Part II of II
Smith & Wesson M&P 9C
The quest for the best carry pistol continued and I thought just might have it with the M&P 9C. Several Months ago I reviewed the M&P Pro 9 and found it to be a fantastic pistol; it was accurate on the range and performed very well on the tactical course. The Pro 9 however sported a 5 inch barrel so it was not a concealed carry pistol. The 9C with its 3.5 inch barrel looked to be just about right. The pistol was certainly more than accurate enough:
In the end it was the width that ended this pistol’s tenure with me. It felt like a brick in my inside-the-waistband holster so it did not see much daylight and became a more or less permanent resident of my safe and that sealed its fate. It now resides with a couple who think it is the cat’s meow. I am very happy for all of them.
Smith & Wesson M&P .45 Compact
The M&P 9mms that I had owned were plenty accurate enough for self defense. I thought they were too wide I was willing to overlook it for a concealable .45. I planned try to find a better holster to help with the concealment process. This one went from bad to worse. In my first range session I put 150 rounds through the pistol but could not get a consistent group out of it at 21 feet. The trigger pull was terrible. The trigger pull on the M&P Pro 9 was great; the pull on the 9C of good, and this one was horrible.
I then ran it through the tactical class where I put another 150 rounds through it. Under the stress of the class I could not actually call what I shot to be groups. Firing any further than 7 yards back, the target looked like it had been hit with a shotgun shell. In shooting left handed not one of my 32 shots so much as hit the paper, no less the silhouette. Another disgusting problem occurred when the pistol would not eject snap caps that were placed into the magazine to make the pistol malfunction during drills. I manually worked the slide several times but the extractor would not pick up the rounds. The next day I traded it for a Glock model 38 in .45 GAP. I did not own this pistol long enough to photograph it and I certainly did not save any of the targets.
I thought I had finally found it with the P45. Slimmer and easier to conceal then most 9mms, it came with Night Sights, and was accurate. I could stand there all day and punch nice big .45 Caliber holes in the targets at 21 feet which, statistically speaking, would get me through most violent encounters. However she unraveled during the Tactical Class. The first problem was the magazines; I had purchased 3 extras for a total of five as we need to be able to shoot 30 rounds in the tactical class without having to recharge any magazines. Many times the magazines did not drop cleanly from the grip when you pressed the mag release. When one stalled I had to treat it like a tactical reload meaning that I had to pull my loaded magazine out of the carrier and hold it between my little and ring finger so that I could use my first, middle finger and thumb to strip the empty magazine from the grip. When I ejected the first magazine fired during class the magazine spit out of the grip, hit the ground, and broke into seven pieces. That became a continual distraction as I fear that a magazine would shatter every time I had to reload for the rest of the night. Even worse, you had to give the magazines a really sharp slap to fully seat them when loading. Several times during the course I did not get the magazine seated properly so the slide did not strip and chamber the first round out of the mag. When I pulled the trigger…no bang.
This target was the first 50 rounds fired from the pistol. 25 shot at center mass and 25 shot at the head.
Target at 21 feet
Target at 50 feet
The final straw was the trigger. The Kahr trigger pull is long but very smooth and shooting bullseyes without any stress was no problem. However, when the stress was on during the tactical class I began to muscle the trigger to try to increase the speed and wound up pushing the shots off to the left. A few day later the Kahr became a part of a trade for a Glock 36 .45 ACP.
Wilson Combat CQB .45 ACP
Bill Wilson is probably one of the most prominent names in custom pistols, specializing in the 1911 platform. Wilson Combat make anywhere from utilitarian combat pieces to downright gorgeous presentation pistols with gold appointments, special bluing, tasteful engraving, and ivory grips. They are all expensive not only because they are well built but because the Wilson brand recognition and reputation is a part of each pistol that leaves his shop. Wilson pistols are not something you can expect to find in the normal gun shop and this is only the second one I have ever seen in the “Used” display case. But there is was. The weekend manager gloated aloud as he took me to see it because he knew I would be hooked…and I was. The CQB has a four inch barrel sitting on top of a 7 round grip frame. This is indeed a carry pistol. The slide action was like greased glass, the trigger let off was light and crisp. It came with the Wilson cloth pistol case, two Wilson DVDs on the care, feeding, and operation of the Wilson 1911 and it came with five Wilson magazines that had rubber base pads. The Wilson magazines are the best 1911 magazines on the market, absolutely the finest available. The best part was the fact that this used pistol was nearly a grand under the current retail price. From the paperwork in the pistol case it would appear that the pistol left Wilson’s shop in late January of this year. This was the date on the inspection sheet but it was not clear if this was the inspection sheet of origin or if this inspection was conducted as a part of a return visit to the shop for repair or refinishing. The rather dim tritium front night sight made me suspect that the pistol was more than 3 months old. Otherwise the pistol had everything executed as well as you would expect on a Wilson pistol. I especially liked the generously undercut trigger guard which allows the shooter to get the best grip possible when firing the pistol. I was also delighted that the pistol did not contain one of those silly full length guide rods. I will be glad when this fad expires. No one has ever proven that the full length guide rod makes the pistol more reliable or more accurate. All it does is make it more difficult to strip for cleaning.
What the pistol did not deliver was the legendary Wilson reputation for reliability and accuracy. I had about 8 failures to feed out of 300 rounds. The accuracy was good, but not the exceptionally accuracy I was expecting from a pistol that is supposed to shoot groupings of 1.5 inches at 25 yards.
Target shot at 21 feet
Target shot at 31 feet
Target shot at 40 feet
Target shot at 50 feet
Along with the reliability issue and the minor disappointment in the accuracy of the pistol there was a real deal breaker for me. As mentioned the trigger pull was light, but lighter than I expected and certainly too light for a carry pistol; especially one with the moniker of CQB (Close Quarter Battle). The trigger also had the shortest reset I have ever experienced on a pistol. These two factors together made the pistol a safety problem for me. Under recoil I experienced about 10 accidental discharges. The trigger resets so quickly and the pull is so light that I was inadvertently pulling the trigger during the short recoil recovery time. In most of those instances the pistol was in the downward stage of the recoil and just about every accidental discharge hit the target. Nevertheless it was heartbreaking for me to realize that it would be dangerous to carry this pistol and certainly it would be a safety risk to shoot it in the tactical class. So, the pistol is back in the “Used” display case on consignment. I hope whoever buys it is able to handle this sweet firearm safely.
Thus concludes the saga of the guns that weren’t blogged. Until next time…