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Hello. The P7 seems to be a pistol that its fans love and others can take or leave. I fall in the middle in that it's not a favorite by any means, but one that I do like and occassionally shoot. I bought the one in these tests several years ago and it predates the more current, P7M8, but I think this report would translate well for that model.

The Pistol: The gun is stock and as it came from the box. The magazine release is in the not favored position at the butt of the pistol and the sights are fixed and three-dot. It has the factory recoil spring in it. The gun's interesting in that it uses the gas from the burning gunpowder to retard or "lock" the slide in place for a small fraction of a second via a gas piston located in the frame just above the trigger area. The bbl's fixed and once the pressure drops, the gun acts like a straight blowback.

I guess its most unique feature is its squeeze-cocking system of activation.
The gun is safe, striker foreward ("uncocked") when the squeeze-cocking lever's not depressed. When it IS depressed, the striker's back ("cocked") and the gun will fire when the trigger's pressed. The pull is light and fairly clean. With the slide locked back, insert a magazine and depress the squeeze-cocker and the slide runs forward chambering a round. There is a small slide-lock button near the rear of the triggerguard as well should you want to lock the slide back w/o and empty magazine being in place.



The all-steel P7 makes for a compact defensive arm and with the squeeze lever on the front gripstrap depressed, the striker can be seen protruding from the rear of the slide.


The fluted chamber on the P7 is said to be an aid in reliability and that the gun will actually extract w/o the extractor. I didn't try it with this pistol, but have seen it demonstrated in the past...and it worked. This picture shows the vertical striations present in the fired cases of several rounds. The ball round on the left is standard pressure while the others are at +P levels. No insipient case splits or unexpecting bulging was observed. I've reloaded cases fired in both P7s and MP5s (also chamber-fluted) with zero problems. Left to Right: Magtech 115 gr ball, Remington 115 gr +P JHP, Corbon 124 gr GDHP +P, and a hot handload using a 124 gr Hornady XTP over 6.0 gr Unique powder.


Ammunition: The following rounds were fired:

Magtech 115 gr FMJ
Winchester "USA" 115 gr FMJ
Federal M882 124 gr FMJ
Corbon 124 gr +P JHP (This is an older loading which used the Speer Gold Dot rather than the Sierra bullet used currently.)
Remington 115 gr +P JHP
Federal 115 gr JHP (std. pressure)
Handload: 124 gr Hornady XTP/6gr Unique/IMI cases/Winchester SP primer and LOA: 1.11."

Firing: The P7 was fired at 10, 15, 25, and 50 yds. The 25 & 50 yard shots were fired seated and with my wrists supported. All other groups were fired standing w/2-hand hold from a Weaver stance.

15 Yards: These groups were fired slowfire. I didn't shoot the 1st group w/Magtech all that well so there is a 2nd group with that loading. All groups consist of 5 shots each.



...and the "hotter" JHPs....


I have no doubt that the gun's capable of tighter groups; I'm not. There is almost zero lateral/vertical movement in the slide so the sights return to almost exactly the same position to take advantage of the fixed, polygonal bbl.

25 Yards: These groups were fired seated and with wrists supported as mentioned above.



This particular P7 does "like" the Federal "9BP" load.


50 Yards: Fired from a rest as described above and the group consists of 10 rnds of Remington 115 gr +P JHP.



10 Yards: This group consists of 4-sets of "controlled pairs" fired as quickly as I could get from a Weaver "low ready" to a flash sight picture. The squeeze-cocker was released between each set and re-engaged as I brought the gun up. Others more proficient in defensive training might give this pistol a try. It's pretty darned easy to shoot and unlike what some writers have stated, there was no confusion in how to use the pistol. Of course, I was under no stress, either.

The controlled pairs were fired using Remington 115 gr +P JHPs as it many will prefer a warmer than standard velocity defensive round. There were no control problems and it's even easier with the standard pressure JHPs...


Of course, we have the obligatory "scientific mud expansion tests" using the Federal 115 gr JHP (left) and the 115 gr Remington +P JHP....


Observations:

Felt recoil is subjective, but this gun's recoil felt no better nor worse than other 9mm pistols in the same size/weight class. There was a bit of muzzle flip, but not "bad" at all.

There were zero malfunctions and for those concerned with +P ammunition being too hot for this pistol's design, I did not note unusually swollen cases from any of the hotter loads tested that might indicate premature unlocking.

The case is pretty-well supported.


One reason for the gun's feed reliability is that the magazine fits at nearly ninety degrees from the bore axis and is therefore not at a forward angle. It is nearly a straight shot from the magazine into the chamber.


Some have noted that the area around the trigger does heat up when firing more than a box or so of ammunition. This is true. I've noted nothing uncomfortable until something like 50 - 70 rnds fired in fairly rapid-succession have been expended. Later versions of the pistol have plastic heat shields in place to minimize this complaint. For carry or defensive purposes, I don't think this would ever be an issue.

Reloaders are also advised to avoid lead bullets in this gun as pieces can get into the gas piston and clog up the action. When cleaned, the gun goes back to its usual smooth function. While on that topic, I suggest using solvent and a toothbrush to clean the piston, but then I degrease such that carbon buildup is reduced. I've noted that an oily piston has greater carbon amounts on it than a dry one. Also, if you get a P7, I strongly advise getting the gas chamber cleaning tool. It makes cleanup much quicker and thorough. It's just closely fit flat bar that you rotate to clean off the chamber walls.

Other than the caveat against lead bullets and the "heat issue," I find that when carrying, the P7 is more butt heavy than similar sized pistols as the thing's all handle with a smallish, short slide. Get a good tight-fitting holster for this pistol. I also have NOT detail stripped this pistol. I understand that it has mousetrap springs in its internals and such can be a bit much for the non-gunsmith.

These "complaints" are minor compared to a reliable, accurate 9mm pistol that one could trust with his life.

This one, though owned for several years only has around 2000 rnds through it, but it has NEVER malfunctioned.

Best.
 

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I once had an opportunity to shoot a P7M10 in .40, and I noticed that heat problem by the end of the first magazine. It is a neat gun, but because it has such a decidedly different manual of arms, I wouldn't opt to carry one for defensive purposes unless I gave up on shooting 1911 types and put about 10K rounds through it to make sure my "muscle memory" would function correctly under stress.

Good report, Stephen. Thanks.
 
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