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Saturday, March 31, 2018

XD-9 Mod 2 - A Relatively Short Review is All That is Necessary.


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A deputy recently acquired this XD-9 Mod 2 and tossed it in my direction...I now know what THAT means! Minimum 500 rounds, and some three trips to the range to see how it shoots, and mostly, check first impressions. I'll shoot it with the Smith 9c 2.0 as I feel that came out on top after the last review. This Croatian manufactured pistol appears to be of as high a quality as any striker fired. The machining is first rate, the melonite finish seems tough, and it has a decent trigger. In fact, out of the box the trigger pull measured 5 1/4 lbs. exactly the same as the S&W. This could be interesting. Now, I will say, I have never been moved to buy an XD. I always found them to be blocky and ugly, and never saw the value in a grip safety with a safe trigger. Be that as it is, the mod 2 is much improved in several ways. First, the Croats have slimmed and trimmed it down to the point where it is equally adept at EDC or full duty. With a 16 round magazine (it comes with three as ALL defensive pistols should) it is capable of sustained fire. This, a four inch barrel, and a width of 1.20 inches make it a worthy comparison to the 320, 9c and 19. It is substantially heavier than the other three at 28 oz, but this hopefully will help mitigate recoil. (It didn't with the 320) I have now handled it, dry fired it about 100 times, and cleaned and sloshed it with my beloved Slick 2000. Let's get on with it.




MSRP $565.00 but if you cannot find it for 350.00 you haven't looked very hard.

Comes with this rugged soft case. I prefer the hard plastic ones, but the owner of this gun prefers this so I defer to him. Also, since this case is made in China, this leaves Springfield Armory a few more bucks to put into their actual pistols. Bonus. I also never knew that this firm was established in 1784.


Inside we have the velcro strap retention system, and the three magazines.

 

Clear to see here is the grip safety. Also you see the 'Grip Zone'. I like to think this is to guide an idiot's hand to the right place, but it isn't. It is to emphasize that there are three different grip textures on the grip to enhance control under fire. Grip Zone. I kind of like that. You'd find it on the side of a piece of workout equipment in a gym somewhere. Or on a piece of equipment some people buy in those weird catalogs you've  heard of, but of course never seen...

This pistol comes apart (field strips, Becky) like most modern striker fireds do. But one twist (no pun intended) is that the take down lever turns up, not down. Disingenuous, and it took me five minutes to figure it out because I did not have the manual ( the deputy's way of testing my mettle I suppose)
I am no professional photographer but you can see that there is a good front sight. Red fiber optic, large and bright. White dot rears, which is OK, but I am disappointed in the shape of the rear sight. You'll not recycle your pistol against your gun belt under stress with this one...
Right side view. Right side grip zone. And note...one of the smartest changes they made with this mod 2 was to round off the silly squared off trigger guard the mod 1 has. Good move! In addition the rail is understated for IWB carry. I have long wondered why pistol manufacturers do not offer models with AND without rails.

Here below you are looking at the front of the trigger guard with the three grip grooves on it for those that like to rest the off hand pinky there. But to do so is to have a lesser grip than is correct. And if, in the heat of training or battle you ram your pistol against a rest with your finger on the guard you will be wincing, and looking for your pistol on the ground or floor. Think about this.

On the range today, for break-in. 50 degrees, no wind, so pleasant. Break-in to me is not serious work. It is to test for function, become familiar with trigger, recoil impulse, and to find out where this piece shoots. No pictures at this point.
I found the magazines exceedingly hard to load by hand, and unable to load 16 for the first few cycles. Then I suppose the springs set somewhat because while it never became easy to load these mags, it became possible. 
The first fifty rounds fired were Winchester white box NATO. High pressure if you will. I shot these in a 5x5 5 drill at 6 yards rather than five, and it was a no brainer. 5 shots in a 5 inch circle at 6 yards. Goal is less than 5 seconds. This pistol accomplished it easily in 3.40 seconds. These are absolutely the first shots out of this pistol, and I consider this outstanding. The red front sight is easily and quickly acquired, and the trigger is as effortless as the Smith. Recoil as mitigated as the Smith. Nice. 
Next were 50 rounds of Blazer Brass, 115 grain loads. Like the NATO, flawless in operation. Everything spot on including any lock backs. For this fifty rounds I used the KPD sniper head target at seven yards. I shot rapid fire and all three magazines were right in there. One graze. This appears to be an easy pistol to learn and shoot.
Next up are 50 rounds of Fiocchi. I moved another head target out to 25 yards and took my time firing the three magazines. At this distance the pistol is shooting a bit left, but 90 % of the rounds ARE in the head. Excellent results. 
Last exercise is to put 50 rounds of Winchester 147 grain T-Series through this pistol. It is our duty round, and a good one. Any pistol that cannot shoot it well and reliably gets the toss. This box of ammunition was expended during a modified FBI pistol course, self timed. 25, 15, 10, 7, 5, and 3 yard stations. If seriously scored, a 98% would be the result.
So, we have 200 rounds through this XD. Not a single malfunction. Very good trigger. Grip safety irrelevant. Sights quite good (I'd rather the TFO's, they are decidedly better). It is clear that this XD will shoot about any brand and type of 9mm ammo. The duty rounds (ouch, the cost!) ran fine, and were very accurate. 
The down side so far. I like this pistol a lot, especially because I never liked the XD's, go figure! But I do NOT like the trigger guard configuration. They have made the same goof as so many others. If you shoot this gun in a serious manner, for a serious amount of ammunition, the middle knuckle on your middle finger of your trigger hand is going to take a beating. Just like the Glock. The trigger point is better but a serious dremel session on the right side of the guard is desired. I will say, if you shoot recreationally, and in a relaxed way, you know, just for fun, a hundred rounds here and there, forget this caveat. But if you are going to use this as a duty piece, or an every day carry piece and want to seriously train with it, then you are going to GRIP this pistol when you shoot. And a serious 500 round day at Sig Academy will have you in Band-Aids. Next stop, CCF&G with the Smith 9c 2.0 and this new piece. Camera. 300 rounds each.
 Second session withe the XD-9 2 today, paired with the S&W M&P9c 2.0. First statement - these two pistols are a joy to shoot and work with. I shot 150 rounds each on the exercises below, then planning to time steel plates with each. The steel plates never did free up from other shooters so that is another day. Below you see two Dot Torture test targets posted, and unmarked. This is perhaps my favorite exercise for shooting (pistol) discipline. Various requirements are  two handed shooting, strong hand only, off hand only, multiple shots on multiple targets, re-loading drills, etc. If you do this exercise, start at 3 yards. These below are done at 5 yards.
 With the XD I scored a 48, which is very good. It was so effortless, that I began to worry that I may leave the Smith camp behind. I honestly did. This pistol is a shooter, and already leagues beyond the shootability of the Glock and Sig I reviewed a few weeks ago. A pistol I had not known. Right out of no where. BAM! I suddenly thought, 'I have to have one' . Check this target, and realize there are 5 rounds on each dot. Check out dot number 5. That is a strong hand only dot, and you'd hardly know it from the group. Effortless. Number 8 is the off hand only dot, and two jumped off. (so I did with the Smith also as you will see). In any event, I must have some Croation blood in me, no? I love this pistol.
 As I stated, it was with some trepidation that I picked up my 9c to shoot this exercise. My nervousness was not warranted however. The better sight on the Smith, and the better grip surface (you'll hear more about this) got me right on. It was so easy that I began to rush (there is no time on this exercise) and blew a couple off the off hand dot. Tie game. It is without doubt that a disciplined shooter can make one hole groups at five yards with either of these pistols.
 OK, now for some speed drills. This is where trigger, grip stippling and ergonomics really come into play (along with a dashing front sight). This is called the 5x5x5 drill. Five shots in a five inch circle at five yards. Just to make these pistols show a little more courage, I did the drill at 6 yards, and timed each five shot string with a Pro timer. I shot from the low ready because I do not have a holster for the XD. Below you see the results of ten 5 shot strings. These are all rapid fire. And I do mean rapid. The XD gave a short time of 2.47 seconds and an average time for the ten sets of 2.94. No misses. I am pleased to say the least.
 Below is the same exercise performed with the Smith. Shortest time of 2.41 seconds, and an average for the ten sets of 2.54. I did have a miss here, but no complaints. It was easy with this pistol. Both targets have a large ragged hole, and this, as fast as I can pull the trigger.
OK, now back to the street... This next exercise is at a real sized human head at 10 yards. This exercise is also fired 'rapid fire' as opposed to cadence fire. As fast as you can acquire the front sight and squeeze. Nine sets of five shots each, also timed with the Pro timer. Thirty feet is the length of a small house. With the XD it was again easy. Low time of 2.88 (missed two, and total misses four). Average time 3.32 seconds. Nothing to cry about here.
Next is the same exercise with the 9c 2.0. Not only easy, but effortless. Low time 2.72 and one miss. Average time 3.00 seconds. I feel safe
There are several conclusions to be drawn from this review. I had intended to draw this out for another two hundred rounds but it is unneccessary. A waste of good ammunition if you will. First conclusion. Both these pistols are a league ahead of the Glock and the Sig 320 we reviewed a while ago. That is bound to fire up the Sig folks, but be soothed by my saying that these two pistols are three leagues ahead of the Glock, and only one league ahead of the Sig. So there. If you like the XD-9 2 go ahead and buy it. It is a bargain. It is slim, safe, great for EDC, high cap, and shoots like crazy. It feeds anything. I spent twenty minutes with each pistol trying various methods to get them to fail. Neither did, neither will. They just plain work. Another interesting fact is that both pistols shot all bullets weights, velocities, and types to the same point of aim. Pick your cheapest practice ammo, and your favorite carry ammo, and don't worry if they'll shoot the same. They will. In addition, the XD can be purchased for less money than the Smith, about fifty bucks less. Now, I have not explored the XD warranty or service program but I am intimately familiar with S&W. Call it in, get a mailing label via email, have it picked up from, and delivered back to your door. The XD could use a little dremel tool work on the right side of the trigger guard. That said, for a pistol without interchangeable grips, this little piece fit my hand like a glove. It was almost completely intuitive for shooting. I never was conscious of the grip safety. The front red pipe sight is adequate to the purpose. You can slide in a green pipe for 10 cents, and it will be better. There are dozens and dozens of holsters made for it. What is NOT to like about this pistol other than the above mentioned trigger guard? Nothing. The magazines, while tough to load compared to the Smith are doable once broken in. They also hold one more round. The trigger is a good one, breaking at 5 .25 pounds before and after this review. Smooth take up and decent let off. You'll never complain. OK, so how about the Smith& Wesson? I'll keep it, and doubt I'll add the XD to my collection. The advantages to me are that it is definitely quicker on target. This is not only due to the front sight, but also to the remarkable grip stippling that initially in a previous review I complained about. Somehow it broke in, or I simply got used to it, not sure which. But I do know this. Get a decent grip on this Smith, and it simply stays put in your hand during any length of rapid fire. Far superior to about anything I have shot. No sore finger knuckles, trigger finger or anything else. Four grip inserts for sizing. 5.25 pound trigger pull, now as smooth as the mid-July Ashuelot. When something better comes along, I WANT it. Hasn't happened yet. But with the Sheriff's deputies that I work with, you NEVER know what may come through the door. For now, buy either of these pistols, and stand by!











Saturday, March 17, 2018

What We May Do in Winter at Long Ridge Farm

 After town meeting the other night I was asked by a native New Englander a question that  left me completely nonplussed. So much so, that I simply answered " Not much!" with a smile. The question was, "what do you ever do all winter up on that hill farm?"

Well we might make a trip to the Big E for the February North American Sportsmen's Show where we found carved Sasquatch giants, and CO Eric Hannit of NHF&G and a star of Northern Law.
 Or some mounted trophies,

 or faraway outfitters ready to take us Elk hunting.
 or to hunt stag or European boar in Poland. I have a dear friend in Greece who is an avid hunter, so maybe I should go...
 Or, if it gets really boring during these winter months, and less than 15 inches of snow we may be out exploring, clearing trails, or counting deer beds on the ATVs. But sometimes it actually DOES snow up here in Northern new England, so we have to fire up nothing less than snowmobiles to see the countryside.
 In between mechanized excursions we have been crazy enough to strap on snowshoes and perhaps strap on a predator rifle, and scout out the local coyote population. It's a fun and healthy way to spend a day!

 Of course our supplemental heat is wood, and we don't buy it. We log 50 or so trees, haul them out of the woods with the John Deere, cut, split and stack the five cords for the next year. It is actually quite theraputic and fights that heavy bored winter depression we all suffer.

 And then, over a hot coffee or chilled cocktail we might watch deer twenty feet from our kitchen window. They are a good crew! They save some of the expensive bird seed from being consumed by our hordes of feathered friends.

 ...and just when we thought we were really bored, we remember to go out and fell 10 or 15 more red maples for the deer to strip of buds in March. As I am cutting, the deer hear me, and come in very close. The one below is about 30 yards away.
 And just because we refuse to discriminate by animal type, we do watch the birds feast out front. Plenty for all.
 If we are in a dreamy or artistic mood we can always take a walk to deer camp and marvel at the roof snow. Stand there long enough, and it does eventually fall. And by the time you get back to the house, all the paint is dry.
 Oh, wait! I forgot that twice a day the livestock, for us, sheep, must be cleaned, fed, and watered along with the New Hampshire Reds. The dogs just get walks and fed good vittles.
 We might even muse over the fact that the manure pile can never stay snow covered like everything else, and that at -10 degrees neat clouds of steam erupt from it. Kids LOVE to hear why it is so.
 When I am absolutely desperate for something to do, then I break out the bucket loader, shovel, snowblower and wait for it to snow so I can get to all that clearing out that must be done. It's so strange. If I don't do it, no one will deliver propane or come visit us. Go figure.

In between whining about the length of winter here in NH, and just plain couch tending, I do a winter long deer census of the square mile surrounding us. It isn't easy, and requires hours of prep, hiking, plowing, and gathering game camera pictures. I only do it when I am really, really bored.

 Sometimes it is a waste of time because instead of a deer picture, I might get a bobcat, fox, coyote, bear, fisher, or raccoon or something else that just wastes batteries in the cameras. It it is very discouraging, especially during these long NH winters.


And then, guess what! Sometimes in winter you get March at the end of January like this year. So during this warm spell we stay in the kitchen and watch the deer save our seed from the birds on plain ground. They are good at it!




So while we agree that it is pretty slow here on a farm during the winter, we eventually learned how to survive the boredom and depression. Lots of people just fly South for the winter, and that would be cool too. But then, who would take care of all the little guys! Comments, critique and suggestions happily accepted.
jackzeller@myfairpoint.net

Sunday, February 25, 2018

2017/2018 Winter Deer Census at Long Ridge

Long Ridge Deer camp has wrapped up this years census. If you recall, last year we came up with roughly 19 deer per square mile (that square mile has camp right in the center of it). This year it appears to be substantially lower at 12. Twelve is what F&G biologists estimate, but we have always had more than their numbers prior to this winter. Frankly I do not think there are fewer deer than years past. We have had very light winters for three years now, and winter kill is negligible. Coyotes are scarce here. Food sources are continually exposed, and we have yet to get snow deep enough to trouble deer movement. I believe because of light snow pack, and warm temps the deer simply never yarded up and are free to cruise and browse as they choose. I am also aware that  there is heavy feeding of deer by a neighbor hood about a mile from here. In any case you can see that there IS no shortage.
Health appears to be no issue with these two below. These are the same two that make daily visits to our bird feeder twenty feet from the kitchen window.
Raccoons out of hibernation to enjoy a few crumbs left... 

This little guy appears to like the company of a Gray.
Deer in the headlights look? This Stealth Cam takes embarrassingly poor night time pictures.
And our favorite flying friends who watch me lug corn to the station from high in the maples and swoop before I am hardly gone. Check the kernal in one's mouth as he flies off!
Below is a picture that illustrates scattered whole corn. I have learned over the years - don't make piles or the deer will squabble. Use whole corn (it does not soften and rot like cracked corn) and the deer can find it under 4 inches of snow.
March has come a full month early this year.
This group comes from the West...
Portrait time...
Any questions/comments to conducting a deer census, let me know!
jackzeller@myfairpoint.net
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