Springfield XDs vs M&P Shield

My XDs going to be gone tomorrow. Feels ike the end of an era.
My XDs is gone tomorrow. Feels like the end of an era.

It’s always an exciting day when I get a new firearm. The urge to go out and test it is really the only thing that runs through my mind until I can satisfy it. It’s also a sad day for me today because I’m losing a member of my collection. As I stated in my last post, I am changing my concealed carry setup. When I received my XDs back from the recall the trigger wasn’t the same as before and it had lost one of the qualities that I loved about it. I had been contemplating moving completely to a 9mm anyways (my main carry is a Glock 19). So I put the XDs up for sale. It was easy to sell since I had a bunch of accouterments that I basically threw in for free. This freed up the funds to purchase the 9mm replacement. Luckily I don’t have to hand over the XDs until tomorrow so that gave me the opportunity to do a comparison.

M&P Shield-Photo Credit
M&P Shield-Photo Credit

I decided to go with the Smith and Wesson M&P Shield. There are several reasons why. To me the Springfield and the M&P are in the same category. Both are highly reliable, similarly sized, striker fired, quality handguns. You really can’t go wrong with either. What it really boils down to is features. It just so happens that my decision was made on price since I really couldn’t decide. The military discount that Smith and Wesson offers is pretty incredible.

XDs vs. the M&P Shield
XDs (left) vs. the M&P Shield (right). Size is almost identical.

There are several other handguns in this same “class” that were not considered for one reason or the other. The Ruger LC9 has a double action only trigger that I absolutely hate. The post recall XDs is bad enough… The Remmington R51, the new kid on the block, has had some serious quality control issues. I kind of loved the idea of the R51 but after reading more about it I don’t think I could ever buy one. The Beretta Nano is just, well… I don’t like the lack of external controls, but that could be a good thing. I’ve owned Khars and again double action trigger. I’ve never been a fan of Whalter’s. Some people love them, I just, meh. Other contenders were either prohibitively expensive, not a proven brand, or had one of the afore mentioned gripes. This left me with the M&P and the XDs9.

Looking at them both it’s easy to see that they are quality handguns. Most parts, like the slide rails and slide release, are machined rather then stamped (here’s looking at you Glock…). I’ll break it down by what I consider the important categories.

  1. Size-It’s a tie. They are almost Identical.
  2. Aesthetics-I have to give this one to the M&P. The XDs looks like the chunky ugly friend.
  3. Trigger-You can probably guess where the vote goes here. M&P.
  4. Trigger Reset-Tie. Both are audible and tactile without being obnoxious like my Glock.
  5. Safeties-The XDs. Both have trigger safeties but I much prefer the XDs palm safety to the M&P manual safety. I need to see if I can get that thing removed.
  6. Sights-XDs. A front fiber optic sight standard? What? The sights on the M&P are standard three dot. Not bad just nothing to write home about.
  7. Adjustability-XDs. Interchangeable back straps. Luckily the M&P fits my hand quite nicely but it could be a problem for someone with larger hands.
  8. Caliber-XDs. A pocket .45 wins hands down. However, I don’t feel underpowered with the 9mm. Don’t get me started on the M&P in a 40. I’ve shot one and it was one of the worst shooting experiences of my life.
  9. Capacity-Technically a tie since the XDs is also offered in a 9mm and the standard magazines are both 7 rounds. The XDs does offer a 9 rounder but the M&P only offers an 8.
  10. Ease of Takedown-Tie. They both takedown in exactly the same way.
  11. Cost-M&P. With my military discount it was just over $300. The XDs with a military discount is still about $450. Add about $100 to both for consumer prices.
  12. Comfort-M&P. Holding it is just like it’s big brother, which I feel is the most comfortable handgun ever. It has enough grip without being obtuse like the checkering on the XDs. The checkering on the XDs works well but feels a little to aggressive.
XDs left)
XDs (left) M&P (right). Looks like I need to clean off that end plate before I give it away.

I will update this blog when I get it out to the range. I’ve shot one before and loved it and I don’t feel like that it going to change. It’s unfortunate I won’t be able to do a side by side shooting. I don’t feel like this would be an accurate representation since the calibers are so different. What I would like to see, however, is how much the slightly higher bore axis effects the Shield.

Did I miss anything? Please feel free to email or comment.

Springfield XDs 45 Post Recall

I’ve had my Springfield XDs for a while now. I purchased it before the recall and dealt with that fiasco. When I purchased it, it was perfect. I was in love with the .45ACP having been a slow fire 1911 competitor for a while. I was of the mindset that bigger was better. I wanted to carry the biggest caliber possible regardless of capacity. I have since changed my views and now regard capacity as more valuable. For tips on picking a carry gun see my blog here.

My XDs45
My XDs45

Like I said when I purchased the XDs it was perfect. It is small, lightweight and a 45. It conceals easily and was a pleasure to shoot for such a small handgun. The trigger was awesome. Was… Apparently part of the recall process involves some trigger work. It was great before, it’s ok now. What seemed like a match trigger before that resulted in nice tight groups is now very much a combat trigger. It now breaks at just under 8lbs, high end of Springfield’s specifications, which means they won’t fix it.

New roll pin in the palm safety post recall.
New roll pin in the palm safety post recall.

The problem is not that it’s bad. I mean, it is a defensive handgun after all. The problem is that I owned it before the recall. If I were to purchase it now I probably wouldn’t know the difference. But I do know the difference. Since my paradigm of a carry handgun has changed since I purchased it, I’m probably going to sell it. I hear that 4″ 9mm one calling my name. However after reading this review by GunNoob on the FNS 9mm I might be changing my whole setup altogether. Stay tuned…

Alien Gear Holsters Review

I recently purchased an Alien Gear Holster for my Glock 19. I was in the market for a hybrid holster (made of leather and plastic). I noticed their advertisement in an issue of American Rifleman. Mostly what I noticed was the price. It was half the price of other name brand hybrid holsters. There had to be a catch so I checked out their website. The boast all of the features I like about my other hybrid holsters but also adjustable retention, sweat proof leather and thicker plastic. It also comes with a “combat cut” which you have to pay extra for on other holsters. You can watch a good video of a comparison between the Alien Gear and the more expensive Crossbreed holsters here. They also have a cool feature that if you decide to change your carry weapon you can send in the shell and they will send you a new one for free. Since they have a 30 day money back guarantee so I decided to give them a try.

Alien Gear hybrid holster with Glock 19
Alien Gear hybrid holster with my Glock 19

My order was shipped quickly and arrived just a couple of days later. This was a welcome when compared to my last wait time from Crossbreed (3 months). The holster came simply packaged in a bag with an instruction sheet, a copy of their guarantee and a spare bag of parts which was a nice touch. First impressions were great. The leather was every bit as nice as they said it was. It has their logo in silver emblazoned on it. The plastic shell isn’t a molded thermoplastic like most hybrids but is an injected molded plastic. I can’t decide if it’s better or worse. I imagine this is how they are able to keep costs down since injected molded is cheaper and faster to produce. It also makes it look a little cheaper. Since I work with kydex, I have an affinity for the texture of it and a nicely finished edge. The edges on the Alien Gear leave a little to be desired.

Edge finish on the plastic for the Alien Gear. Looks a little rough.
Edge finish on the plastic for the Alien Gear. Looks a little rough.

Retention on the holster out of the box was perfect. The retention is able to be changed by tightening the screws around the shell and crushing the rubber grommets in between but this was unneeded. It fits my Glock nicely and the sweat shield comes up to where it’s supposed to. The leather was pretty stiff but wore in nicely in about two weeks. One gripe that I have with the Alien Gear is that the post screws for the adjustable cant are preinstalled. Since I figured that the best position for me was in the middle on both sides the bottom posts stick out and eventually wore some holes in my pants. I no longer wear this holster because I have gone to an appendix carry but if I were to I would have to take out those posts.

Sight clearance for the Alien Gear holster with Glock 19
Sight clearance for the Alien Gear holster with Glock 19. Maybe I should have cleaned the lint off of it first…

My last two gripes have to do with the ability to customize. The holster works great for someone with a primarily stock firearm. However if someone were to use silencer height sights I don’t think this holster would work. The channel at the top isn’t deep enough. Secondly the shell comes up too high on the side to be able to use a red dot type sight. Since most people would not have these modifications done (I don’t) I don’t blame Alien Gear for not incorporating it. It would be a small change to make to the mold however.

In all this is a great holster at a great price. It has a ton of features that more expensive holsters do not. With that one small modification I would have no problems using it for an every day carry situation. Do you carry one of these? Let me know how you like it!

Primary Arms 1-6X ACSS 7.62X39/300AAC Scope Review Part One

This is my first product review so bear with me. This review is going to be an initial unboxing review a full range report will come later. I had been drooling over the ACSS for some time. It essentially had everything I wanted in a scope for my 300 Blackout. I wanted a 1-4 or 1-6 power illuminated scope that had bullet drop compensating and range estimating. Oh yeah, I didn’t want to pay a lot for it either. That narrows the field down quite a bit. Essentially narrowed it to the Primary Arms. The only problem? It was never in stock.

It was an exciting day I got the email that the Primary Arms 1-6X ACSS 300AAC scope was in stock. I had been waiting for a while. Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of Primary Arms. I have several of their scopes, red dots and flashlights. I hate paying big money for scopes. It’s funny because dropping cash on a firearm is no big deal to me but when it comes time to put a scope on it my wallet gets a little tight. That’s where Primary Arms comes in.

ACSS 300AAC box and scope mounted in a basic Primary Arms mount.
ACSS 300AAC box and scope mounted in a basic Primary Arms mount.

So I placed the order on a monday morning. I got an email that afternoon saying that it had shipped. Not that a ticket was created like some companies. It was on it’s way. I couldn’t believe it. Two days later it arrived. My first impressions? This thing is nice. It’s also a lot smaller than I had thought it was going to be. I have the 1-4 illuminated scope and the ACSS is tiny by comparison. Usually when scopes have higher magnification they get bigger, not the other way around. It also feels like it weighs half as much.

Primary Arms 1-4X on top 1-6X ACSS on bottom
Primary Arms 1-4X on top 1-6X ACSS on bottom both mounted in basic Primary Arms mounts

Something that jumps out at me right off the bat; the illumination turret, while a little tight, is awesome. The scope has six illumination settings. Level one would be great for low light or dusk. Level three is bright enough to make out during full light. Level six is just plain bright. The best part about the turret? It has off settings between every level of brightness. The 1-4X scope has 11 settings but if I’m at level five I have to turn it all the way to zero. On the 1-6X all I have to do is switch it one. It’s a nice touch.

The Pros:

ACSS mounted on my 300 Blackout
ACSS mounted on my 300 Blackout

The scope is exactly what I have come to expect from Primary Arms. Fit and finish are excellent. The glass is clear. The turrets have positive tactile and audible clicks when adjusting. Eye relief is right in the sweet spot. The best part about the ACSS is of course the reticle. At six power it lets me range and bullet drop compensate all in one. It even has wind and lead adjustments. Some extra benefits are the fact that it’s so small, especially for a 1-6X, and the off stops in the illumination turret.

The Cons:

ACSS Reticle
ACSS Reticle-Photo Credit

Of course there has to be some things lacking with a $250 scope. However, with this scope they are probably more like gripes until I get it out onto the range. I would have preferred that it be first focal plane so that the compensation and ranging worked at any magnification. Second, the 1X is not a true one power. There is a little parallax but thanks to the brightness of the reticle I feel like this isn’t going to be an issue shooting both eyes open. I would also prefer that the adjustments be 1/4 MOA instead of 1/2 MOA but I’m sure 1/2 will be fine. Lastly the reticle seems a bit small. What I mean is that when looking through the scope, there’s so much empty space and that sweet reticle looks like a tiny dot in the middle. I’m not sure if that’s a bad thing yet. I’ll have to get it out and shoot it to see.

Overall I’m really happy with the scope. I usually hate reading reviews on Primary Arm’s products because the author usually ends up with some comparison to a high end optic and them saying that they would never put it on a serious weapon. I’m here to tell you I’ve beat the snot out of my micro dot and it has help up just as well as my other high end optics. Primary Arms offers a lot of scope for the money. If you’re in the market I would highly recommend them.

Check back in a while for part two and the range report.

Teaching Someone New to Shoot?

I hear stories about it all the time. When people tell me about their first time shooting it’s almost never a positive experience. Inevitably the first thing someone shot was a magnum shotgun or a large bore rifle. Then I see videos like this and it makes me shake my head:

My wife tells this story of going shooting with her friends for the first time. They handed her a 12 gauge shotgun with a magnum round in it. It knocked her over. She didn’t shoot again for a long time. Why do people do this? It doesn’t make any sense to me. Besides being dangerous it’s a really cruel thing to do.

Then I read this blog on Haus of Guns. It reminded me of some very bad advice I had recently heard of starting new shooters on something small like a .380 or a 38 special. Just because it has a small caliber doesn’t mean it’s good to learn to shoot on. Huh? Let me break it down.

My tiny .380 Bodyguard. Kicks like a mule and is my least favorite gun to shoot
My tiny .380 Bodyguard. Kicks like a mule and is my least favorite gun to shoot

My .380 has more perceived recoil than most of my .45 ACPs. I would rather put a new shooter on my full size 1911 than my tiny .380. While yes the .45 is a more powerful round and would have more recoil in the same size/weight gun, it’s not the same size gun. Unfortunately the smaller calibers also come in smaller guns. It all comes down to physics, equal and opposite reactions, F=ma, inertia… The whole point is that the bigger gun is heavier and therefore has more inertia. Translated, this means it doesn’t want to move as much as the smaller gun. Less movement means less recoil.

Body guard vs. 9mm M&P
Body guard vs. 9mm M&P. The 9mm is only slightly more powerful but the gun is twice as big and three times as heavy.

What experience do new shooters have with firearms? They’ve seen them in the movies. Which means that they really know nothing about them. They don’t know what to expect. They’re scared. They know that firearms are dangerous and that’s about it. So wouldn’t you want to put something in their hands that would ease their fears not confirm them? Don’t you want someone that will want to go shooting with you again?

To me the perfect first time gun is a .22LR. Even in a handgun the recoil is minimal. In a rifle it’s almost nonexistent. Let them start with that, get comfortable with it, have some fun and then move them into larger calibers. If you don’t have a .22 then borrow one or ask someone who does to come along. If you’re going to give them something larger, shoot it first so they know what the noise and have an idea of what the recoil is going to be like.

You as a firearms enthusiast have the responsibility to practice safely and to promote our sport in a positive light. By handing an inexperienced person a gun that they are neither capable or prepared to handle does every other shooter and our sport a disservice. Also, you’ve also probably driven someone that was willing to learn away from the shooting sports. Please, please, please do not do this any more. It’s not funny.

The Big Scary AR-15 Part Three-Why I love the AR-15

This is my third and final installment of this series. In cased you missed it part one and part two.

There’s a saying about the AR-15 that it’s the equivalent of the men’s Barbie. I’m not sure that’s true but the concept is this; there’s a thousand ways to accessorize and customize your AR-15. If you own one and you haven’t modified it yet, you’re missing out. It’s one of the beautiful qualities about it and one of the reasons why I love the AR-15.

I’ve owned an AR-15 for a while. It wasn’t until recently I fell in love with it. I had a ho-hum run of the mill version. I was in my favorite gun shop one day and I saw it. I had to have it. It was a stripped lower for an AR-15 engraved with the Second Amendment. I had never built one before but I’ve heard that it wasn’t that hard. I mean, I used to fix airplanes. I could handle building a rifle right? So I bought it, didn’t know what I was doing but that’s where this journey started.

My first AR-15 build
My first AR-15 build

I started researching parts. I immediately felt like I was in over my head. The options were endless. The manufacturers were endless. There was also no shortage of opinions either. Just try going to ar15.com or m4carbine.net. I began to get overwhelmed with the information. Then Sandy Hook happened. The drums of the citizen gun control industrial complex began. Parts began to get scarce. I was no longer worried about what kind of rifle I was going to build but whether or not I was going to be able to build it at all.

Recently I branched out into other calibers with this .300 AAC Blackout
Recently I branched out into other calibers with this .300 AAC Blackout

It was over the course of a couple of weeks I was able to resource the necessary parts in order to build. I had no idea what I was doing as you can see by the fact that I put a plastic MBUS sight on the gas block. Luckily it never melted and it worked great. Since I’m never satisfied with my first attempt, I later added some parts like a free floating handguard. I have since sold that rifle and it pained me to do it.

My most recent build. Decided to get into colors
My most recent build. Decided to get into colors

Selling that rifle has since let me move into other custom builds. Quite frankly, since the possibilities are truly endless, it has become almost an addiction. I am experimenting with other calibers and I have developed a definite bias as to what I like and what I don’t. What’s the point? It’s fun. When I go to the range, no one has the same rifle as me.

Besides being really fun to build and having an endless amounts of possible customizations, there are other reasons why I love the SR-15.  This is my list in no particular order:

  1. It’s fun to shoot
  2. It’s cheap to shoot
  3. It’s easy to shoot
  4. It’s easy to build and maintain
  5. If I don’t like something it’s easy (and probably cheap) to change
  6. It’s my plinking/hunting/competition rifle
  7. Parts are cheap and readily available
  8. I can have only one AR-15 but have multiple upper receivers in different calibers. I would have to purchase multiple rifles to do this otherwise
  9. I can customize the hell out of it
  10. No one else has the same rifle as me

So get out there and customize your rifle. Did I leave anything off the list? If you need any advice or ideas please don’t hesitate to send me an email or leave a comment.

The Big Scary AR-15 Part Two – Dispelling the Myths

This is part two. If you missed part one read it here.

I get really defensive about the AR-15. I love the AR-15. If there was ever one firearm that could do anything, this is it. It is quickly becoming the stuff of lore. Every time there is a mass shooting the media outlets are so quick to blame the AR-15. Of course they never retract their assertions when they get it wrong. I can’t think of a more marginalized well meaning piece of metal and plastic so that’s why I would like to dispel some of the myths surrounding it.

I’ve already talked about a couple of myths in part one. Like how the AR-15 is not automatic. It is not an assault rifle or machine gun. It’s in fact no different than many other popular rifles. It doesn’t “spray bullets.” There really is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Here are a couple more myths that I would like to talk about.

Myth #1: The AR-15 isn’t for hunting

I remember the first time I went coyote hunting. I wasn’t really all that experienced with hunting, but when I was handed an AR-15 I felt like it was out of place. I had the same preconceived notions that so many other people do about the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) and hunting, that they didn’t mix. I have since learned differently and would prefer to take my AR-15 or MSR whenever I go hunting and there are a couple of reasons why.

 My personal AR-15 I use for hunting
My personal AR-15 I use for hunting. Look at all the scary features!

First is that it is easier and safer to load and unload. The primary concern for most hunters (myself especially) is safety. Anything that makes the shooting sports safer I’m all for. A couple of my bolt action hunting rifles have what are called “blind magazines.” In order to unload it I have to cycle each round into the chamber and then back out. Not exactly safe.

The second reason why I prefer to hunt with an MSR is the follow up shot. If my first shot was off, I can most likely fire again before the animal is able to run too far. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to try and cycle a bolt action rifle under stress but let me tell you it isn’t easy. It gives me some peace if mind knowing that I’m a more humane hunter.

The third reason is that I can convert it to a variety of calibers to suit almost any type of hunting that I would ever want to do. All I have to do is change the upper receiver and I’m ready to rock. It’s the perfect do it all firearm.

Myth #2: The AR-15 isn’t a good defensive weapon

When anti-gun people look at the AR-15 they seem to be able to only imagine one use for it (or any gun for that matter). To kill. Maybe that’s the reason why the Vice President gave such awful advice when it comes to protecting your home. I’m guessing that most people who would say this have never fired one.

I could put an MSR in the hands of almost anyone and in no time at all they would be able to handle it effectively. The recoil system and relatively weak (yet another myth) round make it perfect for anyone. Since the stock is adjustable, it can fit any size shooter. When I’m teaching someone to shoot, it’s the second firearm I’ll get them behind, after the .22. Proof that anyone can shoot an AR-15:

Nine year old and her AR-15-Photo Credit
Nine year old and her AR-15-Photo Credit

Try putting a shotgun in the hands of that 9 year old and see what happens. Even the DHS says it’s a defensive weapon. So why does this myth persist? Maybe it’s because main stream media never goes out of their way to report all of the times one is used in defense. Maybe it’s because of the way it looks. Maybe it’s because the people trying to control the conversation are narrow minded I mean have control issues I mean it looks scary, right?

Myth #3: It’s “High Power”

One of my favorite movies-Photo Credit
One of my favorite movies-Photo Credit

I don’t know who came up with this but it’s entirely meant to scare people. The Ar-15 is anything but “high power.” I’m not even sure that the people that use it even know what it means. On the spectrum of how powerful a cartridge is, the 5.56×45 (or .223 Remington) is on the weak end. By on the weak end I mean there are literally hundreds of rifle cartridges that are more powerful.

I dug through some of my ammo and this is what I came up with:

From the .22LR to the .338 Remington Ultra Mag
From the .22LR to the .338 Remington Ultra Mag

Guess where the .223 is? Right in the middle. The three cartridges smaller that it other then the .22LR? Those are handgun rounds. Besides the dinky .22 I don’t own another rifle less powerful.  I know there are rifles in between but you really have to go out of your way and know what you’re looking for. Let’s quit using the term “high powered” shall we?

Let me know if you have any other myths that you would like addressed. If you feel differently let me know and we can have a conversation. Up next: why I love the AR-15.

Christopher's gun blog

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