Sunday, February 5, 2012

New Carry Gun

As a firearms enthusiast I have more than one carry gun.  I tend to select the most powerful gun that holds the most cartridges that I can conceal on my outfit.  My favorite is a S&W 327 Night Guard, a snub-nosed 357 with an 8 shot capacity and a big tritium sight up front.  It's a relatively easy gun to shoot full power 357 loads through for it's size.  The downside is it's a bit bulky and it's rare I can carry it except when wearing bulky winter clothing.

Contrast that with the smallest gun I carry, a Ruger LCP.  At less than 10 ounces and a small, flat form factor it's the gun I can carry when I can't carry anything else.  Shorts and no shirt?  I can totally carry the LCP in a pocket.  Very tight jeans that my wife likes and a metrosexual shirt?  It's about the only gun that can be carried and not print.  But it holds 6 rounds of .380 acp and has pretty crappy sights, so it's not a great tactical choice.

My carry options from extra light weight to more bad ass (L to R)

But this blog post is about a new gun I procured for carry in my kilt.   As mentioned in other posts I often wear kilts when I'm out and about.  The kilts I wear have pretty decent sized cargo pockets.  I tend to carry a Para-Ordnance Carry 9, it's well sized for the kilt pocket and 7 rounds of 9mm beats 5 rounds of 38 special or 6 in 380.  It's got a safety and a long but light trigger pull.  It's an ideal carry gun I think.

I have high hopes for this gun
One day I decided maybe it was time to improve on ideal and try for badass.  A distributor ran a special on a slow selling model, in this case a S&W M&P Compact in 357 sig with night sights.  I'm a fan of the 357 sig cartridge, I find it more pleasant to shoot than 40 s&w and at least on paper it offers impressive terminal ballistics.  For similar bullet weights it offers a 30% velocity increase over 9mm.  It also has a capacity of 10 so it's got an advantage over the Carry 9 as well.  Plus, the price couldn't be beat, it was well under the price of used guns.

Any time I impress a new gun into service I give it a thorough test first and make sure it's 100% reliable.  A carry gun that doesn't work properly is not something that one can rely on for self-defense.  Most modern guns are very reliable, I've found very few guns that are not.  Some new guns do take time to bring in though before they can be relied on.

At this point I've only got about 300 rounds through the M&P compact but it has not proven very reliable.  Often any failures to extract, failures to eject or other stoppages smooth out in the first hundred rounds.  With this gun this has not been the case.

The first problems I had was it would not reliably operate on reloads I had developed for another pistol, a full size M&P.  These were a bit shy of max loads using heavy bullets, when I switched to a lighter bullet moving faster it cycled the smaller gun fine.  I only have one factory load I use because I got a deal on a couple cases and it's worked fine with those.  Well, at least initially.

On this last range visit I had 5 stoppages in 80 rounds or so.  That's unacceptable.  Two of them were with my reloads and it was a failure to extract.  The fired case was only partially extracted and hung up on the next round in the magazine.  Easy enough to clear, but unacceptable none the less.  Any time I get a failure with reloads I typically suspect a problem with the load and not the gun.  I was using a new type of lube to size these cases and perhaps I didn't clean it off well enough and it was gumming up extraction.  So those weren't as concerning.

What was concerning was the 3 failures I got with factory loads.  Each one was a failure of the gun to return to battery fully.  In all three cases a very slight push with a thumb was all it took to make it ready to fire, but again, unacceptable.   This is the first new modern gun from a reputable manufacturer (that wasn't a 22) that I've found that has given me reliability problems.  I'm determined to work through it though.  Perhaps a stronger recoil spring would do the trick.  I'll post updates here when I've made some progress.

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