Now that it’s Tuesday, I can finally look back and process all the great stuff that happened at the 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup, from the shooting to the events and all the great people that I get to see at that match. Our previous update took a look at the shooting from Day 1, where I shot the Practical and the Barricades, and needed a strong performance on the Plates to keep me in the running for a win in Production/MM. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, as the Plates struck me down with all their fury and I finished the plates with a disappointing 360-36x. Even with that score, I had a chance to hit my goal of a 1600 if I shot a 440 or better on the Mover on Day 3…and I came so close, shooting a new match-personal best on the Mover of 438. That left me with a final score of 1598-80x, which was good enough for 4th Place in Production/MM division.
Now I’m obviously disappointed with that score – I know I can shoot better, but I struggled on the Plates and the Barricade. However, there are a lot of positive takeaways from this match; one of the big ones is my X-count. Using a factory stock Sig P250, almost half the rounds I fired were X’s, meaning they hit the 4 inch black circle at the center of the target. That and my score are definite improvements from 2 years ago when I shot The Cup in ’09. So obviously I’m getting better…just not fast enough for my taste.
Caleb shooting the Celebrity Pro-Am photo by Maggie Reese www.maggiereeseshooting.com
Saturday brought my favorite day of Bianchi Cup – the Colt Speed Event and Celebrity ProAm Shoot Off. This event is put on for fans and for bragging rights; it’s a head to head shoot-off at five pieces of steel each. Fastest time wins. The top 4 finishers from Production, Metallic, and Open all compete to see who’s top dog, and then the organizers turn the celebs and media in attendance loose for the ProAm. The Celebrity event follows the same structure as the Colt Speed event, but with a slightly…uh…looser interpretation of the rules. That loose rule interpretation resulted in me being matched up against Dave Sevigny, and you know what? I did alright. I’ll have video of the Caleb vs. Dave matchup and the full story later in the week.
The 2011 NRA Bianchi Cup was a great experience for me this year. I learn things about my shooting during this match that I couldn’t learn from shooting Steel Challenge, IDPA, or USPSA and those lessons make me better at each of those sports. I’ll be back at the 2012 Bianchi Cup looking to improve my score by another 150 points, win Production/MM and put myself in the Top 20 again in Production Division overall.
Once again, if you’d like to run any of the gear I used during the Cup, here is the gear breakdown.
We’re going to have a tonne of exclusive video and other coverage up this week on the Shooter’s Log from Bianchi Cup, so make sure you check in tomorrow and through the rest of the week as the good stuff keeps on coming in.
Last Saturday, I was shooting in Arnold, MO just south of St. Louis for the Central States ProAm Speed Plates match. This is a state-level match that is styled after Steel Challenge, but also includes “outlaw” stages in addition to the standard Steel Challenge stages. I actually prefer outlaw steel matches because by including stages not in the “standard” Steel Challenge book, they actually level out the playing field a little bit. Check out this week’s video for two of the twelve stages I shot on Saturday.
And as usual, I’m wearing my Woolrich Elite Tactical Pants. But let’s get on to the match itself. We started shooting early in the day with six stages before lunch. At the half-time break, I was leading Production division by about 16 seconds, which meant all I needed to do was not pull a Peyton Manning and choke in the second half. My biggest weakness in matches like this the mental aspect; if I know I’m shooting well and have a lead, I honestly start to make mistakes. Especially if there’s a chance that I could walk away with the top dog award.
The second half of the match was a real roller coaster ride for me – for the first time in 3000 rounds, my Sig P250 malfunctioned. I had two separate failures to extract with the gun which caused me to really struggle on two of the final six stages. I was able to pull it back together, and the Sig ran flawlessly for the remainder of the match. After some waiting, the final results were posted – and I brought home my first Production win of the season! Check out the Top 5 Production shooters from the match.
Now comes the funny part – when I got back to my hotel, I took my Sig apart to see if I could figure out what caused the malfs. It turns out there was a bunch of crud caked on the extractor as a result of me not cleaning the gun for 3000 rounds. Apparently you do in fact need to clean guns occasionally. After cleaning the gun, I’ve not experienced any further issues.
For the rest of the week I’m in Columbia, Missouri for the NRA Bianchi Cup. Shooting officially starts on Wednesday, and I open my run at the Production Division with the Practical and the Barricades Wednesday morning, followed by the Falling Plates on Thursday. I close the week on Friday taking my shots at the Mover. Stay tuned for updates from Bianchi Cup!
Down Zero TV Stats
Major Match best finish: 1st (Production)
Major Match Most Accurate: 0 (no competitions yet)
At the 2010 SHOT Show, Colt relased the military version of their Modular Carbine, the CM901. This select-fire version was able to quickly and easily be converted from a standard 5.56 NATO platform to a 7.62 NATO platform, or even 6.8 SPC or 6.5 Grendel. This year, Colt released the civilian version of the CM901, the SP901.
The SP901 has ambidextrous controls – safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever and magazine release button.
********************************** Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.
Best of all, the “Modular” part of the rifle comes from the fact that any standard upper can be fitted to the lower receiver and fed with normal AR magazines with the use of an adapter. This adapter is still a closely guarded secret but look forward to seeing more on the Colt Modular Carbine after the new year. Stay tuned for more!
The Colt CM901 Modular Carbine is a select-fire AR (AR-10/AR-15)-platform weapon, so it will immediately look, feel, handle, and shoot in a way that’s immediately familiar to all military end-users, including general infantry personnel. It also benefits from the AR platform’s now legendary ergonomics/usernomics.
2) The CM901 multi-caliber battle carbine can be configured in any/every caliber between 7.62×51mm NATO (7.62mm NATO)/.308 Win. and 5.56×45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem., including 6.8 SPC (6.8×43mm SPC) and 6.5 Grendel, depending on what U.S. military end-users require. To switch from 7.62mm to 5.56mm, just push out the two receiver pins, take the 7.62×51mm upper module off, slap the 5.56mm upper module on, push the two receiver pins back in, and you’re good to go.
3) The CM901 universal lower receiver will accept any/all legacy MILSPEC 5.56mm NATO AR rifle/carbine/SBR upper receivers already in the U.S. military inventory, including the, Colt M4/M4A1 Carbine 14.5″ AR carbine , M4 Commando 11.5″ AR SBR, MK18/CQBR (Close Quarters Battle Receiver) 10.3″ AR SBR, and M16A3/A4 20″ DGI rifle uppers. The CM901 lower will also accept the Colt LE6940 16″ monolithic upper and Colt LE6920 16″ M4/M4A1 Carbine-type uppers. Thus, 5.56mm barrel length is determined by whatever AR upper you want to use. Defense Review test-fired the Colt CM901 7.62mm upper sporting a 16″ barrel, but it’s DR’s understanding at present that 13″, 18″, and 20″ barrels will also be available per customer request (unconfirmed/unverified).
4) While the CM901 7.62mm upper receiver is a monolithic upper/rail format with a direct gas impingement (DGI) operating system, the CM901 can utilize just about any 5.56mm rifle/carbine/SBR operating system that Colt manufactures, including the Colt M4/M4A1 DGI system, Colt APC (Advanced Piston Carbine)articulating-link gas piston/op-rod (operating rod) system, Colt AHC (Advanced Hybrid Carbine) DGI/piston-driven hybrid system, and Colt ACC-M (Advanced Colt Carbine-Monolithic) monolithic DGI upper. Defense Review does not yet know whether or not the CM901 lower can be configured to work with the Colt SCW (Sub-Compact Weapon) SBR upper, since the SCW utilizes a special short buffer system and buffer tube, which allows it to utilize a folding/telescoping buttstock.
5) The CM901 sports fully ambidextrous controls a.k.a. “full ambi controls”, including ambidextrous safety/selector switch, bolt catch hold-open/release lever, and magazine release button.
6) The CM901 when configured for .308 Win utilizes the MagPul 20LR 7.62 magazine. The weapon will also accept the SR25/M100 7.62mm magazine. The weapon when configured for 5.56mm will accept all “MILSPEC” 5.56mm magazines.
7) Being an AR, the CM901 can utilize some aftermarket tactical AR rifle parts and accessories, like telescoping/retractable buttstocks, and trigger/hammer groups. Colt Defense had both Vltor IMOD and Vltor EMOD stocks for the CM901 prototype on hand, while I was there, but you can stick a MagPul CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) stock or LMT SOPMOD/SOCOM/Crane NSW stock on there, if you’d like. Editor’s Note: Defense Review likes all three buttstocks (Vltor IMOD, MagPul CTR, and LMT SOPMOD).
The CM901 will provide the military end-user with a select-fire AR platform weapon in any caliber between 5.56mm and 7.62×51mm, allowing him to use any “MILSPEC” 5.56mm AR upper receiver he wants, also allowing him to use any 5.56mm AR operating system Colt Defense offers, and lets him choose his barrel length. Colt Defense is even in the process of developing their articulating link piston and DGI/piston hybrid operating systems for the 7.62×51mm CM901 upper receiver module.
The CM901 Upper Receiver Modularity concept: just change out your upper receiver assembly to re-configure the weapon for the mission, without having to re-zero your weapon and you’re ready to go. Examples of upper receiver configurations users could have are:
Military operators are already used to swapping out AR uppers with optics pre-mounted and zero’d. They like this system, and they trust it–and it’s already battle-proven.
Defense Review spoke with CTT Solutions/Grey Group Training tactical instructor, retired U.S. Army Special Forces (SF) assaulter/operator, and Defense Review contributor Mike Pannone a few days ago about the CM901, and asked him his opinion about it vs. the FN SCAR weapons, assuming FN fully develops the SCAR “common receiver”. Mike prefers the AR rifle system’s upper receiver modularity to the FN SCAR quick-change barrel system/”trigger module” combo, and he had this to say (or, in this case, write) about a barrel change/lower receiver module system (SCAR) vs. modular upper receiver change system (CM901):
People often confuse quick change with modularity when it comes to weapons systems. They are in fact completely different concepts in nearly every regard.
For the sake of discussion let’s talk about quick-change barrels vs. modular upper receivers (AR/M-4 type platform).
First, the definition: quick-change means that parts of an existing weapons system can be replaced with the same replacement part (think fixture point, not cosmetics or barrel length) in a relatively rapid manner with minimal or no tools. I emphasize “relatively” because that is subject to end user specifications. Quick change can be 5 minutes (LMT MRP barrel) or 10 seconds (M249 barrel), so it’s relative.
Modular means a family of parts and accessories will fit on any system that uses a standardized mounting platform. The AR family of weapons and the [Mil-Std-1913] Picatinny rail are the best example of modularity. The AR system, as well, is in its 2 primary components a modular system; push two pins and you can swap complete uppers, even between nearly all manufacturers.
The capability provided by the CM901 gives an additional dimension to [military] operators. No longer will a warfighter get stuck running a DMR [Designated Marksman Rifle] in an urban warfare environment, where the platform might not suit that particular moment of combat. Those days of a sniper carrying a rifle in a backpack, while fighting his way into position with a handier weapon, are a thing of the past with the advent of the CM901. Today, a warfighter can have his cake and eat it too, fighting with a MK18 Mod1 on a CM901 lower while the .308-based CM901 is carried in a padded backpack. When the occasion arises, the operator can change out the 5.56mm CQB-R and instantly go to a .308 rifle [CM901 7.62mm upper] for the counter sniper role, or any situation that requires a designated marksman.
The only downfall I see would be the logistics of keeping two separate calibers within one shooter’s loadout. But with 5.56 [mags] carried on the vest, the .308 magazines could be carried in a pack since the shooter is already dropping the backpack in order to access the .308 platform.
Colt Defense’s approach to weapon design is to determine the warfighter requirement and then to provide a solution.
Colt’s CM901 is designed as a multi-caliber, modular capability with one lower receiver configurable to different calibers and barrel lengths for different missions. With its universal lower receiver based on the 7.62 mm round and the ergonomics of the M4 and M16, the lower receiver is also compatible with the upper receivers and bolt carrier assemblies of all existing Colt weapons in the military inventory and its newly developed weapons and alternative operating systems from 7.62mm to 5.56mm. Colt has kept its solution simple, operationally and cost effective, and easily adaptable for the warfighter and the support base.
The following are some Colt CM901 specs:
Direct Gas System
Caliber: .308 winchester
Barrel: 16.1″ heavy profile full floated, chromed, 4 grooves, 1:12″ RH twist
Pronged Flash Hider and Bayonet Lug
Flip-Up, adjustable front and rear sights
Length Extended: 37.5″
Length Collapsed: 34.24″
Weights: 9.4 lbs
Accepts Mil-Spec 5.56 Colt Uppers
Colt CM901 7.62×51mm Carbine Features:
• Universal Lower Receiver-
– Unique design enables use of multiple calibers from 5.56 x 45mm up to and including 7.62 x 51mm available within a single serialized receiver
– Compatible with legacy M4/M16 magazines, and upper receiver/barrel assemblies with multiple barrel lengths
– Built in ambidextrous bolt catch, magazine catch, and selector
– Compatible with M4/M16 Trigger mechanisms
– Configurable with new Colt operating systems and designs
• Modular One-Piece Upper Receiver-
– Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum
– Steel inserts in critical wear areas provide higher level of reliability and extended service life of upper receiver
– Integral continuous MIL-STD-1913 rail extends the length of the receiver, providing rigidity, and uninterrupted mounting space
– Rigid MIL-STD-1913 rails at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions
– Removable Lower Rail at the 6 o’clock position allows for attachment of accessories like the forward grip, M203 and M320 grenade launchers, and other mission essential ancillary devices
Free floating barrel, 4 groove, 1 in 12” twist rate
Available in optional barrel lengths of 13”, 16, & 18”
Suppression Capable- Utilizes the SEI Vortex Compensator
– New advanced material providing extended service life of the bolt and reduces life-cycle costs
New Robust Polymer Construction
Compatible with the M110, MK11, and SR25 metal magazines
• Adjustable Folding Front Sight
Offers mounting of multiple sights and ancillary devices without obstruction of standard front sight post
• Mil-Spec Hard Coat Anodize-
– Available in multiple camouflage colors and patterns
Colt CM901 Benefits:
– Modular operating system
• Universal Lower Receiver permits the individual user — with no special tools — to convert a “single serialized lower receiver” into multiple caliber, barrel-length, and operating system configurations
• Eliminates need for non-standard weapon systems, and training for those systems, that are currently employed in the Battlespace in order to support Warfighter Multi-Caliber requirements to meet changing mission needs
• Designed to accept all legacy M4/M16 Colt upper receiver assemblies
• Designed for ease of disassembly, maintenance, and reassembly
– Stable platform for mounting optics and other ancillary devices to enhance mission performance and capability
• Reliable Zero Retention and Zero Repeatability provided by the rigid one-piece upper receiver design
• One-Piece Upper Receiver design reduces the number of components, increases rigidity, and provides system weight savings
– Improved Durability and Reliability
• Hardened Steel inserts in high wear areas of the upper receiver provides extended life
• New Advanced Bolt material enhances system life
• New Extractor and Extractor Spring enhances system reliability and durability
– Improved Accuracy
• Free Floating Barrel system incorporates a new barrel extension to upper receiver interface to improve accuracy and hit probability
– Ergonomically compatible with the M4 Carbine
• Very low Doctrine, Organization, Training, Material, Leadership, Personnel, Facilities (DOTMLPF) footprint in fielding to the Warfighter
• No need to re-train Warfighters on new system, only familiarize with upgrades
There have been many different autoloading rifles chambered for the extraordinarily popular and inexpensive .22 Long Rifle cartridge over the years. A few stand out as the leaders of the pack. Autoloading .22s fall into one of two design categories: traditional or modern.
Browning SA-22 Grade 1
The Browning SA-22 is one of the first autoloading .22 rifles ever produced. Production started in 1914, by FN Herstal in Belgium, and continues today in various countries, depending on the Grade level. The rifle’s takedown design features a slim and stylish receiver and barrel, and requires no tools to separate the two compact halves. There are several different Grade levels and options currently available, and many more offered since its introduction. Since 1914, the number of SA-22s sold has exceeded over half a million.
Introduced in 2006, the Mossberg 702 Plinkster is a lightweight, rugged, and reliable. It features an aluminum receiver with grooves for mounting a scope, free-floating barrel, and a bolt hold-open function. There are several versions available, featuring different stocks, colors, and finishes.
The Remington 597, introduced in 1997, is built in Remington’s Mayfield, Kentucky manufacturing plant. It features a free-floating barrel and a unique bolt-guidance system that uses two steel guide rails for added stability, reliability, and greater accuracy. Although it is not the most popular of the autoloading .22 rifles, there are several models available, as well as many different aftermarket parts and accessories.
Ruger hit the jackpot when they released the 10/22. It is arguably the most prolific autoloading .22 rifle on the planet. Since its introduction in 1964 more than a million of these rifles have seen action. The 10/22 is well-suited for target shooting, plinking, and small game hunting. It is well-balanced, rugged, reliable, and accurate. Though it is available in a wide variety of configurations from the factory, the aftermarket scene is where you will find a massive amount of accessories and replacement parts. In fact, you can find an aftermarket version of every part of the rifle, allowing you to create a 100% custom 10/22.
Smith & Wesson M&P with Crimson Trace Lightguard and Lasergrips
Next week, I’ll be at Gunsite Firearms Academy with Crimson Trace, S&W, and Galco. We’re going to be playing with the new Crimson Trace Lightguard for the M&P pistol, pictured at left from SHOT 2011. Galco has a new holster that’s designed to fit the M&P with the Lightguard attached, which we’ll also be trying out.
But that’s not what I want to talk to you about today. Today, we’re talking about Gunsite Firearms Academy, the cradle of pistol instruction. I’m not old enough to actually have taken classes at Gunsite when Jeff Cooper was teaching, nor do I “remember” in the strictest sense the great rift when Col. Cooper sold Gunsite, then eventually reacquired it. What I do remember is sitting in the Coast Guard Academy pistol team’s ready room reading Cooper’s Corner in the back of Guns and Ammo and actually thinking about pistol shooting as more than just a sport. You see, without Jeff Cooper and Gunsite, we wouldn’t have our modern shooting culture. 99% if all not of the modern training schools owe their origins to Gunsite in one way or another; trainers came from there, added their own techniques and knowledge to the Modern Technique, and pistol shooting grew as a martial art across the nation until we have what you see today.
The same is true for competition shooting as well – without Jeff Cooper, there would be no IPSC, and without IPSC we wouldn’t have IDPA, Steel Challenge, USPSA, and 3-gun. Just like in those early days, competition shooting still continues to drive innovation in the combat shooting arena. When Rob Leatham and Brian Enos started shooting modern Iso instead of a Weaver-ish stance, it was a huge breakthrough. Now modern Iso is the industry standard, with only a few schools still teaching Weaver.
The inside bore constriction at the muzzle end of a shotgun’s barrel is known as the “choke.” When a shotshell is fired, shot travels down the bore, exits the muzzle and begins to “spread out.” Just as a nozzle on the end of a garden hose controls the spray of water, the choke controls the spread of shot, making it narrower or wider.
The three basic chokes for a shotgun are known as full (tight constriction and delivers a narrow, dense spread), modified (less constriction and delivers a medium-width spread) and improved cylinder (even less constriction and delivers a wide, open spread). A gun with no choke is called a cylinder bore and delivers the widest spread. There are also a number of specialty chokes that provide narrower or wider spreads – some of the most popular are for skeet shooting and turkey hunting.
It’s the most famous pistol ever produced. More than 100 years old, the design has endured largely unchanged. Almost every pistol manufacturer throughout the world has made one at some point or another, and yet most attempts at improvements fall short and John Moses Browning’s design continues along the same as it has since 1911. That’s right, the 1911 pistol is an icon and is revered by many as quite possibly the perfect design.
Sure, metallurgy and materials technology have allowed for newer more modern designs that incorporate super-light super-strong polymer components. Advances in cartridge development has created loads with faster muzzle velocities and bullets with better expansion. But JMB’s famous design persists as a viable combat pistol.
This year, the 100th anniversary of the military’s adoption of the design, many manufacturers have come out with commemorative models of the 1911. Rumors circulated around the internet and were whispered in hushed tones at the 2011 SHOT Show by retailers and manufacturers alike anticipating the announcement that Ruger would be bringing to market their own variation of the 1911.
At long last Ruger has confirmed the rumors in a recent press release announcing their reincarnation of the design.
Ruger is proud to announce their new SR1911, an “All American” classic rendition of John Browning’s most famous handgun design. The public debut of the Ruger SR1911 pistol will take place during the NRA Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania April 29 – May 1.
The single‐action .45 Auto Ruger SR1911 features a bead‐blasted stainless steel frame and slide, precision CNC machined for a precise slide‐to‐frame fit. The stainless steel barrel and bushing are produced simultaneously, from the same ordnance‐grade barstock, for a precise fit and improved accuracy. The slide features rear cocking serrations and a dovetailed three‐dot sight system with a Novak® rear sight and standard front sight.
“We are very proud to offer a 1911 pistol, an icon of American gun design and manufacturing,” said Ruger CEO Michael Fifer. “In this 100‐anniversary year of the introduction of the Government Model 1911 it is only fitting that such a firearm be completely manufactured in America with all American‐made components.”
The Ruger SR1911 pistol features a titanium firing pin and heavy firing pin spring, which negates the need for a firing pin block, offering an updated safety feature to the original “Series 70” design without compromising trigger pull weight. An extended thumb safety offers improved manipulation and an oversized beavertail grip safety provides positive function and reliability. A visual inspection port offers visual confirmation of a round in the chamber.
Positive extraction is facilitated by an improved internal extractor. The plunger tube for both the slide stop and thumb safety is integral to the frame and will never shoot loose. The swaged link pin also will not shoot loose. The SR1911 uses a skeletonized hammer and an aluminum, skeletonized trigger with an adjustable over‐travel stop. The Ruger SR1911 features a standard recoil guide system and flat mainspring housing.
The Ruger SR1911 grips feature a Ruger logo in checkered hardwood panels. Each pistol is shipped with one 7‐round and one 8‐round stainless steel magazine, bushing wrench and a soft case. The SR1911 will fit currently available 1911 size holsters.
The SR1911 slide and barrel bushing are both CNC machined from a single piece of stainless steel bar stock to ensure that both pieces fit together perfectly. The frame and plunger housing of the pistol is investment cast as a single piece as well.
The most notable thing about Ruger’s SR1911 is that it uses an older design that does not incorporate Colt’s Series 80 firing pin block. The Series 80 design, and the similarly designed Swartz safety device, consisted of a series of levers that blocked the firing pin, preventing the gun from firing unless they were moved out of the way by depressing the trigger. This additional lock-work, by necessity, made the trigger more gritty and difficult to pull. By eliminating the Series 80 firing pin block and going with a light titanium firing pin and stronger firing pin spring, Ruger made the trigger that much lighter and smoother. The trigger itself, along with the hammer, features the lightweight skeletonized design sought after by many 1911 aficionados.
Tuesday night’s episode of Top Shot Reloaded was by far my favorite, not just because it featured my friend and season 1 winner Iain Harrison, but because it had (in my opinion) the most awesome firearm selection of the episodes so far. What really made the episode interesting is that the guns were personally selected by Iain for the challenge (which itself was strongly influenced by Iain’s 3-gun background). The first gun that Iain chose for the challenge was the Sig P228, also known as the M11 in the US Army. This gun competed against the Beretta for the Army’s XM9 pistol trials, and successfully completed the trials along with the Beretta. The Army eventually chose the Beretta due to its lower overall price than the Sig P228. However, the Sig P228 still saw service with the Navy SEALs and a host of federal law enforcement agencies.
The next gun up was the Browning Hi Power. This gun was the standard service sidearm of the British military for quite some time; in fact it was the most common military sidearm in the world until it was gradually phased out by most countries in favor of more modern designs such as Glocks or Sigs. Interestingly, the Hi Power was replaced in service with the British Army by the Sig P226, the big brother of the Sig P228.
The two rifles on Tuesday’s episode of Top Shot are both icons of military service. The AR-15 rifle is the most common sporting rifle in the United States today, and has served the US military in conflict since the 1960s. The AR15 is arguably the most common rifle in the free world, with its only competitor being the second rifle Iain selected for the episode: the FN FAL. The FAL has been referred to as The Right Arm of the Free World, and has been used by more countries as their battle rifle than any other long arm in the free world. Reliable, accurate, and in my opinion just a dead sexy platform.
The challenge itself was a lot of fun, but the guns were what made it for me. Brownings and FALs are extremely evocative for me, bringing to mind images of soldiers in South America fighting against drug dealers and corrupt dictators.
Since the early days of firearm building, armorers noted that if they imparted spin to the projectile that it greatly enhanced in-flight stability and accuracy. The earliest rifles had numerous bands of metal that were forged together and twisted to create the helical shape of the rifle groves. As machining processes were developed and refined, hammer forged barrels became popular as they were much stronger and much more precise.
Yesterday, we had a post up about the Ruger SR9c, which is in my opinion one of the “best buys” on the market for someone looking for a compact defensive firearm. It’s so good that it can be used as a competition firearm quite readily. Here are some match videos of the Ruger SR9c in action.
The video to the right is the Ruger SR9c shooting Limited-10 division at the 2010 USPSA Indiana State Championship. Despite scoring minor, the little Ruger helped me finish 12th overall in a division dominated by double stack 1911s in .40 S&W and Glock 35s hotted up to be race guns.
This second video really lets the SR9c shine – in an IDPA match, using the Ruger I finished 3rd overall in Stock Service Pistol, out of 40+ other shooters. It’s a great gun, and even better – you can easily remove the magazine disconnect safety to make it an even better gun!
We’ve got an exclusive first look at Lone Wolf Distributors’ brand new .40 caliber race gun. This custom race gun was developed in part by Team Cheaper Than Dirt! shooter Patrick Kelley, and incorporates Lone Wolf’s Timberwolf frame and their hybrid ported Werewolf slide.
On March 29, AD 1911 the U.S. Army officially adopted the Colt 1911 pistol as its official sidearm. The 1911 was originally issued in an era where the Army still had cavalry and was not too far removed from the days when a single action Colt revolver with a 7 inch barrel had been their primary sidearm. When the Colt SAA was replaced in the late 1800s with a double action revolver in .38 Long Colt, there were many who felt that such a decision was the wrong one. During the Philippine-American War, the .38 Long Colt proved ineffective at “bad-breath” fight distances, prompting the Army to seek a replacement. John Moses Browning, who is likely the greatest gun designer ever scaled up his .38 ACP pistol to a .45 caliber cartridge of his design and submitted that pistol to the military trials.
The 1911 wasn’t really born in 1911, though. The pistol trials that it competed in started in 1906, where the Browning design competed against a .45 ACP Luger and the Savage .45 ACP. The Browning designed “1911” eventually won the trials and was selected as the Army’s new service pistol, officially adopted on March 29th, 1911. The 1911 served in World War I and various other conflicts, including notably in the hands of Medal of Honor recipient Herman Hanneken, who used a 1911 to kill a rebel leader during the US occupation of Haiti.
In 1924, the 1911 received some minor design changes; this resulted in the new designation of 1911A1. The 1911A1 pistols continued to serve the US military until the 1980s, when it was officially phased out in favor of the Beretta M9. But the design would not go quietly into the night remaining in service in the US military with Special Forces, Force Recon Marines, and other specialized units. The modern 1911 continues to serve to this day; the Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations at right is an excellent example of what the 1911 has become. The sights are much better than the original sights, the features a rail for attaching lights and other accessories, and hammer bite has been eliminated. John Moses Browning’s great design continues to serve with LAPD SWAT, FBI regional SWAT teams, and even in the holsters of local law enforcement agencies that desire the ergonomics and shootability of the classic design. 100 years later, the 1911 is going strong, with no indication that it won’t still be around in another 100 years. I’m wearing one as I type this, and I wonder how many people are going to be wearing one while they read this post.
In August of 2008 experienced CNC machinist Phil Cashin acquired MasterPiece Arms from founder Gary Poole. With his extensive experience in precision metalworking, Phil set about to take the high quality firearms already produced by MasterPiece Arms and improve them even further by upgrading the manufacturing process.
Beginning with MPA’s existing line of MAC based Defender pistols, Phil expanded into the defensive carry pistol market when the Protector .380 was introduced. We sat down with Phil to talk about how MasterPiece has grown into the company that it is today, and to learn a bit about what goes into the design and production of high quality pistols like the Protector .380.
Cheaper Than Dirt: How did you get started in the firearms industry?
Phil Cashin: Well, I became involved in the firearms industry through an acquisition of MasterPiece Arms from the original owner, a gentleman by the name of Gary Poole back in August of 2008.
I had known Gary for years and he contacted me regarding some of his capital equipment, which is the business I used to be in. I used to buy and sell capital equipment earlier in my career and then I got out of selling equipment and got into manufacturing. That’s actually my background, precision machining and manufacturing.
Cheaper Than Dirt: MasterPiece Arms manufactured all of their firearms in the United States prior to your acquisition of the company, and that’s a tradition you’ve been proud to carry on.
Phil Cashin: Yes, MPA products have always been one hundred percent US made.
Cheaper Than Dirt: After your purchase of MPA, you updated the production facilities to an ISO 9002 certified facility, correct?
Phil Cashin: Well, when I purchased MPA I also owned, and still run, a very large, very sophisticated machining and metal work company that is located just outside of Athens Georgia.
When the acquisition took place there was a transition from the previous facility where MPA was located in Carlson. The manufacturing and assembly was moved over here to our location, so we basically just absorbed the manufacturing of the components. We brought online our quality system and some of our manufacturing techniques and continued with the design enhancements. Gary had developed a very good sound design into MPA’s products. Our equipment and manufacturing techniques are faster and newer and/or efficient and more capable. We just kind of added the best of both companies together.
Cheaper Than Dirt: So MasterPiece has always created very high quality firearms, all you did was bring them into the 21st century and upgraded everything?
Phil Cashin: Exactly, that’s right.
Cheaper Than Dirt: When you came on board they were already manufacturing the MPA 30 and the MPA 10 is that right?
Phil Cashin: The products that MPA was producing at the time of the acquisition was the Defender line, which included the 930 series, what we call the Mini-9. The original has the charging handle on the top of the upper receiver, more in line with the original MAC design. Gary developed the side charging version that puts the charging handle on the left side of the upper receiver, thereby allowing a Picatinny rail to be mounted to the top of the receiver, which lets the shooter attach any number of aiming devices such as holographic sights or a laser on top. But primarily, holographic sights are what seemed to work best with all of those weapons. The Defender is based on the original MAC design and, of course, that was manufactured initially as a full-auto weapon. The original sights on the weapon are not what most people would consider sophisticated.
Cheaper Than Dirt: MPA developed a similar MAC version that fires with a closed bolt.
Phil Cashin: I wouldn’t say we developed it, I would say we perfected it.
The problem with many of the other companies in the past that have manufactured MACs in a closed bolt design is the gun worked wonderfully in an open bolt. When the ATF required us to go to a closed bolt design, there had to be some engineering changes to any number of instrumental components throughout the entire gun to allow it to function more effectively with a different design than what it was originally designed for.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That was because, for those of our readers who may not be aware, the ATF declared that any open bolt gun, whether or not it actually functions as such, is in fact fully automatic impact machine gun.
Phil Cashin: What had happened was that they allowed the semi-automatic open bolts production of these weapons for a period of time until it became very apparent that anyone could, without even looking on the internet since it didn’t exist back then, with a file and about fifteen minutes spent modifying certain internal components you could convert the gun back to full auto.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You went in and made some other very specific changes to the pistol, for example creating a model that allows the use of Sten magazines so that you have got increased parts availability and magazine availability.
Phil Cashin: Well how the change took place on the nine millimeter version, which includes both the Mini-9. The Mini 9 being the 930 series and the full sized 9mm being the 30 series. It was produced with the Zytel mag, which is a polymer magazine and the reliability was okay.
One of the things that Gary did when he got these going with Masterpiece Arms was he changed the design to accept Sten mags because they were pre-ban and were of a very good quality and very reliable. It was a better, more reliable design, and the same thing goes for the Grease Gun magazines and the .45.
That same design still carries on today. Even in our current production models we use new and reproduced Grease Gun designed magazines. They are just an exact copy of the Grease Gun mag, but they are newly manufactured.
For the 9mm, due to how scarce Sten mags have become, and the volumes in which we were selling these guns, we worked with Tapco in Kennesaw Georgia and we developed a polymer version of the Sten magazine. It’s a polymer magazine that fits right into our weapon, and works extremely well. Of course it’s much lighter than the Sten mag and it’s a very attractive product. All of our weapons on the nine millimeter side are shipped with the Tapco version of the Sten magazine.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Now you have expanded into the Protector line. What prompted the expansion into concealable pistols from the tactical Defender line of pistols and rifles. Where did that jump come from?
Phil Cashin: The history of our company is built around the MAC design and our little Protector series has absolutely zero resemblance to the Defender line.
The reason that we decided to start manufacturing the Protectors was the fact that we wanted to get into more of a mainstream product line into the firearms market as well as to bring an increased awareness of the Defender line. Not everybody who sees a MAC immediately thinks of Masterpiece Arms. They may think of MAC, RPB, SWD or some of the other more poorly designed weapons.
The design principle of a weapon being a fully machined, both the lower receiver and the upper slide out of solid 4140, is a more expensive technique in manufacturing the weapon, but it’s one that we are extraordinarily good at. The Protector line was our effort to continue to bring high quality weapons at a low cost into the defensive handgun market.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have mentioned in the past that there are no cast or injection molded parts on this gun.
Phil Cashin: That’s correct, there is no forging, there are no castings, there are no metal injection molded parts (MIM) parts. Everything is, with the exception of obvious items like springs and a couple of other laser sheet metal parts like the shield on the trigger bar, everything is fully machined out of solid billet steel.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That’s a more expensive process, and yet we have various models of the Protector for sale for less than three hundred dollars, which is quite affordable compared to most of the pocket pistols.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely. It’s a fully machined premium design in a moderate price range. The pricing strategy that we used took an enormous amount of consideration, and I will get to that in a second.
Getting back to that the reason why we did it: We talked about the design getting our products into a more mainstream market. The manufacturing technique that we are using is one of our core competencies. Performing high tech, very high precision, CNC production machining where you can hold the tolerances down, when you can get cycle time down, you can significantly reduce your manufacturing costs.
On top of that, we do everything in house, with the exception of springs and magazines. All of the critical components we manufacture ourselves. We do our own heat treating, we rifle the barrels, we machine all the internal components of machining centers and CNC Swiss. For us, being able to control the manufacturing of you know all the critical components is very important.
One of the reasons why we try to do everything that we can ourselves because ultimately you are in the control of your own destiny. You are not having to rely on the manufacturing challenges of another supplier. Without a part to the gun, you can’t ship the products. If you’re missing the firing pin, a trigger, or a hammer, the product is not going out the door.
My predecessor Gary Poole had a pretty significant role in the development and manufacturing of the old Autauga pistol. That was a very small subcompact concealed carry .32 ACP pistol that very much resembles the Protector. We have made some design changes externally to make the gun more attractive.
There have also been an enormous number of changes internally to the weapon. The Autauga was a gun that Gary had developed for a company called Autauga Arms over in Alabama that is no longer in business. The lower receiver was a casting, the upper slide was a casting, all the internal parts was castings, and the gun did pretty well in .32 caliber, but because of the size of the weapon they were never able to even consider going to the 380 because of the increased strength of the round.
Cheaper Than Dirt: So the Protector kind of evolved from this earlier design then?
Phil Cashin: Yes, now they are the same.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s not like this pistol has just kind of arrived on the out of the blue. You’ve kinda had your finger on the pulse of the concealed carry market for some time. Recently we have seen an enormous increase in the number of .380 pistols that have been released onto the market along with the increased availability of concealed handgun licenses to lawful gun owners.
Phil Cashin: Oh absolutely and, I think, rightfully so. I use my own personal experience, which is another part of the reason why we designed this Protector. The ability to carry in a concealed manner and not advertise the fact that you are carrying, having the right by the Second Amendment to protect myself, and especially with way that the world is today, I have felt personally that it is necessary to carry a weapon the majority of the time. I had a lot of problems finding a weapon that I could carry comfortably because I didn’t want to carry a holster on my belt or in the back of my pants or on my side, because it was just uncomfortable. You know it just didn’t really provide the level of concealability that I was looking for.
In the summer weather, whatever the situation is, I am able to exercise my right to carry a weapon and not advertise the fact that I am doing so. Some of the polymer weapons are very nice products and they are quite reliable. They make good pistols. They are not as small as ours, but they still have a fair amount of concealability to them. Ours is just smaller and, the accuracy and performance is consistent with some of these other pistols that are quite a bit larger.
Ours is more of a premium design. I like to hold metal in my hand. It’s more of a traditional design. Making the decisions to get into that crowded .380 market, we didn’t want to create just another polymer .380.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s important to point out that, with the all metal design, you do have a little bit heavier gun. It’s a little bit more controllable with that extra weight there.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely. Do you want to shoot a .380 with a feather or do you want to have something a little bit more, delivering more substance, to absorb the recoil. There is an absolute relationship between weight and recoil. The heavier the gun, the less recoil. It reduces muzzle flip and with that little recoil you get to the point where it’s quite manageable.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Some of those other lightweight polymer .380s really do beat you up. I don’t think anybody wants to fire more than one or two magazines at the range, and as everybody knows, you have to practice with what you carry in order to be effective with it.
Phil Cashin: Absolutely yes, that’s absolutely correct. In that aspect, controllability and comfort in shooting really went into the design of the weapon. If you look at the profile, the grip design, the radius on the front of the grip where your finger sits below the trigger guard, the gun is really engaged in your hand when you grab the weapon.
Compared to some of the other versions that are out there that have a straight grip, or just don’t have that comfortable of a design, the Protector is very comfortable. Without going into some of the other specific names, some of the other ones that I have owned in the past, some of which I still do own, they always feel like they are going to jump out of your hand when you shoot them.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have also made some recent changes and upgrades to the Protector to make it even more controllable, tell us a little bit about those.
Phil Cashin: Well, with any manufactured product, as time goes by and you get feedback from customers you improve on techniques. You find new and better ways of making a product more enjoyable to utilize You want to be able to submit improvements to the design, and that’s what we have done here recently with a couple of primary items, one being the grip extension, and the second being the new profiled trigger.
Specifically to talk about the grip extension having that additional basically seven hundred and fifty thousandths, three quarters of an inch, sticking out of the grip on the front of the weapon in the form of that extension gives the shooter basically more leverage to control recoil.
Cheaper Than Dirt: And just one more finger is sometimes all you need to have a more effective grip.
Tell us about the trigger design because I have seen, especially some female shooters shooting these little double action pistols, that it can be difficult with that really long trigger pull to actually be able to pull the trigger. What is the trigger change that you have made, how does it help reduce the trigger pull?
Phil Cashin: It just made the shooting experience more comfortable on the trigger finger. What we did is change some of the radiuses on the bottom of the trigger. We are able to extend the length of the trigger to eliminate the amount of gap between the bottom of the trigger and the trigger guard. It’s now measured in the thousandths. When the gun is being fired, what it does is keep the trigger finger on the trigger and off of the trigger guard.
Cheaper Than Dirt: That’s important. For those that haven’t fired many double action pistols, your finger actually slides down the trigger as its pulled.
Phil Cashin: That’s exactly right, yes.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Your design makes this a little bit more comfortable?
Phil Cashin: On these double action only pistols, the trigger is positioned on a hinge or on a pin at the top of the trigger. Basically it swings as a pendulum. When the trigger is moved back towards the rear of the receiver then the finger naturally is going to slide down towards the bottom. The path of least resistance is moving the finger towards the bottom of the trigger.
With the new design, what we have done is we have changed the radius on the bottom of the trigger and we actually were able to lengthen to the trigger to keep the finger on the trigger during the shooting sequence rather than sliding off or making some contact with the trigger guard.
With the return of the slide forward and then the return of the trigger forward, it basically eliminates that friction that would occur between the bottom of the trigger finger and the top of the trigger guard.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We have seen some reviews already come out about the .380 Protector, and one thing that I have seen people complain about is the magazine and dry firing the pistol. Your design is very unique. Tell us about the magazine design and how it interacts with the trigger spring.
Phil Cashin: The way the gun is designed, you have the trigger and you have a boss on the trigger. How the trigger interacts with the hammer is that you have a trigger bar, which basically is a CNC laser cut piece of spring steel, that really attaches the two to each other, and then you have a torsion spring that returns the trigger back forward at the end of the shooting cycle.
You then have a shield that goes on the top of the trigger bar and the torsion spring, and then basically sandwiches that end of the mechanism together below the grip.
On the underside, that trigger bar is right inside of the magwell. Because of the size of the weapon you have limited amount of space to accomplish you know the design principle of the weapon. When the magazine is in the weapon it somewhat acts as the retaining feature for the trigger bar and holds the trigger bar in place on the trigger and the hammer.
When someone is dry firing the weapon without the magazine in place, then the correction is quite simple. You take the flat head screw or the fastener out of the grip, you take the grip off and take the shield off and basically reattach the trigger bar onto the hammer and the trigger. It takes about thirty seconds to do it.
Cheaper Than Dirt: To be clear, it’s not that people cannot dry fire the pistol, and it’s not that if you do dry fire the pistol with the magazine removed that it will break, it’s simply that the parts won’t be in the correct configuration, at which point you have disassemble and reassemble in the correct order right?
Phil Cashin: That’s correct. What it really gets down to is the intended use of the weapon and functionality. Obviously if this had any negative effect whatsoever on the function of the weapon under its intended use, then the design would have been changed. Under normal shooting experiences you are always going to have the magazine in place when you are pulling the trigger. When you are firing the weapon you are going to have the magazine and the magwell, and there is typically going to be ammo in the magazine when you are going to be shooting the weapon.
If you look at an abnormal situation, let’s say for whatever reason the shooter removes the magazine from the weapon and there is still a round left in the chamber. That’s worst case scenario if for some reason that the shooter takes the magazine out prematurely or it’s the last shot or whatever the case may be, it will absolutely still fire.
After that there is a chance that the trigger bar will come off, but then at that point in time you know the intended function of the weapon is done. In 100% of all normal shooting techniques and usages of the weapon, that condition cannot and will not happen. It has never happened.
Cheaper Than Dirt: It’s important to point out that unlike some other firearms that intentionally are rendered inoperable with the magazine removed, the Protector can still fire with the magazine removed.
Phil Cashin: The Protector can still fire the last round. That’s right.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Which has rendered your lifesaving tool useless. Now the Protector is not really designed for combat reloads though?
Phil Cashin: That is correct. The basic thing behind the mag design is, this is not a combat pistol. If a person is carrying a weapon and they feel it is necessary to carry extra magazines, it’s important to remember that ours is a backup gun. It’s a close quarters gun. It’s not a gun that the policeman is going to take into a fire fight or a soldier is going to use in combat. It’s a gun that you are going to use when you are in very close quarters and you know typically you are going to fire one full magazine of ammo. One design that seems to be prevalent on a lot of these .380 is the mag release mechanism. It is a very simple and very inexpensive way of designing it, and one that we actually did consider, but the downside that it presents is the problem of premature mag release.
Cheaper Than Dirt: If I am carrying one of those polymer ones in my pocket, one thing that can happen is that when it is pressed against your body the magazine catch can be depressed. When you go to pull the gun, the magazine just pops out.
Phil Cashin: Yes, and if you really think about that, that is going to happen in that scenario in all weapons nearly ninety nine percent of the time. However, when you get into its intended use in protecting your life in a close quarters situation, the last thing in the world you want to have to worry about is whether or not the magazine is going to be in the weapon when you pull it out.
There are two situations where the magazine can cause a problem. One, like you say that, if you sit on the weapon. The other situation can occur when you are grabbing the weapon to pull it out of your pocket holster or, depending on your state laws, if you are just pulling the weapon out of your pocket and you are doing so in a quick manner because of the situation that you are in. Even if you are just practicing for that potential situation that could occur, your thumb, if you are a right handed shooter, is going to be right where the mag catch is located. On a button type system when you grab the weapon and you are squeezing the weapon to get a good grip on it, and you have adrenaline going through your body and your thumb is right at the location of the mag release button, if you push the button in then you have got either a no shot or, at best, a one shot pistol.
Cheaper Than Dirt: With your design then you are officially basically reducing the number of points of failure.
Phil Cashin: Yes, because ours is not a push button type, it’s a rear slide type. You basically have to slide the mag catch button backwards towards the rear of the receiver. What that does is it pull the notch free so that the magazine could come out. You cannot push down on our mag release button to get the magazine to come out. You actually have to have to take your finger and slide it back.
Cheaper Than Dirt: Did you include a slide lock on the Protector?
Phil Cashin: No there is no slide lock.
Cheaper Than Dirt: And that’s just because of space requirements I assume?
Phil Cashin: For this type of weapon we just didn’t see that it was necessary to have a slide lock or a last round hold-open design.
Cheaper Than Dirt: There is really only one control on the weapon then, and that’s the trigger.
Phil Cashin: That’s correct.
Cheaper Than Dirt: What other new products here we look forward to seeing from Masterpiece Arms?
Phil Cashin: We have our Defender line, and one of the things that we just came out with recently is the Mini 9 Tactical Carbine, which is based on what is probably our most popular Defender, the Mini 9. It has a limited quadrail and it has a low profile fully machined buttstock and comes with a holographic sight and a vertical foregrip. It’s like a tactical package and we introduced that right here at the beginning of the year in the SHOT show.
With the Protector series we are in the process of developing a 9mm version of the .380 Protector.
Cheaper Than Dirt: A big brother to that little 380?
Phil Cashin: That’s correct; yeah it will be slightly larger in size but still have the same in design methods, principles and the look of our Protector series.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We didn’t really talk about it that much, but you also have the Protector available in .32 ACP
Phil Cashin: That’s correct, yeas.
That’s a very small percentage of our sales, and probably not rightfully so. For a female shooter, unless she is quite experienced, the .32 is a more easily controlled round. It has less recoil, and with the new ammunition technology that is out there the .32 can do some damage. I want to be able get one.
Cheaper Than Dirt: As they say, the gun you have is always better than the gun you don’t?
Phil Cashin: That’s absolutely correct.
Cheaper Than Dirt: I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us about Masterpiece and some of your new products and explaining a little bit about the Protector line.
Phil Cashin: It’s my pleasure. The basic theme of what we do at Masterpiece is really just the accuracy and the reliability that goes into the manufacturing techniques and the engineering of the products. It really has enhanced the enjoyment of shooting the weapon, especially in our Defender line, and of course there is the reliability of the Protectors.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You have really proven that you know you don’t have to pay you know a whole lot of money to get a really high quality, fully machined, reliable pistol.
Phil Cashin: Our ability to get our manufacturing costs down, to manufacture everything internally, has allowed us to focus on that particular price range. It’s a good price point, and one that we feel comfortable with. We feel we have a slight advantage over a polymer design when it comes to the price, quality, and reliability we can offer.
Cheaper Than Dirt: You know, sometimes people see a gun that’s priced fairly low, and they see that price and think to themselves “That can’t be a high quality firearm.”
How do you deal with that, what do we tell customers when they ask us how MasterPiece Arms can afford to produce a quality arm at such a low price?
Phil Cashin: That’s a great observation. Really how overcome that stigma is just to continue to produce a quality product. By doing that we continue to bolster the good reputation of the weapon. People are going to find problems no matter what, whether it is in that trigger bar issue, or something else. We really have spent an enormous amount of time evaluating the weapon to create practical defensive handgun. If there was anything that had a negative effect on the function of weapon in a defensive situation, we would have changed it.
Outside of that it is just a matter of getting the weapons into the hands of the dealers, distributors, the gun blogs that are out there, and the various gun writers.
Cheaper Than Dirt: We have got our own model of the Protector in .380 and we are going to reviewing it soon as well as posting some videos on it.
Listen, I think that’s about all I have got for you, and I want to thank you again for your time and the insights you’ve given us into MasterPiece Arms and your development of this wonderful little pocket pistol.
As we approach the launch of the first episode of Down Zero TV, here at the Shooter’s Log you’re getting a first look at one of the main guns we’ll be using on Down Zero TV. This year, Sig re-booted the P250 line by adding a variety of new grip frames to the line. For only $45, you can have a large, medium, or small grip frame for your Sig P250. The guns also come in three barrel sizes, from sub-compact with it’s 3.5 inch barrel, compact with a 4ish-inch barrel, to the pictured full-size gun which has a 5 inch barrel. Each barrel size can be shared with the different size grip frames, creating a platform that can be interchanged to fit your needs.
But the really neat thing about the P250 is the modularity of the system – it’s really like LEGO for grownups. The trigger group is the serialized part on the P250, meaning that in the eyes of the ATF, the only “gun” is the trigger group, and you can buy and ship frames at will. My P250 is a 9mm for IDPA SSP and Bianchi Cup Production division, but if I wanted to change it up to a .40 S&W for Limited-10, I could simply buy a caliber exchange kit and some .40 mags and be off to the races.
Right now, we’re waiting on holsters for the P250. That’s currently the only major drawback to the gun. When Sig relaunched it, they changed the rail system on the front so that many of the previous holsters no longer fit the gun; that means that you have to be very careful with your holster selection or risk having a holster that straight up won’t fit your gun. For Down Zero TV, we’re going to try a cross-section of leather and kydex holsters for the P250, to help owners out there get an idea of what is going to work well for their gun.
While the Sig P250 hasn’t endured a severe round count yet – its partner in the tests is going to be the Sig 1911 Tactical Operations I’ve been talking about at Gun Nuts. The Sig was literally picked up from the FFL on Tuesday, and once we get holsters in for it you can expect to see a lot more of the P250 out on the range.
Unlike IDPA, which uses a fixed 90 round course of fire as the classifier, USPSA uses a rotating array of classifier stages. Usually one classifier stage will be inserted in every club match, and a shooter needs to shoot a minimum of four classifiers in one division to achieve a USPSA classification. From time to time, clubs will hold special “classifier matches” where the bulk of the stages will be classifiers, which allows shooters who are unclassified to quickly get classified.
Classifier stages themselves are broken down into “skill tests”, and while shooting a classifier well doesn’t mean that you can shoot a 32 round field course well, it does mean that your shooting fundamentals (such as sight picture, trigger control, etc) are generally solid. Most classifiers will also test your ability to reload, which is imperative for pretty much every division except Open and Limited. To help with that, we’re going to break down CM99-42 Fast’n Furious.
Fast’n Furious is a very simple classifier stage that can cause a lot of problems for shooters. Right off the bat, the shooter is faced with a choice – start on the weak hand side of the barricade, or the strong hand side? I personally choose to start on the weak hand side of the barricade. While this slows down my draw slightly, it speeds up the reload as it’s much faster for me to reload as I move back to my strong side. So for decision number 1, I recommend starting on the weak-hand side.
Decision number 2 is “Steel or paper first?” Once you’ve picked which side to start and finish on, you have to decide whether or not you’re going to shoot the poppers or the paper targets first. For Revolver and Single Stack shooters, the choice is clear cut: steel first. If you’re running a revolver, you cannot afford a miss here, but in the off chance that you do it’s better to engage the steel first so that you’ve got enough rounds to get them down. In a perfect world though, you don’t miss the steel and shoot exactly six rounds on each side. Production/L10 shooters (and of course Limited and Open) could shoot either first – if I was running L10 I’d draw and shoot the paper first, because I can get a faster presentation on a paper target than I can on the steel popper. So decision number 2: which targets first is steel for SS/Revo, and paper first for everyone else.
Once you make your decisions on how to shoot it, all that’s left is execution. The critical parts of this classifier are 1) not missing the steel, 2) sticking your reload, and 3) getting good first shots on your draw and after your reload. If you can do all that, you’ll post a great score!
Wanna show off your AR style rifle? Want to win some free stuff? Of course you do!
We’re holding our first ever Firearm Beauty Contest. That’s right, just submit a photo of your AR style rifle to our Facebook Page and you could win a $50 gift certificate from Cheaper Than Dirt! This contest is open to any AR platform, including piston guns, AR pistols, and non-standard calibers and configurations such as the AR-10, LR-308, R-25, etc.
Here are the rules:
Post an image of your AR-15 based rifle to our Facebook Wall.
In the description make sure you have the phrase “AR-15 Beauty Contest”
Have your friends click “Like” on your photo
The fan photo with the most “Likes” at the end of the month (Contest ends April 30th) will win a $50 Gift Certificate from Cheaper Than Dirt!
One entry per person, please!
Keep all entries “Family Friendly” please! If you wouldn’t want your own mother to see it, it’s probably not appropriate for our contest.
That’s it! We’ll continue to have monthly contests, with each month featuring a different type of firearm, so if you don’t own an AR, don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to show off your firearms at a later date.
Once again we’re continuing our series on assembling your own AR-15 lower receiver. The next step in the process is the installation of the selector, detent and spring, and pistol grip.
To begin the installation, first cock the hammer. Do not let the hammer fall and strike the lower, as it may cause damage.
Insert the selector through the hole in the left side of the receiver.
Flip the receiver over and insert the selector detent with the pointed side toward the selector. Insert the detent spring into the pistol grip. Install the pistol grip onto the receiver. Ensure that the detent spring does not bind as it is placed into the detent hole.
Install the grip screw with washer.
Check the selector for proper operation. Move the selector to safe and pull the trigger. The hammer should not fall. Move the selector to fire and, with your finger over the hammer, pull the trigger. Make sure to catch the hammer as it is sprung forward to prevent it from striking the lower. Keep holding the trigger back and then cock the hammer. It should be engaged by the disconnecter when the trigger is released. Flip the selector back to “safe” and repeat this process.