Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

Archive for October, 2007

Kimber Pro Carry II

Posted by Gunner on October 27, 2007

   I was at Cott firearms last week just taking a look to see what was new and as always checking for any good used gun buys. Well I didn’t see anything that got my attention but out of curiosity I took a look at the Kimber Pro Carry II in 9MM. I’ve been reading more and more about the 1911 platform in 9MM and frankly I was getting pretty curious about this combination of the best handgun ever made chambered in this old caliber.
   As many of you probably know when Colt designed the Commander model for the Army for use by the officer corp as well as those in support positions this is the gun they designed and it was designed for the 9MM from the start. The Colt Commander is 1/4 inch longer than the current trend of CCW 1911’s with 4 inch barrels such as this Kimber Pro Carry II and the Springfield Champion LW and soon (around April 08) the Rock Island Armory Tactical which Armscor calls a midsize gun. I’m sure if anybody else comes out with another 4 inch 1911 in 9MM it will be Rock Island Armory. They are a very inovative company that pays attention to their customers like no other! This is the only 4 inch bull barrel full frame 1911 I know of in 9MM. The Springfield is available only in 45 with the exception of the smaller 1911 designed around the 9MM.
   I know who wants a 1911 in 9MM. Well sir, I do. After succumbing to this little beauty I’m a convert. It does fill a useful nitch. If you’ve read my blog at all you know I’m a 1911 45 ACP devotee in the extreme but lets keep an open mind on this one. No, I’m not getting into the endless 45 ACP vs 9MM debate. I’ll say this–over the last several years ammo makers have come a very long way in making the 9MM a much more effective load than it was even ten years ago. I use the Winchester Ranger “T” series 127 grain +p+ for my Hi Power and now this Kimber. It feeds very well and the ballistics on this round are impressive. I trust this load to do the job simple as that.

   The Kimber holds 9 rounds of 9MM in the magazine with one up the pipe. Weight on this gun with the alloy frame is 28 ounces. So, ten rounds at your disposal in a lightweight highly concealable 1911. What more could you ask for in a daily carry gun that will ride with you eight or ten hours a day. Riding in a Milt Sparks 55BN in winter and a Sparks “Heritage” IWB in warm weather and your’e set.

The Milt Sparks “Heritage”

   These days there is certainly one reason for using a 9MM that has nothing to do with the caliber debate and that is the cost of shooting. At MidwayUsa 500 rounds of 45 ACP cost $126 whereas 9MM is $76 for 500 rounds. That is a substantial savings and allows those of us without unlimited funds to shoot a lot more for the same money or shoot the same amount for a considerable savings. From what I’ve been told ammo prices are going up two more times by February next year. Not good but then there isn’t much we can do about that except adapt by reloading more.
   On to shooting this fine gun. After bringing the Kimber home and giving it a complete cleaning and lube with Militec I put it all back together. There is one thing to let you know about when taking this pistol down for cleaning. The gun comes with a very slim hex wrench that slips into a hole in the guide rod in order to capture the compressed spring so you can remove the guide rod and then the barrel. There is nothing at all hard about it and just adds a small step to disassembly. Incidentally the Kimber uses a single 22 pound spring which changes out like any other 1911so you don’t have to fool with buying two specialized springs.The instructions for taking down the pistol is in the manual. You really need to read this before attempting to disassemble the gun for cleaning. I removed the rubber grips which came with the gun and put on a set of Mil-Tac G10’s with the 1* logo on them. For those not familiar with this it means One Ass To Risk. This is something Gary Paul Johnston came up with many years ago as a uniform patch for the SWAT team he worked with. Mil-Tac is the only company licensed to use this logo. I also picked up two additional magazines made by Metalform with a removable base and pre drilled for a slam pad. These are very good magazines no matter the caliber but I was especially impressed with the way these were made. Quality throughout at $13 from Brownells if you care to order extra mags for your guns. I was lucky enough to get my mags right away. Yes, the 9MM mags are less expensive as well:-)
   I gathered up a few hundred rounds of 9MM in various brands and types of bullets and headed for the local police range. I used a reduced size B27R target. All shooting was done from 10 yards and 25 yards. I started at the 10 yard line as I usually do and tried for the smallest group I could manage without slow firing. I noticed right away that recoil was actually pleasant. Just enough to let you know you were shooting a major caliber. Getting back on target was very fast with this gun in no small measure to the  excellent sights that Kimber uses as well as the reduced amount of recoil compared to the larger calibers. This is the first target after 50 rounds at ten yards. Firing and reloading stopping only to reload the mags.


      I don’t shoot slow at all from ten yards. I practice like I would if engaging a real target. As you can see this little gun is an excellent natural pointer as most 19111’s are. These first 50 rounds were all ball ammo from winchester in the white box Wal Mart variety. Next I loaded up the mags mixing Federal 9BP’s with Cor Bon 125 Grain +P’s, Speer Gold Dots and some older plain hollowpoints. Everything feed to perfection with all mags no matter how I mixed up the ammo. I fired a total of 200 rounds with no malfunctions. Next I backed up to 25 yards and did some slow fire. I fired 20 rounds from this distance at the head. All rounds were fired standing without a rest. This is the target.

   Practically speaking you wouldn’t be making head shots at 25 yards but for the sake of testing accuracy it works. I was really impressed with the results. I had two flyers with one a little high and the other a little low left as you can see from the picture. Eleven rounds of the twenty went into the center hole. This is a better result than normal for most 1911’s I shoot at that range regardless of caliber. It just proves if you do your job this little gun will shoot up to a high standard. It is fitted with a match barrel and trigger. I loaned out my trigger pull gauge so I can’t tell you the exact trigger pull but it is crisp with little takeup. Since the first time through with the excellent results at the ten yard line I loaded up one mag to capacity and moved back to the ten yard line intending to fire the entire mag as fast as possible. All ten rounds went into the same large hole from the first time through. This really got my attention. To say I was surprised would be an understatement!
   I’ve shot my Springfield Champion a lot but I have never equaled this accuracy at 25 yards with it. Whether it’s the quality construction of the gun or the 9MM round from a 1911 platform is something to be answered by additional evaluation. One thing I’m sure of is this is a very good carry combination that deserves your consideration.

Update: 11/03/07

I’m up to 550 rounds on the Kimber this week with only one problem which has nothing to do with the gun. I felt like I should pass this along so you won’t have the same problem. I was cleaning the Pro Carry and ran out of Wilson gun grease. I made a WalMart run and picked up some “Shooters Choice” all weather high tech gun grease and applied it like I would the Wilson grease. When I went to the range I immediately had malfunction after malfunction of every type you can imagine. I was using the same ammo as before and the same mags. Nothing had changed except I used that shooters choice grease.
I tore the gun down and wiped it down removing the grease. I got it pretty dry then just lubed the gun as usual with Militec only. After that there were no more problems of any kind. The problem was obviously the grease. The question now is why? There are two reasons I can think of. The recoil impulse for a 9mm in this gun is not sufficient to overcome the extra drag from the grease. The second would be the grease formulation is just to thick to work well with any gun. No matter—I would stay away from this brand of gun grease period!

UPDATE 11/17/07

At somewhere just over 550 rounds the gun started failing to eject empties. The empty brass would stay in the barrel as well as jamming of various types. I was not a happy camper! I realize this can happen to the best of guns but it is very aggravating especially when you buy a gun that’s pretty expensive. I knew it was not a magazine issue since the Kimber mags and the Metalform mags are some of the best mags available and showed no signs of defects. I contacted Kimber and got an employee who was less than helpful. It’s probably the same person I have heard of on the forums as being a real—well you fill in the blanks:-) After a day or two I called back and talked with another person who was very helpful and an all around nice guy. I asked for a new extractor since I had determined that was the problem. I explained the extractor hook appeared to be partially broken off. They didn’t have any extractors in stock but he offered to pull one from the assembly area after I explained this was my carry gun. This is exactly what he did and I received the new extractor in four days which I thought was very good. The service from this employee was excellent. All he asked was that I send the old extractor back so they could examine it.
When I received the new extractor I got right to work and replaced it. It did need some minor tuning but very very little. I hand cycled the gun until it was tossing out every round. This is only an indicator so you have to go to the range and fire a 100 rounds or so to make sure you have it right. I did take the Kimber to the range this morning and fired 100 rounds and the gun functioned flawlessly. The rounds ejected better than when it was new and put the empties directly to my right about 5 feet in a circle about 4 feet around. I also tried several other brands of ammo other than ball ammo. I used some Cor-Bon as well as Remington and Federal JHP’s. They all functioned without any problem. Problem solved! I really love this gun for several reasons I’ve mentioned before. The more I shoot it the more I enjoy it. The cost of 9MM is almost half that of 45acp and as I’ve said with Winchester Ranger “T” 127 grn +P+ it’s very effective. Of course Speer Gold Dots are also fine rounds to use. To sum things up it was an unexpected malfunction but it happens and was taken care of in a timely manner by Kimber and I’m happy with this gun!

One other item you might be interested in is the Tactical Pro. This is the same gun as the Pro Carry II but has extra features. Most apparent is the gray frame. It also has an ambidextrous safety, night sights, 30 LPI checkering on the front strap, a magwell and a different trigger. The increase in cost is on average $250 more than the Pro Carry II.
   As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Blogged with Flock

Posted in 1911 9MM's, Kimber 1911, Kimber Pro Carry II | Tagged: , , | 14 Comments »

The Smith & Wesson Centennial Models

Posted by Gunner on October 21, 2007

Reprinted With Permission “The Snubnose Files” by Syd Weedon

The Smith & Wesson Model 640 Centennial is easily the most recommended variant of the J-frame line if the Internet counts for anything in gun selection. In 2006, the best selling firearm offered by Smith & Wesson was the Model 642, the Airweight version of the 640. It is often called “hammerless” which is a misnomer of sorts because it actually does have a hammer; it’s just completely enclosed within the frame, making the revolver “double action only” (DAO). It is a smooth, snag-free design which makes it ideal for pocket carry. Jim Supica, author of The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, said of the 642 that it was “possibly the finest pocket revolver ever made.”

One might jump to the conclusion that the “hammerless” design is a new thing brought about by our litigious society, but in fact, the hammerless design is quite old. Smith and Wesson introduced the Safety Hammerless .38 S&W in 1887. This gun was often called “The Lemon Squeezer” because it had a grip safety on the back strap. One had to squeeze the grip in order to fire the gun. In 1888 they produced a few of the .32 S&W Safety Hammerless pistols with 2” barrels. It was nicknamed the “Bicycle Gun” and may be S&W’s first production snubnose, but the Bicycle Gun is very rare. The Safety Hammerless pistols were top-break designs.

Original Model 40 Centennial
showing grip safety on the back strap

In 1952, Smith & Wesson applied the concept of the Safety Hammerless to the J-frame Chief’s Special and got the Centennial. The gun was named in honor of the company’s 100th birthday. In 1957, when the switch was made from named models to numbered models, the Centennial became the Model 40. Also in 1952, an Airweight Centennial was introduced which became the Model 42. Some 37 specimens of the Model 42 were built with aluminum alloy cylinders, but the rest had steel cylinders. These two models were produced from 1952 to 1974.

In 1990, the Centennial was re-introduced but in stainless steel and without the grip safety as the Model 640. It was a .38 Special. In 1996 the 640-1 in .357 Magnum was offered. Airweight versions, Models 442 (blued) and 642 (stainless) were also brought to market. As noted earlier, the Model 642 has been enormously successful.

As the centuries changed, Smith & Wesson worked in exotic space-age metals such as titanium and scandium to make the guns even lighter, and yet strong enough to chamber the .357 Magnum cartridge. While it still eludes me why anyone would want to fire .357 in an 11 ounce gun, I guess some folks do it. The new metallurgy produced models such as the 340Sc, the 342Ti and the 340PD.

Between 1991 and 1998, S&W produced the Model 940, a stainless Centennial chambered in 9mm. A group of three hundred were built in the “.356 TSW” caliber (good luck finding ammo for that one), and a prototype Model 942 Airweight in 9mm was built but did not go into production.

The design is a winner. One of the J-frame’s greatest assets, its ease of carry, is further enhanced by the snag-free concealed hammer design. But do you lose anything by going to the double-action-only format?

DAO versus DA/SA

I’ll admit to a preference for exposed hammer revolvers. I don’t know why really. Maybe it’s the traditionalist in me. Maybe it’s because I like to have the option to fire single action if I want to. Single action fire is generally thought to be more accurate than double action. When target shooting and hunting, people prefer to manually cock the hammer to get that wonderful crisp 1 lb. trigger that a good revolver firing single action can give you. The sights just move around less when you don’t have to apply the force needed to cock the hammer.

On the other hand, people who carry a revolver for self defense should practice almost exclusively for double action fire, as if the single action option wasn’t even there. Why? Because there are almost no situations in which single action fire is appropriate in self defense. Most self defense situations unfold rapidly. There isn’t time to thumb cock a revolver and take careful aim in the way one would do while target shooting. A cocked revolver is dangerous in the adrenaline dump of a lethal force encounter. The trigger is just too light. It’s too easy to fire when you don’t mean to. There was a well-publicized case in Miami several years back in which a police officer accidentally shot a suspect he was holding at gunpoint with a cocked revolver. The suspect was killed and the officer faced a lengthy court process which ultimately destroyed his career. In a nervous situation, a cocked revolver is dangerous. When you’re really nervous or scared, the heavy double action trigger pull is an asset rather than a liability. I can hear you say, “Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire,” and that’s true, but we also know that people don’t always do what they’re supposed to do in the stress of a deadly encounter. The police officer in Miami is a good example. I’m sure he had heard the rules. A firm double action trigger can be a welcome piece of insurance against an accidental discharge. With the DAO Centennial, manual cocking isn’t possible, nor is it possible to be accused of negligently cocking the hammer in a civil action which could follow a self defense shooting.

Is there a case to be made for the DA/SA? A little imagination can generate scenarios in which single action fire could be an asset: a hostage situation, a survival situation in which a careful shot on a game animal might make the difference between living and starving, some kind of “broken field” situation in which there is an active threat but it is further away than a few yards. Admittedly, these all fall into the “one-in-a-million” category, but if it’s possible, it could happen.

As we have often seen before, all handguns are studies in compromise. For a self defense revolver, the Centennial seems to be an acceptable trade-off. Single action fire is sacrificed for superb, snag-free conceal-ability and the elimination of certain liabilities.

Reactions to the Smith & Wesson Model 640

The gun pictured here is the Model 640-3. It is the stainless steel .357 Magnum version with the integral lock. It is a beefy, solid snubby that balances well in your hand. With its solid construction and 23 ounces of weight, it will handle the hottest ammo without tearing your arm off. The sights are the standard notch type that are characteristic of this class of guns. They’re not great and I don’t see them too well, but they don’t snag and this is a close-range gun. The smooth organic contours of the 640 make it a superb concealed carry gun. It’s a bit heavy for pants pocket carry. If you like the Centennial but expect to do a lot of pocket carry, I would recommend the Airweight version, the Model 642 in .38 Special +p. If you like really hot ammo and/or intend to carry mostly in holsters and fanny packs, the heavier 640 is the ticket. I’m not sure about the dynamics of it, but the all-stainless J-frames seem to have better triggers NIB than the Airweights and AirLites do. The all-stainless versions are shooters. You can do extended range sessions or even matches (if you’re brave) with these without reducing your hand to a bloody pulp. It seems that most times I have watched people shoot Airweights and Airlites, they do about 15-20 rounds and quit because it’s uncomfortable. You can do a couple hundred rounds in the stainless guns and enjoy it. They’re also more controllable for rapid strings of fire because of their weight.

While I think the Model 60-15 remains my favorite tactical J-frame for it’s superior ballistics, sights, and ejector rod, the Model 640 is an easier gun to carry and has much to commend it. It is compact, powerful, robust, snag-free, and endowed with the legendary reliability of the Model 60 family of revolvers.

Reprinted with the permission of “The Sight 1911”
© 2006 The Sight M1911. No part of this post may be copied or reproduced without permission.

Posted in Contributed Gun Reviews, S&W Revolvers | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

The FN-Fal/L1A1 "The Free Worlds Right Arm”

Posted by Gunner on October 18, 2007

   The history of the FN-Fal is widely known so I’ll skip directly to the operation, shooting as well as the types of this “Right Arm of the Free World”.
   The United States military came very close to adopting this fine weapon as our standard battle rifle. The M14 won out in the end but over 60 nations adopted this rifle in different variants with some still in use today. There are two general types. The metric or FN-Fal metric version and the British, Australian and New Zealand inch model. On one battlefield in 1982 both versions were used and fought each other. The Falklands war between Argentina and Great Britain. British versions were semi auto whereas Argentina used select fire metric versions made by FN. Some British troops shouldered the semi auto and picked up a full auto captured Argentine model.
   In the USA many shooters prize this weapon myself included. Metric versions outnumber inch versions by a wide margin. Not because the metrics are better but the inch version is just harder to come by. Mine is the inch version imported by Century International in 1994. My L1A1 is very tight and well fitted. Several metric versions made from parts by Imbel are rather loose in some areas. You’ll not find either with all matching part numbers. They are out there but command a very high price approaching $3000! Most of the Imbel part guns are in the price range of $500 to $800. Another choice you have is an Fn-Fal made by DSA Arms and start at $1500 and run to a little over $2000 for the collector models. If you can afford it this is the way to go. Many are made with Austrian parts and come in many variations from standard to Para models. This website is worth a look!
   If you aren’t aware of it any imported rifle is required to have six american made parts in order to comply with current import laws. If you add or change any parts make sure you don’t fall below the correct number of american made parts. If you should your gun will be illegal! If in doubt consult your gunsmith, DSA Arms or Century International.

   As you can see from the above picture this is not a small rifle. The balance more than makes up for the extra weight however. Without any additional optics the average weight is 12 pounds. Takedown is very simple and is very close to the method used to breakdown an AR15. Once a pin is pulled out at the rear of the reciever the front of the rifle hinges down just like the AR15. After that you simply remove the bolt by sliding it to the rear. That’s all you need to do for ordinary care. You clean the bolt as usual. There is a push pin on the bolt you press to the side and remove the firing pin. It is under pressure so it’s best to keep your hand at the rear of the bolt to prevent the firing pin from flying across the room. There is also a tool to remove the gas regulator plug so it may be cleaned as well. This is located just below the front sight. This tool comes with most guns but if you should need one they can be purchased for a small amount at Cheaper Than Dirt along with other useful cleaning items. After removing the gas plug remove the rod behind it and clean with solvent to prevent a buildup of carbon which over time will increase gas pressure in the system. The plug itself serves as the gas regulator for the system. They are marked numerically with 7 being an average setting for standard ball ammo. Most often once the gas system is regulated there is no need to change it for bullets in the 143grn range of weight. If you use something like Federal 308 match ammo you may have to adjust the setting for proper function since this bullet is 25 grains heavier. Another item that comes in handy is a book available from Cheaper Than Dirt and other sources a Google search will locate for you. This is an Australian military care manual for this rifle. Metric or inch doesn’t really matter since the parts are the same only the dimensions are changed. After cleaning the bore from the rear like you would an AR15 you reassemble in reverse order. Since this rifle doesn’t have lugs at the chamber it’s much easier to clean this area than with an AR15. The bolt slides right in and all that’s left is to close the reciever which latches into place. Very simple and straightforward all around.
   The sights on both metric and inch are your standard military peep sight rear and post front. Windage is at the rear sight with elevation at the front. A small screwdriver is needed for the rear sight and the front sight adjustments. The metric sight will not fit on an inch model although I wish it was otherwise. The inch version has a rather large peep rear sight which is not as precise as the metric but is faster to get on target. As far as optics DSA makes a scope mount which simply replaces the factory dust cover at the top of the reciever. It has a standard Picatinny rail which you can mount any aftermarket sight or optic on. It takes just a minute to replace the dust cover with the sight mount then mount your scope and zero. With most of these you can still use your iron sights. These rifles are capable of very good accuracy and a scope or holographic sight really brings out the best of this inherent accuracy. Of course any red dot sight will work but I prefer the EoTech brand 512 Holographic. This sight is fast on target and will work well at distances out to 300 to 400 meters when sighted in.
   There are many available magazines out there for the FN-Fal and L1A1. The metric mags from an FN-Fal will work in an inch model L1A1 but an inch magazine will not work in a metric rifle. Please refer to this link for the difference between metric and inch versions Century Int. Surplus mags are pretty cheap and can be had for as little as $5. New steel mags can run as high as $35 to $40 each. I’ve used both and honestly the cheaper mags work just fine. These mags hold 20 rounds. Thirty round mags are available from DSA but run as high as $70. These are not my cup of tea since they are so long it makes it impossible to go prone without the mag resting on the ground which leaves you off balance.

   My L1A1 and a good day to shoot

   Lets cover ammunition. These days 308 ammo is, like all other ammo, going up in price. Bargains are still out there but you have to look pretty hard to find that good buy. I mentioned Cheaper than Dirt for tools and cleaning supplies. At times they also have ammo specials in 308 for the Fn-Fal/L1A1. One brand of ammo is a BIG no no and that’s ammo from India! It is pure junk and I have heard of over pressure loads that have severly damaged an FN-Fal. The case walls are very thin on this Indian ammo also. Whatever you do stay away from this stuff or any ammo made in the middle east with the exception of Israeli ammo. Wolf is about the least expensive you will find. I know many people have said stay away from the stuff but I have found it to work well even if it is dirty. If you purchase a rifle from DSA don’t use Wolf ammo because it will void your warranty. Personally I’ve never had any problems with it at all and it has not damaged my gun in any way. A short word about slings. With a rifle of this size it’s much easier to carry with a good sling. I use and advise shooters to check Specter Gear’s website for a very nice sling that runs about $35. That’s the sling on mine in the first picture at the top of the page. The SOP is about the best around. SpecterGear

   Shooting an FN-Fal is a real joy. Recoil is very light with followup shots easily made. You can expect to shoot 3 inch groups at 100 yards with the standard sights with smaller groups using a holographic sight or scope. With a Leatherwood ART scope I have shot 1 1/2 inch groups at 150 yards! The flash suppressor that comes with most of these rifles works very well and is a great improvment over the original suppressor on the military version. This is also one of those compliance parts that can’t be changed anyway. The most comfortable way to hold an Fn-Fal is to hold your left hand just above the front of the magazine. This provides the best balance. I would advise using a nomex flight glove or something similar for that rare instance when you get some blow by gases around the front of the magazine. It doesn’t happen often but you can get burned without that glove on! There is no defect involved that’s just the way they work. It is more likely using a metric magazine in an inch model. The fit is not as tight but it is safe except for this one thing. These rifles are also very reliable with about any ammo you care to shoot. I’ve shot well over 1500 rounds in the last two years with only one failure to feed. I attributed this to a defective surplus round that was dented at the shoulder of the round. It happens sometimes even with premium ammo. Just a side note, the bolt does not hold open after the last round is fired. The controls are also very close to the AR15. The charging handle is on the left side as is the safety. The safety operates identically to the AR15 and is very easy to manipulate.
   To sum things up these are very fine rifles and once you shoot one you’ll realize why so many countries adopted it for military service. Sturdy, reliable, easily maintained and just plain fun. The supply is getting low right now so if you find one grab it because who knows when any more will be imported. Of course DSA will always have them unless a certain female is elected president then Heaven help us all !!!!!!!

Note 10/28/07

I’ve had a couple of fellow shooters email and ask if they can shoot 308 ammo in an FN-Fal/L1A1. Yes, you can by all means. The 308 is just the commercial name for 7.62×51 the military uses. The ammo in 7.62×51 is usually cheaper than 308 designated ammo and usually is made for military use. A standard is 143 grain bullets in both. Of course match ammo from Federal is a heavier bullet. For more information click this link to Sniper Central.
More Ammo info on Sniper Central


Blogged with Flock

UPDATE 04/25/2010

Since writing this review in October 2007 prices have increased significantly. The rifles themselves have increased but not a great deal if you shop around. What has increased are magazine prices which now seem to average in the $20 range for quality mags. They are also more difficult to find than when the review was first written.

Posted in FN-Fal/L1A1, Military and Police Rifles | Tagged: , , , | 28 Comments »

The Combat Shotgun

Posted by Gunner on October 6, 2007

The 12 guage shotgun is probably the most useful and effective weapon you can have. I know the current trend of everything AR15 is all the rage for home defense, police work etc. While the AR15 is a very capable weapon system and is a favorite of mine nothing can outperform a shotgun in effective defense at close to medium range. Whether you use 00 buck or slugs you have the most effective weapon there is for CQB. With slugs you have a very large rifle.
In the times we live in police officers need the AR15 for situations where they are faced by suspects with AK47’s or AR15’s. This is a change in weaponry that is long overdue. However, the AR15 should be an addition not a replacement for the shotgun. I once had a Lieutenant that would remind us in roll call to check out a shotgun before we went on duty. I’ll never forget what he said ” If you need a shotgun you’ll need it more than anything you have ever needed in your life”. This is a very true statement!
The Remington 870 was our issue shotgun and my personal favorite. Nothing has a greater psychological effect on a suspect or a large group of angry people than racking a round into a pump shotgun! I have defused many situations on duty by using this very tactic and it does work very well.

Lets talk about which type of shotgun to buy and the best configuration. Many people and police departments have switched to the semi-auto shotgun. I would rate the Benelli as number one with the Remington 11-87 a close second. Semi-auto shotguns are much more reliable than they once were but I still prefer a pump shotgun for reliability as well as the effect I mentioned earlier about racking a round into the chamber. One type of pump shotgun outperforms all others in my opinion and that’s the Remington 870 with the Mossberg 500 series coming in second. The military uses both brands with the Marines using the Mossberg and now the Benelli M4.

Benelli M4 Military and Police Shotgun

Outside of special forces the military uses only pump shotguns (the Marines are purchasing the M4 which will take some time to field). I have used the Remington 870 with an 18 or 20 inch barrel most of my police career. There was a time when I was the entry officer for our SRU team. The weapon I used was the 870 with a 14 inch barrel. Of course these are restricted and for the civilian require a federal tax stamp which will cost you $200 and filling out a bunch of paperwork:-). They are also very specialized guns and have a limited use since the shot pattern on a 14 inch barrel spreads out very fast. Mine also had a factory Remington fold over stock which I seldom used. I believe the optimal configuration is a Remington 870 with an 18 or 20 inch barrel, a side saddle attachment that will fit on the receiver to carry extra rounds readily available and a synthetic stock. A magazine extension that allows you to carry a total of 8 rounds on a 20 inch barrel, 7 rounds on an 18 inch barrel is also handy. That’s the basic configuration and all you really need. Of course there are many items on the market now allowing you to add a flashlight mount, speedfeed stock, lasers, pistol grips to name a few. The only addition I don’t care for is the front pistol grip. I just don’t see the need for one and it’s my belief they can actually contribute to short stroking the gun causing a malfunction.

This 870 is a new one for me and came with fiber optic rifle sights. I like fiber optic sights. I’ll make no bones about it when you reach 50 years old you need some help in the sight department and fiber optics fill the bill. I’m also putting a fiber optic front sight on my Rock Island Armory Tactical 1911( Novak Slide Cut). Make no mistake these sights are fast to pickup and with contrasting colors make the sight picture very clear. I intend to add a magazine extension from Choate Machine and Tool. All the other 870’s I’ve owned over the years came with a bead sight so this will be a new experience. Out to 15 yards I never used sights. We’ll see if this changes with the rifle sights. I did find a new gadget on the net today. It’s a new flash suppressor that is very close to one used on an AR15. Will this cut down on recoil? Maybe, but I’ve never been recoil sensitive so I doubt I’ll try it even though they are less than $20. They can be found at ATI along with many other accessories. Lets cover chokes. Most combat shotguns in the past have been open bore. Currently most shotguns are made with a full choke or improved cylinder choke to maintain a tight pattern at longer ranges. The only down side of this with a shotgun in police use is you can’t use sabot rounds with a choke and you must use the choke with any round. This is not an option because it will mess up the threads in the barrel. I also prefer the magnum option so you can use regular 2 3/4 inch shells or 3 inch magnums. My usual load is the first round being 00 buck followed by lead slugs making it a big ol rifle. At one time we did some experimenting at the range with an 870. Another instructor and I were interested in just how far we could effectively use a shotgun with slugs. We started at 50 yards prone/rested. We had some interesting results. We found that at 50 yards we needed to aim 2 to 3 inches high to hit dead center. We fired approximately 20 rounds and took a rest since our shoulders were suffering since we did all the shooting prone. Then we backed off to 100 yards also going prone/rested. This is where it got interesting. We were not even on target! It took a few rounds to figure it out. What we needed to do was to aim approx. 10 inches low since the round actually climbed rather than dropped. Don’t ask I have no idea why and I didn’t get into making phone calls to figure it out:-). For practice you don’t want to spend your hard earned money to shoot 00 buck or slugs. Just buy some cheap birdshot to practice close in shooting or throwing objects in the air to practice your speed on target. I do prefer Federal brand ammunition. Over the years it’s proven to be consistent and durable. When I say durable I’m talking about rounds that bulge over time which can be a big problem. Federal ammo doesn’t have this problem.
From the pictures you can see I lean into the gun to not only make recoil more manageable but makes it easier for fast follow up shots. I also use the high ready position when searching buildings or woods. This gives you the ability to maintain a good field of view as you search and provides a method that is fast getting the gun to your shoulder.

To sum things up if you haven’t tried a shotgun for anything but hunting your missing out on a great weapon for police, home protection or just a general woods gun. I’ll be posting an update when I get the mag extension on it and give the rifle sights a workout. As always if you have any questions please feel free to comment or email me and I’ll do all I can to answer your questions.

Posted in Military and Police Rifles, Shotguns | 8 Comments »