Range Operators/Instructors - What is your most trouble free/Troublesome pistol?


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Jupiter
April 14, 2008, 08:01 AM
Few people see the sheer amount of shooting and variety of handguns that instructors and range operators do on a daily basis.

I'm looking for input from Operators and Instructors at Shooting Ranges and Shooting Schools on which pistols have the fewest/most problems.
Give me as much detail as possible and the name of your facility if you can.
Also what is the most common problem the particular brand of gun has!
I know the Hi-Points etc. are junk so try to stick to the mainstream brands if you can!


Thanks in Advance!

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MCgunner
April 14, 2008, 08:27 AM
Most troublesome is an old Erma LA22, toggle bolt P08 style rimfire. I've had the thing for 35 years. It was used when I got it. I had it worked on and now it fires, at least, LOL. It'll jam now and then. I keep it around, I mean, it ain't worth much and it looks cool. It shot real well for a while after I bought it, but a couple or ten cartons of .22 and it started wearing out. I guess it served me as a learner auto in my younger years pretty well. It's pretty accurate, can say that. I had a Beretta .22 short tip up that was a POS from day one, but no longer have it. That was the worst I ever bought.

Most trouble free would pretty much be my two Ruger P guns and my Kel Tec P11. I've never tried 147 grain stuff in the P11 and I they sometimes don't like 147 grain stuff, not sure if it's one of those. The Rugers'll feed anything. The P90 has my ultimate confidence. If it ever jammed, I'd keel over from shock. LOL! The P85 has been perfect, too, just that I haven't put as much through it as the P90 nor the variety of ammo. The longer you shoot a gun without trouble, the more the confidence grows.

Actually, I only have one other centerfire auto than the P11 and the two Rugers. I tend to buy revolvers, still, what I prefer. That other gun is reliable with loads it likes, a Grendel P12. But, I have found ammo like that Winchester flat nose green ammo in the white box that it doesn't like. It likes Hornady 90 grain JHP and that's what I carry in it.

My revolvers feed anything. That's why I like revolvers. :D Well, that's just one of the reasons. I'm not a range operator, but enough input and maybe you'll get the lay of the landscape in auto reliability. You gotta figure ranges ain't going to carry too many pocket autos and such. You won't likely get a lot of info on Kahr, KT, and such from them.

Jupiter
April 14, 2008, 09:05 AM
Thanks for the reply MCgunner

I'm really looking for info on the most popular brands!
Beretta,Glock,HK,Sig,Springfield,Walther,S&W,etc.,etc..

I hear so much BS on which brand holds up best and the folks who see them in use daily have some very valuable input!
I've got my own opinions but would like to hear from these guys/gals!

LeonCarr
April 14, 2008, 09:25 AM
IME the most reliable handguns are:

Glocks(with the 9mm Glocks being the most reliable)

Ruger P-Series(all calibers)

Beretta 92s/96s with FACTORY magazines. Feed the Beretta from those military contract lowest bidder Checkmate mags and a super reliable semiauto becomes a manually operated semiauto quick. Bill Wilson (The Wilson Combat guy) was asked in a magazine article if you could carry any gun besides a 1911, what would it be? He said the Beretta 92, and that his current Beretta 92 had been shot over 50,000 rounds without a malfunction.

Any Sig

Any S&W revolvers or autos, Any Ruger revolvers

The most unreliable handguns are:

(Flame suit on) Most 1911s I have witnessed during range qualifications have jammed, mostly stovepipe/failure to eject or failure to feed.

Most pocket guns (.25/.32/.380) IME have less than stellar reliability, except for the higher end ones like Walthers or Sigs.

This is not an all inclusive list, just what I have seen on the range.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

armoredman
April 14, 2008, 10:47 AM
I ran a rental range for a year and a half, and the sidearms that held up the best were the Ruger autos, CZ autos, Smith wheelguns, and that was about it. Springfield, HK, G-rock, Taurus, Smith autos, Ruger wheelguns, SiG, all went down for one thing or another. The HK USPs were the worst - started with 6, a year later we had two, and one was waiting for a new recoil spring.
Do remember, a year on a rental range is a lifetime workout for a normal use handgun.
Had a Jennings 9 out there for about 3 days - that's all it took for it to disintegrate.

Desertscout
April 14, 2008, 11:47 AM
We kept records for about a year, just out of curiosity, to see what guns caused us the most problems. Most of us consider Hi-Points junk but they are far from being the very worst. Hi-Points are not pretty, their triggers and safeties suck and they are a long way from being ergonomically designed but we don't have too awful much problem with them. Quite naturally, the Brycos, Jennings, Lorcins, Jimenez Arms and the like are not included because they really are all junk.

Overwhelmingly, Glocks are trouble-free. Of the many tens of thousands of rounds we see fired through Glocks each year, I've seen 2 problems related to the extractor and 1 broken trigger spring. Neither are inherent problems, just worn parts.

XD's run well. We haven't had but a fraction of the number of XD's that we do Glocks but I have only seen one XD that had a problem that we could not diagnose.

Sigs and CZ's are generally trouble-free but it's hard to compare because of the small numbers of them that we see. Just because 3-4 (read small number) guns work flawlessly doesn't mean that the design is flawless overall. The same could be said for malfunctions. I do know that the Sig doesn't perform well underwater but that's a different thread.

Rugers and Berettas run OK as long as they are lubed properly. If either one of them gets dry, it's pretty much done for.

I know you want name brands but the 1911's, of any manufacturer, cause us more problems than any other gun, considering the numbers of them. Of those, the higher-end ones are worst. The "GI" models, the old military versions and, believe it or not, even Llamas are pretty dependable. We had a class this last weekend with 28 people shooting. Out of the 28 there were 5 1911's. 2 Kimbers, a Colt, a Llama and a Springer. 3 of the 5 had problems. Both Kimbers had a couple each and the Springer had chronic problems. The Llama and the Colt made it all the way through the class. This is very typical of what we see here.

Jupiter
April 14, 2008, 01:49 PM
Thanks for the info guys and keep them coming!
This is exactly what I was looking for!:)

Nikon777
April 14, 2008, 03:04 PM
Any of the name brand semi autos are gonna run well. All guns can and will break at some point.

BullfrogKen
April 14, 2008, 03:28 PM
Its tough to know what works well and what doesn't by this sort of observation. Its not exactly scientific.


Most guns will work well. Every once in a while a lemon leaves the factory. The problems start when it gets into the customer's hands.

What stops most guns are magazines and poor ammo. Next are worn springs and parts, or even broken parts.


Perhaps the reason the 1911's get their reputation is because the demographic that shoots the 1911 is also the same demographic that reloads. 1911 owners also tend to alter their guns, and have more aftermarket parts available to alter their guns than any other.


Nearly any modern gun will do well with fresh, correct weight springs; a good quality magazine; and good quality ammo.


The INS/Border Patrol conducted a pretty exhaustive test when they selected their new pistol about 4 years ago. Eventually every gun, from every manufacturer went down. Its only a matter of time. And even the factory ammo it shipped with had lots out of spec.


Much of this obsession over "best gun, most reliable gun" is an exercise in chasing after the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Even if you found that gun, you've got to find perfect ammo. And you've got to find some way to avoid the wear that just simply happens when we shoot.


Find something that fits your hand, and you are comfortable learning its operation. As long as its a good manufacturer, it'll serve you well.

CWL
April 14, 2008, 03:41 PM
At my local ranges, they only sell you underpowered reloads to go with rental guns.

They also didn't clean or lube them regularly.

This doesn't mean anything towards proving reliability.

Soldiers in combat zones are expected to clean their guns every day, there is a reason for that.

CountGlockula
April 14, 2008, 03:48 PM
Fewest problems:
Glocks
Rugers
S&Ws

Most problems:
Kimber
Springfield
Beretta
CZs

Jupiter
April 14, 2008, 09:21 PM
I'm not asking for a scientific observation! Just an observation! :)
(From Range operators and instructors) Once Again, I'm just looking for feedback from Range operators and instructors who see a very high volume of ammo fired on a daily basis on which guns seem to hold up best and the ones that don't!
I'll draw my own conclusions!
I'm very new at this so thanks so much for all the good information in your post!
It was very informative!:D

TestPilot
April 14, 2008, 10:20 PM
I ran a rental range for a year and a half, and the sidearms that held up the best were the Ruger autos, CZ autos, Smith wheelguns, and that was about it. Springfield, HK, G-rock, Taurus, Smith autos, Ruger wheelguns, SiG, all went down for one thing or another. The HK USPs were the worst - started with 6, a year later we had two, and one was waiting for a new recoil spring.

But, Springfield, H&K, Glock, SIG pistols are rented more than Ruger and CZ, are they not?

CWL
April 14, 2008, 10:22 PM
If you want to poll combat handgun instructors (not safety introduction guys), you will notice a great proportion of M1911s. (BTW, I have never seen an instructor's M1911 ever go down during a training session.)

What conclusion could you draw from that?

The Canuck
April 14, 2008, 10:27 PM
Beleive it or not...

an HK USP9 and a Glock 17...

Our 1911s tend to run pretty well and when they crap out its usually something that's super easy to fix.

BullfrogKen
April 14, 2008, 10:42 PM
But, what conclusions can you possibly draw from our observations?

What you don't know from casual observation is why did it go down? Why are the others more reliable?


Rental guns - the expensive ones are most often the ones rented. They see a lot more use.

The 1911 - Why did it choke? Was it reloaded "practice" ammo? Was it worn from having shot 10,000 rounds that year, and needed the springs and plastic magazine follower replaced? Did some kitchen table gunsmith install some part he bought from a mail-order company, not realizing when he changed XXXXX part it affects the function of three others? That happens all the time.


Simple observations don't tell you much that you can make any sort of sound conclusion from. And you are trying to. Otherwise, why ask the question?


If you want to know how well-maintained, unaltered guns work with quality ammunition, our observations won't yield that. The only sources that will are ones like that Border Patrol study I mentioned.

coloradokevin
April 15, 2008, 05:27 AM
I don't operate a range, but shoot quite often on my department's range.

In talking to our range officers, they seem to categorically agree on the following:

1) They love Glocks and XD's, and don't have any complaints about Sigs.

2) They hate 1911's, and claim that they have problems nearly every time they see someone qualifying with one

3) Despite saying this, half of them have 1911's themselves. In fact, one of them told me this as he was working on his personal 1911... So, I'm as confused as the next person as to their true feelings :)

loop
April 15, 2008, 05:43 AM
As an instructor I found that many women had trouble loading and handling Glocks. Women tended to have more success with Browning HPs or a 1911 clone in 9mm.

Men came in with a lot more predispositions. In general they were much harder to train.

The single make/model of guns that gave the most problems were Springfield Armory 1911s. I've even had to testify about issues with SA 1911s (and it wasn't favorable).

What I learned from teaching people was that no gun is perfect for everyone. As an instructor you have to direct people to what will work best for that individual.

Wes Janson
April 15, 2008, 08:56 AM
From personal observation:

Glocks, Sigs, S&W wheelguns, XDs, and M&Ps seem to work out pretty well...have yet to personally see any parts breakage on them (although it may very well have happened).

On the other hand, I've seen a FNP-9 fail pretty badly at least twice, where the frame appears almost to crack from decocking. I've witnessed a Variant 1 HK P2000 turn into an LEM P2000 when a sear spring failed (and seen issues with the proper functioning of the decocker on V1 models).

Whenever someone says ".25" I automatically shudder at this point. Lorcin, Jennings, Phoenix, et al are all pure crap. For that matter, the Taurus .22 and .25 models are rather flimsy-seen at least one go pop from an out-of-battery.

The S&W 22A is a POS...bad quality construction, and it just doesn't hold up to abuse.

Taurus polymer framed pistols seem to have more than their fair share of feeding issues, although that may be a reflection of the larger numbers of them out there.

MCgunner
April 15, 2008, 09:38 AM
If you want to poll combat handgun instructors (not safety introduction guys), you will notice a great proportion of M1911s. (BTW, I have never seen an instructor's M1911 ever go down during a training session.)

What conclusion could you draw from that?

That if you put 5K into a custom 1911, it might even feed something other than ball? That ranges don't rent out Wilson customs, but rather stock RIAs and Springfields?

Just a guess.

I gave up on 1911s 20 years ago. Can't afford one that actually works.

armoredman
April 15, 2008, 10:38 AM
But, Springfield, H&K, Glock, SIG pistols are rented more than Ruger and CZ, are they not?
Not neccesarily - the CZ-83 was a very popular rental, and all the Rugers P series rented a lot, due to the low cost of the new sidearms. People wanted to test drive before they purchased. The Glocks did get rented quite a bit, (local academy used Glock, and we had thier course of fire on the wall - cadets would come in every week to rent and improve), but we had a shelf and a half of them, so the wear was spread out.
Same with the HKs, the only one that made it through with no problem was the P7M8. The differance in quality from the P7 to the USP was stunning.
The SiG 220 broke it's frame, the SiG P230 broke three internal springs at once, (wasn't there for that one, on vacation, was told it was an interesting failure), and the P226 apparently locked up vault tight for no apparent reason. The boss shipped that one to SiG, never saw it again, IIRC. She had fired everything built, and her chosen carry gun was a 3 inch Smith 44 Spl....
I also have to say, rental range ammo at that store was the exact same as on the shelf in the main store. Remanufactured was avilable, but not often used. We also didn't really care if you popped a few of your own through our guns, IF they weren't reloads. Guns were cleaned every night, time permitting. Yes, they were abused, and some range officers did not take any care of them at all. That's why I say, one year on a rental range is a lifetime of use on the street.
Let me tell you one more range story - had an just coming off-duty police officer come in once, just to pop a few through his duty sidearm. He drew his HK USP from his issue rig...and it failed to fire every other round. He went straight from the range to the station, and got a new one. Thier armorer came in every week with a box full of repaired USPs to test fire. TPD went to G-rock very soon after that....

Old Dog
April 15, 2008, 11:01 AM
Armoredman, I find your observations on the H&K USP of interest. My department's issue is the USP-9, and we experience very, very few problems with 'em ... much as I dislike this pistol (unergonomic, chunky, doesn't point well for me, cheese-grater frontstrap, etc.) I've gotta admit, the dern things have been incredibly reliable. Was this a systemic problem with the TPD's pistols in the first couple production and issue years?

We had a class this last weekend with 28 people shooting. Out of the 28 there were 5 1911's. 2 Kimbers, a Colt, a Llama and a Springer. 3 of the 5 had problems. Both Kimbers had a couple each and the Springer had chronic problems. The Llama and the Colt made it all the way through the class.
Of course, this observation doesn't mean much when you don't tell us what sort of class it was ... My observations (from personal experience): reliability results from a sampling of lower-end box-stock 1911s in the hands of 10 novice shooters at an intro-to-handguns type class (i.e., CPL/CHL training) is gonna be radically different than the reliability of 10 1911s in the hands of say, a group of folks attending an advanced pistol class at Thunder Ranch ...

Nikon777
April 15, 2008, 11:10 AM
Haha, I thought I was the only one who thought the front strap checkering on the USP's was a little too aggressive. :p

1911 guy
April 15, 2008, 11:26 AM
I agree completely with Old Dog. My wife and I took the basic CCW class here in Ohio about 5 years ago. I've been a serious student of the 1911 for a couple decades (use, not 'smithing) and taught my wife the basics of gunhandling. She uses a Sig P232.

When at the class, there were the handguns of all types, from a .22 target pistol to a Luger. The users were varied from new user with new gun to a retired Gunnery Sergeant who seemed to know his way around a bang-stick. He had the Luger. I remember him and it.

Problems were not confined to gun type, they were relative to the experience of the operator. I saw everything from a grown man limp-wrist a Ruger 9mm, to a woman be unable to use the DAO trigger on her S&W hammerless revolver. The grandmother with the .22 target gun did remarkably well, as I remember. :D

Hardware issues are a drop in the bucket when compared to the training issues that go unresolved for the majority of "non-dedicated" shooters. Pick a reputable model and brand, learn how to properly maintain it, burn lots of ammo with skill use/improvement in mind and get formal training. My crystal ball says your problems will be very minimal, if any.

Desertscout
April 15, 2008, 03:22 PM
Of course, this observation doesn't mean much when you don't tell us what sort of class it was ... My observations (from personal experience): reliability results from a sampling of lower-end box-stock 1911s in the hands of 10 novice shooters at an intro-to-handguns type class (i.e., CPL/CHL training) is gonna be radically different than the reliability of 10 1911s in the hands of say, a group of folks attending an advanced pistol class at Thunder Ranch ...
I don't see that it really makes a bit of difference. Shooting is shooting. The gun either malfs or it doesn't. This does NOT include user induced malfs. Whether you shoot 10 rounds or 1000, it doesn't matter. We teach 6 levels of handgun classes from CCW to Close Range Gunfighting and several NRA classes. It doesn't matter what we teach, the results are fairly predictable.

Old Dog
April 15, 2008, 03:48 PM
Desertscout saysI don't see that it really makes a bit of difference.
Absolutely it does. I see 1911 neophytes all the time, folks who've bought one for whatever reasons, who don't even know how to field strip or reassemble their pistols, who haven't taken them down, cleaned or lubed their pistols prior to taking 'em to the range ... And yep, sure 'nuff, lotsa these pistols don't run reliably ... I do see significant numbers of 1911 malfunctions, but not normally in the hands of those experienced with the operating system, maintenance and shooting procedures for the platform.
The gun either malfs or it doesn't. Not so fast, there ... just not quite true if we're talking about those experienced persons who use 1911s for real world work. I take it that you're not a 1911 guy. Most 1911 aficianados understand how to keep their pistols running, and simply don't carry/shoot 1911s that aren't reliable for them ...

My experiences of 1911s at the local indoor range are of course quite different than what I've observed about 1911s at a top-tier gun school. Yes, the 1911 may still occasionally malfunction (as any semiauto pistol platform will) for Joe Professional Operator at Blackwater, but far less often than Jane New Shooter down at Guns'R'Us Rental Range.

Walkalong
April 15, 2008, 03:58 PM
Since this thread has turned into wether or not 1911's run, well, all of mine do. ;)

Desertscout
April 15, 2008, 04:12 PM
We're talking about guns more than people and, fortunately, I think Jupiter understands that. Some guns need to be held a little tighter, some need differently designed ammo, some run better with lots of lube some with less. My experiences and what I see on my range and nearly every other range that I have been to doesn't change. And this is not a "wether or not 1911's run" thread. I posted a number different designs and makes and the order of reliability that we have experienced with them. Ya'll can argue all you want, that won't change. We've had new shooters, former SF, current Marines retired and active cops and whatever else you can think of and the results are fairly consistent.
Maybe it's the gravitational pull of the earth in this part of New Mexico. :banghead:

Old Dog
April 15, 2008, 04:29 PM
We're talking about guns more than peopleUnderstand, but I do think the people aspect needs to be mentioned, because, as noted previously, it's not always the hardware at fault. I see numerous firearms failures regularly that I know are directly attributable to improper maintenance, lack of maintenance or operator errors -- failures in firearms that normally have a stellar record for reliability.

Actually, I'd not intended to turn this thread into a "do 1911s run or not" thread ... rather, just sought to qualify why we might see what we see at one's local ranges ... which is why I sought clarification in desertscout's initial post.

Trebor
April 15, 2008, 04:45 PM
I've been running classes for about five years now and I'm at the point where I regularly do one class a month with about a 8 - 12 students.

I've actually been tracking what guns I see and what failures I see. I've missed a few, here and there, but my list is fairly complete. I don't claim it to be "scientific data collection," but it is interesting anecdotal evidence.

For me, whenever I see a student with a Ruger centerfire auto, I breathe a sigh of relieft because that's one gun I know isn't going to go down and slow down the class. They are fairly common in my classes and just seem to run and run. I finally saw my first "bad" Ruger recently, and it was the newer 345 in .45 ACP.

The gun I *hate* seeing is the Berretta or Stoeger Cougar. I've only had three of those come through my class, but all three had multiple malfunctions. I think the rotating barrel requires different lubricating techniques then other guns.

I see a lot of Glocks and surprisingly they seem as prone to malfunctions as any other design. I had a .45 ACP Glock (mid size, can't recall the model #) in my most recent class that had double feeds in almost every mag. The gun was being used by two students (brothers) and it happened for both of them. The owner said he thought it was related to the Winchster White Box ammo he bought as he'd never had that problem with any other ammo.

I rent out some of my own guns and my Sig 239 is extremely reliable. It gets shoot a lot and I can recall only one or two total novices who managed to limp wrist it and cause malfunctions.

My Glock 19 runs fine as well, so far no one has had any problems.

Ammo seems to make a big difference. I've banned Wolf ammo from my classes after having multiple students with problems caused by that ammo. It just slows the class down too much if the guns keep going down.

Wes Janson
April 15, 2008, 11:19 PM
I sold a Beretta Cougar a few months back, and it jammed immediately when the customer shot it. He brought it back in, I pulled it apart, and it was absolutely bone dry. Dropped some CLP over the barrel and rails, and he took it back out where it shot flawlessly.

I have seen Rugers fail on occasion..although there was also the guy who was upset that his P90 was jamming once or twice per mag while shooting 9mm Luger through it. O_o

RobertFBurnett
April 15, 2008, 11:40 PM
3) Despite saying this, half of them have 1911's themselves. In fact, one of them told me this as he was working on his personal 1911... So, I'm as confused as the next person as to their true feelings

Because shooting a XD or a Glock is as easy as using the Nintendo Wiimote (Not a bad thing, just no hammers or safeties etc. to fiddle with), and they crave that challenge? :)

RFB

Commander Crusty
April 16, 2008, 10:14 AM
I used to shoot a lot of IPSC, steel and pins. The Glocks worked. The 1911s did not. I don't carry a 1911.

Old Fuff
April 16, 2008, 10:50 AM
I will again point out that there are two kinds of 1911 platform pistols. Those made by Colt and/or U.S. Government contractors between 1912 and about 1965 worked fine - out of the box, and with the magazines that came with them. The ones being refered to in this thread were produced by current or recent past junk-makers. It is often true that their products are unreliable, but this shouldn't be cause to condem what was a fine pistol.

RPCVYemen
April 16, 2008, 11:31 AM
I rent out some of my own guns and my Sig 239 is extremely reliable.

I don't run a range, but I did rent for a long time before buying. My impression is that the range I rented at did zero preventitife maintenance - a gun was rented out until it broke, and then it was fixed.

The first revolver I rented locked up - and a locked up revolver is pretty darn hard to clear. I also rented a Cougar that would not go into battery - the repair guy said that their Cougars had been problematic. He thought the problem was the channel the along the top of the slide getting dirty was the issue.

The one handgun I rented a number of times with no issues was a Sig P239 in .357 SIG. Absolutely reliable, and a fun gun to shoot.

Mike

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