Category Archives: TGR Handgun Reviews

Hayes Custom Guns 1911 9mm Build

Starting the Project –

In 2015, I approached Aaron and Ben Hayes of Hayes Custom Guns ( about building a fully custom 9mm 1911. I planned to use the pistol to compete in Steel Challenge and USPSA Action Pistol matches. By the end of 2016 I had collected the majority of the parts needed and was ready to get a custom build started. I met with Aaron and Ben of Hayes Custom Guns to drop off the parts and discuss the gun specifications in detail.


We spoke at length about the build. I explained that I was planning on shooting 9mm, which would make my power factor in USPSA “minor.” This would cost me points for any paper targets I didn’t score alpha hits on in comparison to competitors shooting “major” power factor, however it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the advantage of having 10 round mags in my gun versus the 8-9 round mags of 40 and 45 caliber pistols. In addition, with a 9mm and my competition reloads, I could potentially shoot faster and speed up my transitions between targets.







Shaving Weight –

What I wanted in the pistol was to make the slide light to reduce reciprocating mass, with very aggressive front and rear serrations, topped with Dawson Precision competition sights. Tri-topping the slide cut significant mass, while also providing a very clean and modern look. The deep, long and aggressive design of the front and rear serrations also served to cut weight from the slide. The front serrations are what I use the most to work the slide on my pistols; therefore, I wanted them super aggressive to avoid any slipping or missing. Typically the weakest part of 9mm 1911 pistols are their mags, and if one caused a malfunction in the middle of a stage I wanted to be able to work the slide hard and fast to keep the gun running. The serrations Aaron and Ben milled into the slide for me accomplishes that beautifully.

USPSA rules for competing in Single Stack Division state that pistols must weigh no more than 43 ounces with an empty mag inserted into the pistol. Tri-topping and lightening of the slide helped me meet my overall weight goal. At 42.7 ounces, the pistol is just enough under weight. If I change magazine manufacturers, base pads or other small parts, it will still be under the required weight.


Precision –

The barrel and bushing for the pistol are from Clark Customs. Their bushing is of superior design and the lock-up between the barrel, bushing and slide is amazingly tight, and was extremely tight when I received the gun. I thoroughly oiled the pistol and worked the action continuously to help break it in. The pistol started with a frame and the slide that were bare and unfit from Caspian Arms. I had Hayes Custom Guns undercut the trigger guard and checker the front strap very aggressively so that I could get a high grip on the pistol. The front strap checkering also matches the aggressive checking of the grips I used for this build.


Solid Grip –

The grips and magwell are from Techwell and integrate together. The grips are slotted at the bottom and the magwell fits tightly into the slots. This allows the shooter to use whatever mainspring housing they prefer. I chose silver aluminum grips with aggressive checkering. The magwell, Techwell’s IPSC TGO version, was seamlessly blended to the frame by Hayes Custom Guns. It was then cerakoted black to match the rest of the pistol. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of it prior to taking my new pistol straight to a local match, where I promptly began wearing the magwell in. Hayes finished the gun with Black Nitride and the finish looks just as smooth and dark as when I first received the pistol. The Black Nitride appears to be very resistant to scratches and wear.




Breaking Glass –

Internally, I had Hayes Custom Guns fit and tune Extreme Engineering trigger components matched to a long flat SV trigger. The trigger is sub 2 pounds with almost no take up and a crisp break and is incredible. Reset on the trigger is short and clean. This, coupled with the minimal recoil and fast-cycling slide make shooting this gun quickly very easy. The safeties are ambi wide Ed Browns and the grip safety is also an Ed Brown memory groove. The mag release is an extended and enlarged Wilson Combat.


Overall Satisfaction with Hayes Custom Guns –

As of this writing I’ve put approximately 2,500 rounds through the pistol. It is amazingly accurate and just a pleasure to shoot. A competitive shooting friend even said it was the finest pistol he’s ever shot. He is no stranger to high-end guns such as those crafted by Hayes Custom Guns. Even after 2,500 rounds the lock up is still incredibly tight and the slide-to-frame fit is perfect. Freestyle I was able to get a sub 3″ group at 25 yards with factory Speer ammo.

The gun is incredible and it won’t be my last custom build by the Hayes brothers. After I crest 5,000 rounds, I will publish a range report that will cover the gun’s accuracy, wear and overall performance. Currently, the gun shoots so flat and light that as fast as I can work the trigger the front sight is already back inside the “A-zone” of a USPSA target. It’s frankly amazing.

Just for fun, here’s a video from a local club’s Hosefest. Take note of how flat the pistol runs with minimal recoil while blazing through the close and open targets.

Hosefest 2017

Special thanks to Aaron and Ben for their fine work and help, my buddies at the Ben Stoeger Pro Shop for the pictures, and Tish and Abby for help editing.


Wilson Combat AR9 Review

This is a long term, 1 year review of the Wilson Combat AR9. It has an 8″ barrel and takes Glock mags. It is built from the ground up as a 9mm AR. I have ran all sorts of ammo through it and it has ran 100% flawlessly. It features a billet receiver set, their single stage 4lb trigger and I ordered mine in Burnt Bronze.


Nexbelt Gadsden Flag Leather Gun Belt

Nexbelt gun belt

The Nexbelt is “The belt with no holes.”  Instead of the regularly spaced holes one inch apart you find on most other belts, the Nexbelt utilizes a ratchet system that allows for 1/4 inch increments for a precise fit.  The belt easily cinches tight on the rubber teeth.  To release, pull the small lever on the buckle.

This is a review of the Nexbelt Tactical Series black leather gun belt featuring an attractive Gadsden Flag buckle.  The belt is not as thick and stiff as my other gun belts but that can be an advantage outside of competition or law enforcement.  It is a dressy alternative to the traditional hardcore gun belt.  This is a really nice option for concealed carry as it just looks like a leather dress belt.Nexbelt gun belt


Two LAR Grizzly 44 Mag Pistols: A Comparison

By: Cary Kieffer

I landed a 2nd LAR Grizzly. I wrote a piece on my first one and I absolutely love it. A man named Jerry Adams commented on my last LAR Grizzly piece saying he wanted to get rid of one. I emailed him and we made a deal. Jerry is a cool dude, it was a pleasure to talk to and deal with him. If it wasn’t for a couple thousand miles between us, we’d have been good buddies. Anyway, I now have 2 44 magnum LAR Grizzlies. To my surprise there are a lot of differences. Jerry’s was one of the first 100 made, mine was one of the last 100 made…only 1000 ever made so this is a unique opportunity to see the differences from the beginning to the end of a sadly short production life.


SIG Sauer P938

I never set out to buy a SIG Sauer P938 Nightmare. I was pretty happy with my sub-compact 9mm handgun (a Heckler and Koch P2000SK). However, it was a bit large for real concealed carry. As a firearms technician for a national sporting goods chain (big deal, right?), I see a lot of pistols. Anytime a gun comes in for trade-in, I clean and inspect it before it goes out onto the floor.

So, I was in the back, examining the recent trade-ins. Among them was a barely-used SIG P938 Nightmare. The thing was in pristine condition. Now, I like the 1911 style, but hadn’t considered it for a carry gun. Upon examining the the Nightmare and was impressed with the fit, finish and crisp trigger. Then I raised it up and aimed down the sights. I blinked and lowered the weapon. I raised it again.


Smith and Wesson M1917 Revolver

The Smith and Wesson M1917 revolver is an oddity; a wheel-gun chambered in an auto cartridge. It’s a military arm with a long and storied past. How much history? Well, mine is 98 years old. It’s so old that Smith and Wesson doesn’t even have web page for it. The closest thing you can find is their Model 22, a remake. More than just being historical, the M1917 is downright fun to shoot and one recently became part of my collection. I will admit that until recently, I’ve been rather utilitarian about my firearms purchases. Every gun filled a tactical niche. However, the Smith and Wesson broke me of that habit


Spikes Tactical / Green Mountain barrel AR Pistol Build

By: Cary Kieffer

I know you give up some velocity but I really like the AR pistol idea. They are obviously shorter, lighter and to a lot of people handier. Especially when turning corners in a building or getting out of a vehicle. To me the best part is I get rifle like performance from a pistol that is perfectly legal to carry loaded in your car with your CPL in Michigan. I keep one in the Jeep at all times incase of a rainy day. Ya never know…we have a lot of trouble in this country. I’d rather know I have the weapon and a 6 pack of extra 30 round mags back there and never need them than need them and not have it. Anyway, here’s the specs on the build, an accuracy report and some chrono numbers.


Serbian Zastava PAP M92 Mods and Range Report

By: Cary Kieffer

Here is a transformation of a Serbian PAP M92 pistol into something a bit more usable. I’m not really a big AK fan but I’ve had enough of them shot at me that I wanted a couple in the collection. So here is my “tacti-coolest” one.


Springfield TRP 45 Super Review

By:  Cary Kieffer

A while back I picked up a Springfield custom shop TRP Operator with the monolithic rail. I love the full length rail and the weapon is gorgeous and built to last. I was in my local dealer Johnson’s Sporting Goods in Adrian MI, they had a mint in box one come in on consignment for 1000$. It wasn’t out on the shelf yet but was on the website because my ole’ weapon light hating buddy Gary saw it and happened to walk in and asked to see it. I told him I would trample his dead “f’n” body to get it, if when they brought it out from the back, it had the monolithic rail. He put his hands up and said that would be unnecessary. It did have it and the second he passed on it I bought TRP Operator with the intention of shooting 45 Super from it.


LAR Grizzly MK IV 44 Magnum Review

By: Cary Kieffer

Long since out of production, I finally brought home an LAR MK IV Grizzly 44 Magnum! I’ve wanted one of these so bad..I’ve written letters to LAR twice with no reply, my “texter” went off at work a few weeks ago and here she is, my Grizzly 44!


North American Arms NAA Pug 22 WMR Review

By: Cary Kieffer

I finally got my NAA Pug, a few years ago I did short reviews on my 2 NAA mini revolvers, I ended up giving them both away as gifts. I always wanted to pick up another one, the model known as NAA Pug in 22 WMR was the one I had my eye on. A couple of months back I picked up an NAA Pug at my local dealer Johnsons Guns in Adrian, MI. Let’s take a look.


Glock 17 w/ Endo Tactical Adapter, Shockwave Pistol Blade Review


By: Cary Kieffer

I have built several AR pistols up with the Shockwave Pistol Blade kits, I feel they look nicer than the Sig Brace, they are cheaper and are more easily adjustable with dimples in the buffer tube it comes with for a set screw. So, when I saw this kit for a Glock full size pistol I had to give it a try. I have been thrilled, so if something like this interests you read on.