I am never satisfied!
Duh, like you didn’t already know that by now. But, in this case I hope it might help you a bit. I sure enjoyed the time!
So, for my normal every day carry (EDC) I have been carrying a .45cal Sig 1911 Ultra-Compact. It is a great gun, never failed me, can run any kind of ammo, and it is dead-on accurate. So why was I looking for another EDC piece? Weight and bulk.
The Sig is a solid chunk of steel. While that makes it a fine piece of craftsmanship and very good looking, it does make it a bit heavy. And since it is a .45cal there is a little inherent bulk. When I am doing any personal protection detail I like having that .45 at my disposal, lots of stopping power. But, I am finding that I am really a lot better with my second shot placement when using a 9mm round.
For 9mm I like the 147gr Hornady XTP round. In the .45cal I like the 230gr Hornady XTP round. My testing shows that the 147gr 9mm makes up a lot of the lost ground when switching to a 9mm round. The 147gr is a decent weight and the XTP round petals and creates a devastating wound channel. Sorry, back to the gun issue…
I am not overly concerned about “printing” with the Sig. It does print with thinner material shirts or just a t-shirt on. With a suit coat or casual jacket you can’t really tell it is there unless you are looking, and you know that you are looking for.
But, I found myself wanting a lighter gun, a thinner gun, and a 9mm for really good second shot placement. I naturally looked at Sigs…because I am a gun snob. I also found myself really disappointed. I had previously looked that Sig P238 (.380) and I liked the gun’s size and weight but didn’t much care for the size of the round, a .380 is pretty light for what I might need it for.
About three years ago I looked at and eventually bought a Sig 938 9mm. I liked the 9mm round, loved the 1911 style, enjoyed the Sig name, and thought the size was incredible…nice pocket gun. And rarely carried it. Why? It was too small and it got lost in my hand. Subsequently I was not really accurate with it and didn’t have a lot of confidence in it should it come to a gun fight. It sits in the gun safe. I was still without that really great sized CCW EDC pistol that I loved to shoot and had confidence i, should it come to free exchange of lead.
Then one day about 2 months ago after a security gig watching over two people I decided that I was going to get a different gun period. And so the quest began anew. While I was in the gun store last month I looked at the Sig P250 (9mm) and it was a nice looking gun and the right caliber. What I didn’t like was the grip…it was short, squat, and really didn’t feel right. I am not sure if it was the balance, weight, or something else. The gun wasn’t what I was looking for. It’s too bad because I liked everything I had read, great reviews, and it was a Sig. I was 95% sold. Well, 95% sold till I picked it up. I didn’t like the gun at all…not a single bit.
Not able to lose a sale the shop owner suggested I try a Sig 320. I liked the way it felt. I have large hands and I like the feel of a double-stack mag grip. I liked this gun, it felt really nice, it was a 9mm double stack so it held a few more rounds than I was used to, and it was a Sig. I was 95% sold. Well, 95% sold till I held it up next to my Ultra Compact. It was almost the same size and felt virtually the same weight. I was crushed.
I begged and pleaded with the owner to find me a solution…I was desperate…I had money in my pocket just burning a hole and needed a new gun. OK, maybe it wasn’t all that bad…sounds a little melodramatic for what actually took place.
Then the unspeakable happened, he asked, “Have you ever held a Shield?”
I recoiled in horror and disgust…it was a lowly Smith & Wesson pistol…an M&P Shield. I felt like vomiting in the trash can. What did this man think I was? Who did this peddler of pistols think I was? What an insult…I felt like challenging him to a duel! Offer a S&W to a Sig man…how thoughtless and stupid.
But, I was desperate…”No, let me try one” came my reply before I could stop myself. I should have cut out my tongue first…or at least after those despicable words left my lips.
After clearing it, he handed me this black, skinny, piece of plastic and steel that didn’t appear to be all that terrible looking. I cleared the gun myself and immediately noticed the little “peep hole” at the breach. Sweet! No more press checks to see if there is a round in the chamber…at a glance I can tell.
After a proper grip I noticed that the 18º grip angle gave me a very natural and accurate aim point. The grip was plenty long enough, my pinky finger didn’t dangle out in mid-air. I also noticed that the gun was very well balanced. All of those things added up to the Shield feeling very nice, and quite natural, in my hand.
I requested permission to dry-fire it. After a quick nod from the owner, I did so. I went very slowly on the trigger to assess the trigger quality. I wasn’t impressed. But, I also wasn’t disappointed. I had to remember that this was a striker fired pistol so it had to do several things at once, not just release the hammer. I will say that the trigger felt a little “gritty” but not bad. I estimated that the trigger pull at about 5lbs, the owner said it was 6.5lb trigger. Hummmm, my trigger finger must be getting stronger.
I mentioned it to the owner and he said there is a trigger replacement option that he promised was smooth as silk. It brings it down to the 4.7lb range and has zero “grittiness”. The price for the replacement trigger assembly sounded reasonable and I filed that away back in my head.
I saw that the factory sights were not night sights. Bad!!! For me I feel night sights are an absolute must, no option, a pistol must have night sights. I talked with the owner and he mentioned that Tru-Glo makes a night sight option that is really sweet. He showed me a trainer pistol with them installed.
Let me explain about sights, night sights to be exact. Here in the desert southwest it is extremely bright outside about 394 days of the year…and I mean brilliant bright, hurt-your-eyes bright. And that tends to make sights in general disappear. You just lose track of the white dots in the bright daylight conditions. Not these Tru-Glo sights! These were amazingly easy to pick up quickly from a low-ready position. I loved them. When you get my age you need any edge you can get if you are going to get into a gun fight. These sights would be just such an edge in daylight conditions. But notice that there are supposed to be night sights…so how would they look at night.
Back inside the shop the owner said to go into the restroom and turn off the lights. There was no doubt that he wasn’t getting kinky or creepy so I did as he suggested…locking the door behind me just to be safe. The freaking night sights lit up really well…really well. And I liked an additional feature…the front sight was orange in color and the rear sights are green in color. Why is that important? If you want to, or need to, make a fast “snap shot” in the dark you don’t have to worry about sight alignment at all. Just set that orange colored front sight where you want it and pull the trigger.
This make-believe, half-plastic, striker-fired, non-Sig pistol kept feeling better and better the longer I held it. I was begging to fall in love all over again as if I were 15 and dating Sherri Greene at the Akron Rod Stewart concert. Meaning…This dang-gone Shield was nice!
After another 15 minutes of talking I ran for the door. No, not trying to steal the gun, I had to get out of there before I bought the thing. But, the owner and I parted on good terms. I was going to talk to a couple of friends to get their opinion and I thought a buddy of mine had one. I was going to ask him if I could shoot his before making the purchase. And to top it off…the owner made me an unreal deal on it. Because of my job I am eligible for a special discount…a substantial discount offered by S&W. The pistol retails for $449.00. Street price is $389 – $399. My price was going to be substantially less than that.
For ten days I did my research and everything –I mean everything– pointed that his was a great little gun. I had myself convinced that it was a match made in heaven. I had to own this gun. Back to the shop I went with money in hand and a “little kid at Christmas” attitude. And they were out of them!!! Yup, not a single 9mm Shield in the store. I was crushed! I ended up buying one, or I should say paying for one. And for that privilege of paying for it then and there I would get the first one that came in. Done!
But, here is my plan…
- Only buy the gun, no accessories, nothing else but the gun.
- Take 300 rounds to the range with the pistol and run the ammo through it. Different weights, loads, and types of ammo.
- If the gun still was the right thing to do then I would buy, a two spare magazines, a good EDC holster, and good double-mag pouch.
- Then run another couple hundred rounds through it on the following Saturday.
- If I still liked it then I would get the Tru-Glo night installed sights on it.
- And if I still liked it and have any money left over AND I still think the trigger is a little gritty then I will get the premium, gold-plated, platinum filled trigger replacement.
Once I have run 500 – 600 rounds through the gun and it has proven itself reliable and didn’t jam (no FTEs/FTFs) on more than one or two rounds AND I have the night sights on it…then I will begin to carry it as my EDC.
So, where am I today? I am just leaving for the range time for the first 200 – 300 rounds pushed through the gun. But, unlike my Sigs, I will clean the Shield first.
In my next article of this adventure I will report back on how the Shield performed at the range, and more about the night sights…assuming I get them installed.
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