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  • Writer's pictureFlemming Mark Pedersen

Phoenix Drake – the one pistol that does it all.

Updated: May 9

Most, if not all, active shooters have more than one pistol. Obviously, the reason is to keep the pistols “technically optimized” AND legal for the individual shooting programs.The disadvantages are obviously cost and that it takes time for the shooter to get used to shooting a different pistol. As an example, most pistol shooters who competes in traditional as well as Dynamic shooting sports, will end up with one pistol for “Field Shooting / T96” – one for Dynamic Production Class – one for Production Optics and maybe even another for Standard Div.However, the Drake is (or might be) the first pistols on the market that really is able to cover all the above disciplines and without compromise.Keywords here would be:


Reliability and Durability

Accuracy

Trigger

Ergonomics

Modularity



RELIABILITY / Durability

Phoenix pistols have been used extensively over the last 6 years and primarily in Dynamic shooting where round counts are high.These pistols have shown to be extremely reliable and durable. We have seen pistols having fired more than 120.000 rounds and still look and feel almost new. Part breakage is (as expected) limited a few slide stops and a trigger return spring or two.

 


ACCURACY

Our customers and our team shooters have tested the Drake extensively. Most extensive testing has been done by the Norwegian National Field Shooting Champion, Simon Sørfosbog. See examples of test targets below:


Magma 124 gr, 4,6 gr. N340 28,00 mm.



H&N 115 gr. 4,2 gr. N320 28,5 mm.


I did some testing as well and with good results (my targes are never pretty, but he results are just fine).


S&B 124 gr. Factory.



TRIGGER

Most DA/SA pistols have a rather inferior SA trigger compared to a pure SA pistol. Typical DA/SA pistols have some creep or feel “mushy”. This may not matter as much in Dynamic shooting where, generally, less accuracy is required and trigger activation is much more direct. Direct activation generates momentum, which again gives the shooter much less tactile feedback.


However, the harder the shot, the more the quality of the trigger matters. As Leatham says: Shooting consists of three parts:Holding – Aiming – Firing.Once “holding” becomes an issue, things change.


In Dynamic shooting “holding” is rarely the challenge. Stabilization might be, but not holding. In T96 or Field shooting this is very different and you must locate that tiny window when sights are stable on target and then get the shot off without further disturbance.That part gets a whole lot easier with a good trigger and I’ll try to define that.


A T96 target consists of 5 individual target that are 110 mm. in diameter and each with a center zone of only 45 mm.I’d like to challenge Dynamic shooter to shoot this program and I’m pretty sure you’ll have the same humbling experience as I did (and do). Maybe not at the 11 m. mark, but once you get to the; “6-shots/10 secs. strong hand only at 15 m.” things begin to happen.6 at 25 m. in 20 secs. Is no joke either, even if both hands are allowed to hold the gun.


Speaking from personal experience, I tend to shoot a little low when speeding up. Maybe not much and nothing that may matter on a stage in Dynamic shooting. However, in T96 this will result in a miss. It will too in Dynamic shooting for the small plates at 25 meters or the occasional hard target at distance.The solution, of course, is to focus on stabilizing the sights while compressing the trigger and once an acceptable sight picture is reached, the trigger is rolled through to the shot in one smooth motion.However, I find that much harder to do on a pistol with a “glass-rod-trigger”.


This is where the Phoenix pistols shine; there is a distinct sensation with the trigger is fully compressed and then the trigger breaks smoothly with very little after travel. This gives me the feeling that the shot is fired in coordination with my visual input as opposed to the shot requiring more effort and determination and therefore increase the risk of “flinching” (whatever that is). In other words, the trigger has a very slight / short rolling sensation, which is certainly not to be confused with creep. This is nothing new and most 22 Match pistols have the same feel. My old Sig P226 X-6 and the Sig P210 Match also have slightly rolling triggers and these are probably the pistols that have won the most Field shooting matches over the last years.


However, no other DA/SA pistol (that I know of) has a similarly superior SA trigger as the Phoenix.



Shortly after receiving his Phoenix Drake Production, Tor Kjetil Krogh Olsen (TK) shot a perfect score on the Grauffel-test and with a good margin as demonstrated by the target above. (10-15-20-25 meters – two shots freestyle, two shots strong hand and two shots weak hand. Repeat for at total of 48 shots).


«Tri-Angled Trigger”.

All newer Phoenix DA/SA pistols have the “Tri-Angled Trigger”..The new Tri-Angled trigger does two things: It guides the trigger finger into a lower position of the trigger for a lighter DA trigger pull – and: for the SA trigger pull, the trigger finger will naturally contact the lower, flat surface of the trigger which will greatly reduce the weight required to fire the shot.

This may seem as a minor detail, but when measured, the this makes a significant change in trigger pull weight.


The difference was more than we expected.With applying rearward pressure on the center of the trigger, the force required to release the hammer was, on average:  1550 gr.

With applying rearward pressure on the lower part of the trigger, the force required to release the hammer was, on average:  1000-1100 gr.The same test was done with the Drake Standard, which comes with a straight trigger and the results were the same.


Conventional vs. Tri-angled trigger



Tri-Angled trigger – for DA, trigger finger is naturally placed lower on the trigger for the DA shot – more leverage and no contact between finger and frame.



Tri-Angled trigger SA trigger finger transfers contact to the lowest part of the trigger.



Lyman trigger pull scale.



Trigger pull weight purposely measured on middle of trigger.



Trigger pull weight purposely measured on lower part of the trigger.



Obviously, this is not cheating. It just feels like it.



ERGONOMICS

Phoenix pistols are designed by experienced competition shooters are ergonomics are excellent. Very few shooters make any changes except for (maybe) change the grip panels or the thumb safeties.All pistols are “ambidextrous” (safeties and mag-release).The pistol sits low in the hand and felt recoil is very soft. Sights return is natural and requires much less work that most other pistols in this category.



MODULARITY

All part are machined to very tight tolerances and will require no or very little fitting. In other words, the chances of ever needing a gunsmith are very low.



PHOENIX DRAKE – THE PISTOL THAT DOES IT ALL. AND WHY…

The Phoenix Production Div. pistols can quickly and easily be modified for the different shooting disciplines: Production Div. – as it comes out of the box.Production Optics – slide off the rear sight base and slide on the optic. Takes less than a minute and with no loss of zero.Standard Div. – mount the optional magwell or even thumb rest and change magazine basepads for increased capacity. Start cocked&locked instead of “hammer down”.

For Field shooting or PPC just use the pistol as it comes out of the box. If you wish you can change the front sight to a pure black under-cut version.


Using a DA/SA pistol means a longer trigger take-up if first shot is to be fired SA.


This is often perceived as a disadvantage, but I have not found this to be the case.


Whether this movement is shorter or slightly longer is almost irrelevant as most traditional shooters already will have their finger on the trigger in the ready - 45 degrees down position. Taking up the” slack” quickly becomes a habit and will require little training. Same thing for the Dynamic shooter, except the trigger finger only makes contact with the trigger once the muzzle is placed in line with the target.


Personally, I’m primarily a 1911 shooter and if anyone would have issues with this technique, it should be me. However, I do not see this as a challenge at all and never really given it any conscious thought.


Either way, there is always the option to get the Drake Standard Div. pistol which is Single Action only and comes with a straight trigger, but here you’ll not be able to compete in Production Divisions.


In other words, the Drake is indeed the “Pistol that does it all”.


It may not be cheap, but it “checks all the boxes” and it is virtually impossible to wear out. For that very reason, it certainly qualifies as an investment whereas most all cheaper pistols do not.


Constantly changing pistols for the various disciplines is a also challenge for a number of reasons; ergonomics, trigger manipulation, recoil control / timing (post-ignition push) and index.


In addition, to the added logistics in keeping several pistols running – mags – holster / rigg – parts etc. Not to speak of finding ammunition and loads that perform well in the individual pistols.


This can be a real challenge and takes time. Time that could be much better spent training.


Usually it will be more expensive as well.



Phoenix pistols already have an excellent track record in Dynamic shooting and are used by many of Norway’s top shooters – many of which are on our national team.


With the introduction of Drake (5’’ barrel) we certainly expect to see higher numbers of this pistol used in both Dynamic and Traditional shooting.

 


OFF TO A GOOD START

My good friend Simon Sørfosbog and new Team Phoenix shooter, also used his Drake in a recent match and came out on top. Not surprisingly.




I have decided to follow my own advice and to use my Drake for all possible “divisions” this season.This Sunday, I took it out to shoot this year’s first round of T96 – in the rain.The pistol was extremely forgiving and felt recoil was so low that my initial response was that something was wrong. However, 115 H&N over 4,1 gr. N320 generated a pf. of 127 and all was good. (These barrels are fast).



First try this year resulted in a score of 214 which is 2 points lower than my personal record. The score itself is what it is, but given the circumstances, this was remarkable – and inspiring.


See you on the range!



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