A good photographer can do wonders

More photos from Didrik Johnck, taken at the 2009 S&W Gunsite Writer’s Invitational Shoot.  Check out Didrik’s work and photos here – the man is a serious photographer and adventurer!

The man behind the rifle (which is an S&W M&P15-MOE) is Tom Benge, lead trainer for Cutting Edge Training.  Tom was also a guest recently on Gun Nuts Radio; he hosted and taught the low-light/laser portion of the event at Gunsite.

Speaking of low light and laser shooting, this is actually one of my favorite pictures from last year’s event.  While the characters are out of focus, the effect of multiple lasers on target can be clearly seen, and it’s pretty cool.  I certainly would not want to be a paper target standing down range from all of this.

I know I’m going to sound like a broken drum here, but I cannot over-emphasize how much easier the light and laser combo make hitting your target in a low light/night shooting situation.  When you light that target up with you light, all of a sudden you can see the sights again – or hit ’em with the laser and you can start cranking shots off before you’ve even mounted the gun.

As much as I’m a believer in “proper position on the gun”, sometimes you just can’t grab the rifle properly, and the Crimson Trace laser allows you to still take an aimed shot from a non-standard position.

I really like this last picture.  It’s from one of the positions on The Scrambler, a course of fire that requires you to use improvised field positions to engage targets up to 85 yards away. It’s meant to be shot with handguns, shotguns, or carbines, and is quite challenging.  However, I’m a big nerd, so when I see this picture all I can think is “I’m in ur base killin’ ur doodz“.

Thanks again to S&W, Gunsite Academy, Crimson Trace, Trijicon, and Johnck Media for putting on the event last year.  I’m still getting mileage out of it!

S&W Bodyguard revolver ambidextrous cylinder release

Up close and personal view.

From NRA 2010

I actually played with this at the NRA Annual Meetings, and I can honestly say it’s not that different from where the cylinder release is normally located. For a right handed shooter, you can still reach up and quite simply hit it with your strong hand thumb – the real difference is for left handed shooters. I actually hope to see this release appear on more S&W revolvers outside of the Bodyguard series.

Jessie Abbate signs with Team Smith & Wesson

Breaking news of the “oh snap” variety from The Outdoor Wire: Jessie Abbate has signed with Team S&W.

Professional shooter Jessie Abbate has signed with Team Smith & Wesson. Ending months of speculation, Abbate joins a multi-disciplined team of experienced professional shooters. Abbate is considered by many to be the rising star in the shooting sports and is expected to take women’s shooting to a new level.

S&W basically just went all “Yankees” on the rest of the shooting sports with this – talk about buying championships!  With Julie Golob, Jessie Abbate, and Kay Miculek they now have the most impressive “Triple Threat” in the women’s shooting sports.  Smith and Wesson were already well on their way to being the most dominant force in the force in the shooting sports, and this move solidifies that.  Jessie has been the big star in recent matches, and with Smith & Wesson’s commitment to the shooting sports backing her up, then everyone else needs to watch out.

What will really interest me out of this is how the other gun companies react.  Will FNH pit Tasha Hanish head to head against Jessie in Limited or Production?  How will Glock and Sig react?  I guess we’ll find out!

Smith & Wesson M&P VTAC Pistols

On display at the NRA show floor (but nowhere to be found on S&W’s website) were the M&P VTAC pistols.  These are a partner to the M&P15 VTAC rifle, and while for the most part they’re a pretty standard M&P they do have some very interesting features. Click any picture to make it larger, as usual.  The guns right now are being offered in .40 S&W and 9mm (when they become available) with the flat dark earth or coyote tan or whatever color that is that you see on them.  Aside: why do gun manufacturers insist on doing all these variations of the same color with different names?  Don’t they know that it’s all “tan” to us dudes?

Apparently, sights like these have a name, but I cannot recall for the life of me what it is.  The sight features a “stacked” set of dots; fiber optic dots on top for daytime shooting, and tritium inserts for night sights.  I think it’s a pretty interesting design and it does make a certain amount of sense.  You want high visibility sights under all conditions, and the stacked fiber/tritium certainly offers that, I just wonder if it’s worth the trade off in how distracting that sight image would be.  It seems to me that when you’re trying to snap the gun up, take a flash sight picture and shoot that you want your eye to be drawn to a natural sight alignment as quickly as possible.  I would have to spend a lot of time shooting a gun with sights like that before I felt confident that under stress my brain would correctly align the sights.

No word on when the M&P VTAC pistol will be available or what the MSRP is, but it’s nice to see the M&P line continue to go strong for S&W.

Smith & Wesson M&P15 VTAC

Now this is pretty cool, the new Smith & Wesson M&P15 VTAC rifle.  This is another model of the M&P15 rifle from Smith and Wesson which uses a neat line-up of parts from Viking Tactics.  Here’s the feature list from Smith & Wesson’s website on the VTAC M&P:

  • Surefire flash hider and G2 light with VTAC light mount
  • VTAC/JP Enterprises handguard
  • JP Single Stage match trigger and speed hammer
  • VTAC 2-point padded sling

This gun is ready to go right out of the box for 3-gun competition or for a home defense/tactical carbine.  I personally like that Smith and Wesson is partnering with companies like Viking Tactics and Magpul to produce special edition M&P15 rifles that will help customers buy a “ready to go” rifle for whatever application they have in mind.  Whether it’s 3-gun shooting, plinking, home defense, or friggin’ zombies; Smith & Wesson likely has a rifle for you and the new M&P15 VTAC is no exception.

That’s the new VTAC/JP Enterprises handguard highlighted in this picture.  Honestly, the M&P15 VTAC is “just another AR”.  It’s not going to do anything that another AR won’t do in that it shoots a 5.56 projectile accurately to 600 yards…but unlike a “stock”  AR it comes with a lot of extra do-dads that make it ready for specific applications without any additional customization.

The S&W M&P15 VTAC comes with an MSRP of $2,244; no word yet on what the actual street price will be.  If you’re looking to get right in to 3-gun competition though, it’s probably a good bet.

S&W offered no promotional consideration for this post.

Smith & Wesson SD9 and SD40 first look


I talked about the new SD9 and SD40 pistols from Smith & Wesson a couple of weeks ago when I got the press release about them.  The short summary is that they’re a specifically marketed self defense pistol with a lower price point than the M&P.  Unlike the earlier budget polymer gun from S&W, the Sigma, the new SD pistols are true striker fired guns, and have benefited from the lessons learned on the M&P.

The SD9, pictured at the left will hold 16+1 rounds of 9mm ammo, and comes from the factory with three dot sights, with the front sight being an XS Tritium dot.

I had the opportunity to handle both of the guns, and the sights are actually quite good.  While I’m not partial to three-dot sights, the rear posts are wide enough to allow a good amount of light in around the front sight post which will aid in rapid acquisition.  The gun also seems to sit well in the hand as you can see with the picture of the SD40 show at right.

Interestingly enough, I did not see any Sigmas at S&W’s booth, although I will confess that I wasn’t really looking for them.  So they might have had some Sigmas out, but at this juncture I don’t necessarily see the point.

So far, the SD40 and SD9 have some good points, while they’re not the M&P they’re definitely an upgrade to the Sigma.  The sample guns I got to handle had average triggers, nothing special to write home about, but better than the triggers on various Sigma’s that I’ve shot.  Ergonomics seem good, as they’re not too heavy and not too long; although we’ll have to see how they handle recoil from full house .40 S&W loads.  The SD40 will be available first, and I’m line to get one for a review gun.  With an anticipated street price of around $400, the new SD pistols could present a more cost effective option for people that aren’t interested in an M&P or a Glock.

S&W 386 XL Hunter

Here’s an interesting gun from Smith & Wesson, the 386 Hunter model.  Obviously, the name implies that S&W is targeting the hunting market with this gun, which frankly doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.  Look at it.  It has a six inch barrel, a scandium frame with a stainless steel cylinder, and a HiViz fiber optic front sight.  This gun SCREAMS “Steel Challenge” at me, and if it doesn’t scream that at you it probably means that you’re in much better mental health than I am.

In all seriousness though, the general consensus for Steel Challenge shooting is that “ligher is better” as it makes for faster transitions between targets.  Also, a seven shooter is definitely a step up in the Steel Challenge game since those extra two rounds provide a great cushion for speed shooting.  You could also get the cylinder cut for moonclips and use it for an ICORE revolver in Limited Division.  I’m just kind of surprised this is being marketed as a “hunting” gun, because a 6 inch .357, even if it’s part unobtanium, seems like a little bit for a trail gun, but not big enough for an “omg there’s a bear” gun.

The saga continues

Previously on Gun Nuts Media

After battling with the strain screw in my 625 and finding out it had been ground down by the previous owner of the gun, I had gone ahead and installed the strain screw from my 8 shot S&W 627 in the .45 ACP 625, which then gave the 625 a smooth 10 pound trigger pull that lights all the primers I can find.  However, the 627 was stuck with the shortened strain screw which didn’t put enough tension on the mainspring to light factory ammo reliably.  Last night, I received more parts from Brownells to continue the project – I ordered a Wilson Combat Mainspring, and two replacement strain screws to get the gun going.

After installing the Wilson Combat mainspring with the shortened strain screw, I noticed that at times I would experience knuckling, where the revolver would bind due to the strain screw not being long enough.  So I took the Wilson mainspring out and replaced it with the Wolff Power Rib spring and the replacement full length strain screw.  After getting everything installed, the trigger pull on the 627 is now right around 9lbs, which should be sufficient to light primers with everything installed correctly.  I’m going to head out to the range today and test it on a batch of Remington UMC 130 grain ball ammo.

I hope it works.  I’m tired of screwing around inside these guns, especially since last night I slipped with the screwdriver while putting the sideplate back on and managed to scratch the side of my gun.  That’s more of an annoyance than anything, since competition guns tend to get pretty beat up anyway; but they’re supposed to get beat up from shooting, not from me constantly taking the sideplate on and off!