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Starting The New Year With A Bang

Starting The New Year With A Bang

We had unseasonably warm weather in the northeast on New Years Day. Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to head over to my gun club and do some shooting.

I loaded up the range bag with a couple of guns, targets, and other stuff and headed out. I wasn’t sure that I was going to get to shoot, because I expected that other people would have the same idea.

I guess they were all doing something else, or maybe just hungover because there was just one other person there when I arrived. He was packing up and left pretty much as I walked into the range building and started to set up.

One of the things that I like about my club is that there is no requirement for a Range Officer to be present when members want to shoot. There are some pretty reasonable rules and some actual video surveillance, but we are treated like responsible adults.

I set a target on the handgun range and loaded up.

First up was a recently acquired Smith & Wesson CS9. Back in the late 1990s, S&W applied the “Chiefs Special” name to very compact Third Generation semi automatic pistol line. These were, in today’s parlance “sub compact” pistols with a three inch barrel, less capacious magazine, and overall smaller size than the full size or even compact versions of the same guns. I don’t think that they were specifically marketed to police chiefs, but maybe they were.

The firearms were also “Value Line” versions of the Third Generation guns. That meant that they weren’t as smoothly machined as the regular lines, used some plastic parts in none critical parts (if there is such a thing), and didn’t have the quality bluing of the larger guns.

There were other “Value Line” guns, which were intended to compete with the highly successful and less expensive to produce Glock pistols. Functionally, the Value Line guns were Third Generation pistols, they just weren’t as finely finished.

This particular gun was sold to a law enforcement officer, so it was a bit different than the regular production guns. The two major differences were that it was shipped with Novak low profile sights with Trijicon night sight inserts. The other was that it was shipped with an ambidextrous safety.

Since my new acquisition was built in September of 2001, the lamps have long since burned out. Easy enough to fix and I’ll be shipping the gun out Trijicon for relamping.

I’m not a big fan of the ambi safety levers and so I swapped a left side only safety that I had sitting in the parts bin into the gun. The big reason for this trip, other than it’s fun, was to make sure I hadn’t bunged that operation up.

That safety will be coming out and shipped to a gentleman down south for some reworking. He will shave a couple of steps off the lever and then dehorn the edges to make it easier to carry without digging holes in pants and shirts.

Once all of that work is done and the gun is back together, this will become my pocket carry pistol.

The actual shooting was a bit anti climactic. As expected the gun, is very accurate for a 3″ barrel firearm. I’ve tested various bullet weights and it seems to shoot best with 124gr bullet weight. I plan to use Federal HST 124gr Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition.

Once I was done with that pistol, I put up a fresh target and took the next pistol out of the case.

This is a Springfield Armory XDE, also in 9mm. I’m not a big fan of polymer frame guns, but this one is a bit different. I also bought it as a travel gun for occasions when I go out of state. I did that because unlike my no longer produced Third Generation semi autos, the XDE is easy to replace in the event it is lost, stolen, or for some reason taken by the police during an investigation.

I got a really good deal on this gun over the summer from a dealer I’ve done a fair amount of business with. All I needed was an additional magazine and well made Kydex holster to complete the package.

One of the reasons I selected this specific model is that it’s functionally very similar to the Third Generation S&W firearms. First shot is double action, follow up shots are single action. The manual of arms is similar, with two differences. First, the safety and decocker functions are different. The XDE safety lever is pretty much in the same location, but it moves down for decock and then up for safety. It can, at least in theory, be carried with the hammer cocked, but safety engaged. Well, it can be carried with the hammer cocked and safety NOT engaged, but that’s not something I would do.

Of course it can be carried with the hammer down and the safety not engaged, which is how I generally carry my Third Generation firearms. It can be carried with the hammer down and safety engaged, which again I don’t recommend.

Carrying with the chamber empty, as advocated by some people, is right out. Feel free to convince me I’m wrong in the comments.

This gun is very easy and comfortable to shoot. It’s also very accurate. The only modification I’ve made or will make is to put some Talon Grips grip tape on. It makes the grips a bit more “grippy” and covers up the rather silly “Grip Zone” logo molded into the factory grips.

The XDE doesn’t seem to care one bit about bullet weight. I’ve fired 115, 124, and 147gr range ammo through it without a hitch.

I’ll probably use 147gr JHP for personal defense, since the firearm is accurate with it and has a long enough barrel for good expansion.

Pictures to follow when I have a few minutes.

That was my New Years Day, how was yours?


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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.