Gunsmithing

Guns are machines, are tools. Like anything, they wear out and need some love. I’ve got 3 of my guns in various states, and it’s kinda interesting.

My Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, my NAA Guardian, and my M&P9.

Shield

I have a S&W M&P Shield 9, one of the early models. It’s been ok, but maybe I never pressed it really hard at longer distances. Some months ago I was shooting it and it was a horrible experience. Up close things seemed ok, but you get to 15-25 yards and shots were all over the place. Surely this can’t be me.

Karl happened to be there at the time, so I had him shoot it. Karl (remember, not just the head of KR Training but also an IPSC/USPSA Grandmaster: read, he knows how to shoot) had the same results. We shot benchrest, various ammo from cheap stuff to quality stuff, and no go. Karl had his Shield with him, so we swapped top and bottoms (his bottom, my top; his top, my bottom). I forget the exact results but one combo had the same problems. So there was some sort of mechanical problem. We did notice uneven wear on the locking block.

So the Shield went back to Smith & Wesson via Hank Flemming (best gunsmith in Austin). Should be covered under the factory warranty. Tho Hank did have to do some work to pull my aftermarket stuff out and put factory stuff back on. Even then, before sending it out Hank shot the gun and replicated Karl and my results.

Upon return, Hank shot the gun and it was shooting like you’d expect it to. Put the parts back in, shot fine as well.

Thing is, all S&W said on the invoice:

Evaluate/Repair

Adjust sights

Passed range testing

No details as to exactly what happened. There’s a big checklist on the invoice about parts, but nothing is checked off if repaired or replaced. So who knows.

A bit annoying to not have full records, but that’s how it goes.

Guardian

After picking up my NAA Guardian .32 ACP at a pawn shop, I really enjoyed shooting it.  It didn’t perform well, but after changing some springs and new magazines, it was much happier. Cool thing is NAA warranties their products for life by any owner. So I had Hank ship them the gun along with a letter detailing my issues and what I was looking for.

Took about a month and a half, but I just got it back.

The invoice?

  • slide
  • firing pin
  • retainer firing pin
  • spring firing pin
  • extractor
  • extractor plunger
  • spring extractor plunger
  • hammer pin
  • follower hammer
  • spring hammer
  • screw handle
  • trigger
  • drawbar spring

All new parts. And polished the feed ramp and chamber.

I think the only original part is the frame. 😉

Thing is, I’m a little bummed about the replacements, at least the new slide. The old slide had some really cool original markings, because my serial number indicates it’s from their early product runs. With the new slide, I lost those, and they did not ship back the original parts with it. I’m a little bummed about that, but whatchagonnado?

Still, the contrast here is seeing NAA detailing all the work done and S&W not.

On both guns, I’ll take them with me to KR Training next time I’m out and run them through their paces to ensure they’re working well. If all is good, I’ll put them back into service.

Other M&P

My main/original M&P9 I think finally needs some love. It’s been my primary carry gun for the past 4 years, with thousands upon thousands of rounds through it, and even more dry fire. I’ve been having some light strikes, had a failure to extract last week, other weird extractions. So I’m having Hank replace every spring in the gun, and give it a once over for any wear and tear, replace anything that needs it, etc.. Just get her happy again.

Take-Home?

If it’s something you trust your life to, be sure to keep it in working order.

Because it is a working tool that can and will wear out, have 1 or 2 (at least) more. Make it the same gun, set up in the same way. That way if you switch between them, you don’t notice and don’t have to “get used to it”. Or have ones similar enough, e.g. an M&P9 and M&P9c, a Glock 17/19/26.

Find a good gunsmith, one you can trust.

Be sure to put your gear to higher tests. Just taking it into the back pasture and plinking is a good start, but running your gear hard is important. Again, if you trust your life to it, ensure it’s in good working order.

 

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7 thoughts on “Gunsmithing

  1. Good advice man! I agree. Glad to hear about your guardian. I had one in the past, that I lost in a divorce, that had been full house done over by the NAA custom shop. I replaced it with a Keltec P32, and that didn’t have the same allure. I sold the gun shortly after I finished undergrad, where I’m guessing you can figure out what role that pistol filled for me at the time…

    • Yeah, the Guardian was one of those itches I wanted to scratch “just because”. Came across it in a pawn shop last summer and went for it. It’s great that it got such a reworking by the shop, and I can’t wait to actually go shoot it and see how it does now. I expect it’ll be good. Reminds me — I need to go .32 ACP ammo shopping.

      And yes, I can figure the role. 🙂

  2. I had a similar experience. Although my run in was with Sig and Hi-Point. (stop snickering, dammit!)

    I sent a Sig P238 in for issues. Sig sent it back saying “upgrade to current spec”. Still did not shoot well… Sent a 9MM carbine in to H-P an they pretty much replaced everything but the frame and detailed all of their work.

  3. My shield shoots amazingly well at 20 yes (but then I’m only an IPSC B class). Others that have shot it at distances > 10yds also commented about it’s accuracy.
    Glad you got yours to shoot as it should. Sorry S&W didn’t give much info re: what was done to the gun.

    • Yeah, the Shield CAN shoot just as well as anything — if it’s working. 🙂

      It’s weird tho. I don’t recall it having this problem originally, but maybe I just didn’t put it through its paces enough? Hard to say, but when myself, Karl, and Hank can all reproduce it, it’s certainly not a “me” problem (for once).

      At this point, just happy to have it back and looking forward to trying it out and seeing where it lies.

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