Sunday, February 24, 2008

Once Again, Clearing the Air

Gosh, I've said this before, but in light of the comments on the previous post, I suppose it's time to say this again...I have OPINIONS...yours may be different from mine...your results may vary...objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they appear...

My opinions are based on hundreds of thousands of rounds through quite literally thousands of guns since I was 6 years old. Every year I try (and have been successful for the last 5-6 years) to attend at least 1 and preferably 2 classes at a name gun school, because in all honesty, the list of what I don't know is longer than the list of what I do know. I hold credentials from four of the acknowledged best shooting/training schools in the world, GUNSITE, MID-SOUTH INSTITUTE, LFI and ROGERS SHOOTING SCHOOL, and have attended probably a dozen others, plus special classes and instruction not available to the public. I graduated from the very first "test class" for range officers before the creation for the National Range Officer Institute, then helped shape that first cirriculum.

Through SHOOTING GALLERY, I have been blessed with (as Walt Rauch once said) a "post-graduate degree in gun." Because I have a background with a manufacturing consultancy, I have been able to spend time with firearms design and manufacturing engineers and go through how guns are created and built at a level most people would find as boring as fingernails across a chalk board. I've been to most of the U.S. manufacturing facilities and some in Europe, and every one is fascinating. My direct input is, I'm proud to say, in use in several guns on today's market.

Each of us in the field have different personal standards when evaluating a gun. Mas and I have been friends for more years than either of us care to count, but there are guns Mas swears by that I simply won't own...not that they're bad guns, but I have shot them and I don't like them...it's that simple. But should I get on my blog or on other Forums and rail about how I hate such and such? I don't believe so, because there's absolutely nothing wrong with the guns involved, except that for whatever reason they don't work for me.

It's like the disucssion Dave Spaulding and I had about sights on the Ruger SR9 and sights in general...coming from a law enforcement background, Dave feels very strongly about fixed sights — they can't be knocked out of adjustment (well, it's harder to knock them out of adjustment) and a patrolman with a screwdriver can't cause unlimited havoc. I, coming from a competition background, in general want adjustable sights, because it allows me to vary loads as much as I want. Okay...which of us is right? Both of us, of course...

A second point...most of us have ties to specific gun companies. Usually, those ties involve people we've worked with over the years or decades. In some cases, those people work for sponsors of the magazines we work for or the shows we do; in some cases, the opposite is true. In my own case, Ruger, Sig Sauer and Para USA have been big sponsors of my show, and I have spoken well of their guns and featured them on the show. Alternately, Glock, S&W and Kimber have never put a penny into my shows, and I have featured their guns on the show anyway. I am to the best of my knowledge the only show to feature guns not from sponsors...it is an ethical issue for me, and my sponsors understand and are in agreement with my stance. Do I give my sponsors better play? Are you crazy? Absolutely!

On the Ruger SR9, when I shot the factory prototypes back in September, I (along with Dick Metcalf, Patrick Sweeney and Jim Wilson) told Ruger the mag catches were unacceptable, and Ruger assured us they would be redesigned — which they were. We also noted the stiff magazines, which is a function of the narrow width of the receiver. I said then, and I still say, I'll take a hard magazine to load over at fatt-butted receiveer (of course, with apologies to Queen) any day of the week. Also, the magazines do loosen up...we were using most original mags at GUNSITE...Spaulding loaded every single magazine the whole week with his fingers, and he didn't spontaniously combust.

I would like a bigger thumb safety, but it's not an issue with me for two reasons:
It's a redundant safety...that is, the gun can be run just like a Glock, not using the thumb safety at all. For holster carry, I would not engage the thumb safety; for bag or off-body carry, I would as an added layer of safety in something that's going to be bounced around. IMO — and note that I said opinion — the "trigger safety" on a Glock is more of a marketing device than an added level of safety. That said, I have never had a problem carrying either my Glock 19 or M&P 9mm in holsters. I have also written that the absence of a secondary mechanical safety disqualified those guns from a bag-style carry (the XD, with it's grip saftey, is not included).
I have no trouble at all sweeping the safety off; it's size and placement on the slide do make it more difficult to put back on. But — and I can't say this enough — that is a training issue as opposed to a design issue. A percentage of 1911 shooters who choose not to use a high thumb grip have issues with bumping the 1911-placed safety back on, which is a far more serious issue than a stiff return on a redundant safety. If a slightly larger thumb safety becomes available from the aftermarket for the SR9, I will probably get one.
On the SR9 trigger, if you want that zero take-up, glass-rod breaking trigger, I refer you to multi-thousand dollar 1911s from Bill Wilson, Wayne Novak or Bill Laughridge...stay away from striker-fired guns! The Glock trigger can be more-or-less civilized through aftermarket parts because it's been around the longest. However, as Dave Sevigny has catagorically proved, an out-of-the-box Glock trigger is no detriment to high-quality shooting. In fact, the same can be said for all of the striker-fired guns' triggers...while they are nowhere near that glass-rod-breaking standard, they aren't a detriment to marksmanship, either. Ask Dave Spaulding — a far better shot than me — who won the GUNSITE class shoot-off against a host of finely tuned 1911s. Hey, I got no complaints after a week and 1200 rounds!

BTW, for those of you who want a better trigger on the SR9, the guys at GHOST, Inc., who create some of the finest Glock triggers on the planet, will be starting in on the SR9 trigger system next week...watch this space for announcements!

Finally, all new products have problems. One recent striker-fired pistol had a return rate of more than 30%. 1911s have been around since the friggin' dinosaurs, and new 1911s have bugs (look at the Sig GSR experience). There's a quote, I believe from Samuel Johnson, something to the effect that if we were to address every eventuality before we began, we'd never begin. New products, and especially new guns, get tested extensively...then they send them out to people like me who break them in new and imaginative ways the engineers never thought of.

The companies address our issue, put out a new product and then you guys get a chance to break them in new and imaginative ways nobody thought of. Ideally, a new product is 100%. Realistically, no product made by humans, be it new or ancient, is 100%. Machines break. All machines break. Here's how I look at firearms failures:
1) 80-90% of all firearms failures are OPERATOR-INDUCED. Sorry...that's the gospel truth. In a semiauto pistol, you are part of the operating system, and that operating system expects yout to operae in a specific manner. Every so often, you run across someone who can't shoot a specific type of semiauto because of biomechanical issues...I know a very proficient woman hunter who jams every Glock that's put into her hands, including mine, which I know to be fiercely reliable. It's not the Glock's fault...the blame lies in the wet part of the system!
2) Ammo is a bigger issue than most shooters realize or accept. Anyone who shoots ammo he or she got from a gun show needs to also obtain a plastic explosion shield to place between their faces and the gun. In the other 10-20% failures in revolvers, the ammo is usually at fault.
3) In the remaining 10-20% of firearms failures in semiautos, magazines are usually the culprit.
4) Sometimes, even the best designer can't beat the laws of physics. In the case of "walking pins," polymer frame guns are notorious for loosening up pins, because frame flex is built into the system. All frames flex, but polymer frames flex more than steel or any of the aluminum alloys. Flex puts more stress on pins. The result is thsat sometimes pins back out. The solution? Pay attention to your gun! If you don't believe me, go buy a classic Colt Gold Cup, an all-steel gun which will invariably launch it's adjustable sight, which is held in by a pin. Whatever pin your replace the factory pin with, sooner or later it'll break that pin, too.
4) One data point is not a trend. Think about what a firearm is...a device for containing and channeling explosions. All explosions, including the ones that happen in cartridges, are chaos systems, that is, a sigularity...every explosion is different, and the combined stresses on the gun for each shot fired are slightly different. The result is that a certain set of stresses will cause "X" to fail. If you replace "X" with a duplicate part, it may never fail again because that exac t set of stresses won't be repeated. Multiple data points are a trend...for instance, I once had a short slide 1911 that broke firing pins...three in a row. That's what one might call a "clue," some set of parts in the gun was enough out of spec to stress the firing pin to failure.
Finally finally finally, when any of us go into a factory and talk to the designers and engineers, we are under a very strict nondisclosure document...that is, we cannot tell you what was discussed under penalty of law. This isn't unique to firearms...every factory I visited as a consultant required me to sign a nondisclose before letting me in the door. It makes perfect sense...a lot of the processes and manufacturing solutions we see are proprietary, often developed at a cost of hundreds or thousands or even millions of dollars. Except in the most general terms, I can't tell you what I've discussed while inside the doors of a gun factory.

Anyhow, I hope this gives you a better view of how I work.

Again, your results may differ...

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice essay on reviewing firearms.

Now just admit your the bastard son of Bill Ruger!!! LOL

Ratcatcher55

Anonymous said...

Common sense from a gun writer? Will the wonders never cease. Of course you realize that too many people will still accuse you of being in the pay of the evil corporate types who run the industry. You can lead a fool to knowledge but you can't make him think.

Warhawke

TexGun said...

You know Michael, some folks just can't enjoy a blog such as yours for what it is, one man's opinion that hopefully enspires folks to try the same product and form their own opinions. Based on what I saw, you gave us the good, the bad, and the ugly, then your conclusion, which may or may not suit everybody.

I am a new to your website and show, and so far have found your material, just as if not more objective than most. Keep up the good work and I'll keep coming back!

I guess one of the risks you run with an open forum on the internet is digging up folks that have a bone to pick for whatever reason.

Again, can't wait for the future gunsite footage!

-TexGun

Doug said...

Excellent points. You've rapidly become one of the reviewers I trust with their opinions.

nj_larry said...

MB no need to explain. Your a flack for the industry. Everyone needs to make money and this is your way. Thats fine. On the other hand ordinary folks need to educate themselves and make their own decisions. If I listened to every pitch from a sales guy I wouldn't have a dime left in my pocket and would own a bridge in Brooklyn.

As for Ruger or any other company you get a sense of the company ethos by showing up at the NRA annual meetings (the ordinary guys SHOT show). In all the years I have attended them, the Ruger guys are the most disinterested in talking to the rif raf. Most friendly has been Henry, Benelli, Kimber. I don't spend my money where I am looked down upon. I am sure my decision won't bankrupt Ruger but it makes me happy.

As for your comment about gun show ammo I say again most of us are ordinary folks and have to pay for ammo. So to say we should only pay full price for new freshly shelved ammo is dumb. Maybe I shouldn't buy CMP ammo either?

Anonymous said...

Well Michael, it seems you've gotten your second wind, and welcome back. I have mostly positives on your new report, but the comment about the Glock trigger block being a market ploy? Believe me when I say Gaston is arrogant, but He never knew, what his pistol would become, like Kalishnokov, whom I have met, and talked to through an interpreter. They were both given a task, and we use the results. I doubt the Austrians, knew we would love the pistol so much.

I'm glad you got your voice back.

Look forward to the new season.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that explanation. once again Mr. Bane you have demonstrated why so many hold your opinion in such high regard.

Anonymous said...

80% of auto failures are operator induced?

The other 20% are magazine related?

What data do you have to back up that claim? Without data you are a blowhard spouting off at the mouth.

Why were 30% of the gun you will not name returned? Operator error or a bad magazine?

Just where does the pin issue fall? Was the pin "operator error" or a "bad magazine"?

With this write up you have now proven yourself to be nothing more than a whore who will say whatever it takes to make your sponsor (Ruger) "look good".

A quick look at the advertising on your web site will show even the most die hard fan that you are in the employ of Ruger.

Your "brother" Ayoob had the integrity to call the faults of the SR9 to the attention of his readers. You continue to make excuses for those faults.

Go back to Nevada where prostitution is legal and stay. Then the world will know what you really are.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who thinks Michael Bane is giving them the skinny on the SR9 is a fool.

Michael Bane admits on this blog he gives preferential treatment to his sponsors.

Do you really think he will tell you the trigger on the SR9 sucks? Or that the safety on the SR9 sucks? Or that the pin backing out is a potential MAJOR problem?

No, he has admitted he gives special treatment to his sponsors so he will downplay those issues no matter what he really thinks.

Anyone who believes otherwise is a sap.

Harold said...

You have to admire the WHINERS who complain about Micheal, then are too cowardly to sign anything but "anonymous".

Lord love the cowards
~ ; - )

Anonymous said...

From Kmitch200:
MB said: "Every so often, you run across someone who can't shoot a specific type of semiauto because of biomechanical issues."

I had the same thing happen to my beloved 9mm SIG226, one of the old ones. That gun NEVER malfunctioned for me with ANY ammo.
My old girlfriend couldn't get through a magazine without a jam.

Her limp-wrist, (which I tried to duplicate by shooting the gun with only a finger on trigger and just my thumb on the backstrap and never could), just didn't allow the gun to function the way I know it should.

I personally don't care for Rugers.
They are too heavy, the triggers sucked on the limited models I've tried and the last straw was a Mini14 Ranch model that shot 4" low at 25 yards. I traded it for an HBar Colt and never looked back.

My brother and a good friend on the other hand LOVE Rugers. They're frugal and like that Rugers generally cost less than the other brands. For them they work, for me, I prefer other brands.
That's OK, I still love 'em both.

Anonymous posted: "Michael Bane admits on this blog he gives preferential treatment to his sponsors."

Well no shit Captain Obvious!!
If you had a successful TV show would you give preferential treatment to those who DON'T sponsor you? If so, you are an idiot!

MB gives us dope on S&Ws, Taurus, Paras and Glocks too. Only a dolt would slap the face of the sponsors, and MB is no dolt. He gives us the skinny on a LOT of guns.
Get a life fercryinoutloud!!

If you find him so repulsive, repugnant, and distrustful, don't read his blog, don't watch his TV show, don't sleep with him, and don't watch the vids on downrange.tv.

The only time I met Mike and his crew was when they were doing the multi-gun, multi-scenario, multi-shooter show at Gunsight last
year.(?)
Meeting and talking to Jerry Miculek was a blast, nice man. Dave Sevigny was also a very nice guy.
Both Mike and his crew struck me as good people, even though I was just some dweeb who showed up to watch the shooting.
They were very generous with their time even though they were busy - as was Ms. New from Gunsight.
They could have ignored me but they took the time to be nice.
Goes a long way in my book.

Do I agree with everything he says?
Hell no! I have my own opinions. Like the "backup" rear sight on the 556 is a piece of crap that was at best an afterthought.
But as they say, opinions are like as**oles, everyones got one.
Anonymous, you are entitled to yours by all means but to make ad hominum attacks on someone you disagree with is not making your opinion anymore worth its weight in pigeon dung.
You disagree..get over it!

Anonymous said...

This is the other "Anonymous" who originally brought up the Ayoob SR9 review in the other comment thread. I certainly didn't intend to spark the ill-natured flaming (of our host, yet!) that's ensued.

Just thought Mas's review provided a grain of salt and is worth considering.

steamdragon said...

You bring it upon yourself, Michael.
Like the sign says, "Do Not Feed the Trolls!"

Hazcat said...

Wow, MB! Now I know why you're a writer.

You said basically the same thing I did in the previous thread it just took you a LOT more words. :)

Remember, 'Never let the bastards get you down".

Keep up the good, HONEST, reviews and opinions my friend and to hell with the small minded.

JWilliams said...

I am little confused though when MB says that all of his guns has Laser Grips on them (which he most likely got for free and he enorses because they advertise on his show). Then the guy at the range says that they are not needed. Not sure who I should believe - and thsi is a choice that could save or end my life...

Hazcat said...

jwilliams,

Did you read MBs post? He states that these opinions are HIS brought on by his research and experience. Others may disagree.

As with all things it behooves us to do our own research while possibly using others opinions for guidance.

Anonymous said...

OK now, take a deep breath Michael. You're doin' fine. It's a blog! (As you previously reminded us and what a good reminder it was.) My previous comments were for YOUR own good. Now don't go self-destructing on us. Everyone has an opinion, and you're entitled to yours too. All we're asking, as our representative, is that you listen, filter out the BS and represent us. You're just like our congressmen!
If you don't agree with us, but there are many who hold an opinion, then simply go to the manufacturer and ask "So, what say you?" It's out of your hands and into theirs. The way I see it, it will only strengthen the industry, not weaken it.
Life Member

Anonymous said...

Nice blog. I've learned a lot here over the time I've been reading it. With all the hoohaw, this seemed like a good time to mention it.

Ahab said...

Oh man, I love "anonymous" trolls.

So brave; so bold, so hiding behind the internets.

If you're going to call someone names, have the temerity to own your statements.

Tam said...

Thanks, Mr. Bane. I've gone blue in the face from trying to explain to people that "They're just machines, and machines break."

chris said...

I am one of those that has had an issue with the SR9... after the first 200 rounds, i started getting deformation along the top of the barrel block... i have been in contact with ruger and they have been most helpful... if you would like more info, or a complete story, leave me a comment at my blog (which is under construction) and ill provide as much information as youd like...

oh, and apparently, smokejumper decided that abusing and trolling the rugerforum.com threads wasnt enough and decided to come here... ahh, the wonders of anonymity on the internet...

anyways, your reviews have been extremely helpful, and were pivotal in my decision to buy an SR9...

thanks again,

chris

chris said...

apparently my url didnt show up

jay paul said...

I really like your writing style. Can’t wait for the next one. Keep these informative posts coming!

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