Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Smith & Wesson Model 19: "Answer to a Patrolman's Prayer"

Wiley Clapp on Handguns writes about the K-frame .357 Magnum that also happens to be my personal favorite size. Great minds think alike.
The Smith & Wesson Model 19

I had a really nice Model 19 square-butt frame with 6" barrel that I foolishly sold way back when I first started buying carry handguns in 2006. Live and learn. I shall replace it sooner or later but I've developed a liking for 4" barrels, so my next Model 19 will likely have a shorter barrel than my first.

American women buying guns and packing heat in growing numbers

An item in the Washington Times gives a whole new meaning for guys thinking about "hitting on" a strange woman. Before you "hit" you better consider that she might hit back. You could be bringing nothing but a bad attitude to a gun fight if you won't take "no" for her answer. Uh oh.

American women are buying guns and taking aim on firing ranges in growing numbers, according to a recent study and interviews with gun-shop owners.

A 2009 study found 70 percent of shop owners reported more female buyers.

The study, conducted by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and Southwick Associates, also found 80 percent of the female gun-buyers who responded said they purchased a gun for self-defense, followed by 35 percent for target practice and 24 percent for hunting.

Women and shop owners interviewed by The Washington Times offered similar, narrow-ranging explanations for the increases — largely self-defense and concerns about the possibility President Obama would further restrict gun ownership.

A large part of the Obama gun boom was and is being fueled by women, who are frequent customers at the gun shop where I work. And most are first-time gun buyers, they tell us at the gun shop. We don't ask why, but they often volunteer they decided it was time to get armed while they still can.

Since women are supposedly more likely to be Obama voters than men, perhaps a woman gun buyer fits the description of a conservative: a liberal who's been mugged.

And it's an unusual concealed-carry handgun class that I teach monthly that doesn't have at least one woman, often more than one. Look out dudes, the women are buying and packing.

And they just might be packing something bigger than a mouse gun. I handle the gunbroker sales at our shop and the last 4" barrel S&W .500 Magnum we sold was to a woman.

At last, a diet I could probably say on -- NOT!

Now here's a diet I could probably say on. But like all diets I've tried, it wouldn't really work.

Right to protest vs. rights of parents whose sons died for our nation?

Here's a news item from Pennsylvania that frankly makes me madder than hell.
The father of a Marine killed in Iraq and whose funeral was picketed by anti-gay protesters from Kansas was ordered to pay the protesters' appeal costs, his lawyers said Monday. Fox News reported today that he will defy a court order and not pay the protesters' appeal costs.

"I don't think I'm going to be writing a check until I hear from the Supreme Court," Snyder told Fox News on Tuesday. "I'm not about to pay them anything."

The two-page decision supplied by attorneys for Albert Snyder of York, Pa., offered no details on how the court came to its decision.

On Friday, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ordered Snyder to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps. Phelps is the leader of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, which conducted protests at Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder's funeral in 2006.

Attorneys also said Snyder is struggling to come up with fees associated with filing a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision adds "insult to injury," said Sean Summers, one of Snyder's lawyers.

The high court agreed to consider whether the protesters' message is protected by the First Amendment or limited by the competing privacy and religious rights of the mourners.

Canadian soldier rocks to honor fallen comrades in Afghanistan

A Canadian soldier has written a rock 'n' roll song to honor fallen comrades.
"Miss You Like Hell" was written by Elton Adams while he served his country in Afghanistan. This video is dedicated to all of our past and present allied soldiers and their spouses. Special thanks to Dave Murphy and for his second to none support for soldiers, you rock Dave.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nothing like a low-level jet flyby to get you up and humming

I was napping away, along with most of the rest of the ship, one hot muggy afternoon in the Tonkin Gulf in the summer of 1969 aboard the USS Mullinnix, DD-944, the last all-gun destroyer in the U.S. Navy. Fire missions off the coast of Vietnam were slow that day and I was on duty at my station outside the gun director with my sound-powered headphones on.

If my talents were required, a call would wake me up so I was catching a few z's in the sunshine. For some reason, I opened my eyes for a second and saw movement. A low-flying Thud, an F-105 Thunderchief Air Force fighter-bomber, was just clearing land over the coast of Vietnam and heading straight for us. He was real low, seemingly skimming the wavetops, and instead of reaching for some altitude he stayed low until almost on top of us and then rocketed over top the ship, barely clearing the mast and scaring the crap out of a shipload of sleeping sailors.

I'm sure the pilot was feeling jubilant about making it back in one piece after a bombing run and as soon as he cleared land felt like celebrating a bit. The gun boss, a slightly nutty lieutenant, went completely nuts and started hollering "Battle Stations! Battle Stations! Shoot him down!" but that was one time when us grunt sailors felt safe to laugh at him and ignore him.

Now take 3.5 minutes of your time and enjoy the Top 10 Low Pass Jet Flybys, all real and way better than the Hollywood make-believe version allegedly done by Tom Cruise in his Navy Tomcat: #10 F-16 (Royal Netherlands Airforce) -- #6 Blue Angels F-18 (Cleveland) -- #5 Harrier low pass -- #4 Alpha Jet (Belgian Airforce) -- #3 Mirage F1CT & L?onnaire - Chad -- #1 Blue Angels F-18 (SF Fleet Week 2007) -- as well as other high speed fly-bys of Vigilante, Tomcat, F-18, Jaguar and Rafale jets.

You're welcome.

My very first .38 Special snubby finally followed me home

I've been finding better alternatives to a .38 Special snubby for just about exactly two years now. Back on March 21, 2008, I wrote about my plans to buy a .38 snubby when I came home instead with an N-frame S&W Model 21 .44 Special with a 4" barrel, which is considerably removed from a J-frame .38.

That was my first .44 and since I've found reason to buy three more, a S&W 29 .44 Magnum with 4" pipe, a Charter Bulldog Stainless .44 Special with 2.5" snout, and a Hy Hunter Six Shooter .44 Magnum single-action with a 6" pole.

Also since that first abortive .38 snubby shopping expedition, I started working in a gun store and have added another Charter 2.5-incher, this one a stainless .327 Magnum, and two .357 Magnum wheelguns, both K-frame size, S&W 65 and Taurus 65, each stainless with a 3" and 2.5" pipes respectively.

But finally today I brought home my very first .38 snubby, a Charter Arms Southpaw, their version of the S&W AirWeight with a stainless 2" barrel and cylinder and the rest is alloy and polymer.

I read a review of the Southpaw in a recent issue of American Rifleman and they reported that recoil is "stout" with hot .38 loads.

Lightweight revolvers are nice for carry, but you can't repeal the laws of physics as discovered by Newton and invented by God. For every action, Newton expostulated, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Send a hot .38 load out the pipe and an equal amount of force is exerted in the other direction, otherwise known as recoil. Subtract weight from the pistol to absorb that recoil and you get "Ouch!"

But the Charter Southpaw and their other Undercover Lite revolvers have something S&W Airweights don't have, a polymer grip frame. I test-fired and wrote about the Ruger LCR, which I mistakenly said is the world's first revolver with a polymer grip frame. Wrong, I discovered when I read the American Rifleman review. Charter did it first. Now I shall find out if Charter does it as well as Ruger, because the LCR was pleasant to shoot with regular .38 Special loads and bearable if not pleasant with +P loads. If the Charter does that well, I shall be pleased.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention the Charter has another first also, without a doubt the world's first production left-handed revolver. There may have been some custom wheelguns made for lefties like me, but I am not aware of any other manufacturer doing something for those of us who draw with the "off" hand. I'm looking forward to test-firing the Southpaw this weekend. I may be working Saturday, but if not ... range report to come.

Monday, March 29, 2010

WaPo sluts bail furiously as Pelosi-Reid-Obama numbers drop

Good news is the polls consistently show the public is not fooled with the Obamacare socialist medicine takeover jammed down our throats by Obama and the Democrats in Congress.

So how does the Washington Post spin the bad news that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's re-election outlook in Nevada is in the crapper?
Reid losing ground after health-care bill
Other Democrats' approval ratings are holding steady
So Harry Reid's numbers are getting worse, but other Democrats are "holding steady." Let me translate. Other Democrats' numbers are still in the crapper, but Reid's are spiraling down in mid flush. Meanwhile, WaPo stooge Vince Bzdek tries vainly to puff up House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Outlook: 'Woman of the House: The rise of Nancy Pelosi'
Reid, Pelosi and the entire Democrat majority is heading for a big flush in November that I fearlessly predict will be worse than the sea change after President Clinton's first two years.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Easter message to all those who want to create Utopia on earth

Easter's coming up and I feel a gun rant coming on. For all those who say we should ban all guns, and also ban all knives, baseball bats, anything that can be used as a club and anything else in the universe that could possibly be used as a weapon, up to and including ballpoint pens, I say OK, that's fine with me.

Let's go back to writing with quill pens. With dull points so you can't stab anybody with 'em.

I really look forward to the day when there will be eternal peace throughout the universe and no need whatsoever for any weapons of any type.

The ancient Old Testament prophet Micah gives us a vision of that day he predicted is coming.

Micah 4:3 (New King James Version)

3 He shall judge between many peoples,
And rebuke strong nations afar off;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war anymore.
Sounds like heaven, don't it? Well, that's just what it is, heaven on earth. And it will happen.

But it will not happen until the "He" referred to by Micah is sitting on His throne here on earth.

That He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who died for all mankind on Easter more than 2000 years ago, but was resurrected from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God the Father, waiting for His Father to turn to Him and say, "Time for your 2nd coming."

Then and only then we will no longer have any need for weapons. Until then, if we try to bring about that utopia by banning guns, wherever those banned guns are stored away, some thugs will take a sledge hammer and bust in and help themselves, just as a bunch of punks did last week at the gun store where I work.

They were either too lazy to get a job and buy their guns or already with criminal records so they couldn't buy one, so they did what punks have been doing since Hector was a pup. They stole them. And you can pass all the blinkin' laws you want, the crooks don't care one whit.

That's why they're crooks, because they break the law. So take all your anti-gun laws and all your high and airy talk about creating utopia here on earth and stuff it where the sun don't shine.

Because we're not gonna have a utopia until King Jesus establishes his Kingdom here and rules and reigns for all eternity. Until then, I'm gonna keep my guns loaded and close to hand.

Marlin closing Northeast plant ... moving to North Carolina?

I just saw on Michael Bane's blog that Marlin is closing its Connecticut plant, another sign of flight from the unfriendly gun climate of the northeastern U.S. region.

Marlin Firearms Co., a 140-year-old company which made a gun that was a favorite of Annie Oakley, is closing its Connecticut plant, company officials said Friday.

Workers at the plant in North Haven say they've been told all 265 employees will lose their jobs.

Jessica Kallam, a spokeswoman with Madison, N.C.'s Remington Arms Co. Inc., which owns Marlin, said the Connecticut plant will close by June 2011 and employees would be offered severance and help finding jobs. She said Marlin is relocating its manufacturing operations to an undetermined site.

Kallam could not confirm if all employees in Connecticut are losing their jobs.

She read a company statement that says Freedom Group, which owns Remington, must reduce its costs to remain competitive.

"Although long term prospects of the business look positive, economic factors beyond Freedom Group's control related to increasing costs and pricing pressures within the firearms industry are impacting the entire Freedom Group of companies," the statement said.

Remington Arms bought Marlin for nearly $42 million in 2007.

Bane says he's planning to buy a Marlin 1895GBP .45-70 guide gun sooner rather than later, but I doubt there's any danger of Marlin going out of business. The Freedom Group is expanding and consolidating costs of its family of firearms businesses, so Marlin's manufacturing may well be coming to the Remington plant here in my state at Madison, NC.

My Marlin 1894SS .44 Magnum lever carbine is my favorite long gun (that's it in the header of my blog) and I nearly bought a Marlin just like it in .357 Magnum, but somebody else bought it at the shop where I work before I could get my act together. Now I wish I'd been a little quicker on the draw.

I'm confident Marlin isn't gone, it's just moving from the northeast to a friendlier gun clime. But if we get a used Marlin lever gun in .357 Magnum, I'll just have to jump right on it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Trust but verify, P220 ready for carry, P229 .22 slide still picky

Taught my monthly N.C. Concealed Carry Handgun class today and after the students got through shooting at the indoor range at the N.G. Armory in Wadesboro, I got a chance to make a few holes myself.

My main objective was to run a few .45 ACP hollowpoints through my Sig P220 to see first if it would feed OK and second to see if the point of aim and point of impact remained the same as previously established with 230-grain FMJs.

Yes and yes. I fired three different brands, all 230-grain, two Winchester hollow points, Personal Protection and Bonded PDX1, and a magazine load of Remington Golden Sabers. All fed fine and all shot to point of aim. It ain't as pretty a group as I shot outdoors two weeks ago, but not too shabby for an old nearly blind guy indoors.

I hereby pronounce the P220 ready for carry.

I would have been shocked speechless if the outcome had been any other as I have yet to have a Sig pistol jam with any load and I have never seen different loads of the same grain weight shoot to different points of impact.

But as President Reagan said about the Russians, trust but verify. It won the Cold War didn't it? And I now pronounce my P220 ready for hot war.

My second objective was to put a few more .22LR rounds through my P229R, at left in the third photo.

I established beyond doubt at the last outing that the .22LR slide kit I bought works very well with the P229R and not very well at all with the nonrail P229 SAS Gen2, at right.

And I also discovered at the last outing that the Sig P229R .22LR slide is the pickiest about .22 ammo of any Sig in my somewhat limited experience, being only two. The other is the .22 slide for my P220, which works just fine with anything I've fed it so far.

But the P229R slide likes CCI Mini-Mags, the hottest non-Stinger load CCI makes for .22s. I ran several other high velocity brands through it, Federal, Winchester, Remington and CCI, and the Mini-Mags are the only load it consistently fires. With the others I got a lot of clicks, sometimes even on the second or third try after nonignition.

But today I fed it Mini-Mags and not a single dud. The six holes at the top of the target are from my Dan Wesson .22 revolver. I discovered the indoor lighting does not agree with its sights and my ancient eyes. But I could see the Sig's 3-white-dot sights just fine. The holes in the bull and around it are all from the P229.

Friday, March 26, 2010

CZ P07 Duty 9mm is one of my favorite carry pistols on the job

As the late Hannibal Smith used to say, I love it when a plan comes together. I had a full-size CZ SP01 9mm from Angus Hobdell's CZ Custom Shop, but when I took the job at the gun store, I sold it to change to smaller carry pistols. One of those changes was the CZ P07 Duty 9mm.

I didn't plan it or expect it, but I find myself wearing my CZ P07 probably more often than any other pistol when I go to work at the gun shop.

It's a compact 9mm with a 3.5" barrel but a full-size frame that fits my big hands very well and shoots very well, too.

Sixteen rounds of 9mm with one in the pipe should handle most social encounters and even most professional ones.

It comes in the box with an extra manual safety you can swap out with the factory installed safety/decocker so you can carry it cocked and locked to shoot in single-action-only mode.

That's how I have mine configured and even though the double-action trigger pull is pretty good, the single-action trigger is very, very good and much easier to shoot fast and accurately, too.

The target at right is an 8" bull with a few CZ P07 holes from a range trip, standing at 10 yards rapid fire. I seemed to be shooting a bit low and verified it with the three holes at top left, aimed at the top-left corner cross-hairs.

Here's a video from CZ about police using the P07 that I stole from their company website.

Who's "Ruby" and why would anybody want to take her home?

For all you .32 lovers, have I got a deal for you on gunbroker:
Used: Alkartasuna "Ruby" Automatic 7.65mm/.32 ACP Single-Action Semi-Auto Pistol, Made in Spain, 3-5/8" blue-steel barrel and guide rod, blue-steel slide, blue-steel beavertail frame with lanyard ring, fixed sights dovetailed rear, checkered wood grips, blue-steel trigger, thumb safety/slide lock, heel-mounted magazine release, (1) 9-rd. magazine. No box, no papers. Serial number is 33034. (VPGS 16040) No C&R licenses, we ship to FFLs only.

This Alkartasuna Ruby Automatic is marked on the left slide "S.A. Alkartasuna Fabrique De Arma Guernica" and on the left-rear frame "AK" inside an oval and "Spain". It has considerable wear but no rust. The bore is unblemished, bright and shiny. Revisit the WWI and WWII glories of the French army with this piece of military history.

- 7.65mm cal., 2 variations - more common is the "Ruby" type, 9 shot, 3 5/8 in. barrel, blue, fixed sights, checkered wood or hard rubber grips, used by French Army in WWI and WWII. Mfg. 1917-22.

Forgive me, .32 lovers, but I just couldn't resist that last line of the auction description: "Revisit the WWI and WWII glories of the French army with this piece of military history."

That reminds me of the famous classified ad that appears in a Paris newspaper shortly after V-E Day in 1945: "For sale, French military rifle. Never fired. Dropped once. Cheap."

Village Pawn & Gun Shop robbed by burglars

Do you know this burglar?

Village Pawn & Gun Shop of Wadesboro, NC, where I work, was robbed by burglars smashing through a rear brick wall with a sledgehammer about midnight on Tuesday, March 23. Surveillance cameras captured the culprits on video and Wadesboro Police are investigating, but with no arrests to date.

If you have any information on the burglary, call Wadesboro Police Department at 704-694-2167.

The photos are taken from our surveillance video cameras showing one of the burglars coming in from the back shop, going to the first glass counter he faced and kicking in the glass to grab some guns and run.

Luckily that counter contains Taurus pistols, so the thieves didn't exactly get the cream of the crop. It coulda been a lot worse.

Wadesboro police say they have some suspects so we're hoping for arrests soon and maybe even the recovery of some or all of the approximately 11 handguns and rifles stolen in the robbery.

Ode to John M. Browning's 1903 Colt, the enduring .32 mouse gun

I shouldn't admit it for fear of getting my membership in Gun Nutz 'R' Us revoked, but there are a few handgun calibers I don't use, roughly speaking anything over .44 Magnum (OK, I'm a wimp, but this wimp can still see and hear, sorta kinda) and anything in between .22 Magnum and 9mm.

That leaves out .380 ACP and a lot of other calibers that are very popular, but so what. And though I failed as a papa by raising a son who carries a .32 ACP Llama 1911, the admirers of .32s are legion. For all .32 lovers, here's a snippet from Dave Campbell at American Rifleman about the most famous of all .32 pistols, the 1903 Colt of John M. Browning's fertile mind.
During their 42-year manufacturing run—1903 to 1945—more than half a million of these pistols were made. The 1903 Colt was quite popular among businessmen,military officers and criminals. Travelling businessmen like my grandfather, who traveled throughout Mexico during the time of Pancho Villa, often carried one as a primary self-defense gun. On its dark side, this diminutive pistol was often chosen as a backup—or New York reload—to a more powerful handgun by criminals during the first half of the last century. It was reportedly a constant companion of gangster Al Capone, and Bonnie Parker allegedly smuggled one to Clyde Barrow who used it spring himself from the jail. The 1903 Colt was also issued as a General Officer’s pistol, either as a backup to the issue 1911 or to be slipped into the pocket of a dress uniform, from the 1940s until 1972, and during World War II, the Offices of Strategic Services issued the little Colt to its officers as well.
I do have a .32 revolver, but it's a .327 Magnum which just incidentally can shoot .32 H&R Magnum (if I could find any), .32 Long and .32 Short. It's a Charter and does not like .32 ACP, which apparently sits too low in the cylinder to reliably ignite. So anyway, even though I'm not a full-fledged .32 gun nut, I thought I'd post the link to the 1903 Colt article for its many admirers. You're welcome.

How to carry? Strong side, weak side, small of back? All of the above

Holster choices and carry methods are many and varied but the main thing is to find something that's relatively comfortable and works for you. As Clint Smith says, a carry gun is not supposed to be comfortable, it's supposed to be comforting.

How do you carry? Paul Rackley of American Rifleman analyzes the various choices and chooses strong-side, whether inside the waistband or outside and waistband holsters.

Regardless of the type of holster, strong-side carry has some definite advantages over other methods. First and foremost, the handgun is easily accessible. There is no reaching across or around the body as the hand is already near the gun. Another strong-side advantage is that it allows the use of the weak arm for close-quarters defense without interfering with the draw. Most importantly, the strong-side draw can be simplified to its most basic motions, which, with practice, creates a very smooth, fast draw. And practice is more readily available since many gun ranges limit how shooters can train from retention (holster), if allowed at all, to strong side for safety.

Of course, every carry method has its disadvantages. Strong-side carry has three distinct problems for shooters, the most significant of which is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to start with a hand on the gun. Lifting the cover garment for the draw almost always reveals the gun to potential threats. The other issues with strong-side carry are “printing” and car carry. Care must be taken to not print (when the cover garment tightens and shows the imprint of the gun) when bending over or reaching for an item. This is especially a problem in summer months when light, airy shirts are the norm. Car carry is difficult because with the gun on the strong side, the cover garment and seatbelt combine to make drawing the gun nearly impossible, but it can be conducted with forethought and practice.

For carry at work, which is always open with a t-shirt in the gun shop, I alternate between shoulder holster and strongside waist holster for the main carry with a small-of-back holster for backup.

I'm a lefty but sorta ambiguous about it as my right hand is actually my "strong" hand, since I throw right-handed, so I'm also comfortable with a right-side holster. But after trying two waist holsters, I didn't like that as well as main carry on left waist and backup in small-of-back for right hand. I figure that way if my left arm is disabled or busy, I can still draw right-handed.

And when nothing else works well, I go to a left-side pocket holster for my Kel-Tec PF9.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Mas answers "Is the 1911 is the greatest handgun of all time?"

Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler asks Ayoob whether the 1911 is the greatest handgun of all time. Click Here to Order the Book

As for me I vote the 1911 is definitely in the top 10, but the top of the list? I'll have to think about that. I'm awfully fond of DA/SA pistols and DAO pistols, too. Not to mention wheel guns.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World: Part II

Part II: Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. In this installment, Shideler and Ayoob discuss some of lesser known models found in Ayoob's new book. Click Here to Order the Book

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Massad Ayoob's new book 'Greatest Handguns of the World'

My favorite gun writer is Massad Ayoob, so I will definitely have to get his new book. Here's a preview and if you want to get it now, Click Here to Order the Book from Gun Digest.

Dan Shideler, editor for Gun Digest Books, interviews Massad Ayoob about the release of a new book, Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Passing Obamacare will give "Slaughter" a whole new meaning

I'll make a prediction. If the House passes Obamacare, or goes for the "Slaughter solution" by avoiding a vote and just "deem" Obamacare has passed the House, there's gonna be a slaughter in November of Biblical proportions.

The Wall Street Journal calls the "solution" offered by Rep. Louise Slaughter (Damn-Yankee Democrat from Noo Yawk) the Slaughter House Rules.

The reversal of fortunes in the House and Senate in President Clinton's first mid-term election will pale in comparison to the slaughter that's going to occur if Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid ram through this legislation to pull President Obama's bacon out of the fire.

Obama, Pelosi and Reid seem to be pushing all their chips into the pot, betting that the American people are too stupid to understand what the Slaughter amendment is all about. We shall see.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Slowly morphing from Pistol Pete into Willie Wheelgun Guy

If you had told me a year ago I'd own eight revolvers from .22 to .44, I'd have told you your crystal ball was cracked. But during the past year working at a gun shop, I've slowly morphed into a wheelgun lover. I've still got a lot more semi-auto pistols than revolvers, but some days I do wear two revolvers to work instead of a pistol and a wheelgun.

Dave Campbell has an article in the current American Rifleman that sort of expresses this evolution I've gone through, titled Wheelguns Still Work.
It took more than a century, but the semi-automatic pistol is now the go-to handgun for self-defense. The revolver, which preceded the self-loader, had a pretty good run—about 150 years. Evolving tactics and modern manufacturing capabilities, along with popular culture, have brought semi-auto pistols to the forefront. Now the question is: Should the revolver be put out to pasture as a self-defense handgun?

The Simpler Choice

A self-defense handgun is an extremely personal choice. Choosing a particular handgun should be based upon reliability, ease of use, power, concealability and cost—in roughly that order.

Semi-auto pistols are great instruments, but they require more training than revolvers to be used effectively. Make no mistake, I am fully aware that all firearms require training and practice to be of any real worth, but the semi-auto is, by its nature, more complicated.

Family members who may not be enthusiastic about guns and shooting but still want to be able to defend themselves will often find that a double-action revolver is more to their liking. Tactics and prior contingency planning come in to play, of course, but all potentially life-threatening events induce a great deal of trepidation. In these types of situations would it not be better to have a loved one using a simpler tool?

Power, Baby
Another reason I often prefer revolvers is that they continue to win the power race, at least in terms of handguns that can be easily carried. There are numerous compact snub-nosed revolvers that can do the job including some in power-punching calibers. While most people only need a .38 Spl. for typical use, a .357 Mag. snubby provides the versatility to choose between .38s and more powerful .357 rounds if there is a need.
And in the same issue, a left-handed revolver, the Charter Arms Southpaw is featured. Being a lefty shooter I've entertained thoughts of adding the Charter Southpaw to my modest arsenal.

Like the S&W Airweight .38 Special revolvers, the Charter Southpaw is only 12 ounces empty. And it just so happens we have one in stock at the gun shop. Somebody stop me before I buy my ninth revolver.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Miss Bernadelli flunks the course; more fun with P229 .22 slide kit

Another sunny day here in the South and I made it back to Dewitt's range for round two of .22LR fun, sorta.

Plan A was to try out a V. Bernadelli .22 target pistol that I put on layaway at the gun shop where I work. It's probably purt near old as God with serial number 517, but it shows evidence of having been gunsmithed with jeweled parts and a red-fiber-optic front sight. Feels good in the hand and looks cool, so I fell in love with it. Until I shot it.

Miss Bernadelli flunked the course big-time. Maybe out of a dozen magazines I got two or three shots without a misfeed. I tried six or eight different loads, Remington, Winchester, Federal and CCI, and she wouldn't eat any of them without a hiccup.

Back to the shop she goes and I hope to God no customer asks me if she will shoot good. I don't wanta lie so I'd rather not be asked. Plan B is an Austrian-made Glock-wannabe .22 pistol I've had my eye on, the ISSC M22. I'll just transfer the cash I put down on the Bernadelli to start paying off an ISSC .22 pistol.

So then I proceeded on with day two at the range with my new Sig P229 .22LR slide conversion kit. Last Saturday I tried just Federals and the results were not good. So today I used two CCI loads, two Remington loads, two Federal loads and one Winchester Super X. It absolutely hates Winchester so that one is out.

The others were sorta so-so. It would shoot a while, then hit a dud, shoot some more, hit another dud. I was on a roll with CCI standard velocity when I got three duds in a row. And all the duds would fire on the second try.

End result is the best was from CCI Mini-Mags, which is the most expensive .22 ammo I had with me. So it appears she's got expensive tastes.

I did establish that Sig knows what they're saying when they said this slide kit is for the Sig P229R, the rail model. She works pretty good with my P229R and she works pretty terrible with my Sig P229 SAS Gen2 with no rail. All the problems with the P229R were duds. But the P229 had a lot of feed problems, as well as a few duds. So the slide stays on the P229R.

I thought I was going to use my new Caldwell Pistolero pistol rest (first photo) to zero in the sights, but instead spent all my time trying to find a .22 load the slide likes. All told I shot more than 500 rounds of .22 today. At least I didn't go broke doing it, which is the whole point of .22 shooting.

I finally used the Caldwell rest on my Sig P220 with the .45 ACP slide on it to see if I could do as good or better than I did last week standing up. First set of targets, 10 yards on the rest, has 16 holes in target at right and eight in target at left. Last week my best of three mags loads was all eight in the black. Today my best was at left, all eight in the 10 ring and at right with only one out of 16 in the 9 ring ain't too bad. This P220 is so easy to shoot well it makes me look real good. It's definitely a carry gun, even fits my Galco P229 paddle holster.

And since I had my P229R with a mag full of .357 Sig Ranger hollow-points, just in case some yahoo thought it would be smart to rob somebody at the range, I decided to try it from the rest also. The bottom set of targets on the left is 13 rds., one magazine full and one in the pipe. Not as good as the P220, but not too bad either. The post-dot contrast sights on the P229R aren't as exact for me as the three dots of the P220's night sights. Bottom target at right is a scattering of .22 shots with the 229 slide kit.

Teddy Roosevelt said there's something about the outside of a horse that's good for the inside of man. TR probably said the same thing about guns and he'd be right. I left the range as usual with a big smile on my face. See you there next Saturday if I ain't working.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another reason besides coffee to drop by your local Starbucks

I'm not an everyday Starbucks customer for a couple of reasons. First there ain't one anywhere near me out here in the boondocks, second after a couple of cups at home in the morning, any more caffeine will come back to haunt me. Oh the joys of my "golden years."

But the next time I pass a Starbucks anywhere, I'll probably stop and buy something, just because. The Washington Times editorial board gives Starbucks a great big attaboy!

If you want to have a nice, relaxing cup of coffee in a safe environment, try Starbucks. The coffee-shop chain, generally known for environmentalist chic, is probably one of the safest places to hang out these days for a reason that doesn't fit its image - Starbucks is letting customers openly carry guns in its stores. Americans thus can enjoy their rights and wash them down with a Frappuccino.

Not surprisingly, Starbucks has taken some flak for its stand. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, an organization that has supported gun bans in Washington and Chicago, wants guns kept out of Starbucks. Collecting signatures from across the country, the gun controllers announced this week that they have gathered 28,000 signatures to try to pressure the bean sellers to hang fire. What the Brady Campaign actually did is misfire.

Here is some free PR advice for those who support gun bans: 28,000 signatures from a country of 200-some million adults is embarrassingly small. The National Rifle Association, with more than 4 million members, could collect that many signatures for the opposite position in less than an hour. It's obvious which side won this duel. Despite all the harping from the left, a spokesman for Starbucks said last week that the company is sticking to its policy of letting customers carry guns where it's legal.

From sea to shining sea, the climate for guns is changing, and the progress extends beyond Starbucks. Major retailers such as Home Depot, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble apparently also are friendly to people who openly pack heat, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Brady Campaign warns businesses that allowing customers to carry guns will scare away other customers. Yet it seems pretty obvious that the businesses themselves - despite all the pressure they face from trial lawyers and bureaucrats to ban guns - are in a much better position to know what their customers want.

I don't do open carry often, most notably when I'm working at the gun store, but knowing some major retailers are gun friendly will sure make me feel a lot more likely to spend some money there even when I'm going concealed, which is all the time. If you see me wearing pants...

Cartoons of the Day: Healthcare that works like gov't postal service

Art-Deco V. Bernadelli .22 Target Pistol: Still cool after all these years

It's an unusual week when I work two days on posting guns on gunbroker for the gun shop where I work without finding more than a few guns that I just can't live without.

But unless something happens tomorrow, I will have gone an entire week without buying a gun. Egads!

Seriously, I don't buy guns that often but mainly it's because I don't have enough money to buy everything I want.

But this week is unusual because the one gun among the 28 I've listed that I'd most like to have is an Italian-made V. Bernadelli .22 target pistol.

The first V. Bernadelli pistol I ever saw was a .32 ACP I listed last week and it sold within a day or two. Then the crew came back from last weekend's gun show with a box full of trade-ins and purchases that included another V. Bernadelli, the unknown .22LR model at right.

BlueBook is no help in definitively determining the model and there's no model marking on the pistol, which is fairly common with older and even some newer European manufacturers.

Whatever it is, it's got a sort of Buck Rogers art deco look and the grips fit my hand really well. If it's still there tomorrow, I may just sneak it out of the shop and take it for a test run this weekend, assuming the shop isn't open Saturday and I'm not working. The jury is still undecided on that. We're a mom and pop gun store and mom and pop won't decide whether we open on Saturday until the last minute.

I really don't need another .22 pistol, I've got a Dan Wesson revolver, a S&W 22A-1 and two Sig .22 pistols, P220 and P229 slide conversions.

But this Bernadelli is pretty cool and I do like those fiber-optic front sights, like I have on my Smith 22A-1. They sure work good for these aging eyes. I'm pretty sure the red fiber-optic front sight with the thumb-screw barrel band wasn't standard on this Bernadelli, and maybe not the wood grips with no logos. Surely the jeweled trigger, jeweled chamber and extractor show the work of a gunsmith somewhere in its history.

It's stamped "1951" so that may be the date of manufacture, but it has an improbably low serial number, 517, so who knows how old this little pistol is? But the price is pretty reasonable...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A love affair with .45 ACP that started more than 50 years ago

Back in the summer of 2007, I had four carry pistols and decided that was enough, Steyr MA1 .357 Sig compact 4" barrel, Glock 29 10mm subcompact 3.6" barrel, S&W 669 9mm subcompact 3.5" barrel and Kel-Tec P11 9mm 3" barrel.

So I kicked off the search for the Baddest Tactical Pistol I Can Afford. That led to the purchase of my Llama IX-C wideframe, a full-size 5" barrel 1911 .45 ACP. I busied myself collecting mags for a while, starting with the 13-rd. factory mags then discovering I could hack Para Ord P-14 mags and even larger ones, like an aftermarket 20-rd. mag.

I bought some other full-size handguns during that kick, but most of them are gone now as I zagged the other way back toward carry pistols, mainly due to starting a new job a year ago in a gun store.

Which led to my next .45, a Para P12-45 with 3.5" barrel. A retired Navy chief sold it to us and it was love at first sight for me. He was a lefty like me and had installed ambi safeties as well as several other custom features done by the famed Cylinder & Slide custom shop.

And the retired chief also sold the gun shop a full-size Para P14-45, which was customized even further by C&S, also ambi safeties and an even longer list of custom features, including a flowerpot mag well.

So what could I do? When I got the P12 paid off, I put the P14 in the layaway safe until I could buy it too. If a compact .45 is good, a full-size .45 is more good. Both are great shooters.

And that's where things stayed for a bit, but along the way I had picked up a Sig P220 Rimfire Classic. That's Sig's name for their .22LR versions of their classic P229, P226 and P220 models.

I got a chance to pick up the gently used P220 single-action-only .22LR, which has ambi safeties, voila another lefty-friendly shooter. So eventually I had to get the .45 ACP slide conversion kit for the P220.

I finally did last week and it blows me away. I can shoot this P220 .45 better than either of the other three, and they all shoot very well. Don't get much better than that, four .45s that all shoot very well to excellent.

It's been a circuitous route, but I've come back full circle to my first love, the 1911 .45 ACP my dad first let me shoot when I was a lad of 10 or so. And the 1911 .45 ACP that I shot while I was in Uncle Sam's Navy during the Vietnam War.

I've got four 9mm pistols, four .357 Sigs, one 10mm, four .22LRs, three .44s, two .357 Magnums, one .38 and one .327 Magnum, but I gotta say of all of them, I still love .45s the best.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Crazy ol' Uncle Jeremiah Wright is back from the dead -- again!

Bill O'Reilly has a bit of Dracula news this morning. Crazy ol' Uncle Jeremiah Wright is back from the dead and has two of his best crazy-as-a-bedbug buddies with him for a big "event."

Stay with me, because you are not going to believe this column. This month in Chicago, an event will honor three men as "living legends." The men are Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor of Barack Obama's church, and Father Michael Pfleger, a radical-left Catholic priest. The men will stand together, and thousands of spectators will pay to see them.

The press release announcing the program says, "Because of their legacy of educating, they are being honored as Living Legends for their unfailing work and dedication."

And who, exactly, selected the three men as honorees? Um, well, that would be the Rev. Jeremiah Wright!

That's right, the good reverend is honoring himself and his bomb-throwing pals -- and charging up to $100 for a ticket. Who gets the proceeds? Again, that would be Wright. His school and day-care center will divvy up most of the dollars. Pfleger's parish and Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti charity will also get some cash, according to the release.

There are many interesting things about this exposition. First, it has received almost no media coverage, even though Farrakhan, speaking before a crowd of 20,000 a few days ago, accused the "white right" of planning the assassination of President Obama. The minister, wearing a Muammar Gaddafi-style hat, went on to say that the "Zionists" were derailing the president's agenda and white Christians were praying for Obama's death. Sounds like the stuff of "living legends," doesn't it?

Even I lived across the street from this "big event" in Chicago, I wouldn't be going to hear whatever foolishness these three idiots will be spewing, much less put money in their pockets. And call me wild and crazy, but I'll make a bet at least one other Chicago resident will not be there: the former community organizer who's currently living rent-free in the White House.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Cartoons of the Day: Who shot Yogi? Round up the usual cats

.22, .44, .45 and 9mm Day down on the farm at Dewitt's Range

Bad news is state budget cuts has closed the public range at Millstone 4-H Camp where I've been shooting for the past few years.

Good news is private enterprise is alive and well in Richmond County, NC. I found out a local sporting clays range has expanded from shotguns to rifles and handguns so I visited there today to check it out.

Shot six of my pistols, I'm happy as a pig in deep crap and joined up on the spot.

The range is Dewitt's Game Farm and you will find me there most Saturdays from now on, as long as the Good Lord's willing and the creek don't rise -- or I have to work Saturdays.

The Sig .22LR slide conversion kit I bought for my two Sig P229 .357 Sig pistols is not an immediate hit. For some stupid reason, I took two different Federal .22 loads to shoot in it, high velocity and hyper velocity, and it didn't like either. Feed problems. But that's stupid because I know Sig .22 pistols like CCI and I didn't try CCI first, then others later. Next week a diet of CCI for the Sig P229 slide, which fits and works equally well or badly on either the rail model or the non-rail model.

There were two unqualified successes of the day. First was the .45 ACP slide I just got for my Sig P220 Rimfire Classic. Shoots like a dream, witness the .45 holes in the target. It's easy to see which are .45 and .22 aside from the size. The .45 holes, all eight of them, are in the black from 10 yards standing, while the .22 holes are mostly high as I fiddled with the sights until I gave up on misfeeds.

Second unqualified success is what I did with the extra bucks leftover from the sale of my Glock 20 10mm after buying the P220 .45 ACP caliber exchange kit. I'd had my eye on a Hy Hunter Six Shooter .44 Magnum single-action pistol for some time, a copy of the Colt Single Action Army with a 6" barrel and genuine fake pearl grips. I even took it out for a test run some time ago and found it to be a great shooter (one of the benefits of working in a gun shop, shoot before you buy with used guns).

So I finally had some money for a fun gun and brought the Hy Hunter home the same day the P220 slide kit arrived. I did a bit of research on it and found out it was made by J.P. Sauer & Sohn in West Germany in the 1980s before the Iron Curtain collapsed. Sauer later merged with the Swiss pistol company Sig and became what we know today as Sig Sauer. So you could technically say I shot not three but four Sauer pistols today. Three Sig Sauer semi-auto pistols and one Sauer single-action revolver.

I also shot my Dan Wesson .22 revolver a bit and ran a few mags through my S&W 469 9mm pistol. They're both new-to-me so they need the work and so do I.

It was fun and as Bogey said, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship: me, my pistols and rifles and Dewitt's Game Farm. See you there next Saturday.