The next chapter in my investigation of the Smith & Wesson M&P.
The focus now is accuracy. The factory barrel is pretty bad, with 6-8″ groups at 25 yards. But, it seemed to vary with ammo, such as Gold Dot 124 grain +P was about 3-4″ at 25 yards. I installed my KKM barrel and off to the local indoor range I went. I didn’t want to go to the indoor range (more on it shortly), but it would allow me the easiest means of benchrest shooting at various distances. Plus it’s the closest range to the house and time matters right now.
Also note from the first round of shooting tests, I discovered the rear sight was off in the dovetail. A few days ago I went to my workbench and did my best to center the rear sight, measuring as best I could with calipers (it was difficult to get a flat surface given the cuts in the slide back there). FWIW, the sights seemed to be reasonably “on” during today’s tests. More later.
So given the ammo issue, I took 3 types of ammo with me: my 115 grain plinking handloads, which shoot pretty well (generally better than factory target loads); 124 grain American Eagle target loads; 124 grain +P Gold Dot. I asked at the gun counter if they had any 147 grain ammo but alas they had none. Since both the Gold Dot and the AE seemed to shoot better in the factory barrel, I was just curious what sort of results I’d get with 147 in the KKM.
My general plan was to shoot 5 shot groups from benchrest at 3, 7, 15, and 25 yards. Shoot each type of ammo at the same distance, compare and contrast results, tape the target, go to the next distance.
General results? Everything shot low. Exactly how low varied based upon distance and ammo, with the 124 AE generally shooting lowest of the 3 (makes sense) and the Gold Dot shooting highest of the 3 (makes sense). Still, every ammo at every distance had point of impact (POI) below the point of aim (POA). Interesting was that the Gold Dot tended to shoot towards the middle, the reloads slightly to the left, and the AE slight to the right. For the most part, the reloads and the AE shot to similar behavior in terms of grouping, and the Gold Dot of course shot a bit tighter.
I started having a rough time shooting at 15 and 25 yards. My eyes were blurring. I’m sure part of it is age. I’m sure part is just eyes getting tired from all that squinting. But I also know part of it is range-induced. The lighting there has improved, but it’s still a lot darker than being outdoors. Furthermore, the range was rather busy so there was a lot of smoke and such floating around. I find myself not wanting to breathe when I’m there — totally subconscious, but I realized how shallow my breathing was. A few times I set my gun down on the bench and went into the store area just to take 10 deep breath of clean(er) air. When I went back in, my eyes were a lot happier, but it just delayed the inevitable need to stop because my eyes and lungs couldn’t take it any more. Like I said, I really don’t like going to the indoor range, but sometimes you have to make compromises.
I’m still disappointed with the group sizes. It’s not the KKM itself, but that I have to get a replacement semi-match barrel in order to get similar accuracy that I get out of my factory barrel in my Springfield XD-9. Overall the KKM’s accuracy and grouping was acceptable and I am pleased with its results, but I don’t think it’s right that I should have to get an aftermarket barrel in order to get acceptable accuracy.
I should also caveat that due to my eyes, I just couldn’t shoot very well at 15 and 25 yards, so in my mind the final verdict is still out on performance at those ranges. Even still, the groupings I did get were still better than I got the first time with the factory barrel.
After I did the benchrest shooting, I put up a fresh target at 7 yards and just did some two-hand “freestyle” shooting. Couldn’t do anything fast or fancy due to range restrictions, just put the gun out there and pressed off a shot every second. Drilled a nice hole in the middle of the target, just a little low. Acceptable. I’d say about 150 or so rounds went through the gun today. So the barrel still isn’t broken in, but so far so good. Of those, 45 were Gold Dots (5 GD’s shot at the first range session), so I feel comfortable that this barrel will feed my carry ammo.
So far I’m pleased. Annoyed at the factory barrel. Annoyed about auto-forward. But I’ve been dry-firing the gun every day, it’s feeling more comfortable, and it felt more natural today (need to do some “real” shooting tho). The KKM is certainly a keeper, but if that rumored Apex-designed BarSto happens I’m likely to upgrade to it. From here, I need to find new sights because I have to do something about the low POI vs. the POA.
Off to Dawson Precision’s website I go!