JUNE 9, 2020

Feature: Editor’s Notebook: “Old” and New

The retirees at my old outfit were due for ‘qualification’ under the federal “Law Enforcement Officers’ Safety Act” and the state law that makes it more restrictive. The problem was the Werner-named “Beer Plague.”

Everything got postponed except for daily operations.

Now, as the temperature rises in this hemisphere, as well as the humidity, the elderly shooting experience has been advanced. Typical for old people who have trouble sleeping, the crowd arrived early. Except for me.

The holster used for the auto-portion of the retiree-law enforcement qualification; Safariland image.

This year, I elected to do something I should do regularly: shoot the carry ammo out of the primary carry gun so it can get its annual inspection, a cleaning and refilling with fresh ammo. That was the Gen5 GLOCK 19 with Hornady 135 gr. FTX Critical Duty. The holster was the Safariland M578 GLS Pro-Fit Paddle. This holster has the “Grip Locking System.” It secures the gun when it’s placed into the holster with a “click.” To draw, simply grip the handgun and the middle finger pushes the locking mechanism out of the way. It’s not a ‘security holster,’ but the gun won’t come out until you take that grip. Using SafariSeven material in construction, the holster is adjustable to fit different guns in the same general form factor – the ‘compact’ size fits Glock 19-sized guns with a little adjustment. I’ve used this holster with the HK USP Compact and the S&W M&P9 Compact.

While I shot a tight group – one went into the ‘brain’ (intentionally) -- I ended up with 98% with a round trending out at 1 o’clock. That’s what I get for getting lazy and shooting ‘unlocked.’ Otherwise the group was tight. As to the difference between the premium defense ammo and the range ball I usually shoot, I couldn’t discern it; I was too busy trying not to miss.

The 2020 Colt Python with the elderly, poorly-stored ammo used, above. Below, the Safariland Custom Fit holster used with the new Python.

For the revolver session – “type of firearm” in the LEOSA statute is interpreted here as “semi-auto” or “revolver” -- I opted to use the ‘here for T&E’ Colt Python of 2020. Remember, I’d complained about the shallow rear sight and the sharp edges on the trigger when being more concerned with absolute precision and calling the shots myself.

That’s the great thing about shooting a qual course for peace officers. You’re busy enough trying to do the right things at the right time that the minor considerations of the gun really go away.

That happened with the ca. four-inch modern Python. I used some old Winchester “WinClean” 125 grain JSP 38 Special ammo that had been, as they say, “indifferently stored.” There was no concern for climate variation and other environmental issues.

Every round fired and readily ejected – the cases fell free. The rounds felt ‘solid’ on ignition – and the Colt really, really liked that load. The rounds fired from up close to fifteen yards were very tightly clustered in the middle. At seven yards, I got bored and turned a “three hits from the holster” into a failure drill – a pair center with a third driven into the head box. Otherwise three rounds were out of the central cluster, with a score of 100%.

The double action trigger press is smooth and I didn’t notice the edges on the trigger. I also failed to notice the shallow notch in the rear sight as I was more occupied in placing the red ramp where I wanted it on the target and holding the gun still through ignition.

Likewise, the stocks aren’t really made for my hands – but they look very good and, most important, the target couldn’t demonstrate the failure to fit. In fact, I was able to keep a tight hold on the gun and keep it still. The Colt and Winchester did all the rest of the work.

The holster I’d used was the Safariland M568 “Custom Fit” (for revolvers) paddle holster; the use of paddle holsters was convenience as I was changing gear from auto to revolver. Using the Safariland/Bill Rogers paddle design, it’s quick-on and quick-off while remaining stable in the waistband. By “Custom Fit,” Safariland means I could use a K-frame S&W, an L-frame (with a little adjustment) – or a Ruger GP-100, Colt Python or anything in the neighborhood of that class of revolver.

I wasn’t the only one shooting a Colt revolver. Old friend Mike Rafferty shot next to me using an old Colt Official Police 4”, with Pachmayr grip adapter. He had a high ride thumb break holster – a Bianchi, that I’d gifted him. Using Winchester 130 grain flat-point ball, he scored 100%.

Otherwise, it was a healthy time in the sun getting to chat with people from my past. Our numbers change from year to year. Some retirees we won’t see again. “Youngsters” who have more recently retired fill the ranks from the other side.

Me? I’d gotten to shoot my ‘nearly every day, everywhere’ auto and a new revolver, one that justifiably wears the name “Python.”

-- Rich Grassi