Thursday, June 27, 2013

Learning the 1911: Pedal to the Floor

Due to some range limitations on the indoor ranges I frequent, yesterday was the first time to really run the R1 as fast as I can with some Bill Drills. I was also testing a new IWB holster, a Safariland Model 18. My focus for the day, using the advice of Todd Green in my Learning the 1911 Part 2 post, was to work on speed. I can work slow fire at indoor ranges, but really can't open it up unless I am on an outdoor range and that doesn't happen as often as I would like. So I loaded up and started working single shot draws, then a few 2 round draws. My best draw to first shot was 1.48 seconds, which is pretty normal for me. After that I started hitting some full fledged Bill Drills at 7 yards on a USPSA target.

I will be honest, those split times blew my mind. I had no expectation of being that fast. I have never run splits that fast that I am aware of. My slowest was a 0.20!! That is usually my fastest. On both of those strings I dropped one round in the C zone which means that is my limit, or actually just beyond it, but it is better than I expected. It also proves a point that Todd Green made on his own blog about the strengths of the 1911 trigger being running at the ends of the spectrum, either super fast, or super slow for max accuracy.

Next time I think I will see how it does in that middle ground around 20-30 yards just to have a performance benchmark. Quite honestly, I don't spend much shooting time there.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The little things...

In 1911's there is a thing called a Vertical Impact Surface (VIS). It is where the lower barrel lugs contact the frame to stop the rearward movement of the barrel. There is a fair amount of stress on the lower lugs during this process, so some manufacturers in order to mitigate the effects of that stress use what is generally referred to as a "bow tie" cut. A portion of the VIS is relieved so that the only the upper portion of the lower barrel lugs contact the frame. It is called a "bow tie" cut because it leaves a shape resembling a bow tie at the top of the VIS. By doing this, the strongest part of the lower lug is bearing the load and it minimizes the amount of leverage the forces have on the lugs. If the lower part of the lugs contacts the frame not only is that the narrowest and weakest part of the lug, but also being the furthest away from the base of the barrel it creates greater stresses on the lug. Over time, with this increased stress, the lower lugs will shear away from the barrel or otherwise become damaged.

From my understanding, some models of the Remington R1 do not have a "bow tie" cut, or did not have a "bow tie" cut. There was also some issue of the bevel between the barrel bed and VIS that is supposed to provide clearance for where the lower lugs lie into the base of the barrel being too large. Which if a specific gun did not have a "bow tie" cut on the VIS would prevent one from being added because it removed too much of the upper half of the VIS.

My sample of 1 happens to have a "bow tie" cut and while the same type of bevel is there, it is not as large. I am not certain if this is a disparity between the base model R1 and the Enhanced version, or if there has been a production change. Rumors floating around the Internet are pretty inconsistent. Just be wary of older production R1's or base model R1's. They may or may not have a properly machined VIS.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Miculek Awesomeness

Just stumbled across this video today. Pretty good information and some outstanding shooting. I would love to spend an afternoon on the range with Jerry Miculek.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Different Things Work for Different People Differently

I was reading on Gun Nuts today (great blog by the way) about Bob Vogel's pistol class and how he emphasis the grip. Interestingly enough, I took a class from Mike Seeklander earlier this year and he also emphasised the grip. From what I gathered in Tim's post on Gun Nuts, Bob and Mike have different approaches as far as technique, but the results seems to be pretty similar. You can check the article at Gun Nuts for video of Vogel and here is video of Mike Seeklander running a G19.

For info on how Seeklander teaches the grip he has a youtube video.

This is a great example of why we should try to experience different instructors. I would be willing to go out a limb and say both guys have the same, or similar goal as far as shooting; to perform at a very high level. I would also be willing to say that both guys do just that. But in this case, they have two very different approaches to the same thing. Which tells me different things work differently for different people. In order for us as individuals to find what works best for us, we have to do a little exploring sometimes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

10-8 Extractor Test, Take 2

After last weeks struggles with the 10-8 Performance extractor test I made a slight tension adjustment to the extractor. I followed the advice in these two videos.

My extractor is currently set where it will hold an empty case pretty well. I have to shake it fairly hard to get it to come out.

Today, I ran the extractor test again.

Leave it to a 1911 to make me out to be a liar. The last couple times I have run this test, it has passed the freestyle portion of the test. Not this time though with 2 malfunctions. Not sure what the deal is there. It does do better on the SHO portion, but still not a pass.

I could add more tension to the extractor and see what happens. I guess eventually I would end up getting fail to feed malfunctions, but for now, I think I am going to leave it the way it is. I am wondering if maybe it is not a tension issue, but something in the profile of the extractor claw. I am not ready to cross that bridge. My comfort zone with the 1911 does not include filing on parts yet. Maybe someone who knows more than I do can jump in on that one. If the gun continues to run like it has under normal shooting conditions, I may not make anymore changes.  Or I may buy an aftermarket extractor and firing pin stop to mess around with.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Learning the 1911 Part 2

The trigger system on the 1911 is both a blessing and a curse to me. Running the gun fast at closer ranges on moderately sized targets I really have to remain of my trigger control. I am not sure if it is just being used to Glock triggers and not yet being fully transitioned over to the 1911 or just my style of shooting and the SAO trigger, but I have developed a slight, pre-ignition push (aka anticipation). At further distances or when shooting a slower pace for precision, I love the SAO trigger. It makes the work easy.

As evidenced by the video below, I am shooting right around 0.35 splits on a 6"x6" scoring zone at 7 yards. If you slow the video down to quarter speed though, you can see the muzzle dip just slightly right before shots 3 and 4 break. It could actually be that I am having to fight the gun a little bit under recoil because I am still working the kinks out of my grip, or it could just be the "shoot right now" trigger is throwing me off. Either way, I have much work to do. I need some more ammo.

Remington R1 and the 10-8 Extractor Test

As I have learned more and more about the 1911 platform over the past month or so, a go to source for information has 10-8 Performance and the Modern Service Weapon blog. The 10-8 Performance guys are well known for their 1911 specific courses and putting out good aftermarket product. They obviously know what they are doing (now they just need to have a class in Arkansas).

One of the tests that they use to ensure 100% function of a 1911 is the extractor test. Typically, this test is referred to as the 10-8 Extractor Test, but if I have my story right, it did not originate with them but rather with Ken Hackathorn. Supposedly the test is also used by Larry Vickers and Wilson Combat as a quality assurance measure. The test consist of two phases, shooting 8 rounds, one round at a time, without the magazine inserted in a normal shooting stance with a two handed grip and the second phase is repeating, but shooting strong hand only. You can read more about the test here.

The R1 passes the first phase, has twice now, but has consistently failed the SHO phase.

I have adjusted tension on the extractor prior to this test to where I think it is about right according to information gleaned from this article by Bill Wilson. If anyone knows what they are doing, I imagine he does. Considering the results of my extractor test, I am guessing it needs just a touch more tension. Will update once I am able to hit the range again. My supply of .45 ACP is dwindling, so I have to pace myself.

Other than malfunctions during the extractor test, the gun has been 100%, but the round count is still pretty meager at 258.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Press Check: When and Why

I have a friend who is not a fan of press checks. I know of one other instructor who is the same way. I personally have no issue with press checks, if used properly. Firearms are mechanical devices, doomed to eventual failure by their very nature. Mechanical devices get worn out, bent, dented, whatever. Eventually they stop working as they should. That is why you will hear some people refer to a press check as a status check. There are two ways to confirm a round is in the chamber ready to go. Press the trigger and the gun goes bang. Good chance there WAS a round in the chamber if the gun goes bang, no guarantee there is one now though. Or press check.

Some people will argue that the press check is a gamer thing to do. It is something done by shooters who compete. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I know that certainly isn't where I learned to do it. I learned to do it from a long time SWAT operator from a local PD and another SWAT operator from the State Police. Neither of which are gamers. Their reasoning, the same as the first paragraph. Mechanical devices fail, if there is something we can do within reason to ensure proper function or status at least up to a point, then it is generally a good idea. Can we eliminate the potential for failure all together, no, we can't. We can only try to stack the odds in our favor as much as possible.

Now this part is important. There is a time to do a press check, and there is a time not to do a press check. It is very important to keep these times separate. I will press check when initially loading my gun for the day before I head out the door. That is the only time I press check. I do not press check in competitions, I do not press check when I run drills at the range. The press check is a very deliberate and a purely administrative task. Where some people get a little too wrapped up is they will press check ALL THE TIME. That I do not agree with. If it becomes a habit I may look, but not truly see anything, and not realize it. The less I do it, the better off I will be because I want to make sure I have to think about it when I do it. But, I still have to do it, at least once.

Overreliance on the Long Gun

Several months ago I started to write a post about what I believe a duty or defensive carry handgun/shooter combination should be capable of doing. I never finished that post (the distractions of life) but recently the topic has come back up as it relates to shooting at distance with a friend who is former LE from the east coast. I believe that any handgun being carried for duty or defensive use should be capable of getting C zone hits from 50 yards in the hands of whoever it is that will be carrying it. Some, in fact probably many, would argue that there is no way you could make an argument for self defense if your bad guy is 50 yards away. I would argue that 1) it depends on how your state law is written and whether it allows defense of a 3rd party and 2) if said bad guy has a rifle, I bet you would think otherwise, especially if he has half a clue about how to use it.

To be extra clear, I am not saying go find a gunfight, what I am saying is that there are plenty of circumstances where I might be forced to engage at a further than normal distance. In my experience, 50 yards is not that far. There have been many times where I may be 50 yards away from a family member or friend at a store or some type of event. When I go to the mall, I don't always have my family in my hip pocket, sometimes we aren't even in the same shop. I would assume that to be pretty normal.

So getting back to the point of the post. The reason we carry handguns is because they are convenient. They fit in nice little holsters that go on our belts or in our pockets and can be hidden from view. A long gun isn't quite as easy to carry, and definitely not as easy to conceal, so we don't usually carry them on our person even though the long gun is generally superior to the handgun in every way. What that means is we have to rely on our handguns to solve problems that in training we would probably typically solve with a long gun. This is probably especially true of law enforcement. The long gun probably stays stashed in the patrol car, but what if you can't get back to the patrol car in a reasonable amount of time to deploy the long gun? You just have to work with what you have.
So this is where we run into our problem. We are faced with a problem that would normally be solved with a more capable weapon (a long gun), but all we have is a handgun. Do I just not solve the problem and let the events run their course, which probably means I lose a family member or friend? Do I try to reposition myself so I can solve the problem? But that eats up valuable time and gives the bad guy opportunity to counter. Or do I try to make sure ahead of time that even though it may be less than ideal, I can still solve the problem with what I have on me at the time, a handgun?

50yd w/G21
I kind of think of it like this. I would like to have that calculator to solve this fairly complex math problem that just got put in front of me with 3 seconds to solve or someone dies, but I don't. Instead I have to solve it the old fashioned way. If I am good at math and working problems in my head, probably not an issue, if I am not good at working problems in my head because I always use a calculator for these types of problems I might be in trouble.

Not to be misunderstood, I am not saying shooting at longer distance should be a training priority over more typical distances. But, it should not be ignored either and if we are smart about how we train, we can usually kill two birds with one stone. All shooting at distance is, is understanding the fundamental concepts of shooting and applying them. That is all it is. We should be practicing that anyway.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First Shots

So far, the R1 only has 200 rounds through it. A mix of 230gr FMJ or various manufacturers and 75 rounds of Remington 185gr Bonded Golden Saber. Despite my best efforts, it took me over a week after buying the R1 to get it on the range. The up side is I had plenty of time to do my homework. From what I could learn, the R1 came from the factory with an extractor that was a little on the loose side. I left it alone for the time being, until I could run it through the 10-8 performance extractor test.

The very first rounds downrange were two magazines of the Bonded Golden Saber. No problems. Next two magazines where the 10-8 test. Not to my surprise, the R1 failed the test. Had a couple cases eject through the mag well shooting freestyle, and several stovepipes shooting SHO. Oh well, about what I expected from my initial inspection of the gun.

For the remainder of the range trip I didn't have anymore issues. When shooting under normal operating conditions (with magazine inserted) there haven't been any malfunctions. Toward the end of the day, I repeated the freestyle version of the 10-8 extractor test with the Bonded Golden Saber and the R1 passed. I imagine it has something to do with a change in slide velocity from the anemic 230gr FMJ target loads and a full power defensive load.