Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Reintroduced SIG P225

The SIG P225 is one of my favorite SIG pistols but SIG dropped them from their US catalogue many years ago. The US demand for this pistol was still strong so in the latter part of the last decade SIG emptied their warehouses of all remaining 225s and moved them into our marketplace.  Thousands of these pistols flooded gun shops but when they were gone, they were gone...until now!  SIG has reintroduced the P225 as the P225 A-1.  I'll get to the differences between the original design and the new A-1 after we look at a little history on the original P225.

 Schweizerische Industrie Gesellschaft (SIG) got into the pistol business with the .45 ACP Model 220 which was marketed in the US in the late 1970’s as the Browning BDA. I had one offered to me in 1977 but turned it down since it did not look like a Colt Model 1911…ah, the mistakes of youth. When the West German police went looking to replace their Walther .32 caliber pistols with something a little more potent (global terrorism raising its nasty head and the Soviet Union just a stone’s throw away) they put out the word that they were looking for a single stack 9mm pistol. They chose three: the Walther P5, the Sig P255 (or the P6 in its government designation), and the Heckler & Koch P7. All were fine quality pistols (sadly none are still in production) but the SIG P225 was the least expensive of the trio and as the German States were authorized to select from these three the SIG got the lion’s share of the business.
The SIG P225 is a scaled down version of the SIG P220 .45 ACP. It is slimmer and maintains the graceful lines and classic profile of the P220 with a slightly more pronounced curvature of the backstrap that most people find very accommodating.

The P225 was an instant hit and became the authorized sidearm for the Swiss and Swedish police forces as well as the Canadian Navy.

In 1995 the German police decided to look for a new pistol and began to take the P225 out of service. This has begun the boon for those in the U.S. who have always wanted one as the surplus handguns eventually made their way to our shores.

When the P225 was discontinued it looked like the days of the single stack pistols was dead.  At the time the handgun market was enamored with high capacity pistols utilizing wide double stack magazines.  However the market trend began to change several years later as customers with handgun permits wanted pistols that were slimmer and easier to conceal.  The reintroduction of the P225 as the P225 A-1 was eagerly awaited by those who were fans of the original pistol.

The New P225 A-1 does have some design changes from the original most obvious is the the rounded trigger guard and wider undercut where the guard meets the grip.  Additionally, the distance from the back-strap to the front-strap is shorter than the original 225.  The most notable operational change is the short reset trigger.  I don't know how SIG does it but each year it seems they are able to shave a few millimeters off the reset.  In comparing the original and the A-1 the difference is huge.  The original P225 was designed and manufactured before the development of the short reset trigger.  In comparison, the reset of the A-1 is near miraculous.  

Otherwise, as the chart below shows, there aren't many differences between the specifications of the two designs.  

Original P225
New P225-A1
Double/Single Action
Double/Single Action
Overall Length
7.1 Inches
6.9 Inches
5.2 Inches
5.2 Inches
1.3 Inches
1.26 Inches
Barrel Length
3.9 Inches
3.6 Inches
26.1 Ounces
30.5 Ounces
Trigger Pull
DA 12 lbs/SA 4.5 lbs
DA 10 lbs/SA 4.4 lbs
Magazine Capacity
8 Rounds
8 Rounds
Black Plastic
Black G10 with Silver Medal
Black Alloy
Black Alloy
Black Steel
Black Stainless Steel
Accessory Rail

 The new P225 A-1 is available with standard three dot sights or SIGlite night sights.

The wrap-around grips on the A-1 are constructed from G-10 which makes them impervious to blood, oil, solvent, water, etc.  The grips are also nicely checkered and I greatly prefer them to the original P225's plastic handles.  (which is why I opted for after market wood grips as seen in the photo of the pistol comparisons).  I also like the silver SIG medallion centered in the middle of the grip.

All of the pistol's controls are located on the left side of the pistol which included the take-down lever, the de-cocker, slide stop and magazine release.  Obviously, this pistol is not set up for left-handed users.

At 21 feet the pistol shot low and left but provided an excellent grouping.  

At 40 feet and changing my point of aim to the 2 O'clock point on the orange circle moved my shots over but they are still low.

This is an excellent pistol but mine will require a shorter front sight and I will need to have the gunsmith move the rear sight to the right (if you've ever tried to drift adjust a SIG sight you know that it really needs a gunsmith with the proper equipment).  

I'm glad SIG brought back the P225 in their A-1 configuration.  It has few changes from the original but the changes made bring the design into the 21st Century.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ruger American 9mm Pistol

With minor fanfare Ruger has strategically introduced the new Ruger American pistol just prior to the industry's trade show, the SHOT Show, held each January in Las Vegas.  Most manufacturers wait until the SHOT Show to unveil their new offerings but Ruger typically puts out a new item about 30 days prior.  The reason for doing this is a rather elementary marketing strategy.  Other competitors will be showcasing their new pistol ats the show.  But by putting the American out a month earlier Ruger builds media awareness and consumer interest for their product before the marketplace is glutted with new firearms.  Also, every consumer who buys the Ruger American prior to the SHOT Show is someone who will probably not buy a pistol from the competition when they hit the market a month later.

Although beauty is in the hands of the beholder I do not find this pistol to be very handsome however, it does look like it means business and that is the statement I want my defensive pistol to make.  The American is currently chambered only in 9mm (tested) or .45 ACP.  However, if the demand is there I am sure that Ruger will produce a .40 S&W version.  The 9mm American has a magazine capacity of 17 rounds and is a rather large pistol with an overall length of 7.5 inches and a weight of 30 ounces.  The pistol has a fairly low bore axis which helps with muzzle flip.  In fact, neither muzzle flip nor recoil were much of an issue with this new pistol.  It was very comfortable to shoot; a fact I was very interested in as a reader had corresponded to me that the pistol chewed up his his middle finger knuckle and the web of his hand. My time with the pistol did not confirm any such problems.  Ruger's specifications stated that the trigger pulls are designed to break at 6.3 pounds.  My test pistol's trigger averaged 7.14 pounds as measured by my Lyman digital scale and the slightly heavier pull was unnoticeable in my evaluation.

The American sports actual Novak LoMount 3-dot sights that assisted my aging eyes in acquiring the desired sight picture very quickly.
Both the front and rear sight are dovetailed in place making lateral adjustments as well as sight replacement an easy process.

Ruger also incorporated a modular, wrap around grip system that can change the palm swell and trigger reach.
The curved backstrap is a feature that I appreciate as it assists in the acquisition of a comfortable grip.  The area where the trigger guard meets the grip is very generously undercut which prevents the pistol from rapping your middle knuckle during recoil (more commonly known as "Glock Knuckle") which, again, puzzles me about the reader who found this to be a problem.  

The take down process is very simple: 1. Lock the slide back which should eject any chambered round. 2. Remove the magazine.  3. Check again to insure that the chamber is empty.  4. While the slide remains locked open the semi-circle cut-out in the slide should be positioned directly over the take down lever's retention pin.  Simply rotate the take-down lever downward until it stops and the slide can be pushed forward and off of the frame.
5. From that point you just remove the recoil spring and barrel from the slide and the pistol is adequately stripped for cleaning.  On the plus side of the take-down process, the trigger does not need to be pulled to release the slide nor are any special tools required to disassemble the pistol.

Another plus on this pistol is that the two included steel magazines are nickel-teflon coated to make insertion easier and extraction faster.

Both the back strap and front strap have diamond checkering molded into the grip frame to provide a firm hold on the pistol.
The side panels of the grip have appropriately less aggressive textures.

The grip fit my hand very well and shooting full metal jacket 115 grain and 124 grain ammunition from MagTech and Federal were absolutely no problem.  Here are the targets.

The top bullseye on this target shows 10 rounds fired at 21 feet and 10 rounds fired at 30 feet.  At these ranges the pistol grouped very well.  These two targets are both 3 inch circles.

This 8 inch target was run out to 40 feet and shot with 20 rounds.

This final target was run out to 50 feet and shot with my last 16 rounds.

I have a suspicion that Ruger produced the American for the Government trials as well as the consumer market.  Consumers are always looking for the next new gun and the U.S. Government is looking for new pistols for both the military as well as some of the Federal Law Enforcement agencies.  The Ruger seems to fit the Government's requested specifications for a high capacity pistol that is ambidextrous (both the slide stop and the magazine release button can be accessed from either side of the pistol), is modular and can be taken apart and put back together within two minutes without the need of any special tools.

I would not hesitate to recommend this pistol for anyone looking for a range or home defense pistol.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Masterpiece Arms 9mm Defender

The Masterpiece Arms Defender (MPA930DMG) is a strange little pistol, reminiscent of a MAC-10.   "Clunky" and probably not very accurate was my first impression upon seeing a photo of this handgun.  Both of those impressions were wrong.

The pistol is available in Cerakote Tungsten coatings in black, dark earth brown and burnt bronze.  The grip and lower are made of aluminum with non-slip decal grip panels.  The angle of the grip and the generously cut finger groves make for a very ergonomic and secure hold.  The Defender balances surprisingly well with a two-hand hold and the trigger pull is crisp with minimal creep with a pull of 4.8 pounds on my Lyman digital scale.  

The pistol has a 3.5 inch threaded barrel and a safety that is mounted in a very un-pistol like manner.
Instead of the safety being mounted on the left side of the frame in easy reach of the right thumb it is on the right side of the frame forward of the trigger.

Atop the receiver is an accessory rail for mounting an optic and a set of adjustable front and rear sights.  The rear sight is black with a white V-notch while the front sight is a military style black post topped in white as well.
I must admit that this sight arrangement did not provide my aging eyes with a very good sight picture but the pistol proved accurate inspire of my eyesight.

A piece of good news is that the MPA930DMG accepts Glock 17 magazines so you can also utilize 33 round stick mags as well as a 50 round drums.

So let's look at the targets. All shooting was conducted using MagTech 115 grain 9mm ammo and a standing two-handed hold on the Defender.  As I mentioned the pistol is accurate.    This first target shows five rounds fired on a Caldwell 3-inch Orange Peel target at 21 feet.

This next target represents 10 rounds fired on an 8 inch Birchwood Casey target at 35 feet.
You can begin to see the effects of the rudimentary military type sights on my aging eyes as two of the round fell outside of the 3-inch inner zone.

This target shows 10 rounds fired on the 8-inch target at 50 feet.
The spread got even larger with only three of the rounds hitting inside the inner 3-inch zone.

Releasing the hounds.

20 rounds rapid-fired at 21 feet.  

A 50 round drum, a suppressor and a red dot sight would make the Defender a formidable home defense weapon.  Along with the defense of hearth and home, the pistol is also (and I can't emphasize this enough) extremely fun to shoot.  Accuracy, balance, good ergonomics and a high magazine capacity make for a fun time at the range.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Holiday Gift Guide






Hearing Protection


Last, But Not Least...

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Springfield XD Mod. 2

I have to be honest, when the XD Mod. 2 came on the market I violated my own rule of not criticizing any pistol before I handled it.  Not that I have any qualms against the Springfield XD series but the "GRIP ZONE" embossing on the grips seemed a little patronizing to me.  Were people confusing the slide with the grip by grasping the slide and trying to fire bullets out of the magazine well?  Was Springfield trying to eliminate customer confusion?  While I was having fun at Springfield's expense I failed to recognize the well thought out modifications that they had made on this pistol.  

Let's start with the specifications and what is included in the case.  This XD Mod. 2 has a capacity of 16 rounds of 9mm, a four-inch barrel, is 7.3 inches in length, 5.5 inches high, weighs 27.5 ounces and is 1.2 inches wide at the grip.

The package includes 2 magazines, cleaning brush, cable lock, thermo-plastic molded holster, dual mag pouch and loading tool.  

Interestingly, the thermo-plastic items are imported from Israel.

Back in 2002 when Springfield brought this Croatian made pistol into the United States Glock did not have much competition.  The helped XD change that.  The XD line-up evolved with the advent of the XDM and the fantastic single stack iteration of the XDs.  Frankly, until someone asked for one I didn't realize that Springfield was still making the original XD pistol.  I couldn't imagine why anyone would want one after the XDM hit the market.  But they do still make them and they have just seen a major upgrade with the Mod. 2.  Let's review the changes:

The lines on the slide and the slide itself have been re-contoured and wider cocking serrations have been cut.  The slide is a tad slimmer than the original.  The trigger guard has been rounded and greatly under cut with the undercut widened and rounded into the subtle finger grooves on the grip.
The stippling on the grip is applied using two slight variations of the pattern.  The most aggressive pattern is on the front and back straps.  On the front sides of the grip where your finger tips will rest the pattern is a little less aggressive.  The re-contoured grip really worked well for me.  They were comfortable and the widened undercut on the trigger fit my middle finger well and allowed me to get a higher hold on the pistol which helped control muzzle flip.

The rear sight is a low profile 2-white dot wedge and the front sight contains my favorite red fiber optic pipe.
The red pipe really helps my 59 year old eyes find the front sight quickly and holds my focus.  It provides a great contrast with the rear sight to offer me a superior sight picture.

Although I did not measure the trigger pull it is good for a self-defense pistol and I would image that it is slightly under 5 pounds.  So...I like the feel, the sights and the trigger did it shoot.

Let's look at the targets.  All shooting was conducted with a two hand hold using Mag Tech 115 grain FMJ ammunition fired at 5.5 inch Birchwood Casey "Shoot-N-C" targets.

This target was fired at 75 feet with 30 rounds.  I am not a long distance pistol shot by any means but, as this is a 5.5 inch target, a humanoid assailant would have been continuously hit.

This target was fired at 30 feet with 20 rounds.  The pistol grouped well.  If this was my pistol I would would tap the rear sight a little to the right.

I think this target really speaks to the accuracy of the pistol.  This was the first five rounds out of the box at 21 feet.

One of the criticisms I have often heard about the XD line-up is that there are few available after-market accessories.  That might be true but the trigger pull is fine, I would not need to send the grip frame out to be thinned down or have the under-cut enlarged, and the sights are exactly the ones I want on my guns.  Unlike other manufacturer's polymer-framed pistols, there is nothing I would change on the XD Mod. 2.