Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Good Guys

I buy almost all of my shooting supplies from the interwebs. I'm a busy man, and shopping online helps me save time, and usually saves me a buck or two. The following is a short list of my favorite retailers. All too often we focus on the negative, and who not to buy from. Well, here's raising my glass to the good guys of gun-nuttery. Here they are in no particular order.

Midway has just about everything you'll ever need for shooting. I've customized most of my guns with parts from Midway. They ship FAST and offer many options, including the good old United States Postal Service. If you're just buying a new set of grips and some replacement springs, you can have it shipped "parcel post" or priority for just a couple of dollars, instead of being stuck with FedEx or UPS (which are the better deal for bulkier, heavier orders or hazmat).

Surplus guns, ammo, and assorted accessories. I just buy ammo from this place. They are the cheapest I have found for 7.62x54R and 7.62x25mm. They occasionally have 5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm surplus at reasonable prices. If you have an 8mm Mauser to feed, they can keep you stocked up at better prices than almost anyone else. They also sell surplus rifles, and occasionally surplus pistols. I've never bought a gun from them, so I can't comment on how smooth the process is.
If you need ammo for your 9x23mm Largo pistol, or some 37mm flares, or rocket assisted 12 gauge slugs, ATG has it. All sorts of oddball stuff is available at reasonable prices. I mainly buy 12ga buckshot and Multi-Defense ammo here. Reasonable prices, and a huge selection make it very appealing.
Guns, ammo, and accessories only a mouse-click away. I just ordered my Tokarev TTC from here on Thursday, the 23rd at about 2:30 p.m., and by noon on Friday, it had shipped. Fantastic turn-around, and great customer service. They are currently backlogged on ammunition and accessory orders, so you'll have to wait up to 14 days for it to ship. Guns, on the other hand, get shipped with blinding speed.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Shortage? What Shortage?

My guns have fallen silent. Mostly anyway. Ammunition is gone, back-ordered into oblivion. Prices are ABSURD. My poor 9x19mm children will likely spend their summer locked away in my footlocker. Even the once ubiquitous .22lr is impossible to find. So what do you do if you want to keep shooting? Well, you can always do some snap-cap practice. Or you can start shooting C&R guns. C&R, for those of you still pursuing gun nut status, is Curio and Relic--guns older than dirt. Anyone who has watched Gran Torino will tell you not to count the elderly out.

I am about to tell the internet's best kept secret, but with my meager readership, I'm not scared. Ammunition for C&R guns--especially those from former commie republics--is in plentiful supply, and still mostly cheap. I will email folks my sources if they inquire, but I'm not outing my sources just yet. After all, I still need a tin of 7.62x25mm (or 7.62 Tokarev).

My order of laughably overpriced 9x19mm was back-ordered again, this time until June. I was going to pay (don't laugh) $217 for 900 rounds of Wolf 9x19mm. Fed up with waiting, I cancelled my order and went to and ordered a Romanian TTC pistol chambered in 7.62 Tokarev. This round is a fantastically hot loaded roughly .30 caliber steel-jacketed bullet that shoots flat and straight...and can defeat most soft armor. Not that I plan on shooting many armored coyotes, but nice to know you could if you had to. Oh, and 1224 rounds of ammo costs about $150 after shipping.

Just a bit of background on my new hog leg: it served as the Red Army's standard issue pistol from 1931 to about 1965. Truth be told, the Red Army used anything that would go "boom" as a pistol clear up to the fall of the Soviet Union. For the Reds, a pistol was for either executing prisoners, or executing their own troops. That said, the Tokarev TT-33 (and its Romanian clone, the TTC) is a stout, accurate, and (by the numbers anyway) powerful pistol. I saw quite a few of them still in service in the Afghan National Army, as well as in a few American holsters.

This is my pistol. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

Buying a new pistol just because you can find ammo for it may not make much sense at first glance. Until you realize that this rebuilt Romanian beauty queen cost me $247 after the transfer and shipping. I even paid $10 extra for the "hand select" option where the nice people at J&G sales will pick the best of five pistols to ship you. Extra magazines are $14 each, and it comes with one mag and an original holster. So the pistol cost me about $30 more than my laughably overpriced 9x19mm, will be here sooner (even though J&G is about two weeks behind on shipping), and I'll be able to shoot it more. In the internet vernacular: Epic Win.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If I Only Had One....

It's not my Nova, but mine looks similar. Authentic photos to come...

Believe it or not, I frequent gun-related message boards, sharing and absorbing advice when I can. There are a number of threads asking what you should own if you could only have one firearm. Well, if I could have only one, I would have my Benelli Nova slug gun. (Pictures to come next week. My shotgun isn't available for a photo op right now.) It's a 12 gauge, pump action shotgun with an 18.5" "cylinder" bore barrel. It has basic blade and notch sights (the rear is adjustable, but not easily), and I hit the front blade with my infamous metallic gold paint pen. My Nova can accommodate up to 3 1/2" shells, and now holds 7 rounds of 2 3/4" shells (or 6 of the 3" sort) thanks to a Tac Star +2 magazine extension. It handles very well, is nicely balanced, and the extended pump arm makes it faster to work the action, and easier to support for accurate slug fire.

If you can only afford one firearm for sport, defense, or fun at the range, the Benelli Nova will do it all. For about $300 you can get the base model slug gun, and for a bit more you can get the long-barreled waterfoul/turkey gun. I like the slugger because it is short and handy for defense--but it still breaks clay pigeons like nobody's business! You better get on 'em fast though because the short barrel does not throw a birdshot pattern very far.

With buckshot of any flavor, and certainly with my favorite 12ga. round in the world--Centurion's Multi-Defense, the Nova is very capable of delivering devastating payloads out to 50 yards or so. Slugs can be launched successfully out to 100 yards with accuracy. I recently put up a three shot group at 100 yards that had about a six inch lateral spread and four inch vertical spread, all centered about six inches below my point of aim. The sights came from the factory set dead on at 50 yards, and about six inches low at 100. I used my favorite slugs for the test- Remington Sluggers. They are cheap, plentiful, and knock a .72" hole in whatever you point them at. On a personal rant, there's no real incentive to buy the $5/shot slugs. The cheap ones do just about the same as the expensive ones. In my experience, the Remington Slugger and Brenekke K.O. (back when it was cheap...) fly just as straight as any of the high-dollar slugs I've shot.

Multi-Defense: When a .65" lead ball just isn't enough.

Moving on, as I've written here before, the shotgun is terribly versatile. It is powerful, and generally easy to use. (If you're a newbie, get training from QUALIFIED friends/relatives/paid professionals before firing a gun.) The shotgun can fill a number of roles by simply switching ammunition. Want to knock down deer or coyotes inside 125 yards? Get a $9 15-pack of Remington Sluggers. Want to break clays? Go get a $23 100-pack of birdshot. Want to send burglars on the highway to hell? Buy an (expensive) pack of Centurion Multi-Defense, or a case of 12 pellet 00 buckshot. Heck, steel BB shot will work for those concerned with shoot-through (apartment dwellers/urbanites with close neighbors). With the Nova, switching ammo types in the middle of a range session or a shootout (!) is easy. Lets say you are loaded with buckshot, and you need a slug NOW! The nova has a roughly 1" square button on the bottom of the pump arm. Pressing that button will cut off the magazine as you pump the buckshot round out of the chamber. So you now have an empty chamber and no new round of buckshot was fed into the action. Now you just drop your slug in the ejection port, close the action and you're all set. At first, I thought this feature was a bit of a gimmick, but I find myself using it just about every time I go to the range.

It's versatile, durable, handy, short, and lightweight. Not to mention powerful. So, if I could only have one firearm, it would be my trusty Benelli Nova.

Monday, April 13, 2009

AR-24 Range Report

The AR-24 reads up on ballistics

I took the AR-24 out and put 160 rounds through it this weekend. I had two strange malfunctions, which I will address later. Other than that, it was pretty fantastic.

When it comes to accuracy, the AR-24 was everything I hoped it would be. My crappy trigger pull left more than a few rounds hitting just below the bull's eye. A quick mental scolding, and most rounds thrashed the bull's eye. We (James and I) were also shooting clays with our tacticool 12ga shotguns. Those that got away were subjected to a pounding by the AR-24 or James' amazingly accurate Steyr M9A1. Keep in mind that those clays were lying on the ground at 20 yards or better--and often on a side profile which didn't present much of a target.

I had read on that the AR-24 handled "like a rimfire target pistol". I have to agree. Its weight, balance, and ergonomics really make it easy to keep the sights glued to the target. Most 9x19mm pistols don't have much recoil. This one has less than usual. The swooping cut of the back strap almost forces you to grip the pistol properly. It makes you put your hand high and firm.

I am not left-handed. (bonus points if you get the obscure reference)

The AR-24 has only right-handed controls. Sorry, southpaws.

If your grip looks like this, you are wrong.

Now for those two failures to eject. The first one occurred in mid-magazine. The slide locked open, a live round was on the extractor, and the spent case was below it, wedged between it and the magazine--but entirely free of the extractor and chamber. The second failure was on the very last round fired. The slide locked open on the empty magazine, and I visually checked the chamber to make sure it was clear. Sitting on top of the magazine was a spent case. Again, free of the extractor and chamber. Just sitting there, making my head hurt from trying to figure out the cause of such a malfunction. The common denominator was the factory magazine which was in use for both malfunctions. This particular magazine required extra force to lock in place, would not drop free of the mag well, and would only feed the first round if you used the slide release. My other three magazines don't do any of that. Oh, and while we're on magazines, EAA Witness magazines function flawlessly in this pistol.

Overall, I am really digging the AR-24. Hopefully I find the gremlins behind my failures to eject. It sure as heck is accurate enough for duty or even bowling pin matches. It's a real tack driver. But a pistol shouldn't have a malfunction from firing just 160 rounds. I will pull the extractor off later this week and check for a glob of cosmoline or some other defect. If I can fix the reliability issue, this thing would be just about perfect.

Thursday, April 9, 2009