JUNE 30, 2015

Editor's Notebook: The Apex Shield

The finished S&W Shield: Ameriglo CAP sights, Crimson Trace Laserguard and Apex trigger.
The project S&W M&P Shield had stock sights and a stock trigger for most of its young life. It took some time to get sights arranged. The Apex Trigger arrived pretty quickly. I'd installed a Crimson Trace Laserguard on the gun, but I still wanted sights better suited for my elderly eyes. The Apex trigger was a perk – as the stock trigger didn't bother me at all. It also took some considerable time to arrange for extra magazines – but they've been readily available for some time now and I'd been putting a few back. The last item to arrive was high visibility sights. Mike Rafferty installed the trigger and S&W Performance Center put the sights in the slide. After it returned, I took the gun to the range but there was little joy. The first range trip with the Apex trigger and Ameriglo CAP sights – designed by Dave Spaulding of Handgun Combatives – found me anxious to make use of the positive changes. The trigger was fine, not some light competition trigger, but very good for defense work. The original trigger felt round to me and I used the distal joint of the index finger to run it. The flat face of the Apex trigger seemed to even the load of trigger pressure.
Comp-Tac Minotaur MER
The problem is that I'd find the trigger would "stop" periodically while I was shooting. It seemed more prevalent when I'd lose contact with the trigger during a string of fire. It concerned me – stopping in the midst of a fight is a no-go. I left the range concerned. After asking around about the situation, I took to some dry practice. I found it wasn't the trigger seizing up – with my grip and shooting style, I was failing to disengage the trigger safety. The original trigger was rounded, this one is flat. Pressing it – not "rolling" it back like a "double action" trigger – was definitely called for. Shoot it like a 1911. Okay. I made another range trip. I used the Comp-Tac Minotaur MERC holster to carry the pistol. A hybrid, the acronym is said to stand for "Most Economical Reliable Comfort." The cost is around $50 from Comp-Tac. Like hybrid holsters tend to be, it is comfortable. It has a wide range of adjustment, which is more than I need.
The standard clips fit the 1.5" belt, as to my preference. The way the holster was sent from the factory, I needed to adjust nothing – it was perfect as it came out. It may not be that way for everyone, hence the adjustability. The holster is terrific for concealment. Drawing and – as important – re-holstering were both trouble free. The spare magazine I carried in a Comp-Tac single magazine pouch. I loaded magazines with Herter's 115 grain FMJ brass case – I had a partial box of this ammo left – and had Black Hills 147 grain FMJ remanufactured ammo to back it up. To test my affinity to the gun, I posted a QIT-99 target from Law Enforcement Targets. Featuring a truncated FBI-Q "bottle" outline, it's allegedly the target of choice for the Bureau in their current qual course. As is my habit, I fired the 25 yard stage first – two strings of two rounds standing followed by three rounds kneeling. I marked the hits, noting a low hit that was still inside the "bottle" outline, then began on the three yard stage. Three rounds in three seconds from the holster, fired with the dominant hand only comprises the first two strings. This is followed by a draw to three hits, dominant hand only, and three rounds support-hand only. Five yards features "3 in 3" from the holster, done in four strings.
Using more target real estate than desired, the FBI Pistol Qualification was still clean -- not bad for a small gun.
The seven yard stage has a reload-drill but, otherwise, you're shooting strings of three and four there and at fifteen yards. The score ended at 60/60 in the "bottle." I used more target real estate than I wanted but there was no "trigger stopping" along the way. Between the pair of range trips and dry practice, I believe this little gun is ready for light duty. Oh, I didn't notice the laser in the daylight. The Ameriglo CAP sights were enough and they helped me go a bit faster than was prudent: it looked "good," I shot. The Shield was fine at the outset. I competed with a stock Shield at the inaugural IDPA Backup Gun Nationals. While I wasn't the most accurate or fastest, I learned a lot and the gun ran perfectly. With the new sights, I'm quicker to see them and the new trigger really does help in handling – once I figured out how to use it. Add the Crimson Trace "just in case" and we're in good shape. Ameriglo Comp-Tac Victory Gear Crimson Trace Handgun Combatives Smith & Wesson -- Rich Grassi