Category Archives: Review

Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit Review

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Well, the ammunition prices after the last big scare are just starting to settle down again, finally, though as with any of these, things are never going to return fully back to where they were.  Luckily, one of the most common victims to this, the ubiquitous .22lr finally seems to be returning to regular stock levels.  This means using this cheap round for practice via conversion kits is economical again, bringing me to my next review item.

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Enter the Kimber Rimfire Target Conversion Kit, for the 1911 of course.  Available in both full size (5″, Govt. length slide) and Compact (4″ slide).  As an added bonus, the full size 5″ kit, thanks to an extended dust cover (as seen in pictures below), fits both Govt and Commander length frames.

Kimber on Rock Island

Not only is it easily the nicest looking .22lr conversion I’ve seen available for the 1911, with it’s Satin Silver or Black cerakote finish, ridged adjustable target sights, and overall apparent fine engineering, but it’s a breeze to install, even at the range or in the field.

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Simply strip the slide from your 1911 of choice, and slip on the Kimber upper, using your 1911’s slide stop, and you’re ready to go.  Despite my skepticism, this kit cycled all tested .22lr ammunition flawlessly in both a cheap Citadel/Armscor 1911 Govt, and a Colt Lightweight Commander.  I honestly didn’t think it would cycle properly given how light the slide was and how heavy the hammer on both of those felt, but I was proven wrong.

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Field stripping this kit for cleaning is similar enough to doing so on the parent firearm, the major difference being how the recoil spring is contained and attached to the barrel lug.  Easy peasy.

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Additionally, it comes with one polymer 10 round magazine, though for practice sake I tended to load it to 7 or 8 to match the capacity of the magazines I use with the parent handgun.

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Just for the record, this kit was tested with the following ammunition, again no failures present, period:

  • CCI Minimag
  • CCI Velocitor
  • Eley Subsonic
  • Winchester 555 box (36gr)
  • Colt (relabeled Aguila 40gr)

So, despite the dropping prices of common ammunition, it’s still nice to save a few cents and make use of one of these .22lr kits just to keep sharp on the cheap, every bit of muscle memory you can give yourself helps.  I found this kit also very useful for getting someone comfortable with the 1911 platform without their first interaction being the gruff handshake of a 230gr FMJ recoil shock, to which they may not be accustomed.

The downside?  Price.  This thing is a Kimber, afterall.  It can be had for the MSRP of $339 from Kimber directly, or via Cabela’s, the later of which frequently has it on sale, more so than other vendors where I’ve seen it.   Also, whatever you do, don’t try to save money and order from Botach Tactical, I wasted about 2 weeks before finding out it was on back order (despite being charged and their website not indicating such).

More Grip for the G42

v5In my previous post reviewing the Glock 42, I mentioned one of the minor drawbacks of the handgun, and a drawback of all subcompact handguns, being that the grip was too short to get your entire hand around.  Even with the tiny hands this gun was meant to fill, you’re left with a pinky hanging off.  Most smaller handguns come with, or at least have an option for, a magazine with an extended floor plate to give you that extra bit, the Walther P22 and Beretta Pico, for instance, come with both types of magazines.

v7While Glock currently offers an extension for sale, it’s not quite as, well, aesthetically pleasing, as a set I found on Glockmeister (where you may remember me finding the parts needed to complete my Glock 19 brass-to-face fix).

v1Enter the Vickers Tactical (produced by Tango Down) Glock 42 floor plates.  These give just enough extra to get your last finger on there, without adding too much to the dimensions of the gun.  The taper was a great touch, adding just a bit of functional flair, without looking too out of place.

v3 v8Until there’s an available +1 or +2 floorplate to get that capacity up to something respectable, these will be a fine addition.

v6They’re also easy to install (despite the “Gunsmith Only” warning on the package).  Without going into too much detail here, simply use your Glock Armorer’s Tool to push in the tab on the bottom of the magazine, go in all the way to the handle of the tool, squeeze on either side of the magazine and pry forward with the tool.  Once it starts sliding off, remove the tool, block the bottom with your thumb (or the spring will come flying out) and slide the old floor plate off.  Slide new plate on until it clicks into place, done.  If there’s a request, I’ll do a follow up on how to do this with picture, or a video.

v4So that’s it, for the record, addition of these removes one (-) from the Glock 42 scorecard.

Glock 42 Review

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Well, let me first say, I hope everyone had a good Holiday season.  It’s been a busy few weeks for me, but we did at least get a chance to get to the range and break in one of my significant other’s Christmas gifts.

Enter the Glock 42.  I know this thing’s been out for a bit of time now and a review on another .380, the Beretta Nano, would probably be a bit more useful to early adopters, but I also know that before purchase, I scoured for reviews on this thing, and every point of data counts.

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Right onto it: Why the Glock 42?  Anybody who personally knows the end user in mind here will know that she has tiny hands.  TINY.  She also has really taken a liking to Glock handguns since being introduced to them- the light weight, the balance, the easy controls, the easy-to-use sights, everything combined to let her shoot more accurately (mostly due to genuinely enjoying practicing with it) than nearly anything else we own aside from a tricked out Kimber Custom Target II.  The problem is, Glocks are fat.  Her shooting was decent, despite not quite being able to get a proper grip on any Glock she’d tried due to the size.  So short of radius-ing the hell out of the grip and hoping to make it a low enough diameter to get her hands around, she’d always end up with sub-standard grouping because of having to reach for the trigger or a bruised right thumb joint from improper grip.  The Glock 42 solved these problems, for the most part.

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First of, it’s tiny, not quite Colt Mustang Pocketlite / Ruger LCP / Beretta Pico tiny, but compared to most subcompacts, this thing is quite the mouse gun.  More importantly, it’s slim, especially for a Glock.  This allows shooters who might be hand-size challenged to get a proper grip on the thing, which is exactly what we were going for here.  Now, there are positives and negatives to this- while it fit her tiny hands perfectly, it still has the same sub-compact issue of length of grip, even her pinky hangs of slightly.  This is easily remedied, however.  The other thing I noticed, was with a proper thumbs-forward grip, this thing sunk so much into my paws that I had to make a conscious effort to not hold the slide release down.  This wasn’t an issue, however, when shooting one handed with either strong or weak hand, and this thing was a pleasure to shoot one handed- this would be a great backup.

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As for functionality- pretty impressive.  It’s not *fully* broken in yet, as we’ve only put 200 rounds through it for our first test.  We used 100 rounds of Aguila 95gr. FMJ as our opener, and 100 rounds of cheapo Academy sourced Monarch 94gr. FMJ to see how low we could go with ammunition quality (while still sticking to factory loads).  In the 200 round breakin, we had a single FTF about 40-round into the down and dirty Monarch stuff, which had been notably weaker than the Aguila.  For a short .380, this thing grouped very well, right in line with other compact Glocks.  One minor nitpick, the 6-round magazines- it’s a tad difficult to get that last round in, as the .380s are short to the point that when loading, the round beneath tends to dip in the front rather than be pushed down, and it takes a bit of effort on that last one.  Due to the difference in Magazine here, the standard Glock speedloader (or SLINO if that’s your opinion on the thing) doesn’t work, and they don’t yet have one out for the 42.  But this is a practice/training issue more than anything.

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Mechanically, this thing is just standard Glock, but scaled down.  Not much to say here- disassembly is identical to any other Gen4 Glock.  A note on that- while the 42 uses Gen4 features, technically (at least per a Glock rep I spoke with) it’s a first gen, as this is a new gun.  Whatever… built with Gen4 features, I’m still going to refer to it as a Gen4.

The Scorecard:

+ Size/Dimensions (Great for an EDC)
+ Price (Typical Glock pricing, not LCP cheap, but quality for the $)
+ Manual of Arms (Same as other Glocks, know one, know all)
+ Accuracy (No sacrifice for size, typical Glock sights)
+ Comfort (Despite being as light as it is, very little recoil)
+ Reliability (Only 1 FTF on break-in, otherwise no issue)

– Magazine (6+1 Capacity, really?  Also mentioned loading issue)
– Size? (Might be a bit tiny for big hands without mag extensions)
– Price? (It’s not AS cheap as some other subcompact .380s)
– .380 (Some might complain about this not being a 9mm)
– Reliability issues with early models (not experienced on ours)

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Taurus Raging Judge Magnum

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The Taurus Raging Judge Magnum, an amalgamation of the Raging Bull series, and the hybrid revolver/shotgun Judge.  Nothing I’ve ever handled can be described quite as well as a “hand cannon” as this behemoth.

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Far surpassing the abilities of the Judge, this monster of a handgun is rated for not just .410 and .45LC, but as the Raging Bull’s Red Stripe grip would indicate, this one can handle the pressures of a .454 Casull.  Weighing in at over 4.5lbs empty, it handles the massive recoil from even hot .454 loads (tested with Hornady 240gr XTP Mag and 255gr Flat Tip) admirably.  That touted red raging bull backstrap really helps keep your hands from cramping immediately, and work very well to distribute the shock.  When shooting the lighter loads, .410 and .45LC, the weight of the Raging Judge Magnum negate the recoil to the point that it literally feels like shooting a .22lr, and it’s an amazing feeling.

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The other thing amazing about it, is that the rifling of the barrel was designed in such a way that accuracy is retained with both .410 Buckshot (Winchester PDX1 being my favorite of those tested) and .45LC despite the long “jump” to the rifling due to the cylinder length. The front fiber optic sight aided in this, and was a pleasure to use.

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Trading Guns the Texas Way

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When it comes to buying on the cheap, a firearm is a lot like any other big ticket item in that the MSRP tends to be a lot higher than what you actually pay, and it depreciates immediately as soon as it’s not “new” anymore.  Not by much, mind you, as anyone searching listings will see “New-in-box condition” or “only xxx rounds fired” and demanding retail prices, but these still tend to sell for 10-20% under retail.  Obviously, like anything else, it feels great to go to a store, pick the one you want, and get it new with all the assurances this grants.  But don’t discount buying “pre-owned” or even better, trading.

tgtEnter Texas Gun Trader.  Obviously, there are other avenues for getting like-new firearms at a discount.  You could visit a local gun store or range, which always have used/consignment sales, and it’s the next safest to buying new in a store, but you’ll be paying inflated blue-book prices, so it’s the costliest.  The next option is buying online, at places like Gunbroker, which I’ve used in the past.  This place is great since it’s like ebay, you can usually find what you’re after, and pay a decent price, but then you have to deal with shipping and arranging an FFL transfer, which will usually cost  you from $35-50 on average, and in a growing number of states in the northeast, much more.

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Texas Gun Trader is different, in that it’s merely a place to post ads for FTF (that’s, Face-to-Face) transfers or trades, which are legal in Texas.  I’ve used this successfully on several occasions both selling, and in the last two cases, trading.  You can either post what you have for sale and list the price or trades in which you’d be interested (WTS ad), browse sale ads to find something in particular if you’re buying, post a WTB ad with what you’d like to buy and what you’re offering, or if you have something you’ve lost interest in and want to see if anyone is looking, just search for it and see if it shows up in an ad as something someone wants, and see if you’re more interested in what they’re trading.

Obviously, this is place where you’re most likely to get a deal that would be favorable to you, but it’s also the riskiest.  You’re meeting someone you don’t know to trade big-ticket items and/or large sums of cash, usually on (hopefully) neutral ground, and you have no guarantee of the condition of what you’re getting aside from what you’re able to determine in a quick inspection.  Additionally, some sort of instrument of legal protection is always a good thing,  on which I’ll also shed some light.

Things to consider:

  • Always meet in a well lit public place (if at all possible, during the day).  I don’t mean go do a gun deal in a Starbucks or anything, but a well lit parking lot with some activity does nicely.
  • If cash is involved, bring a Counterfeit Detection marker.  A few dollars here will save you a hell of a lot of headaches later.
  • Bring a flexible bore light (which you should have in your cleaning kit already) to help inspect the firearm you’re acquiring.  Be sure to check up ahead of time on things to look out for and instructions on basic field strip.  If the other party declines on letting you field strip (or doesn’t at least offer to do it for you), walk away.
  • Always, always, always, complete a bill of sale, and get one in return if guns are trading hands both ways.  Texas Gun Trader has a good simple one to use posted on their site.
  • Don’t shortchange yourself.  Don’t take the first offer you get, unless you’re really in a rush to make a deal.  You’ll get a lot of crap offers, but might get something you weren’t considering that will surprise you in a good way.
  • Remember that this is about trading- that means if you want something and don’t necessarily want to add cash to the deal, substitute ammunition, especially if you’re trading out of that caliber already, offer it up as part of a deal.  For example, I’ve gotten particularly good deals by offering up .40S&W ammunition after I’d sold or traded off my firearms in that caliber and no longer had need of the small stockpile.

That’s about that.  Enjoy and be safe.  If you have related experiences you’d like to share, or knowledge of other trader sites like this available to residents in states other than Texas, please leave a comment!

(Two Photos used in this article were sourced from Premier Arms, LLC.  If requested, I will remove and replace them ASAP, but I just wanted to be sure to give them proper credit and go as far as imbed links to their homepage with the images)

 

 

 

Walther P38 / P1 Compare & Field Strip

DSCN1447Lets move on last week’s post in France to wartime Germany where we’ll be getting intimate with the Walther P38, and it’s post-war relative, the P1.  First produced in 1939 by Walther Arms to serve as the service pistol of the Wehrmacht, the P38 is a first-of-it’s-kind locked-breech semi-automatic pistol with a DA/SA trigger.  This is also the earliest handgun I’m aware of which includes a Loaded Chamber Indicator (in this case, above the hammer).  More on that later.

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Chambered in 9mm Luger similar to their previously used P08 Luger, this was a more powerful handgun than the other Walther issued to the Wehrmacht, the PP/PPK.  The original wartime P38s were produced from 1938 to war’s end in 1945.  17 years passed before the Bundeswehr announced that they would be adopting the P38 as their service pistol, and in June of 1957 production of the P38 recommenced.  These were produced until 1963, when an updated design was adopted, referred to as the P1, which was finally phased out completely in 2004, replaced by the Walther P8/USP.

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The major difference between the earlier P38 and the P1 variant is construction of the frame, which was switched to Aluminum in the P1.  As is visible, the grip design also changed from grooved to checkered.

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The top example is a wartime P38, and the bottom is a P1 produced in late 1968.

They’re still considered to be great shooters, and while not having the greatest DA trigger pull in the world, their SA trigger pull is extremely crisp, and has the shortest reset I’ve personally experienced.  They’re well balanced, and even the aluminum framed P1 has very comfortable recoil.

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Right, onto the tear down-

  • Remove the magazine via the bottom magazine release, and open action to ensure that the firearm is unloaded.
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  • Swing the slide release located on the front left of the frame down and forward, noting how it aligns to allow the slide move forward and off the frame.
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  • Disengage the slide lock if necessary, and move the slide forward only to the point where it would normally rest.  At this point, de-cock the hammer to allow the slide to be fully removed from the frame.  The de-cocking lever may be used carefully, but it’s preferable to just lower the hammer gently while using the trigger.
  • To remove the barrel from the slide, simply push the “button” (locking block operating pin) visible at the rear of the barrel assembly, which will push the locking-block wedge out a bit, allowing the barrel assembly to be withdrawn from the front of the slide.
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  • At this point, you have access to everything you need for a decent simple clean ‘n lube.  Notice the unique dual recoil springs on either side of the frame.  These can be removed, if desired, by either using a small tool to pull the spring back away from the contained rod at the front far enough that you can remove the rod, then withdrawing the spring OR using a tool to push the spring forward a bit from the rear until it can be extracted from the wider area at the rear.  I prefer the first method, but didn’t bother showing it, as it’s rarely necessary, and pretty easy to figure out.
  • One thing I would check out while you have it apart, however, is the Trigger Bar and Sear are interacting correctly.  To get access to this, use a small flat-head screwdriver to remove the Grip Screw from the left side of the firearm.  Remove the right side grip panel first, then maneuver and remove the left side panel, taking care not to damage it on the slide release.
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  • What you’re looking for is on the right side of the frame, previously covered by the right grip panel.
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  • The grey part with the hole there is the Sear.  A problem I’ve seen develop with the P38 is the Trigger Bar spring coming loose, and not forcing the “duck bill” hook of the Trigger Bar from interacting with the corresponding notch in the Sear when pulling the trigger.  This can lead to a dangerous situation where you pull the trigger, no bang happens, and the weapon is now Condition 0, and has a malfunctioning trigger, a VERY dangerous situation.  A weak/worn spring can also cause this.  To check, be sure the spring is where it should be, then cock the hammer, and slowly pull the trigger (lowering the hammer with your thumb) to watch the action of the trigger bar on the Sear.  Watch out for this:
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  • If, when you pull the trigger, the Trigger Bar hook doesn’t positively catch the notch in the Sear, you have a problem, and should find a replacement Trigger Bar Spring.

Reassemble in reverse order, making note to insert the barrel assembly into the slide with the locking-block pushed out (that is, button pushed in so the locking-block is lowered), and when replacing the slide to the frame, make sure to push the locking-block back up so that it’s able to stay with the slide when you retract it far enough to re-engage the slide release.

Oh, one more thing to share!  The Loaded Chamber Indicator I’d mentioned.  Pretty interesting really:

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Note the protruding post at the top of the breech face?  When a round is chambered, that rod is pushed back against a weak spring, and out of a small hole above the hammer on the rear of the slide, making this visible:

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There are slight differences between the P38 and P1 in the design of the “Cartridge Indicator Pin” channel (as evidenced below), but it works the same way on both.

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Next week, I think we’ll get back to a more familiar end of the 20th Century.

Mossberg 500 ‘Ultimate Arms Gear’ Kit Review / Install Guide

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I recently went shooting with a friend who had put a Kicklite Recoil Reduction stock on his Mossberg 500.  I liked the feel of the AR-style stock, and the recoil reduction did feel nice with heavier loads.  After thinking about it, I figured I’d accessorize my old Mossberg 500 Cruiser a bit, for my audience’s benefit, of course.  While I was looking, I decided I didn’t need to spend the extra money on the recoil reduction system, but Kicklite also makes a “Field Series” that has the same great feeling butt pad (seriously, this thing is really soft in the right places) but without the recoil absorbing system in the “buffer tube” that’s in the more expensive models.  I ran across a kit with a few extras for the same $69.95 MSRP as the Kicklite Field Series and free shipping.

It includes the Kicklite Field Series stock, a Shell Holder that can be attached to either side of the stock, and a TruGlo Fiber Optic sight (though it may be a knock-off, works all the same).DSCN1420 DSCN1424

 

Anyway, here’s the rundown of my thoughts on it:

Stock feels nice, is just as adjustable as a standard 6-position AR stock, is angled down just slightly making a decent cheek weld easier, pistol grip feels fine, the whole package is solid.  As mentioned before, you won’t believe how nice that buttpad feels on your shoulder, even after a while of shooting.

The Shell Holder could be better, as it’s just hard rubber, but it’s easy to mount on either side of the stock, and for my purposes it seemed to hold the shells nice and tight, but reviews on Amazon are mixed- I pretty much considered this just a bonus though, and as I said, it worked just fine for me.

The Fiber Optic front sight is pretty awesome, much nicer to look at from behind than stock gold bead on there.  Held on just fine, despite what some of the other reviewers had said.  Also very easy to mount- more on that in a moment.

Installation Guide

First up, the stock.  This may vary a tad depending on your current configuration, as this was written based on a Cruiser model (pistol grip only).  The only tools here that you’ll need with the kit are a 1/4″ Hex Key and a regular sized Phillips Head Screwdriver.

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Unscrew bolt on the rear of the grip with Hex Key as shown.  Be sure to hang onto the washer and crush washer (if applicable).  The new stock lines up perfectly, though took a bit of a nudge to get it all the way on there (fits pretty tight).DSCN1431

Replace the Hex nut w/ washers into the same location, and tighten.  The angle is a bit odd, so it may take a series of short turns and re-positioning, but it’ll eventually get on there nice and securely.

The Shell Holder comes with a couple of small screws, and is pretty self explanatory.  Just line up the holes in the Shell Holder with the pre-made holes in the stock on the side of your choosing, then screw in the provided screws until tight.

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Lastly, the Fiber Optic sight, which was a tad confusing, but only because I felt like I was going to break it putting it on.  It’s tougher than it looks, however.  Basically, just get it in place above the barrel where it’s going to go, lining up the front notch with your front bead sight.  When in place, push down with your thumbs with an even pressure on the front and back, and it’ll snap on there.DSCN1422

If you didn’t get it right the first time, it’s seriously difficult to move due to how tight it fits, it’s better to pop it back off from below and try again.

Well that’s that.  Oh, maybe not, the links in this review were specific to the 12ga Mossberg 500.  If you have a 20ga Mossberg (500C), use this link.  The whole package here is complimentary, the stock along with the front sight is great, and the shell holder is a nice bonus.  Also great for the price.  I’ve only had it to the range once, but it feels pretty solid.  I’ll update if that changes.