Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Bul Armory SASII Tac Commander Handgun

After acquiring multiple compact 2011 handguns for my carry gun rotation, I decided that I needed a 2011 specifically for competition usage.  I picked up a Bul Armory SASII Tac Commander from GP Arms for this task, and immediately went crazy modifying the crap out of the gun.  I replaced all the controls with stainless steel parts from Fusion Firearms and all the ignition parts with components from EGW. I sent the slide to Primary Machine to have it milled for a Trijicon SRO using their proprietary RMR/SRO mounting plate that doesn't have an integrated rear sight, so the SRO is mounted farther back on the slide and doesn't hang over the ejection port.  I am not aware of any companies that offer aftermarket front sights specifically for the Bul Armory guns, so I ordered a fiber optic front sight for a Kimber 1911 from Dawson Precision hoping that it would fit, but I had to custom fit it to the dovetail in the slide, which was a pain in the ass! I made a custom rear "iron" sight using 1/8" black pinstripe tape that is applied to the front of the optic window which co-witnesses with the new 0.360" tall front sight. I also installed the grip module and tactical magwell that came off of my STI Tac-Lite 4.0 2011 that I stippled, which was surprisingly not that difficult to install. Since this is basically a Frankenstein build with a mix-match of modified parts, it took quite a bit of troubleshooting and tuning to get this gun to run reliably.  Every time I would fix an issue, a new problem would pop up like a never ending domino effect.  Very frustrating for sure, but I've finally got the gun running reliably for matches. 1911/2011 handguns are not legal in the Carry Optics division of USPSA, so I'm going to just run the gun in the Open division and have fun with it. I'll also be using it in the Open division of my local outlaw 3-Gun matches.

Unfortunately, changing to an STI grip module does not allow the gun to accept STI magazines as the metal frame of the gun also has to be permanently modified for that. Since extra factory Bul magazines were still unavailable when I purchased the gun, I'm using modified Remington 1911 R1 double stack magazines (same basic magazine tube as the Bul magazines) with Arredondo Plus-2 extended base pads for Para/Remington magazines (also modified to fit the STI grip module with a tactical magwell) for a 20-round capacity.  To get the magazines to work in the gun I had to increase the height of the magazine catch slot from 0.150" to 0.230" using a Dremel cut-off wheel and a small square file, and shave off just a small bit of material from the very top of the magazine to ensure that it doesn't drag on the underside of the slide. I also had to tune the feed lips of each magazine to get the gun to feed reliably, but this inadvertently resulted in the slide locking back with one round still in the magazine.  I tried trimming down the followers to resolve that issue, but I believe the enlarged mag catch slot introduced too much deviation to be 100% reliable, so I just modified the followers so that they don't lock the slide back at all.  Since the gun's intended usage is USPSA and 3-Gun where you rarely run the gun dry, I'd rather the magazine not lock the slide back when empty than have it lock back unexpectedly. If I absolutely need the slide to lock back on an empty magazine for a specific stage or scenario, then I'll just use the factory Bul magazines.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 09/12/2020

Not a great performance for me at this USPSA action pistol match in Lubbock, TX.  My first stage went horrible because I was trying to go too fast and I had two misses on a long distance head shot. I also had a no-shoot/miss on the classifier stage at the end of the match (again... trying to go too fast).  All of this put me at a 40-point deficit, which is impossible to place well with.  I ended up in 12th place overall out of 48 total.  From the video, it looks like I did pretty decent on stages 2, 3, and 4, and those all felt good, but the damage was already done on the first stage. 😞

Sunday, August 2, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 08/02/2020

This was an outlaw action pistol match (USPSA scoring on the paper targets) at a brand new local range built by a fellow local shooter.  There were a lot of small steel targets at this match, so it took a lot of precise aiming and disciplined trigger control. Most of the paper targets were at least 12 to 15 yards out, so there wasn't any "hosing" at this match. We even had some really awkward shots through various ports in a barricade on a few stages. I ran in the Open division so that I could use my new STI Tac-Lite 4.0 carry gun in my normal concealment setup.  The gun ran great, and the match was really fun.  I am looking forward to shooting more matches at this new range.  I ended up in 4th place Overall (11 total), and I was the only idiot at the match using a carry gun from concealment. 😜

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

STI Tactical Lite 4.0 2011 Handgun

Hey... remember when I was considering buying an STI Tac-Lite 4.0 with a compact VIP grip as a second 2011 carry gun, but ended up buying the Bul SAS2 Ultralight instead?  Well... I got tempted into buying a Tac-Lite after seeing it unsold on GunBroker week after week for what seemed like months.  It was apparently the LAST brand new Tac-Lite 4.0 in existence for sale.  I probably paid too much for it, but I'm so glad I bought it! 😎  I had to sell three competition guns that were no longer being used to help fund the purchase, but it was worth it. I really wanted to buy one of these guns about 5 years ago when they were still in production. I had planned on selling several guns to fund the purchase back then too, but I just couldn't stomach the price tag and gave up on the idea.  Now that I've already purchased a few other 2011s and have gotten over the "hump" of paying over $1500 for a handgun, I decided to buy this one and turn it into my "ultimate" carry gun.  By the way, I don't regret buying the Bul SAS2 UL at all. I actually like that gun so much that I've placed an order for two more Bul SAS2 handguns that I'll be using for concealed carry and for competition usage.

The first thing to do was to buy and install a shorter VIP grip since this would be a carry gun. I haven't seen the VIP grips readily available that weren't already stippled, but STI just happen to have a few brand new ones in stock on their website, so I ordered one the second I won the auction for the gun on GunBroker. After I installed the VIP grip, I was playing around with the tactical magwell that came on the full size grip and realized that it actually fit onto the VIP grip and was held firmly into place solely by the tension against the bottom of the mainspring housing. I really like the look of the tactical magwell on the VIP grip because it looks too "cut off short" without it. The gun prints a little bit more with the magwell installed, but it looks awesome and actually helps with reloading quickly. I also blended the inside of the mag opening in the grip to transition smoothly from the magwell as much as possible and I inserted a small piece of soft rubber hose into the magwell to fill the gap between the magwell and the bottom front lip of the VIP grip.

After putting a couple hundred rounds through the gun to make sure it functioned properly, I sent the slide off to Vulcan Machine Werks to be milled for a red dot sight and I also had them cut a window into the top of the slide to reduce the weight a little and increase the cool factor a little.  While the slide was away getting milled, I struggled with whether to stipple the grip or leave it with the classic checkering.  I ended up stippling the unused full size grip first to see how it would turn out, and that convinced me to go ahead and do the VIP grip.  I also used melted plastic from a sacrificial STI magazine base plate to fill in the faux screw holes at the bottom of the grip to give it a more custom look. I am extremely happy with how everything came together on this gun!

Is this gun the "best" carry gun that I own?    Probably not. 😐
Is it the most practical carry gun that I own?    No. 😕
Is it the most expensive carry gun that I own?    Yep. 😳
Is it the softest shooting carry gun that I own?    Yes it is! 😀
Is it the COOLEST carry gun that I own?    Absolutely YES! 😁

Tactical Magwell Update
I've been wanting to acquire and install the updated version of STI's tactical magwell, but unfortunately they have been discontinued and unavailable for a while. I ended up buying an airsoft replica version of that magwell, and it fit exactly like the STI magwell. I think it looks better, and there is less bulk at the bottom of the mainspring housing around the back of the grip, so it feels a lot better in my hand when gripping the gun and it also prints less when carrying it concealed.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

IDPA Action Pistol Match 07/05/2020

It's been September of last year since I shot an outdoor IDPA action pistol match, so it was really nice to get back to it.  This one went surprisingly well for me other than a few trigger reset issues with my CZ P-09 on the first two stages. I'm not sure what was going on there, but it never came back throughout the rest of the match. After reviewing the video, I honestly don't think I made any mistakes at this match, which is awesome for me as I usually have one or two brain farts at IDPA matches due to all their strict rules. Some of the rules in IDPA can be fairly annoying, but unlike USPSA the scoring puts more emphasis on accuracy rather than speed, so I typically do better at these matches. I had a great time and ended up in 2nd place overall (20 total) and had the least amount of points down at only 3 for the entire match. 👍

Saturday, June 27, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 06/27/2020

Another USPSA action pistol match in Clovis, NM.  Ended up in 6th place Overall (26 total) and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match... again.  This was a decent performance for my B-class skills... not pretty, not fast, but fairly accurate. 😜  Every time I try to push my overall speed, my accuracy goes to absolute shit, so I just stay focused on trying to be as accurate as I can while maintaining a decent pace. One thing I've noticed from watching some of my recent match videos is that I need to pick up the pace on targets that are 5 yards or closer, as my accuracy shouldn't suffer much at that distance.  I can tell in this video that I did indeed pick up the pace on shooting the closer targets, so I'm definitely making small improvements based on what I see in my videos, which is the whole reason why I record my matches. 😊

Saturday, June 13, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 06/13/2020

Another great post-COVID USPSA action pistol match in the books!  I decided to use my CZ P-09 with a Trijicon SRO that I normally use for IDPA at this match because I haven't had a chance to shoot it at a match since installing the SRO.  For a polymer gun with a trigger that is not as smooth as the Shadow 2, it worked really well for me!  I ended up in 6th place Overall (45 total), and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 05/23/2020

My first USPSA action pistol match since the Coronavirus pandemic!  I finally got to shoot my CZ-USA Shadow 2 with a newly installed Trijicon SRO using a new CZ Custom multi-optic plate for the RMR/SRO to replace the Burris Fastfire 3, which I installed onto my old CZ SP-01 with a rear sight dovetail mount for use as a backup match gun.  The SRO is such a great optic for competition because it has such a large window and the dot is very bright.  I like the SRO so much that I ended up sending a spare CZ P-09 slide off to get milled for an SRO by Jagerwerks for my Urban Gray P-09 that I use for IDPA. The match today was kinda thrown together pretty quickly, so the stages weren't all that complicated, but it was still great to get out and shoot a match again. I ended up in 5th place overall (26 total) and had the most "A-zone" hits of the match.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Bul Armory SAS II Ultralight - Compact 2011

With the recent acquisition of my Staccato C2 compact 2011 handgun, I felt like I needed another compact 2011 in my carry gun collection.  I wasn't sure if I wanted another STI (maybe an older Tac-Lite 4.0 with a shorter VIP grip installed), or maybe the single stack version of the C2... the Staccato C which is already optics ready (I know... not technically a 2011), or possibly one of the Bul Armory 2011 handguns (their SAS II line) that have gained popularity in the United States recently.  After making a list of pros and cons for all the guns I was considering, the Bul Armory SAS II Ultralight Shield stood out as the clear choice for the best value as it comes with a Shield Sights RMSc optic already installed from the factory for only $1650.  Bul Armory handguns are made in Israel and imported to the US through authorized distributors.  I contacted GP Arms to order one (normally a 90-day process), but they just happened to have the gun I wanted in stock, so I had it in my hands within a week of contacting them! 😁

The Ultralight is very light weight due to all the slide cuts and the fluted barrel, which also gives it a very unique and interesting appearance. It comes with a stainless grip safety, but the rest of the controls were black, so I immediately installed Ed Brown stainless controls and EGW stainless action parts and pins to give it more of a unique two-tone contrast.  The gun has an aluminum frame with a full length railed dust cover to mount a weapon mounted light or laser. Unfortunately, that rail is very short with only a 3.25" barrel, which makes it difficult to find a quality weapon mounted light that fits the gun.  Even though I have never been that fond of Olight's PL-Mini 2 light with its sliding mounting bracket, it seemed like the perfect light for this short gun. The light output is really good for it's size at 600 lumens and it looks right at home installed on the gun.

Bul's 15-round compact grip is actually 5mm shorter than STI's compact grip, but since this is an "Officer" size 2011 I felt that it needed to be even shorter... so... dremel, drill press, belt sander, various files, determination, and an afternoon bored at home = chopped grip and shortened magazines for a flush fit.  The Bul 2011 compact magazines are about the only thing I don't like about this handgun, because the magazine base plates are a pain to remove and reattach compared to the full-size mags.  However, that attachment method makes it relatively easy to shorten the magazine body and drill new holes for the base plate mounting tabs.  The base plates are also unnecessarily long at the front lip, so I shortened that front lip for better aesthetics. I cut 0.300" off the magazine body and the grip for a flush fit when the magazine is inserted (similar in appearance to my beloved CZ P-07 handguns). The shortened magazines now only hold 14 rounds, but I believe the gun looks better and conceals better. In addition to chopping the grip and beveling the inside of the newly cut magazine opening, I also rounded off the sharp edges on each side of the bottom of the trigger guard to make it more comfortable when gripping the gun.

Here are a few pics of the gun before the grip chop

Magazine Update
When I purchased the gun, extra factory Bul magazines where unavailable to be purchased separately. 😠 But... I recently realized that the Rock Island Armory 1911 22TCM/9mm double stack 17-round mags should function in the Bul as the mag tube is basically the same. I ordered four of the mags that come with the magwell base pads, but I ended up installing some tall STI 140mm base pads on them to fill most of the gap created from my grip chop. The only modification I had to make to the STI base pad was to cut off the bottom two points of the star of the retaining plate that protrudes through the hole in the base pad to lock it in place. The angle at the bottom of the RIA mags is not the same as the Bul mags, but it doesn't really matter since they extend out past the bottom of the grip  (even without the grip chop and STI base pads). These mags are cheaper than the factory Bul mags and are readily available in the US. When I took the gun to the range to test the new RIA mags, I quickly realized that they sit up inside the gun just a tiny bit higher than the factory Bul mags. I could feel the slide dragging on the top of the mag a little bit when I manually racked the slide slowly.  They still functioned when shooting the gun, but it was enough of an issue that I ended up increasing the height of the mag catch slot in the mag body by 0.050" using a Dremel cut-off wheel and a small square file. I've since put several hundred rounds through the gun with the modified RIA mags and have not had any problems. I use one of my shortened factory Bul mags in the gun when carrying it, and a RIA mag for my spare carry mag. I use the other three RIA mags for practice and training.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

USPSA "Carry Gun" Action Pistol Match 02/29/2020

This was the inaugural "Carry Gun" action pistol match at the USPSA club in Lubbock, TX.  I used my new STI Staccato C2 2011, and came in 4th overall out of 26 total. The gun ran great, but I had a few small mistakes that I wasn't happy with, but still had a great time.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 02/22/2020

I placed 6th Overall out of 28 total and had the highest "A-zone" hits for this USPSA action pistol match in Clovis, TX.  What can I say that I haven't said over and over in the past... lots of fun. 😁

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Three New "Top Shelf" Carry Guns

These three new guns are what I carry most of the time now. I call them "Top Shelf" guns because I literally keep them on the top shelf of my safe for easy access. I believe these three are the best examples of each of the three most common firing platforms (DA/SA, SAO, and Striker) for concealed carry. After modifying and upgrading all of my other carry guns, I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to have a set of guns that have a minimum amount of modifications so that their potential reliability is as high as it can possibly be, while being outfitted with high quality accessories to maximize their performance and functionality. All three of these new guns have Trijicon RM06 optics, tritium night sights with my DIY Hi-Viz front sight modification, and Olight PL-Pro rechargeable weapon mounted lights. They all share the same custom kydex holster that I made that indexes on the light rather than the gun.

The CZ P-07 is my all-time favorite carry gun.  If I had to choose only one gun to do everything, the P-07 would be the gun I would pick.  Out of the box, the double action trigger pull is a little heavy, but that can be easily and inexpensively improved by purchasing a self defense spring kit and a few other small items from Cajun Gun Works (around $35 total) to lighten the double action trigger pull and increase the overall reliability of the gun.  There is not an optics ready verison of the P-07, so I sent the slide to JagerWerks to have it milled for an optic. The only thing that I don't like about the CZ P-07 is the lack of usable texture on the grip, so I textured the grip on this one myself to give it a better feel without being too aggressive for concealed carry.  In my opinion, the double action first trigger pull makes this the safest option for defensive use and concealed carry, especially when carried in the appendix position as I do every day of the week.

STI/Staccato C2 2011
This gun is brand new for 2020. I started out with and have always loved 1911s, but I've never been comfortable carrying one for defensive purposes on a regular basis because of their low capacity.  I've looked at various high capacity compact 2011s in the past, but I was never completely happy with their aesthetics or lack of features, especially when paying more than $1500 for one.  When STI unofficially announced the new Staccato C2 in December 2019 and posted pre-production photos of it on Instagram, I loved everything about it and sold all of my compact 1911s to fund the purchase.  The Staccato C2 is offered in a standard version for $2000 and an optics ready version ("DUO") for $2500. I was originally going to buy the DUO version and just mount an RMR on it and be done, but I ended up getting the standard version and sent the slide to Vulcan Machine Werks to have it milled for an RMR using Trijicon's 1911/2011 specific mounting plate that Vulcan includes with their milling package for $400. After doing a little research, I realized that the Trijicon mounting plate allows the RMR to sit slightly lower on the slide than the DUO mounting plate, and the Trijicon plate also comes with co-witnessing front and rear tritium night sights (I prefer tritium night sights on all my carry guns).  With the DUO version of the C2, you have to purchase the RMR specific mounting plate separately (an extra $140), and it only comes with a black rear sight and a fiber optic front sight, so I would've had to special order tritium night sights (an extra $110). Having the standard version slide milled for the Trijicon plate made more sense to me and it ended up saving me over $300 vs buying the DUO version and having to buy all the extra parts.

UPDATE: As of late May 2020, the Staccato C2 DUO is now available in a "Tactical" version that comes with the RMR specific mounting plate and matching co-witnessing black/fiber iron sights, so apparently STI realized it was a bad idea to charge extra for the additional parts to mount an RMR on their optics ready version of this gun. I still have no regrets for going the route I did though, as the DUO version of this gun was simply not available from dealers until May of 2020 and it still cost me less money to have mine milled.

Glock 19 MOS Gen5
There is no denying the Glock 19's reliability track record and the availability for aftermarket parts to improve and customize the gun, but if you go too crazy with aftermarket parts then you can possibly reduce it's potential reliability.  The Gen 5 has a really good trigger out of the box, so the only thing I've done to it is install a 3.5# connector and a medium striker spring from Lone Wolf (around $20 total).  The Gen 5 is also the best looking Glock 19 ever produced, in my opinion, which is great for people like me who also like guns to be aesthetically pleasing as well as reliable. The factory frame texture on the Gen 4 and Gen 5 is more than adequate for a defensive gun, but I always re-contour the bottom of the trigger guard on all my Glocks to make it more comfortable on my knuckle, and I enlarge the interior of the trigger guard slightly for safer use with gloves.  I also modify the medium beavertail backstrap by cutting off the bottom half to give the gun a more natural point of aim with the re-contoured trigger guard, so the grip angle is more similar to a CZ or a 1911/2011. I went with the MOS version for simplicity which also comes with front serrations on the slide as a bonus.  I used the CHPWS V3 mounting plate for the RMR instead of the OEM MOS mounting plate because it allows the optic to sit slightly lower on the slide and it has much better thread engagement on the mounting screws. As with all of my Glock handguns, I've also installed a Striker Control Device from Tau Development Group as an added measure of safety when carrying and holstering the gun in the appendix position.

A Word On Olight Products
There are a lot of Olight haters out there that want to argue that their products are not high quality because they are made in China (what about the Holosun optics that are so popular these days?)... everyone is absolutely entitled to their own opinion, but I have not had any issues with any of mine and the light output is great for what I use them for. To be honest, I wasn't a fan of Olight products until I decided to buy one and give it a try.  I was impressed with the overall quality of the light and ended up buying several more to put on other guns. If I'm being completely honest... I typically use full-size pistol lights more as a frame weight than as an actual light.  The fact that the "frame weight" also produces a good amount of light at the flick of a switch is just a bonus for me. I have several Streamlight TLR-1 HL lights and even a few Inforce APL and APLc lights on various other guns. I love the light output of the Streamlights, but I prefer the switches on the Inforce lights which have less than desirable light output.  The Olights have switches similar to the Inforce lights, great light output like the Streamlights, and I actually like the aesthetics of the Olights. Surefire undoubtedly makes excellent products, but I refuse to pay $300 for a pistol light for a concealed carry gun as an average citizen. "But you paid top dollar for the optic, so why not the light?"... because I rely on the optic for every single shot that I take. I simply don't have that same dependency on a pistol light. I'm not a door kicker or an operator, so the chances of me actually having to use my pistol light in a serious situation are very low, and I always carry a good handheld light.  If I carried a gun for a living (military, law enforcement, security, etc.) where the use of a pistol light in a life or death situation was much more prevalent, then I would absolutely spare no expense for a pistol light. If you think that my choice of a pistol light for these guns is going to get me 'killed in the streetz", then what about all those people who choose not to use a weapon mounted light at all?  Are they all doomed to die a horrible death because they didn't buy a Surefire X300 for their guns?!?! 😲😜😂  Regardless of the popular opinion, I am perfectly happy with the Olight products I have chosen for my personal preferences, budget, and intended usage. If I end up having problems with any of them in the future, then I will just get them repaired under warranty or replace them like I would with any other firearm or non-firearm related product.

For more photos and specs on all of my guns, visit my website here:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

USPSA Action Pistol Match 02/08/2020

I had a great time at this USPSA action pistol match in Lubbock, TX today.  I've been shooting my concealed carry guns a lot lately, so I decided to use my CZ P-07 at this match in the Open division so that I could carry it concealed in the appendix position like I do every day of the week.  I really wasn't concerned with how I would place (13th overall out of 59 total).  I just wanted to have fun and shoot as accurately as I could.  I ended up shooting the most "A-zone" hits out of everyone at the match and I definitely had fun, so I accomplished my goals. 😀