Sunday, August 26, 2012

Iowa Firearms Coalition 2A Rally!

I got out to the IFC's Second Amendment Rally at the Big Springs Range on Saturday. There were some big-wig speakers, to include Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. There were a couple of vendors, to include Controlled Chaos Arms and Brownells, though Brownells spent most of their time handing out freebies. I got out of there with a free triple mag pouch for AR15 20rd mags. I bought a CCA hat, then shot a Mini-Uzi, and shot a 3-gun demonstration mini-stage. Also, Savage Arms had a table of their newest arrivals, to include a 300 WinMag 110 BA available to shoot for free. Also, the American Silencer Association had a table of suppressed weapons that were also available to fire for free. I shot a suppressed 1911, and it was awesome. I also shot a Savage Model 25 lightweight varminter, and of course the 110 BA.

Below is a video of some class III available for rent, as well as yours truly beating the day's best time on the 3-gun mini-stage. Followed by a Ricky Bobby-esque interview. I don't talk so good, but I can shoot straight. Video below belongs to CRI, shared via YouTube.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I'm The Pretender

For all the shit I give to mall ninjas and tacticool wannabes, I'd be lying if I said CQM wasn't fun. Firing controlled pairs at close range, and while on the move is hugely fun. But it's expensive. And it doesn't have to be.

Whilst deployed last year, a buddy and I hatched a plan that should be the envy of most any man. We thought up a tacticool .22LR only shooting competition. We call it "Subcaliber High Intensity Tactical Shooters" or S.H.I.T.S. With options like the Sig 522, M&P15-22, MP5-22, and .22LR conversions for almost every popular sidearm, it only makes sense.

SHITS would only be for fun, and though you might get some good training out of it, the main purpose is to revel in tacticoolness and let your inner mall ninja out. Though I have a scoring system written down (based loosely on Bianchi Cup scoring), I'm thinking about adding bonus points (actually deductions, because Bianchi Cup scores like golf) for wearing outrageous chest rigs, huge knives, and horribly branded gear (i.e. matching 5.11 pants, shirt, hat, underwear, socks, boots, and gloves).

What do you think, my meager audience? Does this sound like something worth pursuing or should I start taking my medicine again?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Day I Differed With Jeff Cooper

I'm a big fan of being olde fashioned. My primary carry gun is a revolver, my only "customized" gun is a five-screw S&W Model 10, and I still consider carrying my 1911 Commander in cold weather. I own books by Jeff Cooper, and read as much as I can of him, Bill Jordan, and Elmer Kieth. Most of the time, the best ways are the old ways (when it comes to combat anyway). 

But I was reading merrily along the other day, and found this quote from the late Colonel Cooper:

“It has never been clear to me why increased magazine capacity in a defensive pistol is particularly choice. The bigger the magazine the bigger the gun, and the bigger the gun the harder it is to get hold of for people with small hands. And what, pray, does one need all those rounds for? How many lethal antagonists do you think you are going to be able to handle? Once when Bruce Nelson was asked by a suspect if the thirteen-round magazine in the P35 was not a big advantage, Bruce’s answer was, “Well, yes, if you plan to miss a lot.” The highest score I know of at this time achieved by one man against a group of armed adversaries was recorded in (of all places) the Ivory Coast! There, some years ago, a graduate student of mine laid out five goblins, with four dead and one totaled for the hospital. Of course there is the episode of Alvin York and his eight, but there is some dispute about that tale. (If you read it over very carefully you will see what I mean.) Be that as it may, I see no real need for a double column magazine. It is all the rage, of course, and like dual air bags, it is a popular current sales gimmick.”

If Elmer Kieth was "The Grand Old Man of the Gun", Jeff Cooper was "The Grumpy Grandpa of the 1911".  Cooper was a great man by any measure, and probably saw more guerilla combat than I ever did. But he got a bit myopic about his beloved 30-06 and 1911. Yes, those two firearms are still relevant and still very effective. But there are better options now, and double stack mags are a HUGE advantage. He who reloads least, wins. 

True, your average armed citizen will probably not find need for more than a handful of rounds in any given confrontation, it sure is nice to have a subcompact 9mm with 13 rounds on board. I was sure glad to have 16 rounds in my G22 when I was a police officer. And I was REALLY glad to have 30 rounds in my Colt M4 on my last tour. 

The one line in Cooper's quote that I particularly take issue with is the line about planning to miss a lot. That is a grumpy grandpa thing to say about us damn kids with our loud music and hoola-hoops. The implication being that the only reason for more than seven rounds is poor marksmanship. I'd like to see Cooper (in his prime) shoot side by side with Dave Sevigny and a G21. I think he would find that having double the capacity would indeed be an asset. Capacity can be used as a crutch. But it can be incredibly valuable because you need to reload less often. Also, if your mags carry more ammo, you can carry fewer mags and leave space for other gear or water. That's pretty important if you're on foot and deep in indian territory. 

One day, I hope I'm half the marksman Cooper was. But not as emotionally attached to any particular caliber or platform. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Flatland DIY Nut

I was installing a sewer vent in a new commercial building the other day when I had an awesome idea for a PVC target stand. There are a number of designs out there, but the one I came up with (well, someone has undoubtedly built one before), is versatile and cheap. I can get three and a half stands out of two 10' sticks of 1.5" schedule 40 PVC. Each stand requires four PVC 90 degree elbows ("slip joint" or "glue joint" for all fittings), two 1.5" tees (sanitary or regular will work, but sanitary is usually cheaper), and some PVC primer and glue. You'll also need furring strips to use as uprights. Here's a rough step-by-step.

You can use whatever dimensions you want, but mine are: 2@ 12.75", 4@ 5", 2@10" (the last two are the upright pieces--and not in this picture). This configuration gives me a roughly 18"x18" base.

Glue the 90s onto the 12.75" pieces, and use a level surface to level the 90s before the glue sets. The purple stuff is primer, and the glue is clear. Wear safety glasses and gloves when doing this. PVC primer and glue are seriously caustic. 

Assemble the pieces thusly, and use something to level the tees. Being a plumbing apprentice, I have a torpedo level to do this. 

You didn't build that.
This is what the completed stand looks like. This is also what the inside of my garage looks like. If it gets windy, you can stabilize it with a sandbag, or get really creative and fill the PVC with sand. I don't hold the furring strips in the PVC with anything but gravity. If you shoot one off, you can pull it and replace it quickly. Enjoy your new target stand.

Real Training

I've posted a number of negative articles on what isn't training. Well, today, since I'm on my way to the State Fair to get a double-bacon corndog, I'm going to be positive. What is training, and what you should look for in a good school.

I'm nobody's fanboy, but I think Travis Haley has the market cornered on good training right now. I also like Clint Smith, and I like them for the same reason: simplicity. Good tactics are simple above all else. Simplicity makes it easy to achieve muscle memory. Muscle memory becomes an automatic response under stress, and the way to achieve that is simple repetition. Here's a YouTube clip of Haley on reloading, then a personal story about muscle memory.

So there I was, at Camp Shelby, MS. We were running a squad live fire, and the mission was to clear a three hut "village", then react to contact on the far side. There were three phases: dry, blank fire, live fire. I had already done the course with my squad, and being super high speed, I was selected to lead the HQ section on their iteration. I had been living on the range for three days, and had been averaging an hour or so of sleep a night (you did a day iteration AND a night iteration with all three phases. YAY!) sleeping in a hummvee.

It was dusk on the third day, dry iteration. I was exhausted, hungry, and utterly soaked with sweat from Mississippi's unique 15000% humidity. We made it to the second hut, and I was the #2 man in the four man stack outside the door. We busted in and I hit my corners. The OC (the guy who ran the range) had moved the targets, and one was now in my sector. I flipped my selector to "FIRE" and pulled the trigger to hear a click. I performed SPORTS without thinking about it. I heard a "click" when my exhausted brain wanted a "bang" and did SPORTS. This is a prime example of how simplicity and repetition come together to save you under stress.

Now, watch Clint do some reloading. I think Haley is faster, but Clint may have a point on not using the slide release. Why not use the slide release? Clint's line is "I just reloaded every pistol on the planet". Compelling reasoning, but probably not advice for competition. Ultimately, the choice is yours. I'm going to play around with Haley's way and Smith's way and see which one I like more.

In any case, a great litmus test for training is "is it simple?". If the answer is "no", then save your money and find a new trainer.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Homeschool Ninja

While at the gun store the other day, I overheard one of the clerks pimping a training school that he and some friends had started recently. And while I encourage training, I discourage bullshit. And I overheard a great deal of bullshit. The very first line I heard was "We can teach you to operate a weapon just like Special Forces!" then "We used to only allow Glock pistols and AK rifles because we didn't want unreliable guns in our classes.".  My bullshit meter spiked and I started to get a little pissed. The dude went on to say that he spent some years in the Army. I wanted to ask if he was SF, since he had claimed to be able to teach SF skills to Joe Couch Commando. But I decided not to further raise my blood pressure by shouting down a Buck Yeager wannabe.

I know I've posted on this topic a dozen times or so, but be very careful when selecting trainers. Some of them, especially new schools, tend to be run by Call of Duty commandos, or military vets who never saw combat, or worse yet those who were deployed, but spent the whole time on a huge FOB where the biggest threat was that the chow hall would be out of Lucky Charms.

Even with my experience, I would never deign to tell someone I could teach them "special forces" anything. The thing that bothers me the most is the false sense of preparedness that these classes can instill in someone who pretty much still doesn't know how to use a gun. Two days on a range, even at a good school, isn't enough to prepare you for a gunfight. I worry about the "Superman syndrome" that classes can give people. Especially when they teach faulty premises like you should clear your house if you think there's been a break-in. Or that a knife fight is ever a good option. Or going hands-on without a retention holster. Or any number of things that are really popular topics these days.

For the love of John M Browning, please apply common sense when seeking a trainer. If it seems stupid, it probably is. If the trainer's claims seem a bit fantastical, they probably are.

Of Two Minds

I dropped in on my local Sportsman's Warehouse to pick up some kydex 1911 mag pouches, and as always, I stopped off at the gun counter to see what was new. I talked with the fellow about wanting to get back into a pistol club, but wasn't sure I wanted to stick with my Para LTC as a competition rig forever. We talked caliber and platform minutiae for a bit, and then he handed me a Sig 220, saying it was very 1911-ish, but the controls were a bit more user friendly.

Now I've shot a Sig 220 a number of years ago, and I liked it, but never saw anything striking about it. Until I played with the one at Sportsman's. There are a couple of meaningful upgrades on the Sig that a prospective 1911 buyer might want to check out. First, the slide release is directly above the grip, not in front of it. This makes reloading MUCH easier. Even with my slightly-larger mitts, I have to cant my 1911 slightly to reach the slide release. Second, there is no manual safety as such. The Sig runs a traditional DA/SA trigger with a de-cocker. That means you get the same point-and-pull manual of arms from the tactical tupperware of the shooting world. Also, you get real 8 round mags that work! I have yet to find any single brand of 8 round 1911 mags that all work. Even top dollar stuff like Wilson and Nighthawk don't always work well.

The Sig 220 comes at a hefty price though. The base model (and there are about two dozen flavors of Sig 220) starts at $850. Extra mags from Sig are a gag-inducing $40 each. Also, you can't use semi-wadcutter bullets due to the Sig's short feed ramp (XDs suffer from the same thing). And there's just something right about shooting a 1911 full of SWCs.

I handed the Sig back and asked to see a Glock 19, preferably Gen 3. They had one, and for $499 new, it seemed a bit of a bargain. I like Glock's grip angle and low bore axis. I like their cheap factory magazines that drop free every time and function every time. I like the fact that EVERYONE makes Glock mag pouches, holsters, and aftermarket parts. I miss my Glock 17, but I think the 19 would be an awesome do-everything gun. Concealed carry is possible, the sight radius is good enough for competition, and it seemed to point better than the G34 and G17 I also fondled while at the counter.

I'm not sure which direction I want to go with my next pistol (if I even decide to get one). I like the idea of being in the "major" caliber division, but the higher capacity of a 9mm (and lower cost) seems pretty appealing. I guess the first step is to actually get to a match and see if I'm competitive or not. Then worry about how to get better.