Got the bushings and screws from S&W!

In the final post about the 1911 Grip Saga, I received the replacement bushings and two kinds for screws to fit the original 1911 grips on April 2nd.

Original 1911 Grips and hardware - including a hex wrench.

Original 1911 Grips and hardware – including a hex wrench.

The grip screws came with the hex heads, but the fellow I spoke with on the phone sent me a set of screws which could be removed with a regular slotted screwdriver. I tossed it all in an envelope with the hex wrench my gunsmith gave me for the original screws. Now if I want to sell this gun, I have everything needed to restore the original grips, if desired.

Total time from the first call until the warranty claim was fully addressed: about 3 1/2 months. I know they are slammed due to the current political climate, but I’m glad I wasn’t in a hurry.

Previous posts: Part 1: The Defective Grip Saga,  Part 2: Call, don’t email S&W

S&W warranty work: call, don’t email

It’s been a month sent I sent email to S&W asking about the missing grip bushings and screws. See history here. So Monday I took time away from work to call them. And wait on hold because all their customer service reps were busy.

When I finally got a rep on the phone, he was upbeat, helpful and apologetic. I’ve worked in a support organization and I understand that he can only control what happens going forward. I gave him the original order number, he did a bit of research and told me they would put the bushings and two kind of screws in the mail. They were not back ordered. So expect them in a few weeks.

Weeks? It’s a good thing I’m only getting these in case I want to resell the gun and restore it to the original grips. I made the original call on this claim before Thanksgiving.

In any case, emailing S&W appears to be a complete waste of time. If you need to reach out to them for a warranty issue, pick up the phone.


That picture

The original blog banner

The photo at the top of the blog was taken by a friend. It was taken last year when I was very new to shooting and very enthusiastic about my new interest. We ensured all the guns we used were unloaded. Three of us checked. There was no ammunition in the venue. And I wore an outfit to mimic a cosplay character, Revy. I was feeling empowered and sexy. That was the 1st gun I bought! (It’s a S&W 22A).

I look at the photos now and I feel a bit foolish. No eye protection, no ear protection, and no high neck shirt to prevent hot shells from dumping down my chest. Fantasy is a far cry from reality.

I also can see that I have one eye closed: not a good tactic for defensive shooting. And I have my finger on the trigger: a serious no-no based on the gun safety rules of most any organization. From IDPA: The 4th Law of Gun Safety – Keep Your Finger Off The Trigger Until Your Sights Are On The Target!

Finally, that grip: both thumbs are misplaced. They should, ideally, parallel the slide and be as high as possible without touching the slide.

I still like the photo. At the time it captured my enthusiasm. Now it helps me see how far I’ve come. I’m going to keep it there for now because I like that reminder.


The 1911 S&W defective grip saga

RoCo original grips

I bought a S&W 1911 in 9mm last October. I took it to my gunsmith to have the grips replaced. It came with RoCo wood grips in a medium width. I have very small hands so I selected a set of Halpern Ultra Slim Titanium grips. They were basically the same color as the gun so I considered that a bonus. See the gun with the new grips here.

As I’m learning to expect, I ran into a few issues. The bushings should have been attached to the frame of the gun. Two of the 4 were… the other two were attached to the wooden grips.

Halpern Ultra Slim Grips

My gunsmith advised me to send them back to S&W and ask them to remove the bushings from the original grips. If I want to sell the gun at some point, it is likely the next owner will have larger hands and will want to use these grips. I called S&W on November 19, 2012 and was told they would send me a return label and shipping instructions. The problem would be addressed. Why did I call? Because the website was broken. Really.

I received the return label Nov 24th, the day after Thanksgiving. I mailed the grips to S&W on November 29th, 2012. I received a set of replacement grips on February 15th, 2013. It’s a very good thing I wasn’t in a hurry for these, eh? They are missing the bushings and screws I returned with the original grips. So after almost 3 months from when I contacted them concerning this defect, I find I will be contacting them again. I sent email tonight requesting the missing parts. I’ll post an update if they ever show up.

 As for the ultra slim grips, my gunsmith had to cut out a place on the back of one side for the safety to swing up and down. He had to use special slim grip bushings as the new grips are much thinner than the original grips. I lost a screw in the first month. Was at the range, looked down and no screw in one of the holes. My gun smith gave me another (he is good to me) and then advised I invest in something like the “Turbo-Lock” pictured. Each time I clean that gun, threadlocker needs to be applied to the screws to ensure they don’t vibrate out.

S&W is teaching me patience. My gunsmith is teaching me to be self-sufficient. I’m not impressed with S&W and I’m learning to value my gunsmith.

Holding On: 1911 vs XD9

XD9 and 1911 width comparison.
– 1911 is .960 inches
– XD9 is 1.19 inches

I bought a 1911 recently. I decided not to shoot it until I replaced the grips and was able to slim down the gun. I picked up the new gun with the new grips on Tuesday November 20th, 2012. I’m still focused on learning to maintain my grip through multiple shots and I was hoping this gun would make it easier for me to do that.

It did! I managed to keep my hands on the gun, in the same exact position for more than one shot. It’s going to take practice, focus, and work to improve my hand strength but If I can do it once I know I can do it again.

The 1911 is a thin frame with a single stack magazine. The grips can be swapped out to slim down or add width to fit the shooter’s hand. The advice I followed insisted that a 1911 was the best choice for my small hands. I can now feel the difference that makes. I asked the gunsmith that swapped the grips for me to measure the width of both guns, The difference is .23 or almost a 1/4 inch. That difference makes it easier for me to keep the thumb of my strong hand pointing forward. With a wider gun I tend to twist my hand toward the trigger side to ensure I could reach the trigger.

The 1911 is heavier too, so there is less recoil. This may be doing more to stabilize my grip then the reduced width. I weighed the 1911 and the XD9 I’ve been shooting. Using a kitchen scale and unloaded guns (no magazine), I found the 1911 to be almost a pound heavier (15.2 oz). I can tell the gun isn’t moving as much when I shoot and that is definitely giving me more control.

1911 weighs in at 2 lbs 8.5 oz (40.5 oz)

XD9 weighs in at 1 lb, 9.3 oz (25.3 oz)

To focus on my grip and include target transition, I shot steel plates. Knock them down, set them back up. Over and over. 10 plates, 10 round magazines and 124 rounds means just over dozen times resetting the plates.

When I missed a plate it was usually because I slapped the trigger. So the next shot I focused once again on proper grip, a tight supporting hand, relaxing the dominant hand, then gently squeezing the trigger. The more I practice this “transition” from “I missed….” to “relax and focus” the better I’ll be able to recover in a stressful situation.

Things I noticed the first time I fired this gun:

-The trigger is scary light for me. I’m having trouble finding the trigger reset because there is very, very little back travel to reach it.
-I need to practice with the safety. I managed to nudge it on while shooting and then had to stop to trouble shoot why the gun stopped firing. The XD9 has a grip safety and nothing to flip up/down. This is a new process to add to my draw.
-The magazine is a tight fit and in one case I failed to insert it far enough. Once again I stopped to trouble shoot the issue. In this case I felt foolish as I had not gone through the  “click, tug, press, battery” check list I learned in my recent defensive handgun class.

Day 2 of 1911 Practice: 

Roughly a week later I was back at the range and once again focused on my grip. This trip I got a lane and shot paper.
– I hate to admit it, but I had an accidental discharge (pointing downrange) because the trigger is so light. It was a scary reminder of one of the 4 IDPA safety rules: Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot. 
– I’m still nudging the safety up while shooting. At least now I know why the gun just stopped shooting and can work to stop this from happening.
– I was able to shoot almost an entire magazine with no shift in my grip. That’s progress!
– Since I was unable to work on target transition in a lane, I started working on keeping both eyes open while I shoot. Since my focus is defensive scenarios, that is yet another skill I need to work on.