Sunday, October 21, 2007

Snowy Sunday

Well, I was going to go shooting today, except that it's snowing sideways and is colder than Hillary's...never mind. It is cold, though, and it's looking like serious snow. Yesterday we got the snow fences up, which will hopefully postpone the usual Giant Driveway Drift for a while.

The Ruger launch has been very successful...reports of sell-outs on the first 2000 guns all around the country. Some people don;t like the SR9, but then again some people don't like chocolate or Sarah Michelle Geller. As I've said before, it's an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary step. Revolutionary steps in firearms tend to be few and far between. The first M-16 was a revolutionary step...the 10th iteration of a gas-piston AR, while a significantly better gun, is simply the next step on hte product lifespan J-curve.

To me, the Sig Sauer P250 is more of a revolutionary step because it separates the "gun," the inernal stainless steel cradle that carries the hammer and trigger mechanism, from the gripframe and barrel/slide assembly in a way that allows fullsize or compact grip frames, caliber changes, etc. The question is whether the concept will move forward or dead-end with the 250. Not all ideas, even good ideas, move forward.

Let's talk for a minute about dry side-by-side comparisons on some striker-fired guns. In front of me I've got 3 9mm striker-fired pistols, the Ruger SR9, the Glock G34 and the S&W M&P fullsize. The SR9 is unfired (and has NOT been disassembled and cleaned); I've got a little better than a thousand rounds through the Glock and the M&P has been through the GUNSITE 250/350 pistol class, so a minimum of 2000 rounds through it.

The SR9 trigger is definitely "grittier" than the other two (and grittier than the two dozen test guns I shot out in Arizona a few weeks ago). The S&W has more grit than the Glock. The Glock has the least take-up and, frankly, the "cleanest" trigger break of the three. It seems to me the M&P has slightly more take-up than the SR9, but it is a little less obvious because of the greater curve in the M&P trigger, The M&P has a trigger stop built into the trigger/trigger guard, which helps the felt trigger pull of that gun.

In terms of trigger reset, with all 3 guns sitting in my lap and me dry-firing them over and over again, they all seem to me to reset at pretty much the same point. In short, there might be a measureable difference in reset between the three guns, but I can't feel it.

The magazine button on the SR9 is stiff, but no stiffer than the Glock. The M&P is the easiest by far. The manual safety on the SR9 is easy to knock off with the thumb, but harder to put on because of its rearward location on the slide. It works best to slide the tip of my thumb to the rear and engage the safety with the tip of the thump rather than the meaty part of the thumb (as I might with a 1911 safety). I also notice that the SR9 safety reset is getting easier as I work with it dry-firing.

In terms of pure trigger pull, the absolute best striker-fired gun I've every fired is the little Wilson ADP 9mm. The one I shot, which was one of Bill Wilson's guns, was excellent, and I look forward to getting one to shoot.

The SR9 is hands down the skinniest in both grip and slide, with the Glock the fattest. The SR9 and the M&P both mimic 1911 grip angles; the Glock has its own slightly different angle. The SR9 sights are excellent, but the M&P sights are Novak night sights, which are world-class. I'd still prefer a set of Heinie "Straight 8s" (or for-real Novaks for the SR9 and the Glock) and if I was going to campaign any of these guns in IDPA or USPSA, I would change the sights, but that's just me...all three are perfectly serviceable as they sit.

Neither the Glock nor the M&P have magazine disconnect safties; the Ruger does. As I've said before, it's not this huge issue with me one way or the other (with the exception of the Browning HP, where the magazine disconnect has a huge adverse effect on the trigger pull). The reason this doesn't bother me is that all my training focuses on keeping the gun hot all the time, with an emphasis on speedy reloading. Yes, I'm aware of the "classic" scenario of a person loosing the magazine and having to single feed the me, this is pretty much on par with "assault by zombie." If it worries you, the SR9 magazine disconnect is easily removeable.

In terms of feel in my hand, all three guns are fiercely ergonomic. I don't like the Glock finger grooves, but it's not to the point of obsession. The Ruger feels best to me because it feels the most like a 1911...your results may differ, and objects in the rearview mirror, etc...

I prefer black guns and would like to have some kind of Nitron/shake-and-bake finish on the Ruger, as on both the Glock and the M&P. Hell, I wish EVERY semiauto slide looked and felt like the Glock!

The Ruger has a manual safety, and — to me — that is a great big plus for a couple of reasons.
For off-body carry, say in something like a SafePacker or a fanny pack, I insist on a mechanical safety and/or a long double-action first stroke. Why? Because guns in bags get bounced around a lot, and Murphy (as in Murphy's law) is incredibly ingenious. Safe action/trigger action guns do not require a human finger to pull the trigger.

More importantly, I want a way to render the gun safe after an action. Example...holding someone at gunpoint or after a shooting, when you're suffering the effects of the huge chemical cocktail your body has generated in the "flee or fight" response. You lose fine muscle control, may have the shakes, tunnel vision, etc. Even if you have your finger off the trigger, you're still suscetible to a "clinch reaction" if you stumble, are bumped hard or get pushed — you clinch your hand, including the trigger finger. In a less-stressful situation and your finger is off the trigger, no big; in the super high stress of a shooting situation, maybe big big.

In the first case, a grip safety like the one on the Springfield XD will work to alleviate the risk. A thumb safety works in both situations. I prefer a thumb safety over a grip safety because I have girly-man hands without a lot of meat in the web between the thumb and the forefinger, and it's not unusal for me to "miss" the grip safety on a 1911...especially if I get a less-than-perfect draw.

Feel is completely subjective, and everyone's hand and body mechanics are different. I could pick up any one of these three guns and, without any modifications at all, go to war with it. All three of them will shoot more accurately than I can. The Glock 34 is at the upper end of its own product J-curve, that is, it is the product of more than 20 years of refinement, and that refinement shows. The M&P is a couple of years into its own evolution, and the Ruger's just starting out. The compact SR9 is going to be a monster!

Let me address a couple of other points that have been bought up on the Ruger and DOWN RANGE forums. Ruger suggests you only dry-fire the gun wiht the magazine in place. So what? You wanna dry-fire it, put the magazine in. I notice that in a morning of dry-firing, the SR9 and the M&P had their magazines in and the Glock didn't. The other is the "billboard" comment — Ruger puts a lot of words on their guns...well, so does S&W. Only Glock hones to the minimalist's path as far as warnings, etc. The Ruger's loaded chamber indicator is a bit overwrought, but it is impossible to mistake it in the dark...and NO chamber indicator should replace the simple expediency of pulling back the slide to see if there's a round in the chamber!

Whether you're talking about magazine disconnects, loaded chamber indicators, or other "features," no gadget should ever replace intelligent technique and training.

Which would I choose? I'd need a lot more rounds through the SR9 (and the Springfield XD and the Taurus OSS) before I made that determination. The Taurus OSS .45 is one heck of a gun, but I only have a couple of hundred rounds through the platform. I need to get an example for more thorough testing. I am going to take the SR9 through the GUNSITE 250/350 class after the SHOT Show, and my inclination is to take my SR9 and have it overhauled slightly before I go (trigger clean-up, maybe new sights, smooth out the other controls). I was going to call Wayne Novak tomorrow and talk to him about the work.

Hope this helps!


catfish said...

I remember back in the day when if you wanted to shoot the drastic plastic, a Glock was your only choice.

It is really nice to see the different companies all manufacturing quality "plastic" firearms.

It's excellent to have several choices in quality composite handguns and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to a new shooter a Glock, XD or MP; it will be interesting to see how the new Ruger holds up.

Geoff said...

MB -

Thanks for the in-depth. I have yet to see one of the SR-9s, the local shops I went to did not have one. I will keep looking.

You also said "The SR9 is unfired (and has NOT been disassembled and cleaned)" - so, no Michael Bane Dishwasher-Safe Seal of Approval yet?

Fibber Magee said...

My Taurus PT145 has both manual safety and double strike capability (yeah I know "tap-rack-bang" but fifty years of revolver shooting has developed some muscle memory, and I know that a mis-fire will result in another trigger pull...and usually will cause that cartridge to fire). Better yet, the thing was cheap enough that it actually gets carried everywhere and ALL the time.

I also know that if I ever have to use it DPS will impound my gun and it could be years before I get it back (if ever). Besides, I shot 298 of 300 on my CHL renewal after only a hundred rounds of "break in" and it feeds my carry load just fine.

While I will probably buy the first SR-9 I see (just because) I'd still like to see some comparisons. Just how does my Taurus stack up against some of this "high dollar" stuff?

Anonymous said...

Much obliged, señor - that was very helpful.

cheers, erich martell

Anonymous said...

Michael: Thanks for the comments on the
SR9's trigger and its reset! It was very helpful! Thank you, good sir!

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