Product Review: Mag Guts +1 Magazine Springs And SSA MagFix Baseplates

Product Review: Mag Guts +1 Magazine Springs And SSA MagFix Baseplates

I’ve pretty much settled on the Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm as my “go-to” carry gun for more-casual occasions.

I can hear the teeth gnashing as I type this, but the fact is, I’ve trained with this gun, I know what it is capable of, and I am absolutely confident in my ability to perform with it on-demand. However, with 8+1 rounds it’s not the highest capacity gun on the market right now, and it means that carrying a spare magazine is usually a good idea.

Enter the MagGuts +1 Follower. At $22.95, it costs around what eight round Shield mags are going for these days, but it works as advertised. I popped the baseplate off of a S&W 9mm +1 mag, dropped out the existing spring and follower, and slid the new base plate right back on. I did have to do some spring-wrangling to get the follower to line up, and unlike the stock spring, the edges on the MagGuts spring are sharp and pointy. No blood was shed in the alteration of the magazine interior, but I did get the point, and I got it often.

I also received a couple of MagFix baseplates for the 8 round Shield magazine, and these are terrific. I had been using pre-production aluminum MagFixs on my Shield mags, and I was curious to see how the plastic ones would compare. The good news is, they’re easy to install and work well with the MagGuts +1 follower. The only change I had to make was to use the standard S&W baseplate instead of the thinner MagGuts plate, but it was an easy fix to make.

The MagFix is a great addition to the Shield: Besides solving the sliding insert problem, there’s a little lip on the bottom of the sucker that adds stability to my firing grip and makes the gun feel more secure in my hand. Also, it’s a low-profile solution to the 8 round mag baseplate issue. Other magazine baseplate for this gun, like the ones from ProMag or Taran Tactical, add bulk to the butt of your gun, making them harder to conceal. The MagFix, though, is essentially the same size as the S&W magazine and prints much less than other options.

All of this is moot, however, if the combination doesn’t work, so I shot 50 rounds through the MagGuts / MagFix combo over the weekend, and there were no issues to report. I would have liked to do more, and I will, but my initial impression is that this is a great way to get one more round out of your Smith and Wesson Shield, and if Nigel Tufnel taught us anything, it’s that one more is ALWAYS better.

The bottom line is, if you have a 9mm Shield, these would definitely be two additions I’d add to your gun to make it a more effective fighting tool

Slide, Hammer, Holster.

Slide, Hammer, Holster.

One thing I like about Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot N Scoot events is that they give the average gun owner an opportunity to safely draw a loaded gun from a holster, shoot it, then re-holster. The gun industry assumes that such things are common skills that everybody knows how to do, but the reality is quite different, both inside the industry and with regular gun owners as well. Not everybody does gun games or has access to a pistol bay or backyard range, and very few indoor ranges allow for drawing from a holster. As a result, the only opportunity a student receives to draw and shoot a loaded gun from a holster is at a training class.

This is not a good thing.

A couple of observations from TacCon this year:

  1. There was a shooter in Lee Weems’ class shooting a SIG Sauer 938 from a wildly inappropriate holster, a Nate Squared tuckable hybrid holster carried at the appendix position. We can debate the utility of hybrid holsters at a later date, but the holster this student was using was definitely NOT set up for AIWB and they were struggling. A few minutes on a range with an instructor could have solved a bunch of problems there.
  2. I shot almost all the pistol classes at TacCon with my CZ P07 in a Comp-Tac CTAC carried on my strong-side hip. One thing I learned in MAG40 was to side-step left and push my right hip out towards the holster, giving me a clear path to the holster which didn’t put any body parts in mortal danger as I was re-holstering. And, as best I could tell, I was the only one doing that. AIWB carriers at TacCon were, for the most part, leaning forward and making sure their wedding tackle wasn’t in the way of their muzzle, but I didn’t see any extra-special care with re-holstering done by strong side hip carriers. This is not good.

I can’t help but wonder if practical shooting has an influence on this somehow. Don’t get me wrong, I think competition is fantastic and every serious shooter needs to do it, but the “…and holster” command is done with an empty gun in USPSA and IDPA. This gets people used to holstering quickly and moving on to scoring, and that’s not a good habit to have if you’re doing it on a hot range. 

Bottom line is, the more venues we have to normalize the idea of carrying a gun on your hip, the faster the culture of concealed carry AND practical pistol will grow.

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Flash Site Pictures – Monday Edition

Some of this is my stuff, some is not.

Six terrible reasons not to carry concealed.

Getting ready for your first practical pistol match.

LCP vs. J-Frame, and the winner is

We are losing the cultural war against guns, and that needs to change. (I wrote this based on an email conversation I had with Michael Bane, and he talks about that conversation on his podcast this week.

This is how we’ll win, with more of this (and other stuff too).

Building an urban bug out bag. I like the idea of prepping for dust and smoke… we forget that fires tend to happen in a social unrest situation.

Tamara Has a Patreon Page. It’d be a good idea to chip In. I did.

Speaking of Gunblogging, if you’re not reading Grant Cunningham’s Hump Day Reading List and Greg Ellifritz’s Weekend Knowledge Dump, you really should.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1501 – 1650.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1501 – 1650.

This report covers both the 50 rounds I shot in Chuck Haggard‘s class at TacCon and 100 rounds I shot this weekend.

It’s also the most failures I’ve had with this gun so far, but I blame that on the fact I was shooting MagTech and Fiocchi ammo, neither of which this gun particularly likes.

Shooting Chuck’s class really brought out what a little gun like this was capable of, and what it’s not. Unless your last name is “Miculek” you are not going to shoot this gun beyond 15 yards, and even 7 yards can get iffy. But at most civilian gun fight distances, yeah, it’s plenty accurate enough, even to perform Mozambique/Failure To Stop drills at speed.

With four feeding issues in 150 rounds, we’re starting to see what happens when the round count on a little gun rises up into four digits. I’ve got 250 rounds of Federal Premium .380ACP from Lucky Gunner sitting in my ammo box, and how well that ammo performs in this gun will determine if I go the full 2000 rounds or not.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge Results

Rounds Fired
50 Rounds Magtech .380 ACP FMJ
50 Rounds Winchester .380 ACP FMJ
50 Rounds Fiocci .380 ACP FMJ

Total Rounds Fired: 1500
One possible failure to eject on round 116
Failures to eject: Rounds 400, 489, 974, 993, 1277, 1323, 1359
Failure to feed: Round 873, 1526, 1534, 1556, 1583

 

 

Top Ten CCW Guns

Top Ten CCW Guns

Greg Ellifritz has a link to post with some solid suggestions for pistols for concealed carry.

After months and months of research and consultation with my friends and co-workers who are some of the smartest minds in the firearms business, I’ve compiled my own definitive list of the Top Ten Most-Effective Concealed Carry Pistols. Enjoy.

The Top Ten Most-Effective Pistols For Concealed Carry

  1. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  2. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  3. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  4. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  5. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  6. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  7. Glock 19, Carried With You Right Now
  8. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  9. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
  10. The Gun You Have With You Right Now
The Art Of The Compromise

The Art Of The Compromise

“Madam, we’ve already established who you are. Now we’re just haggling over price.”Anon

Let’s start with the obvious: We make compromises in how we chose to defend ourselves. A “no compromise” approach to personal defense would have us carrying around an M4gery, wearing a plate carrier and looking like this guy.

So we compromise. We don’t wear body armor and chest rigs. We carry Glock 19s and M&P Compacts in concealed holsters rather than open-carrying AR-15’s.  We don’t carry an IFAK, we carry a tourniquet and some Quikclot. We do this sort of thing because we know that, over the long haul, it’s better for us to make these compromises and fit in with the rest of society than it is for us to walk around with a rifle at low ready, acting like a freak.

As a result, when talk about carrying a .380 auto pistol in our pocket versus carrying a compact 9mm on our waist, we are talking about degrees of compromise. The compromise happened when we decided to carry a pistol, not a rifle: Anything else is just moving the needle in one direction or another.

This is why I don’t feel particularly out-gunned when I carry my LCP2, and I don’t feel unprepared when I carry around my ready-to-go improvised trauma kit rather than a flat-packed SOF-T Wide tourniquet. I’ve trained with the LCP2, I know its limitations and I know I can have it with me (and more…) pretty much anywhere it’s legal to carry a gun.

Is that gear a compromise? Yes.

Is it ineffective? No, and that’s all that matters.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1400 – 1500

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1400 – 1500

Or. I got 99 problems and I Mozambique’d every one of them.

As the LCP2 is chambered in .380, a round that is marginal for self-defensive purposes, shot placement and penetration are what is going to get the job done, not “stopping power”*, I spent this range session doing Failure To Stop drills with my LCP2 from three yards out to ten yards, and also did a few of the walkback drills I learned in ECQC, where the gun is extended out enough to get good hits on-target, but not so far out that your opponent can get ahold of it. Seven yards is about the maximum for me for headshots with this gun, but I can do center-mass all day long at 10 to 15 yards.

This is why we play the game… so we can find the limits of ourselves and our equipment.

Gun-wise, everything went the way it should… I placed all my hits either in the center-chest and ocular cavity, and the LCP2 chewed up and spit out 50 rounds of Winchester White Box and 50 rounds of Blazer Brass from Lucky Gunner with no trouble whatsoever, which makes a nice change from the last range session…. maybe something about that Magtech ammo just doesn’t sit well with this gun.

So, three-quarters of the way done, here’s where we stand:

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge Results

Rounds Fired
50 Rounds Blazer Brass .380 FMJ
50 Rounds Winchester .380 ACP

Total Rounds Fired: 1500
One possible failure to eject on round 116
Failures to eject: Rounds 400, 489, 974, 993, 1277, 1323, 1359
Failure to feed: Round 873


* Using “stopping power” to describe what pistol does is relatively equivalent to using “celibacy” to describe the antics of Kim Kardashian…

What To Look For In A Good Pocket Holster.

What To Look For In A Good Pocket Holster.

I wrote a brief overview of some of the more-common pocket holsters out there for Shooting Illustrated last year, and I was kinda surprised by what I was sent by the holster makers out there. Some of them were very good, and some of them, quite frankly, sucked.

I didn’t add it to the article, but I did a quick test of all ten holsters to see how effective they were at three things:

  1. Retaining the gun in the holster.
  2. Allowing me to grab the gun on the draw
  3. Releasing the pistol from the holster when drawing the gun

I set up a two-part test to test the holsters I wrote about.

  1. I put my unloaded pocket pistol (in this case, my Ruger LCP2) in the holster, and turned it upside down, applying as little pressure to the holster as possible. This tested the grippiness of the holster itself, and if the gun dropped out of the holster, it failed.
  2. I placed the unloaded gun in the holster, put in the pocket of my cargo shorts, set up a target three yards away and set my shot timer for three seconds. I know from a previous test that this was more than enough time to draw the gun and get a shot off, so that determined the test criteria.
    I ran this test five times for each holster, and if the holster prevented me from drawing the gun in that amount of time, or worst still, came out of my pocket with the holster still attached to the gun on any one of the five draws, it failed.

Out of the ten holsters I wrote about, only six passed this test. They were:

The ones that failed this test and the reasons they failed were:

  • The Crossbreed Pocket Holster (Couldn’t grab gun).
  • Uncle Mike’s Inside The Pocket Holster (Didn’t retain gun).
  • Blackhawk Tecgrip (Didn’t retain the gun AND came out with gun on the draw).
  • Bianchi Pocket Piece (Came out with gun on the draw)

I’m almost willing to give the Bianchi holster a pass, because as a leather holster, it can mold itself into a shape that’s a little amiable to releasing the gun when needed. However, the Kramer Leather* holster released the gun when needed from the very start, so let’s leave the Bianchi on the “fail” list for now.

To demonstrate what makes a good pocket holster, let’s look at two of the holsters that didn’t make the cut.

The Crossbreed Pocket Holster is kydex/leather hybrid, just like almost everything that Crossbreed makes, and while that big leather backer completely disguises the shape of your gun in your pocket, it also makes it almost impossible to get a good grip on your pistol during the draw. Considering that the whole point of carrying a gun is knowing that you’ll have to use it at some (unfortunate) moment in your life and you’ll also need to use it rightthisverysecond, having a holster that by design doesn’t allow you draw quickly is not a good idea.

That Blackhawk! pocket holster… where to begin. First off, it’s way too deep: The muzzle of my LCP2 doesn’t come close to the bottom of the holster, and there’s no molding on it whatsoever, so there is no retention whatsoever. In addition to this, the only thing that’s keeping your gun in your pants pocket is the grippiness of the material on the outside of the holster, and if that doesn’t do it’s job, your holster is coming out of your pocket with the gun wrapped inside of it.

This has a negative effect on your draw speed.

What happens with this holster is that because it’s not fitted to your gun, your gun flops around in your pocket, and if you need to draw your gun it’s either someplace other than inside the holster, leading to longer draw times as you play a very, very dangerous game of pocket pool fishing around for your heater, or it comes out of your pocket along with the gun, leaving you pointing something at looks like a small coin purse at your assailant.

In short, a good pocket holster keeps your gun securely inside your pocket, allows you to get a good grip on your gun before the draw, and stays inside your pocket when you draw your gun. Anything less is unacceptable.


* HOLY COW do the Kramer and Bianchi holsters look good. It’s almost a shame to hide them away in a pocket.

Stop Apologizing For Carrying A Pocket Pistol.

Stop Apologizing For Carrying A Pocket Pistol.

I’m doing a little research on what’s out there as far as “how to” guides on carrying smaller guns, and all of them start off a variation of “Yes, I carry a pocket gun, but what I really like to carry is a Glock 19/1911/some other bigger gun.”

This is roughly equivalent to starting of a book on cooking hamburgers with “yes, I eat hamburgers, but what I really like to eat is reverse-seared dry-aged ribeye steaks.”

What does one have to do with the other? Yes, I like a good steak, but I like a good hamburger, too. If I want a burger, I buy a burger. If I want steak, I eat steak. I don’t apologize for eating a hamburger on a road trip, and I don’t apologize for liking to splurge on a good hunk o’ cow from time to time. Burgers have their time and place, so do steaks. You’d get p!ssed off if someone served you a Big Mac at a steak joint, and good luck trying to eat a porterhouse in your car.

Carry your pocket guns. Shoot them well. Learn what they can and can’t do. And don’t make apologies for what you carry.

The Tipping Point

The Tipping Point

In response to the horror in Parkland, Florida is looking to allow public school teachers to carry a defensive firearm inside the classroom.

Good.

What’s not so good are the training requirements. I understand that a lot of this is political cover so that a bill of some form can be passed in the legislature, and that the trust icon of law enforcement training is a powerful talisman of faith, but 132 hours of training, just so you can carry a gun inside school grounds like you can outside of school grounds?

From SB 7026: Public Safety.

(5) TRAINING AND INSTRUCTION.—All training must be conducted by Criminal Justice Standards Training Commission (CJSTC)-certified instructors.
(a) Required instruction must include 132 total hours of comprehensive firearm safety and proficiency training in the following topics:
1. Firearms: 80-hour block of instruction. The firearms instruction must be based on the CJSTC Law Enforcement Academy training model and must be enhanced to include 10 percent to 20 percent more rounds fired by each program participant beyond the minimum average of approximately 1,000 training rounds associated with academy training. Program participants mustachieve an 85 percent pass rate on the firearms training.
2. Firearms precision pistol: 16-hour block of instruction.
3. Firearms discretionary shooting: 4-hour block of instruction using state-of-the-art simulator exercises.
4. Active shooter or assailant: 8-hour block of instruction.
5. Defensive tactics: 4-hour block of instruction.
6. Legal or high liability: 20-hour block of instruction.
(b) Program participants may complete an optional, 16-hour precision pistol course as additional training.
(c) Ongoing and annual proficiency retraining must be conducted by the sheriff, as specified in the agreement.

Also, they’re bypassing the civilian training market and making it a money-maker for the Sheriff’s department. Not the most optimal of outcomes, but if it gets rid of the silliness of “gun free zones”, I’m ok with this. Florida led the wave of “Shall Issue” CCW permits back in the early 90’s, and if this creates a demand for a dispersed response to all kinds of dispersed threats, not just active shooters, this is a good thing indeed.