0.99 Second draw from a retention holster

While working on draws the other day with my Safariland ALS 1911 holster I spent some time working on raw speed, trying to get the gun out as fast as possible. I managed a few 0.99 draws; this one happened to be my very first rep. Mobile users view the video here.

The point of this kind of practice is that it’s part of a progression. I don’t do a lot of single shot draws because it’s easy to cheat your grip or other things in the hopes of going a little faster if you’re chasing a number on a timer; however there are times when you need to chase that number. Last night’s practice session I was working on 2 shots to the A-zone at 10 yards, and my draw was consistently a 1.40-1.50 on the first shot. In order to get faster, I needed to go faster. So I moved the target in to 5 yards and did a few of these one shot reps just as fast as I can move the gun. Consistent times in the 0.99-1.05 range, but accuracy was awful. After a few reps, move the target back out to 10 yards and then apply the same “go faster” mentality but allow myself enough time to pick up the sights and make good hits. All of a sudden my first dropped to the 1.15-1.25 range from the retention holster.

Whenever you do “max speed” work like this, it’s important to remember the point. Pushing sub-1 second draws is where my accuracy starts to really suffer, but if you don’t sometimes push your speed to the point where the wheels fall off, you’ll never be able to go faster.

IDPA Classifier in 50 Seconds

Still throwing it back to some of my favorite 1911 videos. Here’s a run through the IDPA classifier that took less than 50 seconds…in raw time. After points down it wasn’t too bad, right around an 80. So I dropped about 60 points. Shot with the best 1911 I’ve ever had, the Colt 1911 CCG.

Taurus PT1911 Torture Test Part 5: 500 round challenge

Here we are at the planned end of the Taurus PT1911 Torture Test. I always wanted to close it out with something interesting like this, where I run the gun through something that’s beyond the limits of any gun’s normal operating environment. Hence the 500 rounds endurance test. By the end of the test, the gun was too hot to touch, mags weren’t dropping free, it was throwing brass everything, and it was filthy, but for two malfunctions it ran the test just fine.

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Taurus PT1911 Torture Test Part 4: Reload practice and other drills

In part four of the torture test, I simply had a straightforward training session. I shot 48/50 on Dot Torture at 5 yards, I worked on draws to a 3×5 card at 7 yards, and I worked on reloads with 4 shots at 7 yards. I captured the end of the reload training on camera as seen above.

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Taurus PT1911 Torture Test Part 3

This installment of the PT1911 torture test has me putting another 264 rounds through the gun, bringing the total to 1,070. There were no more failures to extract, and magazines dropped free pretty easily. The only two issues encountered during this session were two failures to fire, light primer hits on Fiocchi 124gr FMJ. I’m not going to count those against the gun, as Fiocchi is known for having hard primers. One of the light primer hits is captured on the video.

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My Time with an XD

Between August 2014 and May 2015 I put 4387 rounds through an XD 9 Tactical. That included a 3 day class (in the rain and mud) with Ben Stoeger that saw 1877 rounds without cleaning. With that in mind I thought I would offer my first hand experience an XD.  This is not so much a review as what I learned about the weapon with a sample size of one.

springfield xdm 5.25

I know it is fun to bash them, but it was my competition gun during the time I owned it. Now I must be 100% honest; when I first decided to get into competition I bought a Glock 34 Gen 4 to shoot IDPA SSP.  Glock makes dependable, reasonably accurate guns, but I don’t shoot them well and I hate the trigger.  After 400 rounds, I sold it and went looking for something else. I was looking for a gun I could use for both games and for self-defense. In my mind I thought I would NEVER go full gamer. I was wrong, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Why an XD?

To be honest, prior to owning one, I never have given the XD’s much thought. I knew that many well-known tactical instructors poo-poo them, Caleb bashed them and they had the grip safety, which by all accounts would get me killed in the streets immediately. Nevertheless, I held one in a gun store, it felt good, pointed naturally and the trigger was serviceable. Springfield had one of their promotions going on so I got a voucher for 3 extra mags for FREE. That sweetened the pot enough that I lay down greenbacks and walked out the door.

I was the owner of a new XD Tactical in 9 mm; what had I done!

I did briefly consider a 4.5 inch XDm, but frankly the difference between the regular XD and the XDm didn’t justify the price difference, at least to me.

Now, as I said, my original goal was to keep it rather stock and usable as a defensive weapon, but, well… gamer. Before I sold it I had put way too much into it and modified it.

What mods?

Let’s see:

  • Talon Grips (No brainer here; the factory grip is slicker than a wet newborn)
  • Dawson Precision Sights (reasonably priced Fiber Optics, why not)
  • XDm Slide Release (It just felt better)
  • 15lbs recoil spring (One pound less than stock. I heard rumor that if you go too light the striker spring will pull the gun out of battery. I don’t know and I didn’t want to risk it)
  • Springer Precision Ultimate Trigger Kit. (Because Race Gun)
  • Titanium Stiker Indicator (seemed like a good waste of money)
  • Lightened striker spring (too match the lighter trigger)

When it was all said and done, I had a decent gun to compete in SSP or Production and one I would no longer use for a self-defense scenario. Oh well, the best laid plans…

So, in my time owning an XD, what did I learn about the gun? Plenty!

Grip Safety – Let’s start with the apparent anti-tactical, instant Ninja death grip safety. I have heard stories of their failure. The 1911 has a grip safety and didn’t cause immediate disembowelment, so what was the catch? With a Level 3 Trauma ER standing ready I set out to see how it could fail. It didn’t take long to make it fail, once I learned its weakness. How do you make an XD grip safety fail? Three simple steps:

  1. Unload the gun (this keeps the Ninja’s away, they don’t attack during practice).
  2. Take a zip tie (or bamboo skewer, or long Q-tip or a twig) and insert it in the cavity at the bottom of the grip.
  3. Try to active the grip safety and discover neither it nor the trigger move.

You may also notice the slide will not move either.  Since the grip safety must be depressed for the slide to move the gun is now completely locked up until the offending item is removed from the cavity. Now let’s be realistic. In a carry gun, the odds of this happening are EXTREMELY rare. Plausible? Yes, but still rare. For my purposes I decided this was a non-issue. If I was using this as my sidearm while storming the beaches of Endor trying to defeat a Mongol zombie uprising, then yes, I would choose something else.

Accuracy – It was decent, not the most accurate pistol I have ever shot, but it wasn’t bad. Not nearly as bad as some internet commando’s lead on. Maybe it shot bad because their accuracy isn’t as great as they tell people on the internet? But I digress. No problems here, plenty accurate for IDPA and USPSA.

Reliability – In a word, Great! I had zero malfunctions in the time I had it (aside for the grip safety experiment). Granted 4037 rounds isn’t a ton, but I would wager most people that have bad mouthed them have put less than that through them. For the most part I did perform proper maintenance and cleaned the gun every 500 rounds, aside from the class with Ben Stoeger. Again, I am not planning on being in a real life Twilight 2000 scenario, so a gun that can go 20K rounds without cleaning means nothing to me.

An Unexpected Positive – I sent an email to none other than Rob Leatham asking about the gun he used to win USPSA Production in 2006 and about Springfield’s XD accuracy work.  I expected a response but not the novel back. It was truly awesome that someone with his credentials would offer me such detailed assistance. For those that follow drag racing, it would be the same as Warren Johnson helping the local street racer tune his engine before a Friday Night Grudge Match. Frankly I found it bad ass and still do

Where there negatives? Yes.  Of course!

  • There is the grip safety that can jam and cause instant seppuku, but whatever, any gun can be made to jam.
  • Some people say they are ugly, but that is subjective. I am indifferent on the XD.
  • To me, the biggest issue is the price point. You can buy equally good guns for less money.  In my opinion, Springfield set their price point too high.

Now, for the crux of the issue.  Would I own another one?  Yes, but only if I got a smoking deal.

So why did I sell it? I needed to fund either a CZ Shadow or a Tanfoglio Limited Pro; as everyone knows they ship with a USPSA Grand Master card. In all seriousness, I wanted my competition pistol(s) to be all metal.  That was a move I am glad I made and a post for another day.

To summarize, If you own an XD, you can ignore the naysayers. If you are looking at one and the price is acceptable, buy with confidence. As I have noted before this is a sample of one, and my experience didn’t mirror the great many Chairborne Rangers of internetville; however, I wonder how many of those same naysayers have shot one beyond the bowling alley range, much less put near 4500 rounds through one.

As I have noted before; I deal in facts. If you have had failures with an XD (not XDS) please post in the comments with the approximate round count.

Probatur verum. (Proven truths)

Revolver Tour #9: Ruger Match Champion

Ruger GP100 Match Champion

You knew this one was coming. The Ruger GP100 Match Champion – the gun I’ve dedicated more pixels to writing about, and trigger time behind on this blog in the last two years than anything else. Ruger’s answer to the 686SSR, and one of the best all around 4 inch revolvers on the market.

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Revolver Tour #8: Smith & Wesson 625

smith & wesson 625

This isn’t my first 625. It’s not my second, either. This gun marks the 3rd time I’ve saddled up for one of these N-frames, and it will be the last time…because I’m not going to sell this one a fit of stupidity like I did the other two. My current foray into 625-dom is someone’s once-loved USPSA gun, sold when USPSA revolver killed the 625 by allowing 8 shot minor guns (a decision I support, btw).

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IDPA Nationals Day 2: your current leaders

Here are the current leaders for each division at the 2014 IDPA Nationals:

matt mink automatic accuracy

  • SSP: Bob Vogel (duh)
  • ESP: Mike Seeklander
  • CDP: Matt Sims
  • ESR: Robert Briggs
  • SSR: Rhett Crutchfield

Of those scores, I suspect that Bob’s will hold up just fine, as there’s no one left to shoot SSP that can really offer a challenge to him. ESP has a fairly deep field this year, with remaining shooters that include DM Brandon Wright and USPSA Grandmaster Nils Jonasson. I suspect Nils will be the first shooter in some time to be able to give Bob a run for the fastest overall, a title which doesn’t formally exist…but all the top shooters care about.

In revolver divisions, the lone master shooter ESR begins today. With Jerry Miculek attending the Trijicon World Shoot, and having one this match like a hundred times already, ESR will crown it’s first new Distinguished Master since the invention of the title. Similarly, SSR will also crown a new DM after the next two days of shooting. It will either be current leader, Rhett Crutchfield (who has a great name, by the way) or some peasant blogger from South Dakota named Caleb.

On that note, I’m going to go check my gear.

More on the IDPA ban of the CZ Accu-Shadow

Yesterday, the day before IDPA Nationals kicked off, IDPA announced via email to members and a post on their facebook page that the CZ Accu-Shadow was not legal for SSP. The internet reacted predictably, with at least one shooter affected by the decision voicing his displeasure here in the comments. Many other shooters not affected by the decision, or even shooting IDPA Nationals, also voiced their objections. Objections to the decision fall along two fairly broad lines. 1st, the timing of the announcement by IDPA, and 2nd that the ruling banning the Accu-Shadow is not consistent with IDPA’s other rulings. Let’s take a look at both of those.

cz accu-shadow

IDPA released the ruling in social media on Monday, and via email to their members on Tuesday. We published it on Tuesday to make sure that any affected shooters would have access to the information prior to leaving for the match. The timing of the ruling is undoubtedly terrible. It leaves affected shooters in the position of needing to find a new gun and possibly magazines to compete with in the match, or to use one of the loaner guns provided by IDPA. I have argument with anyone who objects to the ruling based on the timing of it.

However, let’s look at the options. Option 1 would be to say “screw it, the Accu-Shadow is legal for this match, we’ll ban it afterward.” That would have been better in my opinion, but would have created the inevitable push-back from shooters that would used the Accu-Shadow’s legality at Nationals as a reason to keep it legal in SSP forever. Alternatively, IDPA could have simply DQ’d every shooter who showed up with an Accu-Shadow. I think we can all agree that would have been the worst choice of all.

The question raised by this is “why does it matter?” Well, it matters because a strict reading of the IDPA rules would actually make the Accu-Shadow illegal for SSP. That’s the second part of this, the consistency of the ruling.

To understand why the Accu-Shadow is illegal for SSP, you have to understand what the Accu-Shadow is. It is a custom variant of the CZ75 Shadow, which has an external barrel bushing fitting to it in order to improve accuracy. Barrel bushings are on the list of prohibited modifications in SSP.The Accu-Shadow is made by CZ Custom. CZ Custom is not a division of CZ-USA, but is in fact an independent company. CZ-USA may list the Accu-Shadow on their website, but because the bushing is not an OEM part made by CZ and fitted by CZ, the modifications to the Accu-Shadow make it illegal for SSP, and by default then illegal for IDPA. It’s the difference between a Roush Mustang, which is modified by a third party, and a Mopar Challenger. Dodge owns Mopar, Ford doesn’t own Roush.

Some of the objections have noted that IDPA allowed guns from the Performance Center which have illegal modifications to play, specifically, the PC 1911s with the cool slide cuts are legal for CDP. The reasoning behind this ruling is that those slides are OEM, they’re made by S&W and if you want to buy one, you order it from Smith, not a custom shop. Those slide cuts are functionally the same as the hogged out slides on Glock 34s and XDm 5.25 pistols – factory original equipment placed there by the manufacturer.

That’s the big difference here – the bushing modification to the Accu-Shadow isn’t OEM. Yes, it’s in the CZ Catalog, but just because a thing is listed in a catalog doesn’t make it OEM. As a sharp commenter pointed out yesterday, you can frequently buy Roush Mustangs from the Ford Dealer, that doesn’t mean that Ford offers those parts.

This is a frustrating issue for many shooters, and I believe that the timing makes it worse. I honestly feel that if this ruling had been made after the match, and the affected shooters allowed to shoot in SSP with their Accu-Shadows, that would have been the best choice. As it is, there are at least four people affected by this ruling who will now need to bring alternate guns to the match.