Monday, May 04, 2015

Range Day

Got out to the range today to test-fire a couple of projects.

First off was my .300 Blackout AR with the 9" barrel and AAC 762SDN suppressor. I finally finished it out with a Blue Force Gear Vickers sling and an Aimpoint T2 micro red dot on a LaRue mount and this was the first time I got to take it out as a complete package and shoot it.

After throwing five sighters away because I was firing on one target but looking through my spotting scope at the adjacent one ("Where am I hitting? Why am I not even on paper?!"), I got this one dialed in for a fifty-yard zero and is seriously shoots minute-of-feral-cat now, and completely hearing-safe without plugs or muffs due to that can on the front. Still, it chaps me that I had to drop $400 in permission slips (tax stamps) to build the rifle this way--one for the short barrel and one for the suppressor. But I'm definitely happy with the finished product and that Vickers sling is well worth the $35.00 I dropped on it at the NRA convention. I think that I'l be getting more of those for other rifles, since I'm a big fan of the two-point sling in general and this one in particular.

Next gun out was the Smith and Wesson M&P 40, recently rebuilt with the Apex Tactical Duty Carry Action Enhancement Kit (DCAEK) that I purchased at the NRA convention after talking to the Apex people at their booth. I also changed it over to shoot .357 Sig rounds via a drop-in barrel purchased from Midway.
First challenge was installing the DCAEK parts. It took a while, and I'm done now, but I'll say up front that I'm not as fond of either Smith and Wesson or Apex Tactical as I once was.

First, my gripe against S&W:
I have never found a pistol that I've worked on to have so many tiny parts, including tiny parts not secured in place. (I'm hardly a Glock fanboi but Glock never would have built a pistol like this.) Right off the bat, I lost the little plastic disk that tops the striker safety plunger spring when it launched itself like a little Polaris missile as I drifted the rear sight off of it. I found it eventually, but said a few unkind things about S&W as I rooted around for it on the floor. But this was nothing compared with my anger over the sudden departure of the sear plunger, a microscopic piece of metal sitting atop a coiled spring beneath the sear. That one I did not find, and neither Smith and Wesson nor Apex stocks a replacement. Apex pretty much just shrugged and wished me luck finding another one, and Smith would not sell me one but offered to fix the pistol if I sent the whole thing back to them and paid a diagnostic fee plus the hourly repair charge. Screw both of them--I went back to Midway and bought a whole sear assembly for $23.00, basically just to get the plunger. Oh--and Apex tells you that you're getting a new sear spring with their kit, but then you don't, and when you check their website, they mention that they no longer provide that spring and you should either buy a new sear assembly or use your old one. Gee, thanks.

Then came the fun of reassembly. As if trying to get the trigger spring back onto the trigger pin isn't fun enough already due to the slightly-too-short slave pin that Apex gives you, you also have to make sure that the take-down lever retaining wire that just rests in a slot of the locking block doesn't fall out of position as you try to insert the locking block in the frame. Time spent on this exercise: Nearly three hours of cursing and looking for little dropped stuff before it finally all came together and worked. And really, S&W, did you have to use crummy roll pins to hold everything in the frame? You couldn't just use steel drift pins like Glock would have done?

The pistol is finally together, and I do like the new pull and reset on this trigger, but damn, they made me work for this.

But the pistol does shoot noticeably better now--or at least I shoot better with it--and the .357 Sig rounds definitely exhibit some authority as they head off downrange, shooting a bit flatter--and lower--than the .40 rounds but grouping nicely all the same. I am happy with the re-worked pistol but I'm not planning on doing my other M&P 40 any time soon. Not after this nightmare job.


  1. You have all the cool toys that they don't let us own in California.

  2. If in doubt about spring trajectory when disassembling, work inside a plastic bag. it will usually keep things in place, if not you've got a hole to give a clue to direction....

  3. Anonymous4:26 AM

    Some engineers are really, really impressed with their abilities. Unfortunately, many of them design guns (and other stuff, too) with the assumption all service work will be done by other engineers in a sterile and fully equipped laboratory.

    Sevesteen's tip is good - I carry a 2.5 gallon ziploc bag and some paper clamps in the range bag. It's saved my butt on lots of occasions. Got the idea from a gunsmith friend who has a 16 gallon aquarium for disassembly/reassembly; on its side with a piece of canvas velcroed over the opening with two "hand slots" in it.

    I've taped over the drain, closed the curtain and disassembled guns in the bathtub a few times. First time with a new gun is usually when you discover the "engineer's surprise" spring launches. Pro tip: it's easier to find small parts on a tile floor than carpet if they do launch out of the tub, but close the door - the cat (a problem you don't have) will take great joy in batting pins and springs around.



  4. That is a sweet AR. Makes me miss mine. Sigh.