In my previous USPSA what comes next post, I mentioned two possibilities for my next division, likely for the 2020 season. In this short post, we’ll take a look at what I would need for Carry Optics.
A Cajunified Lower (free)
Or, at least, free if you’re following the same path I am—starting with a Limited-spec P-09 and expanding your horizons. In that case, the Cajunified bits come gratis.
If you’re starting from zero, the Cajun bits will cost you about $600, including the magazines, (CZ Custom) 140mm base plates, and and (CZ Custom) spring/follower kits. (You save about $100 by skipping the verboten-in-Carry-Optics magazine funnel.)
A Donor Gun ($475)
At a bare minimum, I need a new barrel for 9mm. Realistically, I need a slide; I’m going to be knocking out the rear sight and putting in a sight mounting plate, and I don’t want to have to change back and forth between a dot and the Limited rear sight.
Of course, nobody sells a P-09 slide without a frame, so the only thing to do is buy a second whole P-09 and toss the frame in a box for later use. $475 takes a little bit of deal-hunting, but not much; you could probably find one for less with a little patience.
2019 Edit: An Extra Magazine ($50)
The P-09’s .40 magazines can feed 9mm, but don’t do so reliably, especially when there are only a few rounds left in the magazine. You get two with your donor gun, which is realistically enough for most stages at 23 rounds each (24 if you squeeze ’em in), but I started in Production, and even in 140mm-magazine divisions, I like to carry four with me. A third 9mm magazine gets me three fully functioning ones, which is plenty for any reasonable stage plan.
Swapping the CZ Custom base plates and spring-follower kits from your .40 magazines to your 9mm magazines is easy to do on the fly, and CZ helpfully engraves the magazine bodies with their calibers so you don’t get them confused.
Cajun Upper Parts ($50)
The lower uses reduced-power springs, so the Carry Optics slide needs an extended firing pin, reduced-power firing pin spring, and reduced-power firing pin plunger spring to match the Limited slide.
Happily, with the exception of the firing pin retaining pin (a roll pin), none of those parts are all that annoying to install.
An Optic Plate ($50)
Springer Precision makes a Fastfire/Venom/Viper-compatible mounting plate which sits in the rear sight dovetails. It also has polymer-tipped set screws, so you can crank it down onto the slide for better stability—important for a competition gun with no possibility of back-up sights. The last thing you want to do is lose your zero during a match.
An Optic ($225)
Although Springer makes mounting plates for other, more expensive pistol dots, the Burris FastFire III and the Vortex Venom/Viper are the obvious victors from a value perspective. Both run about $200-$225. Parvusimperator says Vortex has better warranties, so they get the nod.
Enhancing the P-09 with Carry Optics compatibility would cost, therefore, about $800. Switching from Limited to Carry Optics isn’t the sort of thing I could do at a match; not only do I have to swap the slide, but I also have to put the decocker in (or accept a subpar Limited start condition by leaving the decocker in). It isn’t that much work, though; five or ten minutes on the old workbench, even with the fiddly spring you may remember from the last post.
The nice thing is that I don’t need to buy any extra gear. The gun still fits in my existing holster, the magazines fit in my existing carriers, and everything fits on the belt I already have. For the revolver option laid out in a forthcoming article, the initial purchases are just that: initial. For the Carry Optics option presented here, there’s nothing left to buy.
Too, it’s a 100% competitive option. If I’m shooting at a disadvantage to others in the division, it’s much smaller than the disadvantage (or advantage) I end up with from being a worse (or, in some rare cases, better) shooter. For all my fondness for strange and oldtimey things, I’m ultimately shooting USPSA to compete. Even with the coolest, most hipster gear in the coolest, most hipster division, if I’m giving up effectiveness based on my equipment, I can’t be 100% happy.