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American Handgunner Jul/Aug 2010 - Page 28
BETTERSHOOTING Dave Anderson Reliability Resolutions Even with a high quality pistol such as this FNP .45 the first couple hundred rounds will smooth up operating components as the parts cycle. i t concerns me to read of customers having reliability problems with new handguns. I handle quite a few new handguns every year. Test guns for articles and others bought for personal use. I rarely encounter reliability problems. There seems to be a suspicion magazines get specially prepared and tested samples. It’s ego pleasing to think of a factory preparing a “special” just for me, with everyone from the company president to the file clerk fretting over the test gun, and anxiously awaiting for the article to appear. In reality it’s more like this: I send my request and FFL to the media contact of a company. The media person sends a note to whoever handles shipping saying “send a SKU#44756-A2/3L to this FFL on a 90-day consignment.” The president has never heard of me; most likely the file clerk hasn’t either. Nonetheless these standard production guns generally function reliably. One reason is most handguns these days are pretty good. Modern CNC manufacturing makes for close tolerances and good parts fit. The other reason is I give them a chance to work. hen un-boxing a new gun I first check it’s the model I requested, and all the parts and accessories listed in the instruction manual are present. Then I’ll fieldstrip the pistol, wipe it down with a soft cleaning cloth and run a few patches through to ensure the chamber and bore are clean. Some guns arrive dry, others arrive practically swimming in oil. Disassembly and cleaning provides an opportunity to examine internal machining and parts fit and start forming impressions of quality of workmanship. Before reassembling, I lube the gun, usually using some form of gun grease (e.g. Montana Extreme, Wilson Ultima Lube, Brian Enos’ Slide Glide, etc.). During extended shooting sessions I generally apply a bit of lube every 250 or so rounds. Check the Web Blast feature at American Handgunner online for a video of how I apply lube to a 1911 style pistol. Of course the procedure may differ a bit for other designs, but I do want lube on operating components such as frame/slide rails and locking lugs. With autopistols, number each magazine for identification (a marking pen works fine). If the maker includes extra magazines with the gun I’ll use those. If not, I’ll use spares I have available (of known reliability). An autopistol needs at least one extra magazine, and two is better. A Fighting Chance W Shown here is Federal’s American Eagle brand and “blue box” remanufactured loads from Black Hills — excellent quality and great value. Handguns are (left) Ed Brown Massad Ayoob Signature Model .45 and (right) Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. Holster is by Milt Sparks. t the range I start out using factory ball ammunition, loaded with FMJ-round nose bullets. Freshly machined steel has microscopic (sometimes not so microscopic) burrs and imperfections from the machining process. It’s similar to a new automobile engine and transmission. It needs a bit of use to smooth-up parts’ fit. And use a solid shooting stance, with no limp-wristing, as that can contribute to malfunctions. Ammunition isn’t cheap, and I appreciate the temptation for handloaders to use their reloads. I know you and I are competent handloaders, but the manufacturer doesn’t. Makers also know there are a lot of handloaders who aren’t quite as good as they think. Protect the investment you’ve made in a new handgun by investing in a couple of boxes of FMJ factory loads from a reputable maker, not some gun-show cheap reloads. Often ball ammunition from major makers is considerably cheaper than high performance defensive ammo. I’ll fire at least a few groups over a sandbag rest for accuracy testing. I admit I also rip off a few mags at close-range targets. I like shooting fast. If the first 50 rounds are trouble-free I’ll switch to factory loads with other bullet styles. If malfunctions occur I’ll keep shooting with ball ammunition. If I reach 200 rounds with ball ammo and still have malfunctions I’m most likely going to ship the gun back to the manufacturer. It’s true I might be able to diagnose and fix the problem, especially on a 1911 (I know how to polish a feed-ramp, tension an extractor or select a recoil spring). But the typical buyer is likely not a real handgun enthusiast and it’s not reasonable to expect him to tune a just-purchased handgun — not to mention it would likely void any warranty. Give the maker as much information as possible if you return the gun. Advise what sort of malfunction occurred (e.g. failure to feed, failure to extract or eject, hammerfollow, slide lock problems), the approximate round count at which problems occurred, ammunition used, whether problems occurred with all magazines or only one. Of the new handguns I’ve shot in the last few years almost all ran perfectly out of the box; mainly because they were wellmade guns, and because I followed the steps outlined. Most likely yours will too. If not, provide the manufacturer the information needed to make it work. Making It work A * 28 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • JULY/AUGUST2010