Friday, November 13, 2015

Another fun shop installment.

Worked a fun shop visit in to our business today, and wanted to document a few observations.

Mossberg MVP boltgun

This one wasn't the "scout" model that I still hope to meet some day, but it was the same turnbolt action on which the "scout" model is based, and I'm happy to have learned what I did.  As expected, extraction is (very small) sliding-plate and ejection is boltface plunger, so boo, but other than that, it was actually pretty nice.  Loading/ejection port access is actually not as restrictive as I would have guessed, even with the Weaver rail straddling the receiver rings.  Bolt operated smoothly, with a convenient bolt stop and friendly cocking effort.  The safety was ergonomic and pleasantly positive;  I'd prefer that it lock the bolt as well as prevent discharge, but that seems a minor point.  I'm not a fan of "open" rear sights on rifles, but this one was well-done, and hey, kudos that the rifle has them at all, in an age that seems to automatically presume conventionally mounted moonscopes. 

I'm happy to say that the trigger is no joke.  No, it's not a Savage Accu-Trigger, much less a Mannlicher Scout or Blaser R93 trigger, but it's good enough that you'll not need to improve it.  Presuming the rifle runs reliably and durably, it seems like a reasonable platform, and I look forward to seeing the "scout" trim, both the glassed and glassless models.

Mossberg 464 levergun

Now having met this piece in person, it seems to be just exactly what I figured it might be, and I think I may need to add one to my stable some day.  It feels just a hair long with the fancy flash hider, but it balances like a '94 levergun, which is always a win.  I'm happy to say that the fore-end is slimmer than I was fearing, and the rail segments seem to be integral with the fore-end composite.  Presumably they can be either replaced with a separate fore-end, or simply cut off, if like me you prefer keeping things as compact as possible.  (I might keep the bottom one for a sling attachment point, although it does seem rather grandiose for that simple purpose....)

The tang safety works, and is a welcome addition to a levergun which is to serve "serious social purposes" as well as traditional hunting ones.  (I could tolerate Condition Zero in an urban levergun if necessary, but would prefer Condition One if I could get it.  The tang safety makes that possible.)  The sights are excellent, but again as on the bolt, why bother with an "open" rear sight when the 464's receiver has a beautifully placed rearward ring in just the right place for a compact ghost-ring aperture?  I simply do not understand why anyone would prefer open sights to an aperture:  the latter is superior in every way that matters.  (And then, of course, the top of the fore-end could get its own rail space for forward mounting of "scout" glass or dot sights.)

The buttstock is exactly what it should be, and the quick adjustments are very nice to have.  An excellent feature for working with noobs, especially the smaller-statured.  Action seems smooth enough, and presuming it runs--it's a '94, and should work well.

The rough.  Nearly painful, actually.  Consider all the bad press you've heard about levergun triggers before;  that's because of triggers like this one.  Okay, so it needs work. Theoretically, with a '94 action, gunsmiths should know how to do that--and the effort would be worth it.  With a crisp trigger in the 3-4 pound range, this seems a seriously useful rifle.  As a 6+1 in .30/30, it really is a full-blown rifle, limited mostly by the range limitations of iron sights, not horsepower.  I still think it would also be worth offering as an intentional carbine, chambered in .45 Colt, .44 Magnum, or even .357 Magnum, with a 9- or 10-round capacity.  Again, within the limitations of iron sights, these revolver rounds have surprising reach, and more thump than I'd have guessed.  And if we ever sort out The Great And Pointless Rimfire Shortage, there is the idea of this levergun as a 14-round .22...

Browning 1911-22 pistol

Wanted to check this fit in the 6yo's hand today.  Glad I did.  She can get a good grip, with thumb on safety and no H-gripping, and the pad of her trigger finger is within a quarter-inch of right on.  Essentially, she's ready, ergonomically.  She's also strong enough to rack the slide, properly.  Squee!

Great.  Now I just need to get the whole "earn a living" problem sorted out, and find some .22 ammo, and add this lovely little piece to the stable.  

Ruger LCP pistol

6yo very sweetly requested to see an LCP accoutered in pink camo, and an LC9 in solid purple.  Very well then!  She learned a little about ergonomics when she tried to rack the wee slide on the LCP, against the DAO hammer, but this gun fit her hand nicely if she consciously took a high grip.

The LCP seems okay.  .380 doesn't thrill me, but with the right ammo and the right attitude, I'd sure use one over throwing rocks.  It doesn't seem that much smaller, to me, than the Diamondback DB9, which I still see here and there, and I'd take the DB9 in a heartbeat for the pocket gun role.

Ruger LC9 pistol

I was a little less impressed with the LC9.  In 6yo's hand, trigger reach was much too far, and sizewise, the piece seems right in there with the Kimber Solo, DB9, Kahr, G43, etc., designs, all of which have better ergonomics.  Well, now I know!  :-)

Kimber Solo pistol

Dang if I don't continue to like this little pistol, even though I've heard some unflattering things about it here and there--that I haven't fully vetted one way or the other.  Trigger, at least on this sample, was really excellent, with a somewhat long but positive reset, and despite the diminutive size, controls and ergonomics are very nice.  Sights are excellent.  The manual safety design in particular seems outstanding, and perfectly intuitive to 1911 aficionados.  It seems to be right on the cusp between true "pocket pistol" (such as DB9, DB380, LCP, etc.) and "subcompact" (such as Kahrs, G43, S&W Shield, etc.) and with a lightweight frame, would become my instant first choice in a 9mm pistol.  (It's not exactly heavy, even with a steel frame, but its weight does exclude it from the sub-one-pound class.  Suffice it to say that if I were to choose a 9mm based on weight and size alone, it would be the DB9, and if I were to choose the best shooting subcompact--suitably small but still requiring a holster for support--I'd probably go to the Solo.)

Kimber Micro 380 pistol

This was unexpected.  Got to see Kimber's mini-1911 in .380 ACP;  more than anything it seems to be exactly the sort of update to the Colt Mustang that I always hoped for before the Browning 1911-22 and 1911-380 came along.  It's small.  It's 1911ish, but with pivoting trigger, slightly different safety lever, and the full-on Kimber treatment.  Looks promising in many ways, but again, .380 does not thrill me, and there is now the 1911-380, which may be the superior choice for most uses.  

Will keep an eye out, and look again as .380 options become more immediate for up-and-coming kids.  :-)

S&W Shield pistol

The "what mood will Shield be in today?" effect continues.  I continue to like the general ergonomics, and the price point is actually pretty compelling too.  But today, this one's trigger had horrible backlash and a mushy, very un-positive reset.  Hm.

Still, I like the piece in general.  The safety still works every time, despite its diminutive appearance.  Grip comfort is conspicuous.  It has a reputation for running without fuss.

S&W M&P pistol

I wanted to renew my acquaintance with a standard M&P pistol frame, mostly because I am intending to go this route with airguns.  (A separate topic for another post;  suffice it to say that I needed a core design among the polymer-framed, striker-fired, doublestack guns to go with, and the S&W is getting the nod based on several factors, including ubiquity of models across the spectrum of pellet guns, BB guns, and Airsoft guns of multiple powerplants.)

After a few minutes in the hands, I think it's the right choice.  The M&P frame is pretty comfortable, for a double-stack, and otherwise ergonomics are plenty good enough.  Trigger on this one was surprisingly good;  perhaps a bit heavier than ideal, but with a very nice, positive reset, and without the noticeable backlash problem of the Shield.  

I'll be posting more about M&Ps as the airgunnery experiment unfolds.  Given that I don't like doublestack designs as a rule--on simple account that they feel like two-by-fours in the hand--M&P is definitely one of the friendlier ones.

Springfield Armory XD-S pistol

Picked up one of these again, just to compare it on the same day with Shield.  Glad I did, too:  it confirmed that I really like this pistol.  Ergonomics suggest a much bigger gun, but XD-S is slim and compact.  This one's trigger was crisp (for a striker gun), reasonably light, and with a notably positive, short reset.  I still think that the XD-S "4.0" is the logical heir to the Colt Lightweight Commander, for the working man's general purpose pistol.  Now having seen probably a dozen examples each of XD-S and Shield, I think I'd always opt for XD-S first, for my own purposes.

Colt Commander CO2 BB pistol

Saw this in blister pack on the way out of the gun section.  I hadn't come to look at airguns today, but it caught my eye, and I'm considering this piece as a possible training/education tool anyway.  It's a reasonably faithful 1911 reproduction, powered by a CO2 12-gram cartridge contained in the detachable magazine (which also houses the BBs), and is developing a decent reputation for accuracy ("accuracy" being something you have to adjust your thinking to, with smoothbore round-ball shooters like 'BB guns' and Airsoft guns).  The gun does "blowback" on firing, which is good in a trainer to disrupt your sight picture, and in general the manual of arms is nearly straight 1911 firearm.  It's really only missing a ducktail grip safety among the most common updates, and with the minimal blowback of a CO2 BB pistol, I suspect it won't be the problem it is with a .45 ACP anyway.

So there it was, and I took a second to look at it.  It is indeed "full metal", as weighty as a steel 1911, with good sights, functional safety, and in general looks well-built.  I look forward to trying one out, especially with some of the new low-ricochet plated BBs that have become available.  

Until next time, then.  Much cogitation to do.  :-)

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