Monday, December 31, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff, Revolvers
I was torn as to the topic of my final blog post of 2012. It needed to be topical, but I'm a little burnt out on the politics of gun control which currently dominate the shooting world. Not that it's unimportant, mind you, only that I've adopted a "wait and see" attitude: wait until Congress reconvenes and then see what it is we'll have to fight. I'm resigned to the fact that we will most certainly need to fight some kind of draconian gun control bill, but that's tomorrow.
Today, I want something a little lighter, something which illuminates some forgotten corner of firearms history. How about another one of those crazy gun combo things - you know, like the gun knife or the gun cane or the gun hat. How about a gun….flashlight!
From Gizmodo comes the story of the gun flashlight, a combination of a seven-shot .22 Short revolver and a battery operated torch (as Piers Morgan, the Brit ex-pat gun grabber we all love to hate, might call it.) (See how I worked current events into this seemingly unrelated story? That's the kind of scintillating writing that you can only find on my blog! Well, maybe a few others. OK, anybody could have done it. I'll just go sulk in the corner.)
Apologies for the digression. This circa 1920 contraption was supposedly made for security guards and night watchmen who presumably had need to illuminate things while simultaneously pointing a gun everywhere they looked. Today we recognize this for the very bad idea it was, but have we made any progress?
Only technologically. We have the same thing today, only the gun part is bigger and the flashlight part is a whole lot smaller. Think about this: if you were to attach a 'tactical illuminator' to the rail of your pistol, you’d have exactly same thing. More efficient, certainly, but the concept is the same. And, I dare say, just as silly for the majority of users.
(Don’t get me wrong - there is a place for the weapon-mounted light, but not on a handgun in the possession of someone who isn’t intimately familiar with both its application and its risks. In other words, it’s not a general purpose tool.)
On that note, I hope you enjoy your New Year's celebration this evening, and remember to do it safely! I'll see you on Wednesday with another exciting episode!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Some things that have crossed my path over the last few days:
- My publisher, Gun Digest, is having a Twelve Days Of Christmas Giveaway - a different prize every day! They're giving away a lot of neat stuff this week; on Friday is a drawing for a Gerstner pistol case! If you haven't seen one, they are gorgeous. Gerstner, of course, is the old-line wood tool chest manufacturer renowned for their quality. They're still in business, still making great stuff, including the aforementioned case. I'm not eligible to win, sadly, but you certainly are - go enter! Here's the link the the Giveaway.
- James Yeager is a fairly well-known instructor who's also something of a bomb-thrower. He's been all over the net lately challenging people who call him 'coward' to do so to his face - and has issued threats about what would happen if someone did. Now I know people who've known him for a lot of years, and they insist he's really a nice guy and that this is just a publicity stunt for his school. Perhaps, but he's doing a great deal of harm to the image of gun owners and shooting instructors in a time when we really can't afford that kind of nonsense. Please go read PDB's assessment, whose opinion in this case mirrors my own.
- I recently found this piece by Terrell Prude Jr. Mr. Prude** is a self-professed liberal who is also a Second Amendment supporter and a member of the NRA. If you've been following the blog, Facebook, or any of the podcasts I've been on lately you know that this is a hot issue with me. I don't believe that someone needs to be of a certain political persuasion in order to be a gun rights advocate, and I certainly don't believe that just because someone voted for President Obama immediately means that he or she is my sworn enemy. Please read Mr. Prude's essay for the other side of gun ownership, one that we're far too eager to dismiss. Take the time to read it, especially if you’re not a ‘liberal’.
-=[ Grant ]=-
( ** - In the interest of full disclosure it should be noted that many years ago I did business - and a bit of socializing - with Mr. Prude's father, who he mentions in his essay. One might suggest that this would predispose me to agreeing with him, but given my public stance I think it's clear that I'd agree with him even if I didn't know his Dad.)
Monday, December 03, 2012 Filed in: Self defense, Techniques & Training
After my article on not falling for a technique simply because someone of authority promotes it, a reader sent me an alert about an article in the Shooting Times Personal Defense 2012 magazine. The article is titled "Fight With A .380" by one J. Guthrie. (Had I written this article, I'd probably be embarrassed to use my full name too. You'll see why.)
Mr. Guthrie bases much of his article on conversations with Ed Head, the industry veteran who most recently was chief of Gunsite. The article was pretty lackluster until Guthrie got to the part where he described Ed's practice and recommended use of the .380 pistol: he carries two of them, draws them simultaneously, and shoots them alternately at the target. Yes, you read that correctly: one in each hand, blazing away Hollywood style.
Guthrie calls this "unorthodox". I call it something else which I’m ashamed to repeat in a family blog.
If you've not fired one of the uber-small .380 pistols, they're a bit of a handful. Shooting them one-handed guarantees that your balance of speed and precision will suffer greatly compared to getting both hands on one of them. It does not matter how much you practice, you will always be less able to shoot one-handed than two-handed. Also no matter how much you practice, one of those hands will always be worse than the other. *
Shooting them alternately means that not only do you have much diminished control, it means you need to switch your attention between them constantly. You're using precious time and energy re-aligning each gun on target for one shot, which is much more difficult than aligning one gun after successive shots. What's more, even when you’ve spent that time and energy half of your shots will be slower and less precise than the other half, and all of them will be slower and/or less precise than shooting with two hands!
Wouldn't it be better to draw one gun, get both hands on it and achieve a superior balance of speed and precision, then if needed drop it and draw the next (a 'New York reload')? Yes, I believe it would. The .380 is not the complete weakling some make it out to be, and I think you'll find Greg Ellifritz's data show that where it's used six or seven rounds of .380 often end the fight. The faster you can get those rounds onto the target, the faster the fight is going to end. Alternating the shots from two guns simply makes that process longer.
While the article doesn't specifically say so, the genesis of the technique centers around Head's assertion that the small .380 pistols cannot be reloaded easily. He seems to believe that having two guns eliminates the need for a time-consuming reload. There might be some merit to that belief, IF the guns were used successively and the New York reload done when one ran dry.**
Doing this sequentially would at least mean that if you ended up running one dry and needed to access the second gun, you'd already have been able to put a full ammunition load into your attacker far faster and with greater precision than shooting one-handed alternately. You're more immediately disrupting his activity and lessening the amount of time you're exposed to danger.
Shooting the guns alternately simply gives the bad guy more time to hurt you - and, I submit, it's a whole lot MORE time. I can deduce absolutely no upside to this method.
Well, according to Guthrie there IS one: it makes you look like Antonio Banderas. No, I'm not kidding - he really said that. He calls the effect "impressive", without ever explaining exactly why or how shooting less precisely and more slowly is impressive.
That, then, is really the crux of his presentation - it makes you look cool!
I'll say this as plainly as I can: if you choose your defensive shooting technique because it makes you look cool you are simply foolish. That's also the best word to attach to this technique. I'm surprised that anyone would write a glowing article about such nonsense, and I'm surprised that Shooting Times would publish it.
But the bad judgement doesn't stop there! I'll talk about that on Wednesday.
-=[ Grant ]=-
( * - There are people who insist that they shoot "just as good" one handed as two, or that they shoot weak hand "just as good" as strong hand. Remember that shooting is always a balance of speed and precision; shooting as precisely but slower is not as good, and shooting at the same speed but with less precision isn't as good, either. Only if you can shoot with the same balance of speed and precision one-handed as two-handed, or weak-handed as strong-handed, can you claim to be "as good". I've yet to meet the person who can.)
( ** - Personally, I'd need to test that assertion for myself before I accepted it, and that's before factoring in the complication of realistically practicing the technique. I have done such a test with two revolvers, and found that the New York reload has very little advantage. I believe the results would be less persuasive with two auto pistols, given their reloading efficiencies.)
Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff, Ammunition
For the last couple of months I've been hearing rumblings about stocking up on ammunition for, well, whatever: zombie apocalypse, riots after the election, natural disasters, what have you. (I actually heard a non-gun-person refer to the "zombie apocalypse" just the other day. This is now getting out of hand.)
Rob Tackett over at the TacStrike blog has an interesting article about panic buying and hoarding of ammunition. It's worth a read, and he presents an interesting point of view.
At the same time, I think we need to consider the possible actions of the prohibitionists who may try back-door gun control via ammunition restrictions. While I don't think ammunition can be outlawed altogether, a steep tax or purchase limits - either of which would likely pass Constitutional muster - would severely hurt our ability to train or engage in any favorite shooting sports. A stash of ammunition, properly stored, serves as a sort of buffer against such artificial supply constraints.
That buffer allows us to continue our favorite activities without worrying where our next box of hollowpoints are coming from. Think of it as a pantry; we have pantries so that we don’t have to go to the store every time we want so much as a snack. (Like a food pantry, an ammunition pantry - when purchased at normal cost - is also an inflation hedge, but not so much when bought at price-gouging panic prices.)
It's all a matter of perspective and priorities. If you're hungrily stacking cases of ammo in anticipation of widespread civil unrest, ammo that you're just going to sit on and fear the expenditure of even a few rounds, that's probably not terribly rational. If, however, you're buying moderate amounts on a regular basis with an eye toward having a back stock that allows you to train and practice without worrying about running completely out, I think you have your head set squarely on your shoulders.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Several months ago I read a discussion about teaching women to shoot. In it was this gem (written, obviously, by a male of the species) about what a “woman’s class” should entail: "I would put a greater emphasis on field stripping, taking the gun down and putting it back together. Our society doesn't encourage women to mess with machines, demystifying the gun as a machine instills confidence." This comes from the same mindset that says a really important part of a shooting class is a drawn-out explanation of how the primer ignites the gunpowder and the difference between rimfire and centerfire.
As I've said before, it's silly to think that a woman who has mastered the complexities of driving can't figure out what a slide stop lever does. To take my automobile analogy a bit further, it's silly to think that a woman needs to know how to take an engine apart to "instill confidence" in her driving ability.
Don't get me wrong - if she doesn't have someone who will do the job of cleaning and oiling her gun, she needs to learn to do it herself. The gun has to be maintained, and someone has to do it; it's simply part of shooting. However, to label that maintenance as "demystifying" the gun and "instilling confidence” is nonsense. If she doesn't have confidence from proper training and regular practice, knowing how to field strip her Glock isn't going to give it to her any more than knowing how to replace a crank seal is going to make her a more confident driver.
I think it's more important for her to spend her limited training time and money learning how to defend herself efficiently, how to make the bad guy go away with the least expenditure of her defensive resources, than it is to repeatedly practice the disassembly of her pistol.
-=[ Grant ]=-
(If you haven't been following the erupting story about RECOIL magazine, read my recap from Monday.)
Up until now we've heard only from Jerry Tsai, the editor of RECOIL. FIrst he said that he stood behind what he wrote, but that he simply worded it unclearly. (Remember that one of the reasons he cited for the gun being unavailable to "civvies", and with which he agreed, was that it served “no sporting purpose” and was bad for cops and soldiers - both common refrains of the Sarah Brady crowd.)
When the industry started taking notice he wrote a second "apology" where he claimed that what he printed was just what HK told him. I sincerely doubt that any company the size of HK uses words like "civvies" and "scumbags"; even a first-grader can read the item and see that it wasn't written by the maker of the product. The words were Jerry's, through and through, only this time he claims they really weren't.
The exodus of advertisers was swift; I named some of them on Monday, and in the intervening days many more have jumped ship - including industry behemoth Magpul, who virtually defines the modern concept of "shooting style". If you're aiming at the twentysomething crowd, and you don't have Magpul on board, you're nothing.
Apparently that reality has yet to occur to Joe Galloway, who is the Associate Publisher of RECOIL. He sent this communique (in its entirety) to advertisers this morning:
RECOIL Magazine’s Position:
In light of some of the comments and complaints made about a paragraph in a recent article about the Heckler & Koch MP7A1, Recoil wishes to make the following points clear:
· It is simply not credible for anyone to question Recoil’s support for, and commitment to, the Second Amendment. Recoil is first and foremost a gun lifestyle magazine, aimed at the modern shooting enthusiast.
· The opinions in the paragraph in question accurately reflected those of the manufacturer, and should have been reported as direct quotes. Recoil acknowledges the way the paragraph was written has caused unnecessary confusion.
· Jerry Tsai, a passionate gun enthusiast and the visionary behind Recoil magazine, will remain as editor of Recoil.
We thank you for your support and understanding.
Quite honestly, if you read the article, it was one paragraph that was actually quoted from the manufacturer and we did not state it that way. Recoil has 26,000 likes on face book and the magazine has only been out for three issues and issue number 4 is just hitting the streets. I honestly believe that this will not hurt the magazine. I have not lost anyone as a result of this and do not expect to.
5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
Muscle Mustangs & Fast Fords
Assistant: Jennifer Conklin 813-675-3507
Several things stand out. FIrst, Tsai admitted writing and agreeing with what was published in his first "apology". Now his publisher says Jerry didn't write it, an assertion which directly contradicts what his editor said. Then he has the temerity to claim that the magazine "has not lost anyone", despite the number of companies who have publicly cancelled their involvement with them.
As I said on Monday, the new generation of shooters needs their own magazine. This one, bankrolled by someone whose political associations are highly suspect, may not be it. The shooting fraternity still needs a magazine like RECOIL, but it needs to be one which doesn't compromise on the Second Amendment. Could RECOIL become that magazine? I have my doubts, especially after their publisher dug in his heels to support the status quo, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if they truly repent.
In the meantime, please read this well-reasoned counterpoint from the Breach, Bang, Clear blog.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Over the weekend a major firestorm erupted over RECOIL magazine's review of the HK MP7A1. In the article, the editor of the magazine - one Jerry Tsai - penned this:
“Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it. Mike Cabrera of Heckler & Koch Law Enforcement Sales and veteran law enforcement officer with SWAT unit experience points out that this is a gun that you do not want in the wrong, slimy hands.”
Sounds just like something from Sarah Brady herself, doesn't it? Of course it does, and it caused more than a few Second Amendment stalwarts to go nuclear, like in this open letter to RECOIL from Rob Pincus (who first alerted me to the debacle whan I was on the range teaching a Combat Focus Shooting course - ah, the power of the iPhone!):
“DEAR RECOIL MAGAZINE,In reference to: “Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of…”
To say I disagree with your thoughts on the MP7 would be a gross understatement.
In fact, the ignorance of that statement is amazing to me. In case you didn’t notice, the only reason Glocks, M&Ps, and probably most of the guns that are paying for advertising space in your rag are built is to put down bad guys.
People may find “sporting purposes” for them… but gun games aren’t why they exist. If Wired or Maxim had said what you did, I wouldn’t care. You should’ve known better.
The vast majority of firearms that have been designed and built in the history of the tool have been built for defensive or offensive use. Regardless of the intended role, military, law enforcement or civilian, the overwhelming majority of firearms on shelves in gun shops and shown in the pages of your now incredibly disappointing magazine are designed for use by people against people. While the “shooting sports” label may be a banner that has hung over our industry for political and (sometimes) marketing reasons, your young magazine hasn’t exactly catered to the waterfowl or skeet crowds.
Personally, the MP7 is one of the few guns on the planet that I would rush out and pay H&K Retail Price for, if it were ever offered for civilian sale. I’ve had the pleasure of shooting them many times and training teams that use them. It is a great tool, but didn’t possess any magical power that made it reckless, dangerous or inappropriate for any responsible firearms owner to possess…. for whatever reason they desire.
I had high hopes for your publication. Now I expect people to stop reading it, advertisers to fade away and your writers to submit their work to other publications that actually understand the industry they are covering.
-I.C.E. Training Company”
For his part, Jerry - sensing an imminent backlash from readers and advertisers alike - came back with what he perceived to be damage control on RECOIL's Facebook page:
Hey guys, this is Jerry Tsai, Editor of RECOIL. I think I need to jump in here and clarify what I wrote in the MP7A1 article. It looks like I may not have stated my point clearly enough in that line that is quoted up above. Let’s be clear, neither RECOIL nor I are taking the stance on what should or should not be made available on the commercial market although I can see how what was written can be confused as such.
Because we don’t want anything to be taken out of context, let’s complete that quote and read the entire paragraph:
“Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it. Mike Cabrera of Heckler & Koch Law Enforcement Sales and veteran law enforcement officer with SWAT unit experience points out that this is a gun that you do not want in the wrong, slimy hands. It comes with semi-automatic and full-auto firing modes only. Its overall size places it between a handgun and submachine gun. Its assault rifle capabilities and small size make this a serious weapon that should not be taken lightly.”
Let’ also review why this gun should not be taken lightly. In the article it was stated that the MP7A1 is a slightly larger than handgun sized machine-gun that can be accurately fired and penetrate Soviet style body armor at more than 300 yards. In the wrong hands, that’s a bad day for the good guys.
As readers of RECOIL, we all agree that we love bad-ass hardware, there’s no question about that. I believe that in a perfect world, all of us should have access to every kind of gadget that we desire. Believe me, being a civvie myself, I’d love to be able to get my hands on an MP7A1 of my own regardless of its stated purpose, but unfortunately the reality is that it isn’t available to us. As a fellow enthusiast, I know how frustrating it is to want something only to be denied it.
Its manufacturer has not made the gun available to the general public and when we asked if it would ever come to the commercial market, they replied that it is strictly a military and law enforcement weapon, adding that there are no sporting applications for it. Is it wrong that HK decided against selling a full-auto pocket sized machine gun that can penetrate armor from hundreds of yards away? It’s their decision to make and their decision they have to live with not mine nor anybody else’s.
I accepted their answer for what it was out of respect for those serving in uniform. I believe that we as gun enthusiasts should respect our brothers in law enforcement, agency work and the military and also keep them out of harms way. Like HK, I wouldn’t want to see one of these slip into the wrong hands either. Whether or not you agree with this is fine. I am compelled to explain a point that I was trying to make that may have not been clear.
Thanks for reading,
– JT, Editor, RECOIL
Naturally, this looks-like-an-apology-but-really-isn't-when-you-actually-read-it-and-won't-someone-PLEASE-think-of-our-brave-boys-in-blue did nothing but stoke the fires, causing several prominent shooting industry partners, including Silencerco, ITS Tactical, and Panteo Productions, to publicly cancel all their ads in the magazine.
Tsai, now realizing that the survival of his emerging empire is in serious jeopardy (“Zumboed”, I believe, is the operative term) penned another apology on the RECOIL Facebook page that says he Really, Really Means It This Time:
I’d like to address the comments regarding what I wrote in the MP7A1 article in RECOIL issue 4. First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for any offense that I have caused with the article. With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand the outrage, and I am greatly saddened that it was initiated by my words. Especially since, I am an unwavering supporter of 2nd Amendment Rights. I’ve chosen to spend a significant part of both my personnel and professional life immersed in this enthusiasm, so to have my support of individuals’ rights called into doubt is extremely unfortunate. With that said, I retract what I wrote in the offending paragraph within this article. It should have had been presented with more clarity.
In the article, I stated some information that was passed on to me about why the gun is not available for civilian purchase. By no means did I intend to imply that civilians are not responsible, nor do we lack the judgment to own such weapons, if I believed anything approaching this, clearly I would lead a much different life. I also mentioned in the article that the gun had no sporting purpose. This again, was information passed on to me and reported in the article without the necessary additional context. I believe everything published in RECOIL up to this point (other than this story), demonstrates we clearly understand and completely agree that guns do not need to have a sporting purpose in order for them to be rightfully available to civilians. In retrospect, I should have presented this information in a clearer manner. Although I can understand the manufacturer’s stance on the subject, it doesn’t mean that I agree with it.
Again, I acknowledge the mistakes I made and for them I am truly sorry.
Basically, it's an "I'm not a bad guy, just horribly incompetent and lack basic reading comprehension skills" sort of passing-the-buck
excuse apology. I find that odd coming from an editor! Having worked for a number of editors, and knowing the hawk-like attention they pay to what comes out on their watch, it seems rather incomprehensible that one would blithely regurgitate a manufacturer's inflammatory talking points while simultaneously adding his own clear and obvious agreement.
Many people, including yours truly, might have bought it - except for this a little bit of information a reader over at The Truth About Guns uncovered: RECOIL is owned by Source Interlink, an investment firm bankrolled by one Ron Burkle. Burkle is described in an article at Mondotimes.com as "...a prominent Democratic party activist and fundraiser. He is a close friend of former President Bill Clinton, and investments in Yucaipa made by Clinton and his wife Senator Hillary Clinton have generated millions of dollars in income for them. “
Now it must be pointed out that I'm not a supporter of either political party; I despise all politicians equally. And, as I've reminded some of my more myopically partisan acquaintances, the "R" in "NRA" does not stand for "Republican." Still, one has to wonder about those ties.
My only knowledge of RECOIL comes from poking around on their website; the editorial direction is much too young and "extreme" for my tastes. However, I think it's important for the shooting community to have fresh outlets like this magazine to which the under-40 generations can relate. What appeals to me, as well as those before me and those just after me, is very different than what appeals to the 25-to-35 demographic. We don't need to push them away with the fuddy-duddies in Guns & Ammo or Shooting Times; they need THEIR magazines, with writers who talk to them in terms they're used to hearing. RECOIL was very obviously aimed at doing just that, and I think it's great - even if I'd never choose to read it myself. (I've got to admire their graphic sense, however!)
But at only four issues into its life, and given the nature of its ownership, I have to wonder: does the magazine really exist to get a certain demographic to think of guns not as something to aspire to owning, but rather to admire from afar in movies and videogames? Has anyone read all of their issues with a keen eye, looking for that kind of subtle editorial manipulation?
Perhaps Tsai's mistake wasn't what the magazine wrote, but rather a lack of subtlety in writing it. Discussion in the comments is encouraged, particularly because I've admitted to having never paid attention to the magazine until now. If you've read RECOIL, I'd like to hear your thoughts.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, May 21, 2012 Filed in: History, Techniques & Training
Long-time readers may remember that I'm a big fan of the Shorpy Historical Photo Archive site. In fact, it's one of the few that's in my "favorite" RSS feed tabs in Safari. I never get tired of seeing what they've come up with!
Last Friday they showed a picture taken in 1909 of a gentleman (I assume it was a man) dressed up in protective clothing and holding a pistol. Labeled "dueling with wax bullets", it strongly resembles what today we refer to as "force-on-force" training. Everything, it seems, has been done before!
Photo courtesy of Shorpy
Check out the Shorpy site for a very LARGE version of the picture.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Monday, April 30, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff, Legal Issues
I had something else planned for today, but it wasn't nearly as cool as this!
Over at Forgotten Weapons is a story about visiting a gun show in Belgium. Now I know we all have a vision of Europe as being devoid of gun ownership (or at least so restricted as to make it impossible to own anything cool), but it would do us well to remember that Europe is the land of the cheap and readily available suppressor.
Compare that to the file-your-paperwork-and-$200-and-wait-six-months ordeal that owning a simple muffler entails here in The Land Of The Free.
That's not the only thing about which (some) Europeans are more enlightened. Take a look at the mounds of full-auto military hardware for sale at the aforementioned Belgian show - then look at the prices. Yes, $1250 for a Dror machine gun. I don't follow the Class II world at all, but even I know that in comparison to the U.S. that is a screaming, unbelievable, unfathomable deal. And there are lots more where those came from!
Of course there is the other side of the coin, and on Wednesday I hope to be able to present it to you. In the meantime, though, may you dream pleasant dreams of cheap Thompsons.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Wednesday, March 28, 2012 Filed in: Revolvers
I think I've made my feelings clear regarding the concept (if not the execution) of the Taurus Judge/S&W Governor revolvers. As self defense guns, which is how they're marketed, they make no sense for a wide variety of valid reasons. What's amazing to me is that people will say "that's all true, but I think they still have a place for snakes and carjackers."
I've talked about the former already. A large portion of my family lives and ranches in rattlesnake country, and I spend time there on a regular basis. I can tell you for a fact that a) the preferred snake gun is a .45 Colt using CCI shotshells, and has been for decades; and b) it's rarely used - only if a snake is found in a yard, around a house, or in a work area where the chance of encounter is extremely high. People who live in snake country already know these things and visitors to snake country have no business shooting snakes, so the Judge doesn’t make sense. (Even with the amount of time I spend in snake country, I not only have a never shot a snake I don't even bother to carry snake loads. If I see a snake, I just put distance between us and have done so many times.**)
The carjacking scenario is just as silly. Aside from the fact that very few have practiced deploying any gun - let alone a Judge - in the confines of an automobile, what makes this gun any better than any other gun for the purpose? Trolling some of the less sophisticated gun forums will reveal comments like "a .410 shotshell to the face would make any carjacker think twice." Umm, yeah, a .22LR would do the same thing. Just about any gun would make just about anyone "think twice." What's the point, again?
The consensus of Judge fans seem to think that the close ranges of a carjacking scenario are ideally suited to the .410 shotshell, but their reasoning is missing. Do they believe that the shotshell will make it easier to hit their assailant? At that distance it's no more sure than a single, more effective, projectile launcher. Will it have more immediate effect? Unlikely, since it has less penetration than a single projectile. No matter how I look at it, I cannot find a rationale for the .410 from a revolver making a better anti-carjacking round than any other, but it's one of the most common justifications for the things.
I've practiced the use of a handgun from inside a car, and I can't see where a Judge/Governor would especially useful. Yet the concept inexplicably lives.
(My anti-carjacking strategy? I drive a vehicle that no one in their right mind would ever want to carjack, and I keep the doors locked. From my research those two things eliminate more than 99% of the potential threats. For the remaining 1%, I have a non-shotshell-firing handgun with which I practice regularly and realistically.)
-=[ Grant ]=-
** - true story: my wife and I were at one time considering buying some property in a very rural part of south-central Washington state, which is rattlesnake country. We were looking at an old homestead which was along - we didn't know this at the time - "Rattlesnake Creek". We were tramping around, looking at an overgrown corral area, when I spotted something on the ground. It was green, spotted, and looked for all the world like one of those plastic inflatable snakes one sees in carnival midways. I thought it was a discarded childrens' toy when I noticed its head move. I was perhaps three feet away at this point, uncomfortably close, and slowly backed away. It was a green rattlesnake!
I'd never seen one of that color, and this one seemed content to stay where he was. He was fully stretched out, not coiling or hissing or rattling, even though he knew I was there. He didn't mind me, and so I didn't mind him. I squatted down to get a closer look while at the same time motioning to my wife to freeze where she was. After a while I got tired of staring at a snake who wasn't doing anything, so I went on my merry way. The snake, for his part, slithered off to do whatever it is green rattlesnakes do.
When I got home I checked out a herpetology site from one of Washington's universities. It turns out the snake I saw was a very uncommon subspecies of the North Pacific Rattlesnake, and is noted for a peculiarly non-aggressive behavioral trait: it tends to stay motionless until a threat has passed, the snake equivalent, I suppose, of ostrich behavior. This lack of a self-defense initiative would tend to explain why they're rare.
I did not feel a need to shoot the thing.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 Filed in: General gun stuff
I was reading about the Kimber Solo over at The Firearm Blog the other day, and something struck me as odd. No, it wasn't the anachronistic thumb safety (on a double action, striker-fired gun) nor the smooth front and back grip straps (which make it impossible to control in anything resembling realistic defensive fire.) It wasn't even the incredibly specific ammo requirements (the likes of which we haven't seen since the introduction of the Seecamp LWS 32.)
What I found odd was the rear sight. Now most people will probably look at it and think that there's nothing at all odd about its vaguely Novak-like profile, but that's exactly my point. That 'low profile' design has been around forever, but still makes no sense in terms of functionality. That something so superfluous is nearly ubiquitous is amazing.
The design is said to be less prone to snagging, one of its major selling points. The problem I have with this concept is that it is non-snag in the direction of holstering, not in the direction of drawing! It seems to me that snagging the rear sight while holstering isn't really an issue, where snagging during the draw might (note I said 'might') be a problem. So why the huge ramp on the front side of the sight?
The design has no real function, but does present a problem where the shooter needs to operate the slide one-handed. The rear blade is now snag-free in the direction that we need it not to be - there is no hook or shelf on the slide which the shooter can catch on a belt (or the edge of a holster) to help manipulate the slide. Net result: a "feature" which actually has less than zero purpose.
Admittedly, the likelihood of needing to operate the slide one-handed is slim. Still, why design that possibility out of something when there is no compensating gain to be had?
(Hmmm...thumb safety. Low-profile "snag free" sights. Extremely picky about ammo. Hey - they've managed to recreate 1985!)
-=[ Grant ]=-
Thursday, January 26, 2012 Filed in: Rifles, General gun stuff
More of the 2012 SHOT Show!
It seems that I’m always looking at new riflescopes. I'm pretty particular about image quality, and given how I tend to treat field gear (roughly!) I also need a scope that will stand up to abuse. In past years I've been happy with the price/performance balance of the IOR/Valdada and Leupold scopes I’ve owned, but their optical quality isn't as good as the more expensive brands. I’ve had the privilege to use a Schmidt & Bender scope, and while I love the optical (and mechanical) quality I can’t afford the stiff tariff! I’m thus in a constant quest for something approaching the quality of the S&B, while costing closer to the Leupold. Believe it or not, there may in fact exist such a scope.
At SHOT I managed to stumble upon the Premier Optics booth. Premier is familiar to me (and I suspect a few of you) as the maker and installer of custom reticles in Leupold scopes. Unbeknownst to me, a couple years back they decided to start making their own scopes. They hired some very experienced German scope makers to do the engineering, then started building them here in the U.S. I've got to say that what they've come out with is stunning!
Premier was showing their two basic lines: the Tactical line, which features 34mm tubes and the biggest, best adjustment knobs I've ever handled; and the Light Tactical line having 30mm tubes and smaller (but still big) knobs. I examined the scopes closely, and did a quick-and-dirty optical evaluation. I could find no obvious spherical or lateral color aberrations and no field curvature. The scopes have great contrast while color, to my eyes, was a little on the cool side (but not so much that there was a cast.)
The Premier rep assured me that all of their scopes would pass a box test with flying colors and return to zero perfectly. Given their long experience in military and long range competition circles, I’m inclined to believe them!
I was particularly taken by their Light Tactical 3-15x50. I has very solid click adjustments, and they even built in a mechanical turns counter so that you don't get confused trying to remember how many clicks you've put into the adjustments. Neat!
Turns counter, underneath dot on upper turret, shows the number “1” - meaning the turret has been rotated one full turn.
As noted, optical quality was top notch, which is not surprising considering the pedigree. All reticles are in the first focal plane, making rangefinding with the mil-dots a snap at any magnification.
I did a double-take when I looked through their new 1-8x Tactical scope. At magnifications under 3x you see a red dot, designed for speed of acquisition and rapid close-quarters shooting. Once the magnification is set beyond 3x, the reticle magically changes into a standard cross-hair mil-dot! It's a cute trick, and I can see this scope being very popular with AR-15 shooters who want its unique attributes.
Like with anything else, quality costs - but not as much as it might from some of the German brands. Yes, you’ll spend north of two grand for the cheapest of their scopes, but given the very high construction and optical quality I think that’s a bargain.
There were quite a few vendors of what has come to be called ‘tactical gear’, things like pouches and bags and load-bearing equipment, at SHOT. One I'd not heard of is Marz Tactical Gear, a Phoenix-area company who proudly marks their stuff as Made in USA. They showed a couple of products that intrigued me.
First was a first aid kit pouch perfectly sized for a trauma kit. Called the "Patrol IFAK", the pouch will hold a tourniquet, pressure bandage, a roll of hemostatic gauze, and a few incidentals. The cool part is that the back is covered with Velcro, and they have a matching plate that straps onto the backside of an automobile headrest. This keeps the kit in a known and easily accessed location; in use, you simply grab the handle and rip the kit from the mounting plate. You can then take it to where it is needed. Very useful; I think I'll be buying a couple of them.
The other thing that caught my eye was what they call their "Field Kit". It's a large piece of waterproofed Cordura nylon attached to a couple of zippered pouches. The pouches can hold cleaning supplies, lubricants, or even spare parts. When unrolled you have a decent-sized work surface to catch parts and keep dirt away from mechanisms, with the pouches on one side for easy access to the aforementioned incidentals.
It would make a great field cleaning station or armorer's go-anywhere emergency shop, and might be very useful for the instructor who occasionally needs to fix a student’s gun. A neat little idea to make life in the field (or at the range) a little easier.
All week I kept hearing about Mossberg's new "tactical" lever action. At least a half-dozen people told me that I just had to go see it, so I did.
“Tactical” has officially jumped the shark.
My initial reaction: “you’ve GOT to be kidding.” Where to start? Mossberg managed to design out all of the lever action's positive attributes while adding very little to its usability. The collapsible AR-style stock wobbles and doesn't have a comfortable grip; the rails add unnecessary weight and make holding the forearm quite unpleasant; and the action was, to put it charitably, rough.
The myriad protrusions of the butt stock and fore end rails simply destroy the smooth, snag-free handling that is one of the chief virtues of the lever action. It's a rifle that has been styled as opposed to designed, perhaps by someone who might not have had the opportunity to become familiar with the lever action and how it is best employed.
Available in .22LR or .30-30, I'm sure it will sell - just like the Taurus Judge sells. I'll stick to my traditional models, thank you, as they've proven themselves capable of a wide range of tasks, without poseur bolt-ons, for quite some time now.
(This is a perfect example of my belief that the rifle, particularly the lever action, is a general purpose tool. The more crap you hang on it, the more specialized and therefore less useful it becomes. My AR-15s are pretty much stock, and I've found that they're the most versatile in that configuration. As my eyes continue to deteriorate I may have to fit them with optics, but even then I'll make sure that the choice will leave them usable for the variety of tasks I expect to encounter. The same can be said of my lever actions. Someone at Mossberg, in my opinion, just doesn’t Get It.)
More to come tomorrow - stay tuned!
-=[ Grant ]=-
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 Filed in: Techniques & Training, Self defense
On Monday I commented about a video from an outfit called American Defense Enterprises (ADE.) In it, a group of black-clad aspirants show us what they can do with guns. It was apparently so embarrassing that ADE actually pulled it from YouTube, but luckily someone managed to snag a copy and put it back up (and with a far more appropriate soundtrack!)
The whole video looks like a Hollywood caricature of firearms use; the word that kept popping into my head was 'choreography'. Hmmm....sure enough, ADE is headquartered on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. That would go a long way to explaining why the video looks more like a video gamer's wet dream than realistic defensive shooting.
You really need to watch the video, as it illustrates some vital principles about how you should NOT train. How plausible are the scenarios they're setting up? Look at the safety aspect of some of their drills - is there a benefit that outweighs the not inconsiderable risks? My answers would be ‘not very’ and ‘no’.
I'll go out on a limb here: it's damn near impossible to produce an exciting video clip of quality defensive shooting instruction, because at its core it is boring. Learning to shoot efficiently doesn't lend itself to flashy room clearing footage, and how one deals with a real threat doesn't look anything like an exciting team assault. Defensive shooting is as much about concepts and processes as it is techniques, and when was the last time you saw a blood-pumping video of a concept?
If you want to see good defensive shooting videos, you can find them at the Personal Defense Network. If you want entertainment, watch the video under discussion.
Just don't confuse the two.
-=[ Grant ]=-
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Filed in: General gun stuff, Shooting industry
I will freely admit that I'm usually not the hippest guy in the room. Still, I can't for the life of me fathom the whole zombie meme in the shooting world.
Shooters talk about the 'zombie apocalypse', discuss guns suitable for zombies, and similar topics. Some of the gun radio shows/podcasts are featuring regular zombie topics, and questions about the best zombie calibers are staples in the gun forums.
I kinda-sorta understand the desire to humorously justify one's acquisitive nature ("but I need this gun in case the zombies come!"), but what I can't figure out are the zombie targets.
Now the big boys have gotten into the action, selling expensive full-color photorealistic zombie targets replete with oozing sores and tattered clothing. (Frankly I think they look like just another day at People of Wal-Mart, but maybe it's just me.) I'm told that they're for fun, a way to enjoy a trip to the range. A game, if you will.
The issue, I suspect, is that I've never thought of guns as objects of fantasy. Either that, or I'm subconsciously compensating for the fact that I didn't jump on this trend early and make a lot of money!
Either way, I still don't get it.
-=[ Grant ]=-