For my USPSA, PCSL, and IDPA practical shooting competitions I’ve been a huge fan and consistent user of the 1911 platform. But 8 or 10 rounds in a magazine gets old, especially in USPSA. So 2024 is going to be my year to shoot a high-capacity pistol. And there sure are a lot to choose from!
I don’t want to mess with .40 S&W – I did that once and it’s just a pain. About the only place that caliber is used anymore is in USPSA competition; police departments switched to 9mm years ago. Because of that, finding range brass is almost impossible so brass must be purchased, adding to the expense. And then there’s the extra kick of recoil. Forget it. I’ll shoot 9mm, like the rest of the world.
So what gun? I’d like a relatively inexpensive gun that has plenty of third-party aftermarket support. I don’t want a plastic gun – as they say, plastic is for Tupperware, not handguns. That pretty quickly narrowed things down for me to the Smith & Wesson M&P Competitor and the Canik Rival-S. Both are very nice guns and I got to shoot them both before deciding, which is a great help.
There are still teething problems with the Rival-S (mostly about magazine over-insertion and out-of-battery failures) that Canik is bound to work out, but I didn’t want to have to somehow manage those problems in the meantime. Plus, the grip felt sort of boxy to me and I didn’t like it all that much. As for the aesthetics, I find the Rival-S butt ugly. Who told them to make all those cuts in the slide!?
I picked the M&P Competitor even though its aluminum frame weighs about the same as a polymer 5″ M&P. Smith & Wesson obviously markets it as a competition-ready pistol; I don’t see it as such. The trigger is nice, but not great – so I replaced it with an Apex trigger.
It looks like it has magazine extensions to hold extra rounds, but it does not. Those extensions are hollow and are there just to make the magazine protrude beyond the magwell.
I like much narrower sights than S&W uses. Right now, I can’t find a rear sight to fit the M&P Metal dovetail, so I’m stuck. But when I can, I’ll try to get a .120″ wide rear notch and a .100″ wide front fiber-optic post. I’ve ordered a .125″ wide front sight from Dawson Precision that will have to do until there are other options.
With 17 rounds in the stock magazines (4 come with the gun, which is nice), I’m not sure if I want to add magazine extensions or not. There may be times when 24 + 1 would be nice. If I do go that way, it will be with the Henning extension – there’s a version for guns with magwells.
IPSC Nationals is the third weekend in November and I’ll be shooting it with my 1911 in 9mm. But after that, I’ll start practicing in earnest with the Competitor in preparation for next year – the Year of the Bullets.