Saturday, August 29, 2009
Another 200 rounds went downrange this morning from the Glock 30. It was a flawless display, with not one hiccup for me to report on. Even the hotter .45acp hand loads were handled with aplomb and grace, and the weapon is very easy to control.
It's boring to have nothing to report on but perfection. I've been carrying the pistol every day since it's first range session, and have perhaps 1000 rounds through by now. So far, my one and only complaint is that Crimson Trace does not make a laser for the G-30 SF model yet, and won't even review the idea for at least three months (CT engineers only meets quarterly to discuss new models).
It's a smoothly functioning machine, almost boring in it's predictability and dependability. Exactly what one desires in a defensive weapon.
On another note, today I discovered that my cheapo paper plate targets offer me a training option at the range. If I attach them to the backer with just the very edge of the clothespin, the target falls off after just a few hits. That means I hit it, it falls down, and I move on to the next target which is a royal pain in the behind until I call it a reactive target and shoot it as such.
"Bang bang bang (fall down) transition.. Bang bang bang (fall down)..... he he... impromptu and cheap fun. The other folks in the next bay looked around the berm, saw all the trouble I was having keeping my targets stuck up there, and offered me more clothes pins........
I don't think they understood why I was laughing.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Today I got a chance at some range time, and thought I might discuss working on basic shooting schools. In this case, flinching and failure drills.
Dr Helen posted about a gun-bloggers get together. (It sounded like a great time had by all!) In her posting she mentioned an issue with flinching, and that started me thinking.
Flinch, or what might also be called 'anticipating the shot' is a problem where accuracy is concerned. In bad cases, it can can throw shots right off the target. With long arm or pistol, it can happen to anyone. It occurs when the shooter becomes conscious of the recoil, and reacts to it before it even happens. Rather than letting the weapon recoil naturally, the shooter pushes into it, throwing off the round before it ever leaves the barrel.
In it's very worst incarnation, a shooter can actually be scared of the recoil, and 'flinch' can be massive. While most every shooter can physically handle most any small arm within reason, a horrendous flinch, once learned, can be seriously difficult to get rid of. It may be one of the most common reasons new shooters, who started out with too large a weapon and poor training, give up the sport.
New shooters should usually start with small caliber weapons, so skills can be worked on without having to deal with recoil. The classic for this role is the trusty old .22. Cheap, quiet, accurate, and with almost no recoil at all, it's the traditional way for new shooters to learn.
Highly experienced shooters often return to the .22 for target, plinking, and solid skills practice. Some shooters never leave it behind in the first place!
Here is a short video demonstrating the offending act. The pistol is a large, heavy, magnum, often found at the source of flinching. Notice the muzzle drop as the hammer falls on an empty chamber.... that is flinch.
I'm happy to say... I did that on purpose. I worked through most of my 'flinch' issues long ago. That said, even the slightest bit is harmful to precise shooting.
The video itself shows a useful way of working on shooting skills. Just the same as all major athletes review video of themselves, there is something very helpful in seeing ourselves in action. A watchful coach on hand can point out problems and solutions, but actually seeing yourself is priceless.
There are a number of ways to train away a flinch. Classic among them is simple dry firing. With an unloaded weapon, and no ammunition in the room, preferably by yourself, and with a safe bullet absorbent wall... (get the idea that safety is important?), now choose a small point on the wall at comfortable height. Aim at that point, practicing squeezing the trigger. Ideally, the sights should not waver as the striker/hammer impacts. Pictures are good, but just a tiny piece of tape will suit fine.
This is particularly dramatic over a distance of twenty feet or so, with a laser on the weapon. Watching that red dot dance can be very instructive! Do this kind of dry fire practice daily if possible. Even ten minutes a day of trigger and sight practice can prove very effective.
Now, some methods of flinch training on the range are the subject here. So... lets see a couple that work.
First, and a classic, is to load a revolver with the occasional empty chamber. Either have a partner do so, where you can't see, or do so yourself and spin the cylinder. Coming up on an empty chamber unexpectedly can reveal a flinch dramatically to the shooter.
In this video, played at slow motion, watching carefully at the muzzle will show some flinch as the empty chambers come under the hammer....
Again, instructive by itself, doubly educational with a video of yourself to watch. Honesty insists.... I was not trying to show a flinch that time... what you see is real.
Now, naturally this won't work with an autoloader. Not really.
Sure, for maybe one at a time, with someone else loading for you and handing you the weapon. It can help, but it's certainly slow and not much fun
More preferential, and more effective, is to purchase some action testing plastic dummy rounds for the weapon. These are inexpensive, and quite safe. They can also be known as 'snap caps', but those are more likely to be mechanical in nature with a spring loaded mechanism to reduce firing pin impact.
Action proving dummy rounds are solid plastic, cheap, and will function through a magazine just like a loaded factory round. They can be ordered for most all common pistol, and most rifle, calibers.
Placing these intermittently in a loaded magazine will serve the same function as empty chambers in a revolver. At certain times the pistol will go 'click' instead of bang. If flinch is an issue, it will become apparent at that time. Again, video helps tremendously.
Using these dummy rounds in a magazine also allows another skill to be practiced at the same time.... the 'failure drill'.
What happens when your autoloader fails to fire as expected? All click, no bang... and that can be a sinking feeling. It need not be that big an issue if the failure drill is practiced. Also called a 'Tap and Rack', the magazine is given a smack to make sure it's seated and the offending round is racked out of the chamber, a new one being stripped in when the slid is released.
Here it is in action.... and no laughing please.... I'm trying to be helpful here...
Whatever method is chosen, flinch is certainly possible to overcome. If these methods don't help, a good shooting coach will know many more. No matter what... never give up!
Monday, August 10, 2009
Here in Carteach0 land, carry pistols have varied little over the years. In fact, they amount to three choices, depending on various factors. A Colt Combat Commander in .45acp, a Taurus model 85 snubby in .38 special, and a Smith + Wesson M+P 9c compact 9mm. 95% of the time the M+P won the draw, and was in my holster as I left the house.
The M+P has features I approve of in a carry pistol. Ease of operation tops the list, as it has no external safeties to deal with. The only controls that need be learned are the trigger, the magazine release, and the slide release. The M+P is also as reliable as any autoloader, and better than most. It gobbles up just about any ammunition, both factory and hand loads, and shoots them straight. It’s an accurate pistol… very accurate considering its size.
One builder glaringly missing from the CCW list is Glock, a pistol chosen by a great many people as their carry and duty weapon. A lot of folks swear by the Glock, speaking of unending dependability and ease of service. A few people swear at the Glock, calling it a plastic brick, and giving it the nickname ‘The Block’.
For most of my shooting life I fell squarely in the second group. The Glock series of pistols felt odd in my hand, and didn’t point instinctively. When I was young, my friends did a group buy on model 17’s, way back when they first came out. I opted out of the buy… and stuck with my old Colt. I still have the Colt, but their Glocks were sold or traded long ago. It wasn’t that I had anything against the Glock pistols…. they just felt wrong to my hand, and rather toy like.
Perhaps it was the years of experience with the S+W M+P, but the last time I looked at a cabinet full of Glocks, I didn’t turn away. Asking to handle a few of them, I found the new ‘SF’ models have a redesigned frame, and suddenly the Glock didn’t feel quite so ‘wrong’. Looking further, I encountered the Glock Model 30. It’s a compact CCW or backup pistol with a double stack magazine holding ten rounds of…. Oh My! The one true caliber! My old favorite, the beloved .45 acp.
Comparing the Mdl 30 to the M+P 9c on my belt, I found them to be akin in size. The Glock is slightly stockier, and slightly thicker, but only just barely. For man with big hands, as I have, the chunkier grip is welcome. The M+P 9c holds 13 rounds of 9x19mm, while the Glock 30 holds 11 rounds of .45acp (ten in the magazine and one in the pipe). Both come with decent sights, and both are available with night sights. Crimson Trace makes lasers for both as well.
The triggers are also comparable, with a slight nod to the M+P in crispness. Still, the new model Glock has a decent trigger, and is quite controllable in let off.
Both pistols have a minimum of external controls. The M+P has a take down lever on the left side, while the Glock uses the miniscule tabs on both sides of the frame. Other than that, they offer the same manual of arms. Immediately noted was the firmness of the magazine release on the Glock, as compared to the S+W. The M+P compact has had issues with magazine drops due to the design of the magazine catch. Clearly that is not an issue for the Glock, as it takes a firm gesture to release the magazine. It does not feel like it could happen accidentally.
Speaking of magazines… the M+P uses a steel magazine with a plastic base, while the Glock uses an all plastic magazine with a steel inner liner. The M+P magazine is easy to load, but the Glock…. is not. The tenth round going into the Glock magazine can be a real struggle. On the other hand, the Glock 30 feeds that ammunition as surely as night follows day, so the spring tension must work out just fine.
Shooting on the range, I found the M+P to be a pleasure as always. Easy to shoot well, accurate, and almost eager to put the bullet right where the shooter intends. The Glock, on the other hand, turned out to be a real surprise to this old skeptic. I had expected fair accuracy, and fair shootability considering it’s a small sized pistol firing a fairly large bullet. What I found instead was astounding accuracy, rivaling the Colt Commander. The Glock 30 also manages to absorb the recoil pulse in such a way as to make repeat shots relatively easy. All in all, a very pleasant surprise was dished up by the little Glock.
I managed to try two brands of factory ammunition in the Glock, and six different hand loads. It cycled all without a hitch. Even rather warm hand loads pushing Berries plated bullets turned out to be accurate, and that was a real surprise as well. The Glock uses polygonal rifling, and the company states categorically that only jacketed bullets are to be used. The Berries bullet is plated soft lead, and there was some doubt as whether they’d shoot in the Glock. Not only did they shoot well, but the bore looked pristine after fifty rounds of the snappy hand load.
In a blatant attempt to force a misfeed, I even shot a few dozen rounds loaded with the old Speer 200 grain hollow point. Dubbed ‘The Flying Ashtray’, these bullets had the largest
hollow point ever seen in a factory bullet. No longer available, Speer now sells the excellent line of ‘Gold Dot’ bullets instead.
The Glock digested the Speer ashtrays, and as if to sneer right back at me, spit the old style bullets into its tightest group yet. The bullet holes clumped together in a cluster just half the apparent width of the front sight from the fifty foot bench I was leaning on.
In roughly two hundred rounds of testing, the Glock 30 did not suffer one feeding or functional glitch. This was new from the box, as Glock delivers their pistols properly lubed and ready to go. I did nothing more than run a dry patch through the bore.
The Glock 30 is not without its detractors. Some owners of the SF (short frame) model have run into a problem with the slide rubbing on the trigger bar. I intentionally did not clean this example through several range sessions in order to let evidence accumulate. On stripping the pistol down, I did see a tiny shiny spot on the trigger bar where some have described it. It’s very slight indeed, and I doubt will be a problem so bad that a little polishing won’t cure it.
Cleaning is fairly easy with the Glock, and take down requires no tools. It does require brains, and a careful attention to detail. It's not that the procedure is complicated, but that it requires pulling the trigger to release the striker. Obviously, if this done with a round in the chamber bad things may happen. Not the least of which is embarrassment, and someone could easily be injured or killed. The answer? Just be smarter than a rock, and check to be sure the weapon is not loaded!
In holsters, a Dun Hume designed for the Glock is on order, but in the meantime I found it fits perfectly in the Galco JAK slide I used for both my M+P and my Commander. The pistol carries well, and does not drag down the belt at all. The chubby little spare magazine easily drops into a pocket, giving a total of twenty one rounds on hand. This compares well to the twenty five the M+P 9c offered, with a spare magazine. Given that it’s twenty one rounds of proven bad guy stopping .45acp…. that’s comforting indeed.
Regarding the subject of caliber and carry weapons, I refuse to enter the debate. My own thoughts are quite simple…. Any weapon is better than no weapon, any hit is better than any miss, and bigger bullets are always better. But… there is that old adage… “A 9mm might expand to .45, but a .45 will never shrink to 9mm”. I will say that the .45acp is one caliber that I don’t feel under-gunned with when carrying full metal jacket round nose slugs. Even these low tech bullets have a good stopping history in the .45acp.
To wrap the story up… the Glock 30 feels decent, shoots very straight, and if it lives up to the tradition of Glock dependability, it will join my list of regular carry pistols.