Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Birthday Range Day Reportage

Sorry for not posting this yesterday, but I literally fell asleep at the keyboard (ahhh, the luxury of using the laptop in bed).

It was a pretty good birthday I must say. Started the day waking up next to my beautiful wife, and surrounded by our two kids, two dogs, and two cats.

Yes, quiet moments can be rare in our house.

Lounged around for about an hour, until I headed off to shoot with JohnOC, and his uncle visiting down from New Hampshire; who'd only done a little bit of shooting since he let the Navy in the early 70s.

...Oh, and to get my free birthday machine gun rental. I do love my gun club.

I brought out all my 1911s (4 of them, including my wifes little Aegis), my AR (first time shooting it since I changed the buffer type), my wifes Marlin Camp 9 carbine, my mech tech 10mm CCU, and the Valour-IT project SIG P6 (first time shooting all three).

First things first, I chose an HK UMP for my rental, because of the options (mini, micro, or regular UZI, MP5, MP5K, or UMP), it's the only one I haven't fired full auto at least a hundred times. Actually, I've only fired the UMP as a semi before.

If anything, the UMP is even softer shooting than the MP5 (hard as that may be to believe), but it has an odd sort of motion to it; kind of like holding on to the crank case of a single cylinder motorcycle engine while your shooting. I'd say it's because of the high mass bolt at a relatively high cyclic rate; and the low mass of the predominately polymer gun.

At any rate, it's completely controllable in both burst fire, and full auto; and the trigger is quite easy to control; snapping off 2, 3, and 5 round bursts with ease. At 10 yards (the don't let you shoot it out any further because they're worried about idiots unloading a full mag into their ceiling) I was easily making bursts with touching holes. Just like an MP5 in that regard. Really no muzzle climb to speak of, but it did have a kind of odd porpoising; again that same reciprocating mass feel.

Oh, but I will say, the sights aren't near as good as the MP5. Instead of the traditional HK barrel diopter, they've got a blade type rear, that can be flipped over to a LARGE ghost ring. I hated the blade, which was short, and wide, with a big notch; fast to acquire on windage, but elevation was imprecise and slow. The ghost ring was very fast, and I preferred it greatly; but it was so large, that again it was imprecise. With a standard MP5, the sights are just fine out to 50 yards; with these two options I think I would be struggling at 25.

I went through my 3 mags (one is included, and I sprung for two more for myself. John popped for four more split between himself and his uncle) and handed it off to the uncle, who had never fired anything smaller than an M2 full auto before.

Now I should mention, there's something slightly disconcerting about seeing a man who looks near enough like Kenny Rogers (before the freakish mannequin mask plastic surgery), shooting the center out of a mans silouhette with a big'ol shiteatin grin on his face.

After that I moved on to the MechTech CCU. I bought this a few months back as a companion to my 10mm 1911, but I haven't had a chance to shoot it until yesterday.

I love it.

Who would imagine shooting my full house 10mm (180gr at 1250fps) would feel roughly like a .22 magnum.

The only problems I had, were that the sights were way off, and I didnt have the mini allen wrenches necessary with me at the range (I acutally took them out of my bag and forgot ot put them back in); and that it makes a terriffic SPROINNNNNNNNG!!!!!! every time you fire it. If you think an AR has a funny spring noise, shoot a MechTech.

Otherwise though, it's brilliant. I love the thing.... I wonder if those promag drums are as unreliable feeing as they used to be, and if I can make them feed 10mm. I could just sit there feathering the trigger all day long and eating a circle out of the center of the targets (which was essentially what I did.

After burning through 100 rounds with the CCU (no jams, no FTF or FTE, one failure to return to battery on a reload that was remedied by slapping the bolt handle) I popped the upper off, and went back to pistol configuration.

50 rounds of blazer (a friend gave it to me) , and 150 rounds of my full house reloads later, and I love the pistol more than ever; but there was a slight irritation.

Actully two.

First, somehow my sights got bumped; because I was still grouping excellently (touching holes at 10 yards), but my groups were 4" left of my point of aim at 10 yards, and 12" left at 25 yards. I inspected the gun thoroughly, and it wasn't anything mechanical; and it was happening with John, and his uncle as well, so I know it wasn't me.

I'm not sure how that happened exactly, because these things are handfitted so tight it would take a bomb blast to move them; and they look to my eye like they're still properly aligned (as I said, hand fitted to be perfectly even etc... it should be easy to see misalignment). Thankfully the rear is adjustable, so I dont need to go to the mallet, but I'm still kind of irritated.

I swapped over to the 9mm side of things, and fire the wifes Kimber Aegis for the first time as well. What a lovely little gun.

Honestly, I think the Officers Model size 1911 is just about perfect for a carry 9mm (or a .45 for that matter, but some folks find it a bit small for the recoil); and this little gun shoots beautifully. Being so small I shot it at 7 and 10 yards; but it grouped very well (touching holes); and I was able to both doubletap, and rapidly empty the magazine, without any drama.

There are a few things I don't like about it; but they're really a matter of personal preference. They've bobbed the hammer and the safety lever, and it has ultraslim grip panels. All of these are done for a very good reason, to make it easier to carry; and I suppose they do that... I just don't like them. Although I acknowledge there IS less to poke and snag; I don't think the Aegis is significantly easier to carry than my Yost Defender, and the Defender can be hand cocked.

Other than that though, I'd highly recommend one if you're in the market for a small carry gun.

Next up was my wifes Marlin Camp 9 carbine... Man, that thing is a fun little shooter. My hot 9mm reloads felt like .22s out of the little carbine. At 15 yards, I rapid fired an entire 12 rd mag into one inch wide hole.

The only drawback is, the factory sights are just awful. Low profile, tiny, hard to pick up; and yet not precise at all. The 25 yard groups were around 4" off the bench; and I know the gun is capable of much better; it's just the sights were too poor for me to pull it off.

Finally (for the 9s) I went to the P6. I put the new walnut grips on the thing before the trip, and let me tell you they make a HUGE difference in the feel. Worth every penny of the $70 they cost.

What can I say... it's a SIG. It's accurate, comfortable to shoot, and utterly reliable. 10 and 15 yard groups were at or under 2". I didn't shoot it at 25 yards, because I didn't have enough 9 left with me to get used to the gun; and I was more concerned with function than accuracy at the moment. 4 mags through, and everything worked great. Don't worry, I'll do a much more extensive report on the gun later, when I'm done reworking it.

I switched back to my .45 1911s and shot about a hundred rounds off; and everything went as expected. I've been shooting my Yost Champion for near on five years now, and it's the same as it ever was. I've only had the defender for about a year, but at 10 yards it's near as good.

I wanted to finish up the day with a hundred rounds out of the newly repaired AR (more on that in a later post), but it is still misbehaving.

I fixed the problem I was having with the Olympic pneumatic buffer, by replacing it with a better (and much more expensive) one, designed for machine guns; and it works a treat. You get plenty of recoil absorbtion, and plenty of force for operation.

Unfortunately, there must still be some crud in the chamber, and likely in the barrel extension; because I was getting sticky extraction, and some failures to go completely into battery, even with the forward assist. Thats downfall of the AR as a whole really. I'mna have to get in there with solvent and a damn dental pick or something.

That finished up our range trip; so John, the uncle, and I went over to the restaurant across the parking lot. We had a couple of burgers (I actually had the pulled pork; which was pretty good) and a couple beers; and shot the shit for a while (more on that conversation in a later post as well).

I went home and finished decking the subfloor for my shed (yes, it was supposed to be done a few weeks ago. The last few weekends haven't been good), then relaxed and waited for the babysitter.

To finish off the night, Mel and I went to see "Leatherheads" (fun screwball comedy in the mold of Howard Hawks or Billy Wilder), and grabbed dinner at a new Japanese place near the theater.

All in all, a pretty good birthday.