Here we are again at the end of all things. Nope, not Mordor, the end of HIGH PRICES!!!.or hillary clinton, though it is the end for her as well. It’s the end of 2106. No wait, that isn’t right. I jumped the gun a little. It’s the end of 2016! With the end of the year comes the “Best of” picks from things I was sent to review or purchased over the course of the year. As before not everything on the list is necessarily new for 2016. It may be something that has been around for a while and this year was just now the time I got around to it.
List of products are in no particular order.
The Colt Delta Elite 10mm
No surprise there, you know I loved it. It is a classic brought back from the past and updated. It has the extra “custom production” features I like my serious carry 1911s to have and its something I had wanted for a long time. it is accurate reliable and a real pleasure. No it does not have the supported barrel/chamber, but that has never been something I cared about. If I wanted a hotter round that this gun will handle, I will buy a revolver in .454 or something.
2.The Inland MFG M1911A1
You know I’m a sucker for a 1911s, You also know its very hard to please me when it comes to production 1911s. The Inland M1911 surprised me and exceeded my wildest expectation. Shown above is the NM model standing in for the USGI model. The Inland model is just a GI plain vanilla .45, but its a great value and a tough reliable gun.
3. The High Com Security PC & Plates
Comfortable, flexible, well made, affordable and meant to be used and depended on. Highly recommended if you are looking for a carrier and armor.
4. The SCAR-H & Specter Optic
I have already said a lot in the original review so I don’t think I can say much more. The H is a good battle carbine. I still would not recommend it over a 762 patter AR for every role, but it impressed me. Further testing of it earlier in December further enhanced it’s status with me. The optic also got high marks from me though it is heavy and expensive to the point that I would just opt for a Leupold or Nightforce model if I was going to pay out that kind of cash. Even though, it did everything expected of it and was very fast to get hits on target out to 850 yards and was clear as a winter sky.
5. Model 37 Ithaca/Inland Combat Shotgun
An excellent re-issue. Well made and as smooth and slick as a shotgun three times its price. The M37 is already a classic and it is nice to now get one done up like a military model. This gun stood up to more abuse and ammo though it than is healthy for a grown man to fire in a 12 gauge.
Some products are still being tested even if I received them this year. If something I have talked about earlier has not shown on this list. it’s because I have not spent enough time with it yet. Not being on the list does also not make it bad. It just means it did not really stand out in my mind. If I gave it a good review earlier in the year, that opinion still stands. On the other hand, products listed below..
Worst of 2016
This is one makes it on the list but with a side note. From what I understand it is still being tweaked by the shop that makes these. This one worked about as well as the original. Maybe worse. I fired 1 round before things went south. It just did not work. Pathetic since the gunsmith and shop told the owner he test fired it before sending it to him. No excuse for that. I will update on this gun as the new year progresses. It may well get the bugs worked out of it and I hope it does just for the sake of the owner who is an awesome guy. As it stands I am unimpressed by the shop turning these out after telling buyer it was test fired before it left.
Biggest “Meh..” of 2016
It worked fine. Accuracy was not even close to my personal standards though. A little over hyped in my opinion. While the factory stock has a uncomfortable vibration that it translated to the cheek, I have no real complaints. Though I fine no real reason to get excited either. I would opt for an MP5 clone if I wanted something like this, or better yet, an AR15 carbine in 9mm.
2 H&K MK23 SOCOM “Offensive Pistol “
Of course it worked fine and it was as accurate as any glock. In the final analysis, it’s HK’s attempt to make a M1911 more or less. Now its a bit of an oddity these days and has fallen out of the lime light in the world of “operator marketing .” If you want one or you are a collector of this niche, you won’t be let down. But, in the end it is the “offensive pistol” ’nuff said. It is a .45 though so it has that going for it!
Regular readers of the website may have noticed a certain piece of gear popping up in pictures for the most part of this year. The multi cam plate carrier seen in most gun test reviews is a product of High Com Security. HCS very kindly sent me the PC and the rifle plates inside it, for testing and evaluation. I have had it since last winter and have been heavily using it over the past months. This review is the first part in what will be an ongoing longer term test and review. Since buying armor is not sexy and can be a considerable investment for most gun owners, I will be wearing and using the PC and armor heavily to report on how it stands up. I hope this will help decide for some of you who are on the fence about getting armor since I think everyone who can, should have it just as much as a gun for personal protection.
If you don’t know about HCS, I will post the blurb from their website to get you filled in since they can explain it better than I.
“At HighCom we design, develop, test, manufacturer, and distribute body armor and personal protective equipment including more than two dozen NIJ compliant hard and soft armor products.
We are in business for one simple reason to protect lives from bullets and bombs. For nearly two decades, HighCom has helped to save countless lives by supplying critical security products and personal protective equipment (PPE) to America’s federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and military branches.
We stand behind our armor and are proud to say that our products are manufactured in the United States.We are constantly striving to produce armor solutions that far exceed our customer’s expectations. We know lives depend on our commitment to excellence which is why we are constantly developing innovative armor solutions.”
Premium Cordura Nylon exterior materials
Shoulder inserts for comfort fit with spacer mesh lined padding
FASS: Fully adjustable four-point suspension system
360 degrees MOLLE/PALS webbing
External wraparound 6” x 11” cummerbund platform
Velcro loop for identification placard
Sewn on mic tabs on shoulders
Front and rear plate pockets fit: 8 x 10, 10 x 12, SAPI S and SAPI
Reinforced drag handle buddy strap
DWR treated package for water resistance
Warranty: 2 year on exterior cover material and workmanship
The carrier that HighCom sent me is the Trooper APC is Multicam and it has been excellent. The first thing I did after getting it together, was to bend over and touch toes, do some pushups, roll around on ground like and idiot and generally see if i had the full range of movement I would have with wearing anything. I did. This is the first PC I have tried that I feel like nothing about it hinders my movement. Is it comfortable? Yes. As comfortable as any of these things can be. Nothing grinds against you or sticks juts into any body parts. Sitting in a car is comfortable, laying prone is comfortable, climbing up ladders and through windows is no problem. Yes, the plates were inside the carrier during all this.
The carrier itself is made well with good stitching. Usually some of the lesser quality stuff will have some of the sub par sewing to bust and come loose. This has held up., I have sweated in it and its been soaked in rain and been in the sun for long hours and the material and colors have had no degrading.
The shoulder straps are the first I have ever used that actually felt comfortable and I could stand. Usually they dig into me and I detest them but not these. They have no imapct on shouldering a carbine/rifle for me either. The shoulder straps have a good range of adjustment to fit even the most hideous of mutant bodies.
One thing I really like is the plates go into a different pocket than the soft armor. The soft armor goes in through the bottom. The plates insert through a nice tight sealing velcro seem pouch through the top of the carrier. I really like this. The cumber bun of the carrier is familiar to anyone who has ever used a PC. Adjustable in the read and velcroed in the front for attaching under the front flap. The side of the cumber-bun will accept soft armor and the side SAPI plates for protecting you from broadsides.
Once I got the carrier fitted, I started adding a few things to it for use. I like to avoid putting a lot of stuff on my PC. I like the option of using it almost bare and putting on a chest right or TAP over it if need be. For this test, I added pouches right onto the PC to test out the strength of the stitching while I used it heavily this year. In this case, I have a double mag shingle, three pistol mag pouches and a IFAK that moves from it to a chest rig depending.
Obviously you can, and most likely will, add more stuff for whatever requirements you may have. Wearing the PC while shooting and moving around is easy and comfortable after a minute of two of getting used to the weight.
The plates ( front and rear) are the Guardian 4SAs7 model. This is a Level IV stand alone plate. You can use soft armor for a back up, (and certainly more is always better!) but this level is made to work on its own. You can also buy soft armor from HCS to add to your carrier in addition to the plates if you want it and can afford it. For those who choose to pass on soft armor for whatever reasons , you can still have more peace of mind with stand alone plates. If there is any true peace of mind that comes with the thoughts of being shot anyways.
I prefer this cut of plate but they offer various styles and types. This plate has the side angles at the top for better movement in the arms and shoulder and is curved for the body.
Protection: Level IV Stand Alone Armor Piercing
NIJ Standard 0101.04 (2005IR): This product has been certified compliant by NIJ
Cut: The 10” x 12” shooters cut and multi-curve shooters cut plates are considered nominal and the actual measurement is 9.5” x 11.5”
Warranty: 5 years on all ballistic material excluding exterior cover and 1 year on exterior cover material and workmanship.
Disclaimer: Text shown on strike face is for marketing purposes only. The actual labels on HighCom products are NIJ approved self-adhesive labels.
The 4SAS7 plates are a really great deal. Getting stand alone plates at a reasonable deal is like finding some mythological beast. It is hard to say what “enough” body armor is. Any sane person would want as much as possible, n0 matter the cost or weight but that is just not practical or feasible for most of us. If your work place doesn’t give you armor and you have to buy it yourself, this is a great deal and a a level of protection that may go a long way towards making you feel safer while offering real, serious ballistic protection up to serious rifle rounds. Plates give a peace of mind you don’t have from soft armor that will stop a pistol round, stand alone hard armor will stop most of the common threat rifle rounds. To me that is priceless.
The days of scum bags only using .25s and .38special snub noses revolvers are over. If you have a gun , and master it and you are serious about your personal protection I can not imagine why you would not have armor if you could possible afford it. I know it costs money, but it will be more useful to you than those 3 stripped lowers or that 3rd glock and 8 inch barreled .44mag wheelgun that sets in the safe. I know some one out there is thinking of how many Mosins they could buy for the price of a PC and armor, but if you take your safety and this world seriously consider getting some armor of some type at some point. Every time I watch the news and see cities being burned and looted I am glad I have spent them on all the armor I have accumulated over the years.
I you are looking for some armor to protect your body from being shot by who knows what, go check out HighCom Security. You can find about anything you want armor wise and that can hook you up with a carrier to put it in. If you don’t like their carrier options, the plates will still fit in any other brand and they are great plates at a great price. Youtube is lousy with destructive testing of the HCS plates if you want to see if the proof is in the pudding before you buy. We even have some HCS plates being shot on video here. You can find those videos using the search bar. I know armor sits around most of the time and you could buy a gun with that money and all that, but it IS important if you really understand the world is a dangerous place and getting worse by the minute. If you take your safety and responsibility seriously and don’t have body armor for yourself or a family member(s), now is a good time to start thinking about it.
I first spotted the Inland M37 shotgun when on the Inland facebook page around SHOT show earlier this year. I was intrigued instantly. So when I got to the NRA 2016 show, I made sure the Inland booth was one of the first places I stopped at. I wanted to see that M37 in the worst way. I was not let down. After just a few minutes of handling it, I asked for a T&E sample. After a month or so, the demo gun showed up.
The “trench gun “and police “riot guns” have taken off as collectibles over the decades. The Winchester Model97 being an example that is really hard to find these days. Finding original examples can be pretty tough. The combat shotguns stayed in military service a long time. From before WW1 to the Vietnam war all the way until recently. Some are well known like the M97 mentioned above , some are not as well known, like the Remington 7188 full auto shotgun.
The Ithaca M37 is an example that is well known by casual firearms historians as a police or riot model and sporting weapon of high quality. The Ithaca as a military “trench gun” is likely not as well known by many. The action of the shotgun would look familiar to a lot of hunters out there. Though the first thing you may think when seeing its action is the Mossberg 500, it and the 500 are really a simplified version of the most excellent Remington Model 31 shotgun. The M31 itself an evolution from the M17. The Model 17 designed by no less than John Browning himself.
The M31 is in my opinion one of the smoothest pump action shotguns of its time. Replaced by the cheaper to make and sell M870, the M31 action lived on in its ancestors. If you are a fan of smooth as silk shotgun actions, tracking down a M31 is a must. I consider the new Model 37 to be as smooth as the M31and I don’t give that compliment out often. If ever.
The M37 has been one of those martial shotguns talked about, and sometimes seen in places like the American Rifleman and other places that reflect back on US service arms, but not really seen very often. Thanks to Inland MFG and Ithaca, we can now own one of the more rare trenchguns from US military history.
“The Inland M37 Trench Shotgun all-American-made combat shotgun is faithful to the original from its bead sight, Parkerized finish, oiled stock, and ventilated hand guard to its hard-to-miss bayonet lug that fits the long 1917 bayonet.
The Inland M37 Trench shotgun is manufactured in a joint effort with the Ithaca Gun Company, Upper Sandusky, OH. The original steps of shotgun manufacture that was originally used by Ithaca during WWII has been carefully duplicated utilizing modern technology and CNC machining which yields components that are precise and accurately reproduced.
The Inland M 37 is based on the original Ithaca Model 37 Trench Gun which was a variation of the Browning Model 17 and features the following”:
Gauge: .12 gauge / 3″ Chamber
Barrel length: 20″
Total length: 38.5″
Barrel Choke: Cylinder Choke .730
Action: Manual Pump, Bottom Load & Ejection
Weight: 6.7 lb
The new Model 37 combat shotgun is first class in my opinion. They really did it right. After using it for several months I find it really hard to put it down. Hundreds of rounds have went through the gun this summer without a problem. Birdshot, 00Buck, 4BK, slugs, you name it. The solid walnut stock really helping make it bearable to shoot the stiffer loads. Being use to tactical shotguns of modern times with their synthetic stocks, I dreaded testing. It is still a 12, but wood stock goes a long way towards a healthy shoulder.
The Model 37 is a combat shotgun so testing was done with combat and police loads. Target below was fired with low recoil OO buck from 25 yards standing with no support. This was a bit of a warm up for the real test, to get a feel for possible recoil. Much relief was felt by all at how the gun managed to tame recoil a bit.
Above is a target with 3 slugs fired from 50 yards. No the gun did not fling them to the left. After two test rounds, the shooter got a little flinchy on the trigger. Shooting a 3″ magnum slug round from sitting is hard. Hard and painful. I sure did not want to do it, and we only had 5 rounds anyway. Even as much as the heavier solid wood stock helped, it can’t help that much. With some one more willing to eat the recoil and hold steady ,the M37 would likely hold all 3 slugs in the head of the Q target at 50 yards.
With that done, we got serious about testing the shotgun for pattern at usual distances using a variety of shot and police buck loads. The target below was one round of OO Buck at 25 yards. The large hole is from the wad hitting the target.
The next target shows a second and third shot into the same zone. Again, large holes are from wad hitting and punching through the cardboard.
Target below shows hits from 4BK from 25 yards out. The 4BK was fired into the upper chest. Bottom circled group is from standard OO Buck round fired from 35 yards. The “40 yards was written in error.
The next target is OO Buck from 50 yards out. Two rounds were fired at the target off hand standing. I know a lot of people, experts and average Joes have all kinds of things to say about what the best shotgun load is for whatever distance. Obviously it’s best to test the shotgun out with each load to determine what you want to use, in whatever situation, before generally deciding. I think if I were a full convert to the tactical shotgun as a general purpose tool I would trust this one with OO buck to make a 50 yard shot if background was not a concern. We do have video of me knocking down a steel popper plate from 60 yards with the OO buck round. Once it is uploaded I will insert it into this post.
As promised here is the video of buck fired from 50 yards. Camera lens and angle makes it look much closer but it is indeed 50 yards
The short riot/trench shotgun is a pleasure to handle. It’s fast and easy to work with and the slick action is as fast as lightning. The original M37s would indeed “slam fire” but this one will not. As I understand it, this was done at the request of Inland when having the guns put together for them by Ithaca prior to the converting to “trench gun.” I know some will gripe about this, but let it go. It’s a fact of modern America that lawyers and sue happy anti-gun activists would salivate at trying to prove the gun defective in court. For those who do not know,” slamfire” refers to the lack of a disconnector in the originals that lets the hammer fall as long as you hold the trigger back. Just like the M12 and M97 etc
The gun does have the infamous “barrel shroud”! Not to be confused with the shoulder thing that goes up. The ventilated shroud functions as the bayonet lug and sling swivel as well. It marginally protects the hands from being burned by a hot barrel. It will work for a while, but heat will transfer after enough rounds. I think no one other than a liberal can deny it looks cool. Sad to say I don’t have a bayonet to mount for your gratification. The front sling swivel is nice. Very big and tough. You can attach about anything you want to the front and rear. I originally mounted a USGI leather sling to the gun as seen in pictures, but went to the M1 cotton sling for easier use.
The Model 37 ejects and feeds from the bottom. Handy for both left and right handed users. It can take a bit to get used to if you have only ever used the M87o or most other pump shotguns out there. The gun kicks out the empties with enough force to send them about 20 yards if you turn the gun sideways while operating the action . So no worries about any fired case getting hung up.
Pictured above, I fired that gun while wearing a WW2 belt with M1911 , holster and mag pouch with a Pacific Canvas& Leather WW2 shotgun shell pouch I purchased only to be used with the M37 for the full experience. The shotshell canvas pouch holds a dozen rounds in loops in two rows.
When the gun is empty, reach down and open the flap and strip rounds out of the loops to load into the gun.
I have seen some old timers turn the gun upside down and tuck it under the firing arm while loading to maintain solid control over the weapon while moving. So I tried it out. Please no comments about how Chris Costa says to load a shotgun. I am aware. Process and gear used for nostalgia purposes only.
When loaded, got back to making it empty again.
Inland MFG has really been on a role the last few years. The M1 Carbine I tested earlier this year was a faithful reproduction that was beautifully done. The M1911A1 made by the same company equally impressed me, and you know how hard it is for a company to impress me with a 1911 if their name isn’t colt. The Model 37 is another hit with me. Inland has turned into one of mt favorite gun companies in recent times. All of us have seen a rise in demand for “retro” guns in the last ten years and while several companies make Ar15 retro models, few have offered quality reproductions of the weapons commonly used in WW2 and after leading to the AR15.
Inland has gone a long way to meet that market of retro and nostalgia. Now that easy M1s from the CMP are about to be gone and the M1 carbines being long gone, prices for originals are continuing to sky rocket. Repro guns are a great choice for those who want one of the old firearms but can’t afford or can’t find and original. Or just to have one to use hard without hurting the value.
Hopefully Inland will keep expanding its line and one day we can buy a M1903A3 or A4 new production. I would like to see Inland produce a faithful M1911 to join the M1911A1 already in production.
The really great thing about being passionate about firearms, is that you research and stumble across unique accessories and gear. This is exactly what happened when I stumbled on Bad Element Co. LLC (www.badelementco.com) AK magazines. I have been on an AK fix for a little while now and it has been over a decade since I owned one. I recently purchased a very nice Bulgarian AK74 and have been testing several aftermarket accessories with it. When I ran across Bad-Element I had to get one of their 20 round AK Tanker magazines. I absolutely love 20 round magazines for rifles. As soon as I received the AK74, I started to research 20 round AK magazines. I found original AK 20 round (Tanker) magazines were extremely hard to find or get in 7.62×39. Add in the 5.45×39 AK74 round and I found they were almost impossible to get. I made contact with the owner from Bad-Element about getting a 20 round 5.45×39 Tanker magazine. Since I already had a few Russian Izhmash Plum magazines, I thought a Plum Izhmash 20 round magazine would go very nicely with them.
When I received the Bad-Element custom 20 round Tanker magazine, I quickly started to compare it to my surplus Russian Plum Izhmash magazines. All of the markings on the magazine were identical and I could easily tell it was a quality Izhmash Plum surplus magazine. I’m not really sure what it is, but as soon as you put the 20 round magazine in the rifle, it just looks and feels better in your hands.
Custom Order Magazines:
Bad-Element does all kinds of custom work to all makes and manufactures of AK type magazines. Bad-Element takes existing 30 round AK magazines of all types and custom cuts them down to (20), (15), (10) or (5) round count magazines. In-fact, Bad-Element also does AR15 magazine custom work, for those who live in Communist high capacity band States. So check out their full line of magazine services.
There are several ways you can get your custom magazines from Bad-Element. (1) You send in your AK magazines and Bad-Element cuts them down per your round count specifications. (2) Purchase magazines on-line and have them shipped directly to Bad-Element for custom work, then they will mail them to you when finished or, (3) You can purchase already modified magazines directly from Bad-Element.
I set off to the range after obtaining a decent quantity of ammunition, supplied by (www.ammoman.com), to test out the function and reliability of the Bad-Element magazine. I had 510 rounds to run through the Magazine.
The great thing about 20 round Tanker style magazines, is their ease of use while manipulating your rifle. With a 20 round AK magazine you get the same advantages you get with a 20 round USGI AR15 magazine and more. (1) It’s compact, (2) rifle fits in smaller spaces and cases with a loaded magazine, (3) still has a decent round count and (4) with the AK, it is much easier to manipulate the charging handle from underneath the rifle, with your support hand.
I really did not keep exact track of the round count I put through the Bad-Element Tanker magazine but it was several hundred rounds. The Bad-Element magazine performed flawlessly and I had absolutely no issues with reliability. It loaded and emptied the rounds just as you would expect from any quality military surplus AK magazine.
Takedown/Quality of Work:
Nothing has changed after modification of the magazines. Takedown of the magazine is the same as the original 30 round magazine. Bad-Element has cut the magazine and spring down. The magazine still uses the original surplus follower, spring, locking plate and floor plate.
The quality of work and attention to detail in modifying the magazine is very nice. Bad-Element has really paid attention to the little things to make the magazine look nice. The magazine has a smooth side cut channel at the bottom of the magazine for the floor plate to slide into.
The cut down magazine spring is very nicely done. Looking at just the end of the spring where it locks into the locking plate, you cannot tell which one has been modified. Bad-Element has taken the time to slightly bend and taper the end of the spring, to match it up with the original 30 round design. After talking with Bad-Element, they advised they use to cut down the bottom of the spring, but now cut down the top of the spring, as it was easier and faster to do. I still could not tell the difference.
I am very pleased with the Bad-Element custom magazine. It looks great and has been 100% reliable. If you have an AK of any type, I would highly recommend getting a few 20 round magazines. If you follow Rob Ski of AK Operators Union, you will see he runs Bad-Element Tanker magazines from time to time. He is usually the first to call out “shit” in the AK community. Since he is running them and is more of an expert than I am with the AK, I think this is a very strong sign of Bad-Elements quality. I will be getting a few more of the Bad-Element custom cut magazines in the near future. As soon as the Magpul Pmag 5.45×39 AK magazines get to me, I will be sending them in for 20 round conversion. Bad-Element also has an Instagram page (Bad_Element_Co. Instagram) where you can follow and contact them about magazines.
Over the last few years I have slowly been replacing all of my .40 caliber handguns. I have been sitting on my last .40 cal Glock 22 for a while because it was sentimental to me. It never really gets used, (don’t think I have fired it in 5 years). The Glock 22 is one of my staged home defense firearms sitting in a quick access safe. I have been searching for the right firearm to replace it. I have been looking hard at Heckler & Koch’s and Sig Sauer’s lately, as I am familiar with them. I have a lot of Glock’s and because of their low price; I can pick one up any time. I did not want to replace this particular firearm with another Glock. I wanted something different, that was well made, reliable, mid to full sized, and could be carried anytime or used in a defensive pistol class. I did not want something I was going to forget about and never use. I narrowed my choices down to three H&K models: (1) USP Compact 9, (2) P30 and (3) the VP9 LE. Now, the HK magazine release has never been an issue with me. There are several ways to manipulate the firearm to hit the magazine release and you need to become very familiar with how to do this.
I am very familiar with the USP models and the USP Compact 9 is a nice small package. I knew that I would end up going with a light LEM trigger in the USP and the P30. The light LEM, if you know how to use it, is a very good trigger system. Then there was the VP9, basically an HK version of a Glock or M&P striker fired firearm, and my #3 choice out of the bunch. I was lucky to walk into a store that had all three of these firearms on hand. I spent my time holding, manipulating, dry firing and scrutinizing all three of these choices. I loved the P30 grip, it is one of the most comfortable handgun grips I have every felt, but the rear decocker next to the hammer was very unusual and awkward. The USP is what it is, reliable, ok grip, low 13 round magazine capacity, frame compact but somehow the slide is still bulky and too fat. I was fast becoming very disappointed in my choices and starting to think about a totally different platform. Also, at the end of the day I could not justify a polymer framed handgun at 1k prices.
Initial VP9 Thoughts:
I picked up the VP9LE basically conceding defeat on my HK choices and suddenly things started falling into place. I had really never considered the VP9 as a choice. It is relatively new to the market, it’s another striker fired handgun and had some weird features on it I was not sure about. Once it was in my hands things started quickly going my way.
The grip on the VP9 was very close to the P30. I knew it had additional side panels and back straps, for additional grip adjustment. When I first took a firm grip of the VP9, I immediately thought, this is one of the best contoured and stippled grips I have felt on a striker fired handgun. There was a distinct hump in the back strap of grip that was more pronounced than on the P30, but I knew there was a smaller back strap without this hump. I was confident this would make it very close to the P30 grip.
The VP9 has very natural point-ability and balance to it. As I was manipulating the VP9LE, it seemed the sights were very quick to acquire. The sights are nothing special, just basic Tru Dot night sights. One thing that was distracting to me initially, were the patented charging support wings behind the rear slide serrations. They seemed unnecessary and initially kind-of distracted my sight picture, but I also knew these could be removed.
I ended up buying the VP9LE after some intense negotiations with the manager of the store, (I never pay retail). In-fact, I came out so good on the deal, there was no way I could have said no. Plus, the longer I was messing with the VP9, it started looking even more nice and it is badass looking. My co-worker was so surprised at the deal I managed to negotiate, that he bought one for the same deal. I bought the VP9LE several months ago and have been using it frequently since the purchase. Before we get too in-depth on review, I want to mention there will be no token, (backward bullet pictures in this review), with the magazines.
The price on the VP9LE is all over the place. Look for a deal on one, if you are in the market. My purpose in purchasing the VP9 was to replace an aging firearm, in a caliber I no longer use. After selling my Glock 22, I purchased the VP9LE for 648.00 dollars out the door. After all was said and done, the VP9LE replaced a 16 year old duty weapon for approximately 173.00 dollars. I don’t know about you, but I will take a new firearm, to replace an old one, with three (3) magazines and night sights for 173.00 all day long. That being said, 650.00 for the VP9LE is a pretty decent deal as well. Retail on a Gen4 Glock without night sights is 599.00. If you minus the extra magazine at 45.00 dollars and the night sights at 99.00 dollars, the stock VP9 would have cost me just over 500.00 dollars. That’s pretty damn good in my opinion.
The VP9 has a 1913 Picatinny rail, enlarged heavy-duty external extractor/ loaded chamber indicator, front slide serrations and rear charging support wings. The VP9 is also fully ambidextrous.
Slide & Frame
The VP9 slide is machine cut/milled from a solid block of high carbon steel. The slide has a smooth even black H&K Hostile Environment® finish. The slide is rounded and beveled on the edges, across the top, front and back. The front and rear slide serrations are generous and allow you to get a very positive grip on the slide when racking or manipulating the slide of the firearm. As I stated earlier, I initially thought the charging support wings obstructed my view. After shooting a lot of rounds though the VP9LE, I found they did not bother me at all and I forgot all about them. I don’t think they make a real difference in manipulating the slide. The Slide serrations are deep and do the job well enough. HK does sell some flush charging supports. You have to remove the rear sight to remove the charging supports and then add the flush supports. I will probably do this when I decided to get new sights.
The Frame and frame rails are very robust. HK has built a thick and ridged design with the VP9. I assume this is because HK knew they would come out with the .40 caliber VP40 later. HK’s have always been built well and you are getting a quality firearm when you buy one. The VP9 is no different. The Picatinny rail is a little longer on the VP9 and it can accommodate any aftermarket weapon light or laser up to 5.6 ounces. The polymer of the frame is very thick. It does not bend or flex like other polymer framed firearms. The frame rails are very robust as well. The lock up of the frame and slide has a very slight wobble from side to side, but you have to physically move the slide side to side with your hand.
Barrel & Guide Rod
The Barrel on the VP9 has a very nice finish on it. After over 1300 rounds it is starting to get the slight hint of classic barrel chatter marks. After cleaning and wiping it down, both sides of the chamber also had just a slight sign of wear.
The barrel is made of canon grade steel. The barrel is cold hammer forged and has a six (6) grove Polygonal right-hand twist, similar to Glock, not traditional lands and grooves. Another interesting aspect of the barrel is an ever so slight raised tip of the end of the barrel. You can see the line in the end of the barrel and you can slightly feel the raised edge with your finger. I really cannot find any information on/or about this barrel feature on the VP9. H&K is usually tight lipped about many proprietary features on their firearms. I can only assume this feature would provide a tighter lock up, when making contact with the top of the slide, to enhance accuracy.
The VP9 has a patented captive flat recoil spring. The recoil spring assembly is a three (3) piece design consisting of the recoil spring, guide rod that is forked at the end, and a washer to capture the spring. I made the mistake of dropping the recoil assembly on a hard floor. The washer on the end came off and it took quite a bit of effort to get it back on, after I located the spring.
Grip Panels / Ergonomics
The stippling on the VP9 is very close to the P30. The P30 is one of the nicest feeling firearms in the hand, I have ever felt. The VP9 stippling is aggressive enough to notice but does not beat up your hand during extensive and long strings of fire. The three (3) changeable backs straps give you the option to fit the grip size to your hand and adjust your length of pull for the firearm.
The VP9 comes with three (3) different sized back straps, (3) right side panels and (3) left side panels. This gives you twenty seven (27) grip combinations on the VP9. I found the perfect combination for my hand is; the small back strap, with the medium left and right side panels.
When making a decision to purchase a HK firearm, for the purpose of it being a defensive firearm, you need to make sure the HK magazine release system is for you. If it is, you will be getting the typical reliable, quality magazines from HK. The VP9 magazines are the same magazines used by the HK P30. They function perfectly, dropping free, inserting the magazine and feeding the ammunition. Remember, if you are buying the LE model, you will get three (3) magazines with the package.
H&K’s have always come with steel sights and the VP9LE comes with Tru Dot night sights. This is a great feature and value in the VP9LE. While the Tru Dot night sights are just basic three dot night sights, getting the VP9LE with the sights will save you money and a lot of headache, with putting on sights after you get the handgun. The Tru Dot’s will serve you well and I probably will not replace them until they get dim.
Loaded Chamber Indicator
The external extractor on the VP9 also doubles as the loaded chamber indicator. It has a bright red paint applied to the top of the extractor so you can visually see that there is a live round in the firearm.
Firing Pin/striker Indicator
The VP9 also has a cocked striker indicator on the back of the slide. This visual indication shows that the firing pin/striker is in the cocked position, ready to fire, by a red indicator painted on the back of the slide.
So far I have put over 1300 documented rounds of mix ammunition, ( Federal 115grn FMJ, Winchester 115 grn steal case FMJ, Fiocchi 115grn FMJ, Speer 147grn TMJ, Federal 147grn HST & Speer 147grn Gold Dot), through the VP9. It has well over the 1300 round count; I just stopped counting after the 1300 round mark. I am confident it is well over 2000 rounds now. I have found the VP9 to be extremely reliable, just as my other personal defense firearms.
Note: Just to be fair I wanted to add this information. Several months ago I was testing some new ammunition. I used several different firearms to test the ammunition, all of which had 100% reliability so far, two (2) Glock’s, a Sig Sauer and the VP9. All experience failures to extract with the ammunition. It was pretty obvious this was poorly manufactured ammunition, (QC). After switching back to several other quality ammunition offering, all firearms including the VP9 ran 100%.
With previous experience shooting H&K’s I have found them to be very accurate firearms. As long as I was doing my part, I found the VP9LE was very accurate and could do everything I needed it to do. The sight radius on the VP9LE is full sized, approximately 6.38 inches, but I do not care for the True Dot night sights that come with the VP9LE model. I felt the sight picture was not that good and the angle of the rear sight had a lot of glare coming off it, in certain lighting conditions. The front sight had some glare from time to time as well. Even though the sights were not ideal for me, the VP9LE had great accuracy. With some aftermarket sights of my choosing, I feel it will perform even better, if that’s possible. The 147grn Speer Gold Dot had several very impressive groups and it is one of my two defensive loads of choice. All shooting of the VP9LE was done off hand or from the holster. I was initially shooting the VP9LE slightly left as you will see. I did notice the front sight was not perfectly centered and I did tap it over a little to center it up after the first few strings of fire.
All of the controls on the VP9 feel like they are in right place for my hands. All of the ambidextrous controls are easy to manipulate and reach, on each side of the VP9.
Slide Catch/Release (Ambidextrous)
The Slide Catch/Release Lever, or whatever you want to call it, is ambidextrous and extremely easy to use from both sides. On the VP9, I found I did not have to adjust my grip to avoid riding the top of the lever with my strong hand thumb. I usually find myself contacting the slide stop/release with other firearms, making the slide not lock open on the last round in the magazine. This is something I do on several firearms and I know I have to adjust my grip slightly. The VP9 is one of the only handguns I have not had this issue. The slide catch/release seems to be in the perfect position for me. I prefer to use the (over the top / sling shot method) when doing a reload for consistency across multiple platforms, so the slide catch lever does not get used that much for me on reloads.
Takedown Lever/Field Stripping
One great feature of the VP9 is the take down lever. It operates like a Sig Sauer Classic takedown lever. This is a very nice feature because there is no need to pull the trigger like a (Glock), or manipulate some little tiny internal bar like on a (Smith & Wesson M&P), to remove the slide from the frame. Simply rack the slide and lock it back to make sure it is unloaded, rotate the takedown lever down, release the slide and pull it off. This design in a striker fired firearm reinforces the (Never Put Your Finger on the Trigger until Ready to Fire), while also making it simple and very easy to field strip.
Magazine Release (Ambidextrous)
As I stated earlier, HK’s have a magazine release you must be familiar with and comfortable using. It is ambidextrous but it is not a traditional thumb button release design. You must push down on the magazine release paddle from either side.
For me, I can actually use the magazine release pretty fast from either side of the VP9. I find no difference in speed and ease of uses from either side vs. a standard thumb magazine release. I find I actually prefer to use the middle finger of my primary hand, on the right side magazine release of the VP9.
The trigger on the VP9 is very nice. The trigger looks and operates like a Glock and other similar striker fired handguns. It has a very smooth and short take-up before you hit the take-up wall, then it has a very small amount of creep before it breaks very cleanly. The trigger reset is a little lack luster for me. The reset is audible but seems a little weak. I would like it to have stronger, more positive reset feeling. The smooth and then crisp break on the trigger definitely helps with the accuracy of the VP9 when shooting it. I feel, overall, the VP9 trigger is nicer than a stock Glock or M&P trigger. The Glock has a better reset in my opinion.
The VP9 is a flat shooter and the recoil is light. Fast accurate follow up shots are very easy to make and the sights come back on to target very quickly. The VP9 boar axis is a little higher than on a Glock but this did not seem to make any difference in the recoil. After a few rounds, I found the recoil to be a non-existent factor. I simply continued firing, not giving the recoil another thought.
I really like the H&K VP9LE. It has preformed and handled well above my expectations. If there is anything to complain about, it would only be the 15 round magazine capacity and a weak/soft reset on the trigger. I think it would be easy for HK to make the magazine hold 17 rounds and tweak the trigger reset a little. The size of the VP9 is very close to a Glock 17/22. I was hoping it would hold a few more rounds but it did replace a 15 round magazine firearm, so I really lost nothing on round count. Once again, this is a lot of nitpicking on my part.
The VP9LE was one of the best purchases I have made. It replaces a great firearm and one of my personal favorites, I had used for years. I feel I made the right choice and the VP9LE has done nothing but validate that choice.
There are some leaked pictures hitting the web today. It was reported first today by (TFB), who obtained some pictures from Indianapolis PD officers being issued the new G-17M yesterday. Several places/bloggers/youtubers and meany more in the firearm industry started to post photos of the firearm, they have seen or shot. So it is safe to say this might be the Gen5 Glock. Usually new Glocks are leaked way before they actually hit the street. I am quite surprised we did not here anything about them. Glock keep a good lid on it this time. It is reported that a G-19M is also coming. This is probably the new weapon that the FBI purchased. Thought we would get these photos out to our readers ASAP.
Looks like a mix of a Gen2 and Gen4 Glock, with more ambidextrous features. Some of the new features are reported as follows:
1. New, “tougher” finish 2. Different rifling / traditional rifle grooves 3. Longer RSA 4. Reinforced front RSA notch 5. Smoother trigger 6. Flared / beveled magwell 7. Gen2 like Front Strap/ No Finger Groves 8. Safety plunger is oblong/rectangular G42/G43 like 9. Ambidextrous slide release 10. Magazine well cut out / like old Gen2 & Gen3
Last time we took a look at the new Delta Elite 10mm pistol from Colt, we saw the refinements on the new Delta, compared to the classic Delta Elite from the 1980s. In my opinion , it is a very fine pistol. It has all of the “custom production” enhancements I want in a modern M1911, that I intend to carry and use as opposed to set in a safe.
With the new Delta being obviously configured for carry and hunting in mind, I used a variety of ammo choices in this go around. I chose some modern carry /defense loads along with ball practice/training ammo. There are still some brands and types of 10mm ammo out there I have not gotten my hands on yet and when I do I will add to this review or update. One thing I kept in mind this time, is the cost of the 10mm ammo and how likely the average buyer could find them in the local gun store. My thinking is to mix in ammo the new buyer, who is not a dedicated 10mm lover, would likely see in the same store the gun was being sold. I did mix in carry and high performance ammo that would also be encountered in a store, compared to some of the more expensive high end ammo from places like Double Tap. Lastly, I did not ignore the reality that money is tight for most people these days and most 10mm shooting is likely to be done with ball training ammo. As I said above, a future post with high performance 10mm ammo will be upcoming.
The groups shown are an average of all rounds fired from each ammo type. I fired from a bench rest with sand bags, with ranges marked on the target. Shooting was slow fire with most groups taking at least 5 minutes to complete, to give the ammo every bit of concentration and effort I had. I did fire off hand in a few instances to take a better look at how the gun and ammo combination would do in a self defense situation. The third part of this review will be shooting the Delta at longer ranges of 75, 100 and possibly 200 yards, to illustrate how the 10mm round really benefits from its higher velocity and power.
First, I want to talk about the big surprise for me. The Armscor ammo was a brand I have had little experience with. The gun loved this ammo. I have not verified its velocity or any specs on it other than bullet weight, but it was noticeably hotter than the other generic FMJ plinking and training ammo. As far as I am concerned, for now, if I want ball ammo for the Delta or for any thing, this is what I will be using, until I find some other ball ammo that shoots better.
The PPU 180 grain hollow point was not so great and felt like a medium power load. Of course the dual spring system can be throwing off my judgement on account of it working so well to tame the 10mm recoil. This group is normal for PPU ammo in my experience. I have tried PPU match and have not seen it live up to any of its marketing claims. It is nice plinking ammo though and it has the benefit of being easy to find locally.
The Federal Trophy Bonded soft point is another round I have little experience with. It shot great and would be a good choice for hunting if you are a believer in the bonded bullets from Federal. It could also serve double duty for self defense. I also fired a Federal Hydo Shock round, that shot about the same but I confess to losing the target it was shot on before I could take a picture.
The Winchester 175 grain Silver Tip hollow point. This is an old favorite of mine from back when the 10mm was in its early days in the 80s. A very good round and highly thought of at the time. It is still the first pick among a lot of people for CCW. I have had these rounds for a long time but a quick check at Midway showed me this round is still being made and sold. It has always shot very well for me and was perfectly reliable in all three (3) of the Delta Elites I have owned. The Silver Tip is pretty well regarded by a lot of people including myself and if I was not a convert on the use of solid copper hollow points, this would be a load I would stock up on for daily carry. Apologies for the blurred picture.
The Hornady Critical Duty with the flex tip shot outstanding, as the group above shows. I used this load as the “match load” standard, for accuracy and for the rest of the tests for longer range groups. Reports and testing show the round to be very effective on ballistic gel. Friends who have more experience with it, tell me it is superb. Until I settle on a solid copper HP load for this gun , this is the load I have been using as a place holder in the gun for CCW.
The S&B ball ammo seemed to always shoot 3 rounds tight and then toss the last 2. It feels like a mid powered plinking round. Which it is. Good for training and plinking. Its not too expensive but nothing special. I saw this ammo have problems in a Kimber 10mm and even a glock. If you want some ammo to plink with I would say it is ok, but understand what you are getting.
Another offering from Hornady is the XTP round. A good solid round that shots great. I would have been shocked if it didn’t.
This is a group fired off hand with the Fed American Eagle ball ammo. I fired it off hand as I had already put up the bags and my set up. I happened upon just a few rounds of this ammo. I fired it offhand and it did about what I expected from it. It is always reliable and decent training quality ammo.
Now we get to trying the ammo in a method more in line with real world self defense. This group is fired at 25 yards, off hand. I did shoot it at a slow methodical pace, to get the best out of itself and myself as I could. I fired eight (8) rounds of the Critical Duty ammo using the center of the large orange sticker as my aiming point. I think you can’t really ask for much more out of it. The group would easily fit inside a target the size of a human face or inside something the size of a human heart. This target group is one of the reasons this ammo is what I am currently using as the CCW ammo for the Delta.
For fun I took the gun out to 50 yards using the Hornady ammo. I fired this group from the bags and bench. I have to say I was pretty pleased with myself on this one! Too bad I couldn’t shoot that same level off hand at a bulls eye match. This target shows you that the 10mm is fully capable of an easy hit on a man sized target at 100 yards, which we will be doing in part 3 of the review.
Of course with the group from the bags being as good as it was, I had to try it off hand at 50. I fired ten (10) rounds off hand (though two handed) and got most of them on the target. For my excuse, I am going to admit that buy this time I was getting pretty tired. Shooting a 10mm for hours is harder work than you may think. It doesn’t have the nice soft push of a 45 ACP or childish slap of a 9mm. It starts to wear on you. I am confident I could have done better if I started this fresh.
The new generation Delta Elite is proving itself to be everything I hoped it would be. It has already over taken the place in my heart the older original version occupied. After a little over 1,500 rounds so far, it has had no problems and has all the extra touches I want. It has been my daily carry since I received it and it will be with me come hunting season.
In part 3 of the T&E of the new Delta, we will be shooting it out to as far as I can possible make a hit with it, to take advantage of the powerful 10mm round. We will be adding in some drills and training to get a handle on what a new 10mm user may have to get used to, if they are interested in moving up to a new level in power, by letting some one who has never fired a 10mm do some drills with it. Check back in the next few weeks to see that and more.