10 Things I Like About the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Less than one inch wide, the Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield packs up to 8+1 rounds of 9mm.

Much has been said about the Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm Shield. A true pocket-sized 9mm, it’s smaller in almost all dimensions (except height) than a Glock 26 and can easily be concealed in a milliondy-seven different ways. Pocket, inside the waistband or outside the waistband holster, ankle, purse, fanny pack, crotch carry holster, you name it. The less-than-one-inch width goes a long way to making this handgun exceptionally portable.

Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1963 Even with the Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser installed, it weighs almost exactly the same as my morning cup of coffee. Coincidence? I think not. Both are life-saving devices and daily necessities.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1935 I like that it’s a 9mm. Of course you can now get the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield in .40 Smith & Wesson. Although 9mm and .380 ACP have lot’s of similarities on paper, I see a noticeable performance difference when each load is shot through tough clothing barriers. The extra velocity of the 9mm helps it expand more reliably than most of the .380 loads I’ve tested. I’ve found the Shield to be a very controllable gun, even with its small size and light weight. It’s a gun that’s enjoyable to shoot just for fun, unlike many other pocket cannons.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1960 The Shield has a positive safety. Without getting into the debate of whether or not you need one on a striker-fired pistol, I will say that it’s comforting on a gun that may be carried in a pocket holster. The safety lever is inset to the frame and unlikely to move without deliberate action, so you can choose to carry with the safety engaged or not. Moving from safe to fire position is very easy with the shooting hand thumb, assuming you’re right handed. The safety is not ambidextrous, so lefties have a little more work to do.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1933 I like that the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield will fire with its magazine removed. I don’t really appreciate that the lawyers at Smith & Wesson chose to print “CAUTION – CAPABLE OF FIRING WITH MAGAZINE REMOVED” right on the slide of an otherwise very attractive pistol. Can someone please put the lawyers back in their aquarium?
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1928 I like the capacity options. The more concealable standard magazine gives the Shield 8 (7+1) rounds of 9mm while the extended magazine adds one more for a total of 9 rounds. This is a great compromise of capacity versus size.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1940 Both front and rear sights are dovetail mounted and easily adjustable for windage. I found elevation on the test gun to be right on target. Notice how the rear sight surface is grooved to reduce glare around the sighting dots.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1937 The trigger on the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield simply rocks. For a striker-fired pistol, it’s exceptionally smooth and crisp. It’s got just about 1/4 inch of take-up prior to a 6.5 pound crisp break. If you like to keep your finger in place until reset, you can count on just about 1/4 inch forward travel before a positive reset click. The Shield has one of the best striker design triggers on the market.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1936 The flush magazine configuration with 7+1 capacity makes this a true pocket gun. Try it with a Galco Pocket Pro holster! I like this configuration with the extended magazine stowed elsewhere as a backup.
Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9mm 1931 I dig the grip texture. It’s sure, even with sweaty hands, but you don’t lose traction during shots. Even more importantly, when using an Inside the waistband holster like the Galco Stow-N-Go, it won’t abrade your insides nearly as much as Gilbert Godfried’s voice abrades your ears.
Smith & Wesson Shield 9mm Galco 1962 How about a grip-activated laser? The Crimson Trace LG-489 Laser for the Smith & Wesson M&P Shield mounts just in front of the trigger guard. Just grip the pistol and the laser is on. Couldn’t be simpler.

Gun Review: Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle

Springfield Armory M1A Standard

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard model is the civilian version of the battle classic M14

This rifle is beast. Not a beast. Just beast. If you have teenage kids, you might have already heard things like video games, high school athletes and cars described as “beast.” Apparently it’s a subtle, yet cool, form of praise. Kids these days don’t generally describe praise-worthy things as “richly robust with just the proper hint of panache.”

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle is beast because of its homage (another non-teen word) to military history. The M1A is the Springfield Armory produced civilian version of the battle-tested M14 rifle. The M14 was introduced to field use during the Korean war and is (roughly speaking) the next generation of the famous M1 Garand that had such a dramatic impact during World War II. In fact, the famous World War II general, George S. Patton, called the M1 Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised.” We’re not exactly sure what actor George C. Scott had to say about it, but he did play Patton on TV.

After the war, The M14 brought a few changes to the M1 Garand era. Fully automatic capability, 7.62mm / .308 ammo chambering and a detachable box magazine – to name a few. The M1A as a civilian rifle does not offer fully automatic capability, but maintains the detachable box magazine feature and chambers the .308 round. One other notable difference is the lack of a bayonet lug on the M1A. I know, it’s tragic, but it keeps the politicians from hemorrhaging bio-diesel. If you’re hell-bent on mounting an infantry charge down your street, you’ll just have to improvise with duct tape and a Ka-Bar knife.

A Closer Look at the Springfield Armory M1A Standard

 Springfield Armory M1A safety

Safety first! Just like the M1 Garand, the Springfield Armory M1A uses a lever in the front of the trigger guard as the safety. As shown in this picture, the gun is on safe. Nudge the lever forward with the back of your knuckle and it will snap forward, out of the trigger guard, into the firing position. It’s the same basic mechanism used on the M1 Garand. Be careful with this type of safety – to put the rifle on safe, you’re pulling backwards with your trigger finger! Make sure you’re pulling the safety and not the trigger!

 Springfield Armory M1A rear sight

The rear sight on the Springfield Armory M1A has a windage adjustment dial on the right and an elevation adjustment dial on the left. On the M1A Standard rifle, elevation and windage are adjustable in 1 minute of angle (about 1 inch at 100 yards) clicks. The windage dial gives you 16 clicks in either direction and you have sufficient elevation adjustment to compensate to about 1,100 yards. Springfield Armory includes a nifty article by Scott Duff and John Miller that tells you exactly how to properly zero your M1A. The elevation adjustment knob was tight, as to be expected and desired in my opinion. I found the windage elevation knob on the test rifle to be somewhat beyond tight, and I’ve been working out to get in shape for the upcoming Thumb Wars of the Stars special. I tried smothering it with Activia Butt-Modulating Yogurt to “loosen things up” but that didn’t seem to help. Don’t tell the folks at Springfield Armory, but I had to cover it with a cleaning rag and muscle it the first few times. Whatever you do, DON’T use pliers – this will almost certainly crack the adjustment dial. Don’t get me wrong, this adjustment should be firm and very deliberate as you don’t want it moving around on its own. Just be aware that there might be some break-in period required to get things loosened up. And it did loosen up with some use. Before venturing off to any foreign wars, be sure to try the adjustments and break in accordingly.

Springfield Armory M1A mag release

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard rifle ships with a 10 round box magazine. You can order factory 5 or 20 round magazines using the nifty Springfield Loaded Coupon that we’ll talk about in a minute. The magazine release lever is on the back side of the magazine well and releases the magazine when pushed forward. It’s about an inch and a half forward of the safety lever, so you just barely have to adjust your grip to reach it with the firing hand. Seating a magazine in the M1A takes just a bit of practice. The easiest way is to insert it into the magazine well, angled backwards, and rock it into position. It sounds complicated, but is very smooth once you get the hang of it. And the magazine makes a satisfying click when it seats. You won’t be in doubt about it’s locked status.
 Springfield Armory M1A aperture sight The rear aperture sight features fine checkering on the back side to reduce glare. We found this to be a very useful feature! It’s one of those details that no one notices in the store, but really makes a difference on the range. Note the protective wings that help prevent the aperture sight from getting abused.

Springfield Armory M1A stripper clip guide

On the top of the receiver, at the back of the magazine well, you’ll see a stripper clip guide. While the M1A has detachable box magazines, it can still be reloaded with stripper clips from the top. We didn’t use this in testing, but know it’s there. In case you want to get super authentic. The dovetail for the stripper clip guide has a second use as a mounting point for the scope base. We’ll cover that in detail in the next article where we mount a rail base and scope to this M1A.
 Springfield Armory M1A front sling A sturdy sling mount is placed towards the front of the stock on the bottom side. It swivels back and forth, but not side to side. At the rear, just ahead of the rifle butt, is a similar, but fixed, sling mount. Somehow the Springfield Armory M1A Standard just screams for a traditional leather loop sling. No worries, you can get one cheap using the Springfield Loaded Coupon mentioned a little later!

Springfield Armory M1A front sight wings

Like the rear sight, the front post is protected by sturdy steel wings on either side. And the post is not a wimpy little AR type either – it’s a steel blade that tapers like a wedge towards the front. This helps the post look sharp and crisp from the back. And it’s more aerodynamic when charging the trenches at a full run. The sight blade and wings assembly is movable side to side so you can zero the rifle (for windage) and have your windage dial on the receiver exactly centered. A hex locking screw keeps everything in place once you’ve got it set. One other thing to note about the front sight blade. It’s width can be used for rough range estimation. It will exactly cover a 20 inch wide target at about 300 yards.
 Springfield Armory M1A buttplate No, it’s not a collapsible bayonet to protect the rear flank. Nor does it make the M1A more aerodynamic, although you can probably use it while speed walking. But seriously, the fold-out butt plate has a purpose. You can lean it on top of your shoulder for a little extra stability. It’s an interesting feature, especially when shooting from a standing position or moving. It’s one of those things you just have to try to see if it works for you.

Springfield Armory M1A cleaning kit

Unfortunately you can’t quite fit two rolls of Mentos breath mints in the stock storage compartments. However, you can fit the original Springfield Armory cleaning and oiling kit. The top hole is about 10 inches deep while the bottom one is about 6 ½ inches deep. Why waste all that potential storage space in the stock? Later, we’ll mention some factory cleaning and maintenance supplies that will fit perfectly into these two chambers.
 Springfield Armory M1A bolt lock On the left side of the receiver is the bolt lock lever. If the magazine is in place, and empty, the bolt will lock back on it’s own. If you want it locked open while the magazine is out, or full, use the bolt lock lever.

 Springfield Armory M1A gas

About six inches behind the front  sight is the gas port in the barrel and the gas tube below. The nut on the end is removable for cleaning and maintenance. The handy multi-purpose tool (discussed below) will remove this easily. Remember when cleaning that the gas system is supposed to be dry, so no oil or grease in there!

 

Shooting Performance

As the Springfield Armory M1A Standard comes with iron peep sights and no provision for mounting a scope without accessories, we’re not going to address accuracy in this article. Trying to do so would tell you more about the poor state of our eyesight than performance of this rifle! However, we have a second part of this article coming out shortly which details the process of mounting and using the optional scope mounting base. Once we get a scope mounted, we’ll do some accuracy testing with various .308 loads and report on the results.

We did shoot a variety of ammunition through the M1A for function testing and just plain fun. As you might expect from this design, digesting lots and lots of different ammunition was not a problem!

We shot and choreographed the following loads:

American Eagle 7.62x51mm M1A – 2,637 feet per second

Black Hills Match Hollow Point – 2,565 fps

Nosler Match Grade 168 grain Custom Competition – 2,548 fps

Winchester 120 grain PDX1 Defender – 3,034 fps

In addition to the factory loads, we assembled four different hand loads – all with 168 grain Sierra Matchking projectiles. We developed upper mid-range loads for 2,550 to 2,650 feet per second velocity performance using Hodgdon BL-C(2), IMR 4064, IMR 4895 and Ramshot TAC powders. We experienced no feed or function issues with any of the loads tested.

Felt recoil on this rifle was polite and relatively genteel considering that it has a not very soft steel butt plate. Between the M1A’s 9.3 pound weight and gas-driven semi-automatic action, much of the perceived recoil is dampened.

Paperwork

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle arrives in a large cardboard box which includes a variety of instruction paperwork and other extra-special surprises.

The nicest surprise was a printed “booklet bound” copy of the  TM 9-1005-223-12 Department of the Army Technical Manual. Subtitled Operator and Organizational Maintenance Manual – 7.62mm Rifle M14 and Rifle Bipod M2, this 76 page booklet, dated January 1963, is the lightly burnt sugar on Creme Brûlée for any self-respecting gun geek.

Another bonus surprise is a reproduced article by Wayne Faatz entitled The Mysterious Slam Fire.

Springfield also includes a reproduced article by Scott A. Duff and John M. Miller. This one, From the Bench – Zeroing M1 and M1A Service Rifles, walks the reader through easy to understand instructions on how to zero either standard or National Match M1A rifles.

And another! As with all Springfield Armory products we’ve received, a M1A Loaded Coupon allows you to order accessories like extra magazines, cheek pieces, tools, cases, and M1A cleaning accessories at deeply discounted prices. The discount depends on the specific item, but most are available at 20% to 70% off retail. As an example, the Springfield Armory factory .308 20 round magazine sells for $37.50 instead of $54.95. Of course, most of the items on the list are available in third party manufactured versions, but if you want genuine factory accessories, take advantage of the one time use coupon. You can order as much as you want of each item – but one time only.

Oh, and a basic instruction book is included that covers operation, ammo information (mil-spec only recommended), cleaning, and basic maintenance.

Stripping and Cleaning

The subtitle of this section got your attention didn’t it?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but we’re talking field stripping here – with the primary intention of cleaning and lubrication.

Basic takedown is simple. But first, remove the magazine, then check the chamber to make sure there is no cartridge there. Now check it again. Now flip on the safety just for good measure.

Springfield Armory M1A trigger housing removal

The barrel and receiver assembly is locked into the stock by the trigger assembly. To remove the trigger assembly, pull the rear base of the trigger guard (where it meets the stock) towards the butt of the rifle. It will take some muscle!

Springfield Armory M1A trigger system removal

Pulling the trigger guard backwards will release it from a catch, allowing it to pivot towards the muzzle of the rifle. Pull it up all the way and the trigger assembly will come out in one piece.

Springfield Armory M1A field strip

Now the barreled receiver will lift out of the stock. It may need a gentle nudge to get it moving.

There you have it! This simple, no-tools, field strip procedure will give you pretty good access for basic cleaning and lubrication of the main parts.

Accessories and Upgrades

Original Cleaning Kit

M1A cleaning kit

The M1A multi-purpose tool and cleaning kit are accessories that fit in two hollowed-out stock tubes

You can order an original military style maintenance and cleaning kit and store just about all of it in the stock. Shown in the photo is a four-piece cleaning rod, M1A multi-purpose tool, ratcheted chamber cleaning brush, bore cleaning brush and lubricant container. Pack that stuff into the stock compartments and you’ll have it when you need it!

Magazines

The rifle includes a single ten round magazine, but you can order  additional magazines from Springfield Armory in 5, 10, 15 and 20 round capacities. The 5 round magazine comes in a standard box configuration or a low-profile sporter configuration. Perhaps you want to hunt with your M1A? Check your state laws before trying to order different magazines!

Scope Mounts

Springfield Armory offers two different receiver scope mounts for the M1A – one constructed of solid steel and the other aluminum. Both are custom designed to attach to the receiver on the left side and via the stripper clip guide dovetail at the rear. We obtained a steel scope mount and installed it with a Hawke Optics Sidewinder 30 10x scope. We’ll cover that in a follow up article. Springfield Armory also offers a Scout Scope forward mount.

Other

Given the history of the M14 platform and Springfield Armory’s adherence to the core original design, a number of other accessories are readily available from Springfield and third party vendors. Cheek rests, replacement match sights, tritium night sight posts, muzzle brakes and more can all be found at Brownells.com.

Springfield Armory M1A Hawke Optics Sidewinder IR

In part 2 of this article, we’ll mount a Hawke Optics Sidewinder Tactical using the Springfield Armory steel receiver mount

Closing Arguments

The Springfield Armory M1A Standard Rifle is, well, kind of nostalgic. True to the basic M1 Garand and M14 military rifle design, it’s a sturdy and reliable war horse. The iron sights feel natural and are quite effective. A good rifleman is expected to hit targets out to 500 yards with them. We’re going to add a scope for fun and some accuracy testing, but odds are, the scope will come off as soon as we’re finished. Somehow, adding optics to this gun just seems wrong and unnecessary.

We loved the Springfield Armory M1A Standard. From it’s walnut stock to iron sights to classic action design, it’s a natural combination of form, function and fun.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! We’re not sure if this is a 4 Nun product because of the history of the design, Springfield Armory’s adherence to that design (mostly) or it’s construction and operation. Probably some of each. Like a Ruger 1022, every household needs one of these rifles.

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig – Glock 357 Sauce Anyone?

Add some zest to your shooting with Glock 357 sauce

I used to be a lousy shot. Until I tried Glock 357 sauce with the Glock 31 Gen 4 chambered in .357 Sig. I’m still a lousy shot, but I shoot with a lot more zest!

Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 sig handgun review

We found the Glock 31 Gen 4 surprisingly comfortable to shoot – even with full power self defense ammunition.

As you may know, we kind of have a thing for the .357 Sig cartridge – as evidenced by some our our previous work including our review on the Glock 32, CorBon .357 Sig DPX ammo, Federal Premium .357 Sig ammo, and a less serious work with Hornady’s Critical Defense .357 Sig ammo tested head-to-head with a big jar of grape jelly. That one worked out pretty well for all involved, except for the grape jelly.

While our obsession for the .357 Sig round may not be completely rational, one valid reason we like it is the cartridge design itself. Being a bottle-necked pistol cartridge. It just wants to feed easily – like Rosie O’Donnell. The tapered profile of the cartridge, regardless of the shape of the projectile – round nose or hollow point – allows the cartridge to feed into the chamber very, very easily.

We’ve never had any reliability trouble with either the Glock 32 or Glock 31 chambered in .357 Sig. We’ve also found it amazingly insensitive to quality of grip. You can shoot it with a firm grip or the most dramatic limp wrist you can muster and it will work.

With all that said, we were just about as anxious as Lindsay Lohan at a Policeman’s Ball to get our hands on a full-size Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig model.

But first, let’s consider some interesting and useful facts about the Glock 31.

Pop Quiz on the Glock 31

Circle all true statements below.

  1. A number of state highway patrol agencies, including Tennessee and Mississippi rely on the Glock 31 for duty use.
  2. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg secretly carries a Glock 31 in his Kenneth Cole man bag. He calls it a satchel, but let’s face it – it’s a murse. (Tweet This)
  3. .357 Sig rounds launched from a Glock 31 are capable of Mach 17, but can be completely silenced by shooting through a Walmart Premium chuck steak. (Tweet This)
  4. The “SIG” in .357 Sig stands for “Shooting Is Great!”

If you circled number 1 only, you win the prize, the nature of which will be determined as soon as Congress votes itself a pay decrease.

What’s in Glock 357 Sauce? A Glock 31 Gen 4 .357 Sig review

The Glock 31 is a full size model, identical in exterior dimensions to the Glock 17 Gen 4 9mm. It’s 7.95″ long, 5.43″ high, and 1.18″ wide. It features a 4.49″ barrel with 6.5″ between the front and rear sights. The relatively long sight radius is one of the features that makes the Glock 31 Gen 4 easy to shoot well. One notable difference between the Glock 31 and Glock 17 models is the weight. As the .357 Sig round operates at very high pressure, the Glock 31 Gen 4 is just a bit heavier, weighing in at 23.28 ounces unloaded and 33.09 ounces loaded with 15 rounds of .357 Sig ammunition. The Glock 17 is only a tad over one ounce heavier in loaded or unloaded configuration, and compared side by side, we couldn’t tell the difference.

Like the ubiquitous Glock 22, the Glock 31 holds 15 rounds in the magazine. Ubiquitous is a very important word that means ‘it’s all over the place’, kind of like how armor-piercing sand gnats are here in the lowcountry (swamps!) of South Carolina. Add a round to the chamber and you’ve got 16 total rounds in the Glock 31.

Like the other Glock Generation 4 models, the Glock 31 offers a number of enhancements to the Glock 31 Generation 3:

  • As we noted in our Glock 17 Gen 4 review, the magazine release button is significantly enlarged. While a seemingly minor change, it makes a big difference in usability. Ease of dropping a magazine is much improved. The magazine release button is also reversible.
  • The Glock 31 Gen 4 also features interchangeable grip backstraps with 3 size options, allowing the owner to customize fit to their specific hand size.
  • The recoil spring assembly is now a two-part spring. While we did not notice any difference in function from the single spring Glock Gen 3 models, Glock claims that the new spring assemblies will offer longer life cycle and reduced felt recoil. The Glock 31 is certainly a soft shooting gun, but we were only able to compare felt recoil to a Glock 32 Gen 3, which is not an apples to apples comparison given the smaller size and lighter weight of the Glock 32.
  • Also like other Gen 4 models, the Glock 31 Gen 4 features a new and improved grip texture. We really, really like the new feel. While personal preference rules and your opinion may vary, ours is that no grip tape, stippling, or other type of grip enhancement is necessary on the Gen 4 models. It’s solid in the hand and offers a positive feel even when the palms get sweaty.

Our evaluation model was equipped with upgraded Glock night sights. While the standard Glock sites are constructed of polymer with a single dot on the front, and notched rear sight surrounded by a white “U” shaped outline, the Glock night sights are steel construction front and rear. They are also of the 3 dot design, with a single tritium dot in the front and tritium dots on either side of the rear notch. With all the Glock carrying and shooting we’ve done, we’ve never had an issue with the standard polymer sights, but there is a certain, and probably irrational, level of comfort present with the upgraded steel models. Plus you can see them in the dark.

Our evaluation Glock 31 Gen 4 came with standard Glock packaging. You’ll get (3) 15 round magazines, a cleaning rod with brush, two additional grip backstraps for size adjustment, and the obligatory gun lock. This all comes neatly packaged in a Glock hard plastic case.

A serious moment – .357 Sig bullet setback

If you’re to become a .357 Sig cartridge aficionado, then you also need to understand the concept of bullet setback. This issue has nothing to do with the Glock 31 or any other handgun chambered in .357 Sig, but rather the .357 Sig cartridge design itself.

Speer Gold Dot .357 Sig Ammunition expansion

One of the benefits of .357 Sig velocity with the Glock 31 is very reliable expansion

The .357 Sig cartridge is a bottleneck design, much like many rifle cartridges. Bottleneck is a fancy Latin word that translates loosely to looks like a bottle.  (Tweet This)

We mention this because the .357 Sig is a pistol cartridge, and therefore much shorter than a bottle-necked rifle cartridge in all measurements. This becomes important as the straight walls of the top of the cartridge offer less gripping surface area than a traditional straight walled cartridge.

Why should you care about this?

Other than accumulating obscure knowledge of pistol cartridge design, if you’re going to use a gun chambered in .357 Sig, you need to be aware of the potential for bullet setback. If your daily carry and storage method leads to a lot of chamberings and un-chamberings of the same cartridge, i.e. the one at the top of your magazine, there is potential for the bullet to become pushed back in to the cartridge casing itself over time. I say potential because with most quality factory ammunition this is not a serious concern. With cheap stuff, reloaded ammunition, or ammunition that has been cycled repeatedly, you want to keep an eye out for bullet setback.

If you do notice a cartridge where the bullet is compressed into the casing, do not shoot it! Instead, dispose of it safely. Most shooting ranges have a disposal container for live ammunition. The reason you should not shoot it is that as a bullet gets pushed into the casing, the volume of that casing is decreased. The same powder charge is still present, so that careful balance of interior cartridge volume and powder charge is now out of whack – and dangerously high pressure spikes can result. Abnormally high pressure is not healthy for you or your gun.

We only mention this as something that all .357 Sig shooters should be aware of. In all our shooting of .357 Sig ammunition, we’ve only spotted one mild case of bullet setback in years and years. Nonetheless, it’s always a good habit to visually inspect your ammunition whenever you load your gun. Keep an eye out for bullet setback and you’ll have no worries.

Feel the need for speed

Some time ago, we tested the Glock 32 Gen 3 and did some velocity testing with several different loads. So how much difference does the extra 1/2” barrel in the Glock 31 make? Here are the some of the results as measured by our Shooting Chrony Beta Master, placed 15 feet down range.

Load

Glock 32 Gen 3
(4.02” barrel)

Glock 31 Gen 4
(4.49” barrel)

Hornady Critical Defense 125 grain 1,231 1,257
Winchester PDX1 Defender 125 grain N/A 1,389
Speer Gold Dot 125 grain N/A 1,404
Federal Premium JHP 125 grain N/A 1,354
CorBon DPX 125 grain N/A 1,313
CorBon JHP 125 grain N/A 1,469
CorBon Pow’RBall 100 grain 1,623 1,620
Georgia Arms 125 grain Gold Dot 1,362 1,395
Remington UMC 125 grain 1,359 1,405

With the exception of the CorBon Pow’RBall, which showed an unexpected anomaly in velocity differences, we found that the slightly longer barrel in the Glock 31 increased velocity by about 30-35 feet per second on average.

Considering the real world velocities we measured out of a real world Glock 31, it’s apparent that the .357 Sig round combined with this Glock, meets the original cartridge design goal of approximating the velocity of a 125 grain .357 magnum round from a 4 inch barreled revolver. Three different loads we tested clocked over 1,400 feet per second – and that measurement was taken 15 feet down range. Not too shabby!

Handling

We took the Glock 31 Gen 4 to the range – a lot – to get a good feel for its handling qualities. While cornering was good, it really excelled in the straightaways.

But seriously, in addition to quite a bit of informal plinking, we ran through some drills with it to get a feel for the admittedly subjective measure of ‘shootability.’ We ran it through some Dot Torture drills and found the Glock 31 easy to control in all three dot torture scenarios: two-handed, strong hand only, and weak hand only. We found it easy to control this gun even when shooting full power self-defense loads.

We also shot the Glock 31 Gen 4 in a side by side comparison with a Glock 32 Gen 3 and a Glock 17 Gen 4. While the 31 was noticeably less snappy than the Glock 32, we weren’t sure if this was a result of the larger gun size and weight, new recoil spring design, or combination of both. We also did some side by side shooting with a Glock 17 and the Glock 31. With full power defense loads in each, it was hard to tell the difference in felt recoil between the 9mm Glock 17 9mm and the more powerful .357 Sig Glock 31 .357 Sig.

What if you want .40 S&W flavors?

One of the neat things about the Glock 31 in .357 Sig is that you can easily modify the gun to shoot .40 S&W. Simply swap out the barrel for a Glock 22 Gen 4 factory barrel, or get an aftermarket one from companies like Lone Wolf, and you’re good to go. The existing .357 Sig magazines will work fine. Depending on the loads you shoot, you may want or need to replace the recoil spring. Be sure to check with the experts at Lone Wolf Distributors or another reputable supplier before venturing off on your own!

Bedside bling

Glock 31 Gen 4 with Crimson Trace Lasergrips LG-850 and Lightguard LTG-736

We “geared up” the evaluation Glock 31 with both Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips and Crimson Trace LTG-736 Lightguard. That made for a great nightstand package.

One of the benefits of the Glock’s ubiquity (there’s that word again) is the availability of aftermarket accessories like lights, lasers, fixed sights, and performance parts. The Glock 31 Gen 4 features an accessory rail that allows attachment of lights, lasers, and even bayonets. Why anyone would seriously want to put a bayonet on a pistol is beyond us, but you have to admit it sounds amusing. Maybe it would be handy for opening stubborn ammo boxes.

We went all out, but practical, in outfitting the evaluation Glock 31. For a laser, we added the Crimson Trace LG-850 Lasergrips for Glock Gen 4 full size and compact models. For a tactical light, we mounted the Crimson Trace Lightguard LTG-736 for Glock full size and compact models. Both laser and light operate by instinctive pressure activation with the laser being activated from the rear of the grip and the light from the front. On other words, simply pick up your gun with a proper grip and both laser and light are on and ready to go. We wrote about this combination with a Glock 17 Gen 4 as Nightstand Perfection a while back, but we may have to reconsider in favor of the more powerful Glock 31 Gen 4.

Closing with authority

The really compelling thing about the Glock 31 Gen 4 is velocity. Arguments over the relative effectiveness of large and slow rounds compared to small and fast rounds will likely go on until the end of time, or until our Congress manages to pass a budget, whichever comes first.

If you’re a fan of velocity, then take a serious look at the Glock 31 Gen 4 in .357 Sig. With it’s 4.49″ barrel, you’re going to get fantastic velocity out of self defense ammunition – and at the same time, the pistol will be easy to control. It’s not an untamed beast, but rather a tamed one.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Like every other Glock we’ve owned or tested, reliability was not a question. It works – clean or dirty. We have yet to clean this one just to see. We’re giving the Glock 31 Gen 4 Four Nuns because of it’s combination of power with controllability. It’s easy – and pleasant – to shoot.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote 1911 .45 ACP

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote shown with Galco Miami Classic II

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote shown with Galco Miami Classic II

1911’s have a lot to live up to. Designed by John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) they have been known to take down both a Japanese Zero fighter  and German Storch observation plane in World War II.

In fact, some believe that a stray 1911 .45 ACP round inadvertently destroyed the city of Dresden. (Tweet This)

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote™ is modeled after the famous FBI contract Professional Model 1911. Given that the FBI contract model comes from the Springfield Armory Custom Shop, imitation is a tall order for a production gun to meet. If the Springfield Armory TRP was designed to capture the most important features and benefits of the Professional Model at a much more affordable price point, the TRP succeeded in the mission. It’s the nicest 1911 platform we’ve shot to date.

The model we tested is the Armory Kote™ version with a black Teflon finish. The TRP is also available in a stainless steel finish and a second Armory Kote™ model with an integrated accessory rail.

Let’s take a closer look.

Just the specs ma’am

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 Armory Kote Case, Holster, Magazine holder

The TRP comes with lockable hard case, kydex holster, and dual magazine carrier

The Springfield Armory TRP Armory Kote™ 1911 is loaded in terms of custom features.

  • Full size 1911-A1 platform
  • 5 inch match grade barrel and bushing
  • 8.5 inch overall length. 5.7 inch overall height.
  • Armory Kote™ Teflon finish (as tested)
  • Weight: 42 ounces. Unloaded. Yes, it’s a full size, steel 1911.
  • Aluminum match grade trigger
  • Checked front strap and mainspring housing
  • Wide mouth magazine well. 2 included magazines with slam pads.
  • G10 grip panels
  • Low profile Trijicon combat night sights

Something old, something new

While the Springfield Armory TRP is not so radical as to make John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) scream ‘UNCLE!’ from his grave, it does offer some improvements over the original design. Some obvious, and some controversial and sure to cause fists to fly among 1911 aficionados. We don’t really care whether a 1911 design is true to John Moses Browning’s (may he rest in peace) original design or not. We care if it works. All the time. And then some.

With all that said, we found that the Springfield Armory TRP 1911 offers an interesting combination of traditional 1911 features and new innovations.

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP Armory Kote ambidextrous safety

True ambidextrous safeties

Tight like a tiger

World War I and II era GI complaints about shaky actions and resulting accuracy challenges do not apply here. The TRP is fit like Ronnie from Jersey Shore. ‘Tight like a tiger’ to quote the famous Dutch philosopher Goldmember. When we took it out of the box, the slide was, ummm, slightly challenging to rack. The fit was tight, tight, tight. Like a tiger.

For the first 50 to 100 rounds, we noticed that the TRP had pretty aggressive slide rack resistance. Then it became smooth like butter, but without the excess cholesterol. You heard that right, it’s not a typo for ‘better’, the action became like butter. Smooth with no detectable movement whatsoever – vertical or horizontal. Even now, approximately 1,000 rounds later, the slide feels as if it’s welded to the frame rails until you apply a little muscle to rack it. Obviously the fit is excellent, but we suspect the Teflon finish has something to do with it also.

The Guiding Rod

We’re staying out of the full length guide rod versus original John Moses Browning (may he rest in peace) design crusade. Our criteria for success is simple. Does it work? Every time? Are there any observable, not theoretical, advantages or disadvantages to a specific gun design? Some claim that full length guide rods, whether one or two piece, improve accuracy, but we’ve never seen any hard data on this. Others claim that the full length rod makes the recoil spring behave a bit better as it can’t kink. Whatever.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 two piece guide rod

The two piece guide rod is removed with an included hex wrench

The Springfield Armory TRP 1911 features a two piece, full length guide rod. From a take-down point of view, this means two things:

  1. You can remove the slide assembly from the frame with no tools. You’ll end up with two assemblies – the frame and the slide with recoil spring and guide rod firmly attached to the slide until you disassemble the guide rod.
  2. You can unscrew and remove half of the guide rod using a hex tool (our Real Avid Gun Tool worked perfectly for this) and then you have a standard 1911 take down for field strip completion. Realistically, we found that the take down process worked out to about a 3 second difference between the Springfield Armory TRP with its two piece guide rod versus a standard 1911.
Bottom line? We don’t really care. The TRP functioned flawlessly with over 20 different types of ammo. We tried ultra-budget steel cased stuff to $2 per round premium self defense rounds to a dozen different handload recipes with various lead, plated, and jacketed projectiles.

90/90 grippy-ness

Springfield Armory 1911 TRP G10 grip panels

Gloves or no gloves, the TRP is solid in the hand

The frame offers sharp checkering on both the front strap and mainspring housing. In average Joe’s English, that means the front and back of the grip have really rough textures. We found the checkering on the TRP to be very sharp, and very grippy. Clearly one of the design goals was to be tactical glove friendly. And it is.

While casually fondling holding the TRP, we thought the aggressive texturing would wreak havoc on bare hands with any significant shooting session. Strangely, this was not the case. The grippy checkering offered a solid, no slip grip, even in 90/90 weather conditions. For those of you who don’t live in a swamp, 90/90 refers to 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity. Paradise found.

1,000 rounds later we have no new callouses and have not yet bled all over the TRP.

Back to the well

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 beveled magazine well

The TRP features a generous magazine well

The Springfield Armory TRP offers a beveled magazine well to facilitate fast magazine changes. It’s also finished with the Teflon-based Armory Kote™ finish. While not a necessity for a solid 1911, we really liked it. You’ll notice from the close up photo that we did a fair number of mag changes throughout this evaluation.

With the magazine well extension, magazines with slam pads are required practically speaking. Springfield includes two of their 7 round magazines with the TRP – both equipped with slam pads. Both magazines operated flawlessly throughout our testing.

Sights

The TRP we tested came with Trijicon combat sights – we thought. We thought we knew this because they say ‘Trijicon’ right on them. Well, actually, the metal housings are manufactured by Springfield Armory with the inserts supplied by Trijicon. The rear sight is a dovetail design with two tritium inserts. While the rear sight is a ramped design, there is a small ledge at the front base which can be used to rack the slide with one hand and a nearby belt, table, or other unofficial slide-racking object. The front sight is also fitted via dovetail and has a single tritium dot.

Safeties

The TRP features ambidextrous safeties, meaning they are on both sides of the gun. So you can shoot righty or lefty with equal aplomb. Unlike some other models, the safety levers are extended and of equal width on either side of the pistol.

Grips

The G10 grip panels are also aggressive in texture – like the front and backstrap checkering. The texture is a combination of raised diamond and reptile skin pattern. Please note, this is our description, not the official Springfield Armory version. And yes, they are awesome in both appearance and function. You will NOT lose your grip on this gun. Again, we have to think the grip panels were designed with gloved use in mind.

One very nice touch on the grip panels is the thumb cutout on the left panel. As you can see in the included photograph, this cutout makes it a tad easier to access the magazine release button. We found that it really makes a difference. Depending on your hand size, you may be able to drop a magazine without altering your strong hand grip.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 beavertail grip safety

The beavertail memory bump easily engages the grip safety

Beavertail

The beavertail on the Springfield Armory TRP has a pronounced memory bump to aid with sure and repeatable disengagement of the grip safety. At risk of starting another 1911 aficionado fist fight, we prefer to shoot the 1911 with thumbs high – meaning the strong hand thumb rides on top of the safety lever. Others feel that this grip results in possibility of the grip safety not being properly activated as the thumbs high grip tends to pull the web of your hand away from the backstrap. So we elected to give it the thumb test to see just how positive it was. No worries here. Between the significant memory bump and limited amount of grip safety travel required to disengage the trigger, we had no problems with grip safety engagement.

Although an inexact science, we did some eyeball testing to see at what point of grip safety depression the trigger is released. Using highly scientific eyeballing, we found that the trigger would release when the grip safety was depressed somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of its full length of travel.

Slide

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 front cocking serrations

Front cocking serrations are handy for chamber checks

Like most modern 1911’s, the Springfield Armory TRP features an enlarged ejection port. Unlike many 1911’s however, the TRP offers front cocking serrations on the slide. These exactly match the primary rear cocking serrations in texture and angle. While the need for front serrations invites yet another bar fight, we grew to like having them – especially for checking the chamber loaded condition of the pistol. Although the physics are exactly the same, it somehow feels easier to partially retract the slide to check the chamber using the front serrations. There must be some type of leverage difference resulting from hand placement.

Trigger

The trigger is match grade aluminum, factory set for a 4.5 to 5 pound pull. It includes an adjustable over travel screw. Out of the box, we needed to make no adjustments. Take-up was minimal and there was no detectable over travel after the break. Nice.

Internal Lock

Freakin’ lawyers. We’re blaming My Cousin Vinny for the integral safety lock on the Springfield Armory TRP. Schlocky lawyers are absolutely responsible for adding needless parts to a perfectly functioning gun. We would prefer not to introduce any additional variables or things that could break or malfunction into this proven and reliable design. Fortunately we are still able to buy hammers and butter knives without integral safety locks. But those are probably next.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 thumb cutout

The thumb cutout on the left grip panel facilitates access to the magazine release

All griping aside, here’s how it works. The lock is intended to be used with the hammer down. Period. In this condition, using one of the two supplied keys, you can rotate the lock 90 degrees clockwise. This jams up the entire system. The slide won’t rack, the hammer won’t cock, and the gun won’t go bang. The lock will not function if the hammer is already cocked, so it appears this feature is really intended for cold storage rather than securing a loaded and ready gun. The only gripe we have with the TRP is this lock. Arrghhh!

Accuracy testing

Here on My Gun Culture, accuracy testing is a bait and switch tactic. You see, we’re not really going to talk about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other. Within reason, most quality guns on the market today can shoot far more accurately than their handlers.

We’ve got a pet peeve about gun writers who talk about the accuracy of a given gun by holding it, setting it on sandbags, and so on. We don’t buy it, Unless a gun is in a mechanical rest, we don’t want to hear about mechanical accuracy. As long as human eyes, human trigger fingers, and human brains are involved, we’re not learning a darned thing about the mechanical accuracy of this gun or any other.

With that said, we would like to talk about ease of shooting accurately. Yes, this is a subjective measure, but an important one.

In short, the Springfield Armory TRP is easy to shoot. Accurately. Part of that is the weight of the pistol. It’s heavy (we like that) and doesn’t flop around as much as a pocket rocket. The trigger is crisp. And the tolerances are tight. Shoot this gun in a half decent two-hand hold and you’ll be hitting baseball size targets at 25 yards with no problem. Yes, it’s designed as a tactical defense pistol, but it sure is a fun plinker!

Ammo digestion

We tried 2.4 boatloads of ammunition in the Springfield Armory TRP. If you’re not up on your redneck conversion rates, that’s about 25 different varieties. We shot budget steel cased ammo. We shot moderately priced, brass cased practice ammo. We shot numerous premium defense brands. We cobbled up handload after handload and shot them all. Lead bullets, plated bullets, jacketed bullets. Weights ranging from 165 grains to 230 grains. Semi-wadcutters, hollowpoints, and round nose profiles. It handled them all. Over 1,000 rounds into testing, we’re still waiting on the first malfunction. No failures to feed, no failures to eject, no failures to fire. There was no detectable break in period with the TRP.

Here’s a look at some of the factory rounds we tested:

Ammunition

Velocity

Black Hills JHP +P 230 grain 927 fps
CCI Blazer FMJ 230 grain 853 fps
Federal FMJ 230 grain 866 fps
Federal FMJ white box 230 grain 803 fps
Federal Guard Dog EFMJ 165 grain 1,053 fps
Federal Hydra-Shock 230 grain 883 fps
Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain 1,002 fps
Magtech First Defense +P SCHP 165 grain 1,076 fps
Remington Golden Saber +P 185 grain 1,165 fps
Remington UMC 230 grain 844 fps
Sellier & Bellot 230 grain FMJ 804 fps
Winchester PDX1 230 grain 911 fps

 

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 with Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911

Just for kicks we tried the Crimson Trace Lightguard for 1911s

We tried over a dozen different handloads with the TRP, but by far the most fun was a true plinker load. We loaded 185 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullets from Missouri Bullet Company over 4.6 grains of Trail Boss powder for a fun load that clocked in at just over 814 feet per second. This load was enough to cycle the TRP reliably, but gentle enough to expose a couple of pre-teen shooters to the joys of shooting a nice 1911.

The other surprise load in the TRP was the Federal Guard Dog Expanding Full Metal Jacket load. At 165 grains and standard pressure, it clocked in with plenty of velocity but was surprisingly gentle to shoot. Expansion results were quite dramatic.

Accessories

While not one of the evaluation criteria, we happened to have a Crimson Trace Lightguard on hand and decided to try it out on the TRP. Crimson Trace only guarantees the 1911 Lightguard to fit Kimber, Ruger, and Smith & Wesson 1911 frames, but we had no problem using it with the TRP.

Springfield Armory TRP 1911 in Galco King Tuk Holster

Fit was excellent in the Galco King Tuk holster

A variety of standard holsters were tested including the Blackhawk Serpa, Blackhawk Sportster Standard Concealment, Galco Miami Classic II, Blackhawk Leather Pancake, and Galco King Tuk to name a few. We didn’t expect or experience any fit issues.

Closing arguments

The TRP is one fine pistol – the best we’ve evaluated to date. And it’s a production gun. The model we tested can be acquired new for about $1,500 street price and it’s worth every penny. Can you buy a 1911 for half that sum? Yes. Will it work? Most likely. Will it give you that special joy that a finely made handgun does? Probably not.

We highly recommend this one.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! Well made with plenty of attention to detail. More importantly, reliability was 100% through the first 1,000 rounds.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

 

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

You can find Accessories for the Springfield Armory TRP at Brownells

Galco International Miami Classic Shoulder System
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Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Holster Review: 10 Things You Can Do While Carrying A Gun With The Galco Ankle Glove

Holster Review: Galco Ankle Glove Holster

First Impressions

Galco Ankle Glove Holster with Ruger LCR Revolver

The Galco Ankle Glove Holster with a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum Revolver

The Galco Ankle Glove is the Cadillac of ankle holsters. As if anyone could ever make that analogy. The foundation (the part that actually wraps around your ankle) is made of thick neoprene material. This is the same material that’s used to make wetsuits for divers and cold water surfers. It’s thick, cushy, durable, and comfortable. Our first thought was to take up combat swimming, but common sense prevailed and we figured the leather holster pouch (and gun) may not fare as well in 65 feet of salt water. Baywatch lifeguards could use this piece of equipment as they rarely seem to enter the water.

Heavy-duty velcro closes the strap around your ankle.

MGC FUN FACT: Gunwriters often refer to velcro as “hook and loop.” This helps pad the word count of many interesting articles.

According to Galco, it will fit ankles up to 13” in circumference. We tried to eat 47 boxes of Butterscotch Krimpets and a pizza to test that claim but were not successful in growing our ankle size in time for publication.

A customized leather gun holster is stitched onto the outside of the neoprene band. The fact that the holster is stitched to the outside of the band is actually a big deal. Other ankle holsters integrate the gun pouch and band so the bulk of the gun presses material in both directions – outside and inside of the band. This causes the hard metal gun to press into your ankle.  With the Galco design, the gun is forced away from your lower leg – not into it. The holster also features a leather retention strap made active by a snap.

Galco Ankle Glove Holster Sheepskin interior lining

The sheepskin lining of the Galco Ankle Glove holster makes a huge difference in comfort

Galco makes the whole shebang a tad small on purpose so you can fit your particular gun to the holster according to your preference. Read the instructions. Oh, and there’s a huge pad of fuzzy sheepskin between your ankle and the your gun. It’s a great system.

Moral Support – The Calf Strap Option

While the Ankle Glove works great on its own, we highly recommend an optional accessory – the Galco Ankle Glove Calf Strap.

Technically, this is an accessory to either the Galco Ankle Glove or Galco Ankle Lite. It’s a wide strap made of neoprene-like material that mounts above top of your calf muscle. It has a vertical canvas strap that attaches to either the Ankle Glove or Ankle Lite. The purpose is to hold your ankle holster in the whatever vertical position you choose and prevent the holster rig from settling lower on your ankle. You can run, you can hide, you can even do the Hokey-Pokey, but your ankle holster will not slip down. In fact, we made of list of things you can safely do while carrying a gun with the Galco Ankle Glove and optional calf strap.

Galco Ankle Glove Holster in use with optional calf strap

Galco Ankle Glove Holster in use with optional calf strap

10 Things You Can Do While Wearing the Galco Ankle Glove with Calf Strap

  1. The Hokey Pokey. You can put your right foot in. And out.
  2. 4 quarters of 1 on 1 basketball with Michael Jordan. The Ankle Glove will not improve your free throw percentage.
  3. Drive a car, truck, or golf cart and have easy access to your handgun.
  4. 173 jumps with a pogo stick. We’re sure the Ankle Glove will go more than that, but we pogo’ed into a mailbox attempting number 174.
  5. Audition for So You Think You Can Dance. Tip for success: Wear long pants. Scaring the judges will cost you style points.
  6. Perform the famed Iron Lotus pairs figure skating move.
  7. Shop for hours on King Street with two women.
  8. Wear pants with a one full size smaller waist than your actual size. Who in their right mind wants to admit they’re getting portly in the midsection?
  9. Wear boots, provided they’re not too tall. Our Justin Ropers worked just fine with this rig.
  10. The Cupid Shuffle. Or The Dougie.

Closing Arguments

This is a fine piece of equipment. We got the evaluation holster and calf strap months ago, but did not want to report on it until we had the opportunity to use it for several months in the humid swamp otherwise known as South Carolina. We’ve been carrying a Ruger LCR .357 Magnum with this setup nearly every day. It’s still just about picture perfect. The leather holster pocket has not deformed or stretched. The neoprene band looks brand new and is seemingly unaffected by water, sweat, and wear. During our interview with the cast of American Guns, we got to talking with Rich Wyatt about the Galco Ankle Glove. He’s been using one for years and is equally impressed. And he’s on TV.

Highly recommended.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! This is a solid and comfortable piece of equipment. The only thing we might change is adding a tad more length to the strap. But then again, maybe we just have fat ankles.
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

Read about more carry styles and over 120 different gun holsters in The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Gaston’s G.I.L.F. – The Glock 26 Gen 4 Subcompact Pistol

Suggested Retail Price: $649.00 http://us.glock.com

Gun Review: Glock 26 Generation 4 Subcompact Pistol

Glock 26 Generation 4 9mm pistol with magazines

The Glock 26 Generation 4. The 9mm pistol that could.

We had a terrible time coming up with a catchy and witty title for this Glock 26 review.

The Mouse Gun That Roars? Nope. Not mousy enough.

Son of a, son of a, son of a Glock 26? Nah. Too Jimmy Buffett.

Is That A Glock On Your Ankle Or Are You Just Happy To See Me? No deal. This web site is rated PG-13. Usually.

When This Baby Glock Burps, Get A Bigger Diaper Bag! Hmmm. While most gun people call the subcompact models “Baby Glocks” it’s probably not the approved brand name.

Plastic Pocket Pistol? Too chintzy sounding. We found this to be a quality firearm.

Gaston’s G.I.L.F. – Glock I’d Like to Fire (Tweet This)

That’s it! Even though Internet trolls will interpret this as something entirely inappropriate.

We’ll keep working on it. In the meantime, let’s take a closer look at the new Glock 26 Generation 4 Subcompact pistol.

First Impressions of the Glock 26 Gen 4

Our first impression is that the ‘subcompact’ description is misleading. Kind of. The Glock 26 is no mouse gun as the term subcompact might imply. It just happens to possess a form factor that allows it to gain occasional admittance to mouse gun parties and debutante balls. Make no mistake, the Glock 26 is a fully functional, full capacity, 9mm handgun. But due to its dimensions and weight, it facilitates some typical mouse gun modes of carry including ankle, coat pocket, purse, and various alternative positions inside the waistband. The big difference with the Glock 26 platform is that it manages to achieve small form factor without loss of that elusive concept, shootability.

The Glock 26 Gen 4 in comparison to its larger sibling - the Glock 17 Gen 4

The Glock 26 Gen 4 in comparison to its larger sibling – the Glock 17 Gen 4

The grip width is identical to that of its longer and taller cousins – the Glock 17 and Glock 19. The only difference in dimension is length of slide and height of the grip. Depending on your particular hand configuration, you’ll probably get your middle and ring fingers comfortably on the grip with the pinky finger riding below the magazine base plate. Later, we’ll talk about accessories that allow addition of the pinky. With or without a pinky extension accessory, the shootability factor works because the grip fills your hand – just like the larger Glocks. We’ve found that some particularly narrow subcompact pistols require adjustment of your trigger finger as the finger can naturally ride too far through the trigger guard. Not so with the Glock 26.

If you can shoot a compact or full size Glock with grace and aplomb, you can handle the Glock 26 Subcompact just fine.

Loaded weight of the Glock 26 Generation 4, which will vary just a tad depending on your specific ammo preference, is 26.1 ounces. That’s just over a pound and a half if you don’t feel up to doing the math. That’s also the equivalent of five iPhone 4S smartphones. As a side note, we did find the Glock 26 much more adept at shooting back than the iPhone.  Although, if you choose to carry five iPhones instead of the Glock 26, you have four to throw before using the fifth to dial 911. Just a thought in case you live in a gun-unfriendly state like Kalifornia or Massachusetts. In comparison, the Glock 17 Gen 4 weighs in at 31.92 ounces loaded. Or six and a half iPhones if you want to look at it that way.

Compact “Enough” Size

The Glock 26 Gen 4 is a compact handgun, not a pocket pistol

Compact, not mini, is the key word with the Glock 26 Gen 4

The standout feature of the Glock 26 is that it is “compact enough.” It is a comfortable gun to shoot – no grip twiddling necessary. The grip width and circumference is identical to that of the full size Glock 17 Gen 4.

Most of the Glock 26 Generation 4 Subcompact testing was done by our female team – primarily using purse carry. For those of you who have not tried a concealed carry purse, they generally have small-ish dedicated pockets for a gun and a relatively small access opening. Add some pressure from a purse full of stuff and you need to think about ease of draw. A large gun, combined with small access pockets and a day’s worth of absolute necessities can result in a hopelessly wedged-in pistol. The Glock 26 proved to be just the right size for two different concealed carry purses.

Our guy editors carried the Glock 26 less, but shot it plenty. With that said, the Glock 26 obviously works just fine in any traditional waist carry scenario. Where it shines is with deeper concealment options. It’s small enough to effectively carry in an ankle holster or belly band. We’ve never been fans of the SmartCarry / Thunderwear options, but it will work there quite nicely – if you care to carry a Glock in your man girdle.

Glock 26 Ammo Capacity

The Glock 26 Gen 4 features 10 round magazines, allowing for a carry capacity of 11 rounds, including one in the chamber. Not bad for a compact gun.

The Glock 26 Gen 4 can use magazines from the Glock 17 and Glock 19 pistols

The ability to use Glock 19 and Glock 17 magazines makes the Glock 26 a great back up gun.

One of the other things we really like about Glock 26 is the inclusion of 3 magazines with each new pistol. This is a new thing with the Gen 4 series – the Gen 3 models we see on sale at places like GalleryOfGuns.com still offer 2 magazines in the box. While we believe ‘the more magazines the better,’ Glock starts you out on the right foot with everything you need for a respectable carry configuration – one magazine in the gun and two spares. And Glock keeps their magazine costs reasonable in the event you want to buy more. They’re often available for about $25 on the street– sometimes less.

Shared Glock Generation 4 Features

Like other Glock Generation 4 models, the Glock 26 offers the same family enhancements to the design. Call it sibling envy.

The default grip size is the smallest option, while one of the 2 included backstraps can be added to achieve the standard or large grip circumference common to the Generation 4 family.

As we found with the Glock 17 Gen 4 we looked at a couple of months ago, the new grip texture is fantastic. The “micro-pyramid” texturing on the side panels really holds your hand in place – without undue abrasion. We really, really, like the new grip texture. Of course this is especially important, and noticeable, on the Glock 26 Gen 4, as you will most likely have only two fingers on the grip.

Also like the Glock 17 Gen 4, the magazine release button has been significantly enlarged. This makes a huge difference in ease of operation. The larger surface area makes it easy to release a magazine, but we had no issues whatsoever with unintentional magazine drops. We’ve seen issues with other pistols where pressure from inside-the-waistband holsters can inadvertently engage a magazine release button that is too large. Not so with the Glock Gen 4 design.

The last major feature is the new Gen 4 captive dual recoil spring assembly. Glock claims that this design significantly improves the longevity of the system. We have not noticed any difference in reliability between the single spring and dual spring designs. That’s a good thing. While we’re shooting this Glock 26 plenty, it’s not been in service long enough to make observation on longevity differences.

One more item of note.

The Generation 4 Glocks can use Generation 3 magazines. It’s almost like hand-me-down clothes from your older brother or sister, except hand-me-down magazines generally don’t have sweat stains

With older magazines, you just lose the ambidextrous magazine release feature as the older magazines do not have release slots cut on both sides. This is a nice and thoughtful feature if you are upgrading from an older model Glock or have other Glock siblings in the household.

Yeah, But Does It Shoot Fast?

We’re talking velocity here – not gansta-style semi-auto rapid fire. Shorter barrels mean lower velocity with all other factors being equal. The barrel length of the Glock 26 Gen 4 is 1.06” shorter than that of the Glock 17 Gen 4, so we expected a noticeable decrease in velocity for any given round. To see how dramatic the velocity difference was, we broke out the Shooting Chrony Beta Master and brought an assortment of ammo to the range.

Glock 26

Glock 17

Difference

Buffalo Bore TAC-XP +P+ 95 grain

1,358

1,438

-80

Federal FMJ RN 115 grain

1,106

1,169

-63

CorBon JHP +P 115 grain

1,258

1,301

-43

Georgia Arms Gold Dot 124 grain

1,152

1,235

-83

Hornady Critical Defense 115 grain

1,054

1,111

-57

Remington UMC 115 grain

1,080

1,148

-68

Winchester Target 115 grain

1,164

1,211

-47

Handload: 124 grain plated Round Nose, 4.5 grains Unique, 1.115 OAL

1,017

1,079

-62

We saw an average velocity difference of about 63 feet per second between the full size Glock 17 Gen 4 with its 4.49 inch barrel and the Glock 26 Gen 4 with it’s 3.43 inch barrel.

Cor-Bon JHP ammo expanded well from the Glock 26 9mm

The shorter barrel of the Glock 26 did not hinder hollow point expansion.

Consistent with our earlier comments, this is not a traditional pocket gun. It behaves like a full size pistol that is simply… smaller. With every load tested easily breaking the 1,000 feet per second barrier, and most over 1,100 feet per second, we would not hesitate to rely on expanding ammunition in the Glock 26.

In fact, we did a separate ammo feature looking at a number of 9mm rounds fired from this particular Glock 26 Gen 4. We found expansion performance through heavy leather and clothing barriers to be excellent with several brands of premium self-defense ammunition.

We’ve got an assortment of Speer Gold Dot standard and Short Barrel ammunition on the way for another project and unfortunately it did not arrive on time for this review. The Glock 26’s 3.43 inch barrel length is right on the fence of Speer’s recommended length to switch to short barrel optimized ammo. We’ll test both and post an update as soon as that ammo arrives.

Glock Bling

The Glock 26 Gen 4 is ready to go out of the box. It includes the aforementioned 3 magazines for a total of 31 rounds available, a cleaning rod and brush and the obligatory gun lock.

But part of the fun of the Glock platform is taking advantage of the vast array of aftermarket goodies that are available. On the evaluation gun, we kept things on the conservative side and only added two accessories – neither of which impact the firing mechanisms of the gun.

TruGlo TFO (Tritium Fiber Optic) Sights

Glock 26 Gen 4 with TruGlo TFO Tritium Fiber Optic Sights

We had some TruGlo TFO fiber optic / tritium sights in for evaluation. They make a great addition to the Glock 26.

We’ve really enjoyed using TruGlo TFO Sights on our Glock 32. TruGlo TFO sights combine both fiber optic and tritium technology in the same sight. Using highly technical terms, this means that the TFO’s glow like the dickens – day or night. Our Glock 32 set is the all green model that was available years ago when we purchased them. Two green rear sights and a green front sight. More recently, TruGlo has introduced a dual color scheme option with two yellow dots in the rear sight and green in the front. This makes a surprising difference day or night. In the daytime, you are looking for the single green dot – not trying to sort out which of the three bright green dots is the front sight. At night, you have the same benefit with the addition of knowing for sure that your front sight is centered between the two rear dots. With all three dots green, it can be a little tricky to make sure alignment is correct.

Pearce Magazine Extension

Here’s an inexpensive way to increase the controllability of your Glock 26 by 71.32 percent. And 3 out of 4 dentists agree. OK, we made those statistics up, but the fact remains that the simple addition of a Pearce Grip Extension improves your shooting by 43 percent. Just swap the standard magazine baseplate on one (or more) of the factory magazines and you’re ready to go. This particular Pearce Grip Extension does not add magazine capacity – it simply adds more real estate for the pinky finger. And it makes a big difference without increasing size or concealability.

Is The Glock 26 Gen 4 For Him? Or Her? Or Both?

He said She said
I’m quite happy with the form factor of the Glock 32/ Glock 19 / Glock 23 as my standard carry gun. The mid size frame is perfect for discreet carry in an IWB holster, belly band, or shirt holster.With that said, I really like the idea of a matching G26 Gen 4 as a back up gun, probably carried in a Galco Ankle Glove. I also like the idea of owning a Glock 26 as an alternate to my primary carry gun for occasions when smaller size is desirable for concealed carry.I found that the grip size on the Glock 26 Gen 4 allowed me to comfortably fit the middle and ring fingers in the built-in finger grooves. This was perfectly adequate for rapid yet controlled shooting.I also found the Glock 26 Gen 4 far easier to shoot accurately than most other “pocket-sized” pistols. The sight radius was fine and both factory and TruGlo sights were easy to acquire. The other “she” in this column owns and shoots a Glock 17 Gen 4 because her primary usage is competitive Steel Challenge. I’ve been looking for a carry gun that’s portable, yet packs enough punch to be a respectable self-defense gun.Prior to trying the Glock 26, I carried a double action pistol with a slide mounted de-cocker and safety. I’m now officially spoiled with the Glock 26 Safe Action constant trigger pull. It’s just simple.Two of us shot it – a lot – and we both have medium, lady sized hands. the grip size of the Glock 26 was just fine for us and we had no problems reaching for the trigger. Both of us really liked the addition of the Pearce Grip Extension. All in all, the Glock 26 Gen 4 is good for dainty hands.We both really liked this pistol, but I developed a special attachment for it. I love it with all my heart. I want to marry it. Although I do feel like I am cheating on my Walther PP when I carry it.

Our Rating

4 Nuns Four Nuns! While it wants for nothing right out of the box, the Glock 26 Generation 4 is a platform that can be customized to your preference. Adding the TruGlo TFO amber / green sights and Pierce grip extension made this subcompact really shine.

While you’re here, why not grab a copy of my free eBook, A Fistful of Shooting Tips? It’ll help make you a better handgun shooter and the envy of your range in no time!

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Review: Gargoyles Striker Protective Glasses – Safety with Style

Suggested Retail Price: $75.00 to $110.00

www.gargoyleseyewear.com

The Good
These are really crossover shooting glasses. They offer ballistic protection without looking like range gear.
The Bad
The fit is very close to my face and there can be a touch of fogging on hot and humid days.
The Ugly
We don’t look nearly as menacing as The Terminator wearing Gargoyles.
Our Rating
3 Nuns Three Nuns – Love the style, light weight, and comfort of these glasses, but the occasional fogging prevents a 4 nun rating.

First Impressions

There are shooting glasses and there are stylish sun glasses. And never the twain shall meet. Until now. What prompted us to check out the new line of Gargoyles Ballistic Defense sunglasses was the appeal of wearing our every day sunglasses to the range and still feeling confident that our eyes would be properly protected. Yep, we’re that lazy. Changing glasses eats into range time after all.

Toric Lenses

Boy did we get an education on optics at this years SHOT Show. And we learned that Gargoyles Eyewear founder Denis Burns invented the whole Toric thing back in 1979. Here’s the simple explanation from Wikipedia:

The greatest radius of curvature of the toric lens surface, R + r, corresponds to the smallest refractive power, S = (n – 1) / (R + r), where n is the index of refraction of the lens material. The smallest radius of curvature, r, corresponds to the greatest refractive power, s = (n – 1) / r. Since R + r > r, S < s. The lens behaves approximately like a combination of a spherical lens with optical power s and a cylindrical lens with power s – S. In ophthalmology and optometry s – S is called the cylinder power of the lens.

Got it? Good.

Toric Lenses for Dummies

In case you slept during your graduate level light refraction lab class, here’s a simpler explanation:

  1. You can see great through flat lenses – but they don’t protect the sides of your eyes.
  2. Bending a lens so that it covers your eye more completely makes stuff look funny.

Toric lenses play nifty tricks with thickness and shape of the lens so that, regardless of where light enters the lens (side, front, etc), it’s focused on your retina. And things don’t look funny like in those carnie houses of mirrors.

Got it? Good.

Ballistic Defense

Make no mistake: although light, comfortable, and downright sexy, these are shooting sports appropriate glasses. They’re rated as 5 to 6 times stronger in terms of impact resistance than regular polycarbonate lenses. And they exceed ISO and ANSI test standards. So leave your regular glasses in the car, and don these on the way to the range.

Subjective Stuff

The big standout feature of these glasses is comfort. They are light, light, light. Even lighter than Perez Hilton’s loafers. The other thing that stands out is the rubberized texture at the back of the frames (see photo.) This helps the Gargoyles Strikers stay put during strenuous activity like IDPA, Steel Challenge, cycling, or extreme beach sitting.

The Striker can be ordered with a variety of lens types. The green lens is optimized for outdoor activities and we will be looking at this lens type in an upcoming review of a different model. Also available is Copper. Our set came with Smoke Polarized lenses. While polarized lenses are not ideal for shotgun sports, we find them just fine for rifle and pistol shooting where targets are stationary. By the way, Gargoyes offer 100% UV protection.

The clarity of the Gargoyles Striker with the Smoke Polarized lenses is fantastic. We had no complaints about optical quality and the peripheral vision was phenomenal.

We’ve got three more pairs of Gargoyles being featured in upcoming reviews – stay tuned.

Available here: Gargoyles Striker Sunglasses

Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Crimson Trace Lightguard – Video Preview

Iain over at Crimson Trace sent us a brand spanky new Crimson Trace Lightguard sized for a Glock 17 Gen IV. Here’s a quick video preview and installation tour. We also compare it to a Streamlight TLR-1 and a handheld Surefire E2D Defender in a dark and spooky garage…

It was a dark and spooky garage. Fortunately we had a Crimson Trace Lightguard…

Gun Review: Ruger LCR .357 Magnum Revolver

Taming the Beast! A Featherweight .357 Magnum.

Suggested Retail Price: $575.00 www.ruger.com

 

The Good The Bad The Ugly Our Rating
This is a shootable gun. The polymer frame soaks up some of the potentially aggressive recoil in this ultra-light pocket cannon. We wish that a little more attention was paid to polish and finish of some of the polymer frame areas – especially inside the trigger guard. Our 158 grain .357 Magnum handloads were quite, umm, interesting in this gun. To be expected of course. 3 Nuns Four Nuns!
We gave the LCR 4 Nuns for the simple fact that it has been designed to actually shoot what its chambered for. Something that not all lightweight snubbies can claim.

 

Ruger LCR .357 Magnum Revolver

The Ruger LCR .357 is a beast tamed.

Hello boys and girls, and welcome to Physics Happy Fun Festival with My Gun Culture.

Today we’re going to see what it feels like to fire a .357 magnum out of an ultra-light handgun.

The Ruger LCR 357 launches a projectile at nearly one and a half times the speed of sound, yet weighs just 17 ounces. (Tweet This)

While physics ‘R physics and pesky little concepts like ‘equal and opposite reactions’ still apply, both gun and ammunition manufacturers can perform some nifty tricks to minimize the subjective measure of felt recoil. Yes, the force headed back towards your face is still the same, but if more of it is dampened by the gun, and the power curve of that little firestorm in the cartridge is lengthened a bit, then it can feel somewhat better to the one doing the launching. Or at least minimize blunt-force trauma. Blunt-force trauma is a big deal after all. We saw it on CSI Miami.

First Impressions of the Ruger LCR .357 Magnum

The stand out feature of the Ruger LCR .357 is shootability.

You can actually shoot .357 magnum loads out of this gun. And live to tell about it.

We think it’s some type of voodoo magic related the combination of the polymer frame flexiness and the Hogue Tamer factory installed grip. The other factor we noticed about full power .357 magnum load shootability was choice of ammunition. No, we’re not talking about different bullet weights and velocities. We’re talking about more voodoo magic related to powder selection, burn efficiency, and probably warp drive technology. The LCR did in fact appear to be surrounded by a bubble of normal space-time with minimal traces of anti-matter

Ruger LCR .357 Magnum Hogue Tamer Grip

The combination of one piece Hogue Tamer grip and polymer frame makes a noticeable difference in perceived recoil.

The LCR is fitted with a one-piece Hogue Tamer grip that is firmly affixed to the polymer frame by a single screw in the bottom of the grip – well out of the way unless you use the, ummm, cup and saucer hold. Friends don’t let friends shoot with cup and saucer holds anyway. The Hogue Tamer is firm where it needs to be firm and squishy where it needs to be squishy. The front, sides, and lower half of the backstrap are firm rubber with minimal give. However, there is a section at the top of the backstrap that is quite mushy – and it’s right where the web of your hand between your thumb and index finger falls. We found this to make a BIG difference in comfort and we suspect it is entirely by design. A small detail that makes a big difference. As a side note, the one piece grip has a cutout on the left side which allows unobstructed ejection of empty brass and easy reloading with a speed strip or speed loader.

Just the Specs Ma’am…

  • .357 Magnum caliber
  • 5 round fluted cylinder
  • Barrel length: 1.875”
  • Stainless steel barrel
  • Finish: Blackened stainless steel and black polymer
  • Twist: 1:16”
  • Weight: 17.10 oz
  • Overall length: 6.50”
  • Width: 1.28”

Trigger Talk

The LCR .357′s trigger feels surprisingly light. We think that’s a result of smoothness of pull and from the hybrid-rounded trigger face. What’s a hybrid trigger face you ask? Well the LCR’s trigger resembles a flat face trigger in terms of overall width of the face. However the corners are heavily rounded. There you have it.

Here’s how it felt right out of the box before any break-in: It was almost two stage in nature. A long and smooth pull with a point of barely detectable resistance with about 1/16″ remaining until the break. The last 1/16″ of pull had the smallest trace of grittiness, but this went away after about 100 rounds. The unofficial two-stage nature is a big personal preference issue, but we liked it.

Lot’s of folks talk about the “surprise break” but with any pistol we shoot with regularity, we know exactly when it’s going to fire. With that frame of reference, we liked the tactile sensation of knowing when the trigger was about to break. For slow, aimed fire, you can easily stage the trigger for release when your sight picture is just like you want. In rapid fire, the second stage point is not perceptible. This is neither a good or bad thing, simply an observation of how our evaluation model worked.

The Ammo Report – .357 Magnum and .38 Special

Ruger LCR .357 Magnum ammo and .38 Special ammo

We tested the LCR .357 with a variety of .357 Magnum and .38 Special ammo

Since the big hubbub over ultra-light .357 magnum revolvers seems to be related to recoil and the ability to actually shoot a .357 magnum load, we decided to test a variety of both .357 Magnum and .38 Special ammunition and capture both objective and subjective data from various shooters.

Remington UMC .357 Magnum 125gr JSP
This load was a beast that needed to be tamed. Clocking in at an average of 1,155 feet per second out of the 1.875 inch LCR barrel, we never did tame it though. Rated at 1,450 fps out of a test barrel, this 125 grain load was not only stout, but sharp. Did we mention it was aggressively sharp in the LCR? None of our test shooters wanted to try more than one cylinder full. None of us wanted to be on the other end either for that matter.

Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum 125gr Flex Tip
Surprise of the day. This new Critical Defense load from Hornady has more or less the same specs as the above mention Remington load – a 125 grain projectile humming along at a factory rated 1,500 fps. In our LCR, with its uber-short barrel, it clocked in at an average of 1,158 fps. A whopping 3 fps faster than the Remington UMC cartridge. However, the difference in perceived recoil in the LCR was noticeably less. In its literature about the new Critical Defense rounds, Hornady claims to offer reduced recoil through magic machinations like burn efficiency. We noticed it. Bottom line? The Hornady Critical Defense load is perfectly usable in this gun. While aggressive, its controllable. And fierce. See our ammunition test results here.

Cor-Bon .38 Special +P 110gr JHP
This had noticeable, but not unpleasant recoil along with a healthy blast factor. Would not be a bad carry load. It seemed genuinely mild in comparison to the .357 loads, although if we had shot this one first, it might have felt more aggressive.

Winchester Supreme .38 Special +P PDX1 130gr
Very soft shooting round. More of a push than a snap. We’re looking forward to doing a separate evaluation on the performance of this load, but in terms of shootability out of the LCR, it was perfectly manageable.

CCI .38 / .357 ShotShells
What else can you say? it shoots a boatload of tiny shot at man’s worst enemy – the snake.

.38 Special Handload (128gr Lead Round Nose Flat Point over 3.3 grains of Trail Boss)
We cooked this up in the man cave for the LCR’s ‘shoot for kicks and giggles’ load. It was in fact fun. A mild recoiling practice load, made even more so with the LCR’s polymer frame. it clocked in at an average of 665 feet per second. Wimpy? Yes. Totally fun plinking round? Yes. We had to lob it at distant targets though.

.357 Magnum Handload (127 grain Lead Round Nose Flat Point over 7.7 grains of Unique)
This turned out to be a great .357 magnum practice load. It definitely hit back in terms of recoil, so if you’re interested in practicing with at least a reasonable facsimile of recoil of full-power self-defense loads, this load is a good option. Averaging 1,175 feet per second out of the LCR, it yielded a power factor of just over 150 – just about the same as the Hornady Critical Defense load out of the this gun. While noticeably sharper than the Hornady load, this one was quite controllable in the Ruger. We wouldn’t want to shoot an entire Steel Challenge match with this combination though…

To Mag Or Not To Mag – That Is the Question…

Ruger LCR .357 Magnum with Hogue Tamer grip for recoil

See that squishy part of the grip? That turned out to be a big deal – in a good way.

It seems there are two schools of thought with respect to ultra-light .357 Magnum revolvers.

Team Globo-Gym loves them and is prepared to carry and shoot full power .357 Magnum loads in spite of the, ummm, mild discomfort.

Team Average Joe’s also likes them, but for a different reason. Team Average Joe’s says “hey, why not get the stronger .357 version and you can always carry .38 Special +P loads?” The thinking is that first, you have a more durable gun as it’s designed for magnum pressures, and second, that you always have the option of popping some .357 Magnum loads in there if you want.

With an all metal gun, we would sway towards the Team Average Joe’s train of thought. With the LCR, we’re going Globo-Gym and carrying .357 magnum loads in it. Because we can in this gun.

Our Gripe: It Seems There Are Seams

When we tested the Ruger LCP, one of the standout qualities was the attention to finish detail. It’s also a polymer pistol, but in the LCP, there are not detectable seams where sections are joined. This is especially important inside and outside the trigger guard. With aggressive loads, a sharp seam in the polymer tends to irritate the bejeepers out of your fingers as the gun recoils. Our evaluation LCR had seams. End of the world? No. But if we end up buying this one, we’ll take some sandpaper to the inside of the trigger guard to smooth things out a bit.

The Offhand Pilates Accuracy Test

Following in the ‘gun-riter’ tradition of testing mechanical accuracy by shooting at long range targets offhand, we consulted fitness guru Denise Austin to get some help with the proper Pilates-based offhand stance position. Unfortunately, Denise had a prior commitment filming a “Shootin’ to the Oldies” episode with Richard Simmons so we had to rely on our own accuracy testing protocol. For full details, check out our review of the Ruger LCP.  To summarize our findings, let’s just say that the LCR .357 is easily “minute of evil d00d” capable.

Closing Arguments

This is a nice gun. Our test model came with the standard ramped front sight and notch in frame rear sight. The front sight is pinned in place, not machined, so you can replace it with an XS Standard Dot. We’re going to do this next just for kicks. If you’re ordering one new, you can buy a version with the XS Standard Dot pre-installed.

One more totally random observation. There’s something about the finishes on both the cylinder and frame that makes it easier to clean than say a Smith and Wesson 442. The burny-crud just comes off really easily. We have no idea is this was a design goal or not, but we noticed it after a couple of range sessions. It will be interesting to see if this applies over time and lots more crud accumulation.

 

He said She said
OK so I was a little nervous to send some full house .357 loads downrange with this one. But I was pleasantly surprised. I lived to tell the tale. While we did not write about them since I did not get an accurate velocity reading, I made some 158 grain .357 loads to test and they were, to say the least, a handful. But physics ‘R physics and all. It’s a light gun. Find a good practice round and carry the big stuff for emergencies. Love that Hogue Tamer grip! Especially the finger grooves in the front – it makes all the difference in shooting the LCR. A minor detail that I noticed was the natural position for my trigger finger on the frame while in ‘ready’ position. The combination of grip and frame design left a very natural spot to park the trigger finger while not shooting. I shot both .357 and .38 Special loads in the LCR and personally preferred .38 Special +P rounds. Although shootable, the .357 magnums were just a bit too aggressive for my tastes. I bet they were aggressive for him also – he just won’t admit it.
Check out other My Gun Culture product reviews here!

 

Accessories available at Brownells

Find holster options in our new book, The Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters - available at Amazon.com! Learn more about our Insanely Practical Guides!

Insanely Practical Guide to Gun Holsters

Gun Review: Ruger LCP .380 Auto – Le Canon Petit

Approximate Street Price: ~ $290.00
www.ruger.com

The Good The Bad The Ugly Our Rating
The standout feature of the LCP was its fit and contour. until you shoot it, you don’t appreciate the importance of smooth finish and curves in all the right places. It’s comfortable to shoot for a pocket gun. Our only gripe with the LCP was inclusion of just one magazine. It’s not an issue of money, but one of convenience. Yep, we’re lazy and it’s just a hassle to go out and find an additional magazine or two to have a complete package. Hmmm. Need to get the Crimson Trace LG-431 laser. Just because it looks awesomely cool. There goes another couple hundred bucks. 3 Nuns Four Nuns!

 

Ruger LCP .380 ACP with ammunition

We tested the Ruger LCP with a wide variety of ammunition. It didn’t care.

Ruger refers to it as the LCP.

Light Carry Pistol?

Little Combat Pistol?

Lilliputian Centerfire, Puny?

Le Canon Petit?

Lowering Criminal Productivity?

Yep, we could go on all day with the Lame Comedic Puns, but no matter. The Ruger LCP fits (most of) those descriptions.

We really like this Lovable & Cute Projectile launcher. OK, no more bad jokes. Promise. Maybe.

The Ruger LCP is a well made pistol and we found that makes a noticeable difference on the range. Yes, it’s technically one of those guns to carry a lot and shoot far less frequently, but we were pleasantly surprised by its ergonomic friendliness over long shooting sessions. No, we would not want to crank off a few hundred rounds of high-pressure self defense ammo at a single sitting, but shooting lower recoil practice loads exhibited a low level of self abuse.

Initial Observations

  • Ruger LCP .380 ACP pocket pistol

    One of the nicest features of the Ruger LCP is the attention to detail in shape and finish. It’s smooth where it needs to be for more comfortable shooting.

    It’s small. Really small. And light.

  • The fit and finish is surprisingly good for this relatively inexpensive handgun. One of the things that has given us grief about similar models from Kel-Tec is the rough seams inside and outside the trigger guard where the polymer frame material is molded. It’s tough on the fingers after a few shots and manicures are getting more expensive by the day. The Ruger LCP was noticeably more comfortable to shoot than the Kel-Tec P3AT.
  • A lot of thought has been put into placement of texture on the frame. It’s smooth where it needs to be, like where your strong hand thumb rides, and rough where grip is needed. This goes a long way to making recoil more comfortable without sacrificing surety of grip.
  • There is a small cutout in the slide which allows you to see if there is a cartridge in the chamber. While it can’t tell you if its a live or spent one, it’s a nice touch to verify that something is in there.
  • The LCP comes with two different floor plates for the single included magazine. One is flat for maximum concealability and the other has a hook shape which allows your ring finger to get a firm grip. We preferred using it with the hooked floor plate. Even with the longer magazine plate, this pistol is effortless to conceal.

The Specs

Caliber: .380 Auto
Weight, unloaded: 9.4 oz
Capacity: 6+1
Length: 5.16″
Width: 0.82″
Height: 3.60″
Barrel Material: Alloy Steel
Barrel Finish Blued
Slide Material Alloy Steel
Slide Finish Blued
Grip Frame Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon

 

Ruger LCP_Finger-Grip-Extension-Floorplate

The Ruger LCP comes with both flat and extended magazine floorplates.

Features Overview

Weighing in at just 9.4 oz, the Ruger LCP is a reinforced nylon frame gun with a steel slide. The slide features an open-top ejection port design to enhance reliability and ease clearing of malfunctions. The slide also contains integral sight nublets. That’s our word, not Ruger’s. For readers not familiar with sight nublets, that’s a very low profile front sight matched with an equally low profile rear notch cut into the frame. No room for dots, paint, or tritium toys here. The LCP is primarily aimed by pointing in the general direction of evil d00dz. In daylight and lit conditions, the sights are in fact useful for more precise aiming.

The capacity of the Ruger LCP is 6+1 with either magazine plate installed. The hooked profile plate simply adds a little more finger room, not additional magazine capacity. We found the magazine easy to load without loading assist tools – even the last round.

The slide operates surprisingly easily for such a small gun. A great gripping surface and relatively light spring tension make it easy to rack the slide. None of our shooters had any trouble with this. The LCP features a manual slide lock button. This means that it is designed to keep the slide locked in an open position only when the user engages the slide lock lever. By design, the slide will not lock back when the magazine runs empty.

The Ruger LCP is a single-strike hammer fired design. The hammer is cut and designed to be completely shrouded by the slide. At no point in the hammer travel cycle is it exposed, nor is it able to be cocked by hand. Nor should it.

Ruger LCP_Fixed-Front-and-Rear-Sights

While the LCP has front and rear sights, they are not fast to acquire.

The trigger is surprisingly smooth. As its a double action only gun, it’s heavy as expected, but the pull is mostly even with a bit of stacking right before the sear releases. There was no perceptible over-travel.

Shooting the Ruger LCP

We were pleasantly surprised by how soft-shooting the LCP was. That’s a relative description of course. We were expecting handgun brutality at minimum, but it was comfortable to shoot even with defense loads. We shot the following loads through the LCP:

Doubletap 80gr TAC-XP (910 fps – This is supposed to be a 1,050 fps load in the LCP. We’re in contact with Doubletap Ammo to sort out this issue.)

Cor-Bon 90gr Self Defense JFP (1,024 fps)

Federal 90gr Hydra-Shok JHP (850 fps)

Georgia Arms Gold Dot (857 fps)

Hand Loads, 95 grain lead round nose over 3.6 grains of Alliant Unique (925 fps)

The LCP did not seem to have a preference in terms of ammo selection. It shot what we loaded and did not malfunction.

Ruger LCP .380 ACP pistol dimensions

The Ruger LCP is definitely pocket sized!

Our Price Point Theory

We had one minor complaint about the LCP and that was related to packaging. It only includes one magazine. In our view, this means its not yet ready to go. Even a pocket pistol carrier should have at least one spare magazine for either reloads or malfunctions. It’s just a good idea. We’re not sure why Ruger only includes one magazine, but we suspect it might have something to do with meeting a target street price point. With a little shopping, the base model can be purchased for just less than $300. Including a second or third magazine would probably push the street price of the LCP over the $300 barrier. Rather than get in a psycho-analysis of buyer behavior and perceived price ceilings, let’s just say we understand if the price point is the real issue. More importantly in our view however is the convenience factor. We’d rather not have to do a separate shopping and purchasing event to get an extra magazine.

No +P Ammunition

The owners manual warns “Do not use +P ammunition” but offers no additional clarity on the +P issue. The manual does clearly state the following:

No .380 Auto ammunition manufactured in accordance with  NATO, U.S., SAAMI, or CIP standards is known to be beyond the design limits or known not to function in these pistols.

Our Accuracy Testing Protocol

Ruger LCP .380 ACP included - gun case, magazine base plates

Included: A gun! 1 magazine, flat and curved magazine base plates, zipper case, and gun lock.

To test the inherent mechanical accuracy of the Ruger LCP, we shot from a standing position at 25 yards, using a weak hand side hold and balancing on one foot while eating Deep Fried Snickers Bars. We’ve found this to be a great test of a guns inherent mechanical accuracy. Our best groups measured 4 and a half feet, more or less. OK, tongue out of the cheek time. We’ve got a pet peeve about gun reviews by aging gun writers that claim to test mechanical accuracy by sighting in at 25 yards with aging eyes, holding in a weaver or similar stance with aging hands, and firing with an aging trigger finger. Right, that method pretty much removes all potential variables that might impact group size and tells us much about what a gun is capable of. By the way, being off a perfect sight picture by just the width of an average human hair creates over a one inch change in point of impact at 25 yards. If a gun isn’t in a Ransom Rest, don’t tell us about its mechanical accuracy. OK, rant over. Did we mention that we’re sick and tired of reading gun reviews that tell more about the reviewers braggadocio than a guns capability?

Since it would be a bit silly to put the Ruger LCP in a Ransom Rest, we thought a more realistic and helpful commentary might involve documenting our subjective findings on the LCP’s ease of shooting accurately at realistic distances for this gun. We did most of our shooting at 5 to 10 yards at range trash targets such as cans, plastic bottles, and other un-tiny objects that we deemed fun to shoot.

Once we found the right hold (see He Said comments below) it was surprisingly easy to hit with the LCP – even out to 25 yards or so. The sights are small as this gun is designed for up close self-defense use, but they are workable.

Bottom line? We’re confident that the Ruger LCP is “Minute of Evil d00d” capable. That’s why someone would buy it, right?

Bottom line?

We liked it. So we bought one.

 

He said She said
I found that I had to experiment with grip and trigger a bit to find a hold that allowed me to shoot accurately on a consistent basis. I wear a mens large glove so while my hands aren’t huge, they are larger than average. As the Ruger LCP is so small, simply grasping the frame and letting my trigger finger fall naturally caused me to pull the trigger with the fleshy fat between my first and second joints. I found I could shoot this gun much more consistently using the first pad of my finger by deliberately withdrawing my finger further from the trigger. Just a practice issue like with any new gun. Once I figured that out, I was able to hit small targets at reasonable distances with ease. It’s not a ‘shoot for fun’ gun. It’s a ‘gets the job done’ gun. However, it feels substantial for its size. The contours were smooth and comfortable, and while it’s a two-finger gun, I found it easy to control and aim. There are a lot of options for us ‘she’s’ to conceal this gun – Looper Flash Bang, thigh holster, purse, ankle, and waist. It’s thin and light. Lot’s of possibilities to match nearly any wardrobe selection.As a side note, look for a review by me (not Him!) on the Looper Flash Bang paired with the Ruger LCP soon!

 

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