blog has some details from SHOT, still sketchy, and this photo of what is the winning firearm, the P320 Compact, presumably in 9mm, with ambi manual safety. Nathaniel promises to keep that page updated, if and when the SIG bigs issue a statement.

TFB says this is the M17, or as close as SIG has at the show.

Here are some pictures of the P320 MHS manual safety firearm as submitted. These are all originally from SIG sources, although we ganked them from here and there over the last two years of the MHS program. The full size and compact submissions:

There’s a great deal of interchangeability. Eli Whitney, eat your heart out.

Here’s a close-up of the manual safety. It seems well-designed both to avoid snags and to be positive in operation. 

This does put the SOF Glock contracts at risk, for budgetary reasons. It would be very hard to quantify the superiority of the G19 over this pistol. Meanwhile, the SOF pistols come out of SOF specific money, Major Force Program (MFP) 11. MFP-11 is a finite amount; if SOF were to specify pistols that were a standard Big Green (Blue, Haze Gray, etc) NSN, the service would buy the pistols out of its general-purpose forces money, and that would leave the MFP-11 money for other SOF uses (other SOF-peculiar weapons, communications equipment, engineeer equipment, etc.).

This contract is big news in Gun Universe but back on Soldier Planet it’s not that big a deal. A pistol is almost always a secondary weapon, and the dirty little secret is that just about any service pistol will do — the SIG, the Glock, the SEALs’ P226, the Beretta, hell, the 1911. In combat, your big killers are your air and artillery, and then, your machine guns, and then, your rifles. The pistol is there for the same reason that there is a reserve canopy in your parachute rig — a backup, and a confidence builder.

Kyle Defoor’s Range Gun “Inventory”

For the last week-plus, top instructor Kyle Defoor has been posting his “inventory” on his Instagram account, one a day. Our Traveling Reporter, a Defoor trainee and admirer, if not outright fan, has been linking them to us, one a day, and we’ve been waiting to assemble them and give you a single overview. Here it is; this is what’s in a single top instructor’s battery these days.

His training battery comprises eight guns, some used frequently and some for special purposes. There are four ARs (all BCM, which he endorses), two Glocks, one bolt rifle (Remington 700), and one DA/SA pistol (SIG 229 Elite). For each one, he painstakingly records the details down to the scope mount and slings and holsters, and he answers some reader questions, so for any gun that interests you, go to the linked Instagram page.

The AR Rifles

They’re all from BCM, with whom Defoor is in a committed relationship, as they say. BCM also provides the iron sights for those rifles that have ’em, and Viking Tactics (VTAC) the slings. There are a selection of calibers and lengths for specific purposes.

The most-used AR is this 11.5″ 5.56 mm Short Barrel Rifle (SBR), which is used 18-20 weeks a year for both military and civilian contracts.

The accessories include interchangeable red-dot and scope optics in Bobro mounts (Aimpoint Micro T1 and US Optics SR4-C respectively), the Streamlight Protac Rail 1 with an Arisaka Defense light mount, and a Gemtech flashhider for use with the G5T. The US Optics scope is their short-range 1-4 variable, which is presently off the market as the company overhauls its short-range line; its nearest military issue equivalent is the Elcan Spectre DR, which is not continuously variable. The SR4-C is an ingenious design, with a mil reticle (several options) on the first focal plane, which keeps the mils accurate with magnification, and a 4-moa red dot on the second focal plane. (There is an excellent five-part review of this scope at the Austin Police Marksmanship Team blog. Begin with Part 2 if you’re in a hurry; Part 1 is the justification for using a scope on a patrol carbine. Then click the left arrow to read subsequent parts).

Used 18-20 weeks a year for military contractcs and for some civilian carbine classes. My scope and Aimpoint share the same mounting slot on my top rail for ease of switching depending on what the customer wants.

Note that this is the baseline AR of a pro, and it’s run on an XM177-length barrel, probably suppressed more often than not. That’s a reflection of what’s happening in special operations units, not just in the US military, but worldwide.

Here’s a longer-barreled 5.56 AR used about 6 weeks a year for military and civilian scoped rifle classes. The barrel is 16″ stainless steel with 1/8 twist rifling and a mid-length gas system. The scope is a US Optics variable 1.8-10 power in a Bobro mount.

The Gemtech suppressor he uses with this rifle is the G5T; the rest of the accessories are the same as his other ARs.

Here’s a baseline .300 Blackout gun.  It’s got a 9″ button-rifled barrel. This one is used a few times a year for “specialized military contracts,” and is set up with a Gemtech flash hider for The One silencer.

What seems to be “the usual” KD4 accessories: BCM flip-up sights; VTAC Sling;  Aimpoint Micro T1 on a Bobro Mount; Streamlight Protac Rail 1 with an Arisaka Defense light mount. One thing this carbine has got that the others haven’t is a cleaning rod secured to the rail with zip ties.

And finally, this one’s just for hunting. It’s a 16″ .300 Blackout rifle with a 1/8 button-rifled stainless barrel, and has similar accessories to the other ARs.

The scope is the US Optics variable 1-4 power Dual Focal Plane on (what else?) Bobro. Kyle says he uses it to take deer, coyote and wild boar.

The Precision Rifle

This rifle is a modified Remington 700 with a 7.62mm NATO 20″ 1/10 heavy barrel, threaded for use with the Gemtech Sandstorm suppressor.

The mods/accessories include: a KRG stock and bolt lift; VTAC Sling; US Optics 1.8-10 variable power scope, with the Horus H25 reticle, mounted in Badger rings; and the ubiquitous bipod from Harris Engineering. Defoor uses it for military contracts 4 weeks a year.

I can’t express how happy I am with the KRG stock. It makes a stock 700 about .5 MOA tighter throughout the spectrum of the caliber compared to an OEM buttstock and is LIGHT! The weight thing matters when I’m humping long distances for FTX’s and evals. Additionally, KRG has accessories that are smart, lightweight, easy to install, don’t cost an arm and a leg and work WELL! This is expected from KRG since their owner is a mil snipe with experience like myself. I have no affiliation with KRG but if you’re in the market for anything bolt gun you should give them a look before they take off and get super busy,

Listen up to that recommendation, precision shooters: Defoor has a pretty good track record at flagging the Next Cool Thing before it gets cool.

The Pistols

The fundamental pistol of Defoor’s battery is the G4 Glock 19.

His regular carry gun is used for almost all classes, and apart from his own sights and his (Raven Eidolon) or Safariland holster, the only thing not stock Glock is the barrel, a KKM.

I’ve been using match barrels in Glock pistols for over 10 years now. I started using KKM’s somewhere around 2010 or 11 — long before it become the popular barrel of choice it is now. I also used Wilson combat match barrels for Glocks back when you had to fit them. I prefer hand fitting a barrel because I can make it even more accurate.

But he recommends you be in no rush to replace the barrel:

I tell everyone my opinion is to shoot the Glock pistol stock and wait to get a match barrel when you notice groups starting to open up a bit. In my experience this happen somewhere between 80 and 100,000 rounds.

In case you were wondering why Tier 1 units that shoot obsessively day in and day out went to the Glock, a lot of the answer is packed into that paragraph above. He also points out that the match barrel is match, not magic:

A match barrel will not help you magically shoot better all of the sudden. All it does is hone good fundamentals a little more. The average difference that I have measured over tens of thousands of shooters between a stock barrel and a match barrel at 25 yards on an NRA B-8 bull is somewhere between 3-4 points or around an inch tighter- both of these metrics are with a 10 round group from the standing unsupported position.

For about four weeks a year, for certain military contracts, he uses this older G2 G19, set up with a very unusual sight: an Aimpoint Micro on a Raven Concealment Balor mount. This one has had fewer rounds through it and still has a Glock barrel.

Sometimes he’ll just mount this slide on a G19 frame that allows a weaponlight or weapon laser. Same holsters; but he has some interesting observations on the Aimpoint vs. the more common pistol red dot, the Trijicon RMR.

If you want to go the route of a red dot on a pistol using an Aimpoint Micro will give you faster results in performance than an RMR. This is due to the Aimpoint being a tube and an RMR being a flat plane red dot. I’ve had great success and starting people off with a set up like this and then transitioning them to an RMR later.

I’ve assembled dozens of guns like this one for people who are older and whose eyesight just does not allow them to shoot irons affectively anymore — it’s amazing to see the reaction of people when they can shoot and perform the way they did 40 or 50 years ago. The Micro is definitely harder to conceal and will require some adjustments of clothing and belt type, along with a quality holster like mine. Safari land 6000 series holsters can be easily modified with a Dremel to hold this set up and still maintain retention. There are multiple reasons for MIL/LE to use this setup, although I recommend to all of our clients to issue two slides; one setup like this and one with traditional sights.

Sounds like we need one of these, or a trip back to the eye surgeon. (May not be an option. Our guy, the brilliant Dr Jack Daubert of West Palm Beach, has unfortunately had to retire).

Finally, there’s the SIG 229 Elite, which is used with organizations that use SIGs, or other DA/SA guns rather than striker-fired, and that don’t have a loaner gun for Defoor to use himself while conducting training.

Nothing magical here, just a pistol. About the only unusual thing here is that he got Raven to make him a one-off holster for the gun.

I also will sometimes use this when I’m training units that shoot a Berretta 92 when they can’t supply me with one (I don’t own a 92).

And that wraps up one instructor’s training and defensive battery. Instead of having many guns (either in quantity or in battery) he has stuck to basic platforms, and plowed his efforts into training instead. There’s a lesson in that if we want to pick up on it.

Update

This post has been corrected. Kyle’s main go-to Glock 19 is a G4, not a G3 as we erroneously reported. We regret the error. -Ed.

What’s an Original 1911 Worth?

Well, this one didn’t draw a bid… even for a penny.

And a penny bid would have taken it… it was a no reserve auction.

Obviously, you didn’t see it, and we didn’t see it. And no, they didn’t relist it that way.

We’re guessing that this was an error by the seller, a pretty high-volume FFL.

(The link to the auction is still live at press time. At some point it will go stale).

Had someone bid the cent, he’d either have gotten a gun valued between $1k-2k for $35.01 plus his transfer fee (there was a $35 shipping charge, which is fairly standard), or the seller would have had to plead error, welsh on the sale, and risk getting toxic feedback.

The pistol was a relatively uncommon M1911 (not A1) pistol. The 1911A1 was introduced in 1927, and all the vast quantities of pistols that were made from then to 1945 were A1s. But the original 1911 was the World War I pistol, and some original 1911s — rebuilt several times –served right up to the last days of the .45.

We’re kind of glad this sale didn’t happen… we all like to get a bargain, but who likes to see a seller get ripped off, even due to his own error? We all benefit from a healthy gun-industry economy, including manufacturers, importers, and retailers.

Of course, if someone had snagged the 1911 for very short money, the seller would have had one positive result from it: he’d never, ever make that mistake again.

Consider the Double Action Auto

We’re adherents of the DA auto (by which we mean the DA/SA pistol), although we gave striker-fired (Glock) a shot. Over the last nearly 40 (wow) years, we’ve daily-carried Walther P.38, Beretta M9 and M92, and the CZ-75 (pre B) and CZ P-01, with some use of small-caliber Walther, Browning and CZ pistols for summer wear.

Ernest Langdon, a former Marine Scout Sniper instructor, is an adherent of DA/SA and particularly Beretta as well, at least partly because Beretta employs him! He can shoot better than most of us, and he makes a good case for the DA autopistol, in an interesting article at Recoil (which has come a long way from its antigun gun magazine days).

He also has a lot of advice about how to shoot it well. 

One of the first things to learn is trigger finger placement. The double action trigger pull often requires the shooter to put more trigger finger on or past the trigger than you would with a 1911-type single action. When learning to pull a double action trigger, try sticking more trigger finger in and past the trigger, providing more leverage for you to pull the trigger straight to the rear. Test this in dry fire, with the goal of the hammer falling with no movement of your sight picture at all.

The key is to pull through the double action trigger at a constant speed. It can be very fast, but it needs to be consistent. The trap that many DA Auto shooters fall into is trying to finish the DA pull by speeding up at the end. We start to pull the trigger smoothly and consistently, and then try to accelerate at the end of the pull to finish and get to the shot. For proper double-action trigger control, you want to focus on stroking the trigger. Keep a constant, consistent speed.

Real success with a DA gun comes from combining the presentation of the pistol, aiming the gun, and pulling the trigger at the same time.

It’s our own observation that, when you don’t have time to prepare your sidearm and must engage from the draw, you’re most often at contact range, and the DA trigger pull is the least of your problems. When you do have time it’s nice to be able to cock the hammer. We have pistols that allow that and some pistols that don’t because they’re DAO. But there are some pistols on the market that do, technically, allow you to cock the hammer by hand, but make it awkward to do. If you have time to set up for a shot, go ahead and set up for the shot.

That said, Langdon is right about DA trigger pull. Yes, it is longer and heavier, and it can make you miss — especially if you get frustrated that it’s not like the SA pull and jerk on it. But a well-designed DA trigger can be fast, steady and smooth and not disrupt your sight picture. And the SA pull on most DA/SA guns is better than the trigger on most striker-fireds, ceteris paribus.

This next consideration is one we hadn’t thought of.

One of the key features in a DA Auto is where the trigger pull breaks. The point at which the trigger breaks in double action mode and single action mode should be as close as possible. This allows you to train your trigger finger to go back to the same spot to release the trigger and cause the gun to fire, whether in double action or single action. Some DA autos release the hammer in double action mode at a much earlier point in the trigger pull than in single action mode. This causes an excessive amount of overtravel in double action and makes the shooter hunt for the trigger prep point in single action. I believe this makes it much harder to learn to shoot well with such a handgun.

Or as one of his photo captions tells it:

One reason Langdon favors the Beretta 92 is that the positions at which the trigger breaks in double action and single action modes are very close.

Hmmm. That makes us want to dig out the trigger gage and look at where the trigger breaks DA and SA on a cross-section of DA pistols.

One of the reasons I’ve chosen to run the Beretta 92 platform is that I feel it has the best double action pull and the closest release points for both double action and single action trigger pulls.

Well, yeah, and they pay him. There is that (grin).

In his new book, Gun Guy, Bill Wilson, president and owner of Wilson Combat says, “If you look where the trigger is when the hammer falls on a Beretta, the trigger is in basically the same place double- and single-action. When you come back to the trigger for the second shot, the trigger is in the same place. You don’t have to search for it. That’s why you can transition from double to single so easily with a Beretta.” There are also many other great DA Autos out there in many different sizes, shapes, and calibers.

Thought-provoking stuff — go Read The Whole Thing™.

Now, with both Wilson and Langdon praising the Beretta, we definitely have to A/B the 92/M9 and the CZs and whatever other odds and ends we have laying about.

Hudson H9: Striker Fired 1911

Somewhere, the acolytes of the Order of the Browningian Brothers are digging through the corners of their monastic cells, finding and gathering sword and sandals, and embarking on a quest to lop off a head.

For at 0900 today, the latest profanation of the 1911 As JMB Wrought It hits the market, or at least, SHOT Show. The Hudson H9 has been teased a bit on the company website and at Recoil magazine that we can make some statements about what it is and what it isn’t.

It is, basically, a 1911 form factor frame, widened to accept a double-column, single-feed magazine, that may hold 20 rounds; the frame houses a trigger that moves straight back — As JMB Wrought It. Some of the pictures show a Glock-like trigger safety, albeit hinged at the bottom of the trigger…

….but the patent drawings show a very conventional 1911 style trigger and trigger bow. Likewise, the patents show an ambidextrous manual safety, ambi slide release, and a coventional 1911 grip safety. The prototypes show a manual safety on the left side only but an ambi slide release.

The weapon is easily taken down by a takedown catch that moves 90º. Prototypes are made of billet steel (slide) and CNC milled billet aluminum (frame). Production slides are machined from drop-forged blanks. Teaser images shown by Hudson show a 3D printed development dummy gun…

… and half-machined billet prototype frames.

Other teaser images were posted, challenging viewers to choose beauty or function… or both.

The pistol does indeed look like a kitbash of a Glock and a 1911. The slide looks like it escaped from one of Gaston’s sweatshops… apart from the “long face”:

And indeed, its most unconventional feature visually is its long face or deep chin, containing a patented recoil mechanism. The patent application for this feature is dense lawyerese, prolix and vague, and runs to 42 pages (an additional design patent is just a couple of pages), so it’s rather difficult to discern just what exactly they’re claiming (lawyers love this… it guarantees their guild lots of chances to run the meter).

The objective of the new recoil system, in which a groove in the barrel acts as a pivot point around a steel crossbar that is also the take-down latch, is apparently to reduce muzzle flip and allow the barrel to be seated lower in the firing hand than is possible with a conventional 1911 where the recoil mechanism is over the trigger rather than in front of it as in the H9. With that, and the weight of a fullsize pistol loaded with lots of rounds, the H9 could be just the ticket for speed shooters, guaranteeing fast follow up shots.

Hudson claims that test-firing validated this:

The first round left the chamber and with it all concern vanished. Thanks to the extremely low bore axis, the felt recoil and muzzle rise were virtually imperceptible. All the pieces had finally fallen into place.

That is a predictable result from a lowered bore axis, and it gibes with what users of other lowered-bore pistols like the Steyr and the Caracal (which is to be reintroduced at SHOT) have experienced.

We do note that the H9 exploded view from the patent…

… doesn’t match the disassembled shot Recoil posted, the more conventional barrel lugs of which suggest a more conventional locking arrangement.

In any event, the low bore axis of the H9 appears to be a reality.

We hope to update this post (and we hope we don’t have to correct it) once the reveal is made.

For more information:

Finally, Hudson’s Director of Training is well-known Ohio instructor Chris Cerino, a former cop and Air Marshal and a top competitor. Chris is facing a pretty tough challenge right now – cancer. And chemo’s kicking his ass. If you’re a former student, worked with him here or there, or want to drop him a word of support or encouragement, his family set up a Facebook page. Don’t expect an answer, because 100% of his energy has to go into beating the big C so that he can get back to a new normal. If you’re a praying man or woman, you know what to do.

Update

After the reveal, there’s more information on the Hudson Manufacturing website. We did have one error above, the basic mag holds 15 rounds (we thought the 20 rounds in the ammo box in one of the photos was A Clue®. Nope, it was A Prop®). Also, the manual safety is optional, and there’s no mention of a grip safety, even though the prototype and patent illustrations showed one.  Some excellent “upgrades” are standard on this gun including a Trijicon night front sight, G10 VZ grips and Hogue lower backstrap. Alas, no threaded barrel?

The list price is $1,147 and the H9 will be sold only through channels (jobbers, distributors). Here’s a quick table of specs (metric are our calculations from Hudson’s figures, rounded).

Specifications
MSRP:  $1,147.00
imperial metric
Overall Length (in/mm)
7.625 194
Overall Height (in/mm)
5.225 133
Overall Width (in/mm)
1.24 31
Barrel Length (in/mm)
4.28 109
Empty Weight oz/g
34 966
Trigger pull (lb/kg)
4.5 – 5 2.05 – 2.72
Trigger travel (in/mm)
0.115 3
Sight Radius
6.26 159

Persistence of “Obsolete” Gun Designs: 5 Reasons

At a very well-stocked gun shop, the most expensive new firearm might be a Barrett .50 or a TrackingPoint precision guided weapon. But it might not. It might very well be a European trap or hunting shotgun, a well-decorated and supremely finished, but technologically simple double-barrel over-and-under, with lockwork a 19th Century gunsmith would have recognized.

A Luciano Bosis ‘Michelangelo’ 12-bore shotgun. From the Bosis website.

For about $600 a buyer can take home the latest high-tech defensive pistol, or for about the same price a basic clone of the high-tech defensive pistol of 1911. He’s well armed either way, but why has technology marched on in the pistol world, but stood still on the shotguns used by bird busters (of the meat and clay variety alike)?

Any rifle problem in the world from rimfire plinking to open-range elk hunting has a version of the AR that can conceivably be applied to it. But hunters still buy lots of bolt-action rifles, with bolts that owe their basic design to the 19th Century efforts of Mauser in Oberndorf.

Indeed, here in New England, the single-shot break-action firearm continues to hang on in the market; new production continues.

The firearms market, then, is unlike other markets. In 1960 only a few car models sold in the United States came with automatic transmission standard; by 1970, air conditioning was in that market position, by 1980 electronic fuel injection… but these technologies are nearly universal now. Why do “obsolete” firearms actions persist and thrive in a market that has seen centuries of innovation? Why does the innovative product take its place alongside the venerable one, and not replace it?

Here are some thoughts.

  1. In some cases, the innovative product does replace the venerable one. Consider the police revolver. 30 years ago, a mainstay of industry magazine publishers was “revolver vs. automatic for police.” Nowadays, if you brought that article to your editor, he or she would suggest you need your head examined. Many agencies don’t let a cop carry a revolver, any more, even off duty.

    One of Colt’s best loved guns isn’t even made anymore.

  2. The gun buyer is inherently conservative. It’s much easier to sell a driver on the benefits of fuel injection than it is to sell a hunter who’s perfectly happy with his .30-30 on the benefits of a funny-looking plastic and alloy semiauto. (This also hurts European makers who tend to make guns that “look funny” to Americans. Think HK’s hunting rifles of the 80s and 90s).
  3. There is a draw to history in old-fashioned firearms. We double-dog dare you to pick up a Colt SAA and not think about the Old West (even if the Old West of public memory was mostly the creation of dime novels and moviemakers). Ditto, a 1911 and World War II. For many in the shooting sports, the draw to history is personal and familial. If you were the unloved grandson who didn’t inherit Gramps’s Winchester 64, you pine for one; this seems especially true for bird hunters, almost all of whom were introduced to the sport by family.
  4. Sometimes you’re tied by rules. Nobody’s going to get to use a Saiga shotgun in a trapshoot this year. Some states’ hunting laws ban semiauto or detachable-mag-fed semi weapons, on the theory that they promote snap shooting and bad sportsmanship.
  5. Sometimes the older design is perfectly fit for the task. Evolution stops because it has reached a plateau or point of equilibrium (just as evolution of living things is currently thought to do, between incidences of salutary mutation). While many jurisdictions’ regulations restrict hunting weapon magazine capacity, there’s little impetus to change these laws because the game gets a vote, too, and it tends not to stick around when the guns open up. Hunting upland game birds, two shots is often one more than you can practically get off when the birds flush, and two is pretty much the limit. Same with bolts and hunting of ground game. Doesn’t matter if you’re belt-fed, one shot and Bambi is outa there. Likewise, if there is a better gun to teach a beginner the rudiments of safety and shooting than a break-action, exposed-hammer single shot, we surely can not think of what it is.

We’re “thinking out loud,” here, and there might be more than five reasons. We’re most partial to #5 of the explanations above. But you’re welcome to shoot holes in this theory. Are there other guns than the police revolver that have become eclipsed in living memory? The .25 Auto, perhaps… what else?