Wednesday, May 30, 2012

S&W 9c Magazine drop problems... and my own cure for it.

.I've owned and carried a S+W M+P 9c for a few years now. It's a wonderful carry pistol with some well thought out features. Controls are minimal, with no external safeties to deal with. The sights are decent, accuracy is exceptional, and the magazine capacity is sufficient. It's a joy to shoot, pointing naturally, with a decent trigger right from the factory.

All this is good..... but there is a fly in the ointment. The 9c has one flaw, and it's not insignificant.

After owning, shooting, and carrying the pistol for some months it began doing something disconcerting. The magazine would release and drop at times when I hadn't planned on doing so. Sometimes in the holster, and sometimes when I brushed the release while shooting the pistol. I discussed the issue back then, in a number of posts linked together.

At the time, I shipped the pistol back to Smith and Wesson for an updated magazine catch. Given the minuscule engagement of the catch to the magazine, it needed to be perfect. The one my pistol came with had taken some wear from normal use, and that contributing to the problem.

Smith and Wesson returned my pistol with a new catch installed. It appeared to be exactly the same, except it was coated with something slick to reduce wear. I've been using the pistol ever since with no problems, and have fired thousands of rounds through it. It's been a daily carry for CCW purposes, and the magazine catch issue has not reared it's ugly head..... till now.

I noticed a few times lately the magazine had released during normal handling. That's just not something I'm willing to tolerate in a defensive carry pistol. There's been no sign that Smith and Wesson has done anything new with the issue, so I've been left to my own resources. That is a sure recipe for disaster.

Here, in a series of photos and descriptions, I'll journal what I've done to my 9c to solve the problem. As in everything, your mileage may vary. I'm certain Smith and Wesson would frown on every single thing I've done here, and thats their prerogative. Of the other hand, this is my weapon and my responsibility, and I'm perfectly willing to rely on myself to fix a problem the manufacturer can't seem to.

Should someone else try to modify their own 9c as I have done? That's up to them, but I would encourage second thoughts first. Even the smallest mistake here might render the pistol useless or undependable. Most people would be better shipping their pistol back to S+W if they have this problem.

The magazine catch button on the 9c is pronounced, and protrudes past the body line of the pistol. While this makes it easy to operate for people with small hands, it also makes it possible to activate unintentionally by brushing the pistol with hand or holster.

The magazine has holes on either side to accommodate the ambidextrous latch mechanism. The problem is not in the magazine.... this arrangement is universally used in other firearms without problem.

Looking inside the magazine well to view the latch in operation, we find the latch itself and it's torsion bar spring which is permanently installed in the polymer molded frame. The latch can be easily removed and reversed for left handed shooters.

Tearing down a magazine and inserting the empty body into the well, we can see the magazine catch just barely engages the hole in the magazine body.
Measured with a vernier caliper, it amounts to about .020" of engagement, which is too close for comfort.

I chose to attack this problem in three ways at the same time. Each modification being small, but adding up to a magazine catch which works better than the factory allowed.

This is the magazine latch removed from the pistol. The limiting factor for it's ability to engage the magazine is how far it can protrude into the magazine well. This is determined by the lip in the plastic body just outboard of the metal catch itself. This lip seats on the frame, and limits the travel of the magazine catch into the well.

Using a razer knife and large lit magnifier, I trimmed back the lip about .020" all the way around the magazine catch, as shown. Dressed with a fine square file after being trimmed, it allowed the catch to seat that much deeper into the frame.

Taking care of the catch so it could engage deeper, I turned to the torsion bar spring. It seemed weak, again making the catch easier to operate for people with small hands. I have large hands and can deal with more tension on the latch, so wished to have a firmer spring.

The torsion bar spring is not replaceable, so I chose to strengthen what was there. Cutting the plastic body from a Q-tip to length, I carefully installed the plastic tube onto the torsion bar. There, it shimmed the bar tighter, and acted as a spring itself when it came up against the frame on activation.
The tiniest drop of 241 Loctite on the bar keeps it in place.

Here, the latch mechanism is fully assembled and the empty magazine body once again installed, we can see the latch engagement is considerably deeper. In fact, it's just about doubled. In addition, it requires a firmer activation of the latch to drop the magazine.

The last step was to carefully reduce the outside dimension of the latch button so it would be less likely to inadvertently drop the magazine.

With a fine file and emery cloth I removed some material from the button surface.

up the three modifications, I have a great deal more confidence in the magazine catch on my S+W 9c. It feels firmer and less likely to drop the magazine by mistake.
Any pistol shooter can drop a magazine from their weapon, and training is the best cure for that. Starting with a pistol that doesn't do so by itself... that is a good first step.


Several weeks of carry and several hundred rounds later, the modifications seem to be working perfectly. The plastic tube has not slipped at all, and the magazine is firmly retained yet easy to remove.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Safety glasses with a twist..... Eye-Pro for us old farts!

About mumble mumble years back, The Fat Man began wearing glasses to read. Yes, this changed how I used open sights, and took some getting use to. Scopes, spotting scopes, holographic sights... they all had their brand new challenges.

Fast forward to only a couple years ago, and the eye doc used those hated words.. "How Are You With Change?". That time I walked out of his office feeling eight feet tall, as I was wearing bifocals for the first time. I walked like a clown for days, carefully placing my great big flipper feet on a ground that suddenly seemed somehow farther away than reason would suggest.

Friends and neighbors, when one is thrust rudely into such a position, one must simply deal with it as best can. As for Carteach, the experience of teaching a tech class and dealing with safety issues for fifty new young souls a year helped, as I knew about this very cool product:

Safety glasses with bifocal readers built in!

I have been using an AO version of these for years as range glasses, and now I'm thrilled to see Dewalt has jumped into the fray with these 'smoked' versions. If you wear bifocals, you probably know exactly what I am talking about here. If you just wear readers, these are for you too. No more swapping glasses back and forth every two minutes!

Making it even better, they only cost about $12 and shipping is free if you are a prime member. Sweeter yet, Dewalt lens are one of the better ones, and are of good enough optical quality that long term wear doesn't induce headaches. At least, that has been my experience.

I just ordered a few pair of the Dewalt smoked model, for range bag and vehicle. That is a box I'll eagerly wait for!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Just a couple words....


On this Memorial weekend, I won't be grilling any steaks. I won't be knocking back any beer. I won't be off camping for the long weekend. I won't be out on the river fishing.

I'll be working, earning money, living my life, and enjoying the freedoms Americans still have left. I owe the ability to do that to the sacrifice of untold thousands of American service men and women.

All I can say is....

Thank you. I'll try my best to earn it.


A thank you, and some thoughts towards the future of this blog

I wanted to take just a moment and say thank you to... well..... you. The people who spend time here reading my poor offerings make this all worthwhile. For the most part, this blog is simply one shooter sharing his hobby with all those of like interest. It started out as that some years ago, and remains that. Along the way some great things have happened to this writer, and it's you folks I have to thank for it!

To those who click through on the ads, or shop through the Amazon links here, a special thanks. Doing so is a kindness towards The Fat Man, and costs my readers nothing while dropping enough coin in the pot to make some difference here.

Those pennies may make the difference between this blog existing or vanishing, as I'll explain. Blogger is changing it's format, once again, and at first glance it looks like they may be jumping the shark this time. The thing, Blogger is a free ice cream machine, so the owner (Google) is certainly free to do whatever they wish with it.

Like many things in life, progress comes with prodding... and Blogger is fixing to prod the Fat man right in the tender bits. Naturally, a response is in order, and maybe some growth.

I took those pennies that accumulated from advertising and Amazon sales, and put them towards both hardware and software to update my most reliable desk top PC (Hand built low these many years ago...), and I'll be larning myself how to do that web site building thing.

Yes... in the near future (Think months), Carteach0 the blog will be migrating to a dedicated website of it's own. All the old material will be moving over, bit by bit, and new and expanded goodness will be showing up as well. Thinking is a forum might be a good idea, as well as a 'Shooty Deals' section.

With the move will be a new name, and "Shooters to the Line" has already been registered with the intergalactic web site naming place.

Think good thoughts in The Fat Man's direction, as he learns web site design and hunts down a decent web hosting service. Keep on hitting those ads, and the Amazon links, as this 'free' blog is soon to be 'not-so-free' on this end.

Thanks folks!

Friday, May 25, 2012

30-06 M2 Armor Piercing bullets... reloaded


An issue brewing here on the blog over the last year has been the relative accuracy of .30 caliber M2 Armor Piercing ammunition. Some swear it's the best Garand chow they've ever used, while others claim it's seldom able to puncture the barn you aim at.

In answer to these quandaries, Carteach and a few fine, intelligent, and loyal readers have been swapping pulled AP bullets and ammo back and forth for testing. Sadly... there's been no swapping of fine spirits and cigars to go with it. Not so sadly, 'Ol Carteach has been the recipient of some mighty fine generosity in the quest, with boxes of both pulled AP bullets and Genuine M2 AP ball showing up on the doorstep.

In a previous article here, we were able to see the pulled AP bullets (Of unknown origin) sectioned. This revealed anomalies in the bullets inner core, with cavities and deterioration. Research led to the understanding these bullets were constructed with something called 'T Shot' in their nose, which seemed to disintegrate with age. This left a bullet with wibbly wobbly centers of gravity, and concurrent accuracy issues.

Well.... The 'Ol Fat Man finally found some bench and range time to really test the issue, loading the pulled bullets in well prepared cases with historically accurate Garand specific load data.

Firing was off sandbags from the bench at 100 yards, with a Garand known to be impressively accurate. The real limiting factors in the test were Carteach's aging eyes and skill.

The results.....

The Greek HXP was shot as control, with many shooters used to it's solid mil-surp performance.

The Saint Louis armory M2 AP ball represented a known excellent quality US Military surplus ammunition, and provided results that were exceptionally good. It's this sample that exemplifies all those claims of pleasing accuracy from AP ball ammunition.

The target fired with the unknown and unidentified pulled AP bullets, likely from foreign military surplus, that demonstrates the point of those who claim AP ball is about as accurate as a thrown rock.

Conclusions from Carteach? Armor Piercing ammunition is just like any other old Mil-Surp ammo. Some good, some bad, and some excellent. It all depends on the original maker, and the handling the ammunition has had since it's birth. One shouldn't hit all AP with a wide brush, stating it's inaccurate. The target above proves different. One also shouldn't claim all AP is akin to firing a laser... as again, the target above proves different.

Shoot... learn..... enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thoughts on Appleseed.....


"The only politicians we'll talk about at Appleseed have been dead for 200 years".

Thus spoke the shoot boss at the latest Appleseed clinic I attended. He went on to explain how it wasn't a political event, no one was going to talk about modern politicians, and history was the main topic. History, and the skills of a rifleman.

Talking with the volunteers at the weekend rifle clinic, they all had their stories regarding why they were there... and there was a common thread. A serious and dedicated desire to see people learn the history of their nation, and awaken in them a desire to seek liberty.

This, to my humble mind, is the less
on behind the history taught at Appleseed. The rifle clinic, with all the skills taught, is beyond valuable. That said... those skills are in fact more than just a fun challenge. They are the means that Americans used to reach their goals of freedom and liberty.

Scarcely hidden in the Appleseed teaching over the weekend is this notion; Americans, as a distinct breed, have been blessed
with the knowledge and skills needed to shape their own fate. Centering their history lessons on the single date: April 19th, 1775, the decisions made by Americans to fight for their own freedom are laid bare, and examined. Deeply entwined with that choice of fighting for liberty and freedom was the ability of those men and women to enforce their choice over the objection of the finest fighting forces of the world at that time... The British Regulars.

A rifleman is a power unto himself, with all the responsibility that goes with it. Trained in basic marksmanship skills, and armed with only a serviceable rifle, a rifleman can have a clear and powerful effect on those who would do him
harm. Not just across a room, or across a city street... but at distances measured in fractions of a mile.

One rifleman is a force to be reckoned with. Two rifleman are a force to be carefully respected. Five rifleman working as a team are a force not only worthy of respect, but of deep fear in the hearts of those who would subjugate them. A nation of riflemen.... can be nothing but a free people.

Unless they give that power away.

This is an unspoken lesson of Appleseed. Every man and woman has a choice to make: Freedom or slavery. It was a choice made over 200 years ago by entire families who wagered their very lives in a battle for their own freedom. They made their choice, and then took up arms to enforce their choice. Armed, they had the power to be a free people. Unarmed, they were mere peasants and rabble to be disregarded and abused at the whim of uncaring government.

I've never heard this articulated by an Appleseed volunteer... nor mentioned in their training material. Perhaps it's only the quiet musings of a fat old school teacher from Pennsylvania.

Take it for what you will.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Building an emergency Medical kit for range duty.... your thoughts?

Recently at the Appleseed clinic, one of the instructors hung a military style medic bag off the canopy pole ( you know... the tri-fold type with all the kewl pockets and fancy whojowasits). I looked the kit over, and compared it to my own piddly nod towards carrying a 'medical kit' ... a couple Israeli trauma bandages and...... um..... er.... well......... a bottle of water?

I've had the thought for some time that I needed to build an emergency medical kit to keep in my vehicle and carry with my range bag. Something a little more formal than the few items I shove in spare nooks now. Looking at the bag the Army trained medic brought with him to the Appleseed clinic, the urge solidified... and I've begun the job.

Honestly, my first thought was "Get a kewl medic bag full of kewl medic stuff like the kewl Army Medic guy had!" Sure... that's it.... buy an expensive kit full of really great gear..... that I have no idea how to use. The image came to mind of me sitting on the ground next to some poor doomed accident victim, the fancy tri-fold bag open in my lap, and me just staring at it wondering why it wasn't leaping up and fixing the guy on it's own.

My last formal first aid slash medical 'training' was in the Boy Scouts,
mumble mumble years ago. For all intents, I've had no training at all. On the other hand, I've had a lifetime in an industry where injuries are a daily occurrence, and all mechanics have first aid supplies in their tool box. I've patched up... cut, slashed, smashed, burned, stabbed, and smacked people... including myself. I've had ER docs unwrap my work, compliment me on the job, re-bandage it exactly as I had done, and send me off with a hefty bill. In other words, I'm better than nothing... but just barely.

With that in mind, I figured I'd build a medical kit that played towards what I can actually do, rather than one stuffed full of gear I don't know how to use.

You people is SCHMART.... and I'm asking for your thoughts on what should be in the bag. I'll list what I have so far (Amazon links so you can see what I mean), and things such as analgesics, sunscreen, and bug spray go without saying.... but feel free to chip them in anyway.

Military Cotton Canvas Ammo Shoulder Messenger Bag

BD Alcohol Swabs Thicker, Softer, 100 Individually Foil Wrapped

Braunamid Synthetic Suture / Needle Combinations - 45 cm - 2/0 - Medium

Kerlix Type Gauze Rolls 4"X4 yds, Sterile, 4/bag

Ammonia Inhalant 33 cc 10 per box

Betadine Swab Aid Antiseptic Pads, 10% Povidone, 100/bx

Betadine Solution, Antiseptic, 8 fl oz

Bandage Scissors EMT Paramedic Medical Tool Red 7.25"

Quikclot Sport Brand Advanced Clotting Sponge ,Stop Bleeding Fast, 50 Gram Package

New Israeli Battle Dressing, 6-inch Compression Bandage

Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandages, Assorted Sizes, Variety Pack, 280 Count

Universal Aluminium Splint

Unisol 4 Preservative Free Saline Solution, 12 Ounce

Obviously, this all leans towards wound treatment, which is foremost on my mind. But what about allergic reactions? Bee stings? Benadryl, but what form? What pain relievers would be best, besides the obvious Tylenol and Ibuprofen?

Piecing it together this way, Carteach has not even reached $150 in total outlay for the kit, and many of the supplies come in packs large enough to split between home and kit bag. The thing is.... I KNOW I'm forgetting important things!

Help me out here, all you smart people!

(Oh.... and I've already got a large double handful of forceps, clamps, surgical scissors, and disposable scalpels on hand. Don't ask how.... things just happen)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Victorinox Pocket knife..... a tool for a lifetime

I've owned a knife like this one for many, many years. A gift from a real Swiss Army soldier, from Switzerland and everything. It resided in my pocket, in my vehicle, and now in my 'Oh Crap' grab and go bag.

It's the Victorinox Swiss Army Pioneer Pocket Knife.

A few weeks back, I bought another for myself as a spare, and began carrying it a few days a week, as whim dictated. Choice is a wonderful thing sometimes!

Well.... the moniker 'Carteach' comes by me honestly, and that's what I do for a career. At least... it's what I have done for the last ten years. Some of my students saw my 'Genuine Swiss Army Knife, and it was a hit. It seems that what 'Teach' uses must be good, for some reason.

This year... Carteach the teacher is going to change, and my career in public education comes to an end. As the year comes to a close, I'll admit, the rules do seem a bit more flexible all of a sudden. Rules like.... not giving students gifts.

That is why I've ordered four of the Swiss army knives like the one I carry, and the one shown here. These I'll give to students on the night of graduation, as a gift from an instructor who wishes to show how much respect he has for them as young men.

There was a time in our nation when gifts like that passed from man to boy, as a right of passage. It denoted trust, respect, and understanding.

Let not that tradition end.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Scoping the 10/22 target: Pt.II..... featuring a DNZ Game reaper mount and Nikon Prostaff Rimfire scope

When the Ruger 10/22 Target model came home with me from The Collectors Gunshop, the idea was the rifle would be my ticket to Appleseed nirvana. After all it has a target bull barrel, a great trigger, a super stiff laminated stock perfect for sling use, and is already set up to mount an optical sight... something my aging eyes require.

The day it came home, an Eotech found it's way onto the Ruger's included Picatinney rail, and immediately the rifle began demonstrating an amazing capacity for accuracy. So much so, in fact, that not mounting a quality optic on the rifle would almost be a sin. Towards that end, the knowledgeable folks at Collectors guided Carteach towards a new offering from Nikon... Specifically, the Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9 x 40.

The Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9 x 40 is designed for the .22 rimfire and Air Rifle market, and is an exceptional piece of work. Investigating the scope, I discovered Nikon makes an 'EFR' model, so named for it's 'Extended Focus Range'. Th
at's a feature The Fat Man can snuggle up to, being able to dial in and focus a crystal clear sight picture anywhere from 15 yards all the way out to 300 yards. In keeping with it's intended use of relatively close range target shooting, the scope has click adjustments equaling 1/4" at 50 yards, or 1/2" at 100 yards.

Obviously, the scope will also work just fine for other calibers than .22, and I have read of them being used on varmint rifles in the .223 category quite succesfully. I have my
own plans on buying another and mounting it on my Savage .17 HMR, to enhance it's already substantial ground hog eradication powers.

Do I like this scope? Oh... I don't know.... Is it possible to fall in love with an optic? YES! I Like this scope! I want a few more exactly like it for other rifles!

Now.... how to mount this spectacular scope on the tack driving Ruger 10/22 Target? Here again, the folks at Collectors had an answer, as they introduced me to the DNZ 'Reaper' mounting system. This one piece mount is specifically machined to fit the rifle, and eliminates the idea of mounting bases on the rifles, and then rings to the bases. Improper alignment is all but impossible, and the rings need not be trued to fit before bolting in the scope.

The Fat Man contacted the owner of DNZ mounts down in North Carolina and talked with him about the mounts history. It
seems it all began back in the 80's when he wanted a quality mount for a muzzle loading hunting rifle. In the finest American tradition he machined his own.... and the 'Game Reaper' mount was born. Last year they shipped 60,000 units...... yes, I said 60,000 units.... and Carteach had never heard of them till Collectors hit him with a clue bat.

The DNZ Reaper line has about sixty different offerings in it, each designed and built to perfectly fit a specific rifle. The
y also have a number of offerings built to fit AR carry handles and Piccatinny rails. Now that I have seen how well this mount works, I'll be swapping over a few other rifles to DNZ setups. The pricing on them makes this reasonable for the quality you get, and the one piece design is strong and stable.

Carteach's Ruger proved no hassle at all in mounting the DNZ mount designed for it. In fact, it took less than five minutes to unpack the mount and have it secured to the rifle using the provided hardware and
tool. Installing the scope took another ten minutes, what with all the fussing about eye relief, levelness, rechecking everything, etc... etc.

It almost seemed too easy, but not twe
nty minutes after unpacking the scope and mount, shots were going down range as it was all sighted in. Less than five rounds put the bullets hitting exactly where they were pointed. The Nikon's specially designed adjustment knob made this even easier, and once the scope was zero'ed, the dial was simply lifted to unlock and then set to 'zero'. Targeting adjustments from there are a snap. The idea is... get the rifle dialed in, and then set the adjustment knob back to '0'. After that, it can be dialed up and down as needed depending on the targets range, but always returned to the original zero.

Five rounds to sight in.... and the next five rounds did THIS:

After shooting this group (while simply resting the rifle on the porch rail out back), the scope was then adjusted through it's power range, shooting three more groups... each at a different setting. The groups looked like the targets had been run through a copier.... each exactly the same size, in exactly the same place.

The Ruger 10/22 target model is spectacularly accurate. The Nikon ProStaff Rimfire is startlingly clear and precise. The DNZ mount is rock solid. Put it all together, and the package is.... perfect.