Firearms


I have already done a review of the CZ-85 Combat, but here’s another in the CZ stable that I finally got a change to shoot a few times in the last week: the CZ-75B SA (single action).

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I had fired a few different types of CZ over the years — the original CZ-75B, the new CZ-75 P-01 compact, and the CZ-75 P-07 polymer frame, in addition to my own CZ-85 Combat, which I bought for duo-tone finish and the full ambi controls. (Being a leftie is a pain in the ass, sometimes…) Spurred on by his delight with my CZ-85, a colleague of mine bought himself the CZ-75B SA for a pretty reasonable price ($550 or so.)

Like the other pistols from this manufacturer, the fit and finish are tops. CZ uses an all-steel frame and slide, with the slide fit inside the frame to give a lower bore to grip axis. This makes recoil absorption a breeze, and the CZs are all very easy shooting weapons. It has the standard 16 round magazines, a safety only lever — no decocking mechanism, and is otherwise indistinguishable from the normal -75s. The difference is the single-action only trigger, which is probably the nicest of all the CZs I’ve shot. There’s a lot of takeup, as with all of its cousins, but the release is light (guessing 4-5 lbs or so) and sharp, and reset is quick and audible.

Thanks to the fantastic trigger, the low bore axis, and the superior ergonomics of the grip angle (John Browning got it right, Glock…), the pistol is an incredible shooter. Sub-2″ groups at 25 yards unsupported were possible, and at normal engagement ranges for a pistol (3-10 yards) with a quick draw and panicked rate of fire, we still could put 3-5 round strings in a 3×5 card out to 10 yards.

We haven’t fed it much outside of the Blazer Brass on the range, but if my CZ-85 Combat is anything to go by, it’ll eat just about anything you throw at it. Mine is particularly found of the steel-cased Russian stuff, Brown Bear, Wolf, and Tula, but has fired everything from the lightweight Pow-R-Ball up to 125 gr. without issue. The only ammo it doesn’t like is the aluminum-cased Blazer.

Finish is the standard CZ black polycoat with black plastic grips. It’s a fine looking piece and the polycoat is durable — mine has slight holster wear from seven years of use and close to 5000 rounds through it. With care in your handling, I suspect it will stay good-looking for some time to come.

I highly recommend this one — the trigger’s even better than the CZ-85, and I may have to look into whether I can get this trigger mod for the -85.

This is truly going to be a “quick review”, as I only got to shoot a few dozen rounds through my friend’s M&P. First, the overview:

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The particular model was the “Viking Tactical” — which fits my friend’s Teutonic beginnings quite well. The VTAC has nice fiber optic green sights that work very well. They’re visible, quick to come to bear. The rest of the gun is the standard M&P striker-fired 17 round 9mm full size in the reprehensible desert brown. It has the replaceable backstraps that Walther made so popular with the P99, and it’s a simple weapon with just a slide release and mag release. no safety. The slide is easy to operate, the trigger is stiff and a bit heavy when compared to the wonderful Walther PPQ and H&K VP9, but the weapon shoots lightly and the accuracy seems decent for a service weapon. We put some 115 gr. lead and 124 copper jackets through the pistol and there were no issues with function.

This is a popular gun for police (or I should say the standard M&P is) due to the backstrap and cheap deals for law enforcement. It’s a decent full size choice for females with smallish hands, and I was not blown away by the pistol, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded having it as an issue gun; it’s light years better than the Beretta M9, but I think my metal frame CZ-85 is still a superior shooter.

The Steyr TMP has been a staple of action movies for a decade, but was a somewhat lackluster piece of equipment in real life. However, Brügger & Thomet, a Swiss defense contractor that specializes in sound suppressors, bought the design and did improvements to it that led to its recent adoption by the Swiss military for its echelon troops. (It is also popular with some police departments around the world.)

B&T MP9-N

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Also called the Machinenpistole 14, the MP9-N is a selective-fire 9x19mm personal defense weapon in the same vein as the P-90 or H&K MP7. It is capable of 1100 RPM, and uses either a 15, 20, or 30 round magazine, usually clear plastic to allow the user to do a spot ammunition check. It uses an H&K style selector, rather than the original Steyr cross-bolt safety/selector, has a folding stock, and a Piccatiny-style rail for attaching tactical lights or lasers.

PM: 0   S/R: 2/10   AMMO: 30   DC: F/I   CLOS: 0-8   LONG: 25-50   CON: +3   JAM: 98+   DRAW: -2   RL: 2   COST: $3000

GM Information: With a suppressor affixed, the MP9-N specs change in several areas:

PM: +1   DC: E/H   CLOS: 0-6   LONG 18-30   CON: n/a   DRAW: -3

Back in December, I traded my Kimber Stainless Pro Carry II for a Rock Island Armory .22TCM/9mm 1911A2. I had initially been looking for an Officers or Commander-sized 9mm 1911, but this one just looked to good to pass up. Here’s my initial impressions of the weapon. After a month of living with the thing, and making a few important changes (for me), here’s my review of the pistol.

It turns out, this is one of the first runs of the TCM, according to the guys in Nevada, with a low serial number. The pistol had been worked on a bit before I got it. The previous owner polished the slide flats, giving it a Kimber Eclipse kind of look. (Good thing I live in the desert, or I’d have to be at this consistently to combat rust.) Fit and finish, otherwise, is better than the usual RIA Gi models, not as good as the higher end models from Ruger, Springfield, or Kimber.

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It came with Hogue wrap around grips with the finger grooves the first owner had dropped on it. Those came off as soon as I could get to it; I hate finger groove grips (your mileage may vary, and whatever god bless you for it, but I hate them) and the only real choice was the VZ G10 grips for it. Apparently, grips for the Para P-14 will also work, but might need work to get the grip screw holes to line up properly. I didn’t feel like dealing with that, so it was either modify the Hogue (still an option, I suppose…) or these.

If you do the VZ Grips, you may need to get a Dremel out and do some work. The tabs to cover the inner workings stick out a bit. I’m left handed, so they don’t bite me, but a few rounds shooting right handed showed the tabs are sharp and still out a bit under the safety switch. I’m going to sand them down to fit more comfortably, eventually. These grips flattened the cross-section of the grip so even my wife finds it not uncomfortable; without the finger grooves, I can index my digits more naturally. The result was a much clearer picture of the pistol’s capabilities.

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Not taking my time, a two inch group, spot on the target, is possible at 10 yards in 9mm; point shooting, old-school style, gives me similar accuracy, one or two handed. The groups are about half an inch tighter with .22TCM, but fall about two inches low inside 10 yards. Out to 25 yards, taking my time and unsupported, the rounds in 9mm drop about two inches from point of aim in a 2-3″ group. In .22TCM, it’s similar groupings, but with the right elevation at that range.

Part of the reason this was possible is an exceedingly good trigger, that broke at just a hair under 4 lbs., according to the scale of one of the competition guys at the indoor range I was at that first day. It really is a remarkably high-quality trigger and hammer combo.

The magazine accommodates 17 rounds of 9mm or 18 rounds of .22 TCM (Tuason Craig Magnum) and this pistol came with a flush fit, flat bottomed magazine. It’s good quality machining, properly finished so that the magazines slip in and out smoothly and function well. I’ve ordered another.

The reliability of the TCM with the 9mm barrel is tops. I’ve had one malfunction, and that was me knocking the safety on by accident in 600 rounds. The .22 TCM barrel, however, gave me two failures to extract the round from the breech in 150 rounds. This seems to be a common issue if you use the 9mm barrel regularly; the extractor spring isn’t strong enough. A quick email to Rock Island and they sent me a replacement extractor assembly for free. This supposedly fixes the issue. (The Rock Island has a lifetime warranty. Customer service, on a side note, has been pretty good with Rock Island so far.)

The wide body A2 is similar to the Para-Ordinance 1911A2, but the TCM is just a bit off from even Rock Island’s A2s for the grip screw placement. Also, it doesn’t seem to like a few of the standard 1911 holsters (a big surprise to me.) It will not lock into my Blackhawk SERPA for the 1911 Government model. I’ve yet to try others as this thing is heavy at about 41 oz. in 9mm (probably about 39 with a mag of the TCM.) It’s a bag/car gun, right now.

As to the .22TCM round. We chronographed it with an average of 2050fps in a 40 grain hollow point. That’s about 375 ft-lbs at the muzzle, which places it firmly in the 9mm range of energy. Good for self-defense? There’s plenty of chortling about small calibers and self-defense from the “if it don’t start with a four…” crowd, but statistics show just about every pistol cartridge until you hit the 10mm/.41 magnum range requires 2.25 rounds or so to incapacitation. This is a super accurate round, so shot placement and follow-up shots should be a breeze. I certainly found this to be one of the easiest guns to shoot accurately I’ve fired. And you’ve got 18 in the mag…

As for the longevity of the round, Rock Island has a new .22 TCM 9R round that will fit in a conversion barrel for the Glock 17. As with the TCM, you use the same magazines the pistol normally uses. They also have a bolt gun that uses the 17 round pistol mags coming, a single stack version of the 1911, and a few other small manufacturers are toying with semi-auto carbines for the .22 TCM. I’d say the chance of it sticking around is on par with the 5.7x28mm, which it is a definite match for, if maybe slightly superior to, FN’s civilian SS197 ammunition. I’ve so far been able to find the ammo reliably in several shops in Albuquerque, and it’s been in stock online for about $17 a box whenever I’ve checked, thus far. And if you can’t find it? It’s a 9mm.

Is the Rock Island worth the $600-750 price tag? Yes, unequivocally.

UPDATE: I did buy a new magazine for the Rock Island TCM a few weeks ago, and after ordering the wrong one — which Armscor didn’t just replace with the correct one, they refunded my money because of the error — I finally encountered an issue that turns up on some reviews and boards regarding the gun: it locks the slide on the last round. you can hit the slide stop and fire the last round with no issue, but it will lock open as if empty with one round left.

The issue was easy to diagnose putting the mags side by side. The follower on the new mag is flat and engages too early; the older one is shaved at the corner just a millimeter or so (I’ve yet to measure it), but that allows the weapon to function properly. It should be a few minute fix with a file, if it really bothers you.

So I got a hold of a Rock Island 1911A2 .22TCM today and had a chance to take it straight to the range for a break in. I only got 100 rounds of .22TCM and a box of 50 9mm through the gun, but it was enough to get some initial impressions on the weapon.

First, the look of the pistol is very nice. Unlike the usual natty RIA finish (very practical for a workaday gun), the TCM is beautiful with a nice black to the receiver, the underside and the flat top of the slide. The sides are polished and look a lot like the Kimber Eclipse, giving it a nice black on silvery gray two-tone. The fit and finish are premium quality — easily on par with much more expensive guns. It is a wide-frame, double-stack 1911. More on that in a moment. There are adjustable sights that work well, but a white or red dot on the front sight would have been a plus.

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The grips. I know a lot of people like the wrap-around finger groove thing — I think it sucks. And blows. At the same time. Some complain about the look, but the fit was fine — they just make the gun a bit too wide for me, and the finger groove crap always messes with my natural hold on a 1911. There are almost no options for the pistol because the grip screws are just a smidge different from the Para-Ordinance A2. You can use the P-14 grips, but you have to dremel a bit on the screw holes, apparently. There are VZ Grips for the pistol, but they are available only in black through Armscor. I consider this a bit of a “lose” for the gun, but not enough to naysay buying one.

The upside to the double stack 1911: 17 rounds of 9mm or 18 rounds of .22TCM. The pistol is heavy — it’s not a great choice for concealed carry, but it isn’t a bad choice for backpacking, open carry, or the like. The magazines fit well, and mine functioned flawlessly. Another downside — it doesn’t seem to fit in a standard 1911 holster, or at least not the SERPA I have. Weight is about 41 oz., so about a quarter again heavier than, say, the Kimber Pro Carry II’s 35ish oz.

Function: Oh, but this is a great gun. For the $600 or so you’ll shell out for the TCM, you get one of the single best triggers I’ve used on a 1911, which means better than just about anything not costing you $2000+ (and even on par with some of those.) It broke at 3.5 lbs. nice a crisply with no creep at all. Reset is quick and loud enough that if you watch some video, you will hear it. The trigger and hammer are skeletonized, and there is a nice beavertall grip safety. The weapon ran all of the 150 through it with no malfunctions, save for me accidentally putting the safety on while shooting. (Lefty…)

Accuracy: 2 inches at 15 yards, free hand, taking my time in 9mm and .22. Better at 10 yards. The groups were amazing, but I consistently shot a bit low due to the finger groove grips. (Seriously…hate these things.) I suspect I can do better in another trip or two.

Ammunition: Armscor’s the only people doing .22TCM, just like FN was humping their customers on 5.7x28mm for the longest time. Seriously, Armscor, here’s your winning friggin’ proposition — do an AR in .22TCM. Yesterday. Why, you ask? Because you get the same performance as the 5.7mm out of a standard-size grip handgun. The rounds I shot were chronographed at 2000-2060fps by one of the other shooters who frequents the range. With a 40 gr. bullet, that’s about 350 ft lbs of energy, or the low end of 9mm. With almost zero recoil — the 1911A2 weighs enough you get less recoil than the FiveSeven, and more accuracy because the weight actually make your hand move less and the trigger is lightyears better than the FN’s. (And I love the FiveSeven — carried one for a decade.)

Even better, if you can’t find .22TCM (as low as $17/box online, usually $22-25 in town), you can swap the barrel and recoil spring with ease in about a minute, and shoot 9mm. I did not try hollowpoints this time out, just crappy Federal 115 gr. white box stuff. No issues. It shot well with little recoil. Armscor — make some kind of AR or carbine that uses the pistol mags and a swappable barrel and you have a winner. Just do it. Yesterday!

The two big complaints I have are the obvious grip screw, hard to find alternate grips thing, and the lack of an indicator dot on the front sight. Otherwise, this is a better functioning 1911 than the two Rock Island .45s my ex-wife had, better than the CDP 9mm and the Stainless Pro Carry II from Kimber, better than the Springfield Armory 1911s I’ve shot (with the exception of a friend’s Yost-Bnitz modified Springfield.) It’s got a superb stock trigger, good sights that a bit of paint on the front post would make great, CZ levels of ammunition in the magazine, and comparable accuracy to my CZ-85 (which is excellent.) Fit, finish, and frills are all high quality for budget 1911 prices. And you can shoot two different calibers.

So is it worth it? Not just yes, but hell yes.

 

Ah, yes…I know I’ve seen a bunch of these.

The local shooting range does a bunch of training courses and the former military and contractor guys are way to into the Central Axis Relock and C-Clamp bullshit. They’re not any better shots for it — it just looks tacticool. The CAR “check your six” whiplash thing? Stupid. The over the barrel hold for rifles? Great if you don’t need those iron sights. (But the modified Rambo..? That totally works. Totes.)

Three things make you a good shot: practice, find the grip that works for you…and practice. Think about all those amazing rifle(wo)men and pistoleers across the last two centuries — their stances and holds were what worked for them — but in the end, they shot. A lot.

 

For the last decade, I’ve had a selection of rifles — mostly AR-style carbines from various manufacturers in gas port and gas piston, but I never meshed with the ergonomics of the weapon. i was much more fond of the FN PS90 in 5.7mm — sure, it didn’t have the power of the AR-15, but for most urban engagements or home defense SHTF situations, a pistol cartridge carbine has a few definite advantages: 1) they’re lighter, 2) ammo is interchangeable with handguns, 3) they’re easier to control and shoot. The downsides are obvious: 1) lower power, 2) shorter effective range.

The PS90 served the house for a decade with the FiveSeven as my carry gun, but over the last two years or so, I realized i wasn’t carrying the FN, despite the lighter weight; my 1911 was more concealable. Also, I hadn’t shot the PS90 in almost three years. Time to make some room in the gun cabinet. I decided I wanted a 9mm or .45 for cost efficiency (and because it’s near impossible to get a 10mm carbine.)

There were only a few options — an AR in 9mm, but i don’t like the ergonomics and if you’re going to buy an AR, buy a rifle cartridge; there was the Hi-Point, which had some real boosters online, but looked like crap; and the Beretta CX4. The Storm is a sexy looking thing that uses M9/92 model magazines, and those are plentiful. All the reviews touted the reliability and the accuracy. I borrowed one from the local range and put a few boxes through it.

Sold.

The bad first: The trigger’s a bit heavy, but better than the PS90. The iron sights are spot on but horrible for quick use. The gun needs a decent reflex sight or a simple red dot. I dropped one on and I can still see the iron sights through the glass, just in case. Some might not like the safety — it’s a cross bolt and hard to operate unless you’re used to a shotgun; then you’ll be fine. The magazine well is a bit clumsy for seating the standard 15 round M9 magazines, but I suspect the extended 30 round ones should go in much easier. It’s a little pricey at $700 when a el-cheapo AR is running $850.

The good: Accuracy is great out to the 30 yards I tried it at. My suspicion is it should be spot on out to 100-150 yards. Reach to the trigger is about the same as the PS90. Recoil is very manageable and the rubber cheek pad and buttpad is very comfortable. There’s a Piccatinny rail on the top for optics, a light screw-on rail for the side near the front for a light, and there’s a very small nub of a rail under the barrel that after cleaning the Storm, I noticed connected to a long bit of plastic in the upper. Pushing in the front sling post allows you to slide a long, useable rail out under the barrel.

The great: It looks amazing and futuristic. You can swap the ejection port and charging handle with ease from right to left hand. The takedown is as easy as the PS90 — knockout a wee pin from either side of the foregrip, pull the stock out, pull the bolt out. Done.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

New CX4 with a crappy BSA red dot scope.

So is it worth it? Yes.

UPDATE: I took the Storm out this morning and dropped 200 rounds through it. The old BSA RDA30 scope shook itself apart about halfway through the shoot and had to be junked in favor of a new BSA reflex sight. The rifle had no malfunctions, shot true to it’s iron sights and my original red dot, and once I got the new one sighted in, here were no issues. It is, however, a dirty gun — 200 rounds had me with soot all over my fingers and I could feel the oil from the ammunition on my face.

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