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Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



Alternate title: A Carry Gun from a Different Point of View



Just picked up an AF date code USP compact in 40 S&W with heavy LEM conversion and ran the following at a quick range stop on the way home:

38 - 180 gr. HST

13 - 135 gr. low recoil Hydra-Shok (The "low recoil" claim continues to ring hollow and I'd hate to meet the full recoil load.)

12 - 155 gr. LSWC handloads (Blahblah polygonal rifling blah. Not going to be a regular diet, and if it'll feed these, that's a real happy sign for overall reliability.)

12 - 180 gr. coated truncated conical handloads

40 - 170 gr. Fiocchi truncated cone FMJ

One of the two original mags auto-forwarded the slide on a reload. It picked up a round but I racked it, anyway, because I always go over the top after seating a mag. The pistol looks to be lightly used and bone-dry. And a couple mags worth of shooting were strong and weak hand only which I need to get back in the habit of working on. The gun felt more secure one-handed than a Glock ever has, though.

Factory sights are usable but it needs a set of HDs to which I may treat myself for my birthday, next month. The heavy LEM isn't as easy to group with as the light in my 9mm compact but I think I like it better as a carry gun trigger. The heavier take-up makes the break less of a wall to jar when rolling through the full trigger press in a hurry. And the break is defined enough to stage on a draw or harder shot while the reset results in less subsequent take-up than the light LEM, at least in my guns. Should also be easier to feel the heavy LEM in cold weather. Heavy LEM is decidedly less kid-friendly than light LEM, by the way.

Recoil is as heavy as my Glock 23 but feels smoother and less snappy. Seems to have less muzzle rise than the full-size USP despite heftier overall recoil. The difference in felt recoil between the 9mm and 40 caliber USP compacts is less prominent than in a Glock 19/23. My 9mm USPc can be pretty peppy with middling to warm loads and the gun seems more well balanced in 40 S&W. Having been designed for the Short & Weak, it's not surprising. The Beretta PX4 compact remains my favorite polymer Europellet popper in this size range by a wide margin.

Reloads are smoother and more consistent for me in any USP than a Glock. And the paddle mag release is the true path to enlightenment. The slide serrations are a little more secure on the HK than my G23 and the slide is also a touch easier to rack. The USPc mags lack a regular cutout for the catch on the corners and are less tangly in pouches while also more consistent for me to grab. I also dig the scalloped cuts on the sides of the HK for prying mags out than the hollow butt on a Glock. Having a hammer to ride while reholstering (while also looking 187x cooler) is appreciated as is a field strip procedure that has gently caress all to do with the trigger. While comparing directly to a Glock, the grip texturing is far superior. The 3rd gen. Austrian bricks have okay texture, 4th gen. texturing is way too aggressive on the sides for me to want to carry, and the HK manages to be adequate on the sides while refusing to let slip on the front and back. Oh, and the more rounded rear coroner of the slide causes the USP to catch my cover shirt less to make for more concealability on my frame.

I introduced the baseplates of a couple new spare mags to my belt sander to remove the pinkie extension yet leave a rubberized bumper on the bottom. I like the setup and reloads are nice while the package is less printy when holstered. Will be grinding the rest of the extensions soon. And, if tomorrow's range trip goes smoothly with more HST and a few boxes more range ammo, it'll be my new belt gun. May also pick up a 357 Sig barrel at some point just to fart around with and have the option of a secondary caliber to carry should ammo/components get scarce again.

Loaded weight 12+1 with 180 grain ammo and my homebrew bumper mags clocks in at 2 lb 3 oz. A little heavier than the 9mm USPc thanks to the extra lead.

Butch Cassidy fucked around with this message at 14:50 on Aug 5, 2016

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Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



LEM: The Other SAO

Let's start by looking at the USP as a pistol with a beautifully modular fire control group.



And we can look at the basic variants:

- Safety/decocker: Far and away the most common variant. You can choose between using the pistol as a gross in double-action DA/SA with or without a safety engaged or as a pretty good SAO with the 1911-style safety.

- DA/SA with decocker-only: One ten dollar part removes the safety functionality form the control lever.

- SAO with safety-only: Different variant of the same ten dollar part removes decocking functionality from the control lever.

- True DAO: Other companies have done better here but it works and is an option. Can't remember if a safety can also be installed in these.

- LEM: By removing half the fire control group and replacing it with net fewer pieces, you get a weird hybrid of SAO, DAO, and DA/SA with too many sub-variants to put right here. Can have a safety or not. Can be in a configuration of OEM that requires a safety or other OEM combo that is a bitch to use even without a safety.

The gross double-action trigger never stops being sub-par in factory form but takes incredibly well to the tender attention of a smith. SAO is always fine but can also be gamed to genuinely excellent. But we're here for LEM. What is it?



LEM is the result of HK wanting to cheat Law Enforcement procurement requirements for double-action-only handguns. The hammer is a two-part unit consisting of a true SAO internal hammer and a hammer-looking transfer bar on the exterior. The trigger pull moves the transfer bar into and out of position to strike the firing pin when the hammer sear releases, much as in any other gun with such a feature. But, with the LEM, it appears to be a hammer moving through a DA stroke and meets the letter of requirements. Trigger back, "hammer back"; trigger forward, "hammer forward. So, after the first shot, the "hammer" remains in an ostensibly cocked condition but safely lowers if the trigger is released. Meanwhile, the internal and true hammer is always cocked yet still has a double-strike capability with resultant horrendously heavy trigger pull to cock both it and the outer "hammer" with one trigger pull rather than let the slide pre-cock the internal one. While the whole thing is truly a single-action-only system. But it's not even that simple. Or that complex.



Despite being a more complex approach to the fire control group, the guns have fewer parts in the group than DA/SA or SAO variants. The detent plate, flag, and flag spring are all removed. And the safety can be removed. and the trigger can use stock springs (hammer spring, firing pin block spring, and trigger return spring) to tune the pull to a user's desire. It can be run as a serviceable self-decocking DA/SA, a deliberate two-stage SAO, or a terrible and god-awful seriously what is wrong with you DAO. And the spring can be gamed in the aftermarket.



"SAO" - With all light springs, it is a very light two-stage SAO trigger with an exxaggerated first stage, crisp second stage break, and short yet distinct reset. Bump the hammer spring to the heavy LEM standard part and you get a more distinct break probably more suited to carry and duty use. I like the latter setup. You can stage the trigger on a draw as advocated by Kyle Lamb and have a firm but crisp enough SA break should personnel-management-at-gunpoint need to become a shooting. And the break isn't so heavy that one can't roll through one trigger pull as a lovely DAO if they need a bullet out yesterday. The heavy LEM variant is fairly Glock-ish but leaves a tactile wall on the second stage for shots you want to stage while balancing the heavier and less easy to use trigger pull with a firm first stage that can roll through the break should the whole thing need to be run as a DA first shot. I'm leaning toward heavy LEM in a carry gun for the greater ease of rolling through but time will tell as I compare it to light with heavy mainspring.

"DA/SA" - This is the setup advocated by the late Todd Louis Green. Putting a heavy trigger return spring in a light LEM gun increases the weight of the first stage takeup from negligible to Glock. This weight is closer to the weight of the second stage break. It can still be staged with a less distinct wall. Or, it can be rolled through in one DA-ish stroke with the less prominent wall jarring the gun less and resulting in a more accurate shot. Then ride the reset, which is more distinct and positive with the aggressive trigger return spring, and the rest of the shots will be treated like single-action. Fully releasing the trigger will be the equivalent of decocking a true DA/SA pistol. This system has merits and a great many fans. Not my personal preference as I'd sooner run a true DA/SA gun with the better trigger it offers.

"DAO" - Some people who don't know better will run the LEM as the advertised DAO. It sucks and don't do it. It's slow, hard to do well, and wasn't the actual design intent.

"Notes" - The springs can be gamed so light that a manual safety is required to not shoot yourself in the dick. The firing pin block and spring could be removed if you are Right Ar a total jackass who wants a light target trigger that badly. And overtravel stop can be drilled into the trigger to improve the pull and practical accuracy potential at the cost of and debris behind the trigger binding it up until cleared. I like a certain amount of overtravel in a defensive trigger at the expense of some ease of shooting and we all make our own choices. If you want a target trigger, overtravel stop to your heart's content. Dave Spaulding put an overtravel stop in his USP40c when running it as a work gun. The slicked sear spring from a match trigger kit can also be installed.

Please note that the P2000 is an abomination in the face of God and the LEM is blasphemous poo poo in its presence. You have been warned.

Butch Cassidy fucked around with this message at 14:40 on Aug 5, 2016

infrared35
Jan 12, 2005

border patrol qt


Plaster Town Cop

DJExile
Jun 27, 2007



Oh god a USP in .357sig with LEM is basically the hottest poo poo to IR35

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010




It is partly done.

E: And one of the mags that came with the gun is a solid plastic based pinkie extension so guess I'm not grinding that one.

Butch Cassidy fucked around with this message at 14:32 on Aug 5, 2016

InterceptorV8
Mar 9, 2004

Loaded up and trucking.We gonna do what they say cant be done.

I don't know, do I need to have more or less beer to understand your evil plans?

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



More. And prepare for the rise of the paddle.

My plan is just to have a pistol that works for me better than a Glock yet lacks a safety after the last few years of using the Austrian bricks.

Doing it all over again, I'd have been best served going from a 96FS to PX4 compact in fotay with low profile decockers rather than to Glock. I miss carrying a good trigger.

Edit for official LEM theme song.

Butch Cassidy fucked around with this message at 18:00 on Aug 5, 2016

Doctor Grape Ape
Aug 26, 2005

Dammit Doc, I just bought this for you 3 months ago. Try and keep it around for a bit longer this time.


Butch Cassidy posted:

More. And prepare for the rise of the paddle.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXQR-cPXlmY

InterceptorV8
Mar 9, 2004

Loaded up and trucking.We gonna do what they say cant be done.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fJSqSyTdzQ

A boy can dream.....a boy can dream....

infrared35
Jan 12, 2005

border patrol qt


Plaster Town Cop

DJExile posted:

Oh god a USP in .357sig with LEM is basically the hottest poo poo to IR35

Y... yes.

Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



The trigger bits and fire control group were also dry as a mummy's fart in the new USPc. A few drops of CLP on the moving bits improved the trigger. Takeup is much lighter/smoother, the break is about the same, and the reset is cleaner.

Ran another hundred rounds through it and am going to scrub it down, stoke it with 180 grain HST and call it my new carry gun. Though I may wind up going to plated bullets for my handloads. The Missouri Bullet Co. coated jobbies leaded my barrel. Which isn't surprising when I'm running them around 1,025 feet/second to velocity match HST. Will give Blue Bullets or some other polymer coated pills a try before spending extra money for copper.

Also remembered that hot guns and kydex don't necessarily get along too great IWB. Crotch got a bit warm when I reholstered at the end and started policing brass.

infrared35
Jan 12, 2005

border patrol qt


Plaster Town Cop

Just be forewarned that in my experience the USPc and P2000 both appear to get super sensitive about limp-wristing with 180-grain HSTs (and other 180s as well, but the HSTs are what I've got the most experience with). Never had an issue with 135-grain stuff, even the lighter loads.

But apart from that, I love the 180-grain HST and highly recommend it for general use.

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Butch Cassidy
Jul 28, 2010



Yeah, I tried a mag of HST weak hand only and a couple more with other range ammo because of your P2000 gripes. 3/5 of my mags are new though. If I run into issues at some point, I'll probably reluctantly pull a Dave Spaulding and move to 165 or 155 grain loads.

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