Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Quality matters!


Todays post will be something usually not found in most firearm reviews.  I will be talking about quality defects.  Most reviews read the same, X firearm is the greatest thing since sliced bread and will outshoot anything produced.  Boring and tells me nothing. 
As firearms are mechanical devices you will once in a while have a defect.  Some are minor and easily fixed.  Others are major and warrant a return to the factory.  No manufacturer can have zero defects.  That is impossible.  But all manufacturers should strive to minimize defects.  Rework costs money and therefore profit.  There is also the hazard of perception.  You many have the greatest product every produced.  But if buyers perceive your product to be of low quality and do not buy it, you are done and your business will fail. 

I understand manufacturers are trying to reduce costs as the economy flushes down the crapper.  Thanks Federal Government for the wonderful mismanagement of the economy.  But there is a point cost cutting must stop in order to maintain quality.  If quality drops too far, people stop buying your products. 
And this drop is quality is what I am seeing across the firearms industry.  The next section will outline the defects I have seen. 




IWI:

The maker of the must have rifle of 2013, the TAVOR.  Yes, this $2000 rifle had issues right of the box.  It would shortstroke.  Shortstroking is when rifle does not have enough gas pressure to push the slide all the way rearward to pick up the next cartridge from the magazine.  So you end up pulling the charging handle each time you want to fire the rifle.  Very frustrating.
After 500 rounds the problem seems to have self corrected itself.  It cycles fine now with no problems.  I’m not sure what was the problem.  It could be as simple as it needed a break-in period.  But 500 rounds is an expensive break-in.  That is 500 rounds that I did not get to train with and practice my skills.  And luckily I did not need to bet my life on this rifle. 
I will not trust this rifle until I have another 500-1000 rounds through it, trouble free.  This is a serious defect of perception.  Luckily I can afford to own more than one rifle.


Taurus:

I recently purchased a model 650.  This is a subnose .357 revolver.  Taurus’s version of the Smith and Wesson model 640.  Everything looked fine when I purchased it.  But went south the first time I fired it.  It turns out the barrel isn’t installed correctly.  The barrel is not fully seated and is crooked.  Since this is a fixed sight revolver, this means the front sight is canted to the left.  It shoots 2 inches right at 7 yards and 5 inches right at 15 yards.  Again, I’m fortunate to have the means to have more than one handgun.  And I have enough experience to compensate for this sight misalignment if I had to. 

What if this is someones first and only handgun?  What if they need it immediately as there was a potential threat?  Do they have the time to return it for warranty work?  Can they live without their firearm for several weeks while it is repaired?  Do they have enough skill and experience to compensate for the canted front sight?  I see this as a potential life threatening quality defect.  This handgun should not have left the factory.  Especially with an obvious and blatant defect.



Ruger:

I recently picked up a Ruger 10/22.  A fun little .22 rifle.  But when I stripped it to clean it, the recoil spring came off the op rod.  The spring should be a captive spring.  The spring should not fly off.  The factory did not put enough crimp on it.  A minor defect and easily fixed by those of us who are mechanically inclined.  Not everyone is mechanically inclined.  Now they have a useless rifle that requires repair.   

Next up in the Ruger line is a model SP101.  A .357 snubby revolver.  I found 2 items on this one firearm.  First, there was a large burr on the frame that was not removed during the assembly process.  It did not affect function, but should have been removed by the factory.  A few quick strokes of a file and the problem disappeared.  Again, not everyone can do this. 
Next, when I pulled it apart to replace the mainspring (poor mans trigger job), I noticed the machining of the internal frame and trigger assembly was rougher than on older Rugers I own.  This explains why the trigger pull was a bit crunchy.
Again, functionality was not affected.  But, my perception of Ruger has gone down a bit.
I have another SP101, an older model.  And when compared side by side, the older model has a nicer fit and finish.  
Definitely, quality is going down, but has not yet affected functionality.


Volquartsen:

Yes, the all mighty Volquartsen.  Maker of high quality parts for your Ruger 10/22 and MK3 and MK22/45 handguns has sent me some real lemons.  And serious ones that require the parts to be sent back to the factory for replacement.
I purchased 2 trigger assemblies for my 10/22 rifles.  These were advertised as match grade triggers with a 2½ pound trigger pull. 
Both have serious issues. 

The first one had the following problems:
·                Safety does not work.  It will not engage. 
·               The mounting holes were not machined correctly.  When mounted into the receiver, the     
         fit was too tight and caused the bolt to drag.

The second assembly had the following problem:
·                The mounting holes are machined incorrectly and the assembly cannot be installed.      
         You can even see the poor machining in the rear mounting hole. 

These defects come from a company that has a reputation for quality and precision.  Not only are these functional defects, but my perception of Volquartsen has dropped considerably.  Has Volquartsen gone the route of Kimber?  Lowered the quality level to accommodate mass manufacture and then rely on quality of their name to keep business coming in?  I hope not.  Especially when this trigger assembly costs more than the rifle it will be installed on. 
As a Manufacturing Engineer, if I saw this, I would start pulling samples to see if I have a systemic problem.  It is very rare to get 2 assemblies, in a row, that have such serious problems unless there is a deeper systemic issue. 



Conclusion:

Am I saying not to buy from these manufacturers ever again?  No!  Any manufacturer can produce defects.  It happens.  I would by these products again.  Do carefully examine your firearm before you purchase.  And make sure they work correctly before you bet anything on them, especially your life. 

What I am seeing is an industry wide drop in overall quality.  Everyone is cutting costs and it is showing in the end product.  What you are buying today is not as nice as a few years ago.
In my opinion it is almost impossible to get this many defects across multiple products and manufacturers.  Except for the TAVOR, all items listed above have been purchased within the last six weeks from multiple gun shops and online retailers. 


Final comments on quality:

Why quality matters?  Because in todays world, everyone and their brother makes and AR-15, or a 1911 or a precision bolt action rifle.  So whom do you buy from?  One factor is who provides the features you want.  But more importantly, who produces what you want, with the best quality for the best price.  I think quality is the more important of the two.  This also extends to customer service as well.  I will pay more for the same product if I get superior customer service.
And on the flip side, you may have the greatest product ever, but if your customer service sucks, I will not buy from you unless I absolutely need what you are selling and there is no one else. 

Quality matters!



By: Mez
04/08/2014 


Friday, April 4, 2014

Review Regrets

Back in June of 2012, I wrote a glowing review of a new gun shop.  I loved the place - it became my go-to shop for a few months and then things began to change.  By the time their first year was out, the co-owner, who had become somewhat of a friend had some health issues and was pushed out.  I didn't like the way the shop was going, it was now staffed by a bunch of young wanna-bes who didn't know jack-shit about guns.  My fun shop had turned into a large box store.  However, because I didn't want to hurt my friend, I didn't print a retraction despite desperately wanting to.

The last time I was in the shop, I might have well have gone to Sportsman's Warehouse.  I was ignored and talked down to.  The young bucks didn't have time for a middle-aged woman (who has more shooting experience than the whole lot of them put together).  The positive influence of the co-owner was gone - the store was all about volume and they didn't care how they moved that volume.  But, yet, I held off.

Today, though, the taste of betrayal is strong. And I don't like it.

As most of you know, Colorado is currently locked in a legal battle regarding the gun laws passed last year.  Fifty-five of our sheriffs have filed a lawsuit against the state, and several gun shops have joined.  Here's a link to the original complaint.  Note that USA Liberty Arms is clearly listed as one of the plaintiffs on page two, right under MagPul Industries.

This morning, I read the following on Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply's Facebook page:
I Spent the day at the Federal Courthouse in Denver.

Today John Berrud, of Jensen Arms, and I testified on behalf of the Plaintiff FFL's in our lawsuit against the State of Colorado. Governor John Hickenlooper signed three anti-second Amendment, anti-gun rights, anti-personal freedom bills into law. This lawsuit which seeks to overturn these as unconstitutional, is based on the Second and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

While there were originally 9 FFL holders (gun stores) in this suit, to represent the group as a whole. Only 5 took the effort to compile the necessary data, and submit the necessary paperwork to the attorneys in order to proceed with the suit.

One of the original 9 plaintiffs in the suit, USA Liberty Arms, not only failed to support the lawsuit by refusing to provide data, they were listed on the State Attorney's list of potential witnesses.

In a news article printed in January co-owner David McClelland was quoted as saying they have "managed to adjust to the changes."
"They've also found special magazines that comply with the law."
"They make California-compliant models that take 10-round magazines easily," McClelland said. "Abiding by that law is very easy."

Meanwhile the testimonies of the all the Plaintiff's has gone well, the attorneys are getting in the arguments they have against these laws. Tomorrow starts the testimonies of the defendant. The trial is expected to end late next week. Keep the attorneys in your thoughts and prayers as they proceed.

We are hoping Justice will prevail, and these anti-gun, anti-liberty laws will be declared unconstitutional and thrown out.

Support those in the Industry that are doing their part to protect your 2nd Amendment right.
Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply, Fort Collins
Jensen Arms, Loveland
Jerrys Outdoor Sports, Grand Junction
Green Mountain Guns, Denver
Goods for the Woods, Durango

I've tried looking for the Defense's current witness list, but can't seem to find it (I do not have strong Google-Fu apparently).  I will, until proven otherwise, believe the post by RMSS because they are currently testifying in the lawsuit and have access to all of the court records.

Not so much as one red cent of mine will be spent at USA Liberty Arms.  Not because they're a witness for the Defense, not really.  The reason is that they joined one side of the lawsuit and switched sides. 

I have respect for businesses (and people) who stand for what they believe in, even if their beliefs are different from mine.

I have ZERO respect for businesses (and people) who can't make up their minds.

I just wonder if their switching sides has anything to do with them being approved to build a huge indoor shooting range that previously met a lot of opposition?  Suddenly, their proposal went from "no way will we approve this", to "sure, it'll be good for the area".  Feels to me like there's been a bit of behind-the-scenes horse trading.  (Or I've been spending too much time with my Conspiracy Nutter friends.)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Something to (Re)Consider

I had a great time at the gun range on Sunday. My best friend is getting married, and he had asked me to organize a gun range outing as part of the bachelor party festivities. Our original choice for location was to be a large, outdoor range in the DFW area; however, "Spring" weather in Texas struck a death blow to that plan with temps in the 40s and a windchill in the 30s.

No worries, the recently reopened DFW Gun Range took care of us on short notice with a three lane bay all to ourselves. We got there at the right time too. When we packed up to leave, there was a huge crowd waiting for an open lane. For those in the Dallas area, DFW Gun Range has made some really nice improvements as part of the rebuild following the fire. It's well worth your time to check them out.

As is known to happen from time to time when acquainted gunnies gather, gats were passed around for sampling. This is both a good and bad thing. It's a good thing in that you get to try out things that you don't currently own without forking over a rental fee and paying range ammo prices. It's a bad thing in that people, like me, afflicted with gun trader ADD might be tempted to sell or trade something for something else because....OOOoooo, shiny.

For the most part, I was immune. I ran a box of .45 through best friend's newly acquired Ruger SR1911...which set me off jonesing for another 1911 (the Sig Traditional Reverse Two Tone to be exact). There is nothing wrong with the SR1911. It's as accurate as every other 1911 I've had the pleasure to play with including a Colt, a Kimber, the Sig 1911, a Umarex/Regent, a Firestorm, etc. Price point wise, you will have a hard time finding a higher quality 1911 for under $700 (buddy paid just over $600 plus tax for it at a gun show a couple of months ago).

The Smith & Wesson 4 inch Model 27-2 in .357 did not awaken any urges for me nor did "Bertha". Bertha is a Colt Single Action Army clone in .45 Colt. She makes a big boom and puts a big hole in the target. She's also heavier than an opera singer on a Ben & Jerry's binge. The Sig P238 in .380 wearing the Equinox finish was cute, and I succeeded in shooting it without leaving blood on the slide (unlike his Colt Mustang from ages ago). Alas, I have no need nor desire for a pocket mouse.

Here's the thing that really threw my gun ADD in a tizzy. The Gen 3 Glock 19 in 9mm. Ugly as sin, and boring as all get out. Couldn't be planer than a white bread bologna sammich. I have no need of a polymer wonder 9. I have the Smith & Wesson M&P40 (with the 9mm barrel). But, here's the thing I could not ignore.

I flat out just shoot a bone stock Glock better than I shoot the M&P.

The Glock has a better trigger out of the box than the M&P. There is no debating that point. The Glock also gives up a half inch of barrel length and sight radius to the M&P, but that's mostly negligible at social distances. The M&P has better ergonomics, better factory sights and just feels better in the hand; but, even with the crappy plastic stock Glock sights, it outshoots the M&P for me.

This is intolerable.

I could spend about $100 on parts from Apex to make the M&P trigger better than it is, but there's no guarantee that it would improve it's shootability enough for me to shoot it better than I shoot the Glock. I had a Glock in the past (a Gen 1 or Gen 2 G23 in .40) with which I had a neutrally ambivalent relationship. I have shot Glocks in the interim with similar results though never head to head with the M&P like this. I bought the M&P on the premise that it's made in the USA (because...'Murica! Dang it!), felt better in my hand and had better sights which should mean that it shoots better. Right?

Wrong.

I ignored my own good advice (given freely to others and now, again, to you) to try before you buy. Seriously. Go find a range or a friend who has what you are interested in. Shoot it against possible alternatives. If it ain't working for you, don't buy it.

Now, I have to go hang my head in shame secure in the knowledge that I will be stuck carrying an ugly Austrian just because it's a better tool for my hands than the sexy M&P.

[grumble, grumble]

Maybe I will name it...Frau Blucher.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bear with us, please

I'm currently trying to renew our URL and - big surprise - dealing with Google to do so hasn't been the easiest thing on the planet.  God willing, I'll be able to muddle through the mess and renew it and you'll still be able to find us here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

GunDiva: Junior Achievement Award

As I was doing my morning news crawl, I came across this news article from the Daily Mail about a young lady, age 11, in Washington state who bagged an apparently sick cougar that was stalking her 13 year old brother. To me, the article is so full of win (except from the cougar's perspective perhaps) on so many levels.

This girl was taught proper firearms handling and shooting from an early age, she is an avid hunter at the tender age of 11, and she was able to defend her family without hesitation when the need arose. Her dad, who asked her to take the shot since she was the only one with a hunting license with a cougar tag on it, had absolute confidence in her to get the job done.

Now, pardon me while I go look for a deal on a Savage Rascal for my little girl. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

SHOT Show 2014 - Cameras


SHOT Show is not all about guns. Even though that is a major part.  There are numerous other products that go hand in hand with firearms.
Todays post is about several camera systems we found that will be of interest to many shooters. 



First up is a small camera system from the Midland Corporation.  (Midland Radios and Cameras) Midland is better known for its handheld radios.  But they also make a small camera.  It is similar to the GoPro camera system.  What makes this system a little different from the GoPro series of cameras, is the Midland was designed with the Hunting and Shooting sports in mind.  Thus is has better mounting options for rifles and handguns.  They even have a mount to attach to your bow. 
The one model that drew our attention was the XTC400.   (XTC400 Camera) This is their model that is Wi-Fi capable.  You can control the camera from your tablet or smartphone.  (iPhone and Android).  And the price is not outrageous at $199. 99.  Mounting options are extra. 
If you are looking for a sport camera that can take still photos and videos, look at the Midland cameras.  I think the



Next up is a neat camera system by the Bullseye company (Bullseys Camera Systems, LLC), designed for long range shooters. 
One of the problems with long range shooting is seeing your target.  Currently, there are two ways to see your target, walk out and check or use a large spotting scope.  Walking takes too much time and even with a spotting scope, you may not be able to clearly see where your shots land.
This is where the Bullseye system comes into play.  Simply, it is a camera system that you place near your target and the image is transmitted back to your Wi-Fi capable Windows Laptop, iPad and iPhone.  Android and Mac OSX support coming at a later date.  You do not need a wireless network.  It will create its own. 

What makes the Bullseye system really great is the software that comes with it.  The software can track each shot, multiple calibers and even multiple shooters.  And the information can be stored for analysis at a later date.  I think the software is what makes this camera system standout.  You can see where you shots land, but also record and analyze the data to help you improve your shooting. 

Pricing starts at $449 for the 500 yard model and $549 for the 1000 yard model.  This is not an outrageous price.  A quality spotting scope will cost this much. 
If you enjoy shooting long range and want a better way to see your target, take a look at the Bullseye system.  I think you will get a lot of value for your money. 



Finally, is another camera system by Target Vision.  (Targetvisioncam.com )  This system functions just like the Bullseye system but without all the added software add-ons.   I see Target Vision as a prime competitor to Bullseye if they can get the company off the ground.  The only website I could find was a link to an Indiegogo fundraising site.  It does have an excellent description of the product.  The bad news is, this system is not currently available.  And the list price is $1295.  Much higher than the Bullseye system.  But I suspect the price will come down as time goes by and production volumes go up.  What  
According to the website they are estimating deliveries to begin in March 2014. 
I hope they succeed. 



-Mez
02/23/2014



Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Smith & Wesson M&P 40: A Quick Update

Previously, I had reported that the .40S&W magazines would feed 9mm ammo. I found out this past Sunday that such is not 100% accurate. To clarify, during my first range outing, at least one of my mags loaded and fed 9mm ammo with no trouble. Last Sunday, one of my mags would not even entertain the thought of holding just one 9mm round much less feeding it. I suspect that there is a slight tolerance variance in the feed lips that makes one do it and the other not.

In short, if you want to do the multi-caliber barrel swap conversion, you will probably want to go ahead and invest in some 9mm magazines to go with the extra barrel. I'll be doing that soon.