Category Archives: Research

New Blaster: EAA/Girsan MC1911S with Custom CHPWS Plate

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.

The radius matches the slide perfectly. You can see the usual CNC milling angles, which I consider acceptable for this sort of purpose.

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.

There’s a touch of overhang because a 1911’s slide is 0.9″, and the 507K’s width is 0.98″. But .04″ off the side isn’t much.

3D Printing Adventures: Upgrading The NiteScout A3

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 (9/6/2021): The Magpul HK94 safety works quite well with the gun. The SL grip… not so much. Even after shaving down the back of it to be flush with the receiver, the gun still refused to fire when I dropped the hammer. I assume there is some sort of tolerance issue with how the hammer is positioned with regards to the bolt, but have not had time to track it down.

Shotgun Upgrades: 2021 Update

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.

Continue reading Shotgun Upgrades: 2021 Update

Building Out The Katana: High-Speed Competition ARs

I recently built out a multi-gun AR on a pre-ban lower in an effort to create a rifle that would be more suited to shooting multi-gun competitions. I find that the full top-to-bottom of the parts selection process isn’t always discussed thoroughly, so that got me thinking that I should lay all of that out.

After the break are the elements of my “high-speed” AR, with some explanation of why I chose them.

Continue reading Building Out The Katana: High-Speed Competition ARs

The Saga of How I Fixed My AR-9 SBR

I’m going to record my AR-9 trouble-shooting process in this blog post so that maybe someone else can glean some insight into all the things that can possibly go wrong, and how to fix them… because I lived through them.

I bought a DDLES “Glock mag” AR lower from Gunbroker once upon a time because that was the hotness like five years ago, and hard to get hold of. It was a smoking deal; based on the person’s other sales item and lack of engraving on the lower, I suspect they had an illegal SBR they were parting out in an attempt to make it go away. I dutifully filed a Form 1 on it, waited G-d only knows how long, and bought a cheapo PSA upper to put on it – I think it was 10.5″, whatever it took to get it across the magic 29″ OAL floor we have in MD.

It was a terrible performer right out the gate. It didn’t eject right. It didn’t cycle reliably. It tore cartridges in half. But, last night, after months of work, I got it working. How? Read on.

Continue reading The Saga of How I Fixed My AR-9 SBR

Sig 556 Platform Modernization Project

On the recent Primary & Secondary modcast 187, Matt was discussing his new DSA FAL and the general concept of taking what was an obsolete battle rifle and making it new again. I thought this was a cool idea, and decided to embark on a similar project. I have a number of relatively obsolete guns in my safe, but a fair number of them are in “mil-spec” configuration, and thus I don’t want to alter them. But I do have a Sig 556 SBR and a Sig 556R Gen2 that are basically just old “cool guy” guns from a decade ago, and thus fair game.

I took a long look at them, and what I thought needed to be improved… and did it.

Continue reading Sig 556 Platform Modernization Project

Running and Gunning with the Tavor

I had the opportunity to take a carbine class with Green Ops recently, and because I am an iconoclast and easily influenced by my friends, I ran it with my stock Tavor. (Not to worry, I had my IDF-style Colt Commando in my trunk as a backup.) This was the first time I had ever really run the Tavor hard, and I’ve got some new feelings about the platform. Optic, for reference, was the Mepro RDS, which worked great and I have no complaints about.

The only big issue I had with the Tavor in class is reloading speed. I’d argue that the problem is not really getting the old magazine out (I’m a mag ripper by temperament), but rather getting the bolt back into battery. The bolt release is just in a really awkward place, so you either wind up hitting it (which is slow and awkward) or racking the CH (which is a touch-slower but less awkward). The X95 seems to have a better design on this front, but it’s still not that hot due to the bolt release being roughly the same concept (albeit moderately improved). I am going to shake down a buddy of mine with an X95 to see how I feel about it.

The factory trigger is also not great for first-round precision due to how heavy it is, but has a really great reset. If I wanted to spend the money on a Geissele pack, this would be a non-issue IMHO. As it is, you’ve got to be a touch slower and more deliberate to make the trigger do what you need it to do. But important thing here: it can do the job.

Switching shoulders during a barricade drill was not a problem due to the case deflector. Yeah, brass flying in front of your face is a theoretically bit unsettling, but if it doesn’t hit you, who cares? I was so totally focused on the drill I barely even noticed.

I did not love the full-length trigger guard. My rifle was slung a little too low, and I could not see the pistol grip. Ordinarily, this would not be a big problem, but I had to be exceedingly careful to not accidentally grab the trigger. In a gun with a traditional trigger guard, I would not have had this concern quite as much.

Finally, I did not love the sling situation on the Tavor. I prefer running the Magpul single point slings when I need to shoot dynamically, and the Tavor is not set up for that out of the box. The GHW Flex Swivel apparently does a reasonable job of providing a way to do this, but they were out of stock everywhere when I was looking for it last month.

Now, all of this said, the gun ran with utter reliability, on a diet of cheap steel-cased ammo to boot. No failures, no stoppages, no failures to lock back, etc. This was true of the other Tavor in the class as well. Really, the only problem was that I ran slower, and I think further practice doing reloads would have alleviated that to some degree. The problem, of course, is that practicing reloads on traditional-format guns that take AR mags makes me faster on all those guns… practicing on a Tavor just makes me faster on a Tavor. Not a problem if you’re a grunt in the IDF, but if you’re an enthusiast in the US, it’s something of a conundrum.

 

FAB Defense KPOS G2 Follow-Up Thoughts

I’ve been shooting the FAB Defense KPOS G2 a little further on my Glock 17 lately, and I have some follow-up thoughts and findings.

First: it’s not compatible with iron sights that go forward of the rear sight cut, to include many, many of the fiber optic sights out there such as the Tru-Glo TFX. I have not tried it with suppressor sights.

Second: I tried using my Tactical Solutions TSG-22 22lr conversion with it. The conversion sits slide sits low enough that I would be VERY concerned about striking the “compensator shroud”. You could, in theory, remove the shroud to make it work correctly, which might be a viable alternative in some setups. The charging handle mechanism is also a little suspect with it, but it does seem to work. I might experiment with this more later on if I have time.

Third: an extended magazine release helps a lot with this setup. I highly recommend one.

Fourth: it seems like your gun gets very dirty VERY quickly in this enclosure. My front night sight was blacked out after a few magazines of shooting..

Finally: I am still concerned about this gun’s ability to retain a true zero due to the slight up-down movement that you can get with the flexing of the frame. My groups are larger than I would have expected, albeit this is when shooting at 25yds with trash ammo. Now, the truth is, since the front of the gun is latched in pretty good, it might look worse than it is, since the back is going to show a larger flexing due to variance. Still, it’s not what i would call a precision weapon compared to a “real” rifle. It does seem to more-or-less hold zero between taking the gun in and out of the chassis, though.

How to Fix Compensator Problems on Your Glock

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The compensator in question.

So, in an effort to align content with my current activities, I’d like to talk about my recent experience with putting a compensator on my Polymer80 940C not-a-Glock build, hereon described as my Compact Fauxland Special (CFS). It was built with a Brownells slide with RMR cut, LWD frame parts kit, BCA threaded barrel, Glock slide parts kit, and a TLR-2. After a bit of lube, it was fully-functional and reliable.

I decided to get clever and add a TBRCi stubby compensator to my CFS… and that it where my problems all began.

Continue reading How to Fix Compensator Problems on Your Glock

The IMI Magen-1

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So, today, I’ve got something VERY special for you. Courtesy of reader Marcin at POLARMS, I am pleased to show you pictures of a true unicorn: an IMI Magen-1. The Magen-1 has been a real mystery to me. There is a single reference to it online, with basically no useful information other than “it’s 9mm”. Well, now we’ve got pictures, and they tell a lot more of the story. More after the break!

Continue reading The IMI Magen-1