Top Shooting Gear Finds From The Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center revolver is a 9mm. Moon clips make the rimless rounds work.

One of the highlights of the annual Crimson Trace Midnight 3 Gun Invitational is schmoozing time with the match sponsors. With more than 40 different companies present, I had many company reps to pester. Unlike chaotic events like SHOT Show or the NRA Annual Meeting, the M3GI has plenty of daylight hours (shooting is only at night remember), and the folks are captive at the remote location. Sponsors can’t run or hide; they simply have to tolerate my endless questions and make the best of it.

Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting finds at this years Midnight 3 Gun Event.

Smith Wesson 929 Performance Center Revolver

Look at the lead photo in this article. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Got it? Now tell me how anyone can pick that up and not immediately try for the 50 yard steel plates. That’s exactly what I did. I’m not the world’s best shot, but I hit it from a standing position nearly every time.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

Too. Much. Fun. To. Shoot.

The Smith & Wesson 929 Performance Center is a 9mm revolver with 8 round capacity in the wheel. Since it uses rimless 9mm ammo, you use moon clips to load the cylinder. Weighing in at a hefty 44 ounces, the 929 is plenty stable for offhand shooting. The 6.5 inch barrel and corresponding long sight radius makes steady sight picture a snap. It’s a Performance Center model and Jerry Miculek signature design. I want one.

I2 Technologies and Systems Integrations Binocular Night Vision System

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

The helmet requires a counterweight to balance out the dual monocular night vision system.

I2 (pronounced eye-squared) brought about a billion dollars worth of leading edge night vision gear. They are innovators in complete, integrated night vision systems. Their primary wares at the M3GI were helmets equipped with dual PVS-14 mounts. Two PVS-14 Gen 3 night vision monoculars are configured into an adjustable, quick-release helmet mount. This gives the wearer broader peripheral vision, and more importantly, depth perception. Competitors had the good fortune of cleaning a “house” in the pitch dark with a Gem-Tech suppressed Glock and suppressed, full-auto PWS 300 Blackout SBR. After that, one had to clear the “back yard” with a shotgun. A truly awesome stage.

One of the neat little details I learned was that, due to the weight of the gear, you have to configure the helmet with a one pound counterweight on the rear, else you’ll be staring straight at the ground. You can get your own ready-to-go rig like this for just over $7,000. Got a birthday coming up?

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A Big Little Surprise From Smith & Wesson: The New M&P22 Compact Pistol

Smith & Wesson's new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Smith & Wesson’s new plinker: The M&P22 Compact

Yeah, I know, .22LR ammo is impossible to find. But the situation is getting better, and this fun new pistol comes with a starting supply of ammunition – 222 rounds of Winchester to be exact. Yep, it’s your birthday!

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it's just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

An 87.5% scale version of the original, it’s just the right size for a .22LR pistol.

If you keep up with the .22LR pistol market, you know that Smith & Wesson announced the original M&P22 .22LR pistol way back in 2011. Technically, the original model was an adopted child through partnership with Walther. The pistol was made by Walther, imported and marketed under a partnership arrangement between Smith & Wesson and Walther.

Since then, the companies have moved into more independent ventures, amicably I might add, and now Smith & Wesson has produced a natural born child – the M&P22 Compact. Unlike its predecessor, the new M&P22 Compact model is entirely American made by Smith & Wesson. And it’s not just a scaled down version of the original. The new compact model has been largely redesigned – a quick look at the inside will show you new internals including trigger transfer bar, extractor, ejector, firing pin and feed ramp. Speaking of feed ramps, one of the design goals of the new pistol was reliability with a broad range of ammunition. More on that later.

The specs

Like most .22LR pistols, this one is a blowback design with a fixed barrel. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism with solid safety levers on both sides of the frame. As a side note, the safety levers are now metal with a plastic over mold and noticeably more solid than those on the original M&P22.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

One of the many improvements from the 2011 original: better adjustable sights.

Here are the basic specs:

Overall Length: 6.7 inches
Barrel Length: 3.6 inches
Barrel Rifling 1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand
Overall Height (including sights): 5.0 inches
Overall Width (with controls): 1.5 inches
Total Empty Weight: 17.0 oz.

The pistol has a threaded barrel, but you won’t notice that at casual glance as the threaded portion and thread protector cap are internal to the slide. This means that you will need an adapter to extend 1/2×28 threads past the muzzle so you can attach a silencer. If you have an original model M&P22 be aware that the barrel threading is now larger, so you’ll need a new adapter.

In addition to ambidextrous safety levers, the M&P22 Compact has a magazine release button that can easily be moved to the opposite side, so the pistol is friendly to righties and lefties.

Sights are standard dovetailed post and notch with three bright white dots. The rear sight has also been redesigned to be more easily adjustable so point of impact can be tuned to your specific choice of ammo.

Other features include a front rail for lights and lasers (don’t laugh, this makes an excellent rodent gun, trust me, I know!), two (10) round magazines and a loaded chamber indicator hole in the top of the slide.

The trigger is more of a service gun style as compared to a target pistol, and I think that’s part of the goal of the Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. Comparable in size to a shield, it makes a low(er) cost option for training. The trigger has about ⅓ of an inch of take up, followed by a break at just under six pounds of pressure.

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We Test The New Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact

Hot off the press - the new Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. 87.5% scale of a full size M&P, it's a fun .22 plinker.

Hot off the press – the new Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact. 87.5% scale of a full size M&P, it’s a fun .22 plinker.

Getting home and tearing open Smith & Wesson M&P22 Compact box, my very first impression was, “Oh snap!”

The next thought that crossed my mind was that this gun won’t be out of the box for six seconds before I’m compelled to attach a silencer. A SilencerCo Sparrow would be an excellent fit. The compact size just screams harmony and balance with the diminutive SilencerCo Sparrow.

I love .22s. Full size, compact, micro – I don’t care. They’re just fun. But there’s something to be said for a .22LR gun that is downsized for the rimfire caliber, and this one is. While I didn’t do a volumetric test to determine the exact size relationship, think of the M&P22 Compact as an 87.5% scale version of a full-size Smith & Wesson M&P – that number is from the company. Whatever the numbers, the feel and balance is great.

The pistol comes with (2) ten-round magazines, safety lock and gun lock keys.

The pistol comes with (2) ten-round magazines, safety lock and gun lock keys.

I picked up a production model at my local gun store, East Coast Guns in Summerville, South Carolina. When I asked manager and firearms trainer Tim Elmer for his first impressions, the first thing out of his mouth was “Wow! That’s a neat little thing!” After a bit more reflection, he noted “the size is awesome, well perfect actually. It also seems very well built, the safety is positive and the action is smooth. Now I have to shoot it!”

Me too. So let’s check it out.

Features and Specs

Opening the box, you’ll find a pistol, two 10-round magazines, keys for operating the integral safety lock, a hex wrench for windage adjustment of the rear sight, fired case and owners manual.

The pistol uses a blowback action with a fixed barrel, common to most .22 pistols. It’s a single-action, hammer operated firing mechanism. Here are the basic specs:

Overall Length 6.7 inches
Barrel Length 3.6 inches
Barrel Rifling 1:15, 6 Groove, Right Hand
Overall Height (including sights) 5.0 inches
Overall Width (with controls) 1.5 inches
Total Empty Weight 17.0 oz.
If you've seen the original M&P22, you'll notice the Smith & Wesson lettering is toned down on the new model.

If you’ve seen the original M&P22, you’ll notice the Smith & Wesson lettering is toned down on the new model.

The barrel itself is threaded, although that’s not obvious until you retract the slide. A screw on thread protector cap, the same diameter as the barrel, is hidden inside the slide when in battery. If you want to add a silencer to the M&P22 Compact, you remove the cap, add a thread extension and adapter to provide 1/2×28 threads compatible with most .22LR silencers. If you already have an adapter for the original M&P22, be aware that it won’t work – you will need a new one sized for the larger 3/8”-24 threads on the M&P22 Compact barrel.

The magazine release button is mounted by default on the left side of the pistol, but it’s easy to move it to the opposite side if you like. The owner’s manual includes clear step-by-step instructions with photos if you want to do this.

The new M&P22 Compact is shown here (right) next to a Smith & Wesson Shield (left). I put a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser on my test gun because... Fun!

The new M&P22 Compact is shown here (right) next to a Smith & Wesson Shield (left). I put a Crimson Trace Rail Master laser on my test gun because… Fun!

The M&P22 Compact features an ambidextrous thumb safety which blocks operation of the trigger. A nice design feature is that you can perform administrative functions like slide operation, slide lock and takedown with the safety engaged. We’ll talk about other improvements to the safety levers in a minute. While we’re on the topic of safeties, the pistol also has a trigger activated firing pin block and it’s drop safe.

The M&P22 Compact has a visual loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide. A small curved cutout allows you to see if there is a cartridge in the chamber.

There is a lawyer lock on this gun. On the M&P22 Compact, an included key can be used to lock the safety in the “safe” position. In fact, the lock can only be engaged while the safety is in the “safe” position. Do with the lock what you will.

 

Read the rest at Guns America!

 

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Our Talk With The Miculeks – The First Family of Shooting

We had the opportunity to catch up with Jerry, Kay and Lena Miculek recently to ask them about life as the First Family of Shooting, family rivalries and how often Jerry has to sleep in the couch. As you’ll see, the Miculeks are some wild and crazy folks!

The Miculeks  First Family of Shooting

The Miculek Family sporting their work attire, courtesy of Team Smith & Wesson

My Gun Culture: Here we are with the Miculek Family – Jerry, Kay and Lena. Lot’s of folks know you as the First Family of Shooting. How did that come about?

Kay Clark Miculek: Well, technically… Jerry married INTO the First Family of Shooting. My father, Jim Clark , Sr. was a gunsmith and now Clark Custom Guns is run by my brother. The Clark family had actually been branded as the First Family of Shooting. So anyway, Jerry decided to practice with my brother one day, and we decided to keep him!

MGC: I know I promised you that this interview was more about entertainment than scoop, and that I wouldn’t try to trip you up with any hard questions. But I kinda lied. The other day, the President signed an Executive Order granting the First Family Secret Service Protection for life. Since you’re the First Family of Shooting, I have to ask if all y’all will be the ones providing this security? And will Smith & Wesson supply all the gear?

Jerry Miculek: I’m up for hire you know! I’m “Johnny on the spot” so show me the money and I’m your man!

Kay: We’ll need a whole bunch of those 7 round magazines though…

MGC: We’ll probably be able to get you an exemption on the new 7 round magazine limits.

Kay: Or we can all just use wheelguns!

MGC: Jerry, there’s this rumor on the internet that you can empty a revolver in .57 seconds. I’m thinking, heck, I can even do that. You just open the cylinder and dump the rounds out. I could’ve told you that a long time ago and saved you a lot of trouble!

Jerry: I think I can still beat you though. By the time you get that thing open, I’ll be done! So I got ya beat…

MGC: So Jerry, tell us about the Miculek revolver grip. How did that come to be?

Jerry: It kind of originated when Jim Clark, Sr. and I were traveling and competing in the Masters event. I was shooting a revolver and beating the pistol guys. I was taking Smith & Wesson grips and altering them with Bondo and tape. I screwed little pieces and parts on them and they looked really, really ratty. Jim told me to go see this gentlemen, Guy Hogue, who actually makes grips that look a whole lot better than that trashy one on my gun. So I went to see Mr. Hogue and out of his kind heart, he made me a couple of sets of custom grips. He’s a super nice guy along with the rest of the Hogue family. Anyway, he was kind enough to throw me a bone and make me grips because be thought I was an enthusiast at the time. We started selling them as they seemed to fit the need for a lot of folks.

MGC: I can see how Smith & Wesson might have liked that you switched to professionally made grips. As a marketing guy myself, I can see how they would be a little stressed out having their team shooter run around with a beautiful Smith & Wesson revolver equipped with Bondo and duct tape on the grips…

Jerry: Yeah, it looked a little cheap, but it got the job done.

MGC: The latest info we have is that you and your wife have different gun selections with Smith & Wesson, with her using an M&P and you being more of a revolver guy. Is there friction in the family over this? Does Jerry sleep on the couch a lot?

Kay: No there’s no friction!

MGC: Let me rephrase that, does Jerry sleep on the couch a lot?

Kay: (Laughs) Not at all! That’s what keeps our marriage strong! I can still beat him occasionally as he’s got a six shot revolver and I have a 17 round M&P. So now and then I can rub it in that “I beat you again!” We won’t count the part where he had 3 reloads and I’m just pulling the trigger…

MGC: So Kay, is your M&P competion gun stock, or did you get the Smith & Wesson Pro Shop to jazz it up? I hope you didn’t let Jerry work on it as he probably would have put Bondo and duct tape all over it!

Kay: Well, Jerry might have tweaked the internals a little bit, but I said no to Bondo!

MGC: So Lena, you were born, born on the range. And now you’re cruising all over the country racking up championships. What’s on your schedule in 2013?

Lena Miculek: I have 22 matches scheduled so far. I’m also an instructor with Babes with Bullets so I have 4 or 5 three to four day classes. So my schedule is crazy, but I love it. Most of my matches are 3 Gun so I can get out there and do what I really love. Actually I just competed in the 3 Gun Nation Shootoff and I was able to take the Ladies Division win. So I’m on sort of a 3 Gun high right now.

MGC: Did your mom compete in that?

Lena: Yes!

MGC: So you’ve been kicked out of the house?

Lena: Well we both made it to the finals!

MGC: You’re dodging the question. Did you beat your mom or not? 

Lena: Yes!

MGC: Kay, what drove you to start Babes With Bullets?

Kay: It started off as training for ladies interested in competition, but so many new shooters were interested that now it’s more oriented to that. Smith & Wesson has generously provided guns, so bottom line – these ladies can come to the classes, try out the gear and make an informed decision for when they decide to buy something.

MGC: Jerry, I saw an episode of Sons of Guns, where one of their gunsmiths raced you. He was shooting a full auto rifle against you shooting a semi-auto AR-15. And you dang near beat him!

Jerry: Yeah, but if you go back and look at the footage, his first shot was in the ground, while mine was actually on target. So he was just shooting towards the target zone, while I was actually hitting something! Ummm, they didn’t edit that correctly…

MGC: To get that kind of trigger finger speed, you must have some sort of custom Nautilus Finger Training machine. What’s the secret?

Jerry: I just have a lot of excitement in my life. I’m an excitable guy. When I get excited, things just happen quick!

MGC: Well, since you’re going down that path… With such a well-developed finger you must have other interesting skills…

Jerry: ???

MGC: No, not that! Your mind is in the gutter!

Kay: I’ve tried to teach him to type, but that was a failure…

Lena: You should see him with elevators. When he has to wait, he keeps pushing the button over and over and over really fast. Like it will make a difference…

Jerry: Yeah, I can lock up the elevator.

MGC: What else do our readers need to know?

Jerry: Send checks and donations!

Kay: Yeah, we’re not a non-profit organization! We’re just kidding! We’d love people to check out our new Team Miculek website and of course encourage the ladies to get involved with Babes with Bullets.

We’d like to thank all the Miculeks for a great time. Unlike real First Families, the First Family of Shooting has a great sense of humor!

You can learn more about their happenings at Miculek.com and ladies, be sure to check out Babes With Bullets!

On the First Day of Christmas… A Smith & Wesson M & P

musical-notes

On the first day of Christmas, I hope my true love gives to me…A Smith and Wesson M and P…

musical-notes

We’ve got a love / hate relationship with the .357 Sig cartridge. Love the power, feeding characteristics, reliability, .357 Magnum-like ballistics from a semi-auto, and sheer joy of shooting it. Hate the price of factory ammo, leaving precious .357 Sig brass on the ground at lost-brass matches, and some of the quirks of reloading.

However, we’re thinking the Smith and Wesson M&P would make an outstanding platform for this round. There’s something about the shape of the Smith and Wesson M&P grip that is just, well, shootable. The more round profile makes it particularly comfortable and facilitates control under recoil We’ve shot the M&P in .40 S&W and found it outstanding. And fun.

Smith and Wesson’s M&P in .357 Sig offers a polymer frame with 15+1 round capacity. Tritium sights would be on it – of course. And ours would not have the optional frame mounted safety. Personal preference there.

Want that.

Smith and Wesson Announces Bodyguard – Jersey Shore Edition

Jersey Shore Fighting

Jersey Shore Bodyguard in Action

Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (SWHC, Nasdaq) today announced an extension to it’s new Bodyguard line of personal protection pistols, the Jersey Shore Edition.

Aimed squarely at the post binge-drinking, out of control situation market segment, the Bodyguard Jersey Shore line offers several innovative features designed to offer ego and hairstyle protection, while minimizing regrets the day after.

According to Smith & Wesson CEO Ben Cartwright, the Bodyguard Jersey Shore is designed to protect reputation, ego, and lucrative television contracts without permanent physical harm. “Say you’re at the club, at like 3:30am, and some juicehead gorilla wants to smoosh with you. But you’re like, forget that, I just got my nails done and my spray tan hasn’t fully dried yet. The Bodyguard Jersey Shore is the perfect solution. It allows you to ward off unwanted advances at the clubs without physical harm, so the next day, when your tan is dry, you can hook up with that juicehead with no hard feelings.”

Smith & Wesson spokespeople declined to offer details on exactly how the Bodyguard Jersey Shore works, but industry insiders speculate that the technology relies on remote steroid neutralization. “If you can make the guys abs look really lame, you have the power and respect” stated J-Woww, an early adopter of the Bodyguard Jersey Shore Edition system. “It’s like ‘I own you now guido!’ One more move and I’ll show the whole club that you’re a skank with no abs.”

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