CM9 to G26 Conversion

18 11 2012

OK, so it’s not so much a “conversion” as it is a trade-up.  What happened?

It all goes back to what Nutnfancy calls POU – Philosophy Of Use.  I purchased this Kahr CM9 for the express purpose of concealed carry.  I wanted something a little larger with a little more firepower than my Taurus TCP pocket pistol, preferably single-stack, 9mm or larger.

When it comes to any of my tools – and I use that term broadly to include power tools, firearms, automobiles, etc. – I value reliability above almost all else.  That is especially true for any firearm I purchase with the express intent to use for defense should the need arise.

With all that in mind, I could not get the Kahr to behave.  The teething problems I mentioned in my first post on the firearm just never went away.  Having come from a history of owning and loving a Glock 17 that readily eats any ammunition you throw at it without complaint, the Kahr was a disappointment.  I tried numerous types of defense ammunition, and while I found the Hornady Critical Defense to be the best behaving it would still result in an occasional slide lock in the middle of a magazine.  And yes, I even tried tapping my magazines down before inserting them – still no luck.  Finally I tried to burn through some more ammunition for “break in”, thinking that maybe I hadn’t given the firearm a long enough break in period.  This resulted in more bad experiences – failure to feeds, failure to ejects, and quite a few more slide locks.

Looking around online I found only a few mentions of this problem, but according to those forum posts and my observations the problem with the slide lock catching the tip of a bullet before the magazine was empty was an inherent problem with the design.

So I traded it in for a Glock 26.

I will admit that I did not give Kahr a chance to fix the firearm.  Why?  Confidence.  What level of trust would YOU have in such a problematic firearm that got fixed by the factory?  How many flawless rounds would it take to convince you it was a firearm worthy of your confidence?  The G26 is basically identical to my G17 which I love, can use all of my G17 magazines, and thus far has proven to be excellent.  Granted it is a little thicker than I had originally hoped for, but at least I have confidence in the firearm I have on me.





My M1 does my talking!

18 11 2012

The M1 Garand (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M1_Garand) bug first bit me about 2 years ago when I fired a beautiful WWII-era Springfield Armory specimen owned by my dad.  Nothing quite like the experience of narrowly avoiding the infamous Garand Thumb, only to have the en bloc clip thrown in your face after 8 quickly-disappearing yet relatively expensive rounds – but damn it was fun!  As you may know if you’ve read some of my older posts, after shooting the M1 I decided to first pick up a Springfield Armory M1A, which along with its M14 sibling are basically a .308, magazine-fed version 2.0 Garand.  This past spring, while working at a facility about 20 minutes from Camp Perry (home of the North Store of the Civilian Marksmanship Program, or CMP) I decided to get my paperwork in line and pick up an M1 Garand of my own.  Why buy a Garand when I have an M1A?  Maybe because I’m a history buff.  Maybe because they’re relatively inexpensive and the numbers are limited.  Maybe to keep my M1A company in the safe.  Maybe all the mileage checks burning a hole in my pocket.  No matter the reason – I wanted one!

Image

The paperwork involved is not as involved as some may think, and you can even mail order rifles if you don’t mind someone else picking one out for you.  See their website http://www.odcmp.com/ for the official details, but the basic list includes proof of citizenship, membership in an affiliated club, proof of training that involves some live fire, and a picture ID to prove age.  For these I used my passport, joined the Garand Collectors Association for $25 (includes a great quarterly magazine and the CMP keeps the GCA membership records at the store so a membership card isn’t even required), showed my Ohio CCW permit to take care of the training requirement, as well as my driver’s license for age verification.  The obvious advantage to actually driving to one of the two CMP stores is that you get to peruse hundreds of firearms and pick out the one that fits your needs and desires while also saving yourself the shipping costs.

Walking into the CMP you will find racks and racks of rifles, sorted by “grade” and manufacturer.  I highly suggest doing your homework on the CMP site and forums ahead of time, while being realistic about what your desires are for the firearm.  My goals were to have a good shooter (1) that looked good to me (2) and was historically as accurate as possible (3).  Everyone’s goals and priorities here are different, and everyone’s opinion on what “looks good” can vary too.  I was close to picking up one of the CMP-refurbished models known as a “Special Grade”, but I didn’t care for the color of the new stocks and the additional price associated with the new stock and barrel.

After spending a good amount of time looking around and letting the excitement wear off, I found an HRA “Service Grade” that appeared to have the original barrel (1954) and the original parkerizing on the receiver and bolt (dark olive green, not black).  But again, those played into my third most important goal – historically accurate.  The stock was a dark walnut with some scratches and dings, but with a great cartouche (this is the military proof mark stamped into the stock) and a great dark walnut color.  That satisfied my second most important concern, the looks.  Finally, the tag on the rifle showed that it had been “gauged” a 0+ at the muzzle and a 2 at the throat.  These numbers indicate how much wear the barrel has, with 0 being brand new for both measurements – so this barrel was almost like new!  The throat measurement also has a huge impact on likely accuracy, and this was as good as I expected to find without stepping up to the aforementioned re-barreled Special Grade.

Once I found what I thought was the perfect rifle, I took it up to the desk.  There were two gentlemen working that afternoon, and both were more than happy to partially disassemble the rifle and diagnose what I had found.  They showed me that I had a WWII-vintage Springfield Armory trigger group that looked complete (including hammer) but re-parkerized, what appeared to be the original HRA barrel, an HRA operating rod, and an HRA bolt.  Everything but the Springfield trigger assembly appeared to have its original green parkerizing, which is a plus for collectors (and me if I ever decided to sell).  Finally, they indicated that the cartouche on the stock was HRA and was in great shape.  I had effectively found a gem in the Service Grade rack.

At this point I asked them to reserve it behind the counter for me.  You write your name on a little red tag which is fitted to the end of the firearm, and then you can go back to browsing the selection.  As you feel the need, you can walk rifles up to the counter and ask to compare them to the one you have reserved already.  I did this twice just to verify I had found the one I wanted – but neither of the other finds compared favorably in any way.  At the end of the day, I decided to move forward with the HRA I had found.  Included in the purchase is a green plastic carrying case, a certificate of authenticity, a manual, and some other assorted goodies such as an 8-round enbloc clip.

So what does one pay for a practically new 1954-manufactured M1 Garand?  $625.  I challenge anyone to find a semi-automatic .30-06 (or even .308) that is equally as ruged and durable for less money.  To top it off, surplus ammunition is dirt cheap (at least in the world of .30-caliber high power).  The CMP offers Greek-manufactured surplus M2 ball ammo for $98/200 rounds loose in an ammo can.  For a large caliber experience, in my opinion this setup simply can not be beat.

Here is my M1 “Patricia” on the left next to my M1A “Rebecca” on the right.  The trigger mechanisms are nearly identical, although the receiver on the M1A is a little shorter due to its inherent use with .308 as opposed to .30-06.  The gas system was also shortened on the M1A and given an “on/off” valve on the gas block to allow for manual-only operation of the action.  The hand guard on the M1A is fiberglass which is typical of most M14’s, while the M1 is almost completely enclosed in walnut.  The sights are practically identical between the two, and although the M1A does have a flash hider the M1 still has its factory bayonet lug that was removed from the M1A as a result of an AWB (CA?).

The M1 Ladies

A word about ammunition – be careful.  These firearms were designed around the US Military’s definition of M2 Ball, and most commercial rounds have newer and faster-burning powders, and at times heavier bullets – either of which can damage the firearm and possibly even you.  Besides surplus ammunition, both Federal (American Eagle) and Hornady make ammo specifically for the M1 Garand – both the CMP and I recommend that these rounds are all you fire from your Garand!  In a comparison test I ran this past summer I found the Greek ammunition’s precision to be very good compared to the Hornady, and when considering the price the Greek is – in my opinion – the hands-down winner.  You can see a typical can of it next to Patricia in the picture below, with an empty enbloc clip to the left of Patricia on the table.

Another word of caution if you want to fire fewer than 8 shots – always load from a clip!  The firing pin in the Garand is not constrained during forward bolt movement, and if you load a round into the chamber and let the bolt close there is a good change for what is known as a “slam fire” in which the firing pin smacks the primer and ignites the round before the bolt is fully closed.  This can be extremely dangerous!  If you want to shoot fewer than 8 rounds you can purchase modified 2-round and 5-found clips, or insert a fully loaded clip, fire your string, and eject the unused rounds using the lever on the left side of the receiver.

So there you have it – my first personal experience with the Civilian Marksmanship Program.  It was obviously positive, and something tells me I’ll be back for more.  Hopefully if you are reading this, you’ll be convinced to join the ranks of happy CMP customers.  Stay safe, and happy shooting!





0.1250

10 01 2012

= 1/8

Some people lit candles to remember.

Some people lit candles as a fund raiser.

Some people lit candles in front of firearms.

I disagree with the later two, and hope those in the first category find some peace and closure.

For those that look for spilled blood to dance in and rage war against the tool in the criminal’s hand, you are the lowest of the low.  Not only do you consistently fight against our country’s constitution, but you attempt to use tragedies to fuel the fire.  Shame on all of you!

For those that met fire with fire by lighting candles in front of firearms, shame on you too!  While some of the original candles were held with donation cups under them – NOT ALL WERE.  People died at the hands of a mad man.  We need to respect that, and we as a gun community need to rise above the tactics used by our opponents.  They picked a fight, you threw a punch – but you should have walked away out of respect.  You’re smarter than that.  Take the higher road.





CM9 Break-in Report #1 (and gear preview)

16 11 2011

After much comparing, researching, testing, and finally inspecting of the firearm I was about to purchase – I finally walked out of BMT Firearms’ new shop in Seville, OH with a brand new Kahr CM9 in hand. Well – in case, with the case in hand. You get the idea…

Kahr CM9 Left Side

Before diving into the specifics, Todd – the owner of BMT Firearms – recently opened this new shop in Seville, and it is a beauty! Check out his new business card, and if you’re in the area I highly suggest you stop by and check out his extensive inventory.

 

As I may have mentioned, I’m a Glock guy.  My first handgun was a G17, and it has seen 10’s of thousands of rounds at this point.  I love it for its reliability above all, but also for its simplicity, ease of breakdown and cleaning, accuracy, hunger for ammo (it’ll eat anything, I swear!), and availability of accessories and aftermarket products (although my only addition is TruGlo sights).

My first thoughts when looking at the Kahr was how stiff the spring was, how tight the machining tolerances and resulting slide/frame fit were, and how long the trigger pull was.

My second thoughts were amazement that this little pistol is rated for 9mm +P (hence the stiff spring), how accurate almost every reviewer mentions it to be (due in large part to tight machining tolerances), and how smooth the long trigger pull was.

After purchasing I took it home and started in on the obligatory post-purchase pre-range cleaning.  And THANK GOODNESS!  Not only was the thing swimming in oil from the factory, but I found two small metal curly shavings inside the slide rails.  Now this is NOT cause for alarm in my opinion – but is merely proof WHY we should clean new firearms before heading to the range for the first time!  This first cleaning session did bring about some slight cussing as I dove into it like a Glock, somehow missing the part of the manual that tells you to pull the trigger AFTER the slide stop has been removed AS you are pulling the slide forward.  Other than that, it came apart (and went back together) relatively easily.  Not quite Glock easily, but pretty close.

Once at the range I started feeding it a diet of Winchester white box Wally-world specials.  Doing this resulted in a couple of Failure-To-Feed (FTF) stoppages.  Thinking that this ammo may be a tad light for the brand new and heavy recoil spring, I switched to Magtech and had zero additional failures of this type.

After about 75 rounds and 50 rounds without incident I decided to try some defensive ammo, and BOY am I glad I did!   The first type I tried was some old 147 gr. Winchester Ranger (black talon).  With this ammunition I found that the slide lock would engage after almost every other shot!  Upon close examination I found that the bullet’s profile was clipping the finger on the slide lock that extends into the front of the magazine well, causing it to deploy.  I made sure the bullets were fully rearward – I tap every magazine backwards against my leg after loading, regardless of the firearm – but the problem persisted.  Thankfully I had some Hornady Critical Defense on hand, and this cycled without problem  Here are some shots comparing the two bullets.  Yet again – the old suggestion that you practice with what you carry held true, and I’m glad I found out about this issue before it had an opportunity to become a problem.  Here are some pictures comparing the Winchester Ranger and the Hornady Critical Defense which illustrate the differences in bullet shape that allow one to function flawlessly and the other to cause problems.  That being said – I LOVE Range in my Glock 17, and it loves to digest it!  Just depends on the rig…

9mm Bullet Comparison

 

9mm Bullet Side-by-Side Comparison
9mm Critical Defense in front of Winchester Ranger

Without getting into too much detail, I also wanted to mention the holster that I picked up for this firearm.  I made this purchase based on a review by Shelley Rae of West Coast Armory, who indicated that it was the most comfortable holster she had worn in a long time.  Well – I totally agree.  Very comfortable, and with this size of firearm easily concealable.  It is a N82 Tactical Pro holster – if you carry, you should check them out.  Totally worth the price in my opinion.  An no, they did not compensate me in any way to say that – I payed full price and they don’t know this exists (yet).  Full product line can be purchased directly from their website at http://www.n82tactical.com/.  Here’s a couple of pictures of this holster, including an inverted (and unloaded) retention test.

N82 Tactical Pro holster profile

 

N82 Tactical Pro holster back
N82 Tactical holster retention

 

That’s all for now.  I am hoping to get back to the range ASAP to finish up the break-in on this guy, do some accuracy tests from the bench, and will report my findings.  Until then, stay safe and keep shooting!





CCW in Ohio is working

11 11 2011

CCW in Ohio is working, just ask this woman.

This on the same day that I saw Ohio now has North of a quarter million CCW holders in the state. Based on the last census, that’s about 1 in 50 residents.

I find interesting that those of us in the firearms community are comforted with this number. We know it makes us all – even those without a permit, and even those that oppose such permits – safer.

But only for now.

Read that story again. Notice that the perp. was unarmed.

Now how long do you think he’ll spend in jail? 6 months? 6 years? It won’t be a lifetime, and thanks to our current jail system and lack of funding I bet it will be significantly less than his original sentence for this crime.

Now once he’s out, statistically what are the chances that he’ll commit another similar crime?

And what do you think the chances are that next time he’ll arm himself before attacking his next victim?

CCW is great – don’t get me wrong. It helps level the playing field against criminals, I am a proponent of all capable and willing citizens obtaining the training and ultimately a permit, and I am a permit holder myself.

But just like we can’t live in a society where we let our criminals have the upper hand, we likewise should not live in a society that enables this sort of repeat behavior. Stiffer sentences, more jails so we can fulfill the sentences in entirety, better rehab – pick your poison, I think any of them would help. This guy’s lucky to be alive, but it’s too bad that we all get to provide him with shelter and food for 6 months to a year just to have him turned loose once more.

FOUR MORE UNRELATED SHORT THOUGHTS:

1 – It’s been forever, but I haven’t forgotten you my fledgling little firearms blog. A new ride (2011 Mustang GT) and being busy at work (anyone know a good temp. AB PLC guy near Akron?) have conspired against me shooting or even logging in. That will change – right now!

2 – Kahr CM9 acquired last night. Todd Bedocs of BMT Firearms in Seville, OH runs an excellent little business out of a new storefront near the center of town. If you’re in the area, I suggest you stop by and check out the best selection of firearms in Medina County.

3 – The .308 match ammunition shoot-off has begun. So far, the 147 gr. Hornady A-Max are in the lead, with two very tight <1" groups at 100 yards. Match ammo is worth it – now to determine which match ammo is *most* worth it! Details and a full write-up to come…

4 – Last, but certainly not least – happy Veteran's Day. Thank you to all of the soldiers that have served or are serving, and their friends, family, and loved ones, for all that you do for us. We appreciate living in the freest nation in the world, and it wouldn't be that way without you. Thank you.





Liquor, Lies, and Laws

2 07 2011

Thanks to the fact I work a desk job in front of an internet-connected PC, I was able to tune in and listen to the debates in the house and senate concerning the recently signed SB17.  While its recent signing by Governor Kasich is a very positive thing, I found the proceedings rather disheartening.  I am glad to live in a state that has – at least for now – allowed logic and our Constitution to reign supreme, however I am sad to see so many of my fellow statesmen talk about me and my CHL brethren as if we are criminals.  GUNS AND LIQUOR!  SHOOTOUT AT THE O-K CORRAL!  If you’re reading this, you’ve probably read the articles, or heard the debates in our state capital.  It seems that every paper in the state has graced its pages with a related opinion, all the way down to my local Post, and sadly most of them were against this bill’s signing.

Let me take a step back.  Why – if we won back our rights to carry in restaurants – am I not celebrating?  Because I think we as firearms enthusiasts should use all of the debate, all of the anti-gun articles and rants in the House and Senate, to our advantage the best we can.  Sun Tzu said in his book The Art of War, “Know your enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster. ”  I believe that the 2nd Amendment was written to keep the people in control of the government.  It is meant to give the citizens the right to protect themselves and their rights against whoever may threaten them.  There are certainly those among us that feel this right is outdated, that our rights should be limited – and I believe the only way to defend our rights is to understand our enemy.  To see inside the minds and hearts of the people who oppose us so that we can better defuse their arguments and ultimately maintain our rights as American citizens to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

This is not going to be easy.  The other side – the gun grabbers, as they are affectionately called – rely on emotions.  Emotions are very hard, if not impossible, to refute.  No amount of FBI studies or statistics will change the opinion of a young mother of three who reads an article on the subject and is left with the image of her family being shot while eating dinner at Chuck-E-Cheese.  After all, haven’t you watched TV – guns are bad!  And while the NRA-supported pro-gun side commonly uses such studies in their arguments, I find truth is Mark Twain’s old saying that “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.”.  While these studies and numbers seem to back our claims that more guns does not equal more crime and in fact does the opposite, we need to move past the numbers and get to the heart of the matter.  Get to the heart of those that oppose us.

Should we stoop to lying, to misrepresenting the facts like the gun grabbers have?  Certainly not.  Among their ranks are those that have an ounce of logic in their brain.  I think we should counter emotions with emotions, balance out their arguments so that those people with an ounce of logic will move away from the other extreme.  I’m not trying to recruit new NRA members here, and there will always be those we can not persuade – but I guarantee we can persuade enough to matter.  Use our logic to present stories and images to show these people that while criminals will always find a way to get guns, and that allowing law-abiding citizens to carry them evens the playing field – not just for the people carrying, but for our society as a whole.  If that same mother of three was in a Chuck-E-Cheese and a deranged mad man came in with the goal of killing as many children as possible, would they prefer to wait for the police or let a CHL holder try to take him out ASAP?  These things can and do happen, sadly.  I wish they didn’t.  But the fact is they do, and they always will so long as we live in a free society.  The only thing we can do as citizens is choose how we want to respond – place trust in our fellow citizens, or wait for the police.

So how do we do this?  First, we use the power of the pen.  Letters to the editor, guest articles for the local paper – whatever you can do to present a countering view of the issue.  If you are not a writer, there are always those around you.  In the past I found myself shying away from talking about firearms with friends.  It wasn’t socially acceptable, and in some circles still isn’t.  But work it into the conversation.  Don’t be rude, don’t be absolute, and again – KNOW YOUR ENEMY!  If you find yourself being countered with emotional responses, instill an opposite emotional response.

While we should thank our representatives and the governor for letting logic prevail, we should not be allowed to feel like the war has been won.  It will never be won, and we should use all of the public debate on this bill to our advantage to learn our enemy and better understand how to fight them.  We must balance their emotional responses, allowing logic to prevail, and do whatever we can to remove the fear of guns in our society.  Take a friend to a range, introduce them to firearms in a safe and fun way, and do whatever you can to be an example of responsible gun ownership.  We’ve gained the right to carry firearms into bars and restaurants, but I’m convinced that there are more battles ahead for our constitutional rights.  Keep fighting the good fight, readers!





Barrel-Lite

25 06 2011

INTRO

In my last review which covered the Wilson 1911 Barrel Wrench, I stated that I felt it was impossible to beat the functionality per dollar spent.  Truth be told, there is a VERY close second to that excellent tool – the Barrel-Lite.  This simple and inexpensive device allows you to illuminate your barrel with any external light source.  I’ve had numerous barrel lights before, and this is by far the best such device I’ve encountered.

First, the device…

Barrel-Lite

More details, pictures, and ordering information can be found at the manufacturer’s website (http://www.barrel-lite.com).

DESIGN, PRICE, FUNCTION, AND TESTING (DPFT)

 As you can see, it is nothing more than a piece of clear plastic with a metal clip for securing it in pockets, onto slings, etc.  It is about 4″ long overall, about 1.75″ wide.  The diameter of the plastic starts near the clip at 1/2″ and tapers to the end you insert into the breach, reaching 5/16″.  The metal clip can swivel around the device, is approximately 1.5″ long, and is not unlike what you can find on a good pen.  The wider portion under the clip is hexagonal in shape (6-sided), and the sides bear the name, “Patent Pending”, the name and city of the manufacturer (J. Bar Products, Friendship, WI 53934), and proudly states it is “MADE IN U.S.A.”.   The plastic is mildly scratch resistant – the above piece I have owned for years, and it gets tossed into my range bag with my other tools (mostly steel).  The scratches are almost purely cosmetic, and I have noticed no decreased functionality.  There is a seam in the plastic that splits the device into two equal halves, and while this is visible upon close inspection it also does not appear to be noticeable from the far end of a barrel.  Unit is light in weight as one would expect.

The price is hard to beat at $4.98 with $3.00 S&H.  The price decreases the more you buy, and I would suggest buying a few – one for the bench, one for the range bag, one for the hunting coat, etc.  I have heard that they are available at some gun shows, but I have yet to find them at any of the shows I’ve been to in the last year.  The company’s website accepts payment via PayPal.

The device is simple to use.  Open the breach of your firearm, verify that it is unloaded, and insert this device’s small end into the chamber so that the narrow portion is aiming down the barrel.  Now peer into the muzzle.  You can move the device around slightly to bounce light off of the barrel at slightly different angles, and if you need more light – or even a different color light – the world is your oyster!  Anything you shine into the larger end, which is now perpendicular to the barrel – will shine down the barrel allowing you to inspect it with good detail.  In my experience, my basement bench’s ambient lighting is good enough.  Your mileage may vary.

To test this device, I pulled out my trusty Winchester Model 71 lever action.  Without disassembling the action and removing the bolt, there is no easy way to site down the barrel.  Here’s a 4-second exposure showing you what the barrel looks like with nothing more than an open breach.  To be honest, this picture is quite generous – in real life it is much harder to see this amount of detail at this light level.

Unlit Barrel

Now here I inserted the Barrel-Lite.  It came to rest about 45-degrees from vertical.  The nearest light fixture was a fluorescent fixture that started at the end of the muzzle, approximately 4′ above the barrel, with 2x 6500K T8 bulbs.  In real life, your eye can adjust to the varying light levels and see details all the way up to the chamber where the Barrel-Lite is sitting – my camera just has a hard time showing this correctly.

 

Ambient Barrel-Lite

Finally, I pointed a bright bluish-white LED flashlight into the receiving end to show the brightness that is easily achieved using whatever flashlight you have laying around.  Again, the human eye can pick up details all the way from the muzzle to the chamber – but my camera had issues showing this correctly.

LED Barrel-Lite

CONCLUSION

As you can see, this device is extremely useful if you own firearms that are not easily disassembled to get the bolt out of the way for proper bore-sighting.  I have even used this device with revolvers to help shed extra light on the barrel when cleaning.  This little guy has quickly become one of my most-used tools, getting used any time I clean any of my military service rifles (mainly my M1A and M1 Carbine), 22’s (10/22, lever action), or my Model 71 shown above.  It is simple, inexpensive, versatile, and light.  If you find yourself dissatisfied with your existing bore light, or are tired of replacing batteries in them – then this tool is for you!