It’s smart to check your gear – gun, ammo, carry gear/carry method – regularly. Matching that with gun maintenance and loading the piece with fresh defense ammo is important too.
Why don’t I do that regularly then?
My excuses are “the job.” All those guns that don’t belong to me need shooting too. But it’s just an excuse. So, while gearing up for a trip recently, I elected to take care of that. The plan was to shoot the gun I’m carrying (1) with the carry ammo I use, (2) drawing from a holster that’s most often used for concealed carry. I’d shoot it from concealment and shoot from distances as far as fifty yards and as close as ten feet.
Immediately following that, I’d shoot some training ammo to work on issues uncovered during the “qual” phase. Then follow that up with a cleaning at the range – clearing out the lint and gunk and placing oil at the lubrication points called for by the manufacturer. Then I’d load with fresh carry ammo before leaving the range.
The gun is the GLOCK 43x. As my normal carry was the G19, it’s not much of a learning curve; the system’s the same. I have lots more trigger time with the service compact gun and that shows on the timer and the target. Still, I’m not terribly far off.
I used a holster I commonly carry around the homestead or on walks, Galco’s Stow-N-Go. An IWB – a format I use more than eleven months of the year – this one is light, comfortable and easily hidden. The vertical presentation is no problem with the sub-3.4” barrel of the pint-sized GLOCK. The reinforced holster mouth helps make it easier to stow the pistol after use.
The ammo I carry in the gun? That’s Hornady Critical Defense. Why?
The G43x (and a few other micro-compact 9mm pistols I use) have barrels that are less than 4” long. I don’t believe in the “bullet expansion fairy,” but I believe in following an ammo-maker’s advice. For the G19 (and larger) guns, I go to the Critical Duty rounds. Hornady specifies the Critical Defense for guns like the G43x.
The first step is to see if we're all within the "9" ring at thirty feet - we are, barely. Below, three rounds from fifty yards, one a "mike." While that's a 'fail,' it's not time to quit but to go to work.
Following my guidelines, defense ammo should be a premium load that provides these aspects: (1) ignition reliability, (2) functional reliability and (3) the round shoots to the sights. If I get good penetration and the bullet expands or otherwise does defense stuff, it’s even better. The big issue is function and shot accountability.
Then we can worry about frills and dressings.
I arrived at the range, set up targets and started with two rounds into a B-8 repair center from ten yards. This gave me an idea where the gun was with that ammo on this day. There was a 4 o’clock hit in the 10-ring and a 7 o’clock in the 9.
Moving back to fifty yards with a TQ-21 silhouette, I shot three rounds; one was in the cellar at 6 o’clock, not good. The other two hit high chest on the left side. Still inside the maximum scoring zone, they were close together. I have no idea the order in which the rounds struck.
At 25 yards, the single head shot was inside the maximum scoring ring in that ‘high percentage’ area at five o’clock.
I’m feeling solid at 25 yards – on the range.
I overlaid the NRA TQ-21 with the target center approximating the old Bakersfield PD/Mike Waidelich target dimensions. The course has been discussed in the wires and around the internet for some time.
In short, it’s a ten-round course, shot from 10 feet, 20 feet, 30 feet and 60 feet. The start for each string is from the draw. The “pre-electronic timer” pars – when it was a stopwatch and a whistle – were 1.5 seconds, 2.0 seconds, 6 seconds (for autopistols) and 3.5 seconds. Each string was a “standard response” (a pair to “high chest”). The long, 10-yard string, is a pair to empty, a slide lock reload, and another pair.
I made the time on the second string. The others cost me points (for each ¼ second over, you lose a point). I dropped a point scored at 20 feet, 30 feet and two at 60 feet. I ended it with 89 points out of 100, 'electronic-timer' scored. In the day with stopwatch and whistle, it could have been a 94.
The only changes on the pistol are the addition of Talon Grips (https://talongungrips.com/) and the Striker Control Device (https://langdontactical.com/ltt-striker-control-device-scd/.
Still, I’m not complaining. The G43X isn’t a service size pistol. Of course, some of the BPD troops shot it with a revolver …
I followed up with sub-second pairs from guard, stealing (and tightening) the FDLE Handgun Qual Stage 2 and the Werner High Percentage sub-second singles – these were all from ten feet. Using a B-8 repair center where I’d marked previous hits, I shot two five-shot strings, strong-hand only and weak hand only, from fifteen yards. I used the Browning-marked 124 grain FMJ ammo from Academy for this work. I shot a dismal 83/100 – still, nothing about which to complain.
With 1776 90 grain Leadfree ammo, I shot exercises that are strings stolen from various qual courses. These included 10 feet, one-hand “bent elbow” shooting, failure drills, holster drills and strings shot from low ready.
I cleaned the pistol at the range. An item I don’t like being without is the Channel Cleaning Tool from Calbico. Available from Amazon and Wilson Combat, it’s a non-marring, non-metal tool with shaped ends to help get a patch inside the various channels on the modern pistol. After putting a wet patch through the chamber and bore and letting the barrel set, I used the Channel Cleaning Tool, some patches and a GI brush to clean the slide and frame.
After getting the rest of the gun swabbed out, I dry patched the bore until the patch came out clean, then put oil on the lubrication points recommended by the factory. I conducted the safety function check, then went to shoot a 22 pistol for a while.
Before leaving, I loaded with fresh carry ammo – marking the box with the date and the pistol the ammo was placed in.
That may not be the best maintenance plan, but I checked my skills, worked on those skills, saw how my carry ammo performed, cleaned and lubed the pistol and loaded up with fresh ammo. That’s quite a bit for just a few hours.
— Rich Grassi