Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

101 Uses For Ammocan

The online surplus website Old Grouch’s Surplus  sent out an email with a neat list of ideas if you are like me and have more of these than you know what to currently do with.

1- Make a portable wood stove
2- Lockable center console for your Jeep or UTV
3- Tool Box
4- Waterproof storage in your boat
5-Computer case
6- Pistol Storage
7- Field Toilet (line with a plastic bag to dispose of, don’t ruin your can!)
8- Waterproof and airtight seed storage
9- Flammable storage (paint cans, sprays)
10- Cache
11- Waterproof document storage
12- Seat around the campsite
13- Nut and bolt storage in the garage
14- Waterproof first aid kit
15- Ham Radio go-box
16- Foot Stool
17- Live trap, rigging the lid like a deadfall
18- Spare gun parts storage
19- Parts washer you can shut and store the fluid in
20- Store pistols
21- Store spare parts for guns, machines etc
22- Store fire starting equipment dry and safe
23- Planter
24- Faraday cage
25- Store and sort fired brass
26- Store gunpowder
27- Store magazines
28- Make a lockbox for your game cameras to keep the them secure
29- Store tire chains
30- Store emergency supplies in your car
31- Make custom motorcycle saddlebags
32- Oil drop pan
33- Store oils and grease in the car or truck to avoid leaks
34- Mount speakers inside in your Jeep
35- Make a Geocache
36- Store chain to keep it from getting everything dirty
37- Store receipts in your car until you can file them
38- Fill with chain or concrete to make weights for tractor or mower
39- Cigar humidor
40- Solar power system with battery inside and panel on top
41- Urn for a veterans ashes
42- Storage for kids toys
43- Storage for paint, markers and art supplies
44- Hide the stuff you don’t want your wife to find in an ammo box mixed with all the boxes of ammo
45- Store family pictures
46- Make a radio with speakers mounted in it
47- Transport power tools and batteries to jobsites dry and secure
48- Lunch box
49- Waterproof case for electronic game calls
50- Mailbox
51- Mount on trailer to hold straps, tarps & chains when not in use
52- Dog bowl when camping- store food in the can and open to serve
53- Mount to spare tire rack on a Jeep or SUV for extra storage space
54- Nesting box for chickens
55- Gun cleaning supply storage
56- Full with sand to use as exercise weights
57- Add foam padding for transporting sensitive electronics
58- ATV gear storage- mount to the racks for Waterproof storage for straps, emergency supplies, etc
59- Quench tank for blacksmiths
60- Battery box for deep cycle batteries
61- Camp food storage to keep critters big and small out
62- Ice chest, line the sides with Styrofoam for insulation
63- Soak your feet after a long day on the trail
64- Pack grab and go survival kits in them and give them as gifts
65- Bolt under the hood of a Jeep to store tools that won’t get stolen when you run topless
66- Store plumbing and electrical fittings at home or in a service truck
67- Store loose change
68- Mount one on your tractor to hold tools and one to hold chains and pins
69- Mount electric fence charger inside to protect from weather and damage
70- Boot scraper
71- Keep shoe polish and gear stored airtight
72- Stack like Legos to make furniture like chairs and benches
73- Ballot box
74- Essential oil storage
75- Shadow box with one side replaced with glass
76- Store poker chips & cards
77- Herb garden mounted on the wall
78- Store coffee and supplies on camping trips
79- Birdhouse
80- Giant emergency candle case that shuts for storage
81- Gift box for groomsmen
82- Store liquor bottles camping
83- Ash can for fireplace or wood stove
84- Knife storage
85- Keep spare computer cables, phone chargers stored neatly.
86- Mount as toolbox under truck flat bed or utility bed
87- Store pet grooming supplies
88- Keep pesticides and weed killers locked where kids and pets can’t get them
89- Keep weed trimmer string organized instead of all over the place
90- Wheel chock
91- Hunting Scent Storage
92- Cash box
93- After hours drop box for keys, money etc
94- Rocket stove
95- Case for Rasberry Pi projects
96- Hidden storage up under desk
97- Flotation device (when empty, don’t try this full of ammo!)
98- Keep your welding rods dry
99- Wash basin
100- Burn Box for documents
101- Keep your ammo in, of course!

Colt’s New Lightweight Commander Part 1

The   of Colt light weight Commander  has been  around for a long time.    It was the first major variant of the M1911 that colt brought out to the market and while a lot of the big names associated with handgun use and training and gun writers  at the time considered  close to perfect for carry, it did not take off in popularity at the time.

The original Commander with the ally frame  lead to  the Combat Commander with the steel frame.  The all steel frame commander is  a fine gun. It handles superbly and  some people, lie my brother, find they can shoot the combat commander better than a full size 1911.   I have owned both and love both but I have come to prefer the original commander over the CC. The reason for that is that if I am going to be carrying a smaller gun, I may as well have a smaller and lighter gun.  For all of my adult life I always preferred the full size M1911 for carry and I still do. But with the  Commander ( I will refer to the alloy frame as what it originally was , the commander and the steel frame later model as the CC , for Combat Commander )I get a M1911 a little shorter and considerable weight savings.  While the Colt Defender is a sub compact, it  doesn’t give the sight radius or full grip of the commander.  The subcompacts also require careful accounting of how often you replace springs.  Of course that isnt’t a deal breaker or a negative, it’s just the trade off for having such a compact gun.  Just like rotating tires and changing oil.

With all that in mind, when Colt brought a Commander back out in specs that are much like my beloved XSE models, I bought one as quickly as I could.

Like all Colt handguns it came with two Colt factory mags in the same finish as the gun.  They are of course full sized mags because the commander has a full sized grip.  Both mags are the 8 round type sure to give an upset tummy to the 7 round mag purists I have no doubt.

 

A very nice touch on this new model is the grips.  This is a big upgrade Colt has been adding to its current pistol line up because they are the  very tough VZ grips.  As you can see the grips are made with the Colt logo made into the checkering and it is very attractive to my eyes.  I like checkered wood grips on CCW guns and these look and feel the same as wood checkering and are a lot tougher.  Unlike wood checkering these won’t wear down and smooth out like wood, keeping the gripping texture the same.

The commander comes with the an  extended combat safety.  I am not 100 percent but I am pretty sure it is a wilson combat model.  I still prefer the STI safeties that came on the XSE series, but I have no complaints with this one and I doubt I will ever change it out.  The temptation to go ambi is strong though. I have a hard time understanding why anyone for not want a safety they could deactivate with either hand when it comes to a gun they think some day they may have to fight with.   That said, it is not a must and I will leave this one as is.

You can see the current commander comes with the hammer type that was introduced when the original commanders came to market.  A lot of people really like the look of this “rowel ” style hammer and will add one to their guns.  For a long time I was indifferent about this but in recent years it has grown on me.  It is however slightly heavier than the rounded hammer that is more common, so it does have an advantage beyond classic good looks.

You can also of course see the now standard S&A grip safety.  I am pleased to say this is something colt has started doing since 09 and it was long awaited by me.  There are a lot of grip safeties out there but this one is the one I always opt for when I have a choice.

The commander also comes with the standard sights for Colt’s combat and carry pistols.  Those of course are the Novaks. I know there is a move towards rear sights that can be used for cycling the gun by hand if wounded in one arm but I find that there are plenty of other edges on a 1911 that  can be used for this.  The front sights, the edges on the ejection port are a couple of examples.   I love the look and lines of the novak sights. I also like the non snag lower profile.  It’s been around forever and more than 2 million have been sold.  There is a reason for that.

Another very welcome touch is the front strap.  Like the Colt Gold Cup target pistols, the commander has the front strap cut for gripping grooves. With the VZ grips, and the matching MSH, this makes for  a very solid and sure grip.

And of course the scalloping cut where the trigger guard meets the front strap is there.  This little bit of detail makes a big difference for me.  The way I grip the guns benefits a lot from that little bit of metal being removed.  I know it makes no difference for some people’s grip, but it does for me and its a very nice touch that used to be a custom gun only detail.

Like every pistol Colt has made for carry use since 2009, the commander has the edges dulled for carry and comfort.   The front sight can be seen and its the Novak front.

The commander also uses the standard, original recoil spring guide and plug.  No full length guide rod. I can remember a time when the standard  JMB system was good enough, then it wasn’t and we all had to have guide rods, and now we are back to the USGI original parts being the preferred and wise choice.  I agree for what it’s worth but it’s funny how things go back and forth.   Of course the commander uses its own parts for this as its shorter than the government model.

On the topic of recoil springs, the commander uses the now standard dual recoil spring system.   The original 10mm delta elite came with a dual recoil spring system and it was brought back when that gun was resurrected.   The next gun to get that treatment was the  M45A1 made for MARSOC.  This  dampened recoil and wear and tear on parts so much it was made standard on a lot of the new models.   It does help,  I noticed the recoil of the new delta to be tamed greatly and it makes a big difference with this light alloy framed commander.    I have no doubt it will eventually be the recoil spring set up in every colt gun in the near future.  It adds not complication in taking the gun apart nor does it hurt function.  It does soften recoil.   I am considering changing over to  dual springs on my guns that are already comfortable to shoot like my full size government models in 45 ACP.

The crowning on the barrel of this gun is interesting.  The picture doesn’t show it well  but It has a very nice crowning job.  I don’t mean it’s just a competent job done on an assembly line, I mean it looks to me like it was given special care.  I have carefully compared it to my other Colt’s of this years vintage and it has a crowing job you would expect from a gunsmith.  I have not confirmed this is a new standard Colt has started to phase in, but I hope so, I will update this post when I learn the answer to this.

The barrel is the stainless steel Colt barrel seen on all modern guns save for the models that come with the Colt national match barrel. Of course it is shorter than the full size gov model.   The standard slide release is seen on the right side as well as the three hole competition trigger.  Unlike the XSE models or Gold cup this 3 hole trigger is  not adjustable for over travel.  This isn’t a problem because the truth is, the new triggers from Colt are excellent.  They are crisp and break clean.   That is not to imply they are 2 pounds or lighter, but they are  greatly improved from the triggers from pre 09.   I have purchased five Colt M1911s since 2014 and the triggers on these guns are all I could ask.   I have never bought into the complaints about the series 80 triggers anyway, but the factory has really upped their game on putting out fine fire control parts on their pistols.  I can only  imagine how good the new series 70 competition series 1911s  are.

The roll mark on the slide is the now standard style that is a throwback to the commercial vintage models.  It has always been my favorite version.   I’m glad to see they are sticking with this marking system for  the time being,   The right side roll marks are of course the lines that denote  the specifics of the model as always.  In this case the light weight commander.

Right side also shows  larger flared ejection port.  Another now standard feature on all models not meant to be retro.  The new style cocking serrations can be seen.  These first showed up on the MARSOC M45A1  USMC gun and it looks like they are here to stay on every gun that is made to modern styling.  A few models have the legacy serration pattern or something else but every gun that is meant for tactical/CCW use now has this pattern.   If I could change only one thing..       Not to say I hate it or have to avert my eyes, but I simply like the older style  or the serration found on the older XSE models not extinct but for the Combat Elite.    Some will rejoice that there is not forward slide serrations.   Looks-wise,  I don’t really care.  Do some models look better without them ? Yes.  Do some look fine with them ? Yes.    If I am going to have them I would rather have the older style if I had a say in the matter.  But having them, not having them or style  would not make me buy or not buy.    For the record I do think front cocking serrations are a nice thing to have on a gun that may be used for the most serious of environments and having options in emergencies are always good.   I like them on my XSEs, I like not having them on some other models.   I just like 1911s .

Just for comparison,  pictured below is classic serrations and XSE style.  I use XSE  as a expedient term not only for angle of the serrations but spacing of each cut  as well as  forward serrations. This angle of the serrations of course existed before the XSE line, but  the amount of serrated cuts and size  varied.

This is the more classic retro original style.

And below are the XSE type seen on a Combat Elite.  All styles are fine with me.   But, as I said before if it was up to me, I would have stuck with the XSE style.   I’m sure the change over came because it was easier to make some using the new system that was came about for the specs of the M45A1.   It would have been a waste to have a set up just for one model pistol that came about because of the wants of the most flaky and fickle of customers, the US Gov.

 

 

 

Not pictured because I forgot, is the standard Colt slightly beveled magazine well.   A little better than no bevel but not really enough to reach the same benefits of an extended beveled well.   I have not felt any real pressing need for an extended beveled well added since I stop competition.    For carry or fighting guns I like being able to quickly load mags that don’t have a bumper pad,   My thinking is, you never know what mag you may have to use in an emergency and I want it to lock in immediately without worrying because it doesn’t have a pad and I didn’t eve think about it because I am used to my personal mags having the extended bumper.   Without the extended well It’s not an issue for me .

As usual, part 2 will be accuracy testing.  I have been carrying this gun for about 3 months in a variety of holsters and carrying options.  The gun already has 1500 rounds through it with no problems.  Accuracy has already show to be excellent with my carry ammo so I expect it to do well with other types and brands.    Formal accuracy testing beyond what I carry has not started as of this writing but it will be coming with a few weeks,    Please come back by for Part 2.

 

 

 

Accuracy Testing The Vintage 1/12 Milspec Barrel

Accuracy in modern carbines is always a popular topic on the various gun boards and news stand  slick gun rags. People want the newest barrel some company is making that promises more accuracy.  New chamber types, coatings, contours , linings and materials are all shown to us to try to win your money.

If you have read this website for a while you know I like to take a chance to convince people that their barrels on stock rack grade AR15s is already a lot better than they think and honestly more accurate that most of their users, The modern M4 carbine milspec barrel’s accuracy potential should not be ignored or tossed aside for something that costs a lot more and may not really offer any real gains.    I think I have preached this until I am blue in the face. Even stock milspec barrels are fine now a days.

But what about those from 40plus years ago?  Everyone knows those M16A1s and CAR15s weren’t all that accurate right?  We have had plenty of ‘Nam vets  tell us   Don’t forget those   cold war national guard  vets (with those old worn out A1s left over from Nam waiting to be replaced with A2s ) around to tell us how bad they were. Why , they couldn’t even qualify with them  at 25 yards with reduced range targets!!    You won’t find many people ready to argue with that.   Why would you even bother?   Those older 1/12 twist barrels won’t handle modern match rounds in the 77 or 69gr range.     But what if?..

What if that’s all you have?  Maybe you like A1 profile barrels and retro guns?  Maybe you just can’t give up your nostalgia or you just want to be different.   Or you are curious like me,  So I gave it a try.

I borrowed my friends Colt SP-1 AR15 carbine to find out.  The gun  has everything an early AR15 could be given to it by Colt.  The A1 sights, the A1 profile barrel and the 1/12 twist chrome lined Mil-spec bore.      I set the gun up on rest with bags front and read and got it as locked down as I could get it and started shooting with match quality hand loads,

Groups where shot at 50, 75 and 100 yards.  The A1 sights being a limit for me.  The older A1 front sight post shape has always been harder for me to  get the best out of it.   I used bullet weights close to the M193 load used the most during its heyday.  I selected and loaded bullets I have experience with that have always squeezed all the accuracy I could get  for shorter ranges.   Not being able to use 9 or 77 grain bullets int he 1/12 barrel I did not try for longer range accuracy testing.

The 50 and 55gr Blitzking sierra bullets are excellent, really excellent.   Those  two have always been go to bullets when loading for shots   400  yards and under when I want higher velocities, flatter trajectories and more explosive effect on targets when using rounds like the .218Bee  or .223 from a bolt action varmint rifle .   All groups are 5 round groups, You can see above how well those two weights perform.

The 55 gr Vmax from hornady is also a dependable bullet if you want an accurate bullet for varmint or target use. I used the  50 and 40gr Vmax .22cal bullets almost exclusively when I wanted a ballistic tip before sierra introduced the Blitzking.    Not to say that I think the BlitzKing is the end all be all for ballistic tip bullets,  They just shoot a bit better in some of my varmint guns.   The 40gr Vmax is still the bullet I would recommed for varmint use on small targets  in rounds that are not in the class of 22-250 or 220 swift.

Since I am on the topic, I will save my handloading component choices for a different post.

The real dependable money maker for  300 or less accuracy for milspec AR15s  is the 53 grain flat base HP matchking.  The bullet performs well in a 556 NATO chamber for a few reasons and its fairly well known.  I will go into this in a later post, but for now I will just show you the results,    The bullet is an old fav for seeing what  a milspec barrel and NATO chamber can do.   Give it a try if you handload and no one has ever told you about it.

I’m guessing that some of you may be let down that I didn’t shoot further.   I just couldn’t be sure I could use those sights well enough to shoot to the guns potential to 100 yards and beyond.  So I used the most accurate loads and fired groups at 50 and 75. I think this was a decent balance for distance and what I could see.   I did shoot some at 100 yards and the strain it put on my eyes gave me a raging headache.   When it gets like that, you can’t tell if bad groups are you, the gun or the ammo or the weather.     I rested and did the final record group of  a10 shot string.  I feel this shows what the gun could do at 100 yards or at least gives and idea of the potential it has if optics had been mounted and a better trigger added.  Neither of which I would bother to do on this classic rifle anyway.

Above is group I fired for record at 100  yards.  It is a 10 round group fired from the bench and bags at 100 yards using the 55gr blitzking.  I chose the Bltizking 55gr because it seemed to me to slightly edge out the others and I had run our of the 53gr flat base HP.  Otherwise I would have shot 100 with  the 53 grain matchking  without hesitation.

The older  SP1 Colts are still great shooters unless you  haveone some one ( or you) mistreated.  The original A1 barrels on original A1 or SP1 uppers have the same potential. They are the same Colt ( or made to colt spec by  another company for the gov at the time) made Milspec barrels.   Just because it is a 1/12 doesn’t hurt accuracy,  just accuracywith heavier bullets.  Many varmint bolt actions rifles came with 1/12 twist for 223 remington for years.  It’s about knowing  the limits of the barrels twist rate , not the quality of the barrel.    I think it is odd that a lot of AR15 users make a lot of noise about  faster twist rates in their modern guns when they never shoot anything heavier that 55gr M193 type ammo.   I suppose it’s just the thought.

If you have one of these or you have made yourself a “retro clone” with original parts, maybe you will look at it in a little different light now, or maybe some of those stories told  at the gun store round table BS sessions will seem less like wisdom and more like what they are.

Lastly. the gun ran perfectly.  It is a vintage Colt AR15  SP-1 carbine. AS you can see it has the original CAR15 metal stock which is much sought after these days and is in near mint condition.   Below is the  test carbine with Sp1 rifle.  A classic pair to be sure.

 

 

KAHR ARMS P45 Part 1

With Trump winning the election. A few things have come to pass.   Gun buyers ( wrongly)  have assumed the danger  of a possible “assault rifle” ban has ended for a while, the rush to buy those guns has subsided ,  there has been a sharp alarming rise in radical left violence  and CCW promotion has been on the march.   With growing carriers  and more states “allowing”  permit less carry, those new to CCW need guns to carry.  Most of the new gun owners  wanting a handgun have  more interest in  smaller more compact and lighter pistols for carry.  In fact a lot of veteran Concealed carriers want those things in a carry gun if the last few years  have taught us anything.  I suppose not everyone is like me and insists on always having a full size government model on the at all times.  Who knew?

 

With that in mind, when Kahr arms graciously  offered me my choice in pistols to review, my first selection was the P45.  Assuming I don’t explode the p istol in my own face, you will be seeing us reviewing more firearms from Kahr.

https://www.kahr.com/Pistols/Kahr-P45-w-Night-Sights.asp

Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Operation: Trigger cocking DAO; lock breech; “Browning – type” recoil lug; passive striker block; no magazine disconnect
Barrel: 3.54″, polygonal rifling, 1 – 16.38 right-hand twist
Length O/A: 6.07″
Height: 4.8″
Slide Width: 1.01″
Weight: Pistol 18.5 oz., Magazine 2 oz.
Grips: Textured polymer
Sights: Drift adjustable, tritium night sights
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte stainless steel slide
Magazines: 3 – 6 rd, Stainless

 

With the specs listed above, lets take a look at the gun with my observations.

The gun is indeed flat and compact.  It has the now standard polymer frame common on modern pistols.   The rear  of the grip has a textured checkering that bites into the hand when as soon as  you grip it. It is  not sharp or painful but it is effective.  I found it to work a lot better than the type I have encountered on the various glocks I have shot.

The front has the same type of  checkering as the rear and  once you grip the gun, it is staying put.

 

P45

The front strap also has a undercut where the trigger guard meets the front strap.  This allows a higher grip and is something I have on all of  my serious use M1911s.  The trigger guard also has a contour in it that helps lock the alternate shooting  hand into place once you wrap it around your firing hand.  At first glance I didn’t know what purpose of this was but it became pretty clear quickly.  I don’t know that it will perfectly match up to everyone’s  hand shape and size but it did mine.

The magazine release button is where you expect and works perfectly.  It has some checkering on it but not as aggressive as the grip.  With the size of this gun it should be no problem for even small hands to hit  it without having to change the firing grip.  Same goes for the slide release.  The release is made with some slotting to make it easier to operate but being a 1911 I prefer something with more of a ledge on it personally.  If you are a “slingshot ” kinda Guy or Gal or something in between, I doubt it will matter.  Administrative operation of the slide stop is still easy and positive.

As I tried to show in the picture above, the machine work on the slide is pretty impressive.  If a lack of any tooling marks matters to you then this pistol will make you feel happy your hard earned dollar was spent on something  with quality looking craftsmanship.  It doesn’t do a very good in the picture above but I will try to get better close up pictures in later parts of the review and test. ,

The sights are nigh sights as listed in the specs and they work well.  Front and rear are the same color green though if that is something that concerns you.   They sights are dove tailed in place though so changing should not be a problem if that is your wont.  The rear is also made to facilitate operating the side with one hand if the need arises.

The pistol came with three stainless steel mags.  The extended magazine being the 7 round mag. I’m glad to see the gun come with three magazines because it is my policy to carry a handgun with at least 2 spare mags.  I think this is just smart policy no matter how many rounds the guns magazine will hold.   All three have worked perfectly in dry runs and dry fire.   

Now as for size.  I have take a picture of the P45 besides my various CCW guns most people are familiar with. I hope this will give an idea of its  compactness.   First off above is the P45 beside a Colt Defender. The defender is the subcompact from Colt with the 3 inch barrel  and holds a standard of 7 rounds of .45 auto.

Below is the P45 beside a Colt lightweight Commander.  The commander uses the same frame as a full size government model but with a slightly shorter slide. I should mention now that  yes the Commander will have a review up soon .

The P45’s trigger is like most triggers of its type. Not as good as a M1911 trigger of course  but a lot better than a DA/SA. It is workable and I am hoping with use it will improve even more so.

As is my custom this is the first part in a 2 to possible 3 part review.  Accuracy testing will be in part 2 and part 3 will be reliability endurance testing if  it is not included with the accuracy review.  I will shoot a variety of hollow point and self defense ammo through the pistol and it takes time to gather up.  That is the reason for a delay and the reviews being done in parts  for those that have asked in the past.    Please keep and eye out soon for part 2.

Canik TP9SF

Canik TP9SF

The Canik TP9SF is a firearm I have wanted to test out since it was released about a year ago. Canik has built a decent reputation with its TP9 series of pistols. The Canik TP9SF is imported by Century Arms and Century Arms was gracious enough to send us the pistol to test and review.

Canik TP9SF

The TP9SF is the fourth pistol of the TP9 line. With each new TP9 pistol released, Canik is trying to answer consumer concerns and feedback about the TP9 line. With the Canik TP9SF’s release, the pistol now seems to be a serious defensive firearm contender, compared to other more expensive firearms in its class.  Throughout this review I will post pictures and videos of the TP9SF so you can decide if the TP9SF is right for you and your needs.

Initial Thoughts:

When the Canik TP9SF showed up and I opened the box, I was really surprised at how nice the accessories and pistol were. As soon as I pulled it out from the case, started to handle and visually inspect the Canik, I could tell this was a very nicely built and machined firearm.  The finish looked really nice and I quickly compared it to a few other firearms I had nearby (H&K VP9, Sig SP2022 & Glock 17).     I found it felt, and visually was on par with these firearms. The slide finish actually looks as nice as the H&K. The polymer frame and stippling was also on par with these firearms. The Canik TP9SF is no ugly duckling when it comes to its overall finish/look compared to any other quality firearm I have.  I was now very excited to get to the range and test it out. The Canik TP9SF made me feel like it was going to shoot as good as it looked.

Price:

The price of the Canik TP9SF is extremely good. I have found at full retail prices; you are looking at $349 dollars. Recently I have found some sales here and there, at very close to $300 dollars for the TP9SF, with the new Warren Tactical Sights, delivered to your FFL. While you might think you are not going to get a nice firearm at these prices, believe me, you are getting a very nice firearm with a lot of accessories. The Canik TP9SF comes in a nice case; with two magazines, a holster, cleaning patch rod, bore brush rod, extra larger back-strap, back-strap replacement tool, magazine loader and a full color gloss instruction/maintenance manual.  This package pretty much sets you up with everything you need to initially get started with the Canik. While some of these items will need replacing, (mainly the holster), Canik has put forth a large effort to give you a very nice package. You really don’t get any of these included accessories with any other handgun out there, especially at the Canik price.

Firearm Features:

The Canik TP9SF has a 1913 Picatinny rail, enlarged heavy-duty external extractor, loaded chamber indicator and thumb and index finger stippling.

                Slide & Frame

The Canik slide is machine cut/milled from a solid block of high carbon steel. The slide has a smooth even black Cerakote over a phosphate finish. The slide is rounded and beveled on the edges, across the top, front and back. The rear slide serrations are generous enough and allow you to get a sure grip on the slide when racking or manipulating the slide of the firearm. I would like to see more aggressive slide serrations but the serrations are deep enough to get the job done.

TP9SF Slide

The Frame is a polymer design similar to other striker fired firearms. The Canik TP9SF has a Picatinny rail that can accommodate any aftermarket weapon light or laser. The polymer of the frame is very thick. It does not bend or flex like other polymer framed firearms.  The lock up of the frame and slide has a very slight wobble from side to side, but you have to physically move the slide side to side with your hand to notice it.  The takedown lever in the TP9SF operates like a Glock.

TP9SF Frame

                Barrel & Guide Rod

The Barrel on the TP9SF seems to have the same Cerakote over phosphate finish on it. After over 2000 rounds it has some of the classic barrel chatter marks. After cleaning and whipping it down, both sides of the chamber also have just a slight sign of wear.

The Canik TP9SF has a match grade steel barrel. The barrel is cold hammer forged and has traditional lands and grooves. The barrel has performed very well in testing and is very accurate.  It has a very nice polished feed ramp.

Feed Ramp

The Canik TP9SF has a metal guide rod with a captive flat recoil spring. I was expecting the Canik to have a polymer guide rod but to my surprised it had a steel one. Yet another quality feature you are getting in the firearm at its price.

Guide Rod
Captured Guide Rod

                Grip Panels / Ergonomics

The stippling on the Canik TP9SF is similar to a Gen4 Glock on the front and back straps. The stippling is aggressive enough to notice but does not beat up your hand during extensive and long strings of fire. The three (3) included changeable backs straps give you the option to fit the grip size to your hand and adjust your length of pull for the firearm.  The side grip stippling is very similar to a Gen3 Glock. Overall, I really like the grip texture and it is very comfortable while providing a positive grip during use.

                Magazines

The Canik TP9SF magazines are one of the obvious shinning features of the firearm. Canik used Mec-Gar magazines in their firearms. Mec-Gar makes the OEM magazines for several well-known firearm manufactures, like Sig Sauer and Beretta so you know you are getting quality magazines. Not only are the magazines hi-quality, they hold 18 rounds. The magazine capacity is more than any other standard Glock, H&K, Sig or any other full size pistol I have owned.

Magazine Markings

There are very nice (Canik Shield) markings on the magazine floor plates, that match the grip, the magazine loader and the case.  The magazines are stamped (MEC-GER MFG. FOR CANIK – TP Series) on the magazine body.  All of this just adds to the overall theme and quality of the pistol. The finish is very smooth, allowing for a nice, smooth insert and drop from the pistol. In the magazine quality and capacity department, the Canik TP9SF is absolutely killing it for the pistols price.

Floor/Base Plates

                Sights

The Canik TP9SF has some new features on its sights compared to previous versions of the TP9 series.  The front & rear steal sights are, dove tail sights. The dove tail is a new feature on the SF series. The steel sights are an upgrade for the Canik line, from their previous models plastic/polymer sights. With the dove tail sights, after market sights are possible. I have heard from several reliable sources, that there are a few sight companies working on sights for the TP9SF. This is a really good thing in my opinion because the stock sights are really busy.

Sights

The Canik TP9SF sights are accurate, once you get adjusted to them, then they hit right where you want.  While very accurate, the sights did take a long time to acquire and slowed down follow up shots.  I found the rear sight distracts your eye from quickly acquiring the front sight, due to the added vertical line on the rear sight. The two dots with the vertical line draw your eyes to the rear sight.  The rear sight notch is also very shallow and it is hard to line up the front sight.

Rear Sight Distraction:

The stock rear TP9SF sights are very distracting for fast pick-up and shooting.  There is just a little too much going on with the rear sight.  I took a sharpie and blacked out the rear sight post line.  This improved overall sight acquisition during shooting, to a traditional three (3) dot sight configuration feel.

Original Rear Sight
Modified Rear Sight

Very recently Canik has started offering Warren Tactical sights on a few of their pistols. The new TP9SF’s seem to be coming exclusively with Warren Sights, at the same price points mentioned before.  This is a huge improvement from the standard sights we have been talking about.

                Loaded Chamber Indicator

The Canik TP9SF does have a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. The loaded chamber indicator is finished in the same Cerakote as the slide and has two bright red dots on each side to visually identify you have a round in the chamber. Another small nice touch on the Canik.

Loaded Chamber Indicator

                Firing Pin/striker Indicator

The Canik TP9SF also has a cocked striker indicator on the back of the slide.  This visual indication shows that the firing pin/striker is in the cocked position, ready to fire, by a red indicator painted on the back of the slide. This is another feature you see on several other pistol on the market, that are at least twice the price of the Canik.

Striker Indicator

Reliability:

So far I have put over 2000 documented rounds of mix ammunition, (Blaser Brass 155grn FMJ, American Eagle 115grn FMJ, Fiocchi 115grn FMJ, Speer 147grn TMJ, Federal 147grn HST & Speer 147grn Gold Dot), through the Canik TP9SF. It has well over the 2000 round count; I just stopped counting after the 2000 round mark. I am confident it is over 2500k now. I have found the Canik TP9SF to be extremely reliable, just as any of my other firearms.

I spoke with Mrgunsngear a few months ago and received his permission to  link his 1000 rounds test video to this article.  Check out that video  below for TP9SF reliability.

One week it was particularly humid and rainy, so I decided to take the TP9SF out in the rain and let it sit for the day. I then let it sit for 24 hours to see if any rust would show itself on the outside or inside parts of the pistol.  After stripping and inspecting the TP9SF I found no rust on anything in the pistol.

note: I did observe one unexplained malfunction with the TP9SF. In the first 200 rounds fired, the TP9SF had a dead trigger on the 192nd round. My wife was firing the Canik during this time.  The 192nd round chambered but the trigger was dead. The primer did not have a firing pin strike on it and for some reason the trigger did not reset after the previous round had been ejected. This was the only malfunction with the TP9SF out of all rounds fired and I could not reproduce the malfunction. 

Wife at range

Accuracy:

I found the TP9SF was very accurate and could do everything I needed it to do. The sight radius on the TP9SF is full sized, approximately 6.75 inches, by my measurement. I felt the sight picture was not that good, as stated before, but it does get the job done when you do your part. The angle of the sights had some glare from time to time as well. Even though the sights were not ideal for me, the TP9SF had great accuracy. With some aftermarket sights or the new Warren Tactical sights, I feel it will perform even better.

At the Range

The 147grn Speer Gold Dot had several very impressive groups and it is one of my two defensive loads of choice. All shooting of the TP9SF was done off hand or from the holster. Not going to cherry pick groups here, you can clearly see some shots I pulled.

First 20 Rounds off-hand, Blaser Brass 115gr fmj, at 25 yards
10 rounds Blaser Brass 115gr fmj, at 15 yards
5 Rounds, 147gr Gold Dot, at 15 yards
10 Rounds from holster, 25 yards, 147gr Gold Dot

 Firearm Controls:

All of the controls on the TP9SF feel like they are in the right place for my hands.  The slide release and magazine release require no shifting of the hand to hit.

                Slide Stop/Release

The Slide Catch/Release Lever, or whatever you want to call it, is not ambidextrous but easy to use from the left side of the frame.  I found I did have to adjust my grip to avoid riding the top of the lever with my strong hand thumb while firing. In the first 100 rounds video, you can see I had this issue, on the first magazine.  I usually find myself contacting the slide stop/release with other firearms, making the slide not lock open on the last round in the magazine. This is something I do on several firearms and I know I have to adjust my grip slightly. I prefer to use the (over the top / sling shot method) when doing a reload for consistency across multiple platforms, so the slide catch lever does not get used that much for me on reloads.

Slide Stop

                Takedown Lever/Field Stripping

I will not spend a lot of time on this. If you have taken down a Glock, its exactly the same. Pull back slightly on the frame while pulling the takedown lever down. Release the slide and pull the trigger.  The slide then pops forward and you pull it off.

Takedown Lever

                Magazine Release

The magazine release is metal and is reversible for left hand shooters. It has a very positive push/ release and aggressive checkering.

Right Side
Left Side

Trigger:

The trigger on the TP9SF is very nice. The trigger looks and operates like a Glock and other similar striker fired handguns. It has a smooth but a little long take-up before you hit the wall, then it has an extremely small amount of creep before it breaks very cleanly. If I had to nit-pick it would be on the take up being too long. The trigger reset is very short and I really like it. The reset is audible and strong, (similar to having a NY1 trigger in a Glock). For a $300-dollar firearm, there is really nothing to complain about with this trigger.  It is giving several well known firearms a run for their money.  Personally, I think it is actually a little nicer than the stock Glock trigger and if you have followed us for any length of time, you know I’m the Glock guy here. The break is cleaner (not spongy) and the reset is shorter than the Glocks. 

Recoil Impulse:

The Canik seems to have a little more recoil than some of the other striker fire firearms that I own, but just slightly. The TP9SF bore axis is a little higher than on a Glock, with the large slide, this seemed to make a difference in the recoil. It just snaps a little more. Fast accurate follow up shots are still very easy to make and the sights come back on to target relatively quickly. As stated before, improved sights over the stock sights would improve sight acquisition.  After a few rounds and adjusting to the TP9SF, I found the recoil to be a non-existent factor. Once again you can see some rounds I pulled, I will not cherry pick the best groups.

Rapid Fire, 20 rounds, at 5 yards 115gr FMJ
Head Shots at 7 yards, rapid fire 147gr Federal HST
10 Rounds, Rapid Fire at 7 yards, 115grn FMJ
5 Rounds Reload 5 Rounds, Rapid Fire at 7 yards, 115grn FMJ

 Accessories/Holsters – Shoutout:

The Canik’s have been around for several years and it is still hard to find quality holsters for them.  During this review Kenetic Concepts Tactical  http://kctkydex.com/ (KCT) was kind enough to make me a holster for the TP9SF. If you are going to carry the TP9SF, ditching the supplied holster is a must. I use less than handful of holster companies for my firearms, KCT was the only place that had the mold for the TP9SF. Some other companies did have holsters for the Canik but they were well over $100-dollars (special order) and that just does not keep in line with the TP9SF’s price.  KCT will get you quality holster and magazine pouches, at a low price, and they are one place we highly recommend.

KCT Holser
KCT Canik TP9SF Holster

Final Thoughts:

Throughout this review I found myself comparing the Canik to my H&K VP9, my Sig SP2022 and several of my Glocks. The Canik TP9SF has very similar characteristics and features close to these firearms. In-fact I might get a lot of blow back for this, but I am going to call the Canik TP9SF the poor man’s VP9. This is not an insult to the Canik but high praise.  I let several of my co-workers handle the Canik and one in particular mentioned to me, “It kinda feels like my VP9”.  He liked it so much, especially the price, that he bought the tan TP9SF.

I really like the Canik TP9SF. It has preformed and handled well above my expectations. If there is anything to complain about, it would only be the stock sights. Since the TP9SF is now coming with Warren Tactical sights, standard with the same price, I think that issue is fixed. The size of the TP9SF is very close to a Glock 17/22. It holds a few more rounds than most handguns that are the same size and I think that is the big advantage to the TP9SF. At it’s very low price point, it is a awesome truck, car or home defense firearm, if you are on a tight budget.

The Canik TP9SF is a very hard firearm to beat in its market.  It is doing things as good, in fact better than some pistols in its price point. If you look at all firearms in the 350 or under category, there is no one doing as well as the TP9SF. It really does give firearms like Glocks, S&W M&Ps and Sig (SP2022/P320s) in the $450 to $500-dollar price range a run for the money. I would have no problem recommending it to anyone.

Thanks again to: http://www.ammoman.com/ for supplying the ammunition for this review. Without that support we could not complete these reviews. Also  thanks to: http://kctkydex.com/ (KCT) for making us the custom holster for the review.

Duncan.

A look Back: Long Term T&E OF CCW Gear

When I get stuff I really think highly of, I like to take a another look at it as time passes.  To see how well it has held up or if my opinion has changed.   Since we started the website, we have gotten a lot of holsters to try out.  Holsters aren’t something really sexy to readers but they are a necessary accessory if you take carrying your gun seriously.

Today we are gonna revisit a few things from 5 years ago and one item now at its 10th year of near daily use by me.

Fist thing I want to update on is the comp-tac gun belt.  I love this thing.  They sent me on in 2013 and after a few months I wrote about it. I have used this belt every day of my life since.  I do not put on pants without this thing, even when doing work that would get me and the belt filthy.  It has only gotten softer and more comfortable with age and use. The kydex strip in the center has kept it stiff and supports a handgun and two mags all day.

The only slight marring it has is from me dragging the buckle across it when I try to yank it tighter with one hand.  Even that hasn’t hurt the leather or worn any thing places.  The belt is made for serious use for years.   I’m 40 now and I could see this belt lasting the rest of my life baring I catch on fire or get smashed in a car wreck or the belt takes a bullet.   You can see in the pictures how well made it is.  Not one stitch has come loose.   You can’t ask for more  in my opinion.

The holster sent with the belt has also stood my test of time and use. I use this one for when I want a deeper cover IWB.  By adjusting the outside belt clips you can have it set higher or lower.  I keep mine at the lowest so the grip of my M1911 just barely comes out above my pants, The holster is very comfortable. The leather backing is wide and spreads out around your hip and leg are. It keeps it from feeling like a lump. The kydex keeps it stiff and open for smooth draw and makes it easier to re holster.  I use it very heavy in summer months when wearing just a T-shirt.  It is a great holster.  For normal CCW, I use two holster mainly and this is one of them.  This holster surprised me. I got it to review and had no idea it would end up being a mainstay of my CCW life.

This last holster is my longest serving CCW holster.  I got this holster 10 years ago this month. It is a custom made Kirkpatrick Leather IWB holster.  I had seen this bit of leather in some place or the other and knew I wanted to try it.  It was exactly what I had in mind in a quick to put on and take off IWB holster that gave me a full master grip from the draw and had a skin guard.   it’s obviously a lot like the Milt Sparks summer special, but it seems a little smaller to me.

This holster with gun shown inside have been through a lot of stuff on my side. Soaked in sweat and rain, submerged in water and generally beat around.  It has been with me as I traveled from PA to SC and to all states in between that it’s legal to carry in.  I can not even imagine how many miles the gun and holster have traveled with me as my old job  required an insane amount of travel.  It has been on my side through the best times of my life and its the holster I used the most hands down. At this point it  has as much sentimental value for me as it has practical utility.

Now with its age and miles, it is starting to show.  The leather is rubbed and worn pretty well in some places, but no holes. The belt loops are very supple now as if most of the holster.  The stiffener for the top has started to get a little softer unfortunately, but it still has a long way to go.

The only issue starting after 10 years is some of the stitches have come out.

I’m not sure what has caused this other than wear, tear and time.  No doubt me sweating all over it day after day helped weaken the stitches as well as the sometimes wetting it has taken and the oil from the gun soaking through to it.  Regardless its a small matter to me.  The local leather shop tells me its will take seconds to put a few new stitches in it to shore it up. I believe the flap is glued in addition to sewed so I have no fear it will come loose.  The kirckpatrick leather holster have my highest recommendation.  Not being a fad holster company these days, you can get one pretty quickly and its all hand made in the USA with high quality leather,  You can even chose the leather loops like mine or the kydex clip.   Either way I doubt you could go wrong.

It’s good to take a look back at the things we use and write about, Nothing compares to use and time as the best T&E.

 

 

Magpul PRO LR sights

Last week I bought a set of Magpul PRO LR flip up iron sights.  I got to try them out yesterday at the range and I am liking them.

Magpul PRO

The KAC 2-600m sight are still my favorite, but I think these Magpul PRO sights are well worth the cost.

Magpul PRO

Both the front and rear sight are very low profile.  A very small footprint for either sight.  Both sights have tool less adjustments.  When I first unboxed the sights, I was very impressed with the heavy duty feel of the sights.  The melonited case hardened steel should end up being a very tough, rust resistant sight.

Magpul PRO LR

I really appreciate how the mounting screw for these sights can be tightened by a screw driver or a 1/8 inch Allen wrench.  The PRO LR rear sight has an elevation adjustment wheel unlike the Magpul PRO.

Magpul PRO LR deployed

The elevation wheel is can be set from 2-6 with a single click in between each.  The rear sight offers small and large apertures.  The front sight post is a narrower match style.

I really like these sights, and I recommend them.  These little steel sights feel substantial.  I was worried at first that they would be too stiff and too small to deploy quickly, but since installing them I found that isn’t an issue.  The adjustment are stiff, which I prefer so there isn’t a concern of accidentally adjustment.

The only criticism I can come up with for these are that the back sides when flipped up don’t have the best aesthetics.

Magpul PRO Front Sight Deployed

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a 100 setting for the rear sight.

 

Best, Worst And Meh Of 2016

Here we are again at the end of all things.  Nope, not Mordor, the end of HIGH PRICES!!!.or hillary  clinton, though it is the end for her as well.   It’s the end of 2106. No wait, that isn’t right. I jumped the gun a little.   It’s the end of 2016!  With the end of the year comes the “Best of” picks from things I was sent to review or purchased over the course of the year.  As before not everything on the list is necessarily new for 2016. It may be something that has been around for a while and this year was just now the time I got around to it.

List of products are in no particular order.

  1. The Colt Delta Elite 10mm

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No surprise there, you know I loved it.  It is a classic brought back from the past and updated.  It has the extra “custom production” features I like my serious carry 1911s to have and its something I had wanted for a long time.  it is accurate reliable and a real pleasure. No it does not have the supported barrel/chamber, but that has never been something I cared about. If I wanted a hotter round that this gun will handle, I will buy a revolver in .454 or something.

2.The Inland MFG M1911A1

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You know I’m a sucker for a 1911s, You also know its very hard to please me when it comes to production 1911s.   The Inland M1911 surprised me and exceeded my wildest expectation. Shown above is the NM model standing in for the USGI model.  The Inland model is just a GI  plain vanilla .45, but its a great value and a tough reliable gun.

3. The High Com Security PC & Plates

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Comfortable, flexible, well made, affordable and meant to be used and depended on. Highly recommended if you are looking for a carrier and armor.

4. The SCAR-H & Specter Optic

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I have already said a lot in the original review so I don’t think I can say much more. The H is a good battle carbine.  I still would not recommend it over a 762 patter AR  for every role, but it impressed me.  Further testing of it earlier in December further enhanced it’s status with me. The optic also got high marks from me though it is heavy and expensive to the point that I would just opt for a Leupold or Nightforce model if I was going to pay out that kind of cash.  Even though, it did everything expected of it and was very fast to get hits on target out to 850 yards and was clear as a winter sky.

5. Model 37 Ithaca/Inland Combat Shotgun

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An excellent re-issue.  Well made and as smooth and slick as a shotgun three times its price. The M37 is already a classic and it is nice to now get one done up like a military model.  This gun stood up to more abuse and ammo though it than is healthy for a grown man to fire in a 12 gauge.

Some products are still being tested even if I received them this year.  If something I have talked about earlier has not shown  on this list. it’s because I  have not spent enough time with it yet.   Not being on the list does also not make it bad. It just means it did not really stand out in my mind.  If I gave it a good review earlier in the year, that opinion still stands.    On the other hand, products listed below..

Worst of 2016

  1. “XM8”

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This is one makes it on the list but with a side note.   From what I understand it is still being tweaked by the shop that makes these.   This one worked about as well as the original.  Maybe worse.  I fired 1 round before things went south.  It just did not work.    Pathetic since the gunsmith and shop told the owner he test fired it before sending it to him.  No excuse for that.    I will update on this gun as the new year progresses. It may well get the bugs worked out of it and I hope it does just for the sake of the owner who is an awesome guy.  As it stands I am unimpressed by the shop turning these out after telling buyer it was test fired before it left.

Biggest “Meh..” of 2016

  1. KRISS Vector

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It worked fine.  Accuracy was not even close to my personal standards though.  A little over hyped in my opinion.  While the factory stock has a uncomfortable vibration that it translated to the cheek, I have no real complaints.   Though I fine no real reason to get excited either.     I would opt for an MP5 clone if I wanted something like this, or better yet, an AR15 carbine in 9mm.

2 H&K MK23 SOCOM  “Offensive Pistol “

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Of course it worked fine and it was as accurate as any glock.  In the final analysis, it’s HK’s attempt to make a M1911 more or less. Now its a bit of an oddity these days and has fallen out of the lime light in the world of “operator marketing .”   If you want one or you are a collector of this niche, you won’t be let down.     But, in the end it is  the “offensive pistol”    ’nuff said.   It is a .45 though so it has that going for it!

High Com Security Plates & Carrier

Regular readers of the website may have noticed a certain piece of gear popping up in pictures   for the most part of this year.  The multi cam plate carrier seen in most gun test reviews is a product of High Com Security.    HCS very kindly sent me the PC and the  rifle plates inside it, for  testing and evaluation.  I have had it since last winter and have been heavily using it over the past months. This review is the first part in what will be an ongoing longer term test and review. Since buying armor is not sexy and can be a considerable investment for most gun owners, I will be wearing and using the PC and armor heavily to report on how it stands up. I hope this will help decide for some of you who are on the fence about getting armor since I think everyone who can, should have it just as much as a gun for personal protection.

If you don’t know about HCS, I will post the blurb from their website to get you filled in since they can explain it better than I.

http://highcomsecurity.com/

At HighCom we design, develop, test, manufacturer, and distribute body armor and personal protective equipment including more than two dozen NIJ compliant hard and soft armor products.

We are in business for one simple reason to protect lives from bullets and bombs. For nearly two decades, HighCom has helped to save countless lives by supplying critical security products and personal protective equipment (PPE) to America’s federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and military branches.

We stand behind our armor and are proud to say that our products are manufactured in the United States.  We are constantly striving to produce armor solutions that far exceed our customer’s expectations. We know lives depend on our commitment to excellence which is why we are constantly developing innovative armor solutions.”

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  • Premium Cordura Nylon exterior materials
  • Shoulder inserts for comfort fit with spacer mesh lined padding
  • FASS: Fully adjustable four-point suspension system
  • 360 degrees MOLLE/PALS webbing
  • External wraparound 6” x 11” cummerbund platform
  • Velcro loop for identification placard
  • Sewn on mic tabs on shoulders
  • Front and rear plate pockets fit: 8 x 10, 10 x 12, SAPI S and SAPI
  • Reinforced drag handle buddy strap
  • DWR treated package for water resistance
  • Warranty: 2 year on exterior cover material and workmanship

The carrier that HighCom sent me  is the  Trooper APC is Multicam and it has been excellent. The first thing I did after getting it together, was to bend over and touch  toes, do some pushups, roll around on ground like and idiot and generally see if i had the full range of movement I would have with wearing anything. I did. This is the first PC  I have tried that I feel like  nothing about it hinders my movement.   Is it comfortable? Yes. As comfortable as any of these things can be. Nothing grinds against you or sticks juts into any body parts.  Sitting in a car is comfortable, laying prone is comfortable, climbing up ladders and through windows is no problem.  Yes, the plates were inside the carrier during all this.

The carrier itself is made well with good stitching. Usually some of the lesser quality stuff will have some of the sub par sewing to bust and come loose.  This has held up.,  I have sweated in it and its been soaked in rain and been in the sun for long hours and the material and colors have had no degrading.

The shoulder straps are the first  I have ever used that actually felt comfortable and I could stand. Usually they dig into me and I detest them but not these.  They have no imapct on shouldering a carbine/rifle for me   either.  The shoulder straps have a good range of adjustment to fit even the most hideous of mutant bodies.

img_6494

One thing I really like is the plates go into a different pocket than the soft armor. The soft armor goes in through the bottom. The plates insert through a nice tight sealing velcro seem pouch through the top of the carrier.  I really like this.   The cumber bun of the carrier is familiar to anyone who has ever used a PC. Adjustable in the read and velcroed in the front  for attaching under the front flap.  The side of the cumber-bun will accept soft armor and the side SAPI plates for protecting you from broadsides.

img_6497

Once I got the carrier fitted, I started adding a few things to it for use.  I like to avoid putting a lot of stuff on my PC. I like the option of using it almost bare and putting on a chest right or TAP over it if need be.  For this test, I added pouches right onto the PC to test out the strength of the stitching while I used it heavily this year.   In this case, I have a double mag shingle, three pistol mag pouches and a IFAK  that moves from it to a chest rig depending.

img_6552

Obviously you can, and most likely will, add more stuff for whatever requirements you may have.  Wearing the PC while shooting and moving around is easy and comfortable after a minute of two of getting used to the weight.

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The plates ( front and rear) are the Guardian 4SAs7 model. This is a Level IV stand alone plate. You can use soft armor for a back up, (and certainly more is always better!) but this level is made to work on its own. You can also buy soft armor from HCS to add to your carrier in addition to the plates if you want it and can afford it.  For those who choose to pass on soft armor for whatever reasons , you can still have more peace of mind with stand alone plates. If there is any true peace of mind that comes with the thoughts of being shot anyways.

I prefer this cut of plate but they offer various styles and types.  This plate has the side angles at the top for better movement in the arms and shoulder and is curved for the body.

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  • Protection: Level IV Stand Alone Armor Piercing
  • NIJ Standard 0101.04 (2005IR): This product has been certified compliant by NIJ
  • DEA: Hard Armor Protocol Compliant
  • RST:  Rifle Special Threats Validated
  • Material: Ceramic strike face composite backing
  • Exterior Cover: 1000D Cordura®, Textured Nylon, Polyester Veil, Polyurea
  • Thinness: 0.75”
  • Cut: The 10” x 12” shooters cut and multi-curve shooters cut plates are considered nominal and the actual measurement is 9.5” x 11.5”
  • Warranty: 5 years on all ballistic material excluding exterior cover and 1 year on exterior cover material and workmanship.
  • Disclaimer: Text shown on strike face is for marketing purposes only. The actual labels on HighCom products are NIJ approved self-adhesive labels.

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The 4SAS7 plates are a really great deal. Getting stand alone plates at a reasonable deal is like finding some mythological beast.  It is hard to say what “enough” body armor  is.  Any sane person would want as much as possible, n0 matter the cost or weight but that is just not practical or feasible for most of us.  If your work place doesn’t give you armor and you have to buy it yourself, this is a great deal and a a level of protection that may go a long way towards making you feel safer while offering real, serious ballistic protection up to serious rifle rounds. Plates give a peace of mind you don’t have from  soft armor that will stop a pistol round,  stand alone hard armor  will stop most of the common threat rifle rounds. To me that is priceless.

The days of scum bags only using .25s and .38special snub noses revolvers are over.  If you have a gun , and master it and you are serious about your personal protection I can not imagine why you would not have armor if you could possible afford it.   I know it costs money, but it will be more useful to you than those 3 stripped lowers or that 3rd glock and 8 inch barreled .44mag wheelgun that sets in the safe. I know some one out there is thinking of how many Mosins they could buy  for the price of a PC and armor, but if you take your safety and this world seriously consider getting some armor of some type at some point. Every time I watch the news and see cities being burned and looted I am glad I have spent them on all the armor I have accumulated over the years.

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I you are looking for some armor to protect your body from being shot by who knows what, go check out HighCom Security.  You can find about anything you want armor wise and that can hook you  up with a carrier to put it in. If you don’t like their carrier options, the plates will still fit in any other brand and they  are great plates at a great price.   Youtube is lousy with destructive testing of the HCS plates if you want to see if the proof is in the pudding before you buy. We even have some HCS plates being shot on video here. You can find those videos using the search bar.   I know armor sits around most of the time and you could buy a gun with that money and all that, but it IS important if you really understand the world is a dangerous place and getting worse by the minute.  If you take your safety and responsibility seriously and don’t have body armor for yourself or a family member(s), now is a good time to start thinking about it.

The Inland MFG. Model 37 Trench Shotgun Review

 

 

I first spotted the Inland M37 shotgun when on the Inland facebook page around SHOT show earlier this year.  I was intrigued instantly.  So when I got to the NRA 2016  show, I made sure the Inland booth was one of the first places I stopped at.  I wanted to see that M37 in the worst way. I was not let down.  After just a few minutes of handling it, I asked for a T&E sample.  After a month or so, the demo gun showed up.

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The “trench gun “and police “riot guns” have  taken off as collectibles over the decades.  The Winchester Model97 being an example that is really hard to find these days.  Finding original examples can be pretty tough.  The combat shotguns stayed in military service a long time.  From before WW1  to the Vietnam war all the way  until recently.  Some are well known like the M97 mentioned above , some are not as well known, like the Remington 7188 full auto shotgun.

The Ithaca M37 is an example that is well known by casual firearms historians as a police or riot model and sporting weapon of high quality.   The Ithaca as a military “trench gun” is likely not as well known by many. The action of the shotgun would look familiar to a lot of hunters out there.  Though the first thing you may think when seeing its action is the Mossberg 500, it and the 500 are really a simplified version of the most excellent Remington Model 31  shotgun. The M31 itself an evolution from the M17. The Model 17 designed by no less than John Browning himself.

The M31 is in my opinion  one of the smoothest pump action shotguns of its time.  Replaced by the cheaper to make and sell M870, the M31 action lived on in its ancestors.  If you are a fan of smooth as silk shotgun actions, tracking down a M31 is a must. I consider the new Model 37 to be as smooth as the M31and I don’t give that compliment out often. If ever.

The M37 has been one of those  martial  shotguns talked about, and sometimes seen in places like the American Rifleman and other places that reflect back on US service arms, but not really seen very often. Thanks to Inland MFG and Ithaca, we can now own one of the more rare trenchguns from US military history.

The Inland M37 Trench Shotgun all-American-made combat shotgun is faithful to the original from its bead sight, Parkerized finish, oiled stock, and ventilated hand guard to its hard-to-miss bayonet lug that fits the long 1917 bayonet.

The Inland M37 Trench shotgun is manufactured in a joint effort with the Ithaca Gun Company, Upper Sandusky, OH.  The original steps of shotgun manufacture that was originally used by Ithaca during WWII has been carefully duplicated utilizing modern technology and CNC machining which yields components that are precise and accurately reproduced.

The Inland M 37 is based on the original Ithaca Model 37 Trench Gun which was a variation of the Browning Model 17 and features the following”:

Gauge: .12 gauge / 3″ Chamber

Magazine capacity:4+1

Barrel length: 20″

Total length: 38.5″

Barrel Choke: Cylinder Choke .730

Action: Manual Pump, Bottom Load & Ejection

Weight: 6.7 lb

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The new Model 37 combat shotgun is first class in my opinion. They really did it right.   After using it for several months I find it really hard to put it down.  Hundreds of rounds have went through the gun this summer without a problem. Birdshot, 00Buck, 4BK, slugs, you name it.  The solid walnut stock really helping make it bearable to shoot the stiffer loads.  Being use to tactical shotguns of modern times with their synthetic stocks, I dreaded testing.  It is still a 12, but wood stock goes a long way towards a healthy shoulder.

The Model 37 is a combat shotgun so testing was done with combat and police loads.  Target below  was fired with low recoil OO buck from 25 yards standing with no support. This was a bit of a warm up for the real test, to get a feel for possible recoil.  Much relief was felt by all at how the gun managed to tame recoil a bit.

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Above is a target with 3 slugs fired from 50 yards.  No the gun did not fling them to the left.  After two test rounds, the shooter got a little flinchy on the trigger.   Shooting a 3″ magnum slug round from sitting is hard. Hard and painful. I sure  did not want to do it, and we only had 5 rounds anyway.  Even as much as the heavier solid wood stock helped, it can’t help that much.    With some one more willing to eat the recoil and hold steady ,the M37 would likely hold all 3 slugs in the head of the Q target at 50 yards.

With that done, we got serious about testing the shotgun for pattern at usual distances using a variety of shot and police buck loads.  The target below was one round of OO Buck at 25 yards.  The large hole is from the wad hitting the target.

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The next target shows a second  and third shot into the same zone.   Again, large holes are from wad hitting and punching through the cardboard.

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Target below shows hits from  4BK from 25 yards out. The 4BK was fired into the upper chest.  Bottom  circled group is from standard OO Buck round fired from 35 yards.   The “40 yards was written in error.

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The next target is  OO Buck from 50 yards out.  Two rounds were fired at the target  off hand standing. I know a lot of people, experts and average Joes have all kinds of things to say about what the best shotgun load is for whatever distance. Obviously it’s best to test the shotgun out with each load to determine what you want to use, in whatever situation, before generally deciding.  I think if I were a full convert to the tactical shotgun as a general purpose tool I would trust this one with OO buck to make a 50 yard shot if background was not a concern.  We do have video of me knocking down a steel popper plate from 60 yards with the OO buck round.  Once it is uploaded I will insert it into this post.

 

As promised here is the video of buck fired from 50 yards.  Camera  lens and angle makes it look much closer but it is indeed 50 yards

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The short riot/trench shotgun is a pleasure to handle. It’s fast and easy to work with and the slick action is as fast as lightning.   The original M37s would indeed “slam fire”  but this one will not.  As I understand it, this was done at the request of Inland when having the guns put together for them by Ithaca prior to the converting to “trench gun.”  I know some will gripe about this, but let it go. It’s a fact of modern America that lawyers and sue happy anti-gun activists would salivate at trying to prove the gun defective in court.    For those who do not know,” slamfire” refers to the lack of a disconnector in the originals that lets the hammer fall as long as you hold the trigger back. Just like the M12 and M97 etc

The gun does have the infamous “barrel shroud”!  Not to be confused with the shoulder thing that goes up.   The  ventilated shroud functions as the bayonet lug and sling swivel as well.  It marginally protects the hands from being burned by a hot barrel.  It will work for a while, but heat will transfer after enough rounds.   I think no one  other than a liberal can deny it looks cool.  Sad to say I don’t  have a bayonet to mount  for your gratification. The front sling swivel is nice. Very  big and tough.  You can attach about anything you want to the front and rear. I originally mounted a USGI leather sling to the gun as seen in pictures, but went to the  M1 cotton sling for easier use.

The Model 37 ejects and feeds from the bottom.  Handy for both left and right handed users. It can take a bit to get used  to if you have only ever used the M87o or most other pump shotguns out there.  The gun kicks out the empties with enough force to send them about 20 yards if you turn the gun sideways while operating the action . So no worries about any fired case getting hung up.

Pictured above, I fired that gun while wearing a WW2 belt with M1911 , holster  and mag pouch with a Pacific Canvas& Leather  WW2 shotgun shell pouch I purchased only to be used with the M37  for the full experience.  The shotshell canvas pouch holds a dozen rounds in loops in two rows.

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When the gun is empty, reach down and open the flap and strip rounds out of the loops to load into the gun.

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I have  seen some old timers turn the gun upside down and tuck it under the firing arm while loading to maintain solid control over the weapon while moving.  So I tried it out.  Please no comments about how Chris Costa says to load a shotgun. I am aware.  Process and gear used for nostalgia purposes only.

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When loaded, got back to making it empty again.

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Inland MFG has really been on a role the last few years.  The M1 Carbine I tested earlier this year was a faithful reproduction that was beautifully done. The M1911A1 made by the same company equally impressed me, and you know how hard it is for a company to impress me with a 1911 if their name isn’t colt.  The Model 37 is another hit with me.  Inland has turned into one of mt favorite gun companies in recent times.  All of us have seen a rise in demand for “retro” guns in the last ten years and while several companies make Ar15 retro models, few have offered quality reproductions of the weapons commonly used in WW2 and after leading to the AR15.

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Inland has gone a long way to meet that market of retro and nostalgia.  Now that easy M1s from the CMP are about to be gone and the M1 carbines being  long gone, prices  for originals are continuing to sky rocket. Repro guns are a great choice for those who want one of the old firearms but can’t afford or can’t find and original. Or just to have one to use hard without hurting the value.

Hopefully  Inland will keep expanding its line and one day we can buy a M1903A3 or A4  new production.  I would like to see  Inland produce a faithful M1911 to join the M1911A1 already in production.

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