M&P Extended Basepads for 2017

Carry Optics table start

With several sports allowing 140mm magazines in their 9mm-friendly divisions, and USPSA’s recent rule change removing round limits for Carry Optics, many competitors are in search of a magazine extension to convert factory magazines to the largest size allowable. Several manufacturers have products available ranging from $24.00 to over $40.00 but not all are created equal.  Continue reading “M&P Extended Basepads for 2017”

Competition Footwear: What Works for Me in 2014

Adidas Corner Blitz 1
Adidas Corner Blitz

An often-neglected consideration for practical shooting is the choice of footwear. Two key events have shaped my decisions in this area. First, in my early days of USPSA we had a practice during mud season that involved the need to retreat from one shooting box to another. I was wearing hiking boots that had moderate tread but were somewhat worn. The result was that on planting my pivot foot it went right out from under me. I fell ungraciously, rolled and wound up pointing the gun all over the sky, undoubtedly past the 180 plane. My solution ultimately was to wear football cleats. Continue reading “Competition Footwear: What Works for Me in 2014”

SureFire Shot Timer: Excellent Free Training Tool

Prior to purchasing a dedicated shot timer I took a look around the Apple app store and found Surefire’s shot timer application, called simply “Shot Timer”. It was and is still free and is arguably more polished than many commercial applications. The basic functions of generating a starting sound and timing subsequent shots is done nicely. The only problems I have ever encountered were 1) the starting beep isn’t terribly loud (tough if you don’t have amplified earmuffs) and 2) the sensitivity adjustments are a little challenging. Once dialed in the system works quite well. The trick seems to be to find the precise spot where your shots are detected but spurious signals are ignored. For example, I have noticed that when sensitivity is slightly low, not all shots are detected. Likewise, when too high it Continue reading “SureFire Shot Timer: Excellent Free Training Tool”

2A: Shotgun Importation Ban and its impact on Practical Shooting

With the May 1st deadline looming, I decided to send in an email to the BATFE’s working group for the pending ban of certain shotguns. You can do likewise by sending your comment to shotgunstudy@atf.gov.

Here’s what I wrote:

Hello

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the current shotgun importation ban now under consideration. I am a member of the United States Practical Shooting Association and I use shotguns for competition that are designed with many of the 10 features that are being considered as criteria for banning a shotgun from importation. Telescoping stocks, pistol grips, extended magazines, compensators and additional mounting rails are critically important in our sport. To say these guns serve no sporting purpose is to deny practical shooting as a sport in general.  This may be convenient for your current purposes but it is wrong. The working group cannot use potential repercussions as a reason for denying facts. Namely that practical shotgun shooting is a highly popular sport thereby making many of the shotgun features under consideration “generally recognized as particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.” Continue reading “2A: Shotgun Importation Ban and its impact on Practical Shooting”

CED M2: Chronograph that does it all

CED M2 Chronograph Main Unit

For those of us that reload for competitive shooting, knowing a round’s velocity is critical. In USPSA the all-important Power Factor is determined by multiplying velocity and bullet weight then dividing by 1000. Example: 124gr bullets traveling at 1050 fps yield a PF of 130.2 (124 x 1050 = 130,200 / 1000 = 130.2). With USPSA Production having a minimum Minor PF of 125, the above results would comfortably make the necessary minimum PF. In order to determine whether our rounds make the grade we must reliably measure velocity. We do that with a chronograph. While there are many fine units on the market, one company’s offering stands out: the CED M2. Continue reading “CED M2: Chronograph that does it all”

USPSA: 9mm bullets for Production – what weight?

A friend recently mentioned that he had tried out some “sub-sonic 9mm ammo” that was supposed to be good for use in USPSA Production class shooting. He asked me what I thought, which resulted in the following response.

Before I comment on subsonic ammo, a few words are in order:

As a competitive shooter, one of the key reasons for reloading is to work up a tuned round specifically to work with one’s tuned pistol to produce shots with little felt recoil that still achieve minimum power factor for the division one is shooting. In our case (Production division) everyone is scored Minor Power Factor (MinorPF), so there’s no advantage to loading higher than that. Minimum MinorPF is 125. This is Mass (bullet weight in grains) times velocity divided by 1000. So, if you are shooting 115gr bullets at 1100 feet-per-second that equals a PF of 126.5, or just over the minimum for Minor. Most factory ammo is hotter than this, which results in a higher PF but also much greater felt recoil. Shooters desiring less recoil and more control can achieve this by trading velocity for bullet weight. Continue reading “USPSA: 9mm bullets for Production – what weight?”

USPSA Pistol Shooting: Managing the Mag Release

The modern semi-automatic pistol uses a single or double-stack magazine held in place by a catch. To remove the magazine requires pressing a magazine release button which disengages the catch and allows the magazine to fall free. Pistols normally have this button located on the left side of the grip frame, just aft of the bottom of the trigger guard. For many right-handed shooters this is perfectly functional, allowing the right thumb to shift slightly to press the mag release but not so easy that the mag is dropped inadvertently.

Unfortunately there are quite a few people that can’t easily reach the mag release so they have to pivot the pistol counter-clockwise about 45 degrees to allow the thumb to reach. For those of us in USPSA, this can be a real problem, especially when moving or turning to the left. The trouble relates to that all-important safety rule: the 180. At no time is the muzzle of a shooter’s pistol allowed to break the 180-degree plane that separates up-range from down-range. When shooting my SR9, the sticky mag release (even after it was massaged it was still really stiff) would often require that I pivot the gun even further t0 get a good, solid punch with my thumb. I had a few very close calls at matches that made me change how I held the pistol during mag changes: I had to hold the pistol to my right, well offline so that even with the pivot it was well short of breaking the 180.

I’ve heard arguments from 1911 shooters that this is just a part of life and that everyone should be able to flip the gun to reach the mag release then flip it back to shoot. They claim that this is actually a safety feature to avoid accidentally dropping the mag. Well, I rather doubt that John Moses Browning intended for his large-handed brethren to be able to operate the pistol easily while the rest of us were kept safe from ourselves by not being able to reach the release. No, in fact I think that he simply designed the gun as best he could to work well for most of his intended customers.

When I recently switched from the SR9 to the M&P9 I found that while the mag release was vastly superior to that of the SR9, it was still really tough to insure that I could reach it every single time, even with the smallest “palm swell” insert on the backstrap. There were some memorable miscues where I just couldn’t make it happen. This got me thinking…

This past summer (2010) I had a chance to shoot Bill’s Sig 226 for a week. He had the mag release switched to the right side since he is a lefty. After some fiddling around, I determined that using the middle finger of my right hand to punch the mag release worked really well. It allowed my trigger finger to index high along the slide, where it naturally tends to go, and required no pivoting of the pistol at all. Maybe this would work for the M&P.

I looked over the manual and switching the mag release from left to right (and vice-versa) was incredibly easy, requiring only a small punch, screwdriver, or even a knife blade. I made the change and haven’t looked back. I can’t believe how easy it is to drop the mags this way! The M&P has a raised, stippled button, which really helps but having it on the right side is clearly better for me and I have never accidentally dropped a mag after about 5k rounds. Not only that but my mag changes are noticeably quicker.

So, if you have small hands this might be a good solution. And if you have an M&P, you can try it both ways during your next visit to the range and see for yourself.

Now, where’s that Brownells catalog? I need to order a Lefty mag release for my 1911!