Sunday, September 14, 2014

Smith & Wesson M&P 45c Review.

This is a used gun with an unknown number of rounds. Used guns are going to have some dings and scratches. Carefully inspect any used gun for cracks, excessive wear and tear, or mismatched parts before you buy and when in doubt, consult a qualified gunsmith. The Smith&Wesson M&P (Military & Police) brand has many different variations, so not all features will be on or apply to every gun in this brand. The gun this writer is reviewing is the .45 compact with the four inch barrel and no magazine disconnect, thumb safety, or internal lock, although these features are available on select pistols if you want them or your jurisdiction requires. The SKU number isn't on the S&W website but it is on this one.

Always obey local laws concerning firearms, their possession and use. This writer does not recommend putting your finger in the trigger guard unless you are committed to shooting something. "Stacking" or "staging" the trigger is a dangerous practice with any firearm, and this will not be evaluated here. This is not the place to debate that you don't like guns or take issue with "gun culture". These are a tool, much like an automobile, a scoop shovel, lighter or screwdriver; all are dangerous when misused. Same applies for those who may have a dislike for this or a strong like for another model or brand in a rivalic fashion. These comments will not be posted.

Smith&Wesson is a gun manufacturer this writer has been acquainted with for thirty-three years, the first handgun I fired was a model 686 chambered in a .357 magnum at the age of eleven years. They are well known for their revolvers and even though I'm not a fan of these, I still have a healthy respect Smith and their products. This wasn't too hard when making the transition from wheelgun to semiauto. The SD VE is a great piece for the money and they work better and cost less than the Glocks. The M&P brands are very similar in appearance, but are much more aggressively styled and probably beefier constructed as well. Unlike the SD VE's I've looked at, this one has metal, rather than plastic sights with Tritium inserts. The gun has a heft and a quality feel to it, There are three controls, exclusive of the bang switch. These are the magazine release (reversible), the slide lock (ambidextrous) and the takedown lever (on left side). There are no external safeties save for keeping your pointy finger off the trigger, which unlike the many pistols and even some long guns, has a pivot rather than a tab in the middle. 

After a month, and two days of layaway at Gander Mountain in Lansing, I got this one out of hock. I used my Bersa Thunder .45 pro compact as a trade in. The gun was fraught with issues including that love tap with the hammer that I was not in love with.

I picked this gun up for $399 + tax, and I don't believe that Smith and Wesson sells this one new anymore  This one came with two magazines, a lock, a frame tool, the paperwork as well as a really nice blue case and the gun itself. In addition, it came with three backstraps, small, medium and large. These come off easily after removing the frame tool from the grip of the gun. This is just a quarter turn and it comes out. The backstraps are easily removed and switched. The medium one was installed with the gun and worked fine with my mitts. This model has a 4 inch barrel, is 7.55 inches long, and 4.8 inches high. This tips the scale at 26 ounces and some change, or over a pound and a half empty. This is over two pounds with a full mag, so a good holster and belt is mandatory, but very doable. This model also comes with Tritium sights, which are usually an aftermarket install. Those are the facts.

This piece fits in a size 2 blackhawk pancake holster, as well as my Vega IB 341. A belly band holster, forget about it. 

Racking the slide with arthritis is pretty easy; a touch easier than the Ruger Sr9c I've gotten to use as my go to gun. The serrations are aggressive enough to give you a good grip on the slide, which is a nice touch. Loading rounds into the magazines takes lots of hand strength, and a loader isn't a bad idea. These hold eight rounds, but you can buy longer magazines depending on your jurisdiction. These snap in easily and positively, and drop easily which is important in a fight. This piece lacks a magazine safety, which means if there is a round in the chamber and you press the bang switch, it will go pop and make a hole. Again, you can get models with these safeties if you want as they are available. This one didn't have and I didn't particularly want them,

What has never happened in the 33 years of experience with handguns is this,,,I was able to hit the bullseye with a four inch group at 20 feet with this piece...right out of the box. I'm not the best practiced, but getting better, but it still takes time to acquaint yourself to a new gun. The M&P was not a problem in that department at all due largely in part to the long sight radius and excellent ergonomics. Trigger pull is crisp with no grittiness or other problems. At about 7 pounds, it's more than doable for anyone. Recoil is slightly more than my Ruger 9mm, but there is very little muzzle flip. The sights are three dot and fairly easy to see, even in low light with the Tritium option. Follow up shots are much easier with this combination. There were no malfunctions as of late with about 50 rounds through it. Most of you will probably use about that a session anyway. If there is I will update it.

To field strip this gun is not intuitive, but it is easy. You need to drop the magazine and rack the slide to remove a chambered round and lock it open. The frame tool is accessed by turning the half moon shaped nubbin at the bottom of the grip one quarter turn like a key. The back strap can be lifted off and changed at this point too, as the tool also locks this down. You will then need to use this tool, or something similar (NOT your finger) to push the sear lever down. Then you release the slide lock, pull the takedown lever and the slide should come off. The guide rod and spring are made of steel and are easy to clean up and get back in action. You will want to push the sear lever back where you had it. Reinstall the frame tool and your gun is ready to go. Probably just enough to avoid patent infringement on the almighty Glocks, which the M&P is mechanically similar to.

What you don't get with the M&P is the Glock name, the ergonomics, slick slide, or the price premium. Police departments have bought these for three decades and they've done something right. I've wanted one, but the price and grip angle have put me off. A glock 30 short frame is over $650 in my neck of the woods and a new M&P .45 compact (not mine) is available new for $525. The one I got was still $100 cheaper than the Glock 21 that set next to it, and these were used guns. Not to rain on anyone's parade, but I would consider the features and ergonomics over the brand any day. On this one, Smith&Wesson wins out. Maranatha! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Before You Call About Your Dishwasher, Try These...

Lately, over the past several months, one thing that has been consistent is that people are not happy with their dishwashers and want them fixed. I've been seeing leaking pumps, inlet valves that drain water into the machine even when it isn't running, as well as broken hinges, a few busted springs, and other maladies. However, the most common complaint is that "my dishes aren't clean."
I'm going to tell you straight up that the overwhelming majority of complaints have nothing to do with the machine itself. Unless you have a wash arm that's broken or a clogged filter, the fact is that you will be spending money on a service call for this same advice, and maybe what you can do yourself. I'm a DIYer too, although I'm learning the value of a good professional for some repairs.

To date, I fix appliances for a living, and can say that I've have a few times the machine was actually "at fault". These are commonly a broken wash arm, where it doesn't spray or move properly, a dirty screen as many new dishwashers use a filter that needs to be cleaned out regularly, much like a lint screen, or this is clogged with minerals or torn. The pump can also rarely cause a problem. Don't get me wrong, it isn't a bad idea to have a pro look at it. We can find problems and let you know whether or not to put money or effort into same. Nevertheless, it's still a good idea to save money on a service call as long as you're sure this machine isn't leaking underneath. If you're handy, you check this too, but I digress. Here is what you need to do...

If you're getting a white film on your dishes, this is never the fault of the machine. This is your water quality and something you need to address soon. This is lime or calcium in the water, and it will deposit on your dishes the first time you use it if the water is hard enough. If you don't have a water softener, get your water tested and if necessary install a water softener. Don't fall for these electronic gadgets either, get an ion exchange that uses either salt or Potassium Chloride. These will keep scale out of your water heater, washer, ice maker, pipes and your dishwasher. You can try some of the drop in remedies in your machine or a different brand of detergent, but I would still suggest a water softener. Yes, these are expensive, but are a lot cheaper in the long run and the payments on one are pretty low. I pay about $26 a month plus salt that costs less than $10 for the same period for a properly adjusted softener. Don't even think about getting one from a hardware store or home center. These are garbage. Rent a Culligan, Besco or other professionally installed unit. You need one with a salt container separated from the conditioning tank. Again, the store bought units that have the tank inside of the salt container are garbage.

If you are using a detergent with bleach and silica (sand), it will not clean your dishes. This is good for bleaching out stains, but that's about it. Get an enzymatic detergent such as Cascade or Finish and stay away from store brands if they don't do the job. I use Finish Quantum and hand these out to my customers and this does a good job in my cheapie dishwasher. Phosphorus was a common ingredient in dishwasher detergents until a few years ago. Because this is impossible to remove through water treatment methods and creates a huge problem with algae, the Feds banned this chemical a few years ago and customers have been unhappy since. Such is the price of ecology.

Use rinse aid. Yes I know this is an added expense, but it's less than $10 for a bottle that will last you up to a year. This is actually a drying agent and helps prevent the food particles from settling back on your dishes. I use the store brand stuff, but you can use the name brand if you want.

Clean your filter if you have one. Many new machines don't use a chopper in the interest of noise. These have a filter in the bottom of the tub that's not unlike a dryer filter. Check these out regularly, preferably after each wash. Not only do you want to clean it, but make sure this is in good condition to help prevent damage to the pump. Some of these are not cheap nor fun to install. It would also be a good idea to clean the sump once or twice a year or oftener if you use it a lot. Sometimes access is limited as on my Amana, but most are pretty easy to get apart. Use a wet dry vac to get the water out and make sure this is no glass before sticking your patties in. Most of the time, this not a huge issue anyway.

In short, try these before calling the service provider who is going to have to tell you these things anyway. IF you do have to call someone, call a locally owned and locally managed one who has a stake in your community and follow their advice. Most of the time, these tips should help you out and save you the price of a service call. Saving money is what we're about these days. Maranatha!