Saturday, August 30, 2008
I've been building up to this range test for a few weeks now. Tweaking the rifle and gathering rim fire ammunition to squander.
I had two goals, besides the obvious one of spending a day trying to wear out the Marlins barrel. I wanted a look at the velocity numbers of various makes of .22 ammo, and I wanted to pin down what the Marlin shoots best.
As a side bar, I was very curious if velocity consistency is a key to rim fire accuracy, as it is in a center fire. With my heavy barrel varmint rifle I look for less than 20 fps variation shot to shot. This tells me I have a load with consistent internal ballistics. I expect the same from any match ammunition I load, including pistol rounds.
My plan for the days testing was to fire a twenty round string of each cartridge. All from the same rifle, same targets, same bench, same shooter, etc. Fired into four groups of five rounds each, this should provide a rough but fair result in the search for the most accurate (as far as this Marlin is concerned, anyway).
Shooting every round over my chronograph and recording the data, I would then have a decent record of each brands average velocity and it's variations. I wasn't sure what the data would show, but it would be interesting to see the results and chart them.
The shooting day started at 9am for me, and abruptly came to a temporary stop at 9:05. A nest of yellow jackets had adopted the fifty yard back stop I chose, and my initial setup target was their new God.
I had planned to attach a dozen targets to a sheet of cardboard, cutting out some down time spent hanging paper. The Cardboard had a target on it I use to set up and align the chrono. For some reason the little wasps thought this target was the most fascinating thing ever seen, and swarmed it. Hovering by the hundreds in front of it, worshiping like Obamaites at the convention.
Four partial cans of wasp spray only thinned them out a little, so I came to an agreement with the little buggers. I left them the target they loved so much, and I hung mine a few feet over to the right. The separation agreement worked well for all concerned. I proceeded to fire a dozen foulers, and set up the alignment of the chronograph. The rest of the day I co-existed with the yellow jackets in a strange form of shooty peace. Each time I looked through the spotting scope, I could see mounds of little wasps crawling over the large target. The smaller targets I was shooting for record they completely ignored.
Each target was numbered, for a total of sixteen targets. The numbers matched those at the top of data sheets I had preprinted and arranged in a binder. Each page was used to record the make and model of the cartridge, along with all the velocity data collected. The speed of each round fired was noted, along with average velocity, highs and lows, extreme spread, standard deviation, and average deviation for the string.
Accuracy was measured hours after the shoot, looking only at the numbered targets in the binder. Groups were checked and averaged without knowing what cartridge was mated to which target. The target data was then transferred to the cartridge data sheets for comparison. This round-about method helped me leave my own ammunition prejudices aside as I looked for results.
In this first chart (click to enlarge for easier reading), I have listed each type tested, it's average velocity, extreme velocity spread, and average group size.
At first blush, the results would seem pretty confusing. The ammunition with the best accuracy did not always have the least velocity variations. The question remains in my mind... how much of the data is flawed simply because I needed to concentrate more....to shoot better?
Anecdotal evidence suggests this may be a significant factor. Many of the targets showed four shots touching, then a flier an inch away. The velocity numbers don't always explain the fliers.
Some targets were clear, with large groups dispersed evenly around the bullseye. Others showed excellent promise for tight groups, till a blasted flier opened it up. Fliers are always a question..... was it the ammunition or the shooter?
The data showed that wide velocity variations were not solely the realm of cheap ammunition. While Federal bulk pack had a huge spread, so did some very expensive RWS subsonic. In addition, accuracy seemed to be dependent on velocity numbers to only a small degree. Far more important were bullet weight and style. The ammunition loaded with lighter bullets of a more conical shape shot the worst from this Marlin 780. CCI Quik-Shok stood out from the crowd in that manner, with very high velocity bullets fired into groups so large their was no reason to measure them. The Marlin clearly despised the Quik-Shok round.
Most impressive, velocity and accuracy wise, were the relatively expensive match rounds. Both the Eley and the Fiocchi shot a few astounding groups and both had the lowest velocity variations of the pack. Where the Federal bulk pack made consistently large groups, the Eley would land four rounds in one wide hole, then another hole half an inch off the groups center.
On the other hand, at $70 a brick (500 rounds), I won't be rushing out to buy a case of Eley anytime soon.
In the range of reasonably priced ammunition, both the PMC Sidewinders and the Federal Champion 510 ammunition built promising groups without wild velocity variations, although 80+ fps is still a pretty wide spread. CCI Subsonic hollow points did the same.
What did I learn, after firing sixteen different rounds with serious intent? Clearly I can go buy a few bricks of Federal Champion and have a reasonable expectation it will perform decently in this Marlin. CCI Subsonics will make an excellent small game round for the rifle as well. Past that.....
The Match ammunition? For what it costs, I think I'll pass. I'm not doing any shooting with this rifle that demands that kind of potential, especially at the price. 0.75" - 0.80" groups at fifty yards make this a fine squirrel rifle, and at $2.80 a box for the Federal I can shoot as much as I like.
I had planned to test half a dozen types of .22 short as well, but their accuracy was so poor from the Marlin that it became pointless. CCI CB Long was also tested, but its such a different animal that it doesn't belong in this mix at all.
One fact I did come away with... every rifle is very different. Replacing the Marlin 780 on the bench with my new CZ452, it was a different ball game. The Eley that had 40 fps variations in the Marlin had only a 13 fps spread in the CZ. The Federal bulk that had so-so accuracy in the Marlin grouped exceptionally well in the CZ. The longer barrel on the CZ resulted in lower velocities as well.
I would have enjoyed being able to announce "This .22 Ammunition is the best! Your rifle will love it and you will be pleased!". But.... I can't do that. Each rifle is different, especially in rim fire. The only conclusions I can draw are the obvious ones..... each shooter will have to run these tests (at least the accuracy portion) for them self, with each different rim fire rifle they are interested in.
On the other hand.... that just means a lot of shooting. How bad can that be?
Sometimes things just happen. Today, a CZ 452 happened to me.
I was browsing a local gun shop I had stopped at on a whim. Not my favorite place, but occasionally has something decent or interesting. Usually overpriced, which is why I under-buy when I am there.
Today, they had the usual assortment of new and used, with little turnover in their stock. Did I mention they price high?
I noticed a very pretty .22 rifle at the front of a rack, and asked to see it. A CZ 452 American in .22 magnum. Nice, but not a caliber I am enamored to since I bought a .17HMR. The CZ 452 American comes sans sights, fitted to an American style stock with a medium comb, meant for a scope mounted rifle.
When the clerk put it back on the rack he mentioned he had another one, but not as nice. I was noncommittal, but he still reached to the back of the rack and hauled out what is shown here in the photographs.
It's a CZ 452 Trainer, unusual and not often seen around here.
It differs from the American in many ways, being styled for the European market. The Trainer, and it's fancy brother the Lux, come with excellent quality open sights. The rear sight is a military style tangent that is graduated from 25 meters out to 200 meters. It's also adjustable for windage via two small screws.
The front sight is a hooded blade that is also adjustable for elevation via a ramp and a small lock screw.
The idea is to use the adjustable front sight to set the point of impact for the ammo being used with the rear tangent set at the range being fired. Then the rear sight can be adjusted via a slider to whatever range is desired.
It's a nice system, and allows the military style tangent rear sight to be used with most standard velocity .22 LR ammunition.
The stock on both the Trainer and the Lux have a hump back style perfectly suited to shooting offhand with open sights. The Lux has fine grade Walnut, while the Trainer has birch.
It was the sights and stock that sold me on this CZ452, helped along by the reputation they have for startling accuracy. I have been looking at old .22 rifles for the last year or so, hoping to find something set up for offhand shooting with open sights. I'd like to practice for the High Power military rifle matches, and a properly set up .22 would be a valuable practice tool. (and cheap to shoot).
I turned to elderly used .22s as no American company seems to service the market for quality open sighted .22 rifles meant to be fired fired from positions. Such shooting seems to be from a bygone era.
Apparently the Europeans still shoot their small bore the way it was meant to be. Open sights, standing up, working on real old time shooting skills.
Well, at least as much as they are allowed to by their governments.
To sweeten the pot, this CZ 452 comes with an adjustable trigger and a safety that completely locks the firing pin and bolt.
In addition, the barrel is a graceful 25 inches long, giving a nice feel and excellent sight radius.
They test fire each rifle at the factory, then clean and pack it for shipping. The test target is included in the box, and signed by the man who fired it. I like that touch. Shows pride in their work.
At the gun shop, this nice little rifle seemed to fit me well. The stock allowed good fit for shooting with open sights, and the trigger has an excellent feel. Best of all, the sights are serious business and do the job they were meant for. Not an afterthought on a rifle designed to be fitted with a scope.
This one had a few small scratches from rack time, even if it was new. Dickering happened, feelings were slightly impinged, a box of ammunition sweetened the pot, and I walked away with this CZ 452 Trainer for slightly less than wholesale price plus tax.
Yes, I was (and am) a happy camper. My shooting club being only a few miles from the shop, I hustled over to try out my new purchase. Settling in to a bench rest and sandbag, the first group at 25 yards could have fit under my thumbnail. Happy dance time!
Another shooter was watching as I set up at fifty yards, and I noticed he was also shooting a CX 452, only an American in .17 HMR with a scope. It took him no time at all to notice the groups from my open sight .22 matched the size of his scoped .17HMR groups. Envy abounded...
Yup..... I'm glad this one followed me home. I've come to realize good firearms are not an expense, they are an investment that always appreciates. The value goes up while we get the enjoyment of owning and using them at the same time.
(Stay tuned for an upcoming post on testing various .22 ammunitions. It will include chronograph data on over 15 types of .22, and highly interesting and subjective accuracy findings [G])
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
This post by Brigid needs to be read far and wide.
It strikes to the heart of what millions of people think and feel.
Ever been disturbed or upset at the direction our society is moving? Read her post... it puts words to those thoughts better than anyone else since Ayn Rand has.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This coming weekend I hope to spend some range time sorting through a big box of .22 long rifle, seeking my Marlins favorite. I'd like to do the shooting past my chronograph, charting velocity variations. By doing so I should learn something about the consistency of the various rim fire products.
To that end, after work today I sorted out the parts of my Pact Model 1 chronograph and assembled it near the garden. To be sure it was working properly I needed to do some shooting through it. There were kids swimming not far away, and I preferred to make as little noise as possible. Since I'm not Frank James and don't own a 'sound reduction device', I decided to use truly quiet .22 ammunition.
A box each of Aguila Super Colibri and CCI CB Long ammunition were pulled from the safe, and a'shootin we did go.
Only a few rounds were required to test the Chrono, but I figured "Why waste the opportunity?" I shot ten rounds of each through the screens and made note of the results, as an investigation of the ammunition, while I tested my equipment.
The Aguila Super Colibri with it's 20 grain conical bullet showed considerable drop from my rifle at the range, and poor accuracy. It's possible these chronograph results reveal why. The velocity variations are sharp.
With an average muzzle speed of 565 fps, the extreme spread in velocity of 118 fps was huge. Thats almost a 20% variation in velocity. At least as significant was the standard deviation of 32 fps. It's no wonder my Marlin spit this stuff all over the landscape. On the other hand, the very low velocity helps to explain the extraordinary quietness of this ammunition. It barely goes 'Pfft' out of a long barrel.
Moving on to the CCI CB long with it's 29 grain round nose bullet (a favorite of mine for pest control) I fired another ten rounds. This ammunition was a bit louder, which was backed up by the higher velocity. It averaged 623 fps, and on the whole was much more stable in velocity variations.
There was one clinker round amongst the CCI string, and it heavily skewed the numbers. While shooting the CB longs, I had 'Pop', 'Pop', 'pfft', 'Pop'....
'Scuse me? what is this 'pfft' and where did it come from?
There was round in the bunch which came out of the barrel much slower than the others. Almost 150 fps slower... and this made a huge difference in a ten round string.
Dropping that round from the math brought the extreme spread from 184 fps down to 88 fps. This is still a very wide number accuracy wise. Velocity variations like this have to adversely effect accuracy.
I verified the chronograph works, and also verified something I suspected regarding the super quiet CB and Colibri rounds. They are not very accurate for a good reason..... the manufacturing variations in this type of ammunition seem to be rather extreme. The chrono clearly shows this.
Hmmm................... Perhaps I should take some apart and figure out why......
Monday, August 25, 2008
While sighting in and dealing with scope issues on the Marlin 780 in the last post, I tried out some Aguila Super Colibri .22 Long Rifle ammunition.
This is a powderless wonder with a 20 grain conical nose bullet.
I first tried it at fifty yards, as that is where the rifle was pointed (g). With a scope setting that placed high speed .22 long rifle rounds about an inch high, the Super Colibri hit fourteen inches lower. Worse, the group was over six inches in diameter.
Hanging a new target at 25 yards, the bullet now struck only six inches low, and shot a magazine load into three inches. Not exactly "Minute 'O Rat".
On the other hand, it's so quiet a shooter might have two or three chances before said 'rat' even notices its being fired on.
This ammunition has good reviews, but my rifle does not appreciate its charms.
I know the CCI CB-Long cartridges are just as quiet, and far, far more accurate.
The Aguilar Colibri ammunition is interesting, but unless I'm shooting vermin at fifteen feet I just can't see a use for it.
Friday, August 22, 2008
I hied myself to the range today. Goal: Sight in the Marlin 780 again and practice trigger control in preparation for testing ammunition in this rifle.
I set up two targets at fifty yards. One a simple sheet covered with one inch orange dots, the other a prototype target designed for the ammo testing. I wished to see if the target design was conducive to good shooting with the cheap little 4x scope on this rifle.
Sometime between last week and this, Gremlins manifested themselves inside the twenty year old Simmons deerfield scope mounted on this rifle and worked their evil magic. The photo here is not a trick of the camera... that is what the image looked like in the scope.
Having set up, I gave it a try anyway. While the scope had a ringed blur around the outside, the center was clear and I could aim satisfactorily.
The results made two things apparent. Yes, there is a marked difference in this rifles preference of .22 ammunition, and also I had to replace the optics before doing much more.
The upper target is cheap Remington ammo sold by the brick. I bought some when it was $9.95 for 500, and it's Ok for plinking and non-serious target practice.
Next, decent quality CCI Green tag target ammunition.
This stuff is regularly used in low level competition and is a good
bench mark to judge other .22 ammunition by.
The Marlin shot it well, and it was consistent. The group shown
here is a better one, but the others were not much worse.
To get good bench results from this light rifle, I employed an old trick I have used for many years. Rather than wrap my trigger hand around the rifle, transmitting all sorts of nasty vibration to the rifle, I only used it to squeeze the trigger and trigger guard together between two fingers. Try this sometime on the bench, if you can.
The off hand is squeezing a sandbag under the butt for elevation control.
While all this was fun, there is no way around the fact I needed a new optical sight. That being the case, I packed up my gear and made the half hour drive to my favorite little gun shop. I knew they had a case full of scopes, and a whole shelf full of used ones.
Trout Run Sporting Goods did not let me down, and I had my pick of many. Being a bit.... frugal.... yeh, thats it..... frugal.... I settled on a $20 Tasco World Class 3x9x40. The nest step up was a $75 BSA that had higher magnification but wasn't as clear.
Having plenty of daylight left, I headed back to the range. There I swapped on the new scope and started all over again. Yes, my range bag does include a gunsmith screwdriver set and loc-tite. Doesn't yours?
Brand new/used scope mounted and adjusted, I settled down to getting it sighted in. Each adjustment took about ten shots to set the crosshairs in a stable position; not uncommon with a cheap scope. I usually give them a sharp but gentle tap with the screwdriver handle after making the adjustment.
While I was picking up the scope I also bought a few more types of .22 rim fire ammunition to test. That expands the field to 16 different and distinct cartridges to look at.
One of the boxes I picked up today is a cheaper brand, sometimes found bulk packed. Why this is significant.... the Marlin gobbled it up and spit it into tighter groups than anything else I have tried in it so far.
What brand? Nope... for that you must wait for the testing.
Here is the result of the modification I made to the muzzle. Re-cutting the crown left a beautiful 11 degree target angle to it, and now it makes a perfect star pattern of residue after firing. The rifling leaves it's distinctive marking on the muzzle as the bullet passes cleanly from the bore. If there were any gaps or smudges, it would mean the bullet does not have a smooth exit from the barrel.
More shooting, more results, more fun will come in the near future. I'll print up some targets and warm the chronograph, and perhaps next week the testing will get done for real. Till then.... Keep your powder dry!
This is the target I cobbled together for the rim fire ammunition test.
I was thinking (hoping?) for four groups of five rounds each. This gives me four groups to average accuracy on, and a twenty round string for velocity numbers.
The only hitch I can think of is POA vs. POI. If the group centers more than an inch or two away from the point of aim, it might wander off the paper.
I guess we'll see!
Sunday, August 17, 2008
I’m working up to a test of .22 rim fire ammunition. Looking at both velocity variations and accuracy, I would like to fire each round from the same rifle through out the testing. Browsing the Carteach0 armory, only one rifle seems to fit this bill; My Marlin 780 bolt action fitted with a 4x scope.
Bought many years ago, the old Marlin had its wood stock refinished and the trigger modified slightly. Proving to be a consistently accurate small game rifle, it has accounted for untold numbers of squirrels and rabbits. Almost boringly easy to shoot from a bench, it has also been used to instruct several young shooters in safe handling and trigger control.
For this test, I’d like the ammunition to be on trial and not the rifle. To my way of thinking, that means I needed to go over the rifle and smooth any rough edges accumulated over the years. We all know what that means…. Off to the work bench we go!
The first step was to strip down the rifle and evaluate it. While it has been well treated, it certainly has been used. Things wear, bedding changes, and dirt accumulates.
The barreled action was dismounted from the stock, the bolt removed, and the scope dismounted. After a quick wipe down of any obvious grime, the barreled action was refitted to the stock and the bedding checked. The action portion was still fine but the barrel channel needed attention. The walnut stock had warped upwards slightly over the decades, and this was applying pressure to the barrel in an uneven fashion.
Snugging the stock into a cleaning fixture, I carefully removed wood from the channel using a specialty rasp made just for this job. Refitting and testing every few minutes, it took about thirty minutes to relieve the errant channel. I finished the job with some 600 grit paper wrapped around an aluminum shaft slightly under barrel diameter, smoothing the channel to almost a gloss finish.
Next, I turned to the trigger. Years ago I had fitted the trigger guard with an over-travel screw, and the trigger itself with new springs. Shims were installed between the trigger and its mounting to take away slop. At that time it was also polished on the contact points. Inspecting the trigger now revealed it to be in good shape, needing nothing more than a good cleaning. After some Q-tip cleaning action involving Ballistol, it was greased with Molybdenum lube.
From one end of the rifle to the other, now the muzzle came under study. Knowing that a proper crown is required for decent accuracy, many folks re-cut and shape their muzzles accordingly. Not being able to think of a good reason why this rifle should not have an eleven degree target crown, I proceeded to cut it so.
Using a crown cutting and chamfering tool kit from Brownells, I set up a cutting tool with an eleven degree cutter head and a .22 caliber pilot. Heavily lubed with cutting oil, I carefully made one turn at a time by hand, cleaning chips every rotation. In only ten minutes of work I had reshaped the roll crown into a sharp target crown exactly in line with the bore.
The Marlin Microgroove rifling does look unusual when viewed at a freshly crowned muzzle. I will likely re-cut a slight forty five degree indent to protect the fine rifling edges.
All significant changes being done, the barrel was given a good scrubbing with
Ballistol. Following this the bolt was field stripped and cleaned, and then the whole assembly was lightly lubed and reassembled.
Once assembled, I used my RCBS trigger gauge to check the trigger pull. A reliable two pounds, tested a dozen times. Surprisingly crisp for such a cheap rifle, it will more than suit for small game hunting and bench shooting.
The scope was reinstalled with fresh drops of loctite on the mounting screws. A few sighter shots at approximately sixty feet found each round widening a single whole in the metal burn barrel I was firing at, only an inch or so from point of aim. I’ll save final sighting for the bench at the range, where I’ll be running my rim fire ammunition testing. In fact, it might get sighted in today!
I'll let ya'll know how it turns out!
(Update with a warning.....)
Please be aware... just because I chose to hog out the barrel channel on this rifle and give it clearance does not mean every rifle shoots better that way. In fact, many rifles only shoot well with some upward pressure at the muzzle. I'm even aware of one military Mauser that will only shoot well with some downward pressure at the muzzle (I own the strange beast).
For this .22 Marlin, range time today demonstrated this rifle requires upward pressure to shoot well. I had to shim it with four thicknesses of card stock between the stock and barrel to get the pressure just right. Having done the experiment and figured this out, I'll now inlet a brass shim to apply that much pressure.
Once the bedding issue was diagnosed the rifle settled down and began shooting well. I was only sighting it in this afternoon, but it quickly started shooting quarter sized groups at fifty yards with cheap ammunition.
I have decided I'll need a higher magnification scope to do real accuracy testing at any kind of range. The four power generic Deerfield scope on it now has cross hairs that cover a one inch group at that range. Hard to really get fine accuracy that way...
Still, it is gratifying to see the old girl can still dance the dance
Saturday, August 16, 2008
I had thoughts of doing comparison testing of .22 Rimfire ammunition.
All across a chronograph, graphing the results for velocities and accuracy.
Same rifle, same kind of target, same range, all on the same day if possible.
I have eight different brands/types on hand, and would likely purchase more
variations for the test. Blog the whole mess of course, with photos and graphs.
In the meantime, I'll be looking over my old steadfast .22 bolt action today
while I consider the project.
Friday, August 15, 2008
In one way or another I have been armed since I was old enough to have my own .22 rifle. When I was of age I applied for and received a carry permit, and have held one most of my years since then. Truth be told, permit or not I have always had a weapon near me.
Since I grew up with weapons as tools, the morality of being armed was never raised as an issue. You had a chain saw to cut wood, and you had a firearm to defend yourself. You learned to use the chainsaw safely because you would need the skill as a capable adult. For the same reason you learned to shoot well and safely keep a weapon, as defending oneself is what a capable adult does. Personal responsibility demands one be able to do what’s needed, and be able to use the tools to meet that need. Anything less is a failure to oneself, ones loved ones, and ones community.
Later, in adult years, as introspection grew and answers to life’s questions were sought, I faced the issue of self defense. After carrying a weapon for years I finally took the time to ask myself why, and took the time to reason out an answer, or at least one of them.
I carry a weapon because it is the moral thing to do. It meets with my definition of doing ‘right’. Being prepared to defend myself and loved ones is part of being a responsible person.
Please allow me to explain…
I believe people have a ‘moral obligation’ to take responsibility for themselves, not leaving the task as a burden to others. I know this may not be a popular concept in some circles, but that does not change it as my belief. I know we are laden with entire generations of people who honestly think they bear no responsibility for their own safety, wellbeing, and actions.
I choose not to be one of those people.
I carry a weapon for much the same reasons as I usually have a pocket knife and a flashlight around me. These are all tools I may need to take care of myself and pull my own weight. To think of them other than tools is silly. Everything a man lays his hands on to complete a task is a tool, and no morality can possibly reside in the inanimate objects we use.
Why not leave my personal defense to ‘The Authorities’?
For several reasons, as I’ll explain.
It’s simply not possible for any government authority to defend my person. There is no arguing this point. Even in the most restrictive environments imaginable, our federal prison system, there are daily physical attacks resulting in death and injury. There is no ‘civilized’ society in the world where government authority has been able to protect and defend the individual citizen from criminals bent on harm. There is an element, a breed, of humans who live as predators on their fellow humans, and they reside next door to each of us. No amount of authority can take on the task of defending the individual, no matter how well meaning. If it must be done, then I must do it myself.
This notion of ‘The Authorities’ is often a nebulous one, with folks forgetting that government service is peopled with humans no different than ourselves. Good and bad, competent and worthless, our government mirrors our population and that should cause a moments thought. When I call on the police to help me, what am I really doing? I am asking my neighbor to put his life on the line for my needs. Perhaps not when simply investigating a break in or calming a troubled situation, but often enough when danger calls. For an unreasonably small handful of dollars I should expect the officer to arrive with weapon in hand and interpose himself between trouble and I? Is this right?
It’s here that morality raises its ugly head. How can I ask my neighbor to risk his life for me when I am not willing to do so for myself? How can I in good conscience expect an officer to care more for my loved ones and me, than I do myself?
I was raised understanding that a man did for himself, and only asked for help when he had to. This went hand in hand with the idea that you always helped your neighbor when they asked, because they wouldn’t ask if they didn’t really need it. That and it was part of the contract that they would be there when you asked in return. This contract has fallen by the wayside in our society, in many places. Too many now demand ‘help’ with every problem real or perceived, and too many honestly believe that ‘help’ is owed them by society for some unknown reason. Far too often, ‘help’ is defined as ‘Someone come and do this for me because I don’t want to!’
I carry a weapon because I believe a person has a moral responsibility to take care of themselves and not be a burden on others. The pistol I carry on my belt, and the rifle stored in my safe, are nothing more than tools needed to meet my responsibility. This is not a responsibility that can be relieved by some fool wishing it so and announcing it.
It’s a moral obligation that can only be self imposed, self delivered, and self administered.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Well, to be more exact, I went out and tried on holsters for my Smith&Wesson M+P 9c. There is an upcoming steel match, and a slight chance I’ll score an extra magazine or two that will allow me to use this pistol for the match. The rules require the pistol carried in a holster, and my Galco JAK slide just isn’t made for match shooting.
Well, to be exact and honest… I just wanted to try out a new holster. The match is a fair excuse to buy one. I’m sure most shooters will understand that. Besides, it was on sale.
I was in the market for a Blackhawk Serpa holster, but they haven’t made one for the M+P compact yet. The full size yes, but it’s an inch longer than needed and I balk at a carry holster that’s too big for no reason.
In the local gun shop, always a fun place to visit, I poked through the selection by Blackhawk, Don Hume, Galco, and Uncle Mike. Of the armfuls the shop had on hand, I finally settled on one that actually fit my pistol; An Uncle Mike's Kydex paddle holster, (#5412-1).
The 5412-1 is marked as suitable for the Glock 26, 27, 28, and 33. I tried it only because it looked close, and I had nothing to lose but time…. and time spent in a gun store does not count as time wasted. Later, looking it up on Uncle Mike’s website I found it’s also listed as for ‘other 9mm and compact automatics’. I guess the M+P 9c is an ‘other’?
Made of injection molded plastic, this holster has a very firm paddle arrangement for attaching to the belt. I found it would not pull off with any amount of obnoxious tugging on the pistol. In fact, I almost had to remove my belt to get the holster off. Compared to the Fobus I recently reviewed, the Uncle Mike’s is much more secure on the waist.
Remarkable for a low cost holster, this Plastic wonder is fully adjustable for cant and tension. The holster can be angled forward or back, via mounting screws, seemingly enough to become a cross-draw holster if desired. The retention tension is adjustable via two screws on the front of the holster. It was an easy matter to adjust the holster’s grasp on the pistol, although it was nearly perfect right out of the package.
Mounted on the belt, the Uncle Mike paddle holster rides high. High enough to elicit the only real complaint I have so far. The pistol is carried so high the wearers arm must be bent quite far to draw. This is an awkward position, especially if the tension on the holster is dialed up. It takes some force to draw the weapon and can be difficult with the arm already bent that far. Leaning over a bit helps.
My thoughts.... This holster will be fine as a range-rig. For CCW it feels too bulky and sticks out too far. Now, if they could lose the bulky paddle and just give us some belt slots like the Blackhawk...... it might be a winner for CCW. These are my opinions, yours may vary.
Looking closely at the holster design, I am considering making a belt loop plate to replace the screw on paddle attachment. If I can make such a beast, it will pull the holster much closer to the body. I might also figure a way to make it an 'inside the belt' holster, which I prefer for concealed carry.
I know..... I can never leave well enough alone...... (g).