Tag Archives: modern pistols

On the .40 S&W

.40 S&W is an interesting cartridge. It started as a shortened version of the reduced-power load of the 10mm Auto round, and it’s often been branded as “short and weak”. On the other hand, it’s been a bridge in the caliber debates between .45 “size/weight guys” and 9mm “capacity/velocity guys”. It’s now fallen out of vogue somewhat. Let’s take a look.

The .40 S&W has been a super popular law enforcement caliber for the past twenty years or so. The FBI led the adoption. In the .40, for a round a trifle bigger than 9 mm, cops got a more powerful round that was a lot more effective. But the overall length was similar to that of 9 mm, so you didn’t need a big frame like 10 mm auto did. This meant that smaller hands had a chance of controlling guns firing the .40 round with good technique. And it could happily pass all of the FBI’s ballistics tests where 9 mm generally couldn’t.

But technology advances. By now, 9 mm hollow point rounds have caught up with .40, and can also meet the FBI’s ballistics test standards. This makes the advantages of the 9 mm round readily apparent:

  1. More rounds1
  2. Lower cost
  3. Lower recoil

That said, the .40 still holds some advantages over the 9 mm round. Clearly, if you are a LEO, your agency might issue something in .40. In which case, it behooves you to carry and practice with .40. And if you just like the round, by all means. Carry it. I’m not going to stop you.

  1. Makes Major power factor easily
  2. Does very well against intermediate barriers.

Let’s pull these apart. For USPSA and similar competitions, shots landing outside the A-zone of the target are penalized less if your power factor is high enough to “make major.” Power factor equals bullet weight in grains times velocity in feet per second divided by 1,000. Presently, it must be over 165 to make major. It is possible to do this with a 9 mm round carefully loaded, but this is somewhat dangerous, as you’re exceeding the pressure specs for the cartridge, with all the hazards that entails. Most commercial .40 loads will easily make Major, and it’s also a lot easier to handload .40 rounds that make major. As a result, .40 S&W is a popular caliber for competitors.

Intermediate barriers are pesky things you need to get to in order to reach your target, like auto bodies. For a CCW holder, this probably won’t be an issue that often. But it might be for law enforcement agencies, and it’s a reasonable consideration for issue weapons.

So, while 9 mm might make more sense, .40 is still an effective choice. If you like it, rock on. If you don’t, there are other choices that work well too. And it’s a great way to make major.

For the curious, I own an M&P 40, and might make another for open division gun games. I usually carry and train with 9 mm.

  1. Two more rounds in Glocks and M&Ps, more in some other designs. I don’t think two rounds difference is all that much better. It is better though. And other designs have a bigger spread, which might become significant. 

Wilson Combat’s New EDC X9

The double stack 1911, colloquially known as a “2011”, is super popular amongst competitive shooters. And for good reason. Combining the short, light, tunable 1911-type trigger with modern magazine capacities is a winning recipe. The problem is in the magazines. They’re not reliable. Want ones that work? Be prepared to shell out $140 per tuned magazine. And don’t drop them in the dirt. And there’s not any kind of overinsertion stop on the magazines, so if you jam them in with the slide locked back, you can jam them inside the gun, and you’ll need tools to get it out. Have fun.

Wilson Combat is working to change that. They’re about to release a brand new pistol: the EDC X91. It’s chambered in 9 mm. It’s got that 1911 SAO trigger goodness. And best of all, it uses reliable, modified PPQ M22 mags. Yes, that’s right. A 2011 with cheap, reliable mags.

It should sell well at it’s price point of a trifle under $3000. I’m sure competitors would prefer it in .40 for that major power factor scoring. And it’s competing with a bunch of tuned limited and open guns at that price. But they don’t take reliable magazines.

  1. The preorder page at Shooters Connection has gone live, and you can find photographs there. 
  2. Earlier versions of this article had these as Beretta M9 magazines. Our initial source was in error, and that is incorrect. They aren’t the M9 magazines, but a derivative of the PPQ magazine made by Mec-Gar (Who also makes OEM PPQ magazines for Walther. 

New VP Pistols from HK

I’m a big fan of the VP9. It’s a great pistol at a good price point. It has the best ergonomics around, an excellent trigger, and it handles recoil well. Of course, there are always things people want.

And HK has listened.1

The new models (currently released in the European SFP- series nomenclature, because someone else has the trademark for VP- there) are as follows:

  1. A longslide model (SFP9L/VP9L). Because who doesn’t like competition-y longslide versions. More sight radius is better. Also, longslide pistols look cool. Right now it looks like HK has done lightening to the longslide without adding a bunch of holes for mud to get into. Which isn’t a big deal for most, but is still nice for those of us who take classes in Somme-like conditions with sadistic shooting instructors.
  2. A subcompact model (SFP9SK/VP9SK). A smaller backup gun that can take the same magazines as its bigger brother. Yay. Interestingly, this will probably have a good sight radius for its size class due to how the slide is designed. I know lots of people have been wanting this
  3. An optics-ready model (SFP9OR/VP9OR). It’s got the interchangeable slide plates for a bunch of common optics, right from the factory. Pistol optics are cool

Am I interested? Of course I am. There are also two other pistol options available that aren’t of much interest to me, but might be of interest to you:

  1. Optional button mag release instead of the paddles. Hopefully this takes the same magazines. I guess HK got tired of people complaining. I like the paddles, but finally an option for those who don’t.
  2. Optional thumb safety. Yes, Virginia, it’s frame mounted. And it also looks nicely shaped to be easily accessible, but not in your way. I don’t care for these, but you might. So here’s the option for you.

Finally, HK is introducing new, bigger, badder, factory 20 round magazines. Score. I love me some extended magazines.

  1. This is a record for fastest turnaround time from Oberndorf. Give them a round of applause ladies and gentlemen. 

Battle Royale 2: M9 vs P320

Let’s compare the US Army’s old M9 to their new P320s1. I’ve got a P320F Tacops2 and Fishbreath has an M9, so we’re going to do a comparison.

We’ll start with the M9. The M9 is alloy framed, and has a double action trigger. In double action mode, the trigger has a pull weight of about 11 lbs, and in single action mode it has a pull weight of about 6 lbs. It has a frame mounted safety/decocker, a fixed forward sight, and an adjustable rear sight. The fixed front sight cannot be easily replaced with a tritium sight or a fiber optic sight.3 It does not have an underbarrel accessory rail. Side grip panels can be changed, though the grip is pretty fat.4 Small-handed users may find the safety/decocker or the trigger (in double action) hard to reach. Standard magazines come in 15 round capacity.

The P320 is polymer framed, and has a striker fired trigger. Its trigger pull is rather short and somewhat heavy at about 7.5 lbs when compared to other striker fired pistols. It is modular, and can be converted to the subcompact or compact models by swapping frame, slide, and barrel. Front and rear sights are both dovetailed, and are therefore easy to change out. There are three sizes of grip available for a given frame length, so small-handed users can find something that will work for them.

On to the direct comparison!

How do they shoot: Trigger?
This isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The P320 trigger is almost like a heavy SAO trigger. It’s short. About 7.5 lbs. The M9 has that double action trigger. The P320’s will be easier to shoot well, for some given definition of “well”5. The M9 will be more resistant to negligent discharges from poor handling habits. Your preference will determine which you prefer. I have not yet met a striker fired trigger or a double action trigger that will convert those who dislike the system.

How do they shoot: Recoil?
Both are full sized guns. The M9 is heavier, so it will absorb recoil better. Not that the 9 mm is some kind of superhot round.

How do the ergonomics compare?
P320 gets the nod here. It’s newer. It’s got interchangeable frames, which you can replace for about $40. So it’s very easy to get one stippled or reshaped, or try to do so yourself. Plus, there are three sizes available (note that only the medium sized one comes in the box). The aluminum structure of the M9 frame restricts grip size somewhat. You can get thinner grip panels, but that’s about it. People with normal sized hands or larger will not have trouble with either gun. People with small hands will have an easier time getting the P320 to a place that works for them. Also, the M9’s mag release is quite low, and trickier to reach. It requires a good bit of grip shifting. Aftermarket options are available to remedy this. The P320 has a nicely sized mag release that is easy to press as it comes from the factory.

How does the aftermarket compare?
It’s a pretty mixed bag. You can find cheap mags for the M9, if you don’t mind 15 rounders. MecGar makes 18 rounders which are quite good. SIG makes 17 round (standard) and 22 round extended magazines for the P320F. There are a reasonable number of sight options available for the P320. M9 front sight work requires a drill press. Wilson Combat makes a good number of aftermarket M9 parts to improve the trigger. Only Grey Guns does P320 trigger work, and they’re annoyingly closed about such things. Only now are they starting to release parts for DIY trigger work. Overall, I think the M9 wins by a little bit, but not by much. The P320 should get better given the US Military contract. Emphasis on should. Neither is looking to give Glock a run for its money in the customization department anytime soon.

And now, it’s time for the Main Event of the Evening!

Which should you buy?
Unlike my first Battle Royale, this one is a lot harder to call. It comes down to this: Which trigger do you prefer? If you like double action triggers, buy an M9 like Fishbreath, and drive on. If you prefer striker fired triggers, buy a P320 and call it a day.

  1. At the time of writing, P320s aren’t available to the general public with thumb safeties, so mine lacks this feature. Also, I don’t like it on striker fired pistols, so I wouldn’t get one if it was available. 
  2. Comes with 22 round extended magazines, TFX front sight, and Siglite rear sights. Otherwise it’s a regular P320F. 
  3. This problem is corrected on the M9A3, which has a front sight dovetail, and sights can be changed by the user. This isn’t what the Army has though, so it’s only of interest if you’re buying one. The M9A3 is also a lot more expensive. 
  4. Also corrected in the M9A3, which uses the Vertec-type grip. 
  5. Fishbreath disagrees, providing the following remark: “Striker-fired triggers are better than a DA pistol’s double action trigger and much worse than a DA pistol’s single-action trigger.” 

Review: ETS 22-round Glock magazines

For a while I didn’t understand the point of aftermarket Glock magazines. Factory Glock magazines are really cheap. Factory Glock magazines are reliable. Saving a couple bucks on some other brand’s magazine didn’t make sense to me. And that was before I read a ton of unfavorable reviews about crappy Korean-made aftermarket mags and others that don’t work.

Then I found these ETS magazines. They’ve gotten generally positive reviews, and have a lot of things going for them. They seem to actually work for people. And they come in more sizes than the Glock standard 17 round and 33 round massively large magazine for full size pistols. I bought a few 22-round (9mm) magazines to see for myself what they were like.

On the ETS website, you will notice that they not only makes the 33-round “Happy Sticks” and the standard magazine sizes (17 rounds for full size, 15 for compact, 10 for subcompact, various reduced-load variants for evil communist hippie states), but they also make magazines targeted at competitive shooters. If you shoot Limited division in USPSA or Practical division in 3-gun nation, your pistol magazines must have a height less than 141.25 mm (colloquially referred to as “140 mm magazines”). USPSA Open division shooters are limited to mags that are less than 171.25 mm tall (colloquially referred to as “170 mm magazines”). Happily, ETS highlights in the product name their 140 mm and 170 mm compliant offerings. For the record, their 140 mm magazines hold 22 rounds of 9 mm, and their 170 mm magazines hold 27 rounds of 9 mm.1

The magazines themselves are made out of transparent, smoke-colored plastic. There’s no metal liner like on factory Glock mags. The ETS mags seem durable enough to me, but I haven’t driven over them or used them for many years yet. Transparent is nice because it lets you see and count your bullets, no matter how you pull the mag out of the gun. Also, they look really cool. In terms of guts, they take the same followers and the same sort of springs as standard Glock magazines. Clearly these are longer, so you’d want longer springs. But if you wanted to replace them with Wolff extra power Glock magazine springs, no problem. Also, the floorplates are the same design as factory Glock magazine floorplates. So if you want more weight to help them drop free better, you can add any existing aftermarket metal “+0” floorplate for Glock magazines.

I experienced no problems in my use of these magazines. I could load 22 rounds, as advertised. I had no trouble inserting fully loaded magazines, or getting empty magazines to drop free. The slide locked back appropriately on an empty magazine. There were no feeding problems to report.

I did not “stress test” these magazines by stomping them in mud or driving over them. I did drop them onto concrete a couple times fully loaded, and they didn’t explode. I’d expect them to be more durable than factory mags with extenders, because they don’t have to deal with a join in the middle of the body.

I’ve also had a bit of time with Magpul’s Glock magazines. I experienced no reliability problems with those in class (though they belonged to another shooter so I did not use them for the whole class). I cannot speak to the long-term durability of either. However, the Magpul magazines don’t have any of the little convenience features that endeared me to the ETS magazines. They are opaque, and have many fewer witness holes than stock Glock magazines. They do not clearly confirm the height of their magazines on their website. They also use a different floorplate design. The price difference isn’t really anything significant, so I’d take the ETS magazines over the Magpul ones.

ETS extended magazines are a great choice for competitive shooters and those looking for more bullets in the magazine. They are longer than stock magazines2, but if you want to conceal them, feel free to try to figure out a way to make that work. They’re a hell of a lot cheaper than a factory mag and an aftermarket extender, and provide about as many bullets, with none of the breaking on drop issues.

  1. I shoot 9 mm because I’m a “tactical timmy” and I like more bullets. Plus 9 mm is cheap, and just as effective with good defensive ammo. If you take your pistol competition more seriously than I, you probably are interested in the .40 versions, since it’s a lot easier to make Major power factor with .40. The 140 mm ETS magazines hold 19 rounds of .40, and the 170 mm ETS magazines hold 24 rounds of .40. 
  2. DUH. 

SIG P320 X-Five SHOT Preview

Covering one of the things I didn’t get to talk about while SHOT show was running. Let’s look at SIG’s new P320 X-Five. They’re really on a roll lately, aren’t they?

The P320 X-Five is SIG’s attempt at making a competition ready firearm out of the box. Sort of like what Kimber did for 1911s in the early nineties, they put a lot of much-desired modifications into the gun at the factory, saving you hassle and money. At least if they got it right. Let’s see what they did.

The X-Five has a new frame, with a different grip. I like this grip better, at least judging by looks. Granted, I haven’t held one. But it looks like it has good texture and the kind of shape you can really bear down on. The frame is also weighted, to get the balance right and improve recoil management. Recoil is absorbed by weight, which is why lots of competitors like frame weights. This one comes with some right out of the box.

Moving up the gun, the trigger has been worked over at the factory to be better, and it’s got a flat-face trigger shoe. Sounds good. Apparently it’s really nice, though I’ll have to judge that for myself.

The slide has been lightened with the usual coffin cuts. Fun. Plus, a bull barrel has been fitted. So there’s weight to try to absorb recoil force, but the light slide should return to battery quickly. Provided one has a good grip.

Sights are from Dawson Precision, so they should actually be good. You can remove the rear sight, which is attached to a cover plate, and mount a Romeo 1 mini red dot instead if you prefer.

With the P320 X-Five are four 21-round factory extended magazines, right in the box. That’s good.

Here, we see SIG trying to release a package to be out of the box ready for competition. I like to see this sort of thing, and it looks like they’ve done a good job. Of course, a lot of this stuff is hugely personal, so we’ll see what people think of a bunch of decisions made for them.

Glock Trigger Pull Mods

I have an awesome and heavily customized Glock 19. It’s awesome. And it would get even awesomer if I had an improved trigger. One of the things I noticed at the high level pistol class I took was that I was the only one running a stock Glock trigger. There were lots of tuned Glock and tuned M&P triggers, plus a PPQ (which has a great stock trigger, something like a tuned Glock). So let’s play around a bit.

First, let’s talk what the trigger pull actually has to do. When you pull the trigger, you finish cocking the striker (at rest, it’s partially cocked). This is done by pulling against the striker spring, of course. Your pull is assisted by the trigger spring, which provides some extra pulling force to help you.1 The path of the sear is controlled by a little bit of bent metal called the connector. At the appropriate time, the connector guides the sear down, the striker is released, and a bullet comes flying out of the muzzle.

Second, let’s talk safeties. Actual, mechanical safeties. The Glock has three things that perform safety functions. First, is the little lever in the trigger. You have to depress this for the trigger to move. And there’s a certain amount of minimum forward travel the trigger has to go through to let the little lever redeploy. Second is the firing pin block. It’s a plunger. When you pull the trigger, a vertical tab on the trigger bar pushes the plunger out of the way. The rest of the time, the plunger will prevent the firing pin from going forward. Finally, the cruciform tab (it’s horizontal) on the trigger bar sits in a slot in the fire control housing. It has to move backwards far enough for the slot to widen. At rest, the narrow part of the slot prevents the trigger bar from dropping away and releasing the sear if the pistol is dropped.

I am not willing to compromise any of these safeties for obvious reasons. Note also that this means there’s a certain required amount of trigger travel before the break if we do not want to disable the safeties. A Glock is not a 1911, and it’s not possible to get an actually 1911-like trigger out of a Glock. Not possible. Well, not without being dumb. We can reduce some of this travel if we’re careful.

There are other things we can do as well. We can reduce the weight of the striker spring. The risk here is that the striker spring is what’s driving the striker into the primer. Too little force means the primer will fail to fire. That’s bad.

We can reduce the weight of the spring holding the safety plunger down. This makes it easier to push out of the way. We’re no longer holding it in place as firmly though.

We can also increase the assistance provided by the trigger spring. Too much and the gun may have issues resetting.

Trivially, we can change the trigger bar from the current ‘Gen4’ design to the older ‘Gen3’ design. This removes a nub which can rub on the frame and add drag to the pull. The nub was added to deal with issues if you reverse the magazine release. Fortunately, I’m right handed.

Finally we can mess with the trigger ‘shoe’ itself, to change the feel, and maybe remove some pretravel and overtravel.

Glocks are very plug and play. No fitting should be needed with most parts out there. It’s very easy to spend a fortune on trigger kits. We’re going to try to avoid that. If you’d prefer not to mess around with parts yourself, go check out DK Custom Triggers. You won’t regret it.

Anyway, you’ll need a punch to disassemble your Glock. If you’re a little rusty on the details, plenty of youtube videos exist to help. Let’s review what I tried. A lot of the following will be a very mix and match sort of nature. That is to be expected. I am not you. I may like different things than you. I may have different preferences as to trigger pull weight than you. That’s ok. Most of these parts are pretty cheap.

To start, I bought a Glock 17 type smooth-face trigger on a Gen 3 bar. Glock makes two kinds of trigger shoes, one with ridges for more Gun Control Act of 1968 points on the import system and one without. The one with is used on smaller guns. I’m not a fan of the feel of the ridged trigger shoe. So this change felt better, and made it a little less likely to pull in a not-straight back direction, but didn’t do much for trigger pull. Well, it took out some of the grit from that nub.

Part set two is the TTI Grandmaster trigger kit. Yes, I know this will not make me a GM-class shooter (alas, I’m not one already). But it comes with a lot of neat parts at a great price. It’s got an increased power trigger spring, a reduced power striker spring, a reduced power plunger spring, and the TTI connector. Score. Price is pretty good too. It uses all stock parts. I found that the connector and plunger spring smoothed out the pull. I’ll have to experiment to see if I get any light strikes with a reduced power striker spring. It made some improvement to the weight though. Definitely noticeable.

I also found that with the 3rd gen trigger bar and the increased power trigger spring on my Glock, that if I let the slide go home gently, the trigger wouldn’t reset all the way. I probably should take a look at it and see if it’s hanging up on something there. But I decided not to bother. I was happy enough with the pull with the standard trigger spring, and I had one more part on the way.

That part was the Overwatch Precision Tac Trigger. It’s the most expensive part, being a machined aluminum trigger shoe. Now I can experiment with a flat-face trigger design. I probably wouldn’t have bought it had I not played around with a buddy’s flat face Glock trigger at a class. On the other hand, it’s pretty easy to resell if you end up not liking it. I chose the Overwatch flat face trigger because they’re recommended by more of my friends who like flat face triggers than any other brand. They also have a bunch of great videos to demonstrate that even though they remove some pretravel by playing with the geometry of how the trigger shoe interfaces with the trigger bar, they don’t disable any of the safeties.

Fittingly, the Tac Trigger also made the biggest difference in pull. Way shorter, with less of a perceptible trigger wall. I immediately noticed in dryfire that I could get on the trigger hard and fast with a lot less perceptible movement of the red dot. The flat trigger and reduced overtravel really made it hard to not pull the trigger straight back to the rear. I varied finger position. I tried to pour on the speed. Didn’t matter. I like this trigger a lot.

Pulling the trigger slowly, I found the lighter feel of the wall to be nice. Again, it’s easier to keep the sights on target. But the creep in the trigger is more readily apparent. Is it creepier than a stock Glock trigger? I think so. I think some mush has been added to the ‘wall’ that also makes it lighter. That said, both Fishbreath and I agree that this is a big improvement over stock, creep or no.

Let’s make another comparison: to the Walther PPQ. Which has a phenomenal stock trigger, and some complicated internals to make that happen. Is this as good as a PPQ? No. The PPQ has a really clever internal system to get the trigger characteristics, plus a fully cocked striker at rest. The Glock has a partially cocked striker at rest. Pulled slowly, the PPQ trigger is longer, and has less creep to it. This is still a good trigger though, and I’d give it the nod if you’re looking to improve your Glock trigger.

Interestingly, I tried swapping back to the dot connector. This made the wall a lot more noticeable again, but it also got rid of a bunch of creep, and masked most of what was left with the wall. I decided I preferred the more ‘rolling’ break of the TTI minus connector, so I stuck with that. I think the minus connector always makes the break more of a roll with some creep, and the Overwatch Trigger just makes this more obvious.

So let’s review. Things that made a big change in my trigger pull, and might be worth tinkering with: connector, striker spring, and trigger shoe. I didn’t think the rest of the parts provided that big a difference. Clearly, if you swapped to a NY1/NY2 trigger return spring, that would change stuff. I do know several guys, including one of my instructors, who like the feel of an NY1 spring and a minus connector. Also, note that if you use a reduced power striker spring, test your ammo with it and consider a lightened striker, especially if you shoot Wolf ammo.

Oh, one more thing. You’ll notice that I haven’t provided any trigger pull measurements. Most of that is from not having an NRA weight set with which to measure trigger pull. But also I think too much emphasis is placed on poundage and not enough on the less tangible things like distance and creep and abruptness of wall. And also what you feel comfortable with. Everyone’s different in that regard. Also, note that Glocks aren’t the most tightly toleranced of pistols.

  1. Unless you have an NY1 or NY2 trigger spring, which fight your trigger press rather than help it to meet NYPD pull weight mandates. 

MMQB: MHS Decision Analysis

Last week, we reported that the US DoD chose the SiG P320 as its new handgun. So let’s take it apart Monday Morning Quarterback style.

First, is this an improvement? Yes, but with caveats. From a shooters perspective, given the choice between a new M9 and a new P320, I’ll take the SiG every day of the week. I like the ergonomics of the P320 better. I like the trigger better. The P320 is one of the new crop of striker-fired pistols that’s been designed to try to compete with Glocks and M&Ps, both notorious for mediocre to lousy trigger pulls by having a good trigger. Plus, it’s a striker fired trigger, and I prefer that to a double action trigger. Also the P320 doesn’t have a slide-mounted safety/decocker. I would prefer one control or the other (i.e. a safety or a decocker, but not both) mounted on the frame. Plus, the P320 is a modern, polymer-framed design, so it’ll require less lubrication and maintenance. The P320 is also equipped with sight dovetails, and comes with decent night sights out of the box. In any case, it’s a lot easier to order/mount tritium sights on the P320. The M9 does not have sight dovetails for the front sight, limiting the changes you can make. Well, without drilling, and I doubt the DoD is going to do that.

There are two caveats here. First, I’ve tried to be as kind to the M9 as I can. The ones in the inventory are mostly ill-maintained and worn out. They’re in need of spring replacements, locking block replacements, and a bunch of TLC. The M9s in inventory are pretty much EOL.

Second, in the grand scheme of things, pistols are relatively unimportant arms. So I might like some more cost analysis, but I think the M9s are too abused to be salvageable in a cost-effective way. Which means the alternative to this sort of winner is rolling in M9A3s to the existing contract. And I don’t think ignoring more recent developments is in any way a good idea. Plus, the DoD wanted a striker-fired design, and wrote the rules accordingly. Good for them.

Okay. So let’s look at the chosen P320 itself, viz.

There’s a few things I like, and one thing I really don’t. Let’s start with the positives: it’s a good design. The DoD wanted modularity, and even though I’m not sold on this being all that useful, they did and got it. And it is cool from an engineering standpoint. I like that the pistols are finished in something FDE colored: guns are a pretty good spoiler of camouflage if they’re colored black as they usually are. So that’s a small thing, but a nice one. The full-size pistol has an installed factory extended mag, and that’s good too. Not a lot of extra length for five more bullets. That’s a tradeoff I’m cool with in a service/duty pistol. And there are flush fit ones for when you don’t want the extra length. Finally, if we look closely at the rear sight, we’ll note that it’s mounted to a large plate. This is removable, and can be replaced with a SIG Romeo 1 mini red dot, or something else with the same footprint. That looks like some planning ahead for once. Red dots are a much nicer sighting system than irons, and it’s really good to see the idea getting traction out of the box in a big contract.

Now, the negative. You guessed it: that manual safety. I don’t like it. I don’t think factory standard striker-fired triggers benefit from one, and it’s one more thing to screw up. If you think otherwise, well, at least it’s ambidextrous and sensibly mounted to the frame. Still. Not needed.

Finally, the thing everyone’s probably wondering: Why not Glock? By all accounts they were part of the downselect.

Well I don’t know. Rampant speculation time. First, that safety I don’t like. If the DoD required one, or wanted one enough to give more points to the design with one, that’d be a good reason. The manual safety on the MHS winning P320 looks reasonably well thought out, if you like such things. I haven’t seen the guts though. Historically, adding a manual safety to Glocks hasn’t ever worked out well. The designs have been awkward. So that’s a possible reason.

Possibility two is a lower bid. Either SiG wanted the contract more, and was willing to go lower, or maybe they had production capacity to deliver faster. I don’t know. But economics is something else that’s good.

Finally, modularity. The P320 is modular, and the DoD really wanted that. The P320 is more modular than the Glock. Those are points in its favor.

So, did the DoD do badly by not picking Glock? Nope. Setting aside any particulars, both Glocks and P320s are good designs. Bet between the two, you can’t go wrong. I’d probably decide based on who could bid lower and deliver faster anyway.

Finally, what does this mean for shooters? Will SiG dethrone Glock in terms of popularity? Well, the future’s hard to figure. So…maybe? But probably not anytime soon, if ever. We can expect some Glock design improvements, to take care of things like that trigger, because competition drives innovation. Plus, we can expect SiG to gain a lot more aftermarket support, which is always great. So this is nothing but good for us shooters.

Also, the pistol the US Military issues doesn’t have any bearing on what pistols I buy, like, or carry. It didn’t before, it won’t now.

Modular Handgun Winner: P320

It’s official, per the US DoD’s press release. The massive contract for an M9 replacement has been awarded, and the winner is SiG with their P320.

I guess this shows you how good my prediction was. Oh well. It happens. You can’t get all the analyses right, and I read too much into the deep-sixing of their competition team.

I would like to congratulate SiG on winning the contract. They could use some good news of late, and it appears they’ve got it. I would also like to congratulate the US Military on their new pistol. They wanted modular, and the P320 is the ultimate in modularity.

While the P320 isn’t my top choice for new 9mm pistols, it’s still a fine firearm. It would make a great project gun. And I like it a lot better than the M9.

Way to join the striker fired future, US Army.

Perhaps I should get one of the customized Bruce Gray P320s. He’s got a great trigger package for them.

Hudson H9 Range Report

I’ve got some data for you from Top Men in the field. First, here’s the design overview and analysis.

Range impressions were good. In general, people were happy with the trigger. It’s nice. Of course, it will take some getting used to, like any trigger (good or not). But they seem to have delivered on their design goal of “Crisp, 1911-like trigger” in a striker-fired design.

The gun is also very low recoil and very flat shooting. Our shooters really liked it. That’s another design objective accomplished.

Further things for the plus column: while the grips are not interchangeable with existing 1911 grip panels, Hudson has contracted VZ grips to make them. So options should be available pretty quick.

One other note, this likely a negative. The patent design shows a large number of small parts. So disassembly might be a royal pain. We can’t judge reliability from that, though, so don’t.

These sorts of range expos are not good for judging a pistol, but they can help build excitement and optimism. Check and check.

One more thing. Mags appear to be based on those for the S&W 5906. Which is a strange choice for magazines, as that pistol is no longer in production. It should keep some costs down though. And for all I know those get the grip angle they wanted better than other magazines.