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Avidity Arms PD10: CCW Gun Or Malfunction Drill Trainer? [REVIEW]



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Better Late Than Never?

Set the controls on the Wayback Machine to Y2K, Sherman. We’re going to the old GlockTalk.com forum to see what the most hoped-for new pistol from Glock was among its most rabid fans back there in the day.

While either bitrot or a blown software upgrade erased the forum’s actual archives that far back, some of us were there, Gandalf. We can tell you that two decades ago the most anticipated pistol from Glock was a single-stack variant of the Glock 19. After all, the newest hotness from Smyrna in those days was the Model 36, which took the basic architecture of the 10-shot double-stack Glock 30 .45 ACP compact and slimmed it down by two-tenths of an inch, by using a six-round staggered magazine.

This was the middle of the Assault Weapon Ban years, and so, reasoning went, slimming down the 19 would make it easier to carry, slimmer in the hand, and would make 10-round staggered magazines native to the gun, rather than the neutered 10-rounders used in the G19 at the time.

Over a decade passed and the pistol kept failing to materialize, so firearms trainer Rob Pincus of I.C.E. Training decided to take matters into his own hands and make it happen himself.

According to the lore of the Avidity Arms PD10, the concept originated from a barroom bull session between Pincus and some friends in a German pub in 2013. Between that bar napkin sketch and the next summer, actual specifications were firmed up and the actual design of a pistol took place.

The goal was a modern striker-fired pistol that was radically slim for easy carry and concealment, had a 10-round capacity, a 4-inch barrel for shootability, and good performance from current cutting-edge 9x19mm jacketed hollow point loads.

With his background in training thousands of students, Pincus had definite ideas about what would make for an ideal CCW pistol, and those were all poured into the new design.

DETAILS & DESIGN

Those ideas start at the very top, with the PD10’s sights. The front is a standard dovetail-mounted 0.14-inch Ameriglo CAP blade, with an eye-catching hi-viz green square outline surrounding the tritium vial. And yes, pictured below is how the front sight was installed out of the box.

The rear sight is Pincus’ own design, the Ameriglo I.C.E. CLAW, with its distinctive undercut front to better assist snagging on belts, boot heels, or holster mouths for one-handed manipulations should the shooter find their offside paw out of commission for some reason.

Those sights are mounted atop a slide that definitely fulfills one of the primary design criteria for the pistol in that it’s wafer-thin. The PD10’s slide is just one tiny inch wide, and that’s as measured with actual RCBS dial calipers, not copied from the manufacturer’s claims.

The top of the slide presents a flat sighting plane interrupted only by the chamber hood, which doubles as the locking shoulder in the modern idiom. There’s also a little pivoting chamber loaded indicator just abaft the ejection port; a metal finger that pokes up to provide visual and tactile confirmation that there’s a round in the chamber, similar to the one found on Springfield Armory’s XD series of pistols. The nose of the slide features bevels to aid in easy and snag-free holstering.

What’s the optic footprint? Good question. Through trial and error we discovered the footprint was compatible with the Holosun 507K, but that information could not be found in the manual or on the webpage at the time of writing.

The slide bears evidence of another piece of the I.C.E. Training TTP dogma — the cocking serrations at the rear of the slide consist of 10 square contoured cuts that start out vertically from the top of the slide but curve through nearly 90 degrees toward the muzzle.

The shape of these serrations is obviously designed to maximize traction when bringing the support hand over the top of the pistol and using the “power stroke” method of running the slide. The theory behind this technique is that it doesn’t rely on “fine motor control,” and it also gives slightly more impetus to feeding the next round by ensuring the slide is given the full length of travel, powered by a fully compressed recoil spring. This is to further encourage the power stroke method rather than using the thumb to release the slide. The aforementioned release is tucked in close to the slide and hard to activate from above.

The uber-low-profile slide release is the widest spot on the pistol. It’s a minuscule wart adding a bare fraction of an inch, and its very shape attests to the influence of Pincus on the design of the PD10. It has a profile low enough as well as an engagement positive enough that we were 300 rounds into the test before the slide release could be actuated with a lone thumb.

Only the bottom of the tab protruding a hair, so as to facilitate manually locking the slide to the rear for certain administrative pistol manipulations. The frame on the test gun was composed of a gray polymer, with an accessory rail on the dust cover. It’s a three-slot Picatinny-type rail, but despite having a barrel length the same as a Glock 19, you won’t be fitting any full-size weapon mounted lights to this blaster. No SureFire X300U or Streamlight TLR-1 will fit, nor will a low-profile G19-centric light such as the SureFire XC-1. You’ll need to look at lights like the TLR-7 and its ilk.

Above and behind the rail on either side of the frame are indentations that Avidity calls “Safety Index Points,” which provide a tactile reference for the trigger finger when not shooting (as well as someplace to stick your support thumb if you use a thumbs-forward style of shooting grip).

When you are shooting, your trigger finger will find a smooth trigger shoe with a curved face and a pivoting steel Glock-style drop safety tab. Feelings about the trigger were mixed. There was resistance to the pull from the start, rather than a lot of takeup or slack, and then a spongy increase in pull before the sear broke abruptly. It was a little vague to even qualify as a “rolling break;” it was more like pop – ping bubble wrap. Increase pressure until you get a squishy POP! Weight measured five and a half pounds on the test sample. You wouldn’t want to use this trigger in a bull’s-eye match, but it is adequate for “Balance of Speed and Precision”-style shooting — and is plenty safe from ND’s caused by “woobie checking.”

The trigger guard is relieved toward the rear and, combined with the high cut tang for the web of the hand, allows a high shooting grip to snug that bore axis down low.

The grip itself has a pronounced arch to the backstrap, radically flat sides, and an unusual texture pattern of alternating rows of triangles. The triangles, combined with the molded-in I.C.E. logo and the shape and angle of the grip give the pistol an unusual-yet-distinctive look that’s somewhere between “phaser from an un-aired Star Trek spinoff” and “Klingon marital aid.”

The magazine release is nicely textured, well-positioned, but not reversible. The shape of the frame cutout for the release would seem to indicate that a reversible one may lurk in the pistol’s future, but the magazines as currently supplied will not support it.

Between the single-sided slide stop and the lack of ambidexterity in the mag release, southpaws are going to need to accommodate themselves to the gun rather than vice versa, as though it were 2011 … or 1911.

That brings us to the most unusual feature of the PD10: the pistol uses 10-round 9mm 1911 magazines. They’re provided direct from the manufacturer and marked with Avidity’s brand, but are strongly reminiscent of Metalform’s front-ribbed 9mm design.

[An aside: the mag tube of a 1911 is too long fore-and-aft for 9x19mm rounds and so a spacer is usually added. Most commonly it’s a strip spot welded in the back of the tube, but in this case it’s a vertical rib molded in the front.]

The magazines have a proprietary polymer floorplate cover with a molded-in claw on the front to help aid in ripping the magazine free should one have to clear a gnarly double-feed with only one functional hand.

SHOOTING & TESTING

We didn’t experience any double feeds over the course of testing. Alas, over the course of 400 rounds, we had:

>>Five failures to feed, including one extremely exotic one where the unfired Remington 124-grain FMJ round was sticking, projectile-up, through the ejection port.

>>One gnarly failure to eject, where the case head of the fired case apparently hit the case mouth of the next round in the mag, causing the extractor claw to pop off the rim and leave the spent case wedged in the feedway between the slide, magazine feed lips, and barrel hood.

>>And, finally, five instances of the slide locking back prematurely with one round left in the magazine (one with 124-grain Speer Gold Dot and the other four with Federal 115-grain 9BPLE).

Under normal circumstances, our standard fix for this in a 9mm 1911 would be to bust out our stash of 10-round Wilson ETM magazines, which not only make Wilson 9mm 1911s reliable over the course of thousands of rounds of firing but have even turned an old Para Ordnance 9mm LTC from an iffy proposition to a reliable shooter.

Alas, the Wilsons use the rear-spacer technique rather than the forward rib, and the differing position in the PD10’s magwell means that rear-spacer magazines position the top round too far forward in the feedway to function reliably. Sad trombone.

We did successfully get through a box of Winchester 124-grain NATO ball ammo with no malfunctions, as well as a 50-round box of Remington 124-grain Black Belt JHP, but having to test rounds to see if they work is an uncomfortable flashback.

LOOSE ROUNDS

While it’s easy to ask “Why didn’t Avidity Arms just use proven magazines like the Glock 43X/48 or the SIG P365? Or even design the pistol to use Wilson ETMs?”, it’s important to remember that the Glock and SIG didn’t exist when the PD10 was first planned, and the Wilson 9mm ETM was only well-known among aficionados of 9mm 1911s, who weren’t nearly as common 10 years ago. Back then, 9mm 1911s were a lot more of a niche product.

The PD10 was comfortable to carry, reasonably accurate, and had ergonomics that lived up to its design intent, but our test sample was still pretty fussy about ammunition selection.

If you want to fiddle with ammo choices and magazines, it might be worth the tradeoff … or you could buy a 9mm M1911

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