PT809 – MIA

I know it’s been about 2 weeks since my last post, but I haven’t been much for writing lately. I lost my dog to cancer. She had been with us for almost 7 years. She was a good dog and will be missed. I glanced out my back window today and swore I saw a white shape moving about the yard. Sometimes you wonder if they can visit. At least I’ll still have her in my mind.

Well, it’s March 27th and I still haven’t gotten my PT809 back from Taurus. Long story short, they received my dealers FFL, but didn’t enter it into the system, so they’ve basically been sitting and doing nothing. I actually had to ask for the “Legal” department as I was of the opinion that they had lost my weapon and were scrounging to find it. According to the “Customer Advocate” who was a very nice lady named Deidre, she had found my dealers FFL and would enter it into the system herself. This was on Wednesday of last week. I called back on Friday to ensure everything was ok and was informed that the FFL was in the system and that I should receive my gun sometime next week. We’ll see. While I have no real problems with the customer service reps themselves, they’ve been pretty nice and for the most part, understanding about what I’ve been dealing with, it makes you wonder how bad things are in Miami where the repair facility is.

Just to show that I’m not a Taurus basher, I ordered and received my Taurus PT92 AFS. This handgun is a clone of the Beretta 92 used by the armed services. I picked up the gun today from my dealer. Needless to say, the gun is completely coated with grease. I’ll be spending the next hour or so do a field stripping and cleaning her out. I’ll most likely take her and my M&P 9mm to the range next week. Will do a range report then.

Shooting my PT809….. and sending it in for service

Received my PT809 on January 8th. Gun was very nice and clean. My dealer had done a cleaning on it prior to handing it over to me. For those that don’t know, the guns are usually covered with oil to keep them from rusting while sitting on dealers shelves. The insides are usually “well” lubricated as well, so again, do a thorough cleaning before firing your new handgun. Was very excited to go shoot my new toy, but decided to wait until Saturday the 9th to go play.

On the way to the range on the 9th, I picked up a couple boxes of 9mm ammo from Walmart (pretty good prices on ammo here). I picked up a 2 boxes of Federal American and Winchester White Box ammo.

Loading up the gun at the range was really easy with the Maglula Uplula magazine loader. What this does is push down on the top round so you don’t have to cut up your thumb putting in the next round. These things are excellent.

I shot the gun at 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards. All groups were very acceptable with no misses of the targets at those ranges. Recoil was certainly reasonable as well. It didn’t take long to get the sights back on target from the recoil of the previous round. The only issue I had with the gun was the ejected shells coming back at my face/head. Had a couple go down my shirt and I gotta tell you, that is not a good feeling. Had one shell ping me in the forehead that just about drew blood. I had my sons and the range officer fire the gun and we all had the same issue, so it wasn’t a question of how we held the pistol. I decided to come back the next week with some different ammo to see if it was ammo related. Also, your handgun may have some early issues with failure to feed (FTF) and failure to eject (FTE). It’s usually suggested to run 250 rounds through your gun before sending it in for repair. So far, I have shot 100 rounds through the gun and probably 98% have ejected towards my head, so not an auspicious start.

The next weekend, I went back to the range with 100 rounds of Magtech 115gr and another 50 rounds of Winchester White Box ammo. Again, the pistol shot very well. Nice groupings at all ranges out to 15 yards, but I was still ducking shell casings. Now, with 250 rounds down range and probably ducking 235ish shell casings, I decided to call Taurus and speak with their customer service.

Taurus for those who aren’t aware had a pretty bad reputation in the 80’s and 90’s. They are a high volume manufacturer who have really good prices on their firearms. When Bob Morrison, former President of Smith and Wesson took over, he did so with the idea of reforming Taurus’ name and making them a better company. In many respects, he’s accomplished his goal. Taurus is ISO certified in their manufacturing plants in South America and the US.

My call to customer service was pleasant. I spoke with the rep for about 10 minutes and she agreed that my gun had an issue. She gave me the information I needed to send the gun back via Fedex with shipping costs picked up by Taurus. It left me on January 20th and arrived and was checked in by Taurus on January 21st. So far, so good. Taurus has a repair check online so I checked my status weekly. On the 26th, I found my gun in “Repair in process” from “Received, awaiting repair”. Nice, things are moving well. Most of the information I was able to derive from the web indicated that Taurus typically had repairs done and shipped back in about 3 weeks, so one week down, we’re doing pretty well. I checked again a week later and we’re still in “Repair in process”. Week 3 check, same status. Week 4 had no change, so I decided to call Taurus and check in. I was told that the gun definitely had an issue and was under “management review” to determine whether to replace or repair the weapon. Figuring that shouldn’t take too long, I stayed the course. Weeks 5 and 6 again showed no update to the repair tracker and each week I called in I received the same feedback. Still under “management review”. These times, the CSR said it was unusual for their process to take that long for the gun to be reviewed and they would check in further and call me back. Well, I didn’t receive a call back either time. So, one more phone call to Taurus at the end of week 7 and I get a status change. Taurus has decided to replace my gun and needs my dealer to fax their federal firearms license to Taurus.

My dealer has been very good to work with. Most of his sales are online and he has a small office that he does firearms transfers through, so he’s able to keep his prices very competitive. He’s also very responsive. Within 10 minutes of my emailing and leaving him a message, I receive an email confirmation that the FFL has been faxed to Taurus. This was on Thursday, March 10th. Now, with all the issues I have had with Taurus, I figure it might not be a bad idea to call them to ensure they received the FFL. I called Friday morning first thing. Nope, they can’t find the FFL. Left message for my dealer to please re-transmit and let me know when accomplished. He does so and let’s me know. I call in to Taurus and nope, they can’t find it. Not in their system and not on the fax machine. I contact my dealer and he can’t believe how bad Taurus has been with this. He decides to call them himself so he can fax while on the phone with them. Unfortunately, he was on hold for over 30 minutes and couldn’t stay the line longer. He faxed one more time and let me know he couldn’t get through. I decided to call at the end of the day on Friday the 11th to check status. Again, Taurus can’t find the FFL and asked that I call back on Monday at the end of the day to see if it’s been checked into the system.

So, here I am on Monday the 14th of March. I’ll be calling in this afternoon to see if Taurus has finally received the FFL.

I’ve decided that I’m done with the PT809. When I get the new one back, I’m going to sell it and get something different. Well, I already ordered “something different”. I even ordered another Taurus. Just waiting for it to arrive. I ordered a Taurus M92 pistol. Ok, so why would I get another Taurus? Well, the PT92 family from Taurus has been around over 20 years and is a clone of the Beretta model 92 which has been the US service pistol since the late 80’s as the M9 model. Taurus has made a lot of improvements to the model and word on the street is that problems with a 92 family pistol are so far and few, that it’s a huge surprise when one is found. Ok, so we’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime, while my 809 was in repair, I purchased what would be my IDPA competition pistol. I purchased a Smith and Wesson Military and Police 9mm. This pistol is in use by many police departments and was under consideration for a US Military contract. I have received this weapon and took it to the range this weekend for the first time. I’ll talk about it in my next post.

Looking for a 9mm pistol

Having found my little .22 plinkster gun, it was time to look for a 9mm pistol. I had around $300 to $350 to look for my next pistol. I searched out a lot of vendors and joined a lot of forums to learn about what might be good or bad. In the end, I had narrowed my search down to 7 guns. The ones I was looking at were the:

Taurus PT92
Taurus PT809
Sig Sauer SP2022
CZ 75B
Cougar 8000
Bersa Thunder
Ruger P95


Those marked in red were just too expensive for me (found out too late that I had some more money coming in and could have gotten any of them, oh well). Those marked in green I was able to find multiples of them in my price range in either blue or stainless. Each had their positives and negatives and eventually I settled on the Taurus PT809.

 I had found several online reviews of the PT809 on youtube.com and found positive reviews on taurusarmed.net. Pretty much the only exception was the early model 809’s which had metal shavings in the firing channel, but that was the first year of production and had been cleaned up. The other thing I liked about the 809 was that Taurus was working on a .22 conversion kit. Basically replace the slide, barrel, and the magazine and you have the same gun shooting the really cheap .22lr ammo. The 809 also came with a “second strike” capability. What this means is that sometimes, the firing pin doesn’t strike the primer hard enough to cause the primer to fire. The “second strike” capability means the gun would go back into double action and you can pull the trigger again and try to fire the round. This had a reported 99% success rate and could be instrumental in IDPA or real life situations.

Finally, I found a couple shops who had the 809 in stock so I could view the weapon, and get a feel for it. The gun had a good grip with 3 different back-straps for adjusting the size of the hand grip. It normally comes with medium installed and it fit my hand pretty well. The 809 comes with ambidextrous controls at the slide release, magazine release, and safety/de-cocker. All the controls were well sized and easy to reach. The magazine release was very tight though. Difficult to get a magazine to drop. This supposedly gets better as it gets lubricated and worked out. I also liked the indents on each side of the frame by the trigger guard. This is a natural location for your index finger to land when drawing and pointing the weapon. The trigger pull wasn’t terrible in double action. Single action was much better and very crisp. You could really feel when the trigger reset traveling back.

My next post will be around how the gun shot (good) and Taurus repairs (not so good).

What is IDPA?

I had intended to talk about my search for my 9mm pistol and the good and bad about it, but someone asked me about IDPA, so I thought I’d do this post first.

From the IDPA website:

The International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) is the governing body of a shooting sport that simulates self-defense scenarios and real life encounters. It was founded in 1996 as a response to the desires of shooters worldwide. The organization now boasts membership of more than 17,008, including members in 50 foreign countries.

What an inside shoot can look like at a local club:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBkz7uZEzYs

What an outside shoot can look like at a local club:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqHmlKPS1g0

What it looks like from the shooters vantage point:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kYYv1mP0aU

There are other practical shooting associations including the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) and the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). Each shooting association has it’s own rules and came about for different reasons.

The club I plan to start shooting at is the Central Carolina Shooting Club. They’e not too far from where I live. They offer multiple types of shoots on the weekend including IDPA, USPSA, Steel Challenge, and 3 Gun.

Each of the shooting associations have multiple divisions of shooting and qualifier levels. For IDPA pistol shooting, the divisions include SSP (Stock Service Pistol), ESP (Enhanced Service Pistol), CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol), ESR (Enhanced Service Revolver), and SSR (Stock Service Revolver).

The classification/qualifier levels for IDPA are MM (Marksman), SS (Sharpshooter), EX (Expert), and MA (Master).  IDPA does this so shooters can compete against peers with the same skill levels. Periodically, clubs will run a classification shoot to determine a shooters level of competence.

For a quick comparison of IDPA vs. USPSA the following website can give you the information.

Searching and selecting a gun.

Well, when we left off, I had my 2 permits and was starting the search for a gun. I knew I wanted two types of guns and my budget was roughly $500-600. I knew I wouldn’t get two excellent guns for that price, but figured it was a good starting point. From going to the range and my past experience, I knew I wanted a .22lr target pistol. The reason I wanted one of these is that they are dirt cheap to shoot. I can get 500 rounds of ammo for less than $20 and sometimes when on sale, for around $13. The other gun I wanted was a 9mm as again, the ammo was much cheaper than a .40, .45, .380 etc. You can get cheap 9mm ammo for about $13-$16 and Walmart has Winchester White Box (WWB) for around $22 for a box of 100 rounds.

I started my search for my guns online doing research. I found a whole lot of sites specializing in gun sales and was able to comparison shop. I found sites like Buds Gunshop, Davidsons, Firearms4you, and Hyatt guns which had a lot of online inventory where I could compare prices. I also sent emails to several local shops to get some price feedback. Your mileage will vary here. I had some shops that were very helpful and others that acted like I was asking for their first born child. I also had some shops take a negative view of some of the guns I was looking at and were trying to push me into higher priced guns.

In the end, I selected the Smith and Wesson model 22A for my little target shooter. The price on it wasn’t bad and I liked that it mimic’d the grip angle of the 1911 .45 version pistol which I hope to get sometime in the future. I picked this up at my first gun show. I’ll talk about my experience there in another post. I really like this pistol. I was picking between it and a Ruger MkII or MkIII pistol, but price won out in the end. I was able to get this pistol for less than $250 at the gun show. Couldn’t wait to get home and go through the instruction manual. That is the first thing you should do with any gun after a thorough visual check for deficiencies. I read the manual front to back, paying close attention to the breakdown for field stripping. I took the gun down and gave it a good cleaning. This needs to be done as a lot of guns can sit on a shelf for a while and to prevent rusting, the manufacturer will load it up with oil or grease. This leads to dust and dirt being attracted to the oil/grease and can affect the performance of the gun. So, I did this on a Saturday and planned to go to the gun range on Sunday to shoot it.

Sunday arrived and I and my boys were at the range shortly after it opened. We had picked up a bunch of ammo from Dicks Sporting Goods and planned to shoot a couple hundred rounds. I loaded up the magazines and fired first. The .22 is a very light recoil weapon suitable for starting children and women into shooting. My groups at 7, 10, and 15 yards were pretty good and would get better as I trained more. My boys and I went through about 250 rounds that afternoon. For about two hours of shooting, it cost us a little over $20. That included the range time and a couple of targets. It was a lot of fun to shoot that little gun. Still need to work on my breathing and trigger control to make my groups smaller though. My boys were really into it early and were really trying to get good groups, but after a while, you could see the excitement wear off and they were just throwing lead down range. You could see their groups get better for a while and then get worse as they got tired, both of shooting and working muscles in your arms, shoulders, back, and neck that you aren’t used to using.

Overall, I can’t say enough good things about that little 22a pistol. Lots of fun shooting it, nice grip, good trigger. Great gun to learn on.

My next blog, I’ll talk about my 9mm pistol search, what I decided on, and my first experience with having to send a gun back to the manufacturer for repair.

John Shoots Pistols

Hmmm, where to begin. I had been watching my kids play paintball and airsoft with their friends for a while and I was looking for a new hobby. I had in the past shot firearms before and wondered if I should get back into shooting.

A little history. Being a fire control technician in the Navy for 6 years, I was introduced to pistols, rifles, shotguns, machine guns, and grenade launchers through my enlistment. I was qualified on the .45acp pistol, the M-14 rifle, Model 870 .12 gauge shotgun, M-79 grenade launcher, M60 7.62mm machine gun and the 50cal M2 machine gun. Working with the Gunners Mates on board, I also qualified for duty Gunners Mate and became a member of the Ships Self Defense Force. I even had purchased my own 9mm handgun (Ruger P85 semi-automatic pistol) and kept it in the armory. Many of the guys in my work center and our partner work center were handgun owners. Between the 10 of us, we had multiple revolvers and pistols from .22lr target pistol up to a .44 magnum revolver and we spent a lot of time at the local range in Norfolk whenever we were in port.

So, as I said, I was looking for a new hobby. I started re-searching taking target shooting back as a hobby. Heck, the only reason I parted ways with my Ruger P85 was that I was married and we were talking about having kids. Neither my wife nor I really wanted guns in the house when the kids were young, so I bit the bullet and sold the gun. Now my kids are older, 13 and 15 respectively, and had an interest in guns in general and thoughts of joining the military after high school. I tentatively and very much on egg-shells asked my wife what she thought about me taking the boys to the gun range, rent some guns and go over firearms safety and do some shooting. I was flabbergasted. She was all for it. Truthfully, she had done some shooting with me when we were dating while I was still in the Navy. Although she preferred my good friends Smith and Wesson .357 magnum over my P85. Still, I was surprised she was all for it.

So, after making the kids watch some safety videos and going over the rules with them, we headed to Elite Training Academy in Monroe, NC. I had contacted them earlier about bringing my boys over and they were very helpful and knowledgeable. We spent a little less than 2 hours shooting a Ruger MkIII .22lr and a Sig Sauer P226 9mm pistol and my co-workers S&W .357 magnum. My co-worker, Mike Williams joined us. He was a flight officer in the Navy flying in E2C – Hawkeye aircraft. Kids had a great time and were decent shots. I was surprised how quickly I fell back into my old training and was shooting relatively well.

I think that day pretty much started the fire in me for wanting to shoot. I asked my wife (Deb) if I could purchase a couple of guns and with no reluctance other than making sure they were locked up and separating the guns from ammo, she agreed.

I started looking at what it would take to get a pistol in North Carolina and each state is a little different. Here, I needed to fill out some paperwork and send it to the county sheriff for approval. I live in Union County in North Carolina, so my paperwork may have been different from what you’d be seeing, but it was 3 sheets long with the cursory information about where I live and how I plan to shoot the gun/s. It also had about 20 questions regarding criminal and psychological background. Thankfully, I’m not a felon or under psychiatric treatment. The paperwork also wants to know where you’ve lived for the last 10 years. That was more trouble than I thought it would be, but my wife had all our old addresses and dates we lived there. Don’t know where I’d be without her, but most likely lost somewhere. A couple days after mailing the forms in, I received a phone call from the sheriff’s department saying my permits were available for pickup.

Well, that’s enough for now. I’ll post further on my search for guns, my purchases, gun shows, ducking ejected shells, and sending guns in for repairs.