Category Archives: Reviews

Our thoughts on an item.

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

013

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

053 - Copy

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

005

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

010

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

010

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”

005

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

008

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 “

020

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.”

001

  • 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.

005

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.

004

  • 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.

003

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.

img_6525

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.

010

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

003

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.

006

007

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.

img_6445

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.

img_6447

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.

img_6459

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

img_6472

img_6476

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.

14656244_947800715347144_1370004595548515550_n

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

img_6480

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.

img_6481

When loaded, got back to making it empty again.

img_6441

img_6467

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.

13615416_882391041888112_8719717654945470529_n

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.

14666235_10210952769074488_8699811295573029649_n

Bad-Element Co. LLC Custom AK Tanker Magazines

The really great thing about being passionate about firearms, is that you research and stumble across unique accessories and gear.  This is exactly what happened when I stumbled on Bad Element Co. LLC (www.badelementco.com) AK magazines. I have been on an AK fix for a little while now and it has been over a decade since I owned one.  I recently purchased a very nice Bulgarian AK74 and have been testing several aftermarket accessories with it. When I ran across Bad-Element I had to get one of their 20 round AK Tanker magazines.  I absolutely love 20 round magazines for rifles. As soon as I received the AK74, I started to research 20 round AK magazines.  I found original AK 20 round (Tanker) magazines were extremely hard to find or get in 7.62×39. Add in the 5.45×39 AK74 round and I found they were almost impossible to get. I made contact with the owner from Bad-Element about getting a 20 round 5.45×39 Tanker magazine.  Since I already had a few Russian Izhmash Plum magazines, I thought a Plum Izhmash 20 round magazine would go very nicely with them.

Bad-Element Co. Custom Tanker magazine
Bad-Element Co. Custom Tanker 20 round magazine

When I received the Bad-Element custom 20 round Tanker magazine, I quickly started to compare it to my surplus Russian Plum Izhmash magazines.  All of the markings on the magazine were identical and I could easily tell it was a quality Izhmash Plum surplus magazine. I’m not  really sure what it is, but as soon as you put the 20 round magazine in the rifle, it just looks and feels better in your hands.

Bad-Element Co. 5.45x39 Custom Magazine
Bad-Element Co. 5.45×39 Custom Magazine
20 Round Tanker Mag / 30 round Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30  Round AK Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30 AK Round Mag
20 Round AK Tanker Mag / 30 AK Round Mag

Custom Order Magazines:

Bad-Element does all kinds of custom work to all makes and manufactures of AK type magazines. Bad-Element takes existing 30 round AK magazines of all types and custom cuts them down to  (20), (15), (10) or (5) round count magazines.  In-fact, Bad-Element also does AR15 magazine custom work, for those who live in Communist high capacity band States. So check out their full line of magazine services.

There are several ways you can get your custom magazines from Bad-Element. (1) You send in your AK magazines and Bad-Element cuts them down per your round count specifications. (2) Purchase magazines on-line and have them shipped directly to Bad-Element for custom work, then they will mail them to you when finished or, (3) You can purchase already modified magazines directly from Bad-Element.

Function Use/Reliability:

I set off to the range after obtaining a decent quantity of ammunition, supplied by (www.ammoman.com), to test out the function and reliability of the Bad-Element magazine. I had 510 rounds to run through the Magazine.

510 Round 5.45x39mm Ammunition
510 Round 5.45x39mm Ammunition

               Function/Use.

The great thing about 20 round Tanker style magazines, is their ease of use while manipulating your rifle.  With a 20 round AK magazine you get the same advantages you get with a 20 round USGI AR15 magazine and more. (1) It’s compact, (2) rifle fits in smaller spaces and cases with a loaded magazine, (3) still has a decent round count and (4) with the AK, it is much easier to manipulate the charging handle from underneath the rifle, with your support hand.

At The Range
At The Range
20 Round AK Tanker Magazine in Rifle Case
20 Round AK Tanker Magazine in Rifle Case

               Reliability.

I really did not keep exact track of the round count I put through the Bad-Element Tanker magazine but it was several hundred rounds. The Bad-Element magazine performed flawlessly and I had absolutely no issues with reliability. It loaded and emptied the rounds just as you would expect from any quality military surplus AK magazine.

Rounds from Bad-Element Co. Magazine
Rounds from Bad-Element Co. Magazine

Takedown/Quality of Work:

Nothing has changed after modification of the magazines.  Takedown of the magazine is the same as the original 30 round magazine.  Bad-Element has cut the magazine and spring down. The magazine still uses the original surplus follower, spring, locking plate and floor plate.

Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Disassembled 20 & 30 Round Magazines

The quality of work and attention to detail in modifying the magazine is very nice. Bad-Element has really paid attention to the little things to make the magazine look nice. The magazine has a smooth side cut channel at the bottom of the magazine for the floor plate to slide into.

Izhmash 20 & 30 Round Magazines
Izhmash 20 & 30 Round Magazines

The cut down magazine spring is very nicely done. Looking at just the end of the spring where it locks into the locking plate, you cannot tell which one has been modified. Bad-Element has taken the time to slightly  bend and taper the end of the spring, to match it up with the original 30 round design. After talking with Bad-Element, they advised they use to cut down the bottom of the spring, but now cut down the top of the spring, as it was easier and faster to do. I still could not tell the difference.

20 Round (left) 30 Round (right)
30 Round (left) 20 Round (right)
20 Round AK (left) 30 Round AK (right)
20 Round AK (left) 30 Round AK (right)

Final Thoughts:

I am very pleased with the Bad-Element custom magazine. It looks great and has been 100% reliable. If you have an AK of any type, I would highly recommend getting a few 20 round magazines. If you follow Rob Ski of AK Operators Union, you will see he runs Bad-Element Tanker magazines from time to time. He is usually the first to call out “shit” in the AK community. Since he is running them and is more of an expert than I am with the AK, I think this is a very strong sign of Bad-Elements quality. I will be getting a few more of the Bad-Element custom cut magazines in the near future. As soon as the Magpul Pmag 5.45×39 AK magazines get to me, I will be sending them in for 20 round conversion. Bad-Element also has an Instagram page (Bad_Element_Co. Instagram) where you can follow and contact them about magazines.

Duncan.

Heckler & Koch VP9LE

Over the last few years I have slowly been replacing all of my .40 caliber handguns. I have been sitting on my last .40 cal Glock 22 for a while because it was sentimental to me. It never really gets used, (don’t think I have fired it in 5 years). The Glock 22 is one of my staged home defense firearms sitting in a quick access safe.  I have been searching for the right firearm to replace it.  I have been looking hard at Heckler & Koch’s and Sig Sauer’s lately, as I am familiar with them. I have a lot of Glock’s and because of their low price; I can pick one up any time. I did not want to replace this particular firearm with another Glock. I wanted something different, that was well made, reliable, mid to full sized, and could be carried anytime or used in a defensive pistol class. I did not want something I was going to forget about and never use.  I narrowed my choices down to three H&K models:  (1) USP Compact 9, (2) P30 and (3) the VP9 LE. Now, the HK magazine release has never been an issue with me. There are several ways to manipulate the firearm to hit the magazine release and you need to become very familiar with how to do this.

Heckler & Koch VP9LE
Heckler & Koch VP9LE

I am very familiar with the USP models and the USP Compact 9 is a nice small package. I knew that I would end up going with a light LEM trigger in the USP and the P30. The light LEM, if you know how to use it, is a very good trigger system. Then there was the VP9, basically an HK version of a Glock or M&P striker fired firearm, and my #3 choice out of the bunch. I was lucky to walk into a store that had all three of these firearms on hand. I spent my time holding, manipulating, dry firing and scrutinizing all three of these choices. I loved the P30 grip, it is one of the most comfortable handgun grips I have every felt, but the rear decocker next to the hammer was very unusual and awkward.  The USP is what it is, reliable, ok grip, low 13 round magazine capacity, frame compact but somehow the slide is still bulky and too fat. I was fast becoming very disappointed in my choices and starting to think about a totally different platform. Also, at the end of the day I could not justify a polymer framed handgun at 1k prices.

VP9LE case & accessories
VP9LE case & accessories

Initial VP9 Thoughts:

I picked up the VP9LE basically conceding defeat on my HK choices and suddenly things started falling into place. I had really never considered the VP9 as a choice. It is relatively new to the market, it’s another striker fired handgun and had some weird features on it I was not sure about. Once it was in my hands things started quickly going my way.

The grip on the VP9 was very close to the P30. I knew it had additional side panels and back straps, for additional grip adjustment. When I first took a firm grip of the VP9, I immediately thought, this is one of the best contoured and stippled grips I have felt on a striker fired handgun. There was a distinct hump in the back strap of grip that was more pronounced than on the P30, but I knew there was a smaller back strap without this hump. I was confident this would make it very close to the P30 grip.

The VP9 has very natural point-ability and balance to it. As I was manipulating the VP9LE, it seemed the sights were very quick to acquire. The sights are nothing special, just basic Tru Dot night sights. One thing that was distracting to me initially, were the patented charging support wings behind the rear slide serrations. They seemed unnecessary and initially kind-of distracted my sight picture, but I also knew these could be removed.

I ended up buying the VP9LE after some intense negotiations with the manager of the store, (I never pay retail). In-fact, I came out so good on the deal, there was no way I could have said no. Plus, the longer I was messing with the VP9, it started looking even more nice and it is badass looking. My co-worker was so surprised at the deal I managed to negotiate, that he bought one for the same deal. I bought the VP9LE several months ago and have been using it frequently since the purchase. Before we get too in-depth on review, I want to mention there will be no token, (backward bullet pictures in this review), with the magazines.

HK VP9LE
HK VP9LE

Price:

The price on the VP9LE is all over the place. Look for a deal on one, if you are in the market. My purpose in purchasing the VP9 was to replace an aging firearm, in a caliber I no longer use. After selling my Glock 22, I purchased the VP9LE for 648.00 dollars out the door. After all was said and done, the VP9LE replaced a 16 year old duty weapon for approximately 173.00 dollars. I don’t know about you, but I will take a new firearm, to replace an old one, with three (3) magazines and night sights for 173.00 all day long. That being said, 650.00 for the VP9LE is a pretty decent deal as well.  Retail on a Gen4 Glock without night sights is 599.00.  If you minus the extra magazine at 45.00 dollars and the night sights at 99.00 dollars, the stock VP9 would have cost me just over 500.00 dollars. That’s pretty damn good in my opinion.

Firearm Features:

The VP9 has a 1913 Picatinny rail, enlarged heavy-duty external extractor/ loaded chamber indicator, front slide serrations and rear charging support wings. The VP9 is also fully ambidextrous.

VP9LE in vehicle
VP9LE in vehicle
Picatinny Rail
Picatinny Rail

               Slide & Frame

The VP9 slide is machine cut/milled from a solid block of high carbon steel. The slide has a smooth even black H&K Hostile Environment® finish. The slide is rounded and beveled on the edges, across the top, front and back. The front and rear slide serrations are generous and allow you to get a very positive grip on the slide when racking or manipulating the slide of the firearm. As I stated earlier, I initially thought the charging support wings obstructed my view.  After shooting a lot of rounds though the VP9LE, I found they did not bother me at all and I forgot all about them.  I don’t think they make a real difference in manipulating the slide. The Slide serrations are deep and do the job well enough. HK does sell some flush charging supports. You have to remove the rear sight to remove the charging supports and then add the flush supports. I will probably do this when I decided to get new sights.

 VP9 Slide

VP9 Slide & Frame
Slide

The Frame and frame rails are very robust. HK has built a thick and ridged design with the VP9.  I assume this is because HK knew they would come out with the .40 caliber VP40 later. HK’s have always been built well and you are getting a quality firearm when you buy one. The VP9 is no different. The Picatinny rail is a little longer on the VP9 and it can accommodate any aftermarket weapon light or laser up to 5.6 ounces. The polymer of the frame is very thick. It does not bend or flex like other polymer framed firearms. The frame rails are very robust as well. 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.

Frame Rails

IMG_20160828_145328254~2
Lower/Frame 

               Barrel & Guide Rod

The Barrel on the VP9 has a very nice finish on it. After over 1300 rounds it is starting to get the slight hint of classic barrel chatter marks. After cleaning and wiping it down, both sides of the chamber also had just a slight sign of wear.

Barrel side profile
Barrel side profile

The barrel is made of canon grade steel. The barrel is cold hammer forged and has a six (6) grove Polygonal right-hand twist, similar to Glock, not traditional lands and grooves. Another interesting aspect of the barrel is an ever so slight raised tip of the end of the barrel. You can see the line in the end of the barrel and you can slightly feel the raised edge with your finger. I really cannot find any information on/or about this barrel feature on the VP9. H&K is usually tight lipped about many proprietary features on their firearms.  I can only assume this feature would provide a tighter lock up, when making contact with the top of the slide, to enhance accuracy.


IMG_20160828_145758588

Raised Barrel Tip
Raised Barrel Tip

The VP9 has a patented captive flat recoil spring. The recoil spring assembly is a three (3) piece design consisting of the recoil spring, guide rod that is forked at the end, and a washer to capture the spring. I made the mistake of dropping the recoil assembly on a hard floor.  The washer on the end came off and it took quite a bit of effort to get it back on, after I located the spring.

Recoil Spring Assembly

Recoil Spring
Recoil Spring

               Grip Panels / Ergonomics

The stippling on the VP9 is very close to the P30. The P30 is one of the nicest feeling firearms in the hand, I have ever felt. The VP9 stippling is aggressive enough to notice but does not beat up your hand during extensive and long strings of fire. The three (3) changeable backs straps give you the option to fit the grip size to your hand and adjust your length of pull for the firearm.


IMG_20160828_145416859

Grip Stippling
Grip Stippling

The VP9 comes with three (3) different sized back straps, (3) right side panels and (3) left side panels.  This gives you twenty seven (27) grip combinations on the VP9. I found the perfect combination for my hand is; the small back strap, with the medium left and right side panels.

               Magazines

When making a decision to purchase a HK firearm, for the purpose of it being a defensive firearm, you need to make sure the HK magazine release system is for you. If it is, you will be getting the typical reliable, quality magazines from HK.  The VP9 magazines are the same magazines used by the HK P30. They function perfectly, dropping free, inserting the magazine and feeding the ammunition. Remember, if you are buying the LE model, you will get three (3) magazines with the package.

IMG_20160828_145141012

IMG_20160828_151100689

Three (3) Magazines
Three (3) Magazines

               Sights

H&K’s have always come with steel sights and the VP9LE comes with Tru Dot night sights. This is a great feature and value in the VP9LE. While the Tru Dot night sights are just basic three dot night sights, getting the VP9LE with the sights will save you money and a lot of headache, with putting on sights after you get the handgun. The Tru Dot’s will serve you well and I probably will not replace them until they get dim.

Rear True Dot Night Sight
Rear Tru Dot Night Sight
Front True Dot Night Sight
Front Tru Dot Night Sight

               Loaded Chamber Indicator

The external extractor on the VP9 also doubles as the loaded chamber indicator.  It has a bright red paint applied to the top of the extractor so you can visually see that there is a live round in the firearm.

Loaded Chamber Indicator
Loaded Chamber Indicator

               Firing Pin/striker Indicator

The VP9 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.

Firing Pin/Striker Indicator
Firing Pin/Striker Indicator

Reliability:

So far I have put over 1300 documented rounds of mix ammunition, ( Federal 115grn FMJ, Winchester 115 grn steal case FMJ, Fiocchi 115grn FMJ, Speer 147grn TMJ, Federal 147grn HST & Speer 147grn Gold Dot),  through the VP9. It has well over the 1300 round count; I just stopped counting after the 1300 round mark. I am confident it is well over 2000 rounds now. I have found the VP9 to be extremely reliable, just as my other personal defense firearms.

               Note:  Just to be fair I wanted to add this information. Several months ago I was testing some new ammunition. I used several different firearms to test the ammunition, all of which had 100% reliability so far, two (2) Glock’s, a Sig Sauer and the VP9. All experience failures to extract with the ammunition. It was pretty obvious this was poorly manufactured ammunition, (QC). After switching back to several other quality ammunition offering, all firearms including the VP9 ran 100%.

Accuracy:

With previous experience shooting H&K’s I have found them to be very accurate firearms. As long as I was doing my part, I found the VP9LE was very accurate and could do everything I needed it to do. The sight radius on the VP9LE is full sized, approximately 6.38 inches, but I do not care for the True Dot night sights that come with the VP9LE model. I felt the sight picture was not that good and the angle of the rear sight had a lot of glare coming off it, in certain lighting conditions. The front sight had some glare from time to time as well. Even though the sights were not ideal for me, the VP9LE had great accuracy. With some aftermarket sights of my choosing, I feel it will perform even better, if that’s possible. 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 VP9LE was done off hand or from the holster.  I was initially shooting the VP9LE slightly left as you will see. I did notice the front sight was not perfectly centered and I did tap it over a little to center it up after the first few strings of fire.

First 20 Rounds off-hand, Federal 115gr fmj, at 25 yards
First 20 Rounds off-hand, Federal 115gr fmj, at 25 yards

10 Rounds American Eagle 115gr fmj, at 15 yards

10 Rounds American Eagle 115gr fmj, at 15 yards
10 Rounds American Eagle 115gr fmj, at 15 yards

090

5 Rounds, 147gr Gold Dot, at 15 yards
5 Rounds, 147gr Gold Dot, at 15 yards

IMG_20160514_135518937

10 Rounds, 147gr Gold Dot, at 25 yards.
10 Rounds, 147gr Gold Dot, at 25 yards.

Firearm Controls:

All of the controls on the VP9 feel like they are in right place for my hands.  All of the ambidextrous controls are easy to manipulate and reach, on each side of the VP9.

               Slide Catch/Release (Ambidextrous)

The Slide Catch/Release Lever, or whatever you want to call it, is ambidextrous and extremely easy to use from both sides. On the VP9, I found I did not have to adjust my grip to avoid riding the top of the lever with my strong hand thumb. 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. The VP9 is one of the only handguns I have not had this issue. The slide catch/release seems to be in the perfect position for me. 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.

IMG_20160828_144722370
Left Side
Right Side
Right Side

               Takedown Lever/Field Stripping

One great feature of the VP9 is the take down lever. It operates like a Sig Sauer Classic takedown lever. This is a very nice feature because there is no need to pull the trigger like a (Glock), or manipulate some little tiny internal bar like on a (Smith & Wesson M&P), to remove the slide from the frame. Simply rack the slide and lock it back to make sure it is unloaded, rotate the takedown lever down, release the slide and pull it off. This design in a striker fired firearm reinforces the (Never Put Your Finger on the Trigger until Ready to Fire), while also making it simple and very easy to field strip.

Takedown Lever

Takedown Lever
Takedown Lever

               Magazine Release (Ambidextrous)

As I stated earlier, HK’s have a magazine release you must be familiar with and comfortable using. It is ambidextrous but it is not a traditional thumb button release design. You must push down on the magazine release paddle from either side.

Magazine Release
Magazine Release

For me, I can actually use the magazine release pretty fast from either side of the VP9.  I find no difference in speed and ease of uses from either side vs. a standard thumb magazine release. I find I actually prefer to use the middle finger of my primary hand, on the right side magazine release of the VP9.

IMG_20160828_151254846_HDR

Trigger:

The trigger on the VP9 is very nice. The trigger looks and operates like a Glock and other similar striker fired handguns. It has a very smooth and short take-up before you hit the take-up wall, then it has a very small amount of creep before it breaks very cleanly.  The trigger reset is a little lack luster for me. The reset is audible but seems a little weak.  I would like it to have stronger, more positive reset feeling.  The smooth and then crisp break on the trigger definitely helps with the accuracy of the VP9 when shooting it. I feel, overall, the VP9 trigger is nicer than a stock Glock or M&P trigger. The Glock has a better reset in my opinion.

Recoil Impulse:

The VP9 is a flat shooter and the recoil is light. Fast accurate follow up shots are very easy to make and the sights come back on to target very quickly. The VP9 boar axis is a little higher than on a Glock but this did not seem to make any difference in the recoil.  After a few rounds, I found the recoil to be a non-existent factor. I simply continued firing, not giving the recoil another thought.

Rapid Fire, 10 reload 10, at 10 yards 147gr TMJ
Rapid Fire, 10 reload 10, at 10 yards 147gr TMJ
Head Shots at 7 yards, 115gr FMJ
Head Shots at 7 yards, 115gr FMJ
Head Shots at 7 yards, 115gr FMJ
Rapid Fire, 5 reload 5, at 7 yards, 115gr FMJ

Final Thoughts:

I really like the H&K VP9LE. It has preformed and handled well above my expectations. If there is anything to complain about, it would only be the 15 round magazine capacity and a weak/soft reset on the trigger. I think it would be easy for HK to make the magazine hold 17 rounds and tweak the trigger reset a little. The size of the VP9 is very close to a Glock 17/22. I was hoping it would hold a few more rounds but it did replace a 15 round magazine firearm, so I really lost nothing on round count.  Once again, this is a lot of nitpicking on my part.

HK VP9LE
HK VP9LE

The VP9LE was one of the best purchases I have made. It replaces a great firearm and one of my personal favorites, I had used for years. I feel I made the right choice and the VP9LE has done nothing but validate that choice.

Duncan.

New Glock 17M, Gen5?

There are some leaked pictures hitting the web today. It was reported first today by (TFB), who obtained some pictures from Indianapolis PD officers being issued the new G-17M yesterday. Several places/bloggers/youtubers and meany more in the firearm industry started to post photos of the firearm, they have seen or shot. So it is safe to say this might be the Gen5 Glock.  Usually new Glocks are leaked way before they actually hit the street. I am quite surprised we did not here anything about them. Glock keep a good lid on it this time.  It is reported that a G-19M is also coming.   This is probably the new weapon that the FBI purchased.  Thought we would get these photos out to our readers ASAP.

Glock G-17M
Glock G-17M

Looks like a mix of a Gen2 and Gen4 Glock, with more ambidextrous features.  Some of the new features are reported as follows:

1. New, “tougher” finish
2. Different rifling / traditional rifle grooves
3. Longer RSA
4. Reinforced front RSA notch
5. Smoother trigger
6. Flared / beveled magwell
7. Gen2 like Front Strap/ No Finger Groves
8. Safety plunger is oblong/rectangular G42/G43 like
9. Ambidextrous slide release
10. Magazine well cut out / like old Gen2 & Gen3

Duncan

Glock G-17M
Glock G-17M
Ambidextrous Slide Stop
Ambidextrous Slide Stop
No Finger Grooves / Gen2 like Front Strap
No Finger Grooves / Gen2 like Front Strap
New Longer Recoil Assembly
New Longer Recoil Assembly
Glock G-17M
Glock G-17M