Friday, September 7, 2012

Just Pulled, er, Pressed the Trigger on My First STI

Well folks, I done went and did it. Months of saving and waiting patiently have finally paid off and, barring any shipping issues, I should be running the background check for a new STI Edge tweaked out with a handful of Dawson Precision components.

The original plan was to order direct from STI but the 20-week lead time was a bit of an issue when I could find folks sticking new guns capable of shipping right away. STI even suggested I look at Dawson if I wanted a quick-ship blaster. Considering I had been saving for a number of months, I didn't really feel like waiting for another four...

While my Edge won't be tuned by Dawson, it will come to me already wearing their front sight, extended mag release, and the Ice magwell. Not too shabby of an upgrade list at $100 over MAP.

All in all... It should be a solid pistol pre-loaded with just a few competition-proven goodies, ready to roll. I can't wait!!

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Just How Good Are We??

Living along Colorado's Front Range has some very sweet perks - beautiful country, easy access to all manners of convenient living, decent jobs, and a thriving shooting community.

Outside of the Realtree camo and occasional RMGO stickers (and not counting the rolling billboard for Gunsmoke) you'd be hard pressed to tell we are home to several USPSA Grand Masters, a large number of Masters, and a very competitive group of shooters.

At a recent match I spoke with a Production Master who lamented the fact that they rarely draw more than 25 people to a monthly match in his part of the state while you will regularly find 50-60 each week at any number of the host clubs in the Eastern Colorado section.

And that got me thinking... I would love to know just how busy the other sections and clubs are just how well Area 2 and Eastern Colorado sit on a national scale. On a good day I usually place in the top 1/2 to 1/3 in Production, I would love to someday see how well I would perform on a national scale.

Maybe one day I'll shoot well enough to make Nationals and find out...

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Monday, August 27, 2012

USPSA Scoring... A Fickle Lady

Ever have one of those "OMG SRSLY?!?!?" moments right after seeing the results of a match or a stage you think you just rocked?

...happened to me just last night.

In a moment, I was reminded of two rather crucial things to keep in mind when you step into the high-adrenaline world of action pistol competition:

• 1 • Bring your best game to the range, especially to the first stage of the day. We usually don't get time to warm up our trigger fingers and run a "practice" stage with live fire before a match. Once you hear the RO ask "Is the shooter ready?" you should be in full-on "go mode."

• 2 • Fight for every match point; if you're starting out on a points-heavy stage, work hard to build a strong, simple plan you're not likely going to lose track of due to lack of sleep, caffeine, or focus at 9:15 in the morning. Focus on the fundamentals where possible - don't worry about an extra 0.15 seconds on your draw if you're burning 2 seconds stopping to set up for close targets you could move past an shoot at the same time.

Those are the two big things that caused me to lose literally 10 seconds on the first stage I shot last Sunday and drop me into 10th place for that stage. Unfortunately, that run was worth a large amount of the available match points, too. Despite finishing 3rd, 5th, and 6th (twice) on the other 4 stages I wasn't able to make up enough to keep from only placing 9/14 on the day.

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Sport vs. Personal Defense

Having just shot a USPSA match yesterday, I'm thinking about some of the aspects of this competitive group that provide a refreshing counterpoint to the tacticool universe of "CCW training" and range douchery...

Even with one shooter working a subcompact 10mm Glock from his IWB holster, clearly using his daily carry gear, nobody got into a chest-puffing competition about "defensive" issues, 9 vs. 40 vs. 45, or how hollow point brand "x" is so much more destructive than brand "y."

Living the CCW lifestyle, working as an instructor, and spending a significant amount of my time in Condition Yellow, it's great to be in an environment where the focus is on the pure sport of action pistol shooting... not as "training for real life" but simply for the sport, competition, skill development, and cameraderie.

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Xmas in August

August is shaping up to be a GREAT month for my collection of shootin' stuff!

I just saw the UPS delivery confirmation come in for my new Shooters Connection Tournament Series Ultra shooting bag... now I can't wait to get home!

I should receive a new holster for my LCR tomorrow from Garrett Industries - their Silent Thunder Solo hybrid leather/kydex IWB with standard clip and tuckable loops.

And... sometime next week I will cement my "Operator" cred with a new lid from Arc'teryx (their B.A.C. Cap) designed specifically for folks whose daily lives take them out to the ragged edge of civilized. In my case, I just want a Baller Ass Cap to take to the range and maybe show off at SHOT in January.

Then, of course, I have high hopes of ordering my USPSA Limited pistol (an STI Edge) before the end of the month.

If the gods of gunpowder and fun approve, this should be a great month for shootin' indeed and you can expect reviews of everything right here.

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Training, Practice, and Plain Ol' Shootin'

Giving some thought recently to what it means to train, to practice, and to just go to the range and play.

In the Tacticool world you often hear people talk about going to the range to "train" and I think it's both a little misleading and a little intellectually dishonest to one's self to call a trip to the range "training."

I think what I and most other serious shooters do when we take a defensive or competition rig to the range and run through a series of drills is actually practi e, and not technically training.

Training involves some level of formalized instruction. In martial arts (Aikido, Judo, and Karate per my personal experience) we always were led by a sensei or at least one of the black belts.

At the range, we're typically on our own or with friends. We work on drills from known instructors or those we've developed ourselves, but we're working to reinforce skills we obtained through training we've taken elsewhere.

Practice, therefore, is essential. It's the mechanism by which we integrate training into our lives, our defensive routines, or our competitive skill set. We will apart certainly learn while we train - we discover efficiencies, program complex operations into our "reptile brain" and make room for more learning.

I think it's important for those of us who instruct others to acknowledge and address the importance of both training and practice as one is only marginally effective without the other.

...and it helps us justify the request (begging) for funding to take more training classes!!!

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Slight Change in Plans much as I would love to start my journey into USPSA Limited Division with a full-on custom pistol, I don't really want to earn the reputation of someone who simply jumped in with his checkbook.

You know... Folks like the newbie skiers who come to the hill loaded with the latest info the Internet has to offer and the best equipment a damaged credit rating can afford. There's nothing more fun than blowing past those folks on an old pair of slalom race boards you picked up on discount in understated Gore-Tex and well-worn gloves. I still have the old Gore-Tex jacket... the gloves are long since blown out

I've hung the skis up (three knee operations later) but in the shooting world I absolutely love being the guy who shows up with good (but not flashy) gear and placing well with it.

Most of the folks I compete with are the same way... just like my old ski buddies. We're not dirtbags by any means but we know our gear, use our gear, and tailor it based on what we want, not what looks cool on Brian Enos Forums.

So... I share that long and winding story to tell you this one - instead of custom-building my first race gun I'm going to order a box-stock Edge from STI with no extras and no frills from the start.

I'm going to study the platform, learn how it fits, feels, and functions. I'm going to shoot it as much as possible before next season and keep after my goal of making "B" in Production with my lightly-modified M&P.

I anticipate adding a fiber optic front sight fairly quickly and dropping in an extended magazine release before competition season. I'll save up for a good set of magazines and likely send it to one of the local competition guru gunsmiths for a trigger job. After that, my plans are to run the snot out of it and start to build my chops in another competition division.

The funds are coming together, and I should be able to place the order within the next 3-4 weeks. I can't wait!

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stay Tuned! Custom STI Build Coming Soon

Over the weekend I confirmed pricing from STI and will soon place an order for the heart and soul of a new custom pistol designed for USPSA Limited division competition.

The gun will start as a factory-fitted 5" Tactical frame and slide configured for a .40 S&W bull barrel. It will be set up with front and rear serrations, milled to a flat-top and include Bomar rear sight cuts.

I'm looking hard at a Scheumann Ultimatch barrel, the Pro Series trigger group from Brazos Custom Guns, and safeties from Ed Brown or Wilson Combat. Rounding out the package, sights will hopefully come from Henning here in Colorado, it will wear a Dawson magwell, and be fed from a set of tuned mags.

Some of the fitting and assembly will be done within the company and other work will be sourced locally. I'm hoping to have the project completed sometime this Fall or Winter.

Stay Tuned! Pics and step-by-step build coverage to come!

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Cars of Death and Destruction

US auto deaths are up 13.5%
Someone had better call Bloomberg - these horseless carriages are DEADLY!

Click HERE for the whole story.

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Colorado Background Checks Are UP

I ran across a Fox News article this morning explaining background checks for firearm purchases are up by more than 40 percent over the weekend.

It's a fair guess to assume many of these folks are new gun owners who may have been on the fence or debating whether to buy a firearm for personal protection.

I see this as a huge positive from the perspective that more citizens are exercising their uniquely-American rights and that common sense (even if driven by a singular event) is starting to prevail. That common sense notion, of course, being we all have a right to defend ourselves from violent criminals both in and out of our homes.

I also see this for its potential need to educate folks about basic firearm safety, carry and defensive laws, and practical skills. Those of us who've spent considerable time in the gun universe know and regularly see how little experience the average owner has and just how proficient you will need to be on the day we all hope will never come.

Click HERE for the story.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

A Few Thoughts Following the Aurora Shooting

The gunman committed a true act of domestic terrorism.

The gunman did not use an "assault rifle" - I contest any weapon used to attack another (regardless of design) is an assault weapon.

This is ANOTHER tragic mass-casualty Active Shooter event to take place in a so-called Gun Free Zone.

Security in movie theaters is an absolute joke, WHEN it's present.

While a person with a permit to carry a concealed firearm probably could have shut down the shooter long enough to gain advantage, he or she probably would have been walking into the last moments of life.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

How could this happen in Chicago?

In theory, this couldn't have ever happened - Chicago (along with the entire state of Illinois) has no provision for concealed carry and effectively bans gun ownership in the city.

And all of this happened with POTUS enjoying a little vacation in Sweet Home Chicago with his family. I'd be willing to bet this didn't happen in HIS neighborhood.

It's ridiculous to think these folks still believe disarming law-abiding citizens is the answer! 7 dead over a weekend and the Rahm-bama crowd wants to blame US for this county's ills... shameful.

At least seven people were killed and 35 were injured since Friday night. The youngest victim was a 16-year-old girl who died after she was shot three times in the chest Saturday evening in the Englewood neighborhood.

Ten people were shot overnight Friday, and in one hour Sunday morning, three people were killed. The latest shooting happened just after midnight Monday when a 19-year-old was shot to death on the city's North Side.

The shootings mark the third weekend in a row with gunfire injuries totaling well into the double digits. Last weekend, 46 people were hurt and eight killed across Chicago. The previous weekend, 29 were injured and three were killed in shootings.

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Friday, June 8, 2012

The "Unarmed" Attacker

Thankfully, the media hullabaloo surrounding the Trayvon Martin shooting has died down somewhat, but there's one consistent element to the coverage which has been bothering me.

It requires a couple of assumptions, the key being that George Zimmerman is telling the truth about Martin going on the attack and the second being the attack itself went down as described.

Here's my issue... every news report I read or hear keeps circling back to Trayvon Martin being "unarmed." The intent here is clearly to illustrate that a guy with a gun shot a kid with no weapons on his person at the time.

However, here's where I think that logic misleads and misinforms the general public - being "armed" is as much about mindset and will as it is focused on the weapon itself. Following that logic, I feel it's irresponsible and inaccurate to characterize Martin as this innocent, unarmed cherub.

The evidence may soon demonstrate his hands and body were very effective weapons and his size, conditioning, and training in a sport which rewards physical brutality provided the ability and willingness to use them to inflict what we call in Colorado "great bodily injury or death."

The tools and the will went sideways, however, when Martin found himself on the losing end of fists-vs-gun.

One could make the argument that Martin didn't know Zimmerman was, himself, armed with a handgun and that his intent was to visit violence upon someone HE thought to be unarmed. This is a far cry from the scared little boy we're being led to believe Zimmerman shot in cold, racist blood.

And, for those who believe hands, feet, elbows, knees, and the head aren't "weapons" capable of inflicting great bodily harm or even death, watch an MMA match or search the Internet for injuries sustained by muggings or street fights.

A person need not equip himself with a gun, knife, club or brick to be considered "armed." To assume that an "unarmed" person can't visit grave, mortal damage to another human being could be the last bad decision someone makes.

Shame on the media (Fox included) for insinuating innocence or, at least, no intent to visit harm because a person wasn't carrying a weapon.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Shooting Old Yugoslavian Iron

After testing three different batches of ammo tonight, I had the unexpected pleasure of having another shooter ask me if I want to give his old Yugoslavian M56 a spin. Never one to turn down a chance to shoot old eastern-European pistols, I graciously took him up on the offer!

This particular model was manufactured in 1953 and was in next-to-new condition. Loosely-based on the 1911, they're wickedly accurate for old post-war surplus guns and shoot a bizarre, fun cartridge - the 7.62x25 Tokarev.

As one might expect from that part of the world, it's a heavy, purposeful, and somewhat foreign-feeling pistol. The grip angle is weird, the sights are tiny, and the trigger appears to have been designed by the same guy who drew up the plans for a tractor transmission. Run a few rounds and it comes together pretty quick, as did the tightly-packed (about 1.5" at 15") cluster of 7.62mm holes would attest.

The cartridge is what one might describe as "sporty" if you lived next door to the 1980 Russian Olympic Hockey Team - incredibly well-managed yet deadly serious. 85 grain bullets don't make it to 1,500 fps without a hell of a push.

The weight of the Yugoslav Tokarev copy soaks it up, but the recoil is substantial and the lack of a "beavertail" at the back of the grip offers little reminder that there is nothing separating a high hold from the hammer. Having been bit by another Tokarev in the past, it's a lesson you usually learn on the first day of class.

Not a bad way to end a Wednesday...

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Monday, June 4, 2012

The Range A-Hole

If you shoot regularly at a real range (not just some open land in the hills), you're bound to run into him...

You know, that guy who knows all, is an expert at everything, and seems to lack that internal filter which keeps most of us from acting like a compete jackass.

Sadly, my shooting schedule often puts me at the range at the same time as our (not so) beloved Range A-hole.

You couldn't cast this guy any better...
Stereotypical "Glocks-rule, everything-else-drool" guy, IDPA shooter (because USPSA is just spray-and-pray dancing with no real-world use), expert on all things "defensive" and gun world name-dropper extraordinaire. If he shows up and the range is full, he gripes until a lane comes open. If you're finishing your session and letting your gear cool off, he'll make fun of you for not putting a red-hot firearm back in your range bag.

If you actually work in "the biz" (and I do!), he will demand to know why you get to go to SHOT. If you've met the best shooters in the world, he plays it off like he's already been there.

Worse yet... he'll start crap-talking your chosen shooting avocation to your wife without knowing who he's talking to.

In short, he's the range asshole and, sadly, he revels in it.

Every range has one. Don't be that one.

Roll Your Own...

A week ago I joined yet another club in the "gunnie" universe - I'm now officially a Reloader!

Through a fun twist of the powder-charged Fates, I had a pair of boxes show up from the fine folks at Dillon in Arizona with the Memorial Day weekend coming up.

After a couple days of rearranging the garage and building a new workbench, I finally got the new 550 installed and running.

After a day of tinkering with dies, dialing in the settings, poring over books, and sloooowly adjusting the powder throw, I finally loaded the primer magazine and seated the first case.

Four pulls of the handle later, that satisfying "thunk" of a loaded cartridge signified the first of what will one day be thousands of properly-loaded cartridges taken to the range for training and eventually competition.

Tonight, I ran my fourth batch of ammo - dialing the powder charge back to come up with a smooth-shooting load that's a little softer than factory ammo but strong enough to run our M&Ps.

More to follow... I'm just getting started.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Open Carry Weekend... Huh.

According to teh Intarwebs, today is the last day of Open Carry Weekend. Well, I have yet to see a single soul I've encountered between Denver and Loveland this weekend carrying openly.

I do occasionally see the telltale "hip bump" of someone going concealed, but I have yet to actually see someone who doesn't work in a gun store rocking it OC style.

Personally, I keep mine out of sight. ANY truly defensive scenario requiring force is one in which I will be behind the curve, even if just by a little.

I am not "anti-open-carry" but I believe it has its place and is the lesser of two goods in the real world with the potential to create more headache than good.

I appreciate the effort to make guns more mainstream, but the place to push political activism is our seat of government, not the city street.

Proselytizing with a pistol IS an inflammatory act, as is protesting the 1% on Sixth and Main, gluing photos of aborted fetuses to a car and parking in front of a clinic, or hassling shoppers in front of Safeway. Inflammatory acts rarely lead to civil discourse and largely serve to sooth the ego of the person out marching for their cause.

For me, EVERY day is a "carry" day - I just don't advertise.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

An Hour with the Bren Ten

Living in "Gun Culture 2.0" is freakin' awesome.

I teach with some of the best instructors I've ever met, I compete with some of the best shooters in the country, and I have friends whose firearm collections occasionally put me within inches of history.

This weekend, I had the good fortune to get my hands on a unique, esoteric, and somewhat storied piece of gun lovers' history -- the (in)famous Bren Ten.  Following an hour-long photo shoot, I got to run a couple rounds of full-power 10mm through it and, for a moment, I could understand why Jeff Cooper made such a stand for the 10mm cartridge and could almost feel the influence in developing the Bren.

It would become the greatest combat handgun that never was...  In concept, it was very nearly perfect.  In execution, the Bren Ten was virtually doomed from the start.  Looking to call upon modern technology to replace the venerated 1911 platform, the Bren's designers combined ergonomics, modern design, and next-generation (in the 1980s) power which, even today, remains nearly unmatched in combat handguns.  Sadly, a perfect storm of circumstance kept the Bren from ever taking off and today, it's said fewer than 1,000 were ever produced.

Plagued by spotty quality control, international shipping issues killing magazine availability, and the eventual bankruptcy of the manufacturer, it never really got off the ground.  Modern attempts to resurrect the Bren Ten have largely fallen flat.  Today, it's understood that to own a Bren means you own a unique piece of firearm history.  Some guns have stood the test of time well, others became victims of their maker's shortcomings over the years.  Fortunately, the example I shot has held up well, looks amazing, and runs like a top.

The Bren Ten was never meant to become as rare as an old Colt nor was it designed to fill a goofy niche in the marketplace like a Wildey.  This was supposed to embrace the evolution of the combat handgun, designed by Jeff Cooper and made right here in America.  It should should have become a legend... instead it went straight into the history books, filed simply under "I could have, should have been great."

This particular gun was in phenomenal condition for a 30 year-old legend.  Having recently been inspected and worked over by the gunsmiths at Tall Guns in Colorado, the action was spot-on and it was quickly evident Cooper had an amazing idea and the company he paired with to manufacture it was onto something special.  Designed around the 10mm Auto cartridge from the ground-up with a classic double/single action similar to the Browning Hi-Power and borrowed heavily from the successful CZ 75 design, it's large without feeling like a caricature of itself (like a Desert Eagle or Automag).  It's heavy, which provides a counterbalance to the recoil of the 10mm rounds it launches downrange.  However, the double-action trigger shoots incredibly smooth while the single-action break is clean and light.

It would be understatement to say I never thought I would have the opportunity to hold, much less shoot the Bren Ten.  I could have never guessed I would be lucky enough to have the opportunity to photograph it for its owner.

This was indeed a good weekend...

In Defense of USPSA

There's been a fair bit of chatter of late across the gun blogosphere and the shooting TV universe about IDPA.  There's no denying that IDPA is "teh hawt" right now as it outwardly markets itself as being the shooting sport for the average fella (or gal).

In the world, I find myself oftentimes listening to screed X or scenario Y about how IDPA is so much better than USPSA and why IDPA is more welcoming to new shooters.  Hogwash, I say.  Here's why...

Argument - IDPA is better-suited to the new shooter as it's slower and less expensive than USPSA.
Response - Nope.
USPSA Production gives any shooter, new or experienced, the opportunity to join a "run what ya brung" division -- most stages can be completed by a person with a box-stock defensive handgun and just a couple extra magazines.  As with any sport, advancement to the higher levels (A and higher) require a significance investment in equipment as well as training and experience, but the same can be said about achieving Expert or Master classifications in IDPA.  For most beginning shooters, especially those on a budget, Production is the perfect place to start a long and rewarding experience in competitive shooting.

Argument - IDPA is designed to build real-world defensive shooting skills and offers a more slow and measured approach, being defensive-shooting-oriented.
Response - How?
What does forcing me to reload only behind cover, retain a magazine, or run a stuffed animal through a simulated bedroom do that I can't equally focus on in a "run and gun" USPSA match?  Defensive shooting situations out in the real world are typically over with in seconds and the victor is rarely the one who didn't let a mag hit the ground or safely got the toy penguin from the briefcase nobody carries anymore to the bedroom that magically appeared at a gun range.  In truth, USPSA focuses more on the skills that matter -- creative problem solving, rewarding speed WITH accuracy, and constantly moving to solve the course without getting stuck in one place.  Yeah, we're "gamers" but shooting matches are precisely that!  They are competitive games held by competitive people in a fun, safe, and constructive setting.  We don't wear silly vests out in the real world, so why bother when we're at a match designed to test my shooting ability, not my fashion sense?

Argument - USPSA is filled with very competitive, serious people.
Response - And that is precisely where I've grown and learned the most!
Nearly every skill or ability I've honed as a competitive shooter has made me into a more efficient and open-minded (with respect to situational awareness and threat recognition) Concealed Handgun License holder.  USPSA matches tend to draw the more serious competitor, and I see that as a positive! We have our share of recreational shooters at USPSA matches and we draw those whose skills are on another plane of existence entirely.  Most of my fellow shooters enjoy being around world-class shooters and competing against like-skilled friends alike.  I cut my teeth on local club-level matches where I regularly expect to place in the top 3 out of 30 shooters and find myself happy to make the top half of the pile in USPSA matches simply because it's where the skill level currently lives at the amateur ranks.

And, in conclusion, Mas sums up exactly how I feel about shooting competitions in his book Combat Shooting with Massad Ayoob:
"History tells us that the person with more experience in fast, accurate shooting under stress has an edge when the stress goes all the way up to life-or-death stakes on the table.
Which is why I keep saying that a shooting match isn't a gunfight but a gunfight damn sure IS a shooting match."

I would much rather strip down my competition experiences and focus on becoming both fast and accurate across a broad range of problems and situations, conditioning myself to think outside-the-box and not become hung up on rules and behavior which have little bearing on winning a competition or critical stress encounter.  Real life is "run and gun," and so is the competitive league I choose to shoot. 

Living with a Pocket Pistol FANTASTIC.

After choosing an LCR and spending about 500 rounds dialing in the fit, feel, and function of the tiny revolver, I've discovered the best part about owning a small snub-nose revolver -- it means I don't have to leave a gun at home anymore due to wardrobe, convenience, or comfort.

Being small enough to drop into the pocket of a pair of cargo shorts, my LCR (J-frame, or other knock-off) gives me an incredible amount of flexibility and opportunity to carry my smaller semi-autos couldn't.  A quick trip to the store or a walk around the block after dinner no longer requires me to "kit up" with holster, mag pouch, special belt, special pants and keep a heavy pistol on my belt if I don't want it to.

Fully loaded, my LCR comes in at a few grams shy of a pound and still packs a full-power punch.  It's light enough to accommodate nearly any wardrobe choice and gives me "something" where before I didn't really have a practical concealed carry option.  It fits into any number of my EDC bags, on a belt in a holster it's almost unnoticeable, and carried in the pocket of some loose-fitting cargo shorts I completely blend into the crowd.

I cycle between an LCR and an M&P 9c these days, and both offer great CCW options and both have their place in my everyday carry rotation.  I still haven't bought into the "pocket .380" or "pocket 9" hype and probably never will.  I have nothing really against guns like the LCP or Kahr's tiny nines but, for now, my needs are covered with what I've got and I couldn't be happier.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Gun Shows Today...

...are mere shadows of their former mainstream glory.

The people-watching is still fairly fun, and you definitely get to see a much-less-polished side of our culture.

Sadly, the smaller local affairs have devolved into more flea market than industry show.

The firearms dealers are typically the folks I prefer to avoid, with a few exceptions. You know the types, the guys and gals hawking Taurus, Diamondback, and Charter Arms as the next generation arms for today's discerning shooter. They know their typical clientele rarely shoots, and isn't aware the majority of brands one finds at the show are low-cost / high-margin guns of dubious reputation.

Then you get the "training" companies who are content to badmouth the competition but have little real knowledge of laws or experience on anything other than a square range. Odd how their flyers seem to get discarded after stopping by our booth...

(Disclaimer: I work for a very highly-regarded training company which prides itself on knowing our stuff inside and out and for living what we teach.)

What drives me truly nuts are all of the arts and crafts vendors who show up like hillbilly moths to the flame of worn out wallets carried by septuagenarians who need suspenders to keep up their sweatpants.

All is not lost, however. We still continue to meet intelligent, engaged, and curious new shooters (mostly members of Gun Culture 2.0) who bring great questions, open minds, and willingness to learn and to be taught. Thank John Browning for them...

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On "Ugly" Guns and the LCR

God Bless the firearms universe... and all those who call it home.

There's one thing (actually, several things, but we'll focus on this one) that bugs the heck out of me...

...this trend to deride and badmouth guns that don't measure up to the "pretty" standard. I just don't get it!

There are a handful of firearms which will forever remain the wallpaper around the punch bowl at the middle-school dance we call life on Planet Gunpowder. The Taurus Judge, and anything ever built by Kel-Tec or Hi-Point immediately come to mind and I will never offer my endorsement to them.

However, it's not because they're hideous to look at - it's due to either spotty reliability, shady build quality, or horrible execution of otherwise solid concepts. The fug-o factor is just another nail in the coffin.

Conversely, there are some beauties floating around that are simply a delight to lay eyes on but suffer that "don't work worth a damn" syndrome. One of the country's largest manufacturers of 1911-pattern pistols comes immediately to mind (through personal experience). I can guarantee you that I really - no REALLY - wanted the Bren I shot the other day to work. Alas, it proved itself as a safe-queen in desperate need of a good 'smith (the owner and I are working on that).

But I digress, ever so slightly. The real thing that keeps chapping my tail is this constant din of "it's ugly" coming out of the forums and blogs.

Case in point - Ruger's new LCR isn't what anyone would call a "classically-pretty" revolver but the dang thing really does finally give ol' Smith & Wesson a run for their J-Frame money without simply copying / pasting the design.

They figured how to shave even more weight from the classic snubby design, smoothed out the trigger, and made it a little less of a punishment to shoot full-power ammo.


Here's the rub... part of it is made of plastic! Oh noes!! Everyone knows plastic guns will never work or never catch on!!! And that cylinder... those flutes? Really?? Who thought that would ever sell??? Right???

Well, friends and chums, here's the unvarnished truth - the tried, trusted, and true Smith is heavier, less comfortable, and has a tougher trigger.

Weight - in a pocket or carried all day, ounces count. In this case, 1.5 ounces. 'Nuff said.

Comfort - the Hogue stocks provided by Ruger make the 13.5 oz. pocket blaster downright manageable. Not that a student of defensive handgun use can't master the DAO J-Frame, but the truth remains that a large portion of buyers may only shoot it a couple times a year. Snubbies are notorious for their recoil, and the LCR isn't exempt from this. Anything that makes it easier to handle and shoot is a great idea (chief among them being practice!), and including a nice set of Hogue stocks was a brilliant idea.

Trigger - it's well-known that the J-Frame has a heavy, stacky, long pull that requires a fair bit of work to master, especially when learning to keep rounds 2-5 on target. Ruger went back to the drawing board (CAD workstation) and came up with a much kinder trigger; they reduced the stacking effect, smoothed and lightened the pull, and answered the call for a lightweight revolver with a trigger that's worth a darn and doesn't immediately have to go to the gunsmith.

On paper, it's the better gun. On the range, it's a real contender. On the Internet, though, it's ugly and plastic. You can probably see which areas matter most to me...

I choose my carry guns for their performance, reliability, and ease-of-use. Looks do matter (Springfield, please drop the tractor-tire grip and the "Extreme!!!" marketing) but at the end of the day it's all about what I can deploy quickly and effectively since I'm betting my life on my choice of gear, not polishing my ego.

While I always imagined I'd one day own a J-Frame (442 or 642), I've already put my name on the list with my favorite dealer for an LCR (basic model, .38spl +p) when he orders them... the old classics be damned.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gun Blogs - What Are They Good For

...absolutely nuthin' (say it again!)

Ok... Horrible lyrics pun aside, it's getting harder and harder to navigate the virtual snowstorm of gun blog madness and come away from the day with anything useful.

It used to be the handful of gun blogs I keep on regular bookmarks were a responsive source for what's new and what's going on in the firearms universe; trends, studies, reports, reviews and product releases. Unless you knew a particular writer to be sponsored by a company which was known to produce crap or wonky gear, you could trust him (or her). They were usually folks who had Been There and Done That and not only knew a particular make and model of Smith and Wesson but could recall, at will, the last time they had a beer with the gun's designer...

Then, every January, you could rely on them to guide us unwashed heathens vicariously past the smoke-tinged gamblers ambling toward the Venetian's palatial gaming hall and into the warm bosom of the SHOT Show. For the most part, they were well-known writers who'd traded print for digital circulation - experts in their chosen fields and normally well-regarded, to boot.

Today, there are as many gun bloggers as there are stars in the sky (or models on Kimber's 1911 catalog). Some of the old names have made the trip to the Game Grid to slug it out with the rest of the Programs, and a handful of new faces have emerged from this new race to establish "New Media" dominance.

The upside to this relatively recent swell in New Media writers, correspondents, and personalities - exposure. More people reporting on the Gun Universe, bringing our issues closer to the mainstream, is a good thing, right?


this new bevy of belligerent bloggers seems hell-bent on tearing down every new gun, every bit of new gear, worshipping the right idols while denigrating the bad, and generally screaming at the top of their lungs that not only are they the New Media but that they are the New Authority.

...and it looks like the established gun media as well as firearms industry pros are taking notice.

There are a few absolutes in the gun world, a few key terms we should all be on board with, and a handful of rules - not only in safety but decorum - these folks are going to have to pick up on lest they simply turn into a digital version of the same white noise that pollutes the halls of local gun shows.

Chief among them being this - and it applies equally to me:

I may have some expert knowledge about guns, possess solid skills in their operation and can teach others how to do the same, but I will always remain a student of history, technology, technique, and mindset.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Not Just "Because I Can..."

...but Because I Should.

Why do I carry? Why do you?

In the training world we often use a number of the common, if not cliche, rationale in our discourse with students -
"cuz a cop won't fit in my holster"
"it's my protected right"
"it's my job to look after me and mine"
"the sheep won't guard themselves"
And, of course, the classic "because I can."

I'm a huge fan of the latter. It's short, sweet, and to the point. My friends and family know I carry - because I can - and I try to live that example anytime work or circumstance dictate otherwise.

However, I think there is even a more personal, direct, and equally succinct reason for me to carry a firearm when navigating the wilds of Wal-Mart, Main Street, and Best Buy:

Because I Should.

I'm a lifelong firearms enthusiast and advocate. I'm a skilled shooter, have not only gone through but enjoyed various forms of martial arts training (including defensive pistol use) throughout my life, and have grown up in a security / defense lifestyle. I am comfortable around guns, carry them often, and have come to terms with what may come, should that horrible day come.

Carrying "because I can" is one thing. Carrying "because I should" turns it into a more personal and active relationship vis-a-vis my role as an armed citizen. Further, while most people certainly "can" carry a gun, far fewer are prepared or willing to do so.

At the end of the day, it's not just about the "right" or the ability. It's a duty to myself and to my family, one I'm able to enjoy fulfilling and share with others, both in class and out.

It's my "why." I'd challenge every person who carries a gun to examine theirs.