Mike's Shooting Page
A blog about guns, ammunition, shooting ranges, and just the general fun of target shooting

21 rounds through the target from my 9mm Springfield XDS. This is a blog documenting my experiences as a recreational target shooter. Here I will talk about different guns, ammunition, shooting ranges, etc. I have gotten back into target shooting after a long hiatus. My grandfather used to take me shooting with him when I was a young child. I handled guns from a very early age. I've always been something of a natural shooter, even as a kid. I could often pick up a pistol or rifle I had never handled before, and put in a respectable performance with it at the range. I got bored with shooting as a young man, and money for ammo and range fees was scarce for a while in my 20s and 30s. So I drifted away from shooting. Lately I have been going back to the range with some of my friends and co-workers who are shooters. It is like I have rediscovered an old friend. I had forgotten how much fun it is. Most of my early shooting experience was with revolvers, rifles and shotguns. Now I am getting into semi-automatic pistols. This blog will document my cordite fueled adventures.

Newer entries are at the top.
Click on any photo on this page to see a larger version.
This photo is from my first trip to the range with a brand new 9mm Springfield XDS fresh from the factory.

 

Shirley's new Sig Sauer P938. 01/26/17 - Shooting with Shirley
I went to the range the other day to practice and blow off some steam. Surprise, I run into my good friend Shirley who had also just arrived to practice with her brand new Sig Sauer P938 9mm. We got lanes next to each other at the range and compared guns. She showed me hers, and I showed her mine, so to speak. Her P938 is a cute little thing. She bought it for concealed carry. It is even smaller than my Springfield XDS. She let me shoot it a few times. We both felt the small gun was difficult to properly grip at first. We both also tended to shoot low with the gun, though she improved greatly as she practiced with it. I only got off a few shots with it. No doubt with more practice I would have learned to deal with its idiosyncrasies too. I think it is just that the barrel is so short and the sights so close together that it is difficult to be accurate at any distance, but then this gun is meant for close-in self-defense.

Shirley's new Sig Sauer P938. The Sig P938 comes in a hard plastic case with form-fitting foam cutouts. Two magazines, an IWB concealed carry holster, a lock, and a few other bits are included. It's a little over-priced in my opinion. The Sig name carries a premium, but it is also a lot of 9mm firepower in something not much bigger than a little .380 pocket gun.

I let Shirley shoot both my Glock 19 and my Springfield XDs. She liked them both. She agreed with me about how well the XDs fits in the hand. She was also deadly accurate with it, even though she had never even held one before.

It was a great day at the range. We got in some practice, blew off steam, de-stressed, fired each other's guns and compared their relative merits and issues. We talked ammo choices and other topics. Most importantly we had a good time and reconnected after not seeing each other for a while. I hope we will make it to the range together again soon.

 

30 rounds at 24 feet through the target from my Glock 19. 01/08/17 - The right glasses help.
I was at the range a while back and shooting at this 8.5 X 11 target at 24 feet with my Glock 19. I'm pretty happy with that. I have been steadily moving the target back further and further as I get more comfortable shooting the gun. The problem I was having is that the target was getting very blurry at that distance, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to go any further. I knew I should be able too. I learned to shoot when I was a much younger man, and my eyes worked better. Then I got away from it for a few decades. Now that I am back into it, I can really notice the difference. I have been shooting while wearing my progressive bifocals that I wear normally. It's a bit of a miracle I got as many rounds on target as I did. I knew I was going to have to get different prescription glasses to do much better than I was.

So I was thinking about this problem at home the other night. I got to wondering if a pair of my older single-vision glasses would work better. I normally wear the progressive bifocals all the time, but I still keep an old pair of single-vision glasses around as backups in case I lose or break my bifocals. So I dug out the old glasses, tacked a target on the wall, and aimed at it from greater and greater distances. Soon I was as far away from the target as I could get, and it, and the sights were still in reasonable focus. This was great. I couldn't wait to get back to the range and try the old glasses.

30 rounds at 30 feet through the target from my Glock 19. The very next day after work I headed to the range with my old single-vision glasses in my range bag as my new shooting glasses. I put them on, and fired off a warm-up magazine at 24 feet. The target was tack sharp, and the sights were sharp enough. 24 feet was no challenge at all. So I reloaded and sent a new target out to 30 feet just to see how I could do at that distance. Wow! I even amazed myself. I put two full magazines (30 rounds) through the target. Count the holes in this target. About 10 rounds went through that rectangular hole to the lower left of the center. Not bad at all for the first time shooting at that distance with this gun. With practice I'll probably get even better.

That's more like it. That's the way I used to be able to shoot when I was younger. I was a crack shot with every weapon I picked up as a kid. It's nice to know I can still do it, it's just a matter of having the right glasses. If I get the prescription tweaked a little, I may even be able to shoot better. I'm a happy guy today. Lesson learned: bifocals suck for shooting.

 

Magtech 9mm Luger 147 gr subsonic ammunition. 01/01/17 - Ammunition Review: Magtech 9mm Luger 147 gr subsonic FMJ FN ammo
While I was breaking my own personal rules at the range (see below product review) I also decided to break my rule against buying ammo at the range too. I normally buy my practice ammo at Walmart and take it with me to the range to avoid the huge markup they impose on their customers. But I had forgotten to put an extra box of ammo in my range bag before leaving. So to avoid having to quit early, I bought a box of 9mm ammo at the range. They were very busy that day, and sold out of all 9mm ammo except for the Magtech subsonic ammo. I bought a box of 50 for $26.59. Not a terrible price for buying it at the range, but it is available elsewhere a lot cheaper.

The Magtech ammo worked fine for me. I noticed no real difference in performance or accuracy versus the 115 gr supersonic ammo I usually practice with. It also fed through the gun with no issues and burned cleanly with little smoke, muzzle flash or soot. The only real difference in performance I noticed was how cleanly the rounds punched through my targets. They left nice, neat, round, little holes in the targets, versus the big, nasty, jagged holes my usual practice ammo makes. I don't know if it is because of the flat nose or subsonic velocity, but this ammo acts like wadcutter rounds. At first I thought I was missing the target because I was shooting at plain paper targets at 21 feet. The holes were so small and neat I couldn't see them easily from that distance. Splatter targets probably would work better for this ammo, either that or carry a telescope if you are shooting at any great distance.

Aside from the price I paid for it, I was very happy with how well this Magtech ammo worked.

 

Magpul PMAG 15 GLOCK 19 Magazine. 01/01/17 - Product Review: Magpul PMAG 15 Magazine for Glock 19
I had been thinking about getting an extra magazine for my Glock 19 for a while. I happened to be at the range a while back (Shoot Straight in Clearwater) and was shopping while waiting for a lane to open up. I asked the counter guy if he had any magazines for my G19. It was right after Christmas and he was sold out of Glock factory magazines, but he said he still had some MAGPUL after-market magazines. I remembered reading some good reviews about them, so I bought one. This was a violation of one of my big rules. I try not to buy ammo or gun accessories at the range. The markups are horrible, but I guess I wasn't thinking. Looking up the online price later showed that I paid double what I could have got it for online, and even after the shipping cost I would have saved a lot of money. OK. I know they are in business to make money, but a 100% markup? Really? That was mistake number 1. Mistake number 2 was assuming the MAGPUL was going to be essentially an exact clone of the Glock magazine. It isn't. There are some significant differences that might have been deal-breakers if I had known about them in advance.

There is one good difference. The red plastic follower seen in this photo is an improvement in my opinion. It allows you to see how dirty the magazine is getting. The all black factory magazines hide the dirt really well, and you never really know how caked with crud they are. With the MAGPUL mag, When the red starts fading toward black, you know this magazine is getting cruddy and probably needs cleaning. Running some of the below mentioned dirty ammo through it showed just how good an indicator that red follower could be.

Magpul PMAG 15 Magazine vs Glock factory magazine. One unexpected difference I did not like was the lack of round count window holes. The MAGPUL magazine (on the right in this photo) only has a single window hole to tell you if the magazine is fully loaded or not. Between fully loaded and empty you need to remember or guess how many rounds are left. Not good. The Glock factory magazine (on the left) has windows to tell you at a glance exactly how many rounds are left in it. That is my main gripe about the MAGPUL magazine. If I had known about it in advance, I probably wouldn't have bought it.

Other not so major gripes: First, the spring is much stiffer than the factory magazines, to the point of being unreasonably stiff, I think. Loading is pretty much impossible for me beyond the first couple of rounds without a loader. Even with a loader the last couple of rounds are very difficult to insert. Second, the magazine does did not drop out of the gun on its own at first. I was having to pull it out. The problem was very bad at first, but seems to be getting better. Something must be wearing in, or maybe it got better as the gun warmed up and parts expanded. More trips to the range will be needed to know for sure if that problem is really going away. Still, it was very annoying at first.

Magpul PMAG 15 Magazine vs Glock factory magazine foot plates. This photo shows a side by side comparison of the MAGPUL magazine (top) and the Glock factory magazine (bottom). As you can see, the foot plate on the MAGPUL is significantly thicker than on the factory magazine. Not sure why. I don't see it as a big deal for me, but others may have an issue with it. The extra length could be inconvenient especially in a concealed carry situation.

The MAGPUL magazine is lighter than the factory magazine. The MAGPUL weighed in at only 50 grams, versus 70 grams for the factory magazine. So that is a plus.

On the whole, I think the minuses outweigh the pluses. If I had it to do over again I would have bought a Glock factory magazine. I could have got one online for the same price I paid for MAGPUL magazine at the range, and I would have got a known quantity instead of a bunch of surprises, some of them unpleasant.

 

Remington UMC 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ 250 round bulk ammunition. 12/28/16 - Ammunition Review: Remington UMC 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ 250 round bulk ammunition
A while back I was in Walmart to buy some 9mm range ammo, and saw this big 250 "Mega Pack" round box of ammo. It was reasonably, but not fantastically priced at $68.92, but I bought a box to try it out anyway. That comes to about 27.6 cents per round before tax. Inside the outer carton it had 5 white boxes of 50 rounds each. My shooting buddy Alan says the white-box Remington is the dirtiest ammo. So I was a little disconcerted to see the white boxes inside the yellow outer carton. But I pressed on and gave the ammo a good tryout. After firing about 150 rounds of it, I can say that yes, it is pretty dirty stuff. The smoke and muzzle flash did not seem excessive, but the amount of sooting on my guns, and my hands too, after firing that many rounds was pretty bad. My hands were black and my guns were filthy. I'm not super anal about thoroughly cleaning my guns after every range session. Sometimes I just run a bore snake through them a couple of times and call it a day. But this time I tore them down and gave them a thorough cleaning. The inner workings were just caked with black soot and deposits. It took forever and a lot of work to get them clean.

All that being said, the ammo did perform reliably and accurately on the range. I had no issues with it beyond how dirty it was. The slide on my Glock 19 did not lock back after the last round on one magazine, but I don't know that I can blame the ammo for that. My thumb may have been riding the slide without me realizing it. So to sum it up. the ammo works, but it seems excessively dirty, and it is not especially attractively priced for bulk ammunition. I think after I use up the last of this stuff, I won't be buying any more.

 

Alan's Baer Custom 1911 45. 12/21/16 - Shooting with Alan again
I went shooting with Alan again last week. As usual he brought a bunch of different guns and offered to let me try shooting them. This is his Baer Custom 1911 45. It is a wonderful gun. I've fired it before, and enjoyed it. So Alan brought it back knowing I'd probably like to fire it again. It is perfectly balanced and indecently accurate. I love firing this gun. The recoil flips it up a little, but it settles right back down on target again with no conscious effort from me to put it back there. It is hard not to get a bullseye every time. It is truly like an extension of my arm when I am aiming it. The only minor complaint I have is that the trigger pull is very easy. I actually fired it once without intending to, but hit the target dead center anyway, because that is where I was aiming. I gotta get me one of these someday.

Two of Alan's 40 caliber semi-auto pistols. Alan also brought along two of his 40 Cal semi-auto pistols, a Springfield XD 40 (top), and an S&W SD 40 (bottom) which he described as a wannabe Glock clone. I can see the resemblance between the S&W and my Glock 19. They are very similar in many ways. One way they aren't so similar is in accuracy. I couldn't get into the center of the target with the S&W SD to save my life. It seemed wildly inaccurate. Could just be a problem with that particular gun I guess. I probably shouldn't extrapolate to the entire manufacturing run based on experience with only one example. Maybe I will get a chance to fire another one someday and see if the results are any better.

The Springfield XD 40 was a different story. Bang on target with every shot. It is a great gun. It was not only accurate, but it felt really good in my hand. Kind of like the big brother to my little XDs which also fits my hand so well. This is a fun gun to shoot.

Alan's 380 Colt Mustang Pocketlight semi-automatic pistol. The last gun of Alan's I shot on this session was his 380 Colt Mustang Pocketlight semi-auto pistol. It is a cute little thing. He warned me that it is meant as a close-in, self-defense weapon, and not nearly accurate enough for sooting at my usual casual target shooting ranges of 18-21 feet. So I pulled in my target to only 15 feet and fired off a couple of magazines. I was surprised at the tight, on-target, grouping I got at 15 feet, given his warning of how inaccurate the gun is. I probably could have done nearly as well at 18-21 feet, especially with a little more practice with the gun. I think it is probably nearly as accurate as my Springfield XDs 9mm.

45 rounds through the target at 21 feet with a Glock 19. I also of course fired off a lot of ammo through my own guns during this range session. Between us, the place should have been ankle deep in spent casings. We fired off a lot of ammo during this session. As I get more comfortable with my Glock 19 I keep moving the target back further and further. I started at 15 feet with the gun right out of the box. Then I moved to 18. Now I am at 21. I have been increasing the range by a yard at a time every couple of trips to the range. As you can see by this photo, I put 45 rounds (3 full magazines) through the target at 21 feet this time. That 8.5 X 11 paper target is getting awfully small at 21 feet away, but I am still pretty reliably getting into the center of it. A little more practice and it will be about time to move it back another yard.

 

Perfecta 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ Brass Case ammunition. 12/20/16 - Ammunition Review: Perfecta 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ Brass Case
A while back I was in Walmart to buy some 9mm range ammo for myself, and a box of 45 ACP as a Christmas present for my buddy Alan. The guy behind the counter asked me if I had tried the Perfecta ammo yet? He said it was great. I looked at the price of $9.78 for a box of 50 and wondered to myself how good could it really be at that price? The low price had me doubting the quality, but I bought a box anyway figuring if nothing else I could write a review of how bad it is. Just goes to show that price is no indicator of quality. This stuff is great value for money. It is the least expensive brass-cased ammo I have seen anywhere in quantities of only 50, at only about 19.6 cents per round before tax. But it isn't just inexpensive, it works great too. I blew through that first box of 50 quickly with no issues at all. I liked it so much I bought a few more boxes of it just to be sure it was really that good. It is. The Perfecta ammo is very clean burning too. There is an absolute minimum of smoke, muzzle flash, and sooting on the guns. Not only is it reliable, accurate, clean, and inexpensive, but this ammo is pretty too. The bullets appear to be jacketed in polished brass, instead of copper. The cartridges are very distinctive looking. Perfecta is made in Italy. Leave it to Italians to make bullets with the looks and performance of a Ferrari, but somehow manage to do it at a Fiat price. I really like this ammo.

 

Federal 9mm Luger Aluminum Casing ammunition. 12/20/16 - Ammunition Review: Federal 9mm Luger 115 grain FMJ RN Aluminum Case
So I go into Walmart to buy some of my go-to Federal range ammo. What do I see, but they now carry it in an aluminum-cased version, and it is really cheap too. $19.44 for a box of 100. That's only about 19.4 cents per round before tax. I bought a few boxes to try it at the range and see how well it shoots compared to the brass-cased stuff I had been using. After firing a few hundred rounds of it so far, I am really happy with it. It shoots just like the brass-cased stuff I am used to. Totally reliable and just as accurate. I essentially can't tell the difference except that a box of 100 aluminum-cased ammo is considerably lighter than a box of 100 brass-cased. I'm not sure I can actually feel the difference in a fully loaded 15 round magazine in my Glock 19 though. One other difference is how clean the aluminum-cased ammo is. Whatever lube Federal uses on the brass-cased version is nasty stuff. My fingers can get black just from handling the ammo and loading magazines. The aluminum stuff is totally clean, yet works just as well. So there is really no downside to this ammo that I can see. It is reliable and accurate, plus cleaner, lighter, and less expensive than my usual range ammo. The only downside is that I can't collect the spent brass to melt down for brass casting. The spent aluminum casings are so light they aren't worth collecting to recycle. I just dump them in the bin at the range when I clean up my lane.

 

My new range bag open showing the interior. 12/11/16 - My new range bag
I got tired of toting two gun cases and a too-small range bag every time I went to the range. It was a lot to carry. I started shopping for a larger range bag. Then I was doing my usual Saturday morning garage-saling. I saw an old laptop bag on sale for $2. I immediately saw the possibilities for turning it into a new range bag. I handed the lady $2 and left happy. Later that night I got out my hot-melt glue gun and some packing foam, and in less than an hour had a great new range bag that could hold everything I normally take in three cases.

I had some large sheets of soft plastic foam left from a box I received a large telescope in. It is soft but tough. It can be cut with scissors and glues easily with hot-melt glue. First I cut a sheet to fit the bottom of large laptop compartment of the case. Then I cut a lot of smaller pieces and glued them in place to make form-fitting compartments for guns and accessories. It was a super quick and easy, and even fun build. It came together in no time.

My new range bag showing the foam liner. I cut another sheet of foam to go over the top of everything. It is held in place with the Velcro strap that originally held the laptop computer in place. When the bag is zipped closed, everything is cradled securely in place, and surrounded by enough packing foam to protect it from bangs and bumps.

This photo also shows some of the many pockets the old laptop case has. It has numerous large and small pockets and compartments for storing all kinds of things.

My new range bag closed. So here is the completed range bag conversion. From the outside you can't even tell it is anything other than a normal laptop bag. (I hope I don't grab the wrong bag on the way to the airport!) As I said above, there are numerous pockets and compartments in the bag. There is plenty of room for extra magazines, hundreds of rounds of ammo, targets, glasses, tools, etc., etc. I've already given it a trial run to the range. It is great to have everything neatly organized in one, easy to carry bag.

I can always make multiple different foam inserts for the bag that will be form-fit to other guns and accessories, making the bag even more flexible. I also have a second laptop bag that I can convert over to a range bag for different guns. Used laptop bags are dirt cheap. So if you are in need of a new range bag, give this method a try.

 

Alan's arsenal of guns. 12/03/16 - Shooting with Alan
I met up with my buddy Alan at Bill Jackson's shooting range to blow off a few hundred rounds of ammo. Alan brought some of his guns along for me to try out. Alan owns a lot of guns. No, really, He owns a lot of guns. He came in with a gigantic range bag and started pulling out one gun after another. There were a couple of 22s, a couple of 380s, a 357 revolver, a couple of 45 semi-automatics. It went on and on. I was staring in awe, but he said all this was just a part of his collection. I only had my two 9mm guns with me. I felt distinctly outgunned next to Alan's arsenal.

Alan's home-made brass catcher. Alan is a reloader. So he collects his brass. He built a neat little device to catch the brass casings ejected from his semi-auto pistols. It is a butterfly net mounted on a small camera tripod. He can adjust it to just the right height and location to catch all his ejected brass. It works amazingly well. People in other lanes at the range kept coming over to check it out.

I'm not a reloader (I don't need yet another hobby). However I do collect my brass too. I plan on melting it down and casting things in brass from them.

10 rounds through the target from a 357 revolver. Alan was eager for me to try out his guns. So I picked a few and gave them a try. I was most interested in his 357 revolver and his two 45 semi-automatics. This is me shooting 10 rounds from his 357 revolver. We were both shooting at 18 feet from the target. Not bad for never having even held the gun before. The near perfect bullseye in the center was my first shot with the gun. I will admit that Alan has a well sighted in laser on the gun. After getting such a perfect shot first try, I decided that was just too easy and no challenge at all. So I turned the laser off for the rest of the shots. By the last few rounds, I was getting the hang of it, and had worked my way back onto the center of the target. It is a nice gun. Alan is a real crack shot with that 357 without using the laser.

I also fired his Colt Defender and his M1911. I couldn't get anywhere near the center of the target with the Defender. Not sure why. The Defender also had the annoying habit of ejecting the hot brass straight back to hit me square in the center of my forehead each time. The 1911 was a different story though. It is an absolute joy to shoot, and accurate as all getout. Aiming it was as natural as could be. It felt like an extension of my arm. I was having so much fun with it, I went out and bought another box of 45 ACP ammo to keep firing it. I think I might know what my next gun will likely be.

42 rounds through the target from a Glock 19. So how did I do with my own guns? Not bad. Again, we were shooting at 18 feet. This is me putting 42 rounds from my Glock 19 through the target, some of it rapid fire. I also fired off a few magazines from my 9mm Springfield XDS to good effect, and to stay in practice with it. I offered to let Alan fire my guns. He declined. He said he has owned both guns in the past (go figure) and already knows how they behave.

All in all, it was a great day at the range with my buddy Alan. Can't wait to do it again sometime.

 

Everything that comes with a Gen 4 Glock 19. 11/15/16 - I bought a Gen 4 Glock 19
I've been wanting a gun with larger capacity magazines than my XDS. I love my XDS, but it sure does run dry on ammo quickly. I also wanted something that was potentially more accurate at longer range than the short-barreled XDS. Now I'm no Glock fanboy, but I'm no Glock hater either. I started out looking for something like my beloved Ruger P85 I have at my place in Arizona. I looked at a lot of guns, but kept coming back to the Glock 19. It just felt right in my hands. So I pulled the trigger, so to speak, and bought one.

Here is all the stuff you get with the gun. It comes with three 15 round magazines and a loader, which is nice. The last few rounds are damn near impossible for me to load into the 15 round magazines without a loader. It also comes with four interchangeable backstraps (more about those below), a lock, a cleaning brush, a manual, all the usual literature, and a hard case.

A left side view of a Gen 4 Glock 19. Here is a view of the left side of the gun. I wouldn't call it a pretty gun. There is certainly nothing like any kind of decoration or adornment on it. There is nothing that doesn't need to be there. it is minimalist and simple. I think that may be what turns off a lot of people about Glocks. Some people think they are plain ugly. Me, I'm more interested in how a gun performs. How reliable, accurate and well made it is. The G19 is solid as a tank. It is a little heavier than I would have expected for a polymer frame pistol. It just feels solid. It doesn't feel like I am holding a cheap piece of plastic.

The gun has a standard rail for mounting lights, lasers, etc. The magazines slide in and lock into place easily and reliably and with a nice solid click. One feature I like is that it is almost impossible to pinch your finger slapping a magazine into place. I've pinched my pinky finger on other guns doing that if I wasn't thinking ahead about where my pinky was placed. The magazine release button is well placed and easy to use. Empty magazines drop out easily without any coaxing.

A right side view of a Gen 4 Glock 19. Here is a view of the right side of the gun. There is a cutout for the magazine release button on this side, and the manual explains how to switch it over for left-handed shooters. These Gen 4 Glocks come with magazines with ambidextrous catches that will work with either a right or left handed release button. The gun also has a visual and tactile chamber loaded indicator just behind the eject port.

One thing I really like about the G19 is how dead easy and quick it is to field strip. My XDS needs several extra steps and can sometimes be tricky to get apart. Same for my Ruger. The Glock field strips in no time with just a couple of quick, idiot-proof steps. This is a gun anyone could field strip, disassemble, and reassemble in the dark or blindfolded.

The sights on a Gen 4 Glock 19. Here is a view of the sights on the G19. Pretty simple and basic, No fancy fiber optics or glowing tritium here, but they work. Glock has some videos on Youtube about their sights. They call it the Drop in the Bucket sight. The rear sight is the bucket. The front sight is the drop. Center the drop in the bucket and you will hit whatever is in front of the front sight. Kind of corny, but it explains things to novice shooters.

The Glock 19 hard case. The Glock 19 case seems sturdy enough, but it is barely large enough to contain everything that comes with the gun, and has no form-fit cutouts to organize everything. I'm spoiled by my XDS case which is orders of magnitude nicer, and has lots of spare space for all the inevitable accessories that I will accumulate. That just seems to be the Glock way. Functional without any excess.

Glock 19 grip extensions or backstraps. The Glock 19 comes with four backstrap extensions, two with beaver tails, to help customize the grip to your hand. I didn't use any of them. To me, the grip is almost too big for my hand as it is. putting on one of these extensions would just make it bigger yet. Also included is a tool for pushing out and resetting the pin that holds the backstraps in place on the grip. It also doubles as an organizer for the backstraps. The tool is plastic, and the only really cheap and fragile-seeming piece in the entire kit. I suspect it could be easily broken. A small punch could substitute if it breaks.

A side by side comparison of the grips on a Springfield XDs and a Glock 19. This photo shows a side by side comparison of the grips on the Springfield XDS and the Glock 19. As you can see, the grip on the Glock is wider front to back. The Glock grip is also thicker because it takes a double stack magazine, as opposed to the single stack magazine in the XDS. I don't have especially small hands, but the grip on the Glock as it comes from the factory is almost too large for me to hold comfortably. Gripping the gun was not initially intuitive. It felt good in the store. On the range though, I found that I was gripping it incorrectly and had to modify the way I was holding it and where I placed my trigger finger.

30 rounds through the target from a Glock 19. So how does the gun shoot? It took a little getting used to. My first couple of shots with the gun went kind of wild. I needed time to adjust to the grip. Gripping it wasn't as instinctive as with my XDS and P85. I had to actually think about how I was gripping it and how I was placing my trigger finger. These pistol correction chart targets my friend Alan turned me on to helped a lot to figure out what I was doing wrong. After firing a few magazines through the G19, I started to get the hang of it. It is becoming more instinctive over time. This photo shows the results of firing 2 full magazines (30 rounds) at the target from 15 feet on my second range session with the gun. Getting good.

Here is a link to the PDF of this target: http://www.gunlink.info/targets/PistolChartR1S.pdf
From the Gunlink Blog website.

A box of Federal 9mm Luger 15gr FMJ RN ammunition. 11/10/16 - Ammunition Review: Federal 9mm Luger 15gr FMJ RN
This Federal brass-cased, 9mm Luger ammo has been my go-to range ammo for a while. It is kind of the benchmark that I rate other ammo by. It is available in boxes of 100 from Walmart for $24.54. That is only about 24.5 cents per round before tax. I have shot lots of this stuff and have had no problems at all with it in any of my guns. No failure to feeds, no duds, no hangfires, no failures to eject. It just works. It is also fairly clean burning too, compared to some other ammo I have tried. Accuracy is good. I have nothing to complain about with this ammo except that I can't seem to find it in bulk packages of more than 100 at a better price than just buying them in boxes of 100 at a time at Walmart.

 a box of Remington UMC 9mm Luger 15gr JHP ammunition. 11/10/16 - Ammunition Review: Remington UMC 9mm Luger 15gr JHP
For personal protection ammo, I did some research. There are a lot of people online saying you shouldn't trust your life to Walmart ammo. Then they tell you about their favorite, incredibly expensive hollow point rounds in pretty little clear boxes. Then there are other people online doing side by side comparisons between cheap Walmart ammo, and those same incredibly expensive and fancy packaged hollow points. The result? Pretty much equivalent in terms of penetration and expansion.

So I have been using this Remington JHP ammo from Walmart. I figure that if your personal protection ammo is too expensive to practice with, how do you know you will be able to hit anything with it? A box of 100 of these is only $10-$15 more expensive than my benchmark range ammo above. It is the same weight and load as above. The ballistics are similar. I always fire off at least one magazine of my personal protection ammo when I am at the range, just to make make sure it behaves like I expect it will if I need it. It would be difficult to do that with pretty, clear-box, hollow points that cost $5 a pop.

So how well does it shoot? I have had no issues with it. No failures whatsoever. It is reliable and accurate. The only quibble I have with it is that the muzzle flash is quite bright compared to my benchmark range ammo, which could be a night vision issue in the dark. It is also a little dirtier than my benchmark range ammo. For the price though, it really can't be beat. As for it coming from Walmart, so what? If a bullet makes a hole where there wasn't one before, it works. Fancy packaging and pretty design don't mean anything when it counts. I'm sticking with it.

The Lasertac Rechargeable Subcompact Pistol Tactical Flashlight mounted on a Springfield XDs. 11/01/16 - A tactical light for my XDs
I figure the odds that when I need a gun for self-protection, at home it will most likely be at night, in the dark. So I bought a Lasertac Rechargeable Subcompact Pistol Tactical Flashlight off of Amazon. It cost $69.95. It fits on my XDs nicely. It is very bright for such a small light. I suspect the light alone would scare the hell out of an intruder. Combine that with the sound of the slide racking, and an intruder would likely be shitting himself while running away.

Bottom view of the Lasertac Rechargeable Subcompact Pistol Tactical Flashlight. There are a couple of problems with this little light. The master on/off switch is tiny and difficult to manipulate. It is that little square button sticking up out of the middle of the bottom of the light. I suspect in a stressful situation it could be a problem to turn on without some fumbling. Once the master switch is on, easy to tap buttons on either side of the light turn it on or off. So, no problem, just leave the master power switch on all the time, right? Wrong. The manual says the battery will go dead in a day or two if the master power switch is left on. Not an ideal situation.

Top view of the Lasertac Rechargeable Subcompact Pistol Tactical Flashlight. This is a photo of the top of the light. The light has a rechargeable battery, and comes with a plug-in recharger. The light is super easy to mount and remove from the accessory rail on my XDs. (Update: It fits nicely on my Glock 19 too).

So the bottom line is that it is bright, and it fits nicely on my subcompact gun, but it could require a couple of seconds of awkward fumbling to turn it on. In a real emergency, I might not even try. So it may not have been worth the investment.

A new 9mm Springfield XDs and all its accessories. 10/25/16 - I bought a Springfield XDs 9mm
This is my inaugural post on my new shooting blog. I decided that the occasion of buying this new gun was a good reason to start a new blog about my shooting exploits.

This XDs isn't my first gun, but it is the first new gun I have bought in quite a while. I have got back into target shooting at the range again after a long hiatus. I wanted a gun that could also serve as a personal protection weapon, and possibly a concealed carry gun. The XDs comes highly recommended from several sources. So I picked one up.

This photo shows everything that comes with the gun. Well, almost everything. I managed to misplace the replacement fiber optic sights and the cleaning brush got put in the box with all my other cleaning tools. Also included were a 7 round magazine, an 8 round magazine with a grip extension, a spare grip extension, a different backstrap, an empty chamber flag, a lock, a manual, all the usual literature, and a really nice hard case.

A left side view of the 9mm Springfield XDs. Here is a view of the left side of the gun. Here you can see the two safeties on the gun. The palm grip safety lever on the back of the grip, and the trigger safety lever. Both have to be engaged for the gun to fire. I honestly don't even notice the palm grip safety. It is very easy and smooth, and just feels like part of the grip. It takes almost no force to engage. The trigger safety took a little getting used to, coming as I am from guns that had separate safety levers and uncomplicated triggers. I'm not sure I am a believer in how effective these new types of safety devices are. After all, just picking up the gun, holding it naturally, and pulling the trigger will cause it to fire. So I'm not sure what the safeties are actually doing to prevent the gun from accidentally discharging.

A right side view of the 9mm Springfield XDs. Here is a view of the right side of the gun. As you can see it has a magazine release button on each side. I like the grip on this gun. It fits my hand very well. The gun feels like an extension of my arm.

Not visible in any of these photos (sorry) is a visible and tactile loaded chamber indicator on top of the slide, just behind the eject port. That still isn't enough to make this gun legal to sell in California. The case comes plastered with a big sticker saying it is illegal in California. Frigging California! Well fortunately they haven't managed to ruin the fun for the rest of us.

A view of the 9mm Springfield XDs sights. Here is a view of the sights on the gun. The front sight is a fiber optic rod that gathers any ambient light and channels it back toward the shooter. supposedly making it visible even in low-light conditions. I'll have to test that out. Replacement sight rods and instructions for installing them are included. Makes me wonder how fragile the sight must be? I have somehow misplaced the replacement sight rids. I'm sure they will eventually turn up.

The sight works well. Aiming is instinctive for anyone who has handled pistols before. Accuracy is good. I got the hang of shooting this gun real quick.

The hard case that comes with the 9mm Springfield XDs. A absolutely love the case that the XDs came in. It is built like a tank. I think I could drive my truck over it and not damage it. Inside it has form-fit cutouts for the gun and all the accessories. Plus there is a lot of room left over for new accessories. There are pre-cut areas of foam that can just be pulled out to make space for new acquisitions. (Update: I used some of that extra space for a tactical light, spare magazines, and a loader).

21 rounds throughthe target from my 9mm Springfield XDs. So, bottom line, how does it shoot and what do I like and dislike about the gun? As you can see in this photo, it shoots well. It only took firing off a couple of magazines at the range before I got proficient at putting lead on target with the gun. This photo shows 21 rounds through the target at 15 feet on my very first range session with the gun (after the initial meet and greet magazines).

What I like: It is accurate. It fits my hand nicely. I like the case and accessories included with the gun. It is small and easily hidden. The gun is light-weight. So far, it has worked reliably.

What I don't like: The magazine release buttons are stiff and hard to press. The empty magazines don't always slide out on their own after pressing the release button, and sometimes need to be pulled out. The magazines don't always seat and lock in place properly first try. I have developed the habit of slapping the bottom of the magazine several times to make sure it is seated and locked in place, especially at the range with muffs on where I can't hear the click it makes when it finally locks in. Field stripping requires several steps and can be tricky.

My issues with the gun are minor. Some of them may go away as the parts wear in over time. Some of it could just be me and my unfamiliarity with the gun. Or maybe a trip back to the manufacturer or to a gunsmith could mitigate them. The gun is such a joy to shoot that I can overlook these minor issues for now.

Update: I eventually decided I needed more magazines and a loader. I got two more 8 round magazines from Cheaper Than Dirt, and a loader from Amazon.

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