Monday, October 31, 2011

Hey! Anyone seen a gun blog around here?

It's been too long since we talked about guns. It's been too long since I bought a new gun, and too long since I managed to get to the range.

So we're going to fix all of that, and have a mini-review at the same time.

Ladies and gentle men, please meet the Springfield XD(M) in .45 ACP. As those with good eyes might be able to tell, this is the 4 1/2" barrel version. (Sorry for the crappy picture; all I had handy was the cell phone.)

I bought this particular gun for several reasons. First, it's in the manly caliber of .45 ACP. While my normal carry gun is a 9mm, and while I don't feel under-gunned with it, I don't feel over-gunned with a .45. In this respect, I'm reminded of something Tom Greshem said recently about the 9mm and the quality of the self-defense ammo available today--"If it doesn't expand, it's still a 9mm." To which I answer that if it doesn't expand, the .45 makes a larger hole than a 9. That can't hurt (me, anyway) and it might help.

(Parenthetically, let me comment on why, with that line of thought, I carry a 9mm. It's because it's a Kel-Tec PF9--a mouse gun. While I can control it just fine and can dump the entire magazine into a torso-size target in about 3-4 seconds from 15 yards without a miss, I can't do that with a small .45, Thus, when I carry small, which is most of the time, I carry a 9mm.)

The second reason is that I wanted it to take a class with. That class, unfortunately, has canceled. Oh darn, I guess I still bought a new gun. :-)

Third is that I've wanted one for a while, and Springfield is currently having a good promo in which I get 3 extra mags and another mag carrier. This gives me a total of 5 13 round magazines to go with the gun. Considering that I paid the normal price for the gun from a local dealer, that means I get free magazines--always a plus. Sometimes procrastination works for you.

Forth, since this gun is intended for carry, I wanted no manual safety. (One less thing to screw up when you're under maximum stress.) The XD(M), like the XD before it, has no manual safety but does have a grip safety built in. I've been ragged by Glockists for this preference, and while I understand that the best safety is between my ears, a little extra help couldn't hurt. The grip safety is that little extra.

So, last week Mr. Cash Money and myself showed up on said dealer's doorstep, and myself and Mr. Springfield left. The weekend was too busy to consider range time, but today was a "me day", in which I allowed myself some well-deserved play time.

The first task was to strip the gun, clean it and be sure it was lubed properly. Takedown is simple. Drop the mag, rack the slide and lock it. Check for a round in the chamber, then flip the takedown lever. In an improvement over the XD and many other striker-fired pistols, you do not have to run the slide forward and then pull the trigger to complete removal of the slide--you simply guide it off with your hand. Sweet.

Once the slide is off, flip it over and carefully remove the guide rod and recoil spring. Be careful, it's a stout spring, and you don't want to damage it, you or the gun. And if it gets away from you, it could wind up anywhere. Then remove the barrel and you're done. Very simple. Reassembly is the reverse, and equally simple.

Cleaned and lubed, I loaded the magazines. Here comes my biggest gripe about this gun. While it's possible to fully load one of the 13 round magazines with only your hands and the fingers thereof, it's painful. Springfield thoughtfully includes a device to help (you can see it on the left side of the above photo), but I don't care for the idea of magazines that require a tool before one can load them completely. In a survival situation, lose that tool and you may find yourself slack loading your magazines. Some smart fellow ought to apply himself and see if he can design magazines that work without that level of spring pressure.

At the range, the gun proved more accurate than I am (unsurprising, as I'm a long gun guy). I couldn't get the pistol bay I wanted, the cool one with all of those metal targets conveniently shaped just like human torsos, so I had to content myself with what I call "zombie target practice"--shooting at 8 inch falling plates on the machines in another bay. This meant that I could not really gauge how easy it was to control recoil when double-tapping. I think it will be manageable, however. At a guess, I'd say the gun recoils less than my 1911, and I can double-tap that one on torsos all day long.

(Another parenthetic aside. I go for what Rob Pincus calls "combat accurate hits". While it's all great to keep everything in 3 inches from 25 yards, I'm not training for that--I'm training to save my life in a self-defense situation.)

One thing I've always thought was a good idea is that Springfield includes a decent kydex paddle holster and magazine carrier. I used that holster today, and while it isn't one that I'd want to carry all the time (not a paddle fan), it does a reasonable job for the range--good enough that I could draw (very carefully and very slowly--new gun and unfamiliar holster) from the holster for my shooting.

Fully loaded, the gun is fairly heavy, and it definitely tugs on your pants. If I want to carry this, I'm going to have to work carefully on how to be sure that the clothes on that side don't exhibit any "droop" because of the weight.

I ran 124 rounds through the gun (8 full magazines) with no failures of any sort, other than my old eyes not wanting to see the front sight so well. While I'm not ready to declare it a carryable gun just yet, I don't think that there will be a problem doing that after another trip or two.

So far, I'm a happy shooter.

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