Tag Archives: 9mm

An Ode to the P320, and a Journey of Pistols

My first centerfire handgun was a 9mm Sig P226R with the DAK trigger system. The DAK trigger is not really as horrible as some people make it out to be – for a bedroom safe gun, it provides some margin for sleepy bump in the night wake-ups – but I will say that it’s also not the trigger I’d want to be shooting USPSA with. It’s a long pull, with a heavy (albeit shorter) reset.

I bought a whole bunch of Israeli handguns after that. They were cheap surplus, they functioned pretty well (after a spring change, sometimes), and they did have a cool factor associated with them. I even bought a S&W SW9VE, which was my first ever striker-fired handgun. The SW9VE isn’t the garbage everyone thinks it is, especially after you get a trigger job done to it, but I have to admit that it was average at best, and would be mediocre by any of today’s standards.

But just before MD’s AWB came into effect, I bought a Glock 17 gen 3. I had no intention whatsoever of using this pistol as a pistol – I actually paid the FFL at the time to register it as an SBR so I could mess around with pistol chassises. Frankly, I am still looking for one that I think measures up. But what I also discovered was that the Glock 17 was not a terrible gun. It was simple, reliable, had a much better trigger than my SW9VE, and magazines were not as wallet-busting as the SW9VE magazines. This, along with a bit of Blade-Tech gear, was my entry into the world of training and action shooting. I took a holster draw class, and I was hooked from then on.

After that, I got heavily into Glocks and Polymer80 pistols. Doubly so when I took a class with Modern Samurai Project and found out how much more I enjoyed shooting optics-equipped pistols. I procured a couple of Glock 34s and shot them in Production and SSP, while a pair of optics-equipped slides kept me going in Carry Optics. It worked out well!

However, I found myself starting to wonder if there was more I could do with striker-fired guns. The Glock platform just seemed to have a performance ceiling, and while more skill always beats better gear, better gear can help you better use what skill you have. This was happening about when Sig released the P320 X5 Legion. Looking at it, it checked all the boxes – heavier, better trigger, modular, and with a very substantial aftermarket. When a local person advertised theirs at a reasonable price, I went for it. It was everything I was hoping it would be, right out of the box. I bought a second one a few months later, and then recently a third (AXG Scorpion) and fourth (FCU build on a TXG grip and full-sized slide with threaded barrel).

What I love about the P320s is that they give me options without much compromise. AXG grip with threaded barrel upper? No problem. Threaded barrel upper on an X5 polymer grip? Just an FCU swap away. If I decide I really want to go with a compact-style or even subcompact-style grip, it’s $50-$60 to make that happen if I don’t already have one. All of them are optics-ready. All of them take the same magazines (size limitations not withstanding). Sig is only the manufacturer that seems to be doing modular pistols “right”, despite any number of them (Ruger American, IWI Masada, etc.) being nominally available. This is the sort of thing that makes me gravitate towards the P365 now that Maryland has opened the gates to concealed carry by normal folk – one gun could be like four different ones with slide and frame swaps.

I’m not making a play that the P320X5L is the end-all be-all of Carry Optics and Production division handguns. It’s not. It has a lot of really good competition from the Shadow 2 OR, Walther Q5 Match SF, Beretta 92X Performance, and so on. I shoot (Bul) 2011s from time to time when I can get away with SAO guns. But, from the perspective of “here is a handgun that I cannot hit the limits of, yet”, the P320 X5 Legion has been very good to me. If Sig ever brought back modular hammer-fired guns ala the P250, but with fantastic DA/SA triggers, I’d certainly love to add a couple of those FCUs and slides to my inventory.

SASP Equipment Series: PCCs

Continuing on with my series of SASP equipment articles, let’s talk PCC.

PCCs are a nice transition gun for athletes who started on rimfire rifles, but want to move into a new division as they get older. They are heavier and have a bit more recoil, but are generally not too overpowering even for 10-12 year-olds.

Read on for some thoughts.

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Armanov Ammo Checker Bundle 3-in-1 Review (9mm)

You’ll recall from my SHOT Show 2022 coverage that I spent a fair bit of time talking to the gents at Armanov. Armanov is a small business based out of Slovenia that makes a variety of useful reloading equipment, along with some miscellaneous magazine extensions and grips. It appears most of their products are CNC machined from aluminum, which is de rigeur these days.

I purchased the “Ammo Checker Bundle 3-in-1” in 9mm. This is a “hundo gauge”, as the cool kids say, which is a case gauge that lets you check 100 loaded cartridges of 9mm at a time. This may seem excessive to some people, but for the competition shooting crowd who are sometimes reloading 1000+ rounds a month, it’s a fast and easy way to check the quality of your reloads and ensure that they are at least nominally match ready (assuming your powder dropped, anyways).

What did I think? Read on.

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9mm AR Upgrades Part 2

While I recently spent a lot of time and money upgrading my multi-gun competition rifle to a high standard, I didn’t forget about my competition PCC. Whenever I go out and shoot Steel Challenge, I like to do the “two guns” thing and shoot both a PCC and a pistol. I figure most of my investment is time, and I may as well shoot as much as possible while I’m at the match.

The experience with my competition PCC hasn’t been smooth. In fact, I’d probably say it has been the most finicky ARs I’ve ever built. I spent a lot of time just getting my basic functionality working, and then I later had a very unfortunate catastrophic failure when a bullet got stuck in the rifling during manual extraction. But I persevered through those problems, and wound up with a reliable, accurate PCC. Now I’m on the next step: increasing performance.

When Taccom announced their Delayed Blowback Recoil System (DBRS) a couple years ago, I was intrigued, and to be honest, a little skeptical. Using magnets to delay bolt movement sounded hard to believe. But I saw some positive reviews of it, and decided to give it a try, in conjunction with Taccom’s Extreme Short Stroke Bolt (ESSB).

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SpartanCore Charon (Vehicle-Borne Tactics) AAR

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.

How did it go? Read on!

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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.

TOC Vehicle Ambush Tactics – Pistol AAR

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.

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Green Ops Defensive Pistol Clinic I AAR (Maxim 9 Edition)

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.

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JDC Speed Shooting & Shot Calling Class AAR

As I’ve progressed as a shooter, I try to tailor the classes that I take to address my particular needs. It’s a little hard to list out my needs, as my shortcomings are myriad, but tightening up my speed while maintaining accuracy is certainly high on my list. When I saw Justified Defensive Concepts’ 2020 schedule, and the Speed Shooting & Shot Calling class on it, I knew I was not going to miss it.

If you want some indication just how much I was not going to miss it, here’s the story. I am writing this AAR from Las Vegas, where I will be attending SHOT Show for the first time. I got home from this class at 11:15 PM on Sunday night – as expected – secured my weapons, went to sleep at 11:30 PM, and woke up at 4:15 AM on Monday to catch a flight to Las Vegas. That is punishing, and I was pretty fatigued on Monday, but I think it was worth it.

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