Grand Power Company P1 Mk7 9mm Handgun
By Todd Burgreen
Century International Arms is well known for their manufacturing and import efforts. These efforts give the U.S. consumer opportunities to own weapons that would not be normally available via other domestic manufacturers. The latest offering to attract attention is a handgun designed and manufactured in the Slovak Republic by the Grand Power Company. The specific model designation of the handgun evaluated is the P1 Mk7 chambered in 9mm. The P1 Mk 7 is the continuing evolution of Grand Power’s K 100. Grand Power Company’s origination can be traced to the early 1990s when its owner, Jaroslav Kuracina, drew his first handgun sketches during university studies.
Interviews uncovered with Mr. Kuracina in preparation for this article indicate that the Steyr 1912 handgun served as an early inspiration in his thought process. While not a widely known handgun, the Steyr 1912 enjoyed a solid reputation of reliability during the harsh conditions experienced during WWI trench warfare conditions. In 1996, Jaroslav Kuracina received his international patent for his handgun design. One year later, the first functional pistol based on Kuracina’s plans, Q 2000, with serial No. E001 was made. The first prototypes of K1 were manufactured a few months later. The K1 went on to be designated the K 100. As we know, the firearms culture is extremely conservative and slow to adopt new designs or ideas. Jaroslav Kuracina ended up having to not only design and patent his handgun design, but also create his own business to manufacture it as he was turned away by existing entities when approached to partner in the endeavor.
In 2008, Kuracina’s Grand Power Company teamed up with the respected American entity STI International to import and distribute the Grand Power Company’s K 100 in the U.S. under the STI model designation GP 6. STI International is closely linked with competition shooting here in the U.S. involving 1911 based high capacity designs. STI’s cooperation with Grand Power made sense in providing a polymer handgun of a different pattern than their existing products that would qualify for “Production” classification in matches. STI’s decision was supported by the increasing number of competition wins by the K 100 in European matches. The continuing expansion of Grand Power Company is evident with its new relationship with Century International Arms making available several of the company’s handgun products.
The Grand Power Company’s P1 Mk7 9mm is centered on a 4140 steel reinforced polymer frame and chrome-nickel molybdenum slide with a significant design emphasis on ergonomics for ease of function. The barrel, slide, and other metal parts are treated via Tenifer coating. This hardens the metal components and increases resistance to corrosion. The black polymer frame of the P1 Mk7 houses a substantial 4.5 inch long steel chassis that contains the slide rails, crosspin, trigger group and a feed ramp for the barrel. The frame is generally smooth with raised textured panels on the sides and rear of the grip area. Horizontal grooves adorn both the front strap and the forward face of the squared-off trigger guard. Material has been relieved where the trigger guard connects to the grip allowing for the shooter’s hand to sit as high as possible on the P1 Mk7. Said another way, the P1 Mk7 sits low in the user’s hand. This assists in limiting muzzle flip during recoil. The frame also features an extended beavertail to help prevent hammer bite. Each pistol has an integral Picatinny rail dust cover and comes with four interchangeable backstraps to accommodate individual shooter requirements for grip feel.
The P1 Mk7 is fully ambidextrous, the slide lock, magazine release and safety are fully functional on both sides of the frame as it arrives in the box with no modifications required. The barrel is stainless steel and uses a patented rotating lock, rather than the more familiar Browning designed tilting method found on the 1911 and Glock as examples. The P1 Mk7 employs a traditional double-action/single-action trigger with an external hammer. A long heavy trigger pull on the first shot both raises and releases the hammer, with subsequent shots resorting to the shorter single-action trigger mode. The DA/SA trigger has a very short reset for its type making accurate and fast shooting more conducive. The safety system of the P1 Mk7 is a combination of an external manual safety and an internal passive firing pin block. The latter is a spring-loaded, plunger-type block that is disengaged when the trigger is pulled to the rear. The P1 Mk7’s manual safety is located at the rear of the frame and requires a downward sweep to disengage similar to a 1911. The safety can be engaged when the pistol’s hammer is in the cocked position enabling “cocked and locked” carry for those who desire it as well as when the hammer is lowered. The safety does not lock the slide shut; thus enabling the safety to stay engaged while manually working the slide. Worth noting is the Grand Power external safety does not have a decocking function. When field stripping the P1 Mk7, the forward part of the trigger guard unlatches and is flexed downward out of the frame. With the forward part of the trigger guard flexed downward, the slide moves farther to the rear than normal enabling the slide to be lifted up and off the frame.
The K 100, elder sibling to the P1 Mk7, is used by the Slovak military. This is a great testament to the Grand Power Company’s design and quality as there is no shortage of quality locally made sidearms from the former Czechoslovakia. Grand Power pistols were subjected to strenuous torture tests that better known firearm brands failed. Some of these tests consisted of enduring 100,000 rounds fired without any changes in critical dimensions, 20,000 consecutive rounds without any feeding failures, and a silicone dust, wind chamber test simulating the worst desert conditions. The P1 Mk7 is a shorter, compact version of the original Grand Power Company K 100 creation. The P1 Mk7 has the same frame size of the K 100, but features a shorter slide and barrel making it a viable choice for concealed carry. The P1 Mk7’s barrel measures 3.66 inches giving it an overall length of 7.38 inches. Weight is 1.71 pounds. The P1 Mk7 comes from Century International Arms with two 15-round magazines.
As alluded to above, the P1 Mk7 has certain features separating it from other handgun designs. The 3.66 inch carbon-nitrided steel barrel features a helical groove cut below the square block area of its hood section. This helical recess interfaces with a steel crosspin mounted inside the frame of the pistol. As the pistol is fired, the barrel and slide remain locked for a short distance until the crosspin rotates the barrel and brings the square block portion out of engagement with the slide. This method is similar in some ways to the Beretta Cougar, Beretta PX4 Storm, and Brugger&Thomet MP9 SMG which all employ a variation of the rotating barrel lock design. Once the barrel and slide have moved back to the point where the barrel has twisted about 45 degrees, the slide is free to continue traveling back while the barrel's travel is arrested by its interface to the frame via the barrel extension's square shoulders. The feed ramp for the barrel is formed via the steel chassis located in the lower frame. The design allows a low bore axis relative to the shooter's hand. The Grand Power Company’s P1 Mk 7 avoids the use of the transfer/locking block typically found in other rotating barrel designs such as the aforementioned Beretta and B&T. The Grand Power locking method features a square shouldered lock protruding from the otherwise round barrel; this is easily visible at the ejection port with the slide fully forward. This square shoulder is rotated in behind a solid column of steel running the length of the slide forward of the ejection port, and on the left side out of view, when the slide and barrel are fully forward in battery. While this “helical” method may sound complicated, it is not and even minimizes overall movement considering the barrel never leaves its original axis plane when a round is fired. An excellent point was discovered during research that puts the rotating barrel design into perspective. The B&T MP 9 uses the same basic locking mechanism. It is capable of 900 rounds per minute cyclic rate. In fact, there are Grand Power K 100 models that feature two and/or five round burst capabilities available to Slovak special operation law enforcement.
Many express dissatisfaction with the DA/SA trigger due to the difference experienced from breaking the first shot hammer down carry mode to subsequent rounds in the magazine. The ability to carry the Grand Power Company P1 Mk7 “cocked and locked” eliminates this concern. Even if this is not the carry method and one carries with hammer down, the P1 Mk 7 features one of the nicest DA/SA triggers experienced and will have many reevaluating blanket opinion of DA/SA handguns. The P1 Mk7 has a very short reset in the SA trigger mode with minimal creep experienced. Once the P1 Mk7’s trigger is mastered, which takes surprisingly little orientation training, the weapon is very capable of firing multiple shot strings with the utmost accuracy. The P1 Mk7’s quality barrel and DA/SA trigger combined with near perfect lock-up insures maximum reliability and accuracy. The adjustable sights found on the P1 Mk7 are three-dot type providing a solid sight picture both at close range and distance.
T&E was conducted at Echo Valley Training Center, a private range located near Winchester, VA, where many local and federal law enforcement tactical team members train. Many fellow shooters at the range perked up when first exposed to the Grand Power Company P1 Mk7. Many confessed ignorance of even being aware of the handgun’s existence or history. It was decided to dedicate some time evaluating the P1 Mk7 using several drills experienced during training with Graham Combat, Robert Vogel, Suarez International, Tactical Response, Storm Mountain, and other schools. Drills included working around breaching facades, door entries, and other CQB activities typified by experiences encountered in shoot house environments. A premium is placed on a quick handling accurate handgun such as the P1 Mk7 with multiple rounds fired in quick succession the norm to put a target down. The natural point ability of the P1 Mk7 comes into its own in this realm. P1 Mk7’s ergonomics and handling characteristics are quickly appreciated. The full size grip frame and overall balance of the Grand Power P1 Mk7 made felt recoil negligible. Some mention a “torquing” sensation when firing a handgun with a rotating barrel design; this was not noticed during this T&E. The P1 Mk7 slide seemed to reciprocate on ball bearings it moved so smoothly with the sights tracking smoothly between shots fired. This would support it winning numerous European handgun matches.
Black Hills Ammunition, Federal, Hornady, Wolf, and Winchester ammunition was used. Loads fired spanned 115gr to 147gr with hollow points and FMJ bullet types utilized. Significantly, no malfunctions were experienced while firing over 500 rounds during range visits. It is not normal protocol to bench test handguns for accuracy due to reliability and quick engagement of targets being a more paramount concern. A weapon like the P1 Mk7 should be fired as it is designed to be used - standing without support and while moving to get off the “X.” This is the true measure of accuracy combining trigger pull, grip, and sights. After a few runs orientating myself to the first round DA trigger pull, first round hits became the norm on the various Echo Valley Training Center steel targets, plate racks, and dueling trees. The Grand Power P1 Mk7 did not disappoint regularly producing 3.5 inch groups at 25 yards when fired from standing unsupported positions. Bench testing could not be resisted after witnessing the unsupported accuracy results. 2 inch groups at 25 yard were generated and probably could have been smaller if not for rudimentary bag support. The advantages of the P1 Mk7 trigger were quickly evident during the bench testing where accuracy was the goal with its compact, minimal creep pull characteristics.
Successful handgun designs constantly evolve in the market. This is for a variety of reasons stemming mainly from market and technological impulses/pressures. The Grand Power Company’s model P1 Mk7 is the poster child of this response to the market place. The key point with the P1 Mk7 is that it is eminently adaptable to the individual. Everyone from the competitor shooting in the “Production” class, homeowner with a light/laser attached to its dust cover, to an elite military team with night vision and infrared target designator will find the Grand Power Company worthy of consideration. The P1 Mk7 arrives ready to go right out of the box. P1 Mk7 is a potent package due to its accuracy, reliability, and capacity.
SITES OF INTEREST
Century International Arms
430 South Congress Ave. Suite 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Echo Valley Training Center
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