Sunday, February 6, 2011

Range Report

I’ve been needing some recoil therapy for a while now. Apparently, Number One Follower (“NOF” from this point forward) has been needing some too. We’ve been trying to put a range trip together for a couple of weeks now, but one thing or another kept getting in the way. First, it was some unexpected expenses that ate into the range budget on our first scheduled attempt a while back. Then it was an ice and snow storm that struck most of the freaking country this past week including the Dallas Fort Worth area late Monday/early Tuesday that whacked our plan to get together on Wednesday after work.

To anyone out there in my readership who is a global warming fanatic, I have two words for you:


Anyway, NOF and I postponed the plan until today when the forecast indicated we should have some above freezing temps and the ability to actually drive on the roads without the potential for sacrificing paid for cars on the altar of stupid drivers.

First up on the agenda, lunch. We met at the greatest Tex Mex restaurant on the planet: Chuy’s in the Arlington Highlands (other locations conveniently located around the state to serve you). We both had the Elvis Presley Memorial Combo which is three enchiladas (1 each of beef, chicken and cheese), a beef taco, queso dipped tostadas, beans and rice. If you have never eaten at a Chuy’s, you must come to Texas to partake of this culinary goodness. And be sure to order the Creamy Jalapeno Ranch to go with your chips and salsa. It’s like crack for adults.

After we were fat, dumb and happy, it was off to an indoor gun range in East Fort Worth. I brought The Queen’s Marlin Model 60 .22 rifle and the previously pictured Ruger MkIII .22 pistol. I also took the opportunity to rent a Springfield Armory Mil Spec 1911. In the comments on my post about my desire for a 1911, a few of you recommended the SA. I thought I’d give it a whirl and see what all the hubbub was about. 

I’ll get to my thoughts about the SA Mil Spec in a minute.

First, a couple of photos of targets (yes, GunDiva, I changed targets every 10 to 25 rounds just for you). For reference, the black dots on the 3 x 5 note cards are just a smidge under 1 inch in diameter.

The top target is self explanatory. The bottom target is 10 rounds through the Ruger MkIII at 3 yards. 

Now, back to my thoughts about the SA. In short, I didn’t like it. To be fair to SA, it may not have been their fault as this was a rental gun.

The rental gun had some issues (which I reported to range management) not the least of which was that it had  not been cleaned in a while…maybe ever. The slide stop did not want to hold the slide back; and, when it did lock back, it had a tendency to drop the slide forward unannounced and without assistance. Also, whether by design or malfunction, the magazine follower was not engaging the slide stop after the last round. Most annoyingly, shooting 230 grain FMJ round nose ball ammo for which the gun was originally designed no less, there were several (at least three that I recall clearly) instances of failure to feed and/or to go fully into battery. For instance, the first round out of the first mag hung up on the feed ramp. Fortunately, there were no stovepipes or failures to extract.

The trigger was okay but not great. I may have to give SA the benefit of the doubt on this as, after the first magazine, I attempted to clean the crap off the feed ramp with a gun cleaning wipe only to be rewarded with the slide dropping on my trigger finger without warning. That’ll smart especially if you’re not expecting it.

The sights were of the Mil Spec, three dot, non-adjustable, blade and post variety. They’re adequate for blasting away, but not exactly precision shot placement material. If it were me paying hard earned cash to own one, I’d probably opt for Novak adjustable three dot sights with a fiber optic front sight (my eyes have gotten to the point through excess computer use that I need something that glows brightly) as a good balance between Bomar target sights and the blade and post. Accuracy was minute of bad guy out to 15 yards. I know I can shoot better than that (as proved on other guns later in the range outing); however, the target suggests that I might have been jerking the trigger some and/or breaking the wrist down. I really need to get out to the range more. 

After shooting through 50 rounds of .45 ACP and approximately 200 rounds of .22, I got fatigued. While NOF was shooting off the last of some 9mm he had with him for his Glock 19, I stuck my nose over the shoulders of the gents in the lanes next to NOF. One guy had a lovely brace of 5 1911 including an SA, 2 Kimbers, and two Taurus’. One of the Taurus’ belonged to this guys friend and had been customized with an 5 ½ to 6 inch compensated barrel. He was a real nice guy who had been a Colonel in the army by the markings on his biker jacket, but he REALLY needed some more target practice. His target at 7 yards looked more like it had been hit with a couple loads of buckshot instead of aimed fire from a 1911.

The other guy was shooting a .45 Long Colt Peacemaker clone of one sort or another. When I got to talking to his buddy about the 1911s, Peacemaker guy offered to let me shoot a mag through his Firestorm Commander sized 1911. Never one to turn down a friendly offer at the range, I accepted.

A quick aside here, just before making the offer to shoot the Firestorm, Peacemaker guy shot a mag through it. When he was done, I noticed that the slide didn’t lock back after the last round. Given that the SA Mil Spec had not been locking the slide back after the last round, it didn’t automatically register to me that the gun might still be hot. He was pointing it at the ceiling in the general direction of his buddy and NOF, finger off the trigger and pulled the empty mag. He passed it to me to handle; and, employing the corollaries to Rule Number 1, I pulled the slide back at which time we discovered that there was still a live round in the chamber.

Oops. Nothing like a little friendly reminder to always, always, always personally check every firearm to insure that it’s not loaded.

The Firestorm had the Novak three dot sights, beavertail safety, skeletonized hammer, lightweight adjustable trigger, etc. I have to say I was impressed with how it handled and shot for what is basically a budget priced 1911. I was able to hold a 2 to 3 inch group at 7 yards with no trouble at all.

If I had to choose between the Firestorm and the SA as the only two choices I had based on my experiences shooting them both “side by side” so to speak, I’d have to give the nod to the Firestorm. I’m sure some of SA’s higher end products are nice; and, if anyone wants to give me one, I won’t look a gift horse in the mouth. However, since I can’t afford their higher end stuff, I won’t be plunking my hard earned cash down for the Mil Spec.

Any day I get to shoot something is a good day. Hopefully, NOF and I can make this a more regular occurrence. I know I need it.


  1. I'm so far behind on your posts that I'm ashamed. Please forgive me. And on behalf of all 1911 owners out there, please don't judge all 1911s by the exceedingly poor condition of the SA.

    You know I love my Para. So much so that I'm looking at another one. Tara and I are going to hit an indoor range in the future and try out other guns. She's looking at the XDM in either the 9mm or .40 cal. I'm hoping that they'll have a Slim Hawg so I can shoot it before I buy it.

    Okay - going to get caught up on the rest of your posts.

  2. Sounds like you had a pretty good time....

    I have to agree with your two words of wisdom for the Global Warming geeks out there...LOL
    can you believe that Al Gore went on record as stating that the reason for this particular cold snap was because of Global Warming in other parts of the world??? - Al Gore Explains 'Snowmageddon

    But then what else would you expect from the inventor of the internet....*snicker*

    It's to bad that we live so far apart, I would gladly share any of my few pieces at the range with you. Well I say range if we were up here we would just go out back and smoke a few rounds at some targets put up against the hill...LOL

  3. GunDiva, you are forgiven. Life takes precedence over blog reading. I know my commenting is way down too.

    Have no fear, I won't be judging all 1911s by the rental SA Mil Spec. As previously mentioned, I have pleasant experience with the Colt and Kimber 1911s. There's another range nearby that has the Para P7 and P14 available. I'll be swinging by soon to give them a try.

    Hopefully Tara will enjoy the XD more than I did. The ergonomics were all wrong for me. If she hasn't done so already, have give the Ruger SR40 a look.

  4. Mr. Daddy, it was a very good time even despite the issues with the SA and the almost ND.

    I've heard other global warming proponents spout the same rhetoric. My favorite explanation of global warming is still George Carlin's. Pure brilliance. Too bad he's passed away.

    I agree that it's too bad that we live far apart, but it's nothing a little gas money and vacation time wouldn't cure. Hopefully, The Queen and I will have a little place in the not too distant future where we can shoot off the back porch.

  5. Tara's shooting her son's XD and likes it, but it doesn't fit her hand. She has fondled the XDM and loved it, now she's just got to shoot it before she falls completely in love.

    All of her guns have been purchased for her - she's finally at a point that she knows what she wants in a gun and is looking forward to picking out and buying her "own" gun. I think that's a huge milestone for a shooter (really, when they become a "shooter" instead of someone who shoots).

  6. GunDiva, I hope she enjoys it. I certainly won't gainsay someone finding happiness and joy with any quality firearm. You are right though that it is a milestone for someone to go from someone who shoots to being a shooter. I've come full circle myself. I started as someone who shoots, became a shooter, went back to being someone who shoots for several years, and now I'm getting back to being a shooter. Truthfully, I'm only just now getting a true appreciation for what I really like in a firearm. Come to think of it, that'll make a good post one of these days.


I am not easily offended. Please feel free to express your opinions: good, bad or indifferent. Basically, the "Golden Rule" applies. You get what you give. Treat others like trash here, and your comments will be trashed accordingly. Rudeness and vulgarity will not be tolerated.