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...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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.