Sunday, December 30, 2012

Galloway Precision's Stainless Guide Rod - Review

Time for a hardware upgrade!  No, I'm not talking about my computer this time.  This piece of equipment is more serious, but just as fun in a different way.

I didn't have a serious need to modify my Ruger SR40c.  However, my first thousand rounds through the handgun had mixed results.  There were two worrisome problems:

1) Failure to load - I had about six FTLs in my first 1,000 rounds.  However, five of them were during the first 500, after which I realized I had neglected to clean some carbon that had built up on the feed ramp.  After that, I had just one FTL in the remaining 500 rounds.  Two of those first five were from shooting left handed - probably limp wristing.

2) Failure to reset - My slide would fail to completely reset to battery.  This happened perhaps 40 times, and was the most annoying problem.  After firing, the slide would stick back just a bit, perhaps half a cm.  Tapping it on the back would set it all the way forward and firing could commence.  I think that much of this could be attributed to user error.  I had often forgotten to clean the slide rail, so it would get gunked up pretty badly. I was also putting too much oil on the rail after cleaning - so much that some would drip out the back of the slide.  Now that I have more experience with this gun and its operation, I know to keep that rail clean and to use only a VERY small amount of oil on it, if any.  None at all might even be fine.

It sounds like I'm making excuses.  Yes, some of this can be chalked up to my inexperience with cleaning, and perhaps the very cheap Aguila 180gr FMJ ammo had something to do with it.  However, I want to make sure that this gun can be completely reliable even under adverse conditions.

I decided to pull the trigger on a Galloway Precision stainless steel guide rod.  I selected an 18lb spring, believing that it might help prevent my sticky slide problems.  The stock spring on Ruger's guide rod is 16lbs.

Delivery was really fast.  I ordered it on a Friday and it arrived the following Monday.  Nice.

Installation was as simple as a routine disassembly for cleaning.  The new guide rod fit right in - not too tight or loose.  Racking the slide did not feel any different to me.  I didn't expect to notice a 2lb difference.

One of the best things about Galloway's guide rod is that it looks fantastic.  In my opinion, the front of the polymer Ruger guide rod made the gun look cheap.  This shiny stainless rod is a vast improvement in the eye candy department.  I think the stainless accent complements the stainless barrel with this black slide quite nicely.  See for yourself:

Ruger's guide rod is always to the left, Galloway's to the right.  Note that the retaining cap, secured with Loctite, can be unscrewed to swap springs.

Looks aside, it is most important that I answer the big question: how did it shoot?  The answer: perfectly; absolutely perfectly.

First, I took my upgraded SR40c to Armed Citizen Training's Defensive Pistol course.  Here, I fired 250 rounds of my latest bulk ammo purchase: Prvi Partizan 180gr TMJ.  Because the course included a lot of moving around during various drills, this was not a case of carefully firing with a perfect grip and ideal Weaver stance.  The results?  No failures at all whatsoever.  No slide stickiness.  No limp wristing when firing left handed.  Nothing.

Eight days later, I took the gun to a private range for some more testing.  I decided to not clean it at all before this second outing, just to see how well it would hold up.  In addition, three other shooters tried a few magazines, and all of them were fairly new to handguns.  200 rounds were fired without any problems.  That makes for a total of over 450 rounds without cleaning.

It was hard to say whether the recoil was softer.  Previously, my right hand would feel a little sore the next day if I fired over 100 rounds at an outing.  I did not experience this soreness at either of these recent outings with the new guide rod.  Maybe some day I'll take it to a range and swap out the guide rods between magazines to see if the difference can be noticed.

All things considered, I am happy with Galloway Precision's stainless steel guide rod with 18lb spring for my Ruger SR40c.  I'm not willing to claim that it was the magical fix for my gun's problems because there are too many factors at play: different ammo, poor cleaning practices, gun familiarity, or simply needing to be broken in.  However, I can say that this upgraded gun is completely reliable now, and I can trust it with the lives of my loved ones.  Thank you, Eric Galloway!

Galloway Precision makes other parts for the Ruger SR series and similar handguns.  Examples include an extended magazine release, a replacement part that deletes the loaded chamber indicator, a polished aluminum striker indicator and polished striker plunger to smooth out trigger pull, and different springs for the striker plunger and trigger to lighten trigger pull.  I may try one or more of these some day, especially if they make extended magazine floor plates or a stainless version of the extended mag release.