Monday, June 30, 2014

H&K Heckler & Koch P30L 9mm Pistol Review

H&K Heckler & Koch P30L 9mm Pistol Review


I have always wanted a $1100 H&K pistol about the same way I have always wanted a BMW 7 series. In reality there are many cars far less expensive which can deliver the utility of the BWM, however with the Beemer, you get a style and exclusivity which many cannot afford. I still do not have the $85K for a low end 7 Series, however I decided to plop down the cash for the H&K P30L after seeing it at SHOT show 2014.


Beyond the exclusivity of the H&K brand and style, one of the main features which grabbed my attention was the simple but effective rear decocker. Other features that sealed the deal include the H&K trigger guard magazine release,which I have become a huge fan of, as well as the outstanding ergonomics. In many ways this H&K P30L delivers a nearly identical ergonomic experience as the Walther PPQ M2 which I am totally enamored with, but it does it with H&K style and features.





ABOUT H&K - HECKLER & KOCH
H&K P30L (top) vs Walther PPQ (bottom)
Obviously as a German company, Heckler & Koch's history dates back prior to WWII as a defense manufacturer, however at the end of the war, the company was disbanded. In 1946 the company was reformed as H&K initially as a bicycle and sewing machine manufacturer, however by the 1950s, the company was back at it developing firearms and weapons. Since that time, H&K has consistently been on the bleeding edge of firearms designs. Some designs  put them on the map as a top tier firearms manufacturer and design house... others not so much.  One such idea that never took off was a ceaseless ammunition rifle and ammo. Basically the powder was compressed in a manner which allowed it to durably function as it's own case. H&K was the first to develop this caseless select fire rifle which I am still not sure why it was not insanely popular with the military folks. Perhaps it was too cutting edge of an idea and begs the question if someone offered a Star Wars Blaster, would the military reject it just because it does not look like an M4. H&K was also the first to develop hexagonal rifling which many companies now use to improve accuracy and reliability across a diverse array of ammo.
H&K P30L (top) vs Walther PPQ (bottom)


Successful cutting edge designs obviously include Heckler & Koch delayed roller sub-machine guns and pistols, however for the general populace they also had some edgy designs which were still very successful. From a pistol perspective, I thought the polymer VP70 Volks introduced in 1970 with a stunning 18-round capacity was one of the most futuristic production pistols I had ever seen and it still remains futuristic looking today over thirty years later. The pistol was initially hot because of the huge capacity and followed with an amazing 29-year production life. The collectable HK P7 with its squeeze cocking device is still a gun a lust after even though they are going for more than this new HK P30L. Meanwhile companies like Colt and Springfield are just recently getting into polymer pistols.  So you get the idea that H&K are innovators and this HK P30L is one of H&K's newest designs.
H&K P30L (top) vs Walther PPQ (bottom)


FIT, FEEL, FINISH, & FEATURES
The P30 series has been an enormous success for H&K with the military and police as a solid reliable pistol platform which delivers H&K innovative features in a design which is not too unfamiliar/strange when compared to other pistols. Plainly put, the P30 series is not so cutting edge that no one wants to adopt it and features just enough H&K cool stuff to deliver more than the the rest of the polymer pistols on the market.


The fit and finish are excellent as you would expect. The molding is well defined and precise around all areas of the pistol. This pistol is offered in a number of versions and calibers.  The P30L is basically a 1/2" longer barreled version of H&K's very popular P30 designed with the addition of the "L" on this model. Beyond the barrel length, the P30 and P30L are identical and can share all accessories, holsters and magazines. Essentially, the H&K P30L is the same size as a standard Glock G17 but with a 15-round capacity versus zone G17's 17-round capacity.  The H&K P30L is infinitely more comfortable for me than... well, any other pistol with the exception of the PPX and PPQ Walther pistols.


I know I have bantered on my soapbox that the comfort of a defensive pistol is secondary as long as it not uncomfortable, however this is a different type of purchase. I don't need leather and hand burnished burl wood in my car either, however you tend to expect these things in a high end car and a high end pistol. For a retail price tag about twice that of most other similar full sized 9mm pistols, you expect refinement and that is exactly what the H&K P30L delivers. Unlike my Uber comfy Walther PPQ, the H&K P30L features three sets of Small, Medium, and Large back straps and grips to tune the already incredibly comfortable grip to your perfect wide and backstrap feel. I spent the better part of an hour playing Gun Barbies with the grips and settled on the medium side panel and back straps initially already installed on the H&K from the factory. Mrs. Pandemic found that the large grips for her very long fingers fit her best. From a car perspective, I suppose this would be the equivalent to playing around the seat height, angle, and lumbar support on supple leather seats of a BMW 7-Series... or so I imagine.
H&K P30L (top) vs Walther PPQ (bottom)


The P30L is beefier than the Glock and marginally heavier with a more substantial breach and thicker bits here and there in key stress areas. The design team added a slip on buffer to the recoil spring and guide rod which in theory increases service life and shooter enjoyment. The H&K P3-L was the softest shooting between a side-by-side testing of a Glock 19, Walther PPQ, and H&K, however the difference was not significant.


Beyond sheer durability, one notable feature is the H&K paddle magazine release. The rationale for this release is that is greatly reduces a Jam/Condition 1 loose magazine pistol failure caused by the mag release button being accidentally hit in the holster or during the draw stroke. Another reason is that the paddle mag release provides true ambidextrous magazine release features even if the pistol is transitioned to the weak hand during fire. In some cases, I could see that this release could actually be faster than a standard release because you trigger finger can drop the magazine without a hand reposition while you reach for the mag, but that would require completely re-training oneself to use this feature efficiently. The reality is that with fifteen rounds on tap, it is statistically unlikely that you will ever need to reload your firearm in a gunfight, and in that situation you would be best served with the pistol magazine fully seated and somewhat protected from accidental release.

The pistol is fully ambidextrous with dual slide releases, magazine release levers, and a serrated decocking button located on the rear of the frame. H&K designed the extractor to also serve as a loaded chamber indicator providing a reminder of a loaded chamber that can be subtly seen and felt.


My P30L features luminous (non-radioactive) tubes housed within big beefy looking steel front and rear sights which worked just fine during day and night testing. To assure you know what is in front of you making that bumping sound in the night, the pistol provides a pretty long picatinny rail for mounting lasers and tactical flashlights.


All these cool features aside, the biggest feature for me is the double action and single action capabilities of the pistol. Many pistols do this however most add in some stupid superfluous safety or decock lever which gets in the way and just irritates me as Glock shooter. That noted, you will at some point need to decock and drop the hammer and the preferable method is a decocking lever to safely drop the hammer. H&K delivers a design which moves this decocking lever from the side of the pistol where it is typically in the way of normal charging and malfunction clearing operations, to the back of the pistol next to the hammer. Once the bad guy is down or your Steel Action Target is all painted silver, you can just reach up with your thumb and touch the button on the back of the slide and the hammer drops safely.  I love it.
For a full sized defense pistol, I really do like the idea of a that the first shot has a heavier trigger pull and then transitions to a lighter single action trigger pull for follow up shots, however in most cases you need a hammer fired gun to do this. Obviously, if you have the time to cock the hammer first, you are treated to a lightened single action trigger pull which does increase first shot accuracy.


Many manufacturers still offer hammer fired pistols such as Sig, Beretta, and others however no one moves the damn decocker out of the way. I cannot count how many time my support thumb has pulled the decocker on Sig or S&W instead of the slide release when attempting a speed reload. I am not such and idiot that it happens every time I shoot these pistols, however it happens more than I feel comfortable with on one reason I prefer Sig's 226SAS model.  The Beretta 92F additionally has the problem that you can actually put the gun in safe during a draw, charge and fire drill especially if you are used to a striker fired pistol. H&K gets the decocker out of the way to the back of the pistol. A small detail, but another level of refinement you see on the H&K P30L.


This is a defensive pistol so it does have some trigger take up and the trigger reset also is long compared to some striker fired pistols. Compared to the Walther PPQ or a Glock, the H&K P30L trigger pull is a little longer for both the single and double stage, however that is a feel you get with a double action/single action trigger pull.  The trigger pull on the P30L is similar to Sigs, Smiths and other similar Double action hammer fired pistols. For me if there was a weak point on the pistol, the trigger would be it. I would really like the pistol to have a bit crisper break, however that might be a odd criticize for a pistol designed to assure that when you pull the trigger you mean it in a defensive situation. For a defensive trigger it works, however I would like it to have been more refined.



FUNCTION & ACCURACY
Just like a Glock, I am confident I could use soft turds and dirt clods as bullets and this P30L would feed perfectly and it did even with real bullets and my reloads (which in some cases are spec-wise close to turds).  Accuracy was excellent a bit better than any of my factory Glocks, Sigs, and Walthers easily delivering 1" groups at 25-yards off sand bag rests with most .


FINAL THOUGHTS
If we look at what defines premium, generally German brands are usually on the top of the list. In cars we have brands like BMW and in guns we have brands like H&K. The fit and finish of this pistol is outstanding as are the features packed into the H&K P30L.


SPECS
P30L
Caliber 9 mm x 19
Recoil operated weapon with modified Browning locking system and recoil buffer system
Dimensions v3
Overall length 7.56 in.
Overall height 5.43 in.
Overall width w/lever 1.37 in.
Barrel length 4.44 in.
Sight radius 6.42 in.
Weight With magazine 1.72 lb
Magazine 0.20 lb
Magazine capacity 15 Cartridges
Trigger system SA/DA
Trigger pull (N) * 20 + 4/-2 (SA)  51 +/- 5 (DA)
Trigger travel .25 inch (SA)  < .55 inch (DA)
Sights Fixed (Open square notch rear sight with contrast points)
MSRP $1100  - Street $900


SOURCES

Heckler & Koch H&K  - http://www.hk-usa.com/

Friday, June 20, 2014

HiperTouch - HyperFire 24 3Gun Trigger Review

HiperTouch - HyperFire 24 3Gun Trigger Review

At this point, I have tested all four of the original HiperTouch HiperFire triggers and they have all performed excellent included the newest edition, the 24 3gun model. In fact HiperFire triggers are one of my favorite trigger brands. HiperFire just introduced the brand new 24 3Gun which is the sublime 24C trigger with a standard curved trigger shoe instead of a flat blade trigger shoe.

If you have not heard about the HiperFire line of Single-Stage triggers, you should seriously consider them. They are absolutely revolutionary from the HiperTouch 24 to the enhanced HiperTouch 24E, to the full blown super tuned 24C competition and new 24 3Gun models all in a game changing cam-action trigger design.

After the introduction of their 24C trigger, HiperTouch had a huge outcry from shooters who loved the 24C, but for one reason or another wanted a standard curved trigger and thus the 24 3Gun was born.

I installed the HiperFire 3Gun trigger in a custom Aero Precision build I was working on which featured SLR extended forend, a crazy Bird of Prey compensator, Black Hole Weaponry Fluted barrel, YM bolt carrier group, and Mission First Tactical grip and stock. Definitely a high end build with a high potential for premium accuracy. The HiperTouch Hiperfire 24 3G - 3Gun trigger fit right in.

ABOUT HIPERTOUCH - HIPERFIRE TRIGGERS
HiperTouch’s founder, Terry Bender, had an idea to overcome many of the shortcomings of “match” triggers. Terry is not just some guy filing down sears and swapping out are triggers with low power springs in his garage, he is a mechanical engineering consultant. The approach to the HiperTouch design was new from the ground up, based on a cam'ed system.

WHY HIPERTOUCH IS DIFFERENT
The ultimate challenge for a great tactical/hunting trigger is to deliver a smooth, fast, and flat pre-travel, very fast trigger reset, minimize lock time, assure a crisp light break, and with no noticeable overtravel all while delivering a high hammerfall impact.  With match target triggers, the goals are the same but with even more refinement of all the above, with no perceptible pretravel.

The problem is that many of these trigger design goals are all opposing forces. A smooth, fast, and flat pretravel and crisp light final break all require low forces at the sear which equates to the need for lighter hammer and trigger springs which can lead to light hammer strikes and less reliable ignition. In standard trigger designs, very fast trigger resets, minimized lock times, and high hammerfall impact require heavy springs which creates a crappy feeling heavy trigger. The final dimension is tuning out pre-travel, overtravel, and ensuring a crisp trigger break which are all impacted by the above light or heavy springs. Bad tuning can further impact reliability and safety. The end result is that trigger engineers have their work cut out for them to strike a balance for a great trigger.

The compromise has been either a great single stage trigger that may have a light hammer strike here and there with hard primers, or a 2-stage which delivers a 1st stage pre travel which some claim slows down followup shots.

The magic of the HiperTouch HiperFire design is delivered via spring cam-ed pressure on the hammer which counteracts much of the hammer spring force within the first couple of degrees of movement around the point of sear engagement. This delivers the perfect situation for a great feeling trigger and break. After the hammer begins to move forward the cam applies pressure the other way and greatly increases the hammer force. This increases hammer fall force, decreases lock time...etc. it's a best of both worlds design and its a totally new trigger design.

The HiperFire has three spring sets (light, medium-light, and medium). Initially, I though the heaviest strongest spring would deliver the heaviest trigger pull however it is the other way around. The strongest spring exerts more pressure on the cam and delivers the lightest trigger feel adn also the heaviest hammer fall impact. This is what the dual spring and cam design of the HiperFire triggers does. It's a mind screw when you first pull back the extra force hammer and have such a light trigger pull. SOme may want to use the lighter tuning springs and the HiperFire trigger provides that option, however in all my setups I have always used the silver spring to deliver the lightest trigger feel and heaviest trigger fall for improved reliable ignition.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES & FUNCTIONS
The Hipertouch 24, 24E & 24C all shared many key features as does the 24 3Gun version. All of the triggers are AR15/AR10 fire-control compatible with any lower receiver with industry standard .154" receiver pins. The triggers are screw-less "hard" tuned with static precision springs which inherently makes the trigger more reliable than a screw tuned design which can go out of "tune".  The user can tune the trigger at 2,3, & 4 pounds with the three supplied spring sets.

Essentially all four of these semi-automatic HiperTouch HiperFire triggers are identical once the hammer begins to fall and all deliver best in class hammerfall force.  Of course with all these similarities, many will ask what is the difference between them and why woud not just opt for the best automatically. The answer is trigger tuning feel.  You certainly do not want a super sensitive trigger on a duty/defense rifle and similarly you would not want a longer pre-travel trigger on a precision match target rifle. I would choose the standard 24 for a defense rifle and the 24E, C or 3Gun models which more precision is required.

HIPERTOUCH 24 3GUN $225.00
As noted earlier, the 24 3GUN is the same trigger as the 24C but with a curved standard trigger versus the flat blade trigger of the 24C. Many shooters including me will say the 24 C have no pre-travel, no over-travel, and stunningly light break. The 24 3Gun is the same.   Obviously there is some sort of travel, but it is so little the finger cannot perceive it. Adding the flat straight trigger blade and adjustable shoe increases trigger control significantly.

This is an incredibly fast running trigger which I would love to see one of the top speed shooters run. The splits are incredibly fast. You are going to see more and more 3 Gunners running this trigger simply because it is so fast and light.  That said it is too sensitive for a defensive focused AR15 build in my opinion simply because the trigger seems to lack any perceptible pre-travel at all. To me it most closely aligns to a Geissele National Match trigger but in a single stage design.

FINAL THOUGHTS
I love these triggers and if you give them a shot, you will see the HiperTouch triggers deliver far more than many of the other competitors. In fact, I sponsor the top Jr National Champion 3Gun shooter who swears by the Hipertouch triggers over any other trigger design. You will also find these triggers are numerous on other top 3Gun shooters as well.  

You will see these triggers quite a bit in builds going forward simply because I believe HiperTouch has delivered on a truly innovative design that actually works both theoretically and in practical use.  The price ranges are extremely competitive to other high quality triggers in the market as well... The entry level 24 is a screaming great deal with no tunable trigger in the $185 MSRP price range and the 24 3Gun is still a good deal at $225.

My personal preference is the HiperFire 24C flat blade design, however I know there are many law enforcement, government and other agencies which only allow standard curved triggers. Considering the performance of the 24 3Gun, I think HiperFire has another great trigger design that will be one of the HOT triggers on the market for 2014 and 2015.

SPECS
Shared Features of all Hipertouch triggers
No Screws, No Lower Modifications
AR15/10 Fire-Control
Robust Single Stage, Semi-Auto
User-Set Weights: Light, Med-Light, Medium (2-4lbs)
Small Pins: .154" Dia.
Best in Class Hammer Fall

III HIPERTOUCH 24 3GUN $225.00
24Competition Enhancements
Focus - 3Gun, DMR/match target
Traditional Curved trigger blade
Fast Splits and Controllable Repeat Fire
Retains Best in Class Reset

SOURCES
HiperTouch HiperFire Triggers - http://www.hiperfire.com/

Timney Tavor Trigger Review

Timney Tavor Trigger Review

My new favorite gun over the last six months has been my Tavor bullpup rifle from IWI.  It is a design which just flat out works. My original quote in my review a few months ago was that the "Tavor is a Glock in Rifle clothing". The quote thrilled IWI. In talking with them after the review, my quote summed up their design intent to to deliver exceptional reliability in a rifle format. They accomplished that goal big time and to this date I have still not cleaned the rifle since pulling it from the box, have never had a malfunction and have over 3000 rounds through it and counting.  I love this rifle because it is dependable, accurate and fast.

Though everyone seems to have the same love of the IWI Tavor rifle as I do, the trigger feel has been of great debate. For the intended purpose of this rifle, the trigger is just fine from my perspective. Many writers and reviewers though have loathed the longer take-up defensive feeling trigger, but luckily Timney now introduced has a drop-in match grade trigger unit for the Tavor which should make even the pickiest shooters happy.  Thanks to the Tavor design, replacing the trigger takes less than a minute total and is absolutely a drop-in tool-less upgrade.

ABOUT TIMNEY
Timney was founded in 1946 and began by making replacement triggers for Mauser rifles. Over the last 60 plus years Timney has been making triggers for a growing list of firearms such as  Ruger 10/22s, to ARs, to even Mosin Nagant rifles, Tavor, and more.  Every trigger component is made in house right here in the USA.  Their triggers are well known and used extensively within the competition circles and for good reason; they provide an outstanding single stage trigger feel all while also being the best trigger values on the market.  Part of the reason the Timney triggers are so well regarded is that each trigger is hand assembled, tested and calibrated to the highest quality standards in the industry.


Timney also goes the extra mile by offering expert installation for those customers that need it and a product customer service second to none. As with any well respected company, all Timney Triggers come with a lifetime warranty; if you have a problem down the road, they will back it up with warranty and customer support.

One of the reasons I love Timney is that they are the only Match grade trigger manufacturer who delivers a wide varied product line for many different rifles. Most trigger manufacturers focus only on the AR15/AR10 or Remington platform. Timney on the other hand is the only manufacturer, as of this article, which offers a match grade trigger for the Mosin Nagant and Tavor. In total they offer triggers for over nineteen different firearms manufacturers and many trigger designs for each of those brands specific models.


FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
In most cases, Timney offers pre tuned non-adjustable “cassette style” factory tuned triggers units. This concept offers a number of benefits. The first is that the trigger unit can be literally dropped in as an entire unit into the rifle instead of requiring a bit more assembly skill from the end user. These “cassette style” trigger units are one of the easiest for novice and beginner home gunsmiths to install.  The other benefit of the Timney design is that they are factory tuned non-adjustable and cannot be tuned by the user. The vast majority of us simply do not have the mastery of trigger tuning to properly and safely tune a trigger, however some of us believe we do - thus a great reason to buy triggers which cannot be tuned such as the Timney models. I have five Timney triggers and I will guarantee that I would not be able to improve the feel over the factory tuned state even if I could tune them. Timney makes great triggers.


The fit and finish of the Tavor trigger unit is the same premium quality shooters have come to expect from Timney. The cassette billet 6061-T6 aluminum frame is beautifully gold anodized and so pretty you really hate to hide it inside the gun.


Although the Timney trigger drops into the Tavor, it is quite a bit different from a functional perspective than the stock Tavor trigger. The body is billet aluminum versus the polymer stock trigger body, the Timney uses a heavier and extended hammer, the trigger actuator prong is tensioned differently, the sear engagement is different, as are the springs. In fact beyond the external dimensions of the trigger body assembly, pretty much all the trigger internals are set up differently.

The internals are all wire EDM cut for precision, just like all of Timney’s other trigger models.  This delivers very precise and repeatable trigger tuning and manufacturing.  Timney also Teflon Nickel coated the hammer to increase reliability as round counts increase.

Where Timney typically offer single stage triggers, the Tavor trigger delivers a two-stage trigger feel due to the extended bullpup trigger linkage. The trigger is still a very crisp non-adjustable 4lb trigger, but just a bit different feel than what you will find in Timney’s AR line of triggers.


One notation of this upgrade is that Timney notes the their trigger is not compatible with supressor use. My assumption is that the suppressor use increases the crap buildup in the chamber and trigger area and this may cause problems, however it could be a pressure and higher cycle rate issue as well - I do not have suppressor and could not test what the problem supposedly is.

Even if you have a supressor, you can easily swap between the triggers back and forth in under a minute. Clear and charge the Tavor so that the hammer is cocked, drive out the two trigger retainer pins, pull out the stock trigger unit, pop the Timney unit in and push the trigger retainer pins back in -DONE! Easiest trigger upgrade on the planet.


I was lucky enough to score some less expensive 5.56 plinking ammo and pushed a little over 500 rounds through the Tavor with the Timney trigger installed. The trigger is indeed considerably better than stock, not as mushy, has far less takeup, and a world more crisp. I believe this is the trigger upgrade everyone was hoping for.

Due to the inherent bullpup design, it is difficult in a $1400 rifle to have the tolerances to deliver a single stage match trigger feel. I have shot a number of bullpup Remington bolt action sniper rigs which are amazing, however they were about three times the price of the Tavor. On the Tavor that minimal linkage takeup feels like the first-stage of a two-stage trigger.  

Now the downside of this Timney Tavor upgrade. It is not cheap. In fact it is one of Timney’s most expensive triggers offered and probably one of the most expensive match trigger upgrades available for nearly any firearm that I am aware of unless the trigger is a one-off custom. Timney is generally about 10% less than the next equivalent competitive trigger manufacturer, however in this case the $353 MSRP is up there. Tavor owners are loyal, however there will be more than a few potential buyers who will shy away from the upgrade due to the price.

Do I think it is worth it? That depends on you as a shooter. The stock Tavor trigger did not really hindered me in any way, and I am not sure the upgrade is justified for the occasional Tavor owner who bought the rifle for just home defense. However, if you also use the Tavor for 3Gun, competition, or other shooter sports where 10%-20% accuracy improvement form a match grade trigger upgrade then I would say this is a great option. My Tavor has become one of my home defense rifles and when in that rotation, I pop in the stock trigger, but out on the range I slip the Timney back in. After I have a couple thousand rounds through the Timney trigger, I will feel comfortable enough to leave it in all the time, however at the moment the stock mushy trigger is my choice for home defense.

FINAL THOUGHTS
The Timney Tavor trigger is a huge upgrade in finish and trigger feel which elevates the Tavor to the expectations of AR15 match triggers and it should for the price. Picky shooters will rejoice at what this trigger offer the Tavor owners.


Historically I have found validated a general rule that a match trigger upgrade will increase accuracy by 10%-20% which it did in this case. Where the stock trigger historically delivered groups around 1”-ish 100-yard groups from the Tavor with garden variety mil-spec ammo and a decent powered optic, the Timney trigger allowed me to sneak in a few groups under that magic 1” range with the same ammo. The trigger is not special voodoo, it just allows a margin of precision which the stock trigger does not.


I applaud Timney to taking the effort, time and expense to design not only just a better replacement match trigger, but one which is clearly a new design from the ground.  This new drop-in trigger allows the Tavor to perform at a higher level than what IWI initially imagined and is the fastest and easiest trigger swap on the planet.

SPECS
4lb trigger pull
Self-contained drop in trigger. Unbelievably easy to install.
Because of the unique, bullpup design of the Tavor the Timney replacement  is a two-stage trigger feel.
Lightweight 6061-T6 CNC Machined aluminum housing.
Wire EDM cut, heat treated, Teflon nickel coated hammer to guarantee a lifetime of reliable service.
Factory tested and preset at 4lbs. (Not adjustable)
THE TIMNEY SEAR PACK IS NOT COMPATIBLE WITH A SUPPRESSOR
MSRP - $352.95

SOURCES