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.





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!





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!





Taurus TCP break-in and 500-round report

23 06 2011

Approximately one year ago I picked up my CCW permit from the local Sheriff’s office. A short time later I ran into a gentlemen by the name of Todd Bedocs (BMT Firearms, Seville, OH) at the local gun show, who had both the Ruger LCP and the Taurus TCP next to each other and at great prices. After some debate, I picked up the then-new Taurus TCP in blackened stainless for about $290. They can be had for less than $250 today, but since my only other handgun was a Glock 17 at the time I was willing to pay the early-adopter’s tax for something I could slip in my pocket.

BMT Firearms Business Card

Once purchased I followed the manual’s suggestion of putting 250 rounds through the firearm for break-in. The results can be seen below. In the first 250 rounds the only malfunctions noted were two instances where the slide locked back with one round left in the magazine.  Far from a show-stopper in my opinion, but after the second instance I marked the magazine to correlate any following such instances to the magazine.  None were recorded.  Notice that both times I was using Fiocchi FMJ ammunition.  I have failed to experience any such problems since those two, but I have also strayed away from Fiocchi ammunition for this firearm.  Over the two days of shooting I made sure to record the type of ammunition (Winchester White Box, Fiocchi, Remington UMC, or Federal Hydrashok), the range conditions, and the type of fire (slow aimed, tap tap, or single-handed).

Taurus TCP Breakin Report Page 1Taurus TCP Breakin Report Page 2

Over the 14 months that have followed I have taken my pistol to the range every time, but fired only about half the time and never with similar quantity as the two trips documented above.  To be honest, this thing kicks like a mule and is downright uncomfortable to shoot.  But that’s what it is MADE for – not necessarily to be uncomfortable, but to be very small and light.  When one chooses those two, it is hard not to sacrifice the former.

As of this spring I have put approximately 500 rounds through the firearm, and I have noticed some interesting points of wear that I thought worth sharing.  While the firearm continues to function well, I now have doubts concerning the precision of Taurus machining.

The first thing I noticed was that my cleaning patches wouldn’t slide easily over my barrel any more during cleaning.  There was a small burr developing on the rear top right corner of the barrel, on the small section that hangs out over top of the chamber.  I was able to ignore it at first, but it definitely grew with time.  I also noticed a corresponding divot forming on the mating slide section.  Upon closer inspection, the barrel was found to be tilting slightly to the right when the slide was pulled to the rear.  When the slide was released, the barrel remained slightly cocked to the right until this corner smacked into the slide where the divot was forming, and this pushed it into the proper location.

Here you can barely see the divot in the center of the red circle, slightly above the extractor.

The next step was to determine WHY this was happening, and I believe I have found the culprit.  The slide locking pin also functions as the bar used to interact with the barrel during slide operation, pulling it down from its locked location.  The slot in the bottom of the barrel appears to slant – EVER so slightly – to one side.  If the locking pin is square to the frame, and the frame is square to the slide, then the direction of the slant would tip the top of the barrel slightly – TO THE RIGHT!

If you look carefully, the top of the barrel is approximately level, while the pin appears to slant slightly from low on the left to high on the right.  If the pin was level in the frame, this would certainly push the top right corner into the right side of the slide.

I plan on forwarding all of this to Taurus and will update here with any response worth posting.  I still feel this is a reliable and inexpensive firearm for what most call “deep concealment”, and it allows me to carry in the summer when my S&W Model 36 would prove too big.  I still wouldn’t trade it for anything, but after seeing numerous reviews of a NEW firearm I thought it would be worth sharing my experience 500 rounds in.  My Glock 17 looks better at 6000 rounds than this does at 500, but again – this firearm serves me well in the role I purchased it for, and I would happily make the same purchase tomorrow due to its reliability, price, and easy concealment.





Wilson Combat 1911 Barrel Bushing Wrench

8 06 2011

INTRO

If I look around my cleaning bench and consider the functionality per dollar spent for each tool or cleaning accessory, I find it impossible to beat the Wilson Combat 1911 Barrel Bushing Wrench.  For that reason I’ve chosen it for my first review.  I am relatively new to 1911’s, having just purchased my first 8 months ago (Springfield Armory Loaded Stainless full-size) – and this is by far the best accessory for it I have purchased thus far.  My first two cleanings involved one rather painful step – getting the 2-piece guide rod disengaged from the barrel bushing during take-down.  This inexpensive tool was designed to make that step easy and painless – now to analyze its effectiveness and show it in use…

First, the iron…

SA 1911 Loaded Stainless

 

…and next, the tool!

Wilson Combat 1911 Barrel Bushing Wrench

 

DESIGN, PRICE, FUNCTION, AND TESTING (DPFT)

The wrench is a simple design – basically a 5.5″ long, 1.25″ wide, 3/16″ thick piece of plastic (PVC?) with two cut-outs designed to mate with the popular 1911 barrel bushing shapes.  You can see in the picture above the two cut-outs – the one on the left, which I use for my SA Loaded, is approximately 3/4″ wide and 15/16″ tall, while the one on the right is approximately 7/8″ wide and 7/8″ inches tall.  Here is a picture of the fit on my 1911.

Wilson Combat wrench in place

I paid all of $3.99, not including shipping, for this tool (purchased from MidwayUSA.com in November 2010).

The function is as simple as its design – it is meant to slip over the barrel bushing of a 1911 and assist with its rotation while simultaneously helping you retain the spring cup which is trying in vain to escape to parts unknown.

As you can see in the following picture, the spring plug on this model – as well as numerous other modern 1911’s – has a thin lip which catches the bottom of the barrel bushing.  The first step in disassembly is to remove the threaded portion of the guide rod using an Allen key…

 

 
Muzzle view untouched

…which results in something that looks like this…

Mizzle view minus guide rod

…and we’re now ready to use the barrel bushing wrench.  As described above, without it I found it easy to launch the spring cup – typically with a small chunk of my thumb attached – across the room into parts unknown.  As a wise old model railroading physicist once observed, the smaller and lighter the piece, the less likely gravity affects it purely in the downward direction (in other words, small parts LOVE to fly around for NO apparent reason).

With this 1911, the manual instructs you to hold the slide back about 1/2″ to rotate the barrel bushing clockwise.  At this point the spring cup is released, allowing for further take-down.  The following shows my typical 1-handed hold on the wrench during this step.

Wrench in action

The only complaint I’ve heard or read about this tool is that the plastic is too soft.  This results in the tool becoming scratched and small plastic chips and shavings being deposited on the spring cup, and at times the barrel bushing itself, during use.  Personally I would rather have a $3.99 finger-saving wrench that I may need to replace every 5 years than a tool that mars the finish on my pistol.  The following shows the typical results of using this tool – nothing that a couple of puffs and some brushing won’t fix!

Wrench aftermath

CONCLUSION

As stated in the introduction, I find the functionality per unit price unbeatable in my vast collection of tools and firearms-related knick-knacks.  For $4 this tool has made stripping my 1911 down for cleaning much easier, quicker, and painless.  In my opinion this is an inexpensive “Must Have” for any 1911 owner, especially those with a lipped spring cup similar to the one shown above.

 

 





Getting right to business – is match grade ammunition worth it?

3 06 2011

To Hell with the usual nonsense of describing what I want to do with this blog.  I’m just going to dive right in and start doing it.

First – some background.  In October the stars aligned – my firearm fund had built up, and the number I refer to as my age incremented.  In celebration I purchased a Springfield Armory M1A National Match with traditional blued barrel and walnut stock.  After familiarizing myself with the firearm and getting through a break-in period of about 300 rounds without incident I purchased some NRA SR-1 targets and got to work refining my skills.

A question that comes up rather quickly when you start caring – and I mean *really* caring – about the precision and accuracy of your shots is “what is match grade ammunition and is it worth the price?”

I won’t lie – I completed the entire break-in period on this new rifle using Winchester “White Box” Q3130 7.62x61mm NATO, 147 Grain.  This was *before* I got official word back from Springfield Armory that, contrary to their manual and numerous other pieces of included literature, the rifle was in fact chambered and designed to shoot .308 as well as 7.62×51.  I digress – with the White Box ammo I was perfectly able to get 20 shots onto a dinner plate at 100 yards from a bench rest.  At the time I thought that was pretty good!

Well – it wasn’t.

This past weekend I finally received my first boxes of Federal Gold Match .308 168 Grain, and I went to the range to compare it to the aforementioned White Box, as well as some American Eagle .308 that I picked up *cheap* at Fin Feather Fur in Ashland, OH.

Slight side track – if you buy any of this stuff, I suggest you check the primers as you load.  First box of this I tried I did NOT do this (I know, I know…) and hit a reverse primer which dirtied up my pretty rifle.  I contacted Federal but have not heard anything back, despite my offer to ship the round to them for QA purposes.

Before I get to the results – general notes.  All ammunition in this test cycled without incident.  I used three separate 20-round magazines, each loaded with 10 rounds of each type.  One type of ammunition per target.  All targets were punched at 100 yards from a bean-bag bench rest.  Weather was 80 degrees, 5 MPH wind breeze approximately 45 degrees to the path of the bullets downrange and to the right.

First fired was my old standard, Winchester White Box…

Winchester White Box Q3130 Results

Next up came the el-cheapo American Eagle AE308D…

American Eagle AE308D Results

And finally, the new kid on the block – Federal Gold Match .308…

Federal Gold Match GM308M Results

Notice a difference!?  I did too – but I felt the need to quantify the results.  I love science, math, and numbers – they help us measure the world, and someone once said you can’t control what you can’t measure!

The following shows how I did this.  I measured the X and Y values of each shot independently.  I then averaged all the X values for a given target, then likewise averaged all the Y values.  This gives me the average center of the group.  I then calculated, in the bottom row of a given ammunition type, the distance each shot was from the center of the group I just calculated.  I then did an average distance from center and the standard deviation of the shots from that calculated center.  The lower the standard deviation is, the more “precise” the round can be considered.

Excel Results

So there you have it!  The Federal Gold Match ammunition was statistically twice as accurate as anything else.

Of course there were a lot of variables with this shoot, but they remained relatively constant through all three volleys.  Because of this I’m pretty confident that while I may be able to change the results above, the relative results are going to be very similar.

 

Now is it worth the price differential?  Only you can decide for yourself, but I’m going to start looking for sales on Gold Match…

EDIT – MidwayUSA has the aforementioned GM308M on sale for $220/200 rounds until the end of June 2011.