Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Para USA pistol goes to the range with the newbie

My nephew just turned 21, and for his birthday present I'm going to certify him for his concealed carry permit.

We went to the range today so that he could do his shooting test for his permit and he did great! After some jitters yesterday when he was shooting with his Dad and me, leading to his snatching the trigger and some flinching, he took to heart some pointers I had for him and he was center-punching the silhouette with every round.
Before we left the house this morning I talked with him about the need to concentrate on the basics, to remain focused on the front sight and to use that focus to shut out all the other things around him. I pointed out to him that all the things he takes for granted now - walking, feeding himself, driving a car, EVERYTHING - once were new tasks that required complete focus and total concentration when they were new to him.
Shooting is the same way. You have to bear down at the beginning, but as time goes by, practice (PERFECT practice, not just practice!) and repetition will gradually get it grooved into his brain. But equally important, when he finds himself starting to get sloppy, to throw shots and snatch the trigger and be distracted, all he has to do is to take a deep breath and go back to the basics and he'll find his way. Slow down, shoot each shot as a single event, watch the front sight - easy, basic, necessary.
He apparently listened and took heed. By the end of our session today, in addition to getting a perfect score on his qualifier he was hitting the 3-foot diameter rock set out there at 150 yards on our local range with almost every round he fired, from both handguns we had along. The boy is good. Must be something in the family genes after all. He's not as good as Julia, of course, but hey, she's had more practice so he's got some catching up to do. :-D
(Snicker - now if I can just get him into the Gunsite basic pistol off-site class with Ken Campbell in Indiana in May. Heh-heh-heh.....boy, am I gonna cost his Daddy some bucks......)
After he shot his qualifier, I gave him the Para USA 9mm LTC pistol to try out and like just about every other person who shoots a 1911 for the first time he commented on what a nice trigger it has. Now, his newly acquired personal pistol, a birthday gift from his Dad, is a Springfield XD(m) in .40 caliber, which I think is a fine gun. I've carried an XD45 as my primary sidearm for the last couple of years, and did okay with it at the Gunsite Alumni Shoot (GAS) last time I went. They're solid, reliable guns and the XD(m) has a slightly better trigger than the XD45. Still, it's interesting that he immediately picked up on the greater ease of shooting the SA trigger in the LTC. John Browning rules!
We were both dinging the rock with the LTC, and he was getting good groups with it at 7 yards when we were working on basic marksmanship prior to playing around with some long distance plinking.
Now the down side -
I regret to report that the LTC doesn't handle the Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P bonded hollow point very well in some situations.
I loaded both the Wilson Combat magazines and the Para factory mags with a mix of CCI Blazer 115gr ball, Federal American Eagle 115gr ball and Gold Dot 124gr HPs. When the Gold Dot was the first round in the magazine, regardless of which magazine I was using, it didn't feed reliably. It would go forward into the base of the feed ramp, then stick there. The ball ammo - no sweat. It ate 'em up. When I put the Gold Dots further down in the magazines, the problem went away. Apparently both brands of magazines, Para and Wilson, hold the first few rounds at such an angle that they hit the ramp almost horizontally, and when a few rounds have been fired the angle changes to more nose-up and the hollow points will feed just fine. Not a problem for those pointy-nosed ball rounds but not good for the hollow points. The problem was slightly less present with the Wilson mags, but still there. From three rounds down to the end of the magazine, the Gold Dots would feed and shoot. Loaded higher in the round stack or as the first round in the magazine, they stuck on the base of the ramp. Bummer. I really like that round in 9mms and it runs like a scalded cat in our Glock 19s.
We'll stay at this, give the gun its first cleaning and lube it with some of the Slip 2000 we just started using and see if that changes anything, in addition to trying some other brands of hollow points.
Lastly, one of the Para mags persists in not chambering the last round in the mag. It locks the slide open without feeding the last cartridge, which just sits there on top of the follower until you hit the slide stop or pull the slide back and let it fly, at which time the round chambers and fires. Not sure why, but the mag is marked and I'll try to see if it's a follower problem or us hitting the slide stop or - what? Today it only happened once, and that was with the nephew shooting it, but even so we don't need that.
I still like the LTC. Nephew likes the LTC. Everyone who's shot it likes the LTC. When it's fed ammo that functions in it, which most ammo does, it's very nice.
Just gotta get them bugs ironed out.


slimnun said...

Did you ever get the Para LTC to work with home defense loads? I've been trying for over a year and must admit this is a sweet shooter that I have zero confidence in except at the range with good old ball ammo.

Chaz said...

I never was satisfied with its reliability and gave up fooling with it some time back. Guess I'll have to haul it out and try it again!