Handgun experiences from Battlefield Las Vegas

by Miles

Riding on the enormous popularity of the AR15 post we recently completed concerning the feedback from Battlefield Las Vegas, we’re now bringing to you the handgun section that the manager, Ron has so diligently posted up on AR15.com. I’ve combined all of his relevant posts on the forum, to make one solid block of information about mostly handguns, but he’s also included some NFA machine guns, and some suppressor tidbits. I’ve edited some of it just so it flows and makes sense to the reader, but didn’t touch any of the actual information.

The background for the high round count is that we are rental-only range one block off the Las Vegas Strip (called Battlefield Vegas) and after all the talk about AK’s, I completely spaced on the reliability of the pistols we use on the line everyday of the year except for Christmas. We go through approximately 150,000-180,000 rounds combined of 9mm, .45, .50AE, .500S&W, .38 Special, .380 and 9mmMakarov each month. I don’t count .22 because even though we go through 1,000’s of rounds, it’s not in the same class as our standard calibers.

I can tell you that even though I am not a “Glock guy”, it is the most reliable handgun in our inventory and I would trust it with my life. We use Gen1-Gen4 17’s on the line and they are the most hassle-free handgun we have. I used my original Gen1 17 when we first opened two and a half years ago and it finally broke about six months ago. When I say broke, Glock’s pretty much are the only handgun that suffer a “catastrophic” break. The slide cracks right at the narrow portion at the ejection port. They will continue to fire most of the time but the rounds group at the top right corner of the target. The factory recoil springs are amazing because the just keep going. The Glock gets used probably 10X as much as our Beretta M92’s so it’s not fair to say the Beretta is more reliable (see below). We don’t use aftermarket slides on our Glocks so I couldn’t give you any info on those because Glock will replace our cracked slides under warranty. Also, I don’t meant to give the impression that slides break all the time but it would be fair to say that they get at least 100,000 rounds before cracking.

My personal favorite, the Sig P226 doesn’t fair as well. We go through more recoil springs in our 226’s than any other weapon system combined. We’ve yet to break a slide but they will not function with a broken recoil spring.

Our Desert Eagle .50AE’s run pretty reliable but the part that fails the most is the piston. We always have a few spares in the shop.

Our Beretta M92’s…the one that all the RSO’s hate, also hold up very well. In the last two years with the same four Beretta’s, we’ve only replaced one barrel and “locking piece”

We have several select-fire Glock’s but none of them are factory 18’s. They hold up just the same as the standard Glock 17’s.

The guns that we have replaced are Sig Mosquitos and Walther P-22’s. We must have returned at least 12-15 of each model since opening. We retired all the Sig and Walther .22’s and replaced them with the Glock .22 conversions. The RSO’s love them because the continue to run and don’t become Jam-O-Matic’s if they don’t get cleaned every other day. The Sig’s and Walther’s suffered catastrophic failures of the slide. The Sig’s cracked at the narrow portion of the ejection port and the Walther’s cracked about an inch from the muzzle.

As for ammo, we use Magtech ammo for most of the handgun calibers, Privi Partizan for .30-06, .308, .303Brit, 8mm Mauser and a couple of the larger handgun calibers. When it comes to quality control, I will say that Magtech has the least issues but they ALL have provided us ammo with an upside primer or a bullet seated upside down.

I believe the armorers got with my operations manager and asked if they could do just that (Replacing the recoil springs before the slide cracks). My operations manager makes sure that nobody makes unjustified purchases but he also understands the old “penny wise, pound foolish” mentality. By not purchasing that cheap recoil spring and saving a few bucks we’ll probably lose a slide in a matter of time that probably had thousands upon thousands of rounds left on it.

When we first opened, the general contractor didn’t pay over $150,000 to the sub-contractors that was owed and that really put us in a bind. We had to watch EVERY penny being spent and I had to put my personal firearms on the line as weapons went down. Things have changed dramatically since that point but BEING in that position makes sure that you never want to be there again and spending foolishly will get you back there in no time.

I really hate being like this but I don’t put them (H&K handguns) on the range. You can call it pride or ego issue but I hate having to purchase something from a company that I feel looks down upon regular (non-LEO) sales. The company’s attitude, in MY opinion, almost feels that the American shooter is a pain in the ass and “reluctantly” sells them to us. That’s MY opinion after years and years of being a buyer (bought my first HK91 in 1987).

When I was running our retail gun store we could never get spare parts and all the LEO’s that would stop by said the same thing. Granted, we have approximately 20+ MP5’s at the range but a majority of those are US-made copies and they continue to run nearly three years later.

We do have some of the Paki and Turkish MP5 semi-auto pistol clones and they also run fine.

The only issue with that FNX45 has been a broken main spring. Most of those rounds were fired with a suppressor attached.

The [Glock] 19’s and 26’s are reserved for customers from our retail store to come and test-fire those models prior to purchasing. Those Glocks and others like the P238, P938 and other CCW-style handguns don’t get much use. Customers want what they see in movies, TV or video games. The only CZ’s we run are a Scorpion and an EVO 3, both are factory full-auto’s and run flawlessly. We do have one or two of them but they don’t get much use at all. We only use them so customers from the retail store can try it before they buy it. That goes the same for any of the Walthers, S&W’s, SIG 238 and 938 as well as a bunch of other CCW-sized weapons.

Those are the only problems we’ve had with our Beretta’s [issue previously mentioned about locking component]. One of the Beretta’s is suppressed and we used the original barrel and just threaded the portion that lies outside of the slide and no issues of cracking, decreased accuracy or any other signs of failing.

[On the use of suppressors] We use SilencerCo, YHM, AAC, Bower’s and Gemtech (only one of these)

[On machine guns] M240 all day, every day. We’ve lost ONE FIRING PIN to fatigue/wear in our M240’s. Our PKM’s (which I still have a HIGH regard for) have lost numerous barrels, firing pins, buffers, bolt carriers and even a piston. We even had a bullet guide shear off the front trunion this week. I had a RSO mortar one 2-3 weeks ago because he knows he can’t leave the firing line with a round (live or fired) in the chamber and instead of just calling the range cold and walking it out safely, he tried to mortar it and use a mallet to get the charging handle back. He bent the receiver on the PKM. We can repair it but you are NOT going to bend a receiver on a 240 trying to get the charging handle back.

I’ll have to get all the info from the armorers this week but I know we’ve had a recent kaboom on a S&W .500 that had just come back from the factory for a repair work. We’ve sent a Judge and Rhino back for repair work as well. Our old trusty Colt .38 continues to run but it doesn’t see anywhere near the high-round counts of the S&W 500. That guns scares me because after seeing the kaboom, we’ve scheduled in our books to replace the barrel every six months, regardless of round count.

We don’t use the M&P’s enough to give any valid information. They are used as “try’em before you buy’em” guns for our sister store that’s a dedicated retail gun store. They get shot several times a week at most and not abused in any way. There isn’t a demand for them because they aren’t in video games, not in enough movies and not in service by any armed forces.

[On Keltec KSGs not being used] We’ve already sent one back and working on the second. It’s not in any of the packages for a reason.

Also, as a request from a long-time member, the .45 Glock that we use everyday continues to run. We use it exclusively with the a suppressor and other than LOTS of carbon build up, it has experienced zero issues. It doesn’t get the work out that the 9mm’s due but because of the suppressor, I anticipated more issues. They have it scheduled for more frequent cleanings but no issues with the spring, slide or frame.

We are running the Advantage Arms .22 conversion kits on our Glock 17’s and they run flawlessly.The conversion kits will run with any ammo but we only use ammo that has copper plating.

Some frame and slide wear on the P226.
One of the armorers brought this back to me this week and corrected me about broken Beretta's. This is the only part that breaks on the M92. I don't know the name of the piece but it's not integral to the barrel. There is a pin that holds it in place and the part is easily replaced.
Here's a SIG P226 that has been on the line since 01 OCT 13. It has had a trigger spring and main spring replaced along the way. The rounds aren't extracting, the brass is fire-forming and you can see abrasions on the brass from the chamber. We are ordering a new barrel for this weapon and hopefully it will be back on the line soon.
From Ron- Here's what happened to our S&W 500 here on the range. It's been used on a daily basis for nine months with weekend use a bit higher. Davidson's (who we purchased it from) won't warranty or repair it because they "have determined that the damage to this weapon was not the result of a defect in the materials or workmanship of the firearm". They actually said... "We do not recommend firing this firearm as it is not in a safe condition to shoot". Not to poke fun at the blind but I'm pretty sure Stevie Wonder could see that it's not safe to shootWe use Magtech ammo in this weapon and never had an issue with the lot as we shot plenty of ammo prior to this in our other S&W 500. We didn't feel the need to quarantine the ammo and the rest of the lot was used without issue. Since this happened, we are now going to put a six-month life span for all of our S&W as a preventative measure to avoid any possible injuries. Speaking of injuries, nobody was injured but the shooter was a bit shaken up just because of the weapon falling apart after the shot went off. He was a good sport about it and ended up shooting the other S&W 500 and we put him on a Desert Eagle .50AE and M134 minigun for free because of the scare.
A number of people were making mean comments about the 1911. I was heartbroken.

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I've made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv

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