Saturday, September 24, 2022

Outlaw Action Pistol Match - 09/24/2022

Outlaw action pistol match (USPSA-ish rules with IDPA scoring) at Amarillo Rifle and Pistol Club. I was shooting my new Springfield Prodigy 2011-style gun that I had to tinker with a LOT right out of the box to get it to run reliably, and this match was my reliability test for the gun. I am happy to report that it ran flawlessly and my performance with the gun was pretty good! I had forgot to squat down behind a barrel on the first stage which incurred a procedural penalty for me 😣, but it didn't appear to hurt my overall score for the day as I ended up in 1st place overall out of 19 total. 👍

Friday, September 9, 2022

Springfield Armory Prodigy 4.25" 1911DS - Problem Solving Adventures!

NOTE: This blog post is essentially just to vent my frustration and document the fixes to all the problems I've encountered with my new Springfield Armory 1911 DS 4.25" handgun, as well as to warn people of the potential quality control issues.

I really like 2011-style guns and I personally have two Staccato C2s, an older STI Tac-Lite 4.0 with a compact grip module, and a Bul Armory SAS II Ultralight as carry guns.

The problem I have with all of my current carry 2011s is that while their aluminum frames are great for reducing weight, they could also potentially wear out much sooner than a steel frame would. I realize this issue is really more of a mental thing for me personally rather than a real-world thing, but it is still a "thing" none the less. I like to shoot my carry guns at USPSA and IDPA action pistol matches frequently, and I wanted a "compact" steel frame 2011 (4.25" Commander length slide with a compact grip) for it's potential longevity and for the additional weight to help reduce recoil. I also don't mind the weight of a steel frame for a carry gun, as I have been carrying my full-size CZ 75 SP-01 and my Bul Armory SAS II Tac Commander a lot recently and I don't have any issues with their extra weight.

I have always wanted to acquire the rare Staccato P 4.15" 2011 that came out in 2019 that was only produced for one year and then replaced with a 4.4" version.  The 4.15" version is very appealing to me aesthetically compared to the newer 4.4" version because of it's full-length dust cover (I am a sucker for a FLDC). The original 4.15" Staccato P was basically an updated version of the discontinued STI Tactical 4.0 with a steel frame, which was also an awesome gun. I can occasionally find a used Staccato P 4.15" or even an older STI Tactical 4.0 for sale, but since they are now so rare and sought after they typically cost about $3000 to $3500 for the iron sight versions and about $3500 to $4000 for the optics-ready versions of the guns, which is about $1000 to $1500 more than what they cost when they were available new. If I was willing to consider that price range, I would just buy a new Atlas Nyx or a Nighthawk TRS Commander.

My plan for a new compact steel frame 2011 carry gun is to install an extra Staccato C2 compact grip module that I have already purchased and textured at RFV Tactical, and carry it and shoot it at matches on a regular basis without worrying about wearing it out prematurely (again... I know that is just a mental thing for me). I would just install the C2 grip on my Bul Armory SAS II Tac Commander, but the compact Bul magazines won't work in the slightly longer Staccato C2 grip module and Staccato magazines are not compatible with the Bul SAS II without major modifications to it's metal frame.

When Springfield Armory officially announced the release of their new steel frame Prodigy 1911 DS 4.25" on September 1st, I was really excited because it looks very similar to the older STI Tactical 4.0, it comes optics-ready with Agency Arms AOS licensed mounting plates soon to be available for several different optics, and it is compatible with STI/Staccato magazines for only $1500, so it was a no-brainer for me to pick one of these up.

The Staccato C2 grip module installation was fairly simple. I just had to file the bottom corners of the frame a little bit to allow the newer grip module to slide on just like you would have to do with any older STI 2011 frame.

Before handling the gun in person, I was fairly confident that I would be able to just install the C2 grip module, do my typical 1911 trigger tuning, put an optic on it when the various optic mounting plates became available, and live happily ever after. 

Currently using a Burris Fastfire 4 optic with the included mounting plate for a Hex Dragonfly
(same mounting footprint) until they start shipping the mounting plates for RMR footprint optics

Unfortunately, at this low of a price point Springfield's quality control on these guns appears to be non-existent. During my disassembly/reassembly, dry-fire testing, and live-fire testing, I encountered a LOT of problems that I've listed below.

Sluggish Slide Cycling
The slide and frame rails were thickly coated with Cerakote which made the slide feel sticky or sluggish when cycling it by hand. I lightly sanded the slide and frame rails with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper saturated with gun oil to thin out the Cerakote and ensure smooth cycling. This is something that I would expect to do with any frame or slide that I just had refinished with Cerakote, but it is something that should've been done at the factory. The top of the disconnector had some pronounced edges on it which also contributed to the sluggish slide cycling and it would even occasionally stop the slide from going forward when slowly cycling the slide by hand. I broke the edges on the top of the disconnector with 800 and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then polished the entire head of the disconnector. I also smoothed out the hole in the frame that the disconnector protrudes through with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper saturated with gun oil and wrapped around a cotton swab. Additionally, I polished the tip of the middle leg of the sear spring and slightly adjusted it's tension against the bottom of the disconnector so that it would move down out of the way of the slide just a little bit easier. The slide now cycles very smoothly just like all of my other 2011 guns (maybe even smoother!) and there is not even a hint of the slide hanging up on the disconnector even when slowly cycling the slide by hand. I did all of this prior to live-fire testing as I knew it would cause issues.

Heavy Trigger
I had heard reports of the Prodigy's trigger being a little on the heavy side (5 to 6 lbs), so I knew that was something I would want to address while I had the gun disassembled for the C2 grip installation. In addition to polishing the face of the sear and the hammer hooks (no sanding or stoning, just polishing), I also carefully tweaked the sear spring to lighten up the trigger pull a little bit. This is something that I've done with all my 1911s and 2011s, which typically gives me a trigger pull of right around 3 lbs. This gun was no different... right at 3 lbs without replacing any ignition parts, and the pre-travel and reset are nearly identical to both of my Staccato C2s. I should mention that the sear and hammer pins appeared to be stuck in the frame when I first disassembled the gun. I had to forcefully push them out with a punch. I assumed the pin holes were out of spec due to the Cerakote application, so I used a small piece of 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper saturated with gun oil and tightly wrapped around a pin punch to carefully smooth the holes out. The two pins now don't take any force to remove or install, but they also don't fall out under their own weight when the frame is turned on it's side like the pins in some of my other 2011s.

Grip Safety
The grip safety had to be 100% fully depressed to disengage it which was causing issues during my initial dry-fire practice prior to shooting the gun with live ammo. This may have been exacerbated by the fact that I was using the C2 grip with an STI trigger shoe/bar rather than the factory grip and trigger. I just trimmed the internal trigger bar stop of the grip safety to ensure that it would disengage with different grip variations. This is something I've had to do on several other 1911s and 2011s, so it wasn't really that big of a deal to me.

Failure to Chamber
Springfield 9mm 1911s are notorious for having tight barrel chambers. My Prodigy's barrel would chamber factory ammo just fine, but it would fail to chamber 50% of my case-gauged reloaded ammo that would all easily pass a "plunk" test in any of my Staccato and Bul Armory barrels. I carefully smoothed out the chamber's interior with tightly wrapped wet/dry sandpaper rolls (320, 600, 800, and 1000 grit) attached to a 1/4" sanding drum mandrel in a rotary tool. I also rounded off the sharp edge at the transition between the feed ramp and the chamber and then polished the chamber's interior and the feed ramp. The barrel will now plunk test all of my case-gauged reloaded ammo, but it is still a little tighter than my Staccato and Bul Armory barrels by comparison.

I was experiencing a lot of misfires during my live fire testing (1 out of 10) that I originally thought was due to the slide being slightly out of battery when it was failing to chamber rounds consistently. During inspection of the misfires after the chamber issues were resolved, I discovered that the breach face had an extremely rough surface, which was leaving visible marks on the primers of the spent casings. There were also fragments of the detonated primers getting stuck in the firing ping hole which was the cause of the misfires.  I suspected that the rough breach face and subsequent jagged edge of the firing pin hole was causing this, so I smoothed out the breach face with 180, 320, 600, 800, and 1000 grit wet/dry sandpaper and then polished it. A few deep lines are still visible, but those should not cause any further issues as I also slightly chamfered the edge of the firing pin hole. Smoothing out the breach face and chamfering the firing pin hole reduced the misfires to only 1 out of 50, but it was still happening. Upon further inspection at home, I discovered that the diameter of the firing pin was undersized (measured at 0.062") which may have been allowing the primers to expand into the firing pin hole occasionally and get sheared off and stuck. I compared it to a Staccato firing pin (0.067") which still fit through the Prodigy's firing pin hole and a Bul Armory firing pin (0.072") which would not fit through, so I ordered an EGW 0.068" firing pin ($10) as well as a new ISMI firing pin spring ($3) because the factory firing pin spring was a lot longer than the Staccato and Bul Armory firing pin springs and may have also contributed to the misfires. I noticed that the firing pin channel was also very rough and gritty when inserting or removing the firing pin, so I smoothed it out with 800 grit wet/dry sandpaper saturated with gun oil and wrapped around a cotton swab. The new firing pin and spring has appeared to resolve the misfire issues as it has since gone through 250 rounds of my reloaded ammo without a misfire and the primers of the spent casings now look normal.

I've seen a lot of YouTube videos reporting some of these same issues as well as other issues like failures to feed due to the rounds nose-diving into the feed ramp, which is most likely caused by poorly tuned or out of spec magazine feed lips of the factory magazines. I haven't experienced this with my gun, because I've only used my Staccato magazines with the gun so far. There are also a lot of videos showing these guns running with 100% reliability right out of the box, so your experience with a Prodigy may be drastically different than mine. 

The bottom line is that Springfield Armory was more concerned with pumping out a lot of these guns to the masses quickly than worrying about quality control which is reflected in the price of the gun. If I was unwilling or unable to work out all these issues myself, I would have been horribly disappointed in this gun, and would've had to send it back to Springfield for repair multiple times and/or sell it to get rid of the headache altogether. Since I was able to correct all of these issues myself, I'm not entirely unhappy with my purchase, as I feel it is still a great gun for my specific needs, and I also like tinkering with mechanical things like this. I voided the warranty of my gun as soon as I pulled it out of the box and modified the frame to install the Staccato C2 grip, so I would not have been able to send it back to Springfield for repair anyway. In the end, it was still a good price for a modern optics-ready 2011-style gun. It's just disappointing to have encountered all of these issues with it right out of the box.

"If you're into tinkering... here you go!"
Hilton Yam of 10-8 Performance

Saturday, September 3, 2022

USPSA Action Pistol Match - 09/03/2022

USPSA action pistol match at the Southwest Shooting Center range in Clovis, NM. Most of the stages were short and sweet, but it was a really good match. I was shooting my CZ P-10C with my concealed carry gear from RFV Tactical as usual. I don't think I've shot an outdoor match with my CZ P-10C since acquiring it, so it was nice to give it a try. The gun performed flawlessly, but like my M&P 4" Compact and my Sig XCarry, I just don't get that excited about carrying or shooting the gun for some reason. I ended up in 2nd place overall out of 17 total.