27 degrees this morning, the harvested soybean field crunching under my boots as I walk out to the range. I've got the MTX prototype and 125 rounds of ammo with me, a stack of targets, and I'm eager to see if my initial impressions of shooting this gun remain the same. And I'm off to shoot it while its dirty and unlubed. I'm not looking to punish the gun or do some sort of masochistic torture test, but I want to see if the uber-tight tolerances, in a dirty gun, in sub-freezing temperatures will cause me any problems. I suspect it will, most guns, under these conditions, when already dirty, will have issues as the gunpowder residue tends to bind up slides in cold weather.
One thing that haunts my mind is that the grip should be slippery. It looks like it should slip in my hand, and even though it did NOT slip the last time I went shooting I still THINK that it should. So to test that, yet again, I decided to try something a bit different. I left the gun in my unheated garage overnight. Maybe a cold aluminum grip will be slippery under fire? My plan was to find out.
So off I trudge. At my back field range I've got markers set up at 7, 10, 15, etc yards and decide that I'll stick with the 7 yard marker as my shooting distance. Because of the outside temperature and because I'm shooting with bare hands, I had preloaded 2 magazines. One magazine had Remington UMC 230grain ball. The other had a mixture of the same Remington discount fodder, but it was mixed with some 200 grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter reloads.
First magazine runs through the gun just like it should. Accuracy, despite my cold hands, is similar to my prior shooting session. I'm able to keep the group size pretty reasonable. The mixed magazine also runs through the gun without any problems. The reloads are dirty and blowing black smoke, but the gun is running fine under fire as I reload magazines and continue to shoot. I do notice that the slide is slowing down when I hit the slide release on the 5th magazine. Still the top round loads. I'm thinking that the dirty reloads, combined with the already dirty gun, and the sub-freezing temperatures are starting to work their magic. I suspect a problem will occur soon. I'm not disappointed. Somewhere during this magazine run the slide does not come all the way forward and lock up into full battery. Tap the back of the slide and the gun is good to go. A few more shots down into the magazine and the problem is repeated. Run through the magazine and switch back to the factory loaded Remington UMC 230 grain ball ammo and we are back in business as it seems to be loaded to full power while the 200grain reloads are downloaded a bit.
So is this test a failure of the gun? NOPE. Not in my book. It performed well with the factory stuff. With the lighter & much dirtier hand loads it still worked, but did have a stumble or two. Now this was in a dirty gun. With dirty light loads. And the gun was frozen (literally frozen overnight in sub-freezing temps)
so the powder residue had a good opportunity to gum up the action.
The two last targets I shot this morning, hands shaking as I shivered.
Now one last thing. I set out to confirm or refute my initial shooting impressions and to find out if the sub-freezing temperatures would make the aluminum grips slippery in my hands. I came away with some thoughts from today's early morning session.
First, despite my best efforts to freeze myself, my hands and freeze the gun, the gun continues to be controllable with no real slipping in my hands. That is excellent news. Second, this gun is a pleasure to shoot fast, while my groups opened up as my speed increased, I kept my groups reasonably sized despite the increased speed. Third, I'd now trust this gun with my life if I could find a holster to fit it. To be totally fair, I've not gone looking. I checked my holsters and found none would accommodate the accessory rail, but then again, I've never carried a gun with an accessory rail so I've never bought a holster designed to for that purpose. I'm sure most holsters designed for such will accommodate this gun . . . ah Santa, you know what I want!
I noticed during some of the fast fire drills that my left (weak hand)
thumb was oddly sore. Huh, how could that be??? Turns out that I was doing something odd. I began to rest my left thumb on the magazine release. As the mag release sticks out farther than a traditional mag release it appears that my left thumb found it a comfortable place to rest but under recoil would bang against the release. This is MY FAULT and it was pretty simple, once I identified the problem, to simply adjust my thumb position.