I make no secret that I like to train with a diverse variety of instructors. I think this makes you a better shooter, and it also gives you a lot more perspective on what you see in classes. In this case, Green Ops was hosting Sentinel Concepts for a shotgun class. Sentinel Concepts is a one-man show run by Steve Fisher, who’s one of the biggest names in the tactical shooting community. Needless to say, I was excited by the opportunity to train with him, and signed up months in advance.
I always enjoy training with new instructors. Everyone’s got a different take on subject matter, and even small tweaks to technique can lead to big gains over time. Thus, when I saw that SpartanCore was offering a new vehicle tactics class (“Charon”), I was excited not only to get in some training in and around vehicles, but to also learn more about SpartanCore and the people involved.
Since I have a ton of large pistol primers, I decided I’d supplement my 9mm expenditure by loading some 45 Automatic (aka, 45 ACP). My load recipe is a boring old 230gr coated bullet on top of 5.3gr of Unique with max OAL.
I have a couple guns in 45 Auto, but neither of them is something I’d want to use for a daily driver due to relative rarity (especially my KSN GAL). I splurged a bit, and picked up an EAA Girsan MC1911S, which has a factory optics cut and accessory rail. It’s really quite fetching!
Holster compatibility is problematic, but there are options out there. The trigger pull is nothing to write home about, but not worse than any other cheap 1911. The accessory rail seems to be in spec. The magazine well was tight – maybe a bit too tight, as a couple of random 1911 magazines wouldn’t fit in it. It fired my handloads with 100% reliability, which is not nothing, though.
It came with a factory optic. Said factory optic is a “Derry”, and it is obvious garbage. It sells on Alibaba for $35 in bulk. While I am sure that margins on reflex sights are not horrible for most manufacturers, I’ve got a lot of qualms about the reliability of something that’s retailing for $35 – and other reviews of this pistol seemed to indicate that failures happened quickly. It uses a Docter footprint, which is not really a terrible footprint, but none of the cool guy sights use it anymore. Suffice it to say, I did not bother with this optic at all.
Enter C&H Precision Weapon Systems (CHPWS). Utilizing some shared contacts, I was able to contract CHPWS to develop a better red dot plate with the Holosun HS507K footprint. It was not cheap, and it took a while, but the results were gorgeous, and the HS507K is just the right width for my pistol – a bit of overhang on the sides, but far less than an RMR. It also exudes a sort of quality that the factory sight didn’t even come close to replicating.
When I took my new gun out to the range, I was impressed. The optic was rock solid on the slide, and the gun kept on running with 100% reliability. While I had to fight the trigger a bit to keep my shots in the same hole, when I did my part, the accuracy at 10yds was excellent.
You can get an optics-equipped Girsan MC1911S for about $600 off Gunbroker. My optics plate was a $200 custom job, but keep in mind that normal plates from CHPWS start from $70 on up – so paying a fair bit more for something that literally didn’t exist and probably doesn’t have much of a market doesn’t seem terribly unfair to me – and perhaps it’ll be slightly cheaper for you since the design work is done now. With the 507K, I’m about a thousand bucks in, total.
I’m looking forward to using this gun at a class or two, and for messing around at the range. I suppose I could even run it in IDPA Carry Optics if I felt like being an iconoclast. A trigger job would probably make it a much more comfortable shooter, so that’s an upgrade I’ll be looking into when funds allow.
I’ll keep this one short but sweet. My readers may recall my review of the NiteScout A3, and some various caveats I had about it. Believe it or not, I still rather enjoy the rifle in its SBR form, and have been trying to figure out how to give it a modern handguard. The handguard that came on the A3 could charitably be described as heavy and obsolete.
When I was looking at pictures online of various MP5 handguards, I was struck by the realization that they looked rather similar to the A3 handguards in how they attached. Rolling the dice, I bought a PTR-9 aluminum handguard to see if I could fit it.
Shockingly, it screwed straight into the retainer. But this left me with a problem: the tube that protects the screw connecting the front sight to the receiver was too long, and so was the screw.
Enter my 3D printer! A bit of OpenSCAD coding and a couple of test runs netted me a tube that fit just right. After a quick run to Home Depot for the correct screw (1/4-20 coarse, 3″ long), I had my handguard adapter all ready to go
The original part was aluminum, so the plastic replacement is not necessarily as robust. But there’s really no weight bearing component to this, and all of the pressure is directed into compressing the layers. Even a tube with somewhat small infill is more than enough to do this job.
I am genuinely stunned that NiteScout didn’t just outfit these guns with MP5 and MP5K handguards right out the gate. It would not surprise me at all if you could put on a MP5K handguard with either no tube or a very short one. But, in any event, I managed to fix this problem on my own. Next stop: Magpul SL grip and safety…
I ran the gun hard last night at SASP practice, and the 3D printed part seemed to hold up just fine. No problems with heat damage were observed. The gun itself isn’t really a Steel Challenge champ (that long, heavy trigger!), but it is super reliable, which is not nothing.
ETA (7/23/2021): I finally cracked the code on the Magpul SL grip and safety. The safety inserts straight in. The Magpul SL grip needs the metal part on the back ground down to be flush with the back of the A3’s receiver. Once you do that, the SL grip fits and functions correctly with the factory trigger pack.
IWI-US has announced the release of the Galil ACE Gen II guns. For now, it seems like the 7.62×51 ACE isn’t being upgraded, but the 5.45×39 version is getting a bump to full-production status.
As you can see from the picture, there’s been some changes:
The buttstock is AR compatible.
The trigger has supposedly been upgraded.
The handguard is MLOK, and free-floated. It also looks moderately longer, but that may be a scaling trick.
No more built-in iron sights.
Upgraded safety lever.
My personal take is that this was probably a manufacturing optimization as much as an upgrade, but it is an upgrade nonetheless. Keen readers would be advised to keep their eyes open for closeout Gen I ACEs at the usual suspects.
On a similar note, IWI also recently released a minor update to the Uzi Pro, giving it a threaded barrel.
After training with TOC last year in a really well-thought-out carbine class, I had made it a priority this year to try to take another class with them. Thankfully, they scheduled their “Vehicle Ambush Tactics – Pistol” class on a day I could take it, so I signed up ASAP.
I’ve never done any shooting in or around vehicles, so I had almost no expectations walking in. I just wanted to learn some new skills, do a little shooting under stress, and maybe have a bit of fun. I think I accomplished all those goals. Read on for more.
The combined threats of the pandemic and ammo shortage have been causing me to be a little more selective than usual about my training selections in 2021 so far. But when I saw that Green Ops was introducing a red dot pistol skills class, I was intrigued and knew I’d be taking it. I am 100% sold on the benefits of red dot pistols, and was curious as to how Green Ops would approach that subject matter. Read on for what I thought!
I signed up for the Steve Fisher shotgun class in June, so I felt like this was an opportune time to make a couple changes with my shotguns. Realistically, I’m only going to bring my standard 870, with Stoeger M3K as a backup (unless I somehow acquire a Beretta 1301 in the meantime), but the fun thing about common platforms is that an upgrade in one gun can sometimes also turn into an upgrade in another gun.
Now that my shooting year is over, it’s time to write my annual “year in review” post. Obviously, it has been an utterly nutty year with the pandemic, and it’s made a real impact on my ability to train and attend matches. Still, I got a lot done!
It’s December, and that typically means I’m trying to get in that last class or two to finish up my training year. I had been debating whether to take the Green Ops Defensive Pistol Clinic I. On one hand, it’s a great class, but on the other hand, I’ve come pretty far with my pistol shooting and I wasn’t sure it was going to be as relevant to me.
I decided that one way to make it relevant was by using a gun I was not at all familiar with: the Silencerco Maxim 9. The Maxim 9 is an integrally suppressed, roller-delayed 9mm pistol, and I wanted to see if it was really up for some harder use… or if it was just a range toy. Read on for my impressions of both the class and the gun.