5,000 Round Review- S&W Shield 9mm

Working on finding the right concealed carry gun is a difficult process. I have owned about 6 guns dedicated to an every-day carry roll and have learned a great deal about what I want/need for a tool I can use and comfortably carry daily without it getting left in the safe. After all, the only good gun is a gun you carry, if it is unwieldy or uncomfortable to shoot you are likely not to carry it as needed. Enter the Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm.

 

 

MP Shield 9mm Stock Photo.jpg

(Photo Credit- Buds Gun Shop; also where I purchased mine)

Model: M&P 9 SHIELD, Caliber: 9mm, Capacity: 7+1, 8+1, Barrel Length: 3.1″ (7.9 cm), Overall Length: 6.1″, Sights: White Dot, Front & Rear, Weight: 20.8 oz (589.7g), Slide & Barrel: Stainless Steel, Frame: Polymer, Finish: Armornite®

This gun was a great choice due to having several things going for it that were ideal for my uses. Size for one, also being chambered in 9mm, as well as being a great option for future modification by yours truly. I own a Springfield XDs as well, however that is chambered in 45 ACP which can be a lot more of a handful with recoil, making follow-up shots difficult for anyone not an high-level shooter. For myself, 9mm is about the smallest acceptable size for a primary firearm while still being potent enough with modern ammunition loading to stop a threat. The magazines are an odd hybrid double/single stack; bottom being a double stack that tapers about 2″ from the feed lips into a single stack. Capacity is very reasonable for the size; 7 round flush-fit magazines with additional 8 round mags available. One is even included with most models. I immediately purchased 2 extra mags for training and carry. I tend to keep the 7 round mag in the gun with two larger capacity in reserve. One thing I would fix if possible, is to have a longer slide/barrel length, due to that being the easiest part for me to conceal on my person.

I decided when purchasing to go with the model without a thumb safety, due to my training and comfortable manual of arms not having included switch-type safeties. Other safeties are included, like all striker fired guns in current manufacture. This has a firing pin block drop safety as well as a trigger safety. The trigger safety is somewhat bizarre and for myself, difficult to get used to. The trigger itself breaks very noticeably and I found I was jerking my shots even with a slow & steady pull. After about 6 months of dry-fire training I decided an upgrade was in order. After some research I settled on an Apex Tactical flat trigger, with a upgraded connector and spring kit. This trigger has a much more normal trigger safety and the pull weight was reduced to about 4.5 lbs. The pull is much cleaner and extremely smooth. This modification alone has made this pistol a dream to shoot. The lighter pull weight is not too much for me to be concerned about negligent discharges however it is much easier to shoot. I did order it in a nice blue with a black trigger safety as pictured below.

 

S&W Shield 9mm w.Crimson Trace Light & Laser Green -Left Side (2).jpg

As you can see I added a LaserMax light/laser combo to the gun. This model is the 100 lumen mint green light with green laser. The laser on it is spectacular, being about a 50 MOA dot that is extremely easy to see. I love this combination for my carry gun as it has no button, it has what they are calling “Grip Sense” which allows you to just put your hand in a regular firing grip, thus activating the unit (however you set the settings) instinctively. I have only had two issues with this. One is that the original unit sent had a manufacturing defect that the laser didn’t function, they sent me a new one within 2 weeks and it worked great. The other issue is that even with removing the batteries on dry fire training and most live fire sessions, the batteries die quickly. Taking this to a defensive pistol course for example I would recommend 2 extra sets of batteries for a 2 day class, just in case.

As seen in the pictures, I also stippled the grip personally. You can see my rather amateur work but it works fantastic for me without being too much like sandpaper on my hands or clothes. There are other modifications in the works right now, Samsung Manufacturing is sending me an enhanced & beveled magazine well in blue as well as their modified Shield model 9mm compensator. I am looking to purchase a True Precision Match-Grade threaded barrel next chance I get so that I can ring out some extra accuracy from this rig. I have also added a pinky extension to the flush-fit magazine in order to have a better firing grip. I went back and forth on this. In one viewpoint, a lot of trainers say to keep the flush fit as it is, due to wanting maximum concealment as the grip is the hardest part to hide. The other school of thought is to add the extension so that you have a better firing grip to control the pistol under recoil. I tend to agree with trainers under the first persuasion, only I now keep a spare flush-fit magazine with no extension for when I really need deep concealment.

On accuracy, I am able to put 23 rounds within a 2″ circle at 15 feet. Not bad for myself, guaranteed that a better shooter could have a better group. This is sufficient for the work I have set this tool up for.

To be honest, this gun has held up amazing to this round count. There is some wear on the barrel hood edges as well as about a half inch from the muzzle of the barrel. This is fairly normal for a pistol with this high of a round count. The frame is in great shape, the rails are still pristine and functional. I have had some magazine related issues, most seemed to be the odd design of the magazine spring getting bound up in the magazine body, thus not allowing me to load to full capacity. Disassembly and reassembly seemed to solve this each time. Other than that, there was a shockingly low amount of standard malfunctions. No failure to feeds, extract, or to fire. This gun takes anything from high-pressure Buffalo Bore +P rounds to standard junk range ammo to every kind of hollow-point and odd bullet shape imaginable. No matter what I fed it the gun keeps on firing.  Most of my modifications on this gun are more from a personal choice standpoint, not actual major design improvements. I highly recommend and will post a follow-up when it gets above 10,000 rounds.

S&W Shield 9mm w.Crimson Trace Light & Laser Green -Deleted Serial

Crazy Times…

Haven’t posted in a while due to circumstances beyond my control. I would rather not put things out there when my mind colors what I am trying to post. This has been a crazy journey for me the past 7 years. I couldn’t be happier that it all has come together in so many ways. The only issues that bear weight on me tend to be my job and my PTSD. Even with those things I have so much to be grateful for. I love my family and know how much they have helped me through the good times and the bad. We all have our down moments however knowing that support is there makes all the difference. To sum it up:

“Fall Forward. Knowing that you will fall is not as important as knowing that you fall forward. That even when falling you are putting yourself in a position to be further ahead than you were.”

As the army taught me, “Always Forward.” This is important in so many ways I hope that it helps you too.

5,000 Round Review: Canik TP9SF Desert Tan

TP9SF Stock Photo

Regarding one of my favorite pistols in my collection, the Canik TP9SF in Desert Tan. This pistol is a Turkish made 9mm with a very respectable 18 round standard capacity. One can easily purchase the Mec-Gar magazine extensions with up it to an awesome 20 round capacity (more on that later). Point of fact, the Canik actually uses Mec-Gar as their magazine manufacturer so you have the added benefit of a reputable mag manufacturer right out the gate. This pistol borrows styling heavily from similar Walther pistols as well as some Glock and other common polymer pistol models. It has even been adopted by the Turkish army as their standard sidearm. One of the added bonuses is that the facility/parent companies that produce this pistol are ISO-9000 certified, and they carry that over to their firearm manufacturing. Let me tell you, it shows. There are several features that overall make this literally one of my top two handguns. Let’s break those down:

This gun has the best out of the box trigger I have ever handled for a handgun at the sub $500 MSRP. Seriously I cannot sing the triggers praises enough. Trigger pull weight is ~5 lb and extremely smooth and crisp. The reset has to be the shortest of any I have tried, as well as the amount of slide rack needed to reset. Less than a half inch of slide pullback and the trigger resets. This cannot be under-stated, for dry-fire training this gun is a joy! The only better option would be a double-action. Unfortunately with that double-action you get the issue of a higher trigger pull weight (which is how it should be, most double-action pistols in a semi-auto platform need that higher pull to overcome not having a safety. They are then setup that each subsequent shot is single-action. This makes follow-up shots much lighter. I leave this to you if you desire that has a different trigger pull from first shot to second shot.). Only thing I take points away here is on the aftermarket options. I have been spoiled with my Springfield, Glock and S&W pistols; all have been out and established for some time so they have a ton of other companies producing upgrades as well as just plain different options for triggers.

Another love of mine is the grip. Having handled all the aforementioned guns I happen to very much love how this feels in the hand. It does come with replaceable grips so if in any way you don’t like it there is other options. Funny story about that; I purchased this gun online due to reviews I read and had it delivered to my local FFL. When it arrived I was of course filled with the new gun jitters and jumped down there as soon as I got the call. When I put it in my hand it felt like an extension of my wrist and I loved it right away. I filled out my 4473, got home and immediately started fiddling with it. Cleaned and oiled the gun as well as changing the back-strap. Took it to the range the next day and fired off about 250 rounds but ended up lamenting that the grip wasn’t as good as when I first picked it up. It took me two days of dry-fire training (I am not proud of this) before I realized changing that back-strap completely changed the handling in a negative way for me. Now with it back to stock I love it as much as ever. You will note from the picture below I tried a new stippling technique and to be honest, it works great but looks like garbage. And I was so proud of it at the time!

Canik TP9SF 9mm FDE Left Side

Other than that, the rail is perfect for any accessories, and the magazine release as well as the slide stop are easy to use but unobtrusive. This is very nice for handling. Another point I do take away is the sights. They are Warren Tactical sights. It is a thin & square front sight with a U notch rear. I greatly dislike this style due to it not working well for me and how I shoot. The combination of a rounded rear and square front leaves me at a disadvantage for longer shots. The other problem with that is that the rear site is ramped at the forward portion, not the rear, so I cannot rack it off a belt or table when practicing one-handed manipulations.

On the magazines, Mec-Gar is a well known manufacturer and you can rely on these. The Elite model has 15 rounds but can accept all the larger frame mags. This model has the standard 18 round mags. The upgraded Competition model has the 20 round magazines which I own to of, never let me down. You can also but the Mec-Gar magazine extensions for the 18 round magazines, I have 2. They do not come with an extra long spring so beware, however I never had any issues except using them in the Elite I purchased about 2 months ago that I sold to someone wanting to get into Canik. (I will be buying another)

Throughout the full 5,320 rounds of this pistol the only issues I have seen are wear marks (where the black finish has worn off) on the barrel hood, the barrel about 1/2″ from the crown, and on the rails themselves. Other than that it has held up to everything I have thrown at it. The absolute only thing I wish I had done differently on purchase would be to have purchased a different size of the same exact model. They have a TP9SF Competition with a cut for a red dot and other features that are great for what I have done in 3-gun, and also a concealed carry version the TP9SF Elite that is more similar to a Glock 19 in size. Unfortunately I am a small fellow so the Elite version would have worked better for concealed carry, and the Competition would have worked better for what this is dedicated to in 3-gun for me. Hands down, buy a Canik. You will not be disappointed.

 

This has to be a misunderstanding…

terrorist-20-years-old

 

Are we so far gone that this even makes sense? I remember reading my parents National Geographic or Time Magazine copies from the 50’s and 60’s about Islamic terrorist attacks by groups at that time period. Relevant quote:

“In the late 1960’s Palestinian secular movements such as Al Fatah and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) began to target civilians outside the immediate arena of conflict.”

This directly correlated with the creation of Israel directly before and the beginnings of Anti-Marxist and Anti-Western movements throughout Islamic zones. Let alone the fact that this is not counting what they deemed acceptable terrorism inside conflict zones!

Hat tip & Thank you Gun Free Zone

 

 

10,000+ Round Review: S&W M&P 15-22

S&W M&P 15-22 .22 LR-Left Side Black Serial.jpgI purchased the Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 about 5 years ago. It was my actual first rim-fire rifle and has been a delightful choice that I have never regretted purchasing. Nowadays, you can even get them in totally different colors, styles, and better handguards, (more on the handguards later) all available for usually less than $500 street price. This rifle is fantastic for training; either for setting up a training match to your duty rifle in a center-fire caliber & shooting cheaper or for teaching someone new to guns with a firearm that is extremely low recoil & noise as well as being very easy to use. With the cost of 22 long rifle ammunition I can get away with a range trip spending only $15-25 a box of 300+ rounds and easily shoot 1-2 hours with someone new to guns or wanting more in-depth training.

The ergonomics of this rifle are extremely similar to an AR-15, or modern sporting rifle (MSR) usually chambered in .224/5.56 (there is a massively larger caliber selection in a standard MSR than I could possibly list here). However when you pull it next to a center-fire MSR the differences are minor but completely incompatible. As far as my research suggests, they made the design changes so that they could keep with an inexpensive polymer receiver design that can handle the pressures from a rim-fire round but would not stand up to center-fire pressures. The 2 pins that hold a typical MSR upper and lower receiver are smaller and have a different geometry to them so you cannot mistakenly put the parts on a standard MSR. The charging handle is shortened, and lacking the tab/hole end that would normally interact with the gas key on a center-fire bolt carrier group (BCG). This firearm is blow-back operated compared to the MSR which is gas operated. The BCG is a fairly solid design, with the entire recoil spring included in the BCG so that there is no need for a recoil spring/buffer going all the way into the stock (more on that later as well). Other differences include a specialty barrel nut and system to hold on the handguard.

Those differences aside, this rifle can take a great deal of standard MSR parts. Everything from triggers, sights, stocks, grips, and muzzle devices will work as long as they are compatible with a common MSR in .223/5.56 (muzzle threading for example is 1/2×28, typical of any 22 caliber barrel). I picked this rifle especially for that reason and for the fact that the manual of arms being exactly the same as a standard MSR. This makes it extremely easy to teach someone to use the more powerful rifle without shelling out a ton of money for training ammunition. Typically I can get 22 long rifle for $0.06 a round (Federal Auto Match, great ammo) compared to $0.39 a round (Federal Match 5.56 in bulk). Doesn’t seem like much but when you shoot as much as I do it starts to add up really quickly.

I have tried out several different optics on this rifle before settling on the CV Life© red dot. (Pardon the slight blurriness)S&W M&P 15-22 .22 LR-CVLIFE Red DotIt is fairly inexpensive at $29; has both red & green dot settings,  4 different reticles (dot, dot w/cross-hairs, circle, circle w/dot center) and includes several different brightness settings as well as auto-shutoff. For the use most common to my family, mainly plinking, this is quite sufficient for the task. It’s not like this rifle is going to battle any time soon. I switched out the grip for a smaller Magpul MOE© grip that my wife finds more comfortable. I switched out the standard Magpul stock for a Mission First Tactical (MFT) Minimalist Stock© to decrease weight as well as making the handling a lot easier for me. Also added a hand stop to give a defined point of contact each time in order to help with muscle memory. The most expensive addition to this rifle is the Franklin Arms Binary Trigger©. I love this trigger, will be posting a separate review in the future. Basically it adds a safety selector in 3 positions; safe, fire, and binary. In binary mode the trigger fires both when you pull the trigger and when you release the trigger. You can easily change the selector back to fire when the trigger is held back in order to not fire on the release. This trigger is an awesome range toy, making 2 shot strings a joy as well as showing you handling mistakes when the bullets impact paper. S&W M&P 15-22 .22 LR-Black Serial

The handguard and extractor are the only points on this rifle I dislike. The handguard is from the late 90’s style called a quad-rail. Basically it has picatinny rails on 4 axis so you can mount any picatinny accessory anywhere possible down the length of the fore-end. Problem with this is that it is the equivalent of a cheese-grater for your hand. Even though the rails are polymer, not aluminum, it can still be painful & bulky in the hand with lots of sharp edges. I purchased rubber rail covers which solve the issue but add to the overall weight. Unfortunately it requires a specialty tool to remove the handguard, as soon as I get one and a new rail I will update the review. Nowadays, you can get this rifle stock with an M-Lok handguard so you aren’t stuck with all the extra bulk and pain. For the extractor, I didn’t start having problems until a little over 1,000 rounds. The bolt attempts to go to battery with the spent case still stuck in the chamber and the new round jammed against the stuck case. I did some research and found that Volquartsen© makes a special extractor so I ordered one. Extremely easy to install, only one pin and you are set to go. I believe due to that replacement I didn’t have the typical problems these rifles have at 5,000+ rounds with the extractor sheering off completely. Volquartsen also makes a carbon-fiber match grade barrel that I will be switching to soon, due to the high round count I want to extend this rifle’s service life. As far as I am aware, this is the only upgraded barrel option for this rifle.

Malfunctions are few and far between. Almost all are ammo related. For those unaware of 22 lr ammunition loading, the case is fairly thin at the rim which allows the firing pin to dent the case itself instead of a dedicated & replaceable primer in a center-fire. The actual primer is typically a circular cake that gets dropped in the case first, then the gunpowder, ending with the bullet being seated and/or crimped in place. Problem with this is that with lots of bouncing and movement that primer cake can tilt, thus not being set-off when the firing pin strikes. On most occasions the rifle will not fire when the trigger is pulled so all you have to do is pull the charging handle back and release, ejecting the bad round while cycling a fresh one. The magazines are awesome, rarely have I had any malfunctions with them and usually it is due to user error not associated with the magazine itself. Truly when I bring out this rifle and set it to binary mode, I spend more time loading magazines due to everyone loving to shoot it. I did find a loading tool that works with all different types of 22 rim-fire rifle and pistol magazines (as long as you have the right adapter) by the name of the McFadden Lightning Grip Loader©. This makes reloading a delight and also allows you to have less lead contact.

Cleaning of the rifle is very similar to a standard MSR. I am typically a little heavier on the solvent soaking in order to get the lead deposits out of the barrel. About once every 3-5 months I clean out the fire control group as well, otherwise I worry about the works getting gummed up. Removing the BCG is standard and quite easy, cleaning is actually simpler for me than an MSR bolt carrier group. Only issue is when it gets really caked on there, unless you or a friend have a ultra-sonic cleaner. Otherwise a lot of nylon and brass bristle brushes with some elbow work and it cleans up just fine.

One item I have been looking into is modifying the buffer tube/receiver extension to turn it into a folding stock. With the BCG & recoil spring being self-contained, what would be a buffer tube is just a piece of plastic. I will likely be buying another rifle to take apart and cut that receiver extension off so that I can try to adapt a hinge mechanism and make a folding stock. Smith & Wesson used to make a pistol version of this that would have been much easier to do this with. I may still keep looking for a used on to tinker with (let me know if you got one for sale!) Overall, this rifle earned it’s place over the years at the top of my favorite guns list. Not all of my favorite guns have to be battle ready or SHTF firearms, sometimes the best are something you can enjoy with your family in a way that educates others and helps train the new generation of shooters. I highly recommend picking one up and trying it or, if you are in my area, bring a box of ammo and I will buy the range time!S&W M&P 15-22 .22 LR-Right Side