Monthly Archives: March 2017

The EDC X9 Is Stupid

Wilson Combat’s new EDC X9 is stupid.

There, I said it!

This isn’t to say it’s a bad gun, or that you’re stupid for wanting one ‘just cause’. That’s fine. This is America1. A free country. And you can buy whatever you like with your hard-earned money. I won’t stop you. It’s a nifty design from an engineering perspective.

But selling stuff isn’t just about engineering. It’s also about marketing. So let’s review what we know about the EDC X9 and then put on our business-guy hats.

The EDC X9 is a double-stack 1911 design (a ‘2011’), that comes with 15 round magazines derived from those in the Walther PPQ M2. It has an aluminum frame and weighs a bit over 29 oz. empty. The trigger pull should be between 3.5 and 4.5 lbs. And the pistol costs just shy of $2,900.

Now, a double stack 1911 screams competition. That’s where those pistols live. They are most popular in the Limited and Open divisions of USPSA (and IPSC, the parent organization). They’re very popular because you can combine a great trigger with a lot of ammo and plenty of weight. Other popular limited guns include the Glock 35 and the CZ-75 family (including derivatives made by EAA and Tanfoglio). Let’s see how the EDC X9 compares with them.

Caliber: The EDC X9 is chambered in 9 mm. Nearly all serious Limited guns are chambered in .40, to take advantage of Major Power Factor scoring, which is lower score penalties for hits outside the A-Zone of the IPSC target. This lower penalty is pretty significant, and as a result most serious competitors make Major, usually by going with a .40 gun, since it’s easy to make power factor in .40.

Magazines: Magazine length in Limited must not exceed the 140 mm gauge. In this length, a 2011 can fit 20 rounds of .40. Stock full-size .40 Glock magazines hold 15 rounds, and can be combined with an extender to also hold 20 rounds of .40 while staying under the 140 mm length limit. On a PPQ M2, you’re looking at 18 rounds of .40 with the basepad extensions, which is what we could compete with in an EDC X40, if there was such a thing. A little less than ideal.

Size/Sight Radius: Competitors don’t have to bother with concealment, so they tend to go for full size or long slide pistols. The EDC X9 is a compact. Less slide to work with. Less sight radius.

Further, at the price point you’re looking at for an EDC X9, you’re also looking at semicustom 2011s from guys like Brazos. They’ll be able to set up a gun the way you like. Want specific trigger tuning? You got it. Want a superlight slide and a superheavy frame/barrel/guiderod? No problem. Big mag funnel? But of course. The EDC X9 is a pretty specific package, and they don’t have the same kind of options as the hardcore 2011 builders. Entry level open guns are also price competitive with the EDC X9, not to mention ridiculous custom packages for Glocks and CZs. And practice ammo.

Okay. Suppose you’re not looking for the ultimate competition gun. Suppose you want a really good trigger. Maybe for carry. Maybe for more casual competition. Whatever. Well, you can get much better mag availability, and save a lot of money by looking elsewhere and having some modifications done. If you like striker fired guns, you can get some really great triggers in them if you know where to look. For example, if you start with a Glock, or have one lying around, talk to DK Custom Triggers for a phenomenal trigger kit. Professionally tuned, and serious competitors love these triggers. If you like HKs or SIGs (striker or hammer fired), contact Gray Guns. Get an awesome trigger. If you like hammer fired guns, CZ Custom also sets up some fantastic triggers in their guns. And if you’re heart is set on a real Single Action trigger, take a long, hard look at the SIG P226 Legion SAO. You’ll really like the trigger.

Any of those options will come in significantly cheaper than the EDC X9. They’ll have really good triggers. You’ll be able to afford a whole bunch of ammo to get to know your new blaster better. And some professional instruction so you don’t practice bad habits.

And yes, I know EDC is probably intended to stand for Every Day Carry. Very unwise. Get in a shooting, that gun is going to spend some time in an evidence locker. Are you going to want your $2,900 blaster to sit in an evidence locker for a while? Didn’t think so. You’ll carry something cheaper. And I’m not even talking about all those people who think something a bit bigger than a Glock 19 is ‘too much gun for carry’. And all of the above applies if you’re looking for a carry gun with a great trigger too. You can get a pair of matching, tuned pistols from the list above for less than $2,900.

So, whatever you’re looking for, the EDC X9 is suboptimal. Unless you just think it’s cool. Then go for it. Also, feel free to show off that you have more money than sense.

[Editor’s note (11/2020): okay, Internet randos, I spend an awful lot of time cleaning up garbage comments on this post. So, since most of you land here from God knows where, get fired up, and start mashing your keyboards to bang out yet another rage-fueled diatribe like so many before you whose comments I also unceremoniously deleted, I’d like to direct you to our comment policy: you are permitted to be at most one of rude and wrong. We, being the people who go to the effort of running this place, are allowed to be both. Take a look at the existing comments, remember that I’m a lot less patient about this post now than I was a few years ago when I allowed them, and save yourself the trouble of slaving over that assault on English and reason for an hour and so save me the trouble of sending it immediately to the trash can. -Fishbreath (i.e., not the author of this piece, but still fed up with its readership)]

  1. Thanks to The Internet, you might be reading this from someplace that isn’t the United States of America. If this is the case, I’m deeply sorry. 

Movie Fight TTP Breakdown: Jango Fett vs. Obi-Wan Kenobi

I’m a nerd. I love Star Wars. And I also love tactics and training in martial arts. What better way to combine them than by talking movie fights and what they do right/wrong? Let’s take a look at the fight between Jango and Obi-Wan on the Kamino platform. It’s a really exciting fight. Like most movie fights not directed by Michael Mann, it does this without being technically well executed. I’ll break it down into sections and comment on each.

I’ll be covering Jango’s (and a couple things from Boba) here, mostly because my expertise is there. I know a good bit about shooting and punching people. However, I’m not a Jedi, and I don’t know the limitations of the Force. Also, I’m a poor swordsman and a worse force user. So I won’t comment on Obi-Wan’s techniques here.

The fight opens with Boba seeing Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan draws and ignites his lightsaber, and Jango goes for his blaster pistols. Screw talking.

Jango opens fire, and uses his jetpack to get some standoff range.
1.) Jango has a reasonably quick rate of fire here. I might expect better with two guns, but then, I don’t know how well that scales. His times between shots are pretty good here. I’ll save any further snarking about the inferiority of the use of two pistols at once for another article.
2.) Using the jetpack to maintain separation (and get more) is a good idea.
3.) Jango does quite a bit of shooting on the move in the opening. Ordinarily, I’d be very strongly opposed to it. Generally, you give up more in accuracy than you gain in becoming a harder target to hit. Of course, that conventional wisdom assumes an enemy who also has a ranged weapon and that you’re moving on your feet. Given that the jetpack seems to move him in a relatively stable fashion, I’ll give this one to him. His accuracy isn’t affected in much of a negative way compared to his initial volley either.

Jango uses his jetpack to hide behind a column. Having given Obi-Wan a visual slip (and having holstered his blasters), he fires a missile from his jetpack.
4.) That’s a good move. Not sure why he didn’t do that earlier, since he doesn’t appear to need his hands free to do it. The missile is sort of effective–it gets Obi-Wan to drop his lightsaber. As usual, Hollywood has no idea what explosions do. That should have hurt a lot more judging by proximity of the blast and likely fragments. Hollywood explosions are big on pretty fireballs. Real explosions are big on fragments, pressure waves, perforated eardrums, and death. They don’t look as good as a big, gasoline-based fireball.
5.) He really should press the attack once the missile hits. Shock and awe only works if you keep with the up-tempo attacks. Jango is old enough and experienced enough to know better than to sit back and admire his handiwork.

Boba now gets in on the action by deploying Slave I’s blasters, which knocks Obi-Wan back again.
6.) Not sure why Boba stops shooting to watch. He seems to have done okay using shipboard sensors before. Don’t admire your handiwork! Press your advantage! Boba’s a kid though, so maybe Jango hasn’t gotten this lesson in his head yet. It usually takes a lot of coachly yelling in the boxing gym or wherever you learn hitting for this lesson to stick.

Jango leaves his perch to engage Obi-Wan, apparently closing the distance, blasters drawn. Obi-Wan catches Jango with a flying sidekick, sending his blasters flying.
7.) And you were doing so well. This part makes no sense. Why leave your perch? Why come down? Why close the distance? There’s the column you were hiding behind, another column, and your ship in terms of high places to be. Blasters are ranged weapons. You can shoot the lightsaber-less jedi from your perch. Or from midair. You should not be close enough for a flying sidekick, force-assist or no. Maintain distance on the melee fighter and shoot him. The jetpack should be helping you keep your distance here.
8.) If he wanted to change position, doing it while the ship attacks would have been better. Or in a direction not towards the Jedi.
9.) During his descent, Jango isn’t shooting, even though his blasters are clearly drawn. He was shooting during the ascent, so he can clearly shoot in flight reasonably well. If it made sense on the ascent (and it seemed to) it should here as well. Probably even more so since Obi’s not blocking without his lightsaber.

There’s a good bit of hand-to-hand fighting between Jango and Obi Wan, who are pretty evenly matched. Obi-Wan has some more good kicks, some blocked, some aren’t. Jango has a wild right haymaker that gets blocked and gets separation with a headbutt.
10.) Not sure why he doesn’t fire his jetpack to regain separation here. Unless he’s trying to keep Obi-Wan’s hands occupied. In which case, he’s not doing it well, and he should be going for the wrestling/grappling stuff.
11.) Jango has a very strange arsenal. He seems to carry a shitton of gear, but lacks a knife, which would help a lot in a close fight like this.
12.) Jango does have wrist blades, at least in his right gauntlet. But he does not use them here, and this is the perfect opportunity. Blades are great in a close fight. Admittedly, blades on the side of the forearm look cool but are really hard to actually use.
13.) He also doesn’t use the flamethrower in his left gauntlet. Again, this seems a good time for it. Unless his armor/clothing aren’t flame resistant.
14.) Nor does he use the mini rocket that appears to be on his left gauntlet (but he never uses this ever in the movie, so who knows what that actually is).
15.) It’s also odd to me that Jango doesn’t carry a small blaster as a back up gun, given how much other shit he’s got. If he gained separation with the jetpack (or after the headbutt) he could use a back up gun to good effect.
16.) That wild punch. That is the kind of punch you expect from an untrained dude. Probably a big dude. Jango isn’t big. He’s about medium height (Obi-Wan is a bit taller) and fit. He isn’t super heavy. As someone whose profession depends on his ability to kick ass, he should be a lot more technical with his striking. One telegraphed, wild haymaker is not what I’d expect from him. We should see a tighter combo.
17.) The headbutt was a good choice. Especially because he’s got a helmet and Obi-Wan doesn’t.

Obi-Wan tries to retrieve his lightsaber with the force. Jango activates his jetpack, uses a whipcord to tie Obi Wan’s hands, and starts dragging him.
18.) I don’t understand this either. Clearly lacking another blaster, Jango chooses to use his whipcord to wrap up Obi-Wan’s hands. And then drag him. A more effective choice here given the equipment would be to activate his jetpack and hit Obi-Wan linebacker style. You’ve got a helmet, he doesn’t. It’s gonna hurt him a lot more than it hurts you.
19.) Another good chance for flamethrower usage, depending on its range. In general, Hollywood flamethrowers are propane torches, which look cool, but don’t have the range of the real deal (which use heavier fuel).

Jango drags Obi-Wan along the platform. Obi-Wan wraps the cable around a pylon, forcing Jango to crash and his jetpack to malfunction.
20.) Yeah, still don’t see the point of this, and it lost you your damn jetpack. Fucking moron. Why he doesn’t drag Obi-Wan directly towards the water is beyond me. Or just jettison the cord.

Jango goes for his dropped blaster. Obi-Wan charges him and knocks him off the platform with another flying sidekick.
21.) Jango gets tunnel vision here for that gun. He’s not really aware of how quickly Obi-Wan is closing in.
22.) A backup blaster would be helpful here too. It’d be a lot quicker to get into action than running to retrieve your dropped pistol.
23.) Dealing with the charging opponent is more important than getting your blaster into play. This could easily be a tackle or a takedown. Avoid or stuff that first before getting your gun into action. This is running into Tueller territory, which is probably for another post. Suffice to stay, standing still is a bad idea.
24.) Full arm extension is a poor choice for that sort of shot, given how close Obi-Wan is. A chest index is a lot better for not leaving your gun out there to be grabbed, and getting more than one shot off. This is kind of hard to explain, but what Jango does here is a Bad Idea.

There’s not much tactics to the rest of the fight. Jango falls, dragging Obi-Wan with him, and manages to release the cable before Obi-Wan drags him into the sea. Cue dramatic escape, homing beacon, and another fight, now with starships.

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. 

Rampant Armata Speculation

Let’s have some fun with rumors, speculation, and armchair analysis, shall we?

We don’t know very much about Russia’s new tank, the T-14. In my review, I made the tacit (and completely groundless) assumption that the turret shell concealed some heavy protection for the gun. Something tank-like, i.e. that the frontal armor of the gun could be expected to withstand APFSDS rounds as well as big, high end ATGMs. Like the front of the turret of a Leopard 2A6/-A7/-E or an M1A2.

Let’s try to poke at this assumption a little, shall we?

First off, let’s forget about side protection. No tank in existence can take a modern sabot round to the turret flank and not care. Focus on the front. Clearly, the outer “shell” has negligible protective value. It does hold a lot of systems, most of which are fragile. Of course, there’s nothing else behind the turret face, so hits there will probably tear straight through the fragile sensors and APS effectors. The gun mantlet is not readily apparent, and the outer shell seems to be in the way. Compare the M1A2 and the Leopard 2A6, both of which have big, thick mantlet armor atop and around the main gun. This is curiously absent from the T-14.

Remember, composite armors trade weight for thickness especially when compared to an equivalent mass of steel. So if we want to stop sabot rounds from a tank, we’re going to need a bunch of bulk. And since we’d like to be able to elevate and depress our gun, we’re going to expect to see quite a bit of exposed, movable bulk.

We can also find some images showing a T-14 turret mounted on the relatively light (28-30 tonne) Kurganets APC hull. So there’s at least one lightweight version of the turret out there. Of course, the shell could hide more armor on the T-14 version, maybe. We can’t rule out two versions. Now, it’s hard to figure out how one could hide bulky composites under the shell, given its shape and attachment methods, but we really can’t be sure about anything. The Kurganets hull is a little unusual if only because this idea has gotten very little traction elsewhere. The Swedes have a CV90 version with a low-pressure 120 mm gun prototyped, but have not ordered it and have not achieved any sales. The US Army has a version of the Stryker with a 105 mm gun and autoloader, but this version hasn’t been too popular. The US Army has moved to add more conventional autocannon firepower to some Stryker APCs to get more firepower in the Stryker Brigade Combat Team. So no one else really likes this concept.

We should also note that T-14 has a lot of active protection system effectors. There are ten tubes for the Afghanit hard-kill APS, five on each side of the turret. Additionally, there are two boxes of twelve soft-kill (likely some kind of obscurant) effectors facing outward, one box on each side of the turret, and another twenty-four soft kill effectors in a vertically configured box to protect the roof. That is an awful lot of active protection.

For comparison, the Merkava IV has a Trophy (hard-kill) APS launcher on each side of the turret. Each launcher holds three effectors. No additional soft-kill system is mounted on Merkava. Of course, Merkava IV is also heavily armored, and Trophy is seen as a supplement for flank protection against high-end ATGMs (e.g. Kornet).

So what might this mean? Well, we know that the T-14 has a bigger hull than T-72. Scaling comparisons will tell us this. Also, we know that we have to fit all three crewmen up front, so that front compartment must be significantly bigger to accomodate the three crewmen plus all of the displays and computers. Also, loads of hull armor, since the front appears to be quite thick (it’s sloped, and likely some kind of composite or composite + ERA, all of which takes space). We don’t actually save all that much room in the turret basket, since we still have to have some sort of (probably vertical) carousel for enough rounds to make all this worthwhile. And while the engine is a weird X-configuration model, it’s quite a bit more powerful than the one on T-72, and it still needs a radiator, transmission, and of course fuel. So we’d expect the hull to be noticeably bigger, and this agrees with what we can see from playing with scaling.

We also know that while the T-14 is heavier than the T-72, it’s still a light MBT. While it’s hard to draw comparisons to Western analogues, we do note the large hull and thick glacis armor would eat up a lot of mass.

Historically, the Russians have been quite strict about the weight of their tanks, simply because their infrastructure can’t take the weight of big Western tanks.1 For this reason, they pioneered the autoloader in the 1960s, and made heavier use of ERA than anyone else. Both are lighter than their respective alternatives. It’s quite possible that something had to give to keep the weight within tolerances, and the designers chose to accept a less well protected gun. Active protection systems are pretty good at defeating ATGMs, and they’ve made sure to have something for both direct-attack and top-attack weapons. In the current small wars, they’re not likely worried about sabots.

Further, the roof seems like it would blow-out in the event the ammunition storage compartment is compromised, and there are a pair of blow-out panels on the T-14’s belly. So ammunition cook-off will not likely kill the crew. Further, the Russians have put an escape hatch on the floor of the crew compartment. Good for them.

Could Afghanit be effective against sabot rounds? Specifically, the kind of APFSDS rounds fired by a modern tank gun (120 or 125 mm). Again, we can’t know for sure. It might be possible. But I’m disinclined to believe the present statements about it. Afghanit looks to shoot some kind of fragmentation or mini-EFP warhead to damage incoming projectiles. It’s simple and cheap, and works great against RPGs and ATGMs. But these are relatively fragile. An APFSDS round is a solid rod of some dense alloy (based on depleted uranium or tungsten), and it’s moving a lot faster than a missile.

It’s certainly not impossible to intercept an APFSDS round, but it’s a lot more difficult than intercepting a rocket. And the extent to which you disrupt it is important. You intercepted it. Great. What’s the effect? Is it destroyed? Damaged? Destabilized? If the round is still incoming, how much armor is needed to stop it? And what was the incoming speed and penetrator design? Test details are, naturally, hard to find. So color me skeptical that Afghanit can reduce the effectiveness of modern APFSDS rounds2 sufficiently for a lightly armored turret3 to be able to stop them.

Okay. So what do we think? Given the large amount of active protection systems, the reported wait, the size of the hull, and the nature of the turret shell, I think it’s quite possible the Russians are taking the T-14 in a new direction with a less protected main gun. They’ve pushed the envelope before. Some things have caught on, some things haven’t. This isn’t a notion I’m overly fond of, but that’s ok. The proof is in the combat, and the Russians will likely get into some before too long4. The keen observer might then be able to learn something as to whether or not these ideas work.

  1. I pick on Leopard 2 and Abrams enough, so let’s talk Challenger 2. Wouldn’t want the British to feel left out. With their “Streetfighter” Urban Warfare supplemental armor kit, the Challenger 2 tips the scales at 75 tonnes. 
  2. To be clear, I mean M829A3 or M829A4 depleted uranium APFSDS rounds fired from the M256 gun on an Abrams or the DM63 round from the Rheinmetall 120 mm/L55 gun on the Leopard 2A6 and subsequent models. Modern rounds, modern guns, no reduced-power charges. We never know what ad copy means, but that’s what you think of when I say “tank rounds shot at Russian tanks,” da? 
  3. Supposing the T-14 turret is lightly armored, that. But I suppose we should still define things, so something meeting STANAG 4569 level 5 or 6. In plain english, something ‘resistant to 30 mm APFSDS rounds”. 
  4. Unlike some other countries, the Russians are likely to get into a fight and test their new stuff. 

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.