I've been lurking around this fine forum for a few seasons and I can honestly say that the amount of knowledge one can soak up here is phenomenal. In an effort to give back to this community I've put together a range report featuring my two sidearms: HK USP .45 Compact Tactical & Springfield GI.45 Champion.
Disclaimer for perspective: I am not a competitive shooter, gunsmith, weapons hobbyist, collector or expert. However, I am a hunter and I've served in both the U.S.M.C. and the U.S. Army in combat arms MOS's. This is a purely subjective report.
Both weapons are factory condition. That is to say, neither has any customization or modifications.
Okie dokie artichokies, here goes....
I've owned my USP for two years, paid approximately $1100.00, new in the box and I love it. It's a fantastic, purpose built firearm. I use factory HK magazines that hold 10 rds and I've fired everything from PMC 230 gr FMJ to Hornady +P 230 gr XTP. My USP is a slick, Porsche-like handgun that gets the job done each and every time. I don't practice as much as I should and I kinda think she can shoot better than I can.
She's lightweight, simple to strip, clean and assemble. And very easy to teach with. My 115lbs girlfriend has no problem handling, firing and cycling this weapon. And the factory three-dot sights were perfect to teach her proper sight alignment/sight picture.
On to the 1911 (and why my USP is destined to become a jealous and bitter ex-lover).
Two weeks ago I became an Oregon resident. To celebrate this momentous occasion I wandered into a local gun shop thinking I'd "...just look around. Maybe pick-up some new ear protection and inquire about local ranges..." An hour later I was grinning ear-to-ear while I explained to myself and my girlfriend that five hundred doll-hairs was a great price for such a fine new weapon.
What I'd found was a new-in-the-box Springfield GI.45 1911 Champion.
I immediately fell in love and quick-drew my bank card without even knowing it. Call it an impulse buy - because that's exactly what it was - but no regrets my friends, none at all.
The 1911 just fit right. The heft, the balance - it felt
like a proper handgun. Two weeks of "cleaning", disassembly/assembly, familiarization and snapping-in followed until I found a range I could afford.
Each weapon recieved an ample helping of 300 rounds of 230 grain FMJ a piece.
These were, in no particular order: Winchester, PMC, Independence and Lawman Speer.
As a point of reference I generally fill my magazines with three rounds each when I target practice. For "tactical engagement" and/or "drawing practice" I fill my magazines with 4 and 5 rounds each. This allows me to practice controlled "hammer pairs" and immediate "T zone shots" alternatively.
Two stoppages occurred. Both the HK and the 1911 experienced a "stove pipe" about halfway through the shoot. Interestingly enough both stoppages occurred while firing PMC ammunition.
Previously, my HK had approximately 1,000 rounds thru it and at least a third of that was PMC ammunition. Before this shoot I had never experienced a stoppage of any kind while firing my HK.
I believe the ammunition is at fault here as I was filling both the HK and the 1911's magazines from the same box.
I engaged targets at the 7, 15 and 25 yard line. The following are from the 15 yard line.
First up, the HK at 15 yards:
Next, the 1911 at 15 yards:
I believe that with a little more practice and little less adrenaline I could tighten these groups up. But I also know, deep down in my little green heart, that both of these weapons are better shots than I ever will be.
Both are great in the hand. Both "feel" good. The HK came with great sights that allow me rapid target acquisition.
The 1911 has, per Springfield's literature: "GI-non-3-dot Low Military Sights. And I can attest that they are a no-frills aiming solution but you know - they work. They aren't pretty and they aren't glowy-in-the-dark, high speed, low drag "operator savvy" thing-a-ma-bobs but in the hands of even a semi-proficient shooter I think they'd put rounds on target just fine.
The HK's trigger hovers around 3lbs. Springfield says this 1911's is "5 to 6 lbs". I definitely felt the difference. The HK's trigger is very responsive for me and my finger tends to (most of the time) return to the same place every time I draw the weapon. But I think this has as much to do with it's build/design as it does with training and muscle memory.
The 1911 was a different game. The narrower frame meant different finger placement - something that was new to me. And it felt like its trigger was resetting fast than the HK. (Not sure this is actually true but that's what it felt like). I also liked the slack that the 1911 trigger has - I felt like it allowed me to focus more on my technique than the HK.
For me, shooting the HK is pretty reflexive and I've often wondered if that reflexiveness has bred a little "...I'm center mass and on target - good enough for government work..." into me. As opposed to focusing on the fundamentals and good technique which lead to clean tight groups every time.
But I could be over analyzing it (and probably am).
DISS & ASS:
I have nothing to complain about when it comes to breaking down my HK. It's fast, simple, easy and...did I mention fast?
My only complaint with this 1911 Champion is the spring assembly.
In the photo above you can see both spring assemblies from the 1911 Champion (above) and the HK USPCT (below).
The HK spring assembly is a one piece, easy in and out deal. The Champion is slightly more complex and according to Springfield requires a "Barrel Take Down Piece". This is a tiny little plastic part that is just waiting for an opportunity to explore the inside of my girlfriend's Eureka vacuum cleaner. I can tell that that little plastic devil has a capricious spirit and has no intention of living its life locked away in a gun case.
So what gives Springfield? Why'd you curse my new gun-lady with a hairy back?
All fun aside I do feel as if this is a legitimate issue.
I am able to disassembled/assembled the Champion without the "Barrel Take Down Piece" but it isn't what I'd call easy.
And this leaves me wondering if a new/different spring assembly is available for this model - something that doesn't require a sidekick. After all, I'm not Indian Jones and this here short-round is only going to get lost in my rucksack.
One last note on the "Barrel Take Down Piece" (and this is a guilt ridden, sheepish admission): That little plastic doo-dad makes it pretty damn easy to tear the weapon down and reassemble. And a responsible gun owner who doesn't find themselves field stripping weapons in Afghanistan will probably never experience an issue with it.
FIT & FINISH:
My HK is a modern "plastic gun". And as such its action is as smooth as you'd expect. After two years and approximately 1300 rounds its finish is only warn in those places you'd typically see wear - the the slide's "hard corners" from holster wear and around the barrel/chamber block from cycling action. I don't feel as if my USP has "loosened up" at all. It still feels very much the same as it did when I brought it home. It's nice and tight and I like it that way....
My 1911 Champion tells a different tale. Out of the box it was "solid tight" and took a clear effort to work the slide. But after snapping in and now breaking it in things have loosened up...and this is a very good feeling!
If my USP is a Porsche then my Champion has to be a JEEP. And what good news this is since I've always been a JEEP GUY!
The more I compare the two the more I realize that there really isn't a comparison. I feel like I'm trying to compare apples and oranges. Or maybe a more appropriate way to phrase it is: I feel like I'm trying to compare Marines and Rangers - which of course you can't. Are they similar? Sure. But ultimately they're different critters with different missions. That's why we have 'em, that's why we need 'em and that's why we love 'em.
Both of these weapons are purpose built (talking about the USP & CHAMPION - not Rangers & Marines), both are tough and I can put rounds on target with each one but from there the two just shake hands and return to their own respective worlds and I'm okay with that - I don't hug my mom and my girlfriend the same way.
The daily, daily:
I'm planning on applying for my concealed handling license now that I'm an Oregon resident and I think that when I carry it'll most likely be the 1911 Champion. It's a bit smaller and much narrower than the USP but
it's also heavier and I like that heft. It also welds better in my hand - that single stack magazine and the resulting frame is really something special.
My hat's off to you Mr. Browning. Job well done, sir, job well done.
The following photos are for enjoyment and general comparison:
Barrels & Chambers: HK USP (LEFT) 1911 Champion (RIGHT)
Barrels: HK USP (TOP) 1911 Champion (BOTTOM)
If anyone has any questions I'm happy to answer them to the best of my knowledge. Thanks for all the knowledge and the opportunity to give back - I'll see you all a little further on down the trail.