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[dcs_fancy_header bgcolor=”#ffffff” color=”#000000″ fweight=”bold”]Steve Coulston takes a look at the Extended Magazine Release and other innovative products from 21st Century Gunfighter.[/dcs_fancy_header]

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I have been following 21st Century Gunfighter and M3-Strategies for years, but it wasn’t until I took an M3 class a while back that I got to know the man behind both companies, Mr. Stephen Pineau. Stephen is a student of the gun and has spent years competing and training in firearms Mindset, Marksmanship and Manipulation, hence the name M3 Strategies. M3 covers the training side of the house. He also does product development and evaluation through his other company, 21st Century Gunfighter. In the past I have covered M3 classes and in this article I thought it would be fitting to look at what is brewing at 21CG.

With the popularity of the M&P line of pistols at an all time high, it is no wonder guys like Stephen are coming up with aftermarket parts to enhance the M&P line of firearms. Years ago, 21CG partnered with Chris Costa to release the Catalyst, the first ever extended magazine release for the M&P. That was the Gen1. Fast forward a few years and the Gen3 has now hit the market with a few other innovative products. In October of 2013 I called Stephen to pick his brain on the Gen3 Catalyst and his other upcoming products. I wanted to get his take before SHOT SHOW 2014.

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Catalyst (kat-l-ist):

  1. something that initiates a process or causes change with lesser amounts of energy or effort
  2. an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

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Gen3 Catalyst

Unlike the past versions, the Gen3 is strictly at 21CG product. So why a Gen3? What is so different from the first two generations and the OEM part? The changes between the Gen1 and Gen2 are extremely minor and aren’t very relevant. The Gen2s had a couple of failures due to the design which is why the Gen3 was developed. The Gen3 has a more rounded couture and front edge with a higher grade of steel than the previous two versions. The Gen3 uses blue tempered carbon steel vs. stainless. Blue tempered carbon steel is much stronger to prevent part failure after thousands of magazine releases. The Gen3 is also longer than the OEM part. I asked, Stephen how he settled on a length. He basically took a bunch of 3D printed models and filed and sanded them until he found a length that he liked where it wasn’t hitting his hand while holding the gun. Seems scientific enough…

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The final version of the Gen3 is made out of polymer and can be dropped into the gun frame in about a minute. It is very easy and no gunsmithing is required. It will fit all M&P pistol models with the exception of the M&P Shield. There is also a limited edition version that can be had in the M3 blue color. The Gen3 comes with a ridged surface or stippled. The stippling is done by Chad over at Sweaty Muddy Bloody. In case you don’t know Chad, he does all the stipple work for ATEi.

Keep in mind, for folks with larger hands an extended release may not be needed or desired but for guys like Stephen and me with less than extra large paws, the Catalyst is extremely helpful. For example, I run a medium back strap on my M&P full size and compact. The Catalyst allows me to drop the magazine with both my thumb and my middle finger. Dropping the magazine with my middle finger is something I picked up from Stephen and it is now my primary way to drop a mag on the M&P line of pistols. It allows me to activate the magazine release without changing my grip on the gun. For guys with larger hands, this may not be an issue. Regardless, this works for me and the Catalyst really aids in that method of manipulation.

21CG has received a ton of feedback on the Catalyst and thus far has been primarily positive, but there are some things one should consider before buying the Catalyst. First, it may not work in your holster. This should be no surprise. Kydex holsters are extremely popular and are designed to fit the manufacture produced firearm. If you purchase a Catalyst, make sure you test it in the holster you plan to use. Don’t call M3 complaining that it doesn’t work. Like any gun mod it may require you to modify your method of carry and the equipment you carry it with. I have used the Gen3 in holsters by Raven Concealment, Griffon Industries, Crossbreed, Praetor Defense and Bladetech. All fit in the holster and can be drawn and secured the way they were designed. Second, for those folks, like myself, who carry IWB from time to time. The extended magazine release may accidently activate when pressed against the body or holster body shroud. This happened to me on multiple occasions in my Crossbreed holster if I were to bend a certain way. It should be noted, I even experienced it with the OEM part as well, but it was more prevalent with the Gen3 catalyst. I have since replaced it with the Catalyst Mod1 and have notched the leather on the Crossbreed to accommodate the magazine release. I have also gotten in the habit of making sure my magazine is secure by discreetly checking it through my shirt or coat to verify that it is seated properly though out the day. I have had no further accidental magazine discharges.

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Stephen is aware of this issue and has developed what he calls the “Table Test”. Simply lay the unloaded gun, magazine release side down, on a table and press. With the Gen3 the mag will drop every time. The fact that it is extended significantly further than the OEM part makes this unavoidable. If you want the benefits of the extension, keep this in mind when carrying this on your person or for duty. It was for this very reason Pineau developed the Catalyst Mod1.

Catalyst Mod1

The Catalyst Mod1 was developed to pass the Table Test and was to be used as a Duty/Carry magazine release. The Mod1 has a more subdued profile than the Gen3 and doesn’t extend as much, yet it is still longer than the OEM part. Stephen made it as long as it could be without failing the table test. It comes stippled by Sweaty Muddy Bloody and uses the same materials and steel as the Gen3. The Mod1 is not a modified Gen3, rather it is a standalone product. As mentioned above I use the Mod1 in my M&P9c and I get all the same functionality as I would with the Gen3 with just a little less extension.

All versions of the Catalyst can be bought for $29.95 to from 21st Century Gunfighter and other dealers.

M&P Hybrid

The first time I ever used a Catalyst was in one of Stephen’s handgun courses. I came to the course with a full sized M&P9 custom blaster by ATEi. I knew about the first generations of the Catalyst so when Stephen took my gun apart I thought he was going to add one in my gun. Not quite. He looked the gun over, took the slide off, removed the recoil spring and guide rode and replaced them with some parts he had in his bag along with a metal sleeve. Once he was done with that he slapped my slide onto his compact frame. What just happened? Really, a full sized slide on a compact frame? No joke. Mind Blown. At the time this was just a prototype but I spend the next two days and 1000 rounds later running the gun set up that way. The frame also had a beta version of the Gen3 Catalyst. The conversion kit for the full sized slide to compact frame would become known as the M&P Hybrid.

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At that time, Stephen was still testing out spring weights, fit and durability. He was also looking for a manufacture to produce it. At SHOT SHOW 2014 he announced the collaboration with Matt Cole of CPT to produce and distribute the M&P Hybrid.

The Hybrid is Matt’s brain child. He developed the initial concept and design and brought Stephen on board as the sole consultant for development, testing and production. After a ton of T&E and over 10,000 rounds later, Stephen and Matt were satisfied with the Hybrid. You might be thinking, other than looking cool, why would you do that? There are a few reasons. First, it allows the shooter to use a full sized frame which gives the longer sight radius as well as the longer barrel for additional velocity vs a compact barrel. It will also print less when carrying concealed without the longer full sized grip. In addition, the compact frame can still accept full sized M&P magazines so there isn’t a downgrade in ammunition capacity if the user wants to run it that way. Lastly, it avoids expensive frame chop jobs on the M&P. “But you need two guns!” Not so fast. While it isn’t uncommon for concealed carry gun owners to have the same sidearm in various sizes (I do) it is not necessary. Spare slides and barrels can be ordered direct from Smith and Wesson and other retailers so don’t feel like you need to go out and buy a second firearm. While there isn’t a price point set for the Hybrid, it is expected to release sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

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Pineau continues to develop his teaching curriculum as well as his product line. Currently he is busy creating new targets with a new standards drill. While he did lay out the format and method of execution for the new drills, I will let him debut them. Follow these links to keep up with Stephen, M3-Strategies and 21st Century Gunfighter:

http://www.m3-strategies.com/

https://www.facebook.com/M3Strategies

http://www.21cg.us/

https://www.youtube.com/user/21CenturyGunfighter

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Steve has been a firearms enthusiast for over 20 years and is currently an NRA lifetime member. In 1996 he joined the United States Navy and served as a Special Warfare Combat Crewman (SWCC) at Special Boat Unit 12 (Now renamed Special Boat Team 12). He made two tours during his time of service and spent most of his time in southeast Asia and the Middle Eastern theaters. Upon his Honorable Discharge in 2000, Steve spent the next 10 years earning his Masters Degree and state license as an Architect. Steve brings a unique perspective from both his tactical and design background and is a reviewer and contributor for Guns & Tactics Magazine, Defense Marketing Group and other media outlets.