Tuesday, December 22, 2009

FLGN'S Pocket Protectors


In the last year or two, snubbies and .380 semi autos have seen a HUGE resurgence in popularity. If the chest-thumping .45 fanboys will hold their boos til the end, I will make my case for the pocket gun. As a card-carrying gun nut, I have THREE sub-compact pistols. Granted, I JUST got my permit to carry, I've been practicing drawing from concealment for about four years--since I first put my name on the list to take the class from the Sheriff's Department.

First, let me bloviate about carrying concealed. I emplore you to practice using your concealment holster EXACTLY the way you plan to carry, and with NO LIVE AMMO present, practice drawing and firing the first round. You'll find kinks in your form this way. I know I did. Also, try doing every-day motions that could reveal your gun. Revealing your gun or having it "print" against your clothing MAY be illegal in your state (it is in Iowa). Practice reaching something from a high shelf, or picking up something off the ground. Sit down and stand up. Does your shirt hang up on the grip? Also practice using the toilet. (*Do this previous bit at home, before you go out in the world!* I hate to specify that, but I really don't want to be sued.)There have been some high profile cases of people carrying concealed firing rounds off in public toilets while trying to catch a falling firearm. Make sure the only noise from the lavvy is coming from you, and not your gun. Practice WITHOUT LIVE AMMO PRESENT before going live in the real world. It will pay big dividends.

Starting from least kinetic energy, my S&W 442 (lowest in the pic). It holds five rounds of .38SPL and is rated for +P ammunition. It is absurdly light and small, which are big advantages during Iowa's tropical summers. I love my S&W revolvers, which is why I still own the 442. It is hard to shoot well (but I do because I'm awesome), slow to reload, and absolutely wild under recoil. With a gun this small and light, you have NO REASON not to carry it when possible. However, you better practice your ass off with a piece like this. J-frames are really a master's weapon, and shouldn't be carried by folks who don't want to put in the time with it. But thankfully, there are many other choices in this frame size that are more forgiving.

The P64 (the middle one) is a very, very good weapon and really deserves your consideration. It is incredibly accurate, about 15% more powerful than a .38SPl from a short barrel, reloads faster, is controllable under recoil, and is very thin. This gun just BEGS to be carried concealed. Ammo is even very cheap. It is a bit slower from the holster than the 442, and is noticeably heavier in a pocket, though it is hardly a heavyweight. I also find that, in my hand, it points very naturally. It disappears well in a pocket holster in the inside breast pocket of my stylish leather jacket or a diminutive inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. The only reason I still own the 442 is that is is marginally lighter, and that if I am cut, my blood spells out "S&W". Also, I think the P64 is terribly gramatically correct, which I admire. You see below:The only proper use for quotation marks is to either quote from another source or when being ironic. Clearly, the Reds printed P64 on the first gun ever produced, and then quoted it when producing the next 46,000,000 P64s. Damn if I don't admire proper grammar. Well played, communist slaves, well played indeed.

Then there's my M&P9C (top), which I absolutely adore. I've shot it out to 50 yards a few times and can usually keep my whole group on an 8.5"x11" sheet of paper, which is pretty damn good for a gun with a 3.5" barrel, and a gun nut from the flatlands behind the trigger. It is considerably bigger than the other two, but is still concealable quite handily in an IWB holster under just a t-shirt, though I'd probably opt for a cover shirt as insurance (think a t-shirt under an unbuttoned button-up shirt). The trigger is fantastic, the ergonomics are fantastic, it is light, but still has very little recoil. It's chambered in 9x19mm, so it is the most powerful of the three, carries 13 rounds (12 in the mag, one in the pipe), and is generally a work of genius. The only problem is the size, which isn't all that problematic. I could still carry it most of the time, but the P64 and 442 are more concealable, and lighter. I'll still keep this thing around though because it is just such a great firearm.

The great thing about these little friends is that they can go anywhere and everywhere with you! Sure, a 1911 in 10mm might be more impressive, and packs WAY more whoop-ass, but isn't practical to carry everywhere if you aren't an enormous person. The gun you have in your pocket is always better than the gun you left in the glove box or at home because you didn't feel like carrying it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

FLGN Goes Big Bore

With the possibility of a deployment ahead, I've begun budgeting for some "I love me" presents. Near the top of the list is a big bore revolver. Thirty years ago you had one choice: the .44 Remington Magnum of Dirty Harry fame. But today, the .44 mag isn't "the most powerful handgun in the world"--probably not even in the top 5 anymore!

Then one day, the designers and engineers at Smith & Wesson stopped taking their meds. The result was the .500 S&W Magnum and the .460 S&W Magnum, which are ridiculous. My first thought was the .500. Who doesn't want a .50 caliber handgun? But ammo--even reloads--will eventually bankrupt you. Then I considered the .460 S&W Magnum, which is actually a tiny bit more powerful than the .500 mag at some bullet weights. The .460 is actually almost practical because it can fire .454 Casull and .45 Colt also. But to switch rounds, you have to thoroughly clean the cylinder because the shorter .45 Colt and .454 can leave powder and lead deposits which will make extraction nearly impossible for longer rounds. No big deal if you pay attention and maintain your firearms--which you'd better because X-Frame S&W revolvers (the .500 and .460) start at about $1100.

The problem with the X-Frame is that you only get five shots. The cylinder had to give up the sixth round to make it strong enough to withstand the nearly 60,000 PSI created by pulling the trigger. The 5" barreled model, which is the one I'd have, weighs in at 62.5 ounces. That's nearly four pounds, which could get old in a strong-side hip holster. Especially when you consider that .460 S&W can shoot rounds that weigh in at nearly two ounces each (complete rounds--the bullet weight tops out at 395 grains), so loaded weight would be nearer to five pounds. The .460 S&W is an amazing firearm, but a bit too expensive for me, and I have a sinking feeling I wouldn't really want to pack it around that much.

So I took a second look at the .44 magnum, and started to really like what I saw. I found a load from IMR's website that said I could use the same HP-38 and Winchester 231 powder I use in my .38SPL, .45ACP, and .45 Colt. The powder charge was very economical, but still drove a 240gr cast lead bullet to nearly 1400 feet per second, which yields 900ft/lbs of kinetic energy. (Of course, the .460 can generate nearly 2500ft/lbs.) In fact, the .44mag I want is shockingly practical. Behold:
This is a S&W Model 629-4". It retails for about $700 to $750, which is still fairly expensive, but consider that a revolver looks a lot like a Rolex inside and you start to understand why they're so expensive. This one has enough barrel to preserve a lot of the muzzle velocity of the .44mag, but be light and handy enough to carry everywhere, but still hefty enough to soak up some recoil at 41 ounces. It's almost boring in its practicality. Being made of stainless steel, it should be pretty easy to clean up and resistant to rust. It measures just 9 5/8" from end to end, so I might just be able to carry it concealed, though that would be more likely in Iowa's arctic winters than our fairly tropical summers. But I could certainly find space for it while hunting or enjoying a walk in the woods. Reloads would be cheap enough that I could actually go plink with full-house mag loads.

Now to develop a plan to convince my wife to let me get it....


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Only Man With A Wheelgun

By the way, I was the only one in my 30-person NRA class to shoot a revolver. I posted the best groups of the day, but I felt a bit like this:


The Gun Nut Bloviates

I've been meaning to write something coming out of the experience of taking the NRA First Steps defensive shooting class for my concealed weapon permit. Writing about the process is sort of a moot point unless I have more than James reading this from Iowa (the states that allow carrying have totally different laws and procedures). The class was geared toward someone who has never held a gun before, and I'm assuming my meager audience has been shooting for a while. But one thing stuck in my mind a bit.

The caliber debate between 9mm, .40S&W, and .45 Auto raged on throughout my two day course. The instructor kept saying "pick the biggest caliber you can shoot well", and gently hinting that 9mm and .38spl were okay, but not the best. I can tolerate that because a bigger hole is generally better when it comes to self-defense. But the occasional Counterstrike ninja would mumble that 9mm and .38 are too small and weak. Well, once again, I'm forced to get out my calculator and calipers for a mental beat-down.

By the numbers: (Velocity squared x weight in grains)/450436 (per Modern Reloading by Richard Lee) will yield kinetic energy in ft/lbs.

9mm: 124gr Hornady XTP (what I use in my 9mm) at 1100fps = 333ft/lbs

.40 S&W: 180gr JHP at 1000fps = 399ft/lbs
.45ACP: 230gr JHP at 900fps = 413ft/lbs

So the .40 has 66ft/lbs on the 9mm and the .45 has about 80ft/lbs on it. Both are, by the numbers, more powerful. But let's compare them to yesteryear's gold standard--the .357 Magnum. Say, a 125gr JHP at 1650fps. That's 755 ft/lbs. Nearly twice what the .45 has and the .357 isn't a fabled manstopper like the .45. So maybe it's frontal area we're concerned with.

9mm: .355"

40S&W: .400"

.45ACP: .452"

We see the .40 has .045" more frontal area than a 9mm. The .45ACP has a whopping, massive, HUGE .097" more frontal area. That's very nearly a tenth of an inch!

And then there's anecdotal evidence. "Mr. X" was shot a million times with 9mm and still didn't go down. Well, I've done a number of research papers on police use of force, and for every instance of a 9mm not killing a suspect, I can bring you another showing a .40S&W or .45ACP failing to stop a bad guy. Perhaps the answer is that a handgun is a poor choice for stopping an attacker outright. Perhaps it isn't caliber alone. Perhaps it is shot placement that kills attackers dead. A panicked shot to the lower abdomen (which is where lots of panicked shots go, and which does little damage to vital organs) will not stop a determined adversary. Even if they're hit by a mighty .45ACP.

The one time the instructor slipped, he was referencing a case in Des Moines where a man was able to free himself from an armed robber by shooting the bad guy in the shoulder with a .22 magnum revolver. The instructor opined that "a .45 would have taken the guy's shoulder off". I've seen the results of shootings and bombings first hand, and let me be the first to tell you that it takes a hand grenade sized explosion at very close range to tear limbs off. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I suspect a hand grenade has more kinetic energy to impart than a .45ACP round. Shoulder shots don't end hostage situations. Gut shots don't stop coked-up murderers.

This is what a dead would-be murderer looks like. And my "antiquated" S&W Model 64-3 helped me put holes in that paper. Of course a .45 would have made the X explode in a tiny mushroom cloud.

Keep your shots in the X ring and caliber doesn't really matter a hill of beans!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

You Spin Me



I bought a S&W 64-3 double-action only .38 Special from J&G Sales a while back and it's been sort of sitting around while I waited on my .38 Special reloading dies to come off back-order. Well, they did, and I hit the range with some handloads to test, and I shot this group from 20 yards.Above: Houghton custom ammo into a Houghton custom target--printer paper with a 4" triangle drawn with a sharpie and tape measure.

Looks like all that snap-cap practice paid off pretty huge. Part of it is that a heavy and smooth double action trigger pull from a vintage S&W will help you master the art of a clean trigger pull. I haven't mastered it yet, given the two rounds that did not go in the same hole as the other four, but damn if I'm not getting closer. Granted, I did this very slowly. It probably took me 45 seconds or so to fire all six shots. But I'll take it.

Semi-autos own the "tactical" (I hate that word) world, but the wheelgun still rules the range and the hunting world. I have a soft spot for S&W revolvers, and I'm also partial to mega-bore revolvers from Ruger. S&W has tried to resurrect revolvers as a tactical piece by making an 8-shot .357 Magnum that uses moon clips (AKA full moon clips) for faster loading. But you could spend a fraction of the money on a S&W M&P9 service model that has 17 rounds on deck and can be reloaded by your average person very quickly. As far as I'm concerned, the wheelgun has seen its day as the primary sidearm of choice by 99% of law-enforcement and 100% of the military. But it is FAR from dead.

Revolvers will always live on because they aren't limited by the dimensions of a detachable magazine that runs through the grip. You can make that cylinder just as big as it needs to be to house a nuclear bomb like the .460 S&W or .454 Casull. I wouldn't hesitate for a minute to take my hetero-lifepartner's .454 Casull Ruger Alaskan into bear country with me, or in case I ever had to shoot down alien spaceships.

Another great reason to own a wheelgun, particularly in .357 magnum or .38 Special, is the cost of reloading. You SHOULD be able to recover 100% of your brass, and .38 special operates at very low pressure, which helps lengthen case life. The .38SPL takes a very light powder charge, even at max loads, and cast lead bullets in the 125-158 grain range are pretty reasonably priced. I can reload .38 Special 125gr LRNFPs pretty cheaply. There isn't much better than cheap shooting, except for hitting what you're aiming at.

Gratuitous S&W Pornography

As a side note, I plan to shoot the 64-3 for my concealed weapon permit class on Sunday. I bet I'm the only one there under 65 who shoots a wheelgun. Probably the only one PERIOD to shoot a DAO wheelgun.

FLGN out.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Seeing Red



I got my Vortex Strikefire zeroed tonight and played around with it a bit, shooting 110 rounds of Wolf 62gr JHPs. James and I headed out to his place just before sundown and I got about 30 rounds in the darker part of dusk. This really wasn't much of a torture test or anything, but surely 110 rounds would have exposed any serious faults. Overall, it performed flawlessly. Just a heads-up: I don't have time to get proper pictures, but I will put some up. I'll steal a few from around the interwebs until Sunday or Monday. My point-and-shoot Nikon just doesn't take good indoor pictures.

My sight arrived on Monday from www.midwayusa.com and I got it mounted right away. I ordered the Strikefire kit with the AR-15 specific extra-high ring. The ring is a fairly heavy duty six-bolt of the aluminum persuasion. I didn't use thread locker on it, but I did carefully torque everything down pretty well. You have to be careful with scope rings--especially aluminum ones because you can crack them from over-tightening, you can crush the scope tube, or you can break screws, or some combination of the above. Anyway, the ring is good stuff. The optic is NOT mounted in the ring when you receive it. You have to very fastidiously mount the bottom half of the ring to your AR, then level the optic, then place the top half of the ring on and tighten it down evenly. It's a lot easier than it sounds--especially if you've done it a million times before, which I have. (Well, maybe not a million, but nearly.)

The 2x magnifier cuts your field of view by at least half. I haven't tested it yet, but I plan to and I'll do an update accordingly. It is easy to install and remove, but doesn't come with any kind of carrying case (I bet an old 35mm film canister would work great) or lens protectors. For $150 though, I can forgive that and raid my dad's old photography supplies for an empty canister.

On the range, the Strikefire fires a clear warning shot across Aimpoint's bow. With the reticle in red mode, it is a dead ringer for an Aimpoint Comp M2. It has 10 daylight brightness settings, and two nightvision settings. In green mode, the dot seems brighter and blurrier, but James reminded me that the human eye is three times more sensitive to green light than red. The green dot is still pretty good, though I think I prefer red.

The adjustment turrets feel a bit weird at times. The elevation turret didn't have terribly positive clicks, but still made precise and predictable adjustments. The left/right turret had very positive clicks and also adjusted well. All around, fit and finish is more than you'd expect for a $150 red dot sight. The lens covers are sort of flexible rubber/plastic stuff that seems very durable and seals tightly. I absolutely love the control layout (below). It reminds me of an EOTech, but is more accessible if you're right-handed. Left-handed freaks lose out again I guess.
I don't have any real complaints, just some minor gripes. I wish it took AA batteries instead of CR2s. I also don't understand why the Vortex Optics logo is in white on the front of the battery cover (seen below).
Vortex has to know that this is going to be bought by zombie-slayers and weekend-ninjas, and having a huge white logo on the front of your optic isn't terribly tactical. I like the logo, but I think it would make more sense if it were in coyote tan or flat dark earth. I'm halfway tempted to buy a can of Krylon Ultra-Flat and paint this thing coyote tan myself. I'm really thinking hard about it.

With all of 110 rounds downrange, I think I really like this sight. I have about half a case of Wolf ammo to burn up, so I may do that over Christmas vacation. If I can get a couple hundred rounds through this, I think it may very well earn the FLGN seal of approval. This could prove to be SERIOUS value for money.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Return To Broke Disc Mountain

James and I got together to test penetration again. He brought some of the old toys, and I brought some new ones.

This time the brake discs were from a 2005 Mazda RX8, which is a sports car, which means the brakes are bigger and badder than the ones we shot last time, which were from a Toyota Tercel. As you can see, if the bullet hits one of the fins between the layers, it faces one inch of steel. If it hits a void, it has nearly 3/4 of an inch to punch through.

We used James' TPD AXR (5.56x45mm NATO), Cugir TTC (7.62x25mm), and Steyr M9A1(9x19mm). I brought my S&W Model 64-3(38 Special), Cugir TTC (7.62x25mm), and Yugoslav M48B Mauser (8mm Mauser). The rifles were shot from just over 35 yards, and the handguns from 10 to 15 yards. Ammo varied, and I'll get to that later.

First, the AXR launched a Remington 55gr FMJ lead core (left) and a PRVI Partisan "green tip" 62gr steel core. The lead core seems to have shattered on the first thickness, hit a fin, and stopped on the second layer, but cracked the back of the disc. The green tip (two shots shown--right and center) punched cleanly through the first layer, and one steel core made it out the back while the other ricocheted.

Then I brought out the Yugo with some Romanian surplus 8mm 150gr steel core from the 1970s. It very nearly did what I thought it would. It sliced through the first layer, then smashed through the second. The surprise was that the disc stopped the steel penetrator, and we found it amongst the wreckage.

Cool, huh? Remember in that "What's Bulletproof and What Ain't" article I posted a while back? This is why I said that if you're taking fire in a parking lot, you should get behind the engine block and align yourself with the wheels. Remember that this bullet didn't make it through the brake disc, and would have had to punch through a wheel rim before getting there. Okay, ego massage complete, moving on.

I then had a go with my S&W 64-3 shooting 125gr lead flat point handloads. They did exactly what I thought they would, shattering on the first surface without doing any damage at all. Moving on.

Then James had at it with his Steyr M9A1 shooting some kind of cheap 115gr FMJs. They made a bit more show of it, and sort of made a dent you could feel, but hardly see. But still no penetration, and no serious damage of any kind.

Then we both tried our Cugir TTC (virtually identical to a Tokarev TT-33) pistols and shot 1970s surplus Romanian 86gr steel core ammunition. The RX8's brake disc proved tougher than the Tercel's. Frustrated by a lack of results, James unleashed a barrage of 7.62x25mm and ended up making a few cracks in the first surface. Some of the steel cores seemed to weld themselves onto the disc, which was unexpected, but made some cool marks.

We left Broke Disc Mountain satisfied and exhausted, sure to return in the future.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Walking Contradiction



I hate Aimpoint red dot sights. I have been issued them for about seven years now and though the latest batch have been better, I still don't trust them.

Every Aimpoint I was issued until we got new Comp M2s last year has had the same set of problems. It refused to stay zeroed. The light would go on and off randomly, or go out under the barely perceptible recoil of an M16A2. The ones we had in Afghanistan all went wrong before the year was up, and we all went back to using our iron sights. The special forces unit that we occasionally traveled with all bought their own EOTech 511s, but our platoon sergeant said we couldn't do the same.

Now, I have to admit that the Aimpoints we were issued before were pretty clearly refurbished. Badly. The last batch we've received were brand-spanking-new Comp M2s and they haven't gone wrong on anyone in my company. Not yet anyway.

So why use a red dot sight? Simple: they're faster than irons. Instead of aligning three sight planes (rear aperture, front post, and the target), you only align two (the dot and the target). Also, the Aimpoint is parallax free beyond 25 meters, meaning no matter what angle you look at the dot, it still points to where your round will impact. But the dot is usually 2 or 4 MOA, so it covers 2 or 4 inches at 100 yards. So at 300 yards, it covers six or twelve inches--which is a lot, but still good enough for combat purposes where every hit counts (and ONLY hits count).

But for my money, the EOTech holographic sight is the way to go. It is more rugged, more accurate (1MOA dot), has a better reticle, and is just generally better. Unless you need to deploy from under more than 15 feet of water. Aimpoints are submersible to some ridiculous depth, which the Army often touts as their reason for not choosing the EOTech. Yeah, because there are so many places in Iraq and Afghanistan where the common soldier finds himself underwater.

So I've been looking for an optic for my M&P15 carbine. And I bought this:
Yes, an Aimpoint clone called the Vortex Strikefire, and it retails for about $150. But it has rave reviews from most everyone who owns it. But I can live with an Aimpoint clone for $150 because there's nothing else out there in its price range that has great reviews. It's also called the "Strikefire", which is terribly manly. And it comes with quite a bit of kit for that meager $150, to include a 2x magnifier that screws into the eyepiece. It also comes with the lens covers and an aluminum scope ring to mount it in. There are two kits available--one for hunting rifles, which comes with a medium height ring, and one specifically for an AR-15 series flat-top rifle which comes with an extra high ring. The dot itself can be either red or green, and it has nightvision compatible settings. Vortex is based in Wisconsin and offers a full line of sporting and tactical scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes. Most of their stuff is VERY reasonably priced.

It should be here Monday, so look for a review as soon as next weekend.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

GO-TO-WAR GEAR

I got a phone call from my unit about a month ago saying I'd be taking another all-expenses-paid trip overseas next year. In that spirit, I thought I'd list the gear I'd take if I ran the world. So here we go, starting from the ground up.

UNIFORM:
Multi Cam, BDU cut from Crye Precision. Moving on.

ARMOR:

Crye Precision Armor Chassis Gen 2. It's breathable and sensibly laid out to preserve your range of motion. It's got to be better than the old IBAS I used last time. I'd get a multicam tac vest to wear over it. Something like the one below, but in multicam.
THE GUNS:I'd pick the Remington ACR (designed by Magpul, so it's a work of genius) as my rifle. Since it is essentially a Lego set from hell, I'd put a 16" barrel on and have it chambered in 6.5 Grendel for some extra range over the 5.56x45 NATO. No matter because changing calibers is as easy as pushing a couple of pins and locking a new barrel assembly in place. I'd put an EOTech holographic sight on it for good measure.These are also a work of genius. The EOTech sight is the best holographic out there, and it's pretty reasonably priced to boot. They're durable, accurate, reliable, and take very common AA batteries. I've seen these turn in 1 MOA groups on AR-15 rifles. The Aimpoints we've been issued in the past have been very fragile, moody, and annoying. Last time I was in Afghanistan, the SF team that lived down the street from us were all issued Aimpoints, but ended up buying EOTechs. I don't think there's a much better endorsement out there.

Of course, I'd also carry a handgun. I'd choose the S&W M&P9 standard model with a 4" barrel. The M&P9 is better than the Beretta M9 in every possible way. Lighter, more accurate, better trigger, better ergonomics, more capacity, and I think it's the fastest handling gun I've had the pleasure of firing. Handguns are a last resort at war, but it's better to have and not need, etc., etc. I'd only carry three magazines for it, and the gun would go cross-draw on my tac vest because I imagine I'll be in vehicles a lot. I really like the Blackhawk Serpa on a drop rig on my thigh, but it is impossible to draw while seated and gets banged by the door if you're on the passenger's side.


THE KNIFE:
The first thing you need to know is that the purpose of a knife at war is to impress your friends, not slice the enemy's face open. They're also handy for opening MRE rations and prying rounds off the bolt face of a Mk-19 grenade machinegun. That's what I did with mine and I really can't think of a reason why I'd be using a knife for combat unless things really went terribly wrong. This big fella should be plenty impressive, and looks like it would be great at prying things. It comes from CRKT, my favorite knife maker, and is over a foot long.

So there it is, I'll have multicam clothes and equipment, what I think will prove to be the most innovative rifle design for years to come, the best handgun on the market right now, the best holographic weapon sight, and the flashiest knife possible. Now we just wait for someone at the Pentagon to read this and start refitting the Army. FLGN out.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Talking 10MM


Above: Video of the first tests of a 10mm Automatic.


My hetero-lifepartner announced the other day that he's getting a Colt Delta Elite with his re-enlistment bonus. That got me thinking about something in 10mm. Join me on my train of thought.

First, I thought about getting a Delta Elite myself.
But for the $1100 price tag you get plain Jane sights, and a standard grip safety (most people shoot a deep cut beavertail type better). You'll get Colt's street cred, but I'm not sure this is the most you can get for your $1100.

Which brought me to the Dan Wesson RZ-10 Razorback.
These go for about $1100 also, but you get a beavertail grip safety and Novak sights. Oh, and it's pretty much hand-built. Expensive, but I think they're worth it. I love me a 1911A1. I think that in 100 years, people will still get all misty-eyed when talking about their 1911. Still, $1100 is a LOT of money. And if you want to shoot it, you'll need to take up reloading (which I do, but I'll need a new set of dies, powder, and the like) or get comfortable with paying $2 per shot. Reloading is still costly, but most people can find space in their budget for it. Especially for a gun this cool.

But then I talked to James about it and he reminded me about the EAA Witness Elite Match.
This is a single-action only variant of the EAA Witness. It also has adjustable sights and holds a whopping 15 rounds of 10mm while the 1911s only carry nine. And it costs about $550. That's right, $550. Can you say "Value for money"? I could buy tools and components for 1000 rounds of 10mm on top of buying the pistol and still NOT spend the same $1100 commanded by the Dan Wesson and Colt pieces. Hmmmm....

But why a 10mm? Well, it's pretty much the most bang you can get in a reasonably sized automatic pistol. The .45 Automatic, which about half of the pistol shooting world swears by produces about 400 ft/lbs of energy with a pretty briskly loaded 230 grain projectile. The 10mm can get over 600 ft/lbs with a 155 grain bullet over a maximum load of Longshot. Plus, right now, it is cheaper to reload for 10mm than for .45 Auto.

Now if only I had a real job....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Grounds For Divorce



I'm a bit of a big dreamer when it comes to my collection. I'm also married and broke, so with that in mind, I came up with a short list of firearms that will result in divorce if your average gun nut were to purchase any one of them. If you're independently wealthy and your life-partner is into guns, go for it. There are even more expensive guns than these, but these are attainable and recognizable by people who don't spend 20 hours a day on Google.

#1 The Barrett M82A1
It's huge, it's expensive to buy at around $8000, plus you'll need a scope and rings that will stand up to the nuclear-grade recoil from a .50BMG. Oh, and surplus ammo is about $7.50 PER SHOT. You can load your own for about the same, but you'll need a special press that can accommodate the milk-jug-sized empty cases.

I've fired the M2 .50BMG machinegun many times and can attest that it is indeed a beast. You better have a 1000yd range AND one hell of a backstop. I've seen ricochets climb mountains. I mean proper mountains--Afghanistan style. You can safely fire one here in the states, but you will be hard pressed to find a rifle range in the Midwest that will allow .50BMGs to fire. You can shoot on your own land, but you better invest in a berm, or hire Matlock as your attorney. Owning a .50BMG is a serious money pit. Of course, it's a serious piece of hardware. When your life-partner kicks you out, you can pawn it and finance an apartment or a week in Vegas.

#2 An Accuracy International AW in .308 Winchester.
Why so specific? Well, the AI's in .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua are actually pretty reasonable since a heavy rifle like this one tames the recoil pretty well (so I've read). The problem is that it's pretty much the same rifle in the .308Win flavor....and it still costs $3600 without a scope or rings. Now, it's a fantastic rifle, but I'd bet that most people who aren't editors for SWAT or Guns&Ammo won't shoot this any better than they would shoot a Savage 10FCP HS-Precision or 10FCP McMillan--both of which are under $1000. But when your wife tosses you out on your ear, you can bring it to your college buddy's house and play HALO ODST with this in the room, and comment on how much it looks like the sniper rifle that your character can get.

#3. Anything Chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum.With at least 98 grains of gunpowdery fun pushing a 250 grain FMJBT, the .338 Lapua is right between a .300 Win Mag and a .50 BMG. In fact, if you're just punching paper, the .338 LM might just be the better round. But it still costs about $3.50 per round if you reload. Factory ammo--while very good--could give Congress sticker-shock. And you'll need a really good rifle like that AI pictured above. And you'll need a pretty awesome scope. And expensive scope rings. And a really good berm. And the list goes on. The .338LM gives about 33% of the .50BMG's muzzle energy* while supplying about 90% of the cost of ownership. (* 250gr .338LM=about 5000ft/lbs, 750gr .50BMG= about 13,000ft/lbs--for a frame of reference, a .308Win 168gr= about 2500ft/lbs) Enjoy living in your cardboard box. Until your wife throws you out.

#4 A Wilson Combat CQB EliteThis pistol wins at everything forever. And you pay for it....to the tune of $2600. But, thankfully, it is available in .45Auto and 10mm Auto (as well as a few other calibers that aren't .45 or 10mm, but who cares?). One day I will own one. I love 1911s, and this is pretty much the best (so I've read). Assuming I have a mid-life crisis, I'll buy one of these, jump in my Miata (the ULTIMATE mid-life crisis car), and head to Texas to become a mercen....private security contractor. Then I can brag to all of my 45-year-old, balding and fat Army buddies who have also looked into the private sector that MY sidearm cost more than ALL of theirs. Plus it will be a 10mm, which can bring down a water buffalo. Hopefully my wife won't leave me, but if I'm fat, bald, old, and broke...well, she is the practical type.

#5Too big to carry, and too small to hunt with, the Desert Eagle does a fantastic job of not doing anything particularly well. Even my large man-hands can't get a good grip on this thing. I've never shot one, but I nearly bought one after my tour in Trashcanistan, and I'm eternally grateful that I did not. I hear the .44mag (the one I'd have) doesn't like reloads, or lead bullets. So you're stuck paying for factory ammo, which is expensive. The .50AE is even more so, but you have to be 15 years old to want one. These actually aren't too expensive. I almost always see a used one or two for $1100 or so--usually in .50AE because some kid-at-heart bought one and found out how much fun it is to watch $5 fly downrange every time you pull the enormous trigger. If you buy one and your wife DOESN'T leave you, she is either a saint or plotting elaborate revenge.

So, ladies and gents, you can thank me later. Flatlandmarriagecounselor is done here.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Ramones on Defense



Principles of self-defense are so easy, The Ramones can sing them to you. Here's four simple rules to keep you out of trouble based on "Commando". Thanks to Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee. Hey, ho, let's go.

First rule is: The laws of Germany
Be familiar with state and local laws regarding "castle doctrine", concealed carry, and open carry. Also, know what it takes to legally transport your firearms. Know the laws and follow them. Even the dumb ones (no concealed carry on college campuses or for soldiers on post--that worked out great, right V-Tech and Ft. Hood?).

Second rule is: Be nice to mommy.
Of course you should be nice to your mother. Be polite to other people as well...until it is time to stop being polite.

Third rule is: Don't talk to commies.
Don't talk to commies or other lower forms of life. Be careful with whom you associate. If you and your buddy get pulled over and he has an ounce of pot in his sock, you're both going downtown. And if you're carrying concealed at the time, you just committed a felony! (see rule 1) Get better friends.

Fourth rule is: Eat kosher salamis.
Watch what you eat and exercise! If your body is in good shape, the better your odds of surviving a self-defense situation (even one that doesn't need a gun). The better shape you're in, the more stress you can handle. If your gut is full of sticky buns and energy drinks, you may be in trouble. Eat kosher salamis instead.

Learn it, live it, love it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Not To Carry

The only good part about my wife being deployed to Iraq is that I no longer have to suffer through "What Not To Wear" in the afternoons. But since I do miss her, I thought I would do my own version of it with "What Not To Carry"--big mistakes a lot of people make in an honest attempt to be safe.

1. A Knife

I'm not against carrying a knife to use as a tool. I carry a big locking folder from Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT--my favorite knife maker). A knife can be a life saver from a utilitarian standpoint. Say you get in a car accident. The car is on fire and your seatbelt is jammed and the 19 airbags inside haven't deflated due to a malfunction of some kind. The doors are stuck shut also. Well, with a big folding knife like my Desert Cruiser (or any other big folder with lots of metal in it-- Desert Cruiser pictured above), you can pop the airbags, cut yourself free, then fold it up and use it to shatter a window and escape. A knife can be very handy indeed. But unless you are Ninja, pulling a knife in self defense will only end with you stuck to your own blade.

Most people that I have talked out of carrying a knife were women...who wanted to carry a knife to "scare an attacker". If you pull a deadly weapon, you better intend to use it--and stabbing someone to death is hard (so I've read in my criminal justice classes). Stabbing into bone is like stabbing into concrete. Most slashers are caught because the knife pops back across their own hand as the blade bounces off a rib, leaving a tell-tale sign on their hand. Conceivably, a novice knife fighter could deal as much damage to his own hand as he does to his opponent. A knife requires a great deal of skill, training, and will to use it. Even then, slashing wounds can take hours or days to cause incapacitation. Stabbing wounds can be substantially more effective, but a masterful knowledge of both human anatomy and knife-fighting skills is required for someone to be able to count on landing such a strike. That's why you should not carry a knife for defense (unless you are a ninja. In that case, go for it.).

2. A TASER
Fancy TASERs like the one above fire two prongs into your would-be assailant and, for three to five seconds, pass huge amounts of pretty harmless electricity through his body. As soon as the cycle is complete, you can pull the trigger again and send him on another five second ride through Painville. However, once the prongs come out, the batteries die, or a wire breaks, he's good as new in short order. You may or may not have time to escape or time for the police to show. Once the cartridge is spent, you must reload or choose to use it as a cattle prod. The problem with cattle prod mode is that the pain only occurs in the muscle(s) between the two terminals. It causes pain while not causing any permanent incapacitation.

The TASER is a great tool for cops who need to take belligerent suspects into custody without harming them. Their only option just a few years ago was pepper spray (everyone loses...trust me) or going hand-to-hand, which leaves plenty of opportunity for both parties to sustain permanent damage. The cool bit about the TASER is that nobody is resistant to it like you can find with pepper spray. Civilians may or may not find the TASER useful. It might give you a chance to escape, but if you're confronted by more than one bad guy, then you're pretty hosed. If you use it in cattle prod mode, you have to get up to contact distance with your attacker. I'm not sure I want to do that.

3. Itsy-bitsy Cans of Pepper Spray/Mace

Sorry, wrong sort of mace. Cool though.

Okay, here's the stuff. I actually like pepper spray or mace (two different things, but the differences are so technical that they even bore me). I've seen this stuff work wonders. But you have to have a decent sized can of the stuff to make a difference. I keep seeing itsy-bitsy bottles of the stuff in supermarket checkout lines and on gun store shelves dedicated to stuff just for the ladies (I guess pepper spray isn't very manly?). First, some people are not effected much or at all by this stuff--which is bad if you're attacked by one of these people. Second, if they keep sustaining the attack after they've been sprayed (he's on meth or something) then you get to share in the burning sensation because it will rub off on you! How fun! Third, tiny bottles don't have enough juice in them to hit two or more targets with enough product to cause sufficient pain. Additionally, I've seen girls have negligent discharges with these things in public places, which is more than embarrassing.

4. A Gun You Don't Intend to Use
Back to the idea of "scaring" an attacker away. A gun might do that. But it might not, and if you don't intend to pull the trigger, you'll probably get shot with your own piece. If you aren't willing to fire it at an attacker, don't carry it. Period.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Flatland Whiskey Nut

Yeah, a whiskey review on a gun blog. Sue me (please don't, actually). I live in Iowa, and for 11 months of the year is it about 30 degrees below zero, with no sunshine and lots of rain or snow or both. If I can't get out to shoot or hunt, I like to relax by the fire (or oil-filled heater in this case) with a glass of whiskey (traditionally spelled "whisky" but if I spell it this way the spell checker lights up like a Christmas tree). Below are my favorites. Enjoy responsibly--put the guns away, lose the car keys, and turn on some Top Gear. Don't forget the ice.

#1. Maker's Mark bourbon.
Maker's has a traditional smoky bourbon flavor, but is really mellow on the way down. It brings some heat, but in a pleasant way. The flavor is quite good when served neat, and gets even mellower over a few ice cubes. If you want a mixer, get some Jim Beam or something cheap that you can defile with Coca Cola with a clean conscience. This stuff is only a dollar or two more than Jack Daniels, and oh so much better. All Jack has going for him is a fantastic advertising firm. I've read on a whiskey snob blog that you should keep JD in the liquor cabinet on the odd chance your teenager should get into it. They'll go for the JD first, given the brand recognition, and leave your good stuff alone.

#2. J&B's Blended ScotchI was recently turned on to J&B's while at dinner with my father-in-law. I was blown away by how mellow yet flavorful it was. It tastes like....good whiskey. There is only a warming sensation as it finds its way home. The flavor is light, but still bold enough to make itself known. Honey and grains really stand out in the taste. Served neat, it is great. Served over crushed ice, it is sublime. Consider that it is CHEAPER than Jack Daniels (which is the gold standard around here, despite the fact that I wouldn't clean my spark plugs with JD), and this is a real bargain for "everyday scotch". I had it with some chicken alfredo at a fancy-ish restaurant and it was awesome. It's a good starter for someone just getting into whiskey snobbery.

#3. Chivas Regal Scotch WhiskeyYou want good scotch? Here it is. Plain and simple. Serve it neat or over just a little ice....or I'll find you. This one's a bit more expensive at $40-ish for the 18 year vintage. The 12 year stuff goes for a bit less. Both are good, but I find them a little sweet on the finish, and I think that gets old after the second glass. Still fantastic stuff though. Probably pretty good with a cigar.

Honorable Mention (haven't had enough yet)
Knob Creek small batch bourbonI had a glass of this at a restaurant the other day. I had it neat, because I'm the paradigm of manhood. It had a really enjoyable spicy and smoky flavor, but it goes down with some serious heat!! I imagine a couple of ice cubes would calm it down a bit, but I don't know that. So it goes in the honorable mention category. I think Maker's Mark is a bit better, but I haven't had more than a glass of this yet.

Honorable Mention
Templeton RyeI had quite a bit of this once, and I'm ashamed to admit that I mixed most of it with Coca Cola. I'd never heard of Templeton before that fateful day, and I've wanted more ever since. This stuff hails from Templeton, Iowa, and is probably the only reason to live in Iowa willingly. Templeton Rye is truly "small batch" and only so much is released every year. It is not in wide circulation yet, but Templeton is slowly pushing into the rest of the country. Templeton has a very strong scent of vanilla and spice, but it is very understated and mellow tasting. There is very little burn, and the flavor is really great--not overpowering like most rye blends. If you must mix it, it is THE original ingredient in a Manhattan (not bourbon as is popular today). Templeton Rye was Al Capone's favorite drink and has survived prohibition to become a "legit" label today. Al evidently had good taste. This only goes in the "honorable mention" category because I've only had about four glasses of it in my life--but I just acquired a bottle of it tonight. Here's to Iowa's cold, crappy climate.

Cheers.

Long Term Relationships

I typically write quick range reports on my guns, but that isn't always the whole story. Today I'm going to write out what it's like to live with my favorites....and some chronic pains in the arse.

First, you'll notice that most of these updates are positive. That's because I do weeks if not months of research before buying a gun. I recommend you do the same. There's no such thing as too much information when it comes to making a major purchase.

Starting with long guns, I've had my Savages the longest, so they're up first. The 10FCP HS Precision (10 FCP hereafter) in .308 Winchester is pretty easily the most accurate rifle I own. At a range session a month or two ago, James put three of my 168gr FMJBT handloads into 3/4" at 200 yards. I managed to screw up a 1" group at 200 yards by dropping the fifth round about two inches low with a poor trigger pull. This rifle commonly turns in sub minute-of-angle (MOA) groups, even in the hands of novice shooters. The only problem with it is the weight. It weighs about 15lbs--maybe a touch more. It sucks to pack around, but it wasn't really meant as a walk-around gun. Savage built it as an out-of-the-box sniper rifle/benchrest rifle, and it does that very well. The Accutrigger is fantastic, the HS Precision stock is comfortable and unbelievably stable. Occasionally extraction gets weird and empties don't always make it all the way out for some reason. Maybe I'm just not using my man strength to work the bolt fast enough. All in all, the 10FCP is the most accurate gun you can buy for under $1000. In fact, I would bet you'd have to spend $3000-4000 on something like a Blaser or Accuracy International to see an appreciable increase in accuracy over the humble Savage.

The 10FCP's little brother--the Mk.II has also served me very well. I've killed two flies with it and my 9 year old niece was able to put 10 rounds into about 1.5" at 50 yards with it (the stock is too long for her, but she did very well anyway). I have killed starlings and sparrows at ranges up to 120 yards with it. Once again, the Accutrigger is really the key to the accuracy. It breaks cleanly and crisply at about 3.5 or 4lbs. I've never adjusted it. The only problem with this rifle is that I may have worn out the magazines. I bet I've shot close to 10,000 rounds through it and that may be a bit more than the rather flimsy magazines can take. The rifle REALLY needs a feed ramp or much tighter tolerances in the mag well because every once in a while, the round won't make the jump from the magazine to the chamber--with nothing at all to guide it home. The best fix is just to be quick on the bolt...but even then you can get some annoying hang-ups. This annoyance is easily forgiven due to the amazing accuracy.

My M&P15 has been fed a steady diet of crappy ammunition to include Wolf steel case stuff, and I've NEVER had a failure while shooting centerfire ammo. I've had a couple with my CMMG .22LR adapter, but that's to be expected. Even then, I've maybe had 10 jams out of 2000 rounds or so through the adapter. I've never really sat down and accuracy-tested the M&P15 and keep telling myself I'm going to do it...but then I get ADD again and go do something else. I've killed a few melons and soup cans with it, but I always end up hunting with something else (even though I justified buying it as a coyote gun). I would sell it, but it feels very comforting in my hands--like an old friend coming to visit. I love the M16/M4 platform and an M16A2/M203 saved my bacon once in a very nasty part of the world. I will not forget it, and even though this rifle has ended up being more of a range toy, I don't think I'll ever get rid of it, even if I do think about it once in a while.

For some reason, I bought a Benelli Nova slug gun and converted it into a tacticool piece and it has proven to be pretty awesome. It does everything really well. It breaks clays (better be quick though), launches slugs with a good deal of accuracy, and throws buckshot pretty well out to 25 or 30 yards. I've never had any problems with it, but it's a pump action shotgun. I do like it much better than the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870. The Benelli is just "nicer". The pump feels faster, the magazine interrupt is handy, and for some reason I don't feel as much recoil as I do with the 870 or especially the 500. If you only shoot a few rounds a year for deer or pheasant season, the Remington and Mossberg will do fine. If you shoot more, I think you'll appreciate the Benelli.

On to handguns....

Top of the list here is my M&P9C, which continues to be as reliable as a wood-burning stove, accurate, fast, and concealable. It is a very good gun, and used to be cheap. You'll pay a premium for one nowadays, but I think it's worth it. I've owned the XD, Glock, and M&P. The only one I still have is the M&P. It has a better trigger, better ergonomics, and I shoot it WAY better. I've put rounds on target at 50 yards with this little gun--from an improvised rest and from standing unsupported. S&W hit this one out of the park. The only problem with this gun is my P64.....

The P64...ugh. How on Earth did communist slaves make something this good? How?!!! I bought this because I always wanted a PPK, but .380ACP ammo prices are still in high orbit, and the PPK is about $500. The P64 cost me $217 after shipping, FFL fees, and a new set of springs (you need the new springs). The 9x18mm round is marginally (and I mean MARGINALLY) more powerful than .380ACP, but costs about the same as cheap 9mm Luger ammo. But price isn't the only selling point. James and I shot his P64 (he bought two after firing mine) at 50 yards and got about %60 hit rates from an improvised rest. In fact, one of my six actually hit the bull's eye. If all you're looking for is a "do everything" concealed carry piece, you would be very silly indeed not to get a P64. I haven't had this gun very long, but I've put about 300 rounds through it without a hiccup. It is so good I had to include it.

You can't watch an old detective movie without seeing a S&W J-Frame of some kind. My 442 is the hammerless ("snag-free") pocket model in .38 SPL(+P rated). It is a current production model and features the "Hillary Hole" or integral locking system. I have put maybe 250 rounds through it so far and can do pretty well out to 15 yards. It is hard to shoot, period. The 442 was designed as a pocket gun for gun fights at knife fight ranges, and it does pretty well at that (though the P64 would be a better option...damn you, communism!). J-Frames are not for the faint of heart, nor the "one-box-a-year" shooter. Often, uninformed men will try to push these pocket cannons on their wives because the gun is so small. What they don't realize is that a gun this small--even when chambered in the mild-mannered .38 SPL--is really obnoxious to shoot!

That's pretty much it for guns I've owned for any length of time. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Best Kept Secret In Shooting



This is the long-awaited P64 range report. I thought I was going to get back and write something along the lines of "good, but not great". I was wrong. The P64 proved itself to be utterly reliable through 150 rounds, and was surprisingly accurate. I dare say I shoot it better than I shoot my M&P9C. I used Silver Bear 94 grain full metal jacket rounds and loaded a "Barney bullet", or topped off the magazine after loading a round into the chamber. The mag holds six, so with the Barney bullet I had a total of seven. The little gun hurled the empty cases between 25 and 30 feet to my right, and just slightly behind me. I had no problems of any kind.

The trigger was the sticky wicket, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be. I replaced the hammer spring with a Wolff 17lb spring and put an extra strength firing pin spring and recoil spring in it before I ever fired a shot, so a bone-stock P64 might not shoot this well. I guarantee the double action pull is horrid without these upgrades. In interest of full disclosure, I polished the hammer, sear, and a big section of the trigger linkage that drags on the disconnector. This helped the double action pull get a little slicker, but it is still very heavy and has a pronounced "stacking" effect--meaning the resistance gets stiffer as you pull through it. I'm not sure of a way around it. At least not a safe one. A competent gunsmith could probably cure it, but then it would cease to be a cheap gun and you'd be better off spending the money on a PPK or PPK/s. The stiff and sort of clunky DA pull made my first round hit a little low and a little left of my point of aim. The next six rounds fired from SA would all find the same hole, or close to it.

I shot the target below from 10 and 15 yards with 7 rounds from each distance, and there really isn't a difference in the group. The two holes low on the target were the first shots of each string. I threw one high, and strung a couple out, but most went exactly where I wanted them to and made very tight groups.
...and a little closer...


The only "problem" I had was that my grip is very high, and the P64 lacks any kind of beavertail to protect the web of your hand between forefinger and thumb from the slide under recoil. I got a little bit of slide bite and it just barely cut me open on the side nearer to my thumb. Of course, it took about 100 rounds for it to do that. I still prefer my high grip because it affords a bit more control, but those with larger *cough* fat *cough* hands might get scuffed up substantially more.

The recoil itself was maybe a tiny bit snappy, but really not any more than any other small pistol I've shot. The muzzle rise is considerably less than my S&W 442 in .38 Special. It also didn't seem as loud, but that could just be my seasonal allergies clogging up my head. All in all, the P64 handles very well. The recoil doesn't slow down double taps as much as the long reset of the trigger.

My general impression is that, with the upgraded springs (another $20 all together), this pistol could very easily hang with the better-finished PPK any day of the week. Keep in mind that a PPK is about $490, while the P64--after the spring upgrade kit--is about $217. Ammo for the P64 is also cheaper, more plentiful right now, and slightly more powerful than the PPK's .380ACP. The 9x18mm Makarov is about 100fps faster than the .380ACP at their most common projectile weights. Additionally, most small pistols are very obnoxious to shoot. This one is not. It is fairly docile, and I imagine the PPK is as well, since they have more similarities than differences. I have no qualms about suggesting the P64 as a concealed carry piece. None at all. It is small, reliable, and accurate. That's a great formula for a defensive weapon. The Polish P64 is a truly great little pistol, with a tiny bit of work anyway. I thought about riddling this article with Pollock jokes, but if you don't get a P64 while the price is right, the Pollock joke is on you.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Dodging Bullets And Ducking Questions

You'll recall I said I'd think about writing a piece on engaging an active shooter in a sort of "worst case scenario". Well, the truth is that I can't teach you that over a blog. Hell, I might not be able to teach you that in person. Yes, I've taught urban warfare classes (on tactics, not strategy) in the Army at the platoon and company level. I've been in a gun fight before, and came out on top. I read everything I can get my hands on about tactics, techniques, and theory behind shooting. I intend to go to a private shooting school and take tactical pistol and carbine courses once I get a real job. I have experience, training, and an adequate level of marksmanship. I fancy myself a journeyman gunfighter--not a master of anything, but capable or even good at a few things.

Engaging in a gunfight is something that you must weigh against your training, experience, skill, mental agility, and personal moral code. I cannot advise you on how to proceed. There are just too many variables. Yes, this is ducking the question a bit, but a wise man knows when he is out of his league, and advising on this is definitely not something to do over the interwebs. In lieu of my advice, I will point out a list of reading materials, and some places you can go for training from an instructor--not just a gun nut from the intertubes.

Reading:
SWAT Magazine: Great for gearheads who have to know about the latest and greatest tacticool toys. It also generally gives sound tactical advice and is written by dudes who have been there and done that.

Anything by Col. Jeff Cooper: Cooper lived a wild life, from the Marine Corps to intervening in conflicts in Africa on his own time, as well as being a truly great big game hunter. He also championed the 1911A1 pistol and pretty much wrote the book on self-defense. He was a great man and his books are very informative. He has some strong opinions, and occasionally he and I differ, but I'd never say he was wrong.

Schools

Thunder Ranch
Lethal Force Institute
NRA
Blackwater

Of course there are many more, but these are probably the most popular/famous.

Learn, train, then practice.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What's Bulletproof, and What Ain't.

As Gary Jules put it, "it's a very very mad world". Nutcases get guns illegally and then go shoot up malls, synagogues, churches, and schools. The worst part is that the law abiding are not always allowed (despite the 2nd Amendment...) to carry guns to defend themselves. Even if you are lucky enough to be carrying a gun when the poop hits the oscillating metal blades, you need to know what to do to stay alive. And punching holes in the 10-ring of your 25 yard NRA pistol target, while a good start, is not everything. Because engaging an active shooter is an even more nebulous subject, this article will focus on evasion.

You're walking through your local mall when all of a sudden, gunfire erupts. Now your first instinct might be to locate the fire and run away. You might get away with that if the crowd is big enough and the fire is far enough away.

What you should do is hit the floor immediately. Then, if you can, get a general direction of the fire and find something concrete or thick metal to get behind. Most malls here in the midwest are made of brick or some kind of compressed concrete. About 6" worth of that should stop most handgun rounds and most shotgun rounds. A rifle, however, may penetrate it and a burst or two certainly will. See the fountain above? If you put that between you and the threat and crawled away as quickly as possible, that thing would take a lot of fire for you.

Dry wall will not stop much of anything. Most common handgun calibers can penetrate six to ten thicknesses. Shotguns and light rifles can penetrate much more. Drywall and wall boards are not cover, but they can conceal your escape. Stay low, and keep out of the threat's line of sight. Move fast, and if you get shot, don't stop and whine about it. If you can still move, then move. Modern medicine can put you back together from pretty serious damage. Flesh wounds to your extremities are nothing to worry about immediately. Keep going and feel the pain later. You can only get medical help if you're out of the shooter's range.

Cars are not cover either. The engine compartment will provide some cover, as will the wheel rims, but if the shooter has a rifle, they may not be enough. Car bodies are easily sliced up by even light pistol cartridges. If you get stuck behind a car, put the engine compartment between you and the threat, and protect the rest of your body by staying in close alignment to a wheel rim if you can. Stay low and crawl on your belly to other positions, going under other cars if you can instead of around or over them.

Tables, chairs, and other furnishings are not cover either. All of them will be easily shredded by anything that goes "boom". These things can conceal you, but if you draw fire while behind them, you will be hit, and the bullet won't even slow down much. You have to be smart about using concealment. There are too many variables for me to give any good universal advice. Just keep your cool and pick a fast, protected route the hell out of there.

If you must run from one point to another, do so in short bursts. The Army preaches 3 to 5 seconds, with your sprint ending at a new covered or concealed position. If you get a chance to run longer, i.e. the threat starts moving in the other direction or stops paying attention to you, then run, run, and run some more--keeping near covered or concealed positions. Have an idea of what you're going to dive behind if the threat turns his attention back to you. Being fat is not an advantage here. You don't have to look like Arnold, but being able to sprint a few hundred yards without pooping your pants will be very helpful.

Another idea of note is that once the shooting starts, all rules go out the window. If you need to kick down a door or smash a window to get out, then do that. Don't break glass with your body. Use a chair, a baseball bat, a large potted plant, even a very large book might do. Common fire extinguishers are great for breaking glass. If you must break glass with your hands or feet, wrap the appendage doing the breaking in heavy cloth or leather. You're still probably going to get cut. Oh, and kick doors near the door knob, as most locking mechanisms are found there. Being fat will help you break the door down, as more weight is usually better. Kick like you mean it. Steel doors or doors with reinforced jambs will probably not break, so you're better off finding somewhere else to try. At this point your goal is to survive, not to be polite. Break what you have to if it gets you out alive.

I hope none of you ever need this advice. Stay tuned, as I may do a short write up on engaging an active shooter, but there are a HUGE number of variables there and it may take my tiny caveman brain some time to pare it down to something useful and intelligent sounding.

Friday, September 4, 2009

One More Nail In The Caliber Debate Coffin



Both images shamelessly stolen from the interwebs. The authors behind both were clearly brilliant. Cheers.

Look, chest thumping 9mm bashers! Look at the ballistics gel test! Look at it and tell me there is a meaningful difference between 9mm and .45ACP. Yes, the permanent cavities are slightly different, but it looks to me like they both caused "caliber and a half" permanent cavities and penetrated more than 12", per FBI recommendations. I'm not knocking bigger calibers, I'm just trying to throw some cold water on the "9mm is too small" crowd. Don't carry it if you don't want to, but don't pretend that it is not a capable caliber.

Pick the one you like, and practice, practice, practice. If you can't hit the 10 ring, it doesn't matter how big your projectiles are!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Four Rules of Safety


RULE I: TREAT ALL GUNS AS THOUGH THEY ARE ALWAYS LOADED

RULE II: NEVER LET THE MUZZLE COVER ANYTHING YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO DESTROY

RULE III: KEEP YOUR FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER UNTIL YOUR SIGHTS ARE ON THE TARGET

RULE IV: BE SURE OF YOUR TARGET, AND WHAT IS BEYOND IT

The idiots in the video above showed very well just how important these rules are. I would add "Don't do drugs or consume alcohol around firearms". Surely my audience is sharp enough to not need that rule written down, but the wastes of skin in the video may.

Oh, and a side story about flares I picked up in the military. I heard from a guy who was deployed to Bosnia (third hand Army stories, take it for what it's worth) that they had trouble with a sniper showing up in the same spot night after night, and taking two or three shots at the base. The U.S. forces were not authorized to fire live ammunition, however, they were authorized to fire flares as a warning. So, the next day, said sniper shows up right on time, in the same spot as always. One cowboy decides he is going to actually aim his 40mm flare AT the sniper. The whole platoon lets loose with 40mm flares, pop flares, and pen flares. Said cowboy makes a direct hit on the bad guy, and the flare WELDS ITSELF TO HIS RIBCAGE!!!! Human flesh BURNS when exposed to extreme heat!!! The flare nearly killed the sniper, and managed to burn most of the skin and muscle off his upper chest. So the story goes.

Guns (and by extension, flare guns) are NOT toys! Follow the five rules above, or someone could get more than a scorched face! Acting a fool like this is exactly the sort of thing that gives the appearance of legitimacy to the anti-gun lobby. Every time you pick up a firearm, you are acting as an ambassador of the shooting community. What kind of ambassador will you be?

Oh, and stupid should hurt.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Polish P64 First Look


I got the P64 back from my FFL today. It came slathered in something I wouldn't call grease, but is too heavy to call "oil". Sort of snot-like, but no matter. A few minutes with my trusty cleaning kit, and it was good to go. J&G calls these "very good plus" condition, and I solidly concur. There is only a hint of holster wear around the muzzle. I think it is going to be one heck of a concealed carry piece. This pistol was designed by the Polish state weapons factory, Radom. It was "inspired" by the Walther PPK and PP, obviously with more than a little help from some tracing paper.


Here it is next to my pathetic cell phone. I don't need any apps. I need to send and receive calls, and occasionally text. Back on the subject of guns, you can't tell from this angle, but it isn't much thicker than my cell phone. Can't beat that for $197 delivered!

Here you see a crappy picture of my wallet next to the P64. They're about the same thickness. This thing is really easy to hide! I tried it out in an inside-the-waistband holster (hereafter IWB) and it is absolutely invisible, even under just a t-shirt.

Here's the pic of that "Euro style" mag release. Push it toward the backstrap to release the magazine. Those lamb-burning communists in Poland didn't bother to use the PPK's button style mag release. Of course, this one is simpler, and when you're using slave labor to make guns, simpler is better.

Now, two things the Walther DOESN'T have: tiny, squinty sights (the PPK's are better, but not much) and a loaded chamber indicator. You see the shiny dot? That's it. It sticks out about 1/10th of an inch when there's a round in the chamber. You can feel it as well as see it. Not a bad addition, and sort of makes up for the lack of a proper mag release.

Over all, this is a very well made gun. There are a couple of wear marks and tool marks on the inside of the slide and frame. However, the finish is deep and even. The grips are pretty decent for being communistical plastic. I've never shot a PPK, but I have fondled one many times. The P64 has almost sharp corners on the frontstrap. We will have to see how that feels under recoil.

Oh, and the trigger! The DA pull is every bit as bad as I've read on the interwebs. Some claim to have measured it between 25lbs-27lbs! That's absurd and darn near useless. The SA pull is awesome. It feels like my tuned up 1911! I couldn't believe my finger! I would guesstimate the SA pull at 2lbs or so with a long take up and a crisp break. Nicely done, communist slaves!

It may be a while before I get this to the range (the new springs aren't here yet). I will post a range report in a couple of weeks though. Stay tuned.