Friday, October 28, 2011

Glock: we're a pretty good choice

  Not Perfection mind you, but hey you could do worse.  I mean, Glock is OK nowadays.  I got this slogan from my buddy "d90king" of Firearms Training and Tactics.

  Glock really never was "Perfection."  No ambidextrous slide release, plastic sights that literally wear from draws from the holster, and no ambidextrous mag release.  All in all, the design is an excellent choice and the original or closest to the original design, the Glock 17 9mm, is your best bet in a Glock period.  The Glock was designed as a 9mm and not surprisingly, it's when you deviate from the design that problems begin to crop up.

  Problems such as:

  Please note that the Glock 19 Phase 3 malfunctions were rectified almost completely by the 3rd Generation Glock 19 release.  A Gen3 Glock 19 earlier build (pre 2010) will almost certainly be an excellent, completely reliable pistol.  The Glock .40 S&W Kabooms! were also rectified by the Gen3 guns.  It also seems that with the Gen4 .40 S&W pistols, the WML related malfunctions are gone.  In fact, the Gen4 .40 S&W pistols appear to be running great.  

  On to the Gen4 9mms.  The Gen4 40 S&Ws and the Gen4 9mm guns shared the same RSA (recoil spring assembly).  In the Gen3 and older guns, they did not.  Differently weighted springs for each model.  Glock apparently tried to cut costs and simplify production by using the same RSA for both 9mm and .40 S&W guns.

  It didn't work.  The first iterations of the RSA in the 9mm guns resulted in nearly constant stovepipes; that is where the slide catches ejecting brass during its upward travel and traps it against the barrel hood and slide.  

  Example from my early Gen Glock 17


  And failure to feeds.  Lots of them.


  The pistol pictured was sold at a loss with full disclosure to a friend.  It seemed to settle down and run after about 400 rounds.  Still, a Glock 17 that doesn't run out of the box is unheard of.  Or was unheard of.  Not now.  The sharp eyed will notice the dull(er) gray finish on the barrel.  In my experience with two Gen Glock 9mms, said finish has been much more durable than the older, darker finish.  

  The (new for Gen4) trigger bar in the Gen4s has a "dimple" of raised metal on the trigger bar that keeps the trigger bar centered on the safety plunger.  Guess what has been found to rub (metal on metal contact) on the Gen4 slides.  Many including myself, have switched over to a Gen3 trigger bar with no loss of reliability nor function.  Also, switching back to a Gen3 trigger bar seems to drop a little bit of trigger pull weight.  

  Continuing the company's goal of uhhhhhhmmmm.....Improving Upon Perfection(?), Glock also changed one more part critical to reliable operation of the semi automatic pistol.  The extractor.  It was switched to the cheaper MIM or metal injection molding process.  Surprise, surprise, there are now extractor issues with Gen4 and Gen3 Glock 9mms.  In my case, the extractor did not slip and in out of the slide freely as it should and as my circa 2007 Gen3 Glock 19's does.  In fact, there were two obvious wear marks on the top and bottom from where the extractor was rubbing against the slide.  Many folks are ordering the investment cast Lone Wolf Extractor out of absolute frustration with Glock's newfound shoddy quality control.  I, myself would like to have a Lone Wolf extractor but they are backordered until November.  Previously, they were backordered until mid October.  Hmmmm, wonder why?  

  So, what to do if your Gen4 extractor is rubbing?  You can do what I did and polish the wear points on the extractor using your trusty Dremel tool and some metal polish until it drops in and out of the slide freely.  Then when that didn't fix all of the problems with my personal Gen4 Glock 19; I installed the excellent White Sound H.R.E.D Extractor Depressor Assembly which is a redesigned extractor depressor spring assembly.  Installing the White Sound piece made my Gen4 Glock 19 run reliably.  Ya see, said Gen4 Glock 19 had a few hiccoughs during the first 400 or so rounds.  Then it settled down and ran fine for the next 3500 or so.  At around the 4000 round mark, the gun stopped running reliably.  Stovepipe after stovepipe.  I'm not the only only one whose Gen4 Glock 19/17 stopped running reliably as the round count got higher.  It's common to see this.  Polishing the extractor, installing the 0-4 and more importantly; installing the White Sound H.R.E.D made the pistol run reliably but not as a Glock 9mm should.  

  The gun shipped with an unmarked RSA (Recoil Spring Assembly).  Remember that this piece ala the previous generation's subcompact Glock 26 and 27 models are one of the three big design changes in the Gen4 Glocks; the other two being the mag release that can be switched and the interchangeable backstrap system as so to fit your hand.  I called Glock after the gun stopped running reliably at the 4k round mark and upon hearing about the new RSA being sent free of charge to owners of problematic Gen4s.  Glock told me that to ensure reliable operation; I shouldn't run "range ammo" which is your cheap 115 grain practice ammo everybody in America uses.  You know, just shoot +P+ for everything!  A week later, I had the 0-4 RSA installed, the extractor polished, and the White Sound H.R.E.D installed.  Life was good.   Except......brass to the face.

  That's right, wear your eye protection.  With a Gen4 Glock, your eye protection will get nicked and gouged.  The ejected brass from my Gen Glock 19 now bounces off of the bottom of my ballcap and often hits my eye protection.  But, hey!  Glock has issued a Gen4 RSA recall!  So, I dutifully emailed the address at the link provided and included the required info.  Waited two weeks and sent another email.  Waited another week, called the toll free number instead, and got the new 0-4-3 RSA in the mail with my prepaid envelope to send my 0-4 RSA back.  Me, being the jaded, suspicious type (being a Gen4 Glock 9mm owner will do that to you) decided to actually run my Gen4 Glock 19 with the new uber 0-4-3 RSA in it during a demanding shoot.  Four stovepipe malfunctions later, I changed out to the old brass-to-the-face 0-4 RSA and went on to finally win a place on the FAST Wall of Fame (I'm "LilLebowski) that day.  

  So, I'm definitely not sending back my 0-4 RSA.  Brass to the face is better than stovepipe malfunctions.  But, wait!  There's more!  Glock has a new ejector.  Glock Customer Service tells me that it should fix my problems.  It's an end user replaceable part; much like the RSA.  Probably a three minute job to replace it.  Is Glock going to send me one so that I can replace it and continue carrying my Gen4 Glock 19?  NO.

  Glock requires you to send your pistol in for this fix.  It's a 4-8 week estimated wait.  To his credit, the customer support rep I spoke to was apologetic about the whole situation and agreed with me that it is a sorry way to treat one's customers.
  To me, an old Marine Corps term came to mind.  "Unsat."  Unsatisfactory.  


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Class review: Todd Green's Aim Fast Hit Fast pistol course

Full pic library.  Notice Todd's letter perfect "pressout" as he shoots a clean sub 5 second FAST drill.

 (I note that my gunshot elbow looks pretty gnarly. Never seen it from that angle. Oh well, it works well.)


  Tap. tap, tap. That's the sound of Todd Green working on his students' shooting skills in such a manner they don't know what he's doing until (at least for this student) TD2 when rapid fire while moving and not missing the target seemed easy and a matter of fact.

 TD (Training Day) 1 started with a basic slow fire accuracy assessment which was slow fire on an index card at 7 yards.  Grips were adjusted as well as trigger fingers.  One thing that helped me was Todd illustrating how many folks think they're shooting with a full locked out weak side wrist and thumb along the slide/frame and they are not.  Then we moved on to the fabled FAST test.  A word about the FAST test: this test is designed not to be "gamed," ie it is a broad spectrum test of all of your skills and you are specifically encouraged NOT to practice it endlessly bu rather the basics of drawing, shooting, and reloading instead.   After the FAST test we moved onto the [url=]Circle Drill.  The Circle Drill is a favorite of mine but it helped to have someone watching over me, exhorting me to push myself. Todd seemed to be everywhere during this class and like as not, when you took it easy on yourself and took a drill in your "comfort zone" instead of pushing yourself, you'd hear his voice through your earmuffs telling you to rerun that drill and to push your own limits.   All the while the nuances of drawing (bring your shirt up and out of the way with your weak hand and then position your weak hand in waiting for when your pistol comes up to near eye level for the "ready position").  Being prior military (Marines), I was used to a ready position pointed downward at an angle but within in one try I could readily see the wisdom of having the top of your pistol and therefore the front sight in the lower portion of your vision, ready for your press out.

 A word on press outs.  This skill is absolutely a need to have.  Basically you draw, bring the pistol up to the ready position as described above, and then smoothly press out keeping front sight in your vision and applying slight pressure on the trigger so that you end up smoothly pressing out onto target, firing at the end of your press out.

 We also had the basic safety lecture, lectures on stance, grip, sight picture, and trigger manipulation.  The day went by quickly with reload practice and the beginning of our training on Todd's signature style of "burst fire" shooting which is basically shooting 2-6 round (or so) into the target's chest area very quickly.  When Todd does this, it literally sounds like a Class III weapon is on the range.

 TD2 consisted of engaging multiple targets, shooting on the move, strong hand and weak hand drills, and draw & reload drills. The infamous Dot Torture drill was done in the morning.  Yours truly missed one whole round on it (see pic below).  I like Dot Torture quite a bit because sooner or later, you will find a weakness in own your shooting on it.  After that, we did a target switching drill in which we practiced headshots on index cards on two targets, alternating our fire.  The FAST drill was conducted again in the morning as a skills assessment.  We then "kicked it up a notch" and started working on moving and shooting not forgetting our reloads while moving and shooting.  The day culminated in the FAST test (I dropped 4 seconds off of my time) and some IDPA state type stuff of Todd's devising where we all went through once doing the same drill and the second time, Todd made us shoot the stage with a personally tailored drill designed to concentrate on each student's particular weakness.

 Lessons learned:

  -hiking boots that don't breath well are a bad choice for 8-10 hours in the 95 degree heat and  
   humidity of Virginia in the summer. I switched to outdoors type running  -
   shoes the second day and had happy feet once again.

 -sometimes drinking water isn't enough. Pound the Gatorade (diluting it half and half with water
  works extremely well) and salt your food. You will be working
  muscles you're not used to abusing in stances/grips that you're not used to.

 -Glock "drop free" mags don't always. Develop a method to quickly drip the mag out. I'm
  considering using was/Armorall in my mag well and on my mags.

 -have enough mag carriers. 'nuff said. For Todd's class you'll need at least 3 mags on your hip.

 -wearing 2 t-shirts, one tucked in, the other loose over it covering your gear is a sound CCW
  strategy. Strongly recommend an "underarmor" type shirt as the first layer.
  Another alternative is "shoot me first vests" but I believe they are not as low profile as the 2 t
  shirt method.

 -work on your press out!  Get that front sight up where you can see it before you can align the
  sights and you will end up on target faster and ready to shoot far more

 -as my new best bud Failure to Stop says: "I'd rather be a guy who has 200 rounds ready and
  has shot 30K rounds than the guy who has 30 rds stockpiled and has only shot
 200 rds"

 -Todd walks the walk. He demonstrated a sub 5 second FAST drill clean in front of us and
  demonstrated everything he wanted us to shoot.  You never had to
  wonder "how would Todd shoot this drill?"

 There is no substitute for formal training. None.  There was a few exceptional shooters there and they are agreed upon the need for training.   Each of the exceptional shooters needed correction from Todd in one area or the other. Also, Todd himself makes a habit of seeking out training for himself on a regular basis.

 I greatly enjoyed this class and took a lot away from it.   I made new friends and found (many) areas in my skill set I need to work on.