Friday, November 20, 2020

Walther PPS M2 9mm Pistol Review

Walther PPS M2 9mm Pistol Review

Even despite the insanity of the gun market some manufacturers have stayed true to their roots. Walther has retained the long history of innovation while ushering in a completely new era of firearms. Sure they still faithfully produce those great symbols of Bond 007 spycraft and have even expanded that line with new entries, but the new Walther pistol designs have rightly captured a lot of attention.  A few years ago I reviewed the original PPS in 9mm - a gun which has become one of my favorite concealed carry guns. The PPS was a gun ahead of its time delivering a feature rich, accurate, and configurable carrying single stack that could behave like a compact, mid and full sized gun.  Based on the two years of carrying and shooting the PPS, it is my perception that it is one of the best subcompact concealed carry single-stack guns on the market despite the introduction of many other competitor firearms.

What many did not like about the first PPS was that it was a bit blocky looking and featured a European style guard paddle style magazine release which Americans are not terribly excited over. The PPS M2 resolved those complaints with a standard button magazine release and rounder ergonomics that mimic the amazingly comfortable PPQ and other Walther pistols.

The Walther PPS M2 retains the hybrid design which allows it to morph from a sub-compact sized pistol to a larger hand filling gun. Included with the gun are three magazines - one each in 6, 7, and 8 round capacities. With the flush fit 6-round magazine your pinky is left dangling like it would with any sub-compact or micro-compact format pistol. Just a swap to the 7 or 8-round magazines deliver a full-sized grip and control plus a few extra rounds of ammo. In essence this allows the user to just swap out a magazine to transform the PPS from a full sized feel for home defense to a smaller magazine for concealed carry.  The original point of the PPS is not to be a high capacity firearm, but to deliver an extremely thin and slim profile for concealed carry that is small enough both men and woman can carry comfortably. It is a lifestyle gun that was designed as a carry gun that would always be with you versus being left in the car or at home. The PPS M2 again carried through that design goal in a big way.

Walther did some serious ergonomics studies before moving the mouse pointer in the CAD software. From my perspective, this has to been the most comfortable sub-compact pistol I have handled, carried, and shot. I love my Glocks, however this fits the hand better and has a far better grip surface which all add up to a more confidently handled gun.  I used a few male and female friends as testers to shoot the PPS M2 and all loved it. In fact several loved it so much they may buy one.

The finish and fit are exceptional, the milling on the slides it well thought out with the front and rear serrated slide still providing enough bite to charge the PPS reliably.   The PPS M2 has Low profile snag-free three dot metal luminescent combat sights with the rear sight adjustable for windage (Tritium night sight options are available in the LE version). The luminescent sights which pick up ambient light or a quick flash from your flashlight and glow with usable illumination for about 15 minutes. A Tenifer coated slide and barrel are used for corrosion resistance, and other features include a loaded chamber viewport, red cocking indicator at the rear provides both tactile and visible status, smooth beveled snag-free slide stop with a lock back on empty, and features one of these most crisp, smoothest, and lightest 6.1 lb trigger pulls I have tested on a factory compact gun. The PPS M2 trigger feel is better than the PPS M1 though both tested to break right at the same 6.1 lb point. The short trigger reset is similar to a Glock reset window. Walther did drop the front picatinny mount from the PPS M2 model. Likely with the proliferation of weapon specific lights and lasers, they saw it as an unneeded feature that bulked up the gun.

Some of the other details to enhance functionality are minor but I notice them. Rarely you will end up with an especially non-acrobatic piece of spent brass that will almost make it out of the ejection port. The PPS design has an angled front cut on the port, a bevel on the ejector size, and a ramped area at the top rear of the port on the slide which all work in tandem to lift, turn and push out brass attempting to cause a jam.

The design is really similar to the Kahr PM series of pistols which I think are excellent, however the PPS is more ergonomic and has thinner feeling 1” concealed carry profile.

Functionally the Walther PPS M2 is a striker fired pistol which is very similar to a Glock. There are certainly some difference and probably some patent differences, however to my eyes they look the same which is a great thing because it is a proven design. In fact it even takes down identically to a Glock; clear the gun, pull the trigger, pull down on the two take down tabs, and move the slide off the frame.  Walther even has the double guide rod spring assembly we see in the newer Glocks.

Accuracy was excellent for a gun this size and delivered 3.5” 25-yard groups with the Federal Guard Dog ammo on a shooting rest. Functionally I have no issues from the first round to the last shot before writing this article. Excellent reliability all the way around. I have easily cleared a regulation police qualification test with the PPQ and do carry it as needed for some security work.

Holster options are already everywhere, but I choose a Klinger Stingray Flush Fit 0-cant holster which delivered everything I needed for testing of this pistol.

The trigger unit works like a Glock also with all those wonderful internal safeties and there is even the joyous absence of a safety or decocker. The fit and finish is better than a Glock, the trigger is leagues better as well, there is more steel rail contact between the frame and slide with equates to a smoother action, the grip actually offers “grip”. Most importantly the PPS M2  looks like someone with an eye for design actually had a crack at making a decent looking pistol and it is even comfortable to hold, shoot and carry.  The PPS M1 was the the single stack Glock 43 we were waiting for that Walther delivered many years earlier than Glock. Well at least that is how I would compare it to a Glock if I was working the gun counter. The bottom line is that I own a Glock 43 and carry the PPS M1 and M2 versions far more than I ever do the comparable Glock 43 because they feel, carry, and shoot better for me.

The PPS represents a “lifestyle” firearm which is flexible enough to accommodate a very wide array of clothing, defense, and concealment needs. It is big enough to not feel under-gunned and small enough to conceal better than any double stack firearm. They have designed a great PPS design that is realistically sized to offer compact sized power in a sub-compact size people will actually be able to carry. The PPS M2 is a top grade pistol that can easily fulfill everything from home defense to concealed carry and magazine swap options to extend the grip make it that much more versatile. With 6-8-rounds on tap and one in the chamber, this is hopefully a new legacy that Walther will continue with and maybe... just maybe Bond could start carrying one of these instead of that retro PPK with the electronic trigger lock.

Standard Model
MODEL: 2805961
Caliber: 9mm
Finish Color: Tenifer™ Black
Barrel Length: 3.18"
Trigger Pull: 6.1 lbs
Trigger Travel: 0.2"
Capacity: 6/7/8 rds
Overall Length: 6.3"
Height: 4.4/4.9/5.3"
Width: 1"
Weight (mag empty): 21.1 oz

LE EDITION - Include Night Sights
MODEL: 2807696
Caliber: 9mm
Finish Color: Tenifer™ Black
Barrel Length: 3.18"
Trigger Pull: 6.1 lbs
Trigger Travel: 0.2"
Capacity: 6/7/8 rds
Overall Length: 6.3"
Height: 4.4/4.9/5.3"
Width: 1"
Weight (mag empty): 21.1 oz

MSRP $599  
Street $549


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Saturday, November 14, 2020

Burris XTR II Precision Riflescope 5-25x50mm Review

Burris XTR II Precision Riflescope 5-25x50mm Review

One of the trends I am seeing in the market are optics manufacturers really starting to push themselves again to deliver exponential jumps in quality. The Burris’ premier XTR II lineup at this year’s SHOT show was definitely one of those optic lines which are pushing the envelop of higher quality. The XTR II is Burris’ new flagship optic line. Based on my testing of the Burris XTR II 3-15 in a previous article, I will say Burris has jumped from delivering high and rugged optics to a premium tier which many have noted rival the best optics in the industry. The Burris XTR II 5-25x50m was a must for a top end Devil Dog precision rifle build.

First off let me say that I was disappointed with how the demise of Devil Dog Arms unfolded, however they still made one of the best quality AR format rifles in the industry complete with premium Black Hole Weaponry barrels and HiperFire Triggers. This Devil Dog .308 has proved to be an exceptionally accurate gun with the capability to easily deliver groups in the ½ MOA range - the high power crystal clear capabilities of the XTR II 5-25x50m allowed me to take advantage of that accuracy. The SCR Mil Reticle also allowed a lot of data for on the fly windage and elevation compensation adjustments without the need to touch the dial.

The original XTR v1 line of scopes was a huge success for Burris, but customers were asking for even more. Not only did Burris deliver a crystal clear 5-time zoom range on this XTR II 5-25x50mm optic, but they upped the tube thickness by 25% over the original. Burris also configured the optic design as a FFP - First Focal Plane scope. FFP is the hot feature among precision and sniper rifle shooters the last few years which in essence zooms the reticle with the magnification changes. The result is that whatever holdover you have on the BDC or Mil-dot is the same at any magnification; in this case from 5X all the way through 25X. The big thing with FFP reticles is that this design makes elevation and wind holdovers simple and easy without having to think about what magnification you are on. If you have a 5-MPH cross wind on a 300-yard target and that is the second dot down and a quarter mil over based on your zero, then no matter what magnification you are on that same holdover will deliver the same shooting solution. Pretty cool. When comparing this to a standard BDC equipped standard second focal plane scope, the reticle does not zoom, so you hold at the maximum range is not the same at any other magnification level.

I choose the SCR Mil-Dot reticle. The SCR (Special Competition Reticle) is designed to over the faster paced long range shooter a reticle which provides a significant amount of data including ½ Mil-Dot markings, 1/10 Mil-Dot ranging brackets, and an extended illumination reticle. The goal of the reticle design was to provide the shooter with all the data they needed to take the shot quickly and accurately whether they reached for the turrets or used the precision Mil-Dot hold over points in the reticle. 

Once a shooter knows their bullet drop holds based on Mil-Dot target sizing, they can quickly take a precision shot extremely quickly even at multiple targets at different distances. If you see your shot spatter 1 mil to the left you can make that adjustment without doing laborious math to convert what you read in the reticle with a turret adjustment. Burris notes the XTR II this SCR reticle is busier than a typical Mi-Dot reticle, however with a design which is focused on competitive shooting/sniper competitions.

There is a lot to love about this very high tier optic. At around $1400 on the street, this optic is not for everyone and is up there with the premium Japanese and German optics companies. For the quality it is a great deal and considerably less expensive than many competitors with similarly featured $2000-$3000 priced optics. The glass is just freaking unbelievably crisp and clear, but this is what you get in the higher tier of optics. Let’s not forget that Burris and Steiner are owned by the same parent company so… I don’t think it's a stretch of the imagination that Steiner engineering and technology had a hand in Burris upping its already exceptional game a bit more.

What Burris delivered with the XTRII really sets the bar for the rest of the market to catch up to outside of maybe Vortex. They have everything packed into this optic with the exception of laser ranging. You have the new style thicker and heavier duty and allegedly brighter 34MM tube, big ass audible click turrets. The turrets MRad adjustments are matched to the Mil-Dot reticle (as they always should be) are zero-able and even feature a resettable zero-stop. There is that very cool FFP design everyone is asking for Christmas, and the reticle is even illuminated.

Now I generally have some serious gripes about illuminated reticles because most companies try to deliver sunlight red dot illumination brightness, however in this case Burris delivered perfection. Too many times, manufacturers make illuminated reticles for daytime use and thus far too bright for the night work they were originally developed for. The illumination on this 5-25x50mm XTR II delivers eleven settings of illumination from “I can barely see a hint of the reticle in a dark closet in the basement with the lights off” to something brighter and useable at dusk. Burris has also included off positions between each illumination setting so you don’t need to cycle through all the brightness settings just to turn the reticle illumination on or off.

Burris even has a well thought out side focus knob which is neither interfered by the illumination knob, nor interferes with it… and then there is the huge magnification range. Normally you would see a 3-10x or 3-14, but here we have a scope that can deliver everything you might need on very close (maybe too close) targets all the way out to the distant capabilities of the shooter with a 15x magnification.  This is a very nice setup affording the shooter lots of flexibility. The range is also one of the widest magnification ranges on the market. Bushnell, Nikon, and Vortex top tier models are almost there with similar features and arguably similar optic quality, however from a price and quality perspective the XTR II is a very attractive option when you add in all the features. Burris has just put in all into an exception package that just works.

This optic has lived on a few builds already but has settled on my Devil Dog based AR .308 build. If you are looking for a general purpose sniper rifle then this magnification range is too much - Burris’ 3-15 XTR II would be a better choice. If you are looking for an optic for a dedicated precision rifle which has the magnification to deliver that accuracy at longer range this is one amazing optic.

I am not one of those guys who likes or enjoys figuring out the math on a reticle calibrated for 25x when I need to be at 5x of magnification. For me, simpler is better and I like the FFP concept both in theory and in use. Literally just print out a ballistics card noting all the holdover points for your pet round and you are good to go at any magnification. This is a great optic which deserves to be on a rifle that can deliver the accuracy and do it quickly. There is a lot to love about this scope and not much at all to hate and probably the reason I tightened it onto one of my most expensive and accurate AR10 builds to date.

XTR II™ Riflescope 5-25x50mm

All hand-fitted internal assemblies are triple spring-tensioned for absolute shock-proofing, even under severe recoil. They are vibration resistant, even on extended vehicular patrols.

- Zero Click Stop adjustment knobs let you quickly and easily revert back to the original yardage setting without counting clicks
- Advanced windage and elevation adjustments are fast and easy; accurate and repeatable reticle adjustments match the measurement system of the reticle
- High-grade optical glass provides excellent brightness and clarity with lasting durability
Index-matched Hi-Lume® multicoating aids in low-light performance and glare elimination, increasing your success rate
- Double internal spring-tension system allows the scope to hold zero through shock, recoil, and vibrations
- Waterproof
- Nitrogen-filled body tubes prevent internal fogging in the cold and rain
- Precision-gauged and hand-fitted internal assemblies maintain a consistent point of impact through the magnification range, regardless of shock and vibration
- Solid, 1-piece outer tube is stress-free and durable; withstands shock and vibration from even the heaviest-recoiling calibers
- Covered by the Burris Forever Warranty™

Magnification: 5x-25x
Objective Lens Diameter: 58 mm
Clear Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
Ocular Lens Diameter: 44.25 mm
Finish: Matte
Focal Plane: FFP
Main Tube Size: 34 mm
Field of View: 21 low – 4.3 high (ft. @ 100 yds.)
Eye Relief: 3.50 – 4.25 in.
Exit Pupil: 10 low – 2 high (mm)
Click Value: 1/10 mil; 100-Click Knob (201031)
1/4 MOA; 100-Click Knob (201032)
1/10 mil; 80-Click Knob (201030)
Elevation Adjustment, Total Capability: 110 MOA
Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA from center.
Windage Adjustment: 55 MOA
Example: 50 MOA is roughly 25 MOA in any direction from center.
Parallax/Focus: Side focus/PA
Adjustable Parallax: 50 yds. – infinity
Length: 16.31 in.
Weight: 32.10 oz.
Illumination Control: Rotary dial; intermediate "battery saver" stops
Illumination Settings: 11 brightness settings
Battery: CR2032
MSRP $1400-$1500


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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Magnum Research Desert Eagle Caliber Conversion Package

Magnum Research Desert Eagle Caliber Conversion Package

The Desert Eagle is the quintessential diva of the firearms industry with its sasquatch sized proportions, limited runs of the premium finishes, $1200+ price tags, tough to use ergonomics, it requires extremely hot premium ammo for reliable operation, and of course the $50 magazines. 

I started with my Stainless Desert Eagle in .50AE, and swapped to
.44 Magnum in under five seconds including swapping mags.
The gun is not cheap to purchase, own or operate by any stretch of the imagination, but we all want one. Those folks who are owners kinda want another one or at the very least the ability to shoot something other than the .357 magnum, .44 magnum, and 50AE caliber they purchased the gun in. This is where the Desert Eagle is one of the most awesome caliber swapping guns in existence.

Are you surprised to learn that the Desert Eagle XIX features the fastest barrel changing system on the market? The Desert Eagle XIX are designed to allow the shooter to swap optional barrels nearly instantly from a 6" to an 8" to a 10' and back again.

Magnum Research sells the caliber conversion
kits which include two magazines and a barrel.
Have a gun fashion crisis which requires that all gold pistol be toned down with a black barrel or that deer just trotted out of your 6" barrel's effective iron sight range and need your 10" barrel with the scope? No problem. Hit the takedown button on the left side of the frame and flip down the barrel release switch and lift off the barrel and drop in the other barrel, flip the switch, charge and shoot. Of all the non-ergonomic attributes of this pistol aside, this barrel swap feature is slick as hell and crazy fast.  If you need a bit more power or something softer shoot, the calibers swap just as easily.

The 50AE cartridge features the same rim dimensions as the .44 Magnum model so it can be converted to shoot .44 Magnum with just a barrel and magazine swap. If you have a .357 Magnum model and want to go up to the .44 Magnum/50 AE interchangeability, it requires a few extra minutes to swap out the bolt swap in addition to the the magazine and barrel. Buy one Desert Eagle XIX and you have the ability to convert and shoot any of the three offered calibers. Barrel and magazine conversion kits run around $550-$650 depending on barrel options and an extra bolt for the .357 to .44 Mag rim size swap is $275. The compensated .44 Magnum 6” barrel I used here was right at around $625 MSRP.

 Seconds later, my .44 Magnum Desert Eagle
is ready to shoot.
The incredible thing about the Desert Eagle is the accuracy which is far better than what anyone expects considering you can swap from .44 Magnum to .50AE and back again in under a few seconds. Most people really think of the Desert Eagles as single caliber guns, however with a few barrel and caliber swaps, you can really have some impressive versatility to take advantage of the accuracy the gun can deliver. If you have a Desert Eagle in .50AE then a tamer and less expensive caliber is just a barrel swap away.

MSRP is around $625 for this .44 Magnum Kit


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