P30 Thursday: Week Forty

11-Mar-10 – 15:58 by ToddG

89,136 rounds
10 stoppages, 0 malfunctions, 5 parts breakages

As promised, this week allowed for lots of range time; I didn’t waste the opportunity. And it’s been a crazy week with the P30. A small piece of the frame sheared off, the gun still fired another 3,000+ rounds without a hiccup, and the pistol turned in some record-setting numbers on the F.A.S.T. drill.

At about 86,000 rounds, I noticed the trigger pull on the pistol felt different. It was stacking a lot and became very stagey.

While the gun continued to fire properly, the trigger pull was odd enough that I decided to field strip the gun. I discovered a little sliver of material sitting atop the trigger return spring (see photo at right; click on the image to see a larger version). It was just lying there loose inside the gun. It affected the trigger pull simply because it was adding uneven resistance and catching as the spring rolled across its surface. The piece fell out as soon as I turned the frame upside down. It appeared to be a sliver of steel encased in polymer. Looking the gun over, I immediately saw that this was a small piece of the frame itself which had sheared off.

As you can see from this picture (left; click on image for a larger version), the sliver is actually a small piece of the internal steel skeleton of the pistol’s frame. That particular area has to deal with a lot of abuse. It gets extremely hot, especially during the high volume rapid fire I’m doing. In six practice sessions so far this month, for example, I’ve averaged more than 350 rounds per hour for 3-5 hours straight. The piece that broke off rests right up against the barrel breech block, so it has to absorb a tremendous amount of heat not just as the gun fires, but while it is at rest. The same area also gets battered in recoil as the barrel torques and the slide stop halts the barrel’s rearward movement. Oh, and I hadn’t cleaned the gun in 9,000 rounds previous.

So what was the result? With a chunk of steel reinforcement missing from the frame, does the gun even fire?

Yes.

In fact, the gun has fired more than three thousand rounds without a stoppage so far. I didn’t even bother to clean the gun until today, so those rounds got tagged on to the previous 9,000 since the last time the gun saw maintenance.

The trigger pull still feels the same. Point of impact has not shifted. A quick offhand accuracy test turned in 3″ groups at 25yd, so accuracy doesn’t appear to be affected. I’ve even let a few other folks shoot the gun and no one noticed anything unusual about it. I’ve examined the frame, slide, and barrel very closely and cannot see any signs of additional wear or damage forming.

So the test will continue with the gun as is. And I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m still using it as my carry gun every day. What can I say? It still works and I have complete faith in it. Faith that is proving well founded, because…

I broke my personal F.A.S.T. record. Twice. On the same day. After the little piece of frame sheared off.

  • 4.13 (clean): 1.38, .34 / 1.79 / .21, .20, .21
  • 4.08 (clean): 1.37, .35 / 1.76 / .20, .20, .20
  • 4.05 (-1H/-1B): 1.35, .34 / 1.76 / .21, .20, .19

I went completely off the reservation on the third run. But let’s not talk about that…

My speed on the low-probability shots continues to improve, thanks in large part to the great LEM trigger. I find the longer, rolling trigger pull helps avoid the minor anticipation glitches than can really hamper fine accuracy at speed. A number of folks shot this P30 over the past week and for most of them it was their first time with the LEM. On the first few shots, the response is always “the trigger is really weird.” By the time they’ve put a couple magazines through the gun, though, there is universal appreciation for the way it works. I’ve watched folks pick up the unfamiliar P30 with its unfamiliar LEM trigger system and immediately turn in better accuracy than they were getting with their own striker-fired or single action pistols.

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been working a lot on hitting small targets quickly as preparation for the Speed Kills class coming up next week. Using the target pictured on the right (click the image to get a full size .pdf) I run six drills, one per circle.

  1. One full magazine (15rd) of slow, deliberate, single shots from the holster. The goal is to do a perfect, precise press-out (see also Acceleration drill).
  2. Another magazine of single shots from the holster, but now with a PAR time. Due to the target system I use, my PAR for this string is 2.75 seconds.
  3. A third magazine of 1-shot draws, but now with a 1.75 PAR.
  4. Moving to the bottom row, first I shoot a magazine of 2-shot draws (I top off my magazine so I have an even number, 15+1, in the gun when I start). As with the first circle, there is no time limit and the goal is to do everything as perfectly and precisely as possible.
  5. Another magazine (+1) of 2-shot draws, but with a PAR time of 2.75 seconds.
  6. Finally, a magazine of 3-shot draws at the same 2.75 second PAR.

Obviously, as the time limits drop, my accuracy starts to suffer. Presently, I’m landing about 2/3 of my shots inside the circle on segments 3 and 6. I’m shooting this drill at seven yards from concealment. My advice is to find a distance at which you can reliably get your hits when going slow, and then work on bringing your speed up to meet the PAR times. Once you’re easily managing the timed portion with near 100% hits, add a yard or two to the distance.

I’ll add this to the Drills page once I think of a good name for it. If anyone has an idea, free pistol-training.com hat to the winning name!

This weekend is Sacramento’s Aim Fast, Hit Fast class and of course the P30 test gun will be there for all the demos. Four days of travel will cut into the week’s shooting, but we’ll see if we can’t eek out at least a couple thousand rounds before the next P30 Thursday.

Train hard & stay safe! ToddG

Previous P30 Endurance Test posts at pistol-training.com:

  1. 25 Responses to “P30 Thursday: Week Forty”

  2. How about “Six Pack” for the drill?

    By Ray on Mar 11, 2010

  3. Maybe HK will redesign the gun without that part now? LOL.

    By Rob Engh on Mar 11, 2010

  4. Todd,

    Given the praises you sing about the LEM trigger, do you think converting a DA/SA USP to LEM would be worthwhile? Looks like parts are about $75 online — I’m thoroughly familiar with detail stripping the gun, so performing the conversion doesn’t intimidate me — I’m just a bit hesitant to mess with my every day carry combination. About what kind of adjustment period would you expect for an intermediate level shooter from DA/SA to LEM?

    Also, thanks again for planting the idea of reversing the mag catch on a 226 in my head a few months back, definitely the most satisfying change I’ve made to any of my guns.

    By commandar on Mar 11, 2010

  5. commandar — That’s a tough question to answer. “Intermediate level shooter” can mean different things to different people. However, going from the HK DA/SA to the HK LEM doesn’t require a lot of reprogramming. Essentially, you’re eliminating the weight but not the length of the first shot trigger pull. You’ll also no longer need to decock the pistol before holstering or moving, but learning not to hit a non-existant switch usually doesn’t take a lot of effort.

    Asolid range session of at least a few hundred rounds to feel comfortable and competent with the trigger break for the first shot (press outs), the reset if it changes slightly, etc., would probably be adequate. It may take more than that to get back to your level of competency with the DA/SA, of course, but probably not too much more.

    And if you don’t like it, obviously the good news is you can pretty easily convert it back.

    By ToddG on Mar 11, 2010

  6. 6 Dots of Death, 6 DoD for short. I feel that this name is an accurate representation of the way I feel when I see that target.

    By joshs on Mar 11, 2010

  7. Todd,

    Thanks for the pointers. I think I’ll probably order an LEM kit and a case of .40 when my paycheck rolls around in a few days. Like you said, if I end up hating it, I’ll be out of an hour or two converting it and then back. I’ll report back with my experience on this.

    By commandar on Mar 12, 2010

  8. How about “Draw Torture” or “Draw-92″?

    By MBrook on Mar 12, 2010

  9. “Dot Speed Torture” or “Speed Dot Torture”.

    Eventually “Speed Aim Torture”.

    By yarco on Mar 12, 2010

  10. Can I try twice? AFHD, Aim Fast Hit Dot.

    By joshs on Mar 12, 2010

  11. How about this, “Pressure Torture” Drill.

    By gtmtnbiker98 on Mar 12, 2010

  12. Or “PressYour Torture” Drill.

    By gtmtnbiker98 on Mar 12, 2010

  13. awesome. keep that thing going. Love that you still carry it.

    By practicalgunreview on Mar 12, 2010

  14. Shooting encumbrance?

    Burden Draw?

    By Rob Engh on Mar 13, 2010

  15. MBrook beat me to “Draw 92″ so maybe “Draw 6.” If I heard that name and had seen it before I would immediately know what it was referring to.

    By XKL on Mar 13, 2010

  16. Names:

    SixPackDrill
    Gunner6 Drill
    ChuckplusNancy (Chuck S and Nancy P) or
    Chuck does Nancy Drill
    Drill Hillary
    AQ Special (Al Queida)
    Welcome to my nightmare drill
    The Nut Cutter

    So Much for the Ivy League Education

    By Troutslayer on Mar 13, 2010

  17. Perfect Number Drill?

    By Ray on Mar 13, 2010

  18. Progressive Press-out or Press-out Progression (to emphasize the main point)

    By sirhcton on Mar 13, 2010

  19. Wow, you can hardly read the date code on the frame. Is it just covered in carbon or is it actually worn away?

    By MBrook on Mar 13, 2010

  20. MBrook — A little of both. I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried to clean the outside of the gun, now that you mention it…

    Thanks for the great drill suggestions, guys. Keep ‘em coming!

    By ToddG on Mar 14, 2010

  21. Hey Todd, here’s a suggestion for a future post: can you provide some advice on how to introduce timing into one’s practice. I can’t figure out how a shooter would apply these PAR values you mention–without a specialized shooting timer and a partner. Are those prerequisites or are there other methods? Thanks for advice.

    By XKL on Mar 14, 2010

  22. XKL — There are only two ways to add time components to your shooting practice.

    (1) A shot timer. Every serious shooter needs a shot timer. This is non-negotiable. You can use your timer in both live and dry fire practice.

    (2) Timed (“turning”) targets. If you have access to a facility that can provide appearing/disappearing targets based on a time you set, there are a lot of things you can accomplish. In some ways, it’s better than having a shot timer because you learn to engage a threat until it disappears. Rather than seeing how fast you can fire five rounds, you see how many rounds you can put on a target before it falls/turns. However, most timed target systems can only do full-second intervals so learning to shave tenths of a second off your draw, reload, etc. becomes harder to manage.

    By ToddG on Mar 16, 2010

  23. I’m more curious to find out what H&K says about the gun and the frame damage. Do they want it back for any form of inspection? Not that I’m worried about my copy since 86,000 rounds is probably more than I’ll EVER shoot through it in my lifetime. :D

    By John on Mar 22, 2010

  24. 1) Any update on the improved Heinie sight?

    2) Just got a P30/S in .40. Decocker on the back of the slide eliminates the variant 1 problem where a 1911 shooter can de-cock or, worse, tie up the pistol by pushing down too hard on the thumb safety. The thumb safety gives a place for my thumb and solves the depressing the slide stop/no lock back issue. My SA trigger has no creep. There is also the option of de-cocking and having a heavier trigger for shoulder holster or off body carry.

    Thoughts on the /S versus LEM?

    By GJM on Mar 23, 2010

  25. John — The pistol is back at HK right now. There will be a full report for tomorrow’s P30 Thursday.

    GJM — The new Heinie sights I received were aligned properly but the bases were oversized. It took quite a bit of filing to get them to fit.

    There are arguments to be made for both the S and the LEM. The S gives you the benefit of a manual safety which is an advantage for both weapons retention as well as administrative handling. The LEM gives you a “point and click” interface. It really comes down to where your priorities are.

    By ToddG on Mar 24, 2010

  26. That’s a hard drill even without the draw involved. The bottom row is tough.

    One suggestion for your drill tagets would be to add a small, maybe 6 font, drill name with brief instruction to the bottom right corner of the targets, similar to the FAST target but not so big.

    I find myself having to make notes on what the drill targets are used for, sequence of fire, recommended distance etc. maybe even the correct paper size. I find when I put some of these at 7 yards that surely it’s a 3 yard drill and I’m just remembering it incorrectly, the 3-2-1 at 7 yards is tough with a par time.

    Even starting at 3 yards, adding a few yards seriously slows me down for a bit. It certainly forces you to focus on your basics, especially trigger control.

    As for the next test pistol, anything but a Glock please, maybe one of the new Sig’s. I don’t hate Glocks but I don’t expect a 100k torture test to show us anything about a Glock we didn’t already know. Although it might bust that new recoil spring the Gen 4′s come with if you didn’t change it out every 10k.

    By Joe on Mar 27, 2010

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