Monday, January 2, 2017

... And Starting 2017 with a Bang!

After Saturday's happy day at the range, I was hoping to get out again, but the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate on Sunday. I did some horse chores, then decided it was warm enough to take the dueling tree for a run. I texted my brother to grab his wife and their guns to join me.

(Okay, I had to invite them, because the dueling tree doesn't fit in my car, but don't tell them that.)

If you don't follow us on Facebook, you might be a bit behind on the dueling tree saga. I've had this tree for a while - years - but back when I was in the running to audition for Top Shot I accidentally shot a hole in one of the plates with a 45-70. I say accidentally, because though I was aiming at the plate, I didn't actually think I'd hit it. I was shooting from the Bosu and the tree was out there a ways. In fact, I think I have video of it somewhere - I'll have to look for it.

Anyway, I went to the lowest bidder to fix the plates and the fixes were bad, Bad, BAD, so the tree has been sitting out of commission for about five years. In talking to one of the shooters at my local match, I found that he is a welder and he offered to make new plates for me. I jumped at the chance!

Mez took the tree frame to his place to clean up the rust and re-paint it. I got all mushy on Facebook about how I'd found my "tribe" and how lucky I was to have people in my life who were willing to pitch in and help. I got a picture of my new plates and they were beautiful.

So shiny and pretty.
A few days later, Jay and I were pulling into the driveway and Jay just stopped the car for a moment and turned to tell me, "looks like Mez dropped off your tree". I had my nose buried in my phone for some reason and looked up to see my pink, sparkly tree. Yes, pink. With sparkles.


With sparkles.


So my "new" dueling tree has been sitting outside of my front door for a month, it was time to take it for a spin. My brother was kind enough to pick it up and haul it to my friend's house. She was kind of cute with her bright white plates (well, three of them anyway) and her sparkles.

Besides being plain fun to shoot, I love the instant feedback. I've been struggling with my Big Dot sight on my Para. And by struggling I mean, I hate the damn thing! I've spent the better part of two years trying to learn to shoot with it because I'm too cheap and stubborn to switch back to my factory sights. It took three shots to figure out how to use the stupid Big Dot.

I had been lining up my sights to cover the target, as instructed when I switched to the Big Dot. I never felt comfortable with that, because it's so big that I couldn't really see what I was shooting at. My first couple of shots on the dueling tree were misses and when I asked my brother for feedback, he told me I was shooting over the plates. I adjusted my sight picture so that the target was sitting on top of the Big Dot sight and got my first hit. Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke I did it again and again. Shooting at steel was just what I needed - I needed the immediate feedback on my sight picture. When shooting at paper, it's not always easy to see if you've impacted where you were aiming.

We took turns shooting at the tree and had a blast. Finally, as it was getting colder, my brother and I went head-to-head on it. It was a draw, with each of us winning a round.

The tree lost some of its sparkles (I think each of the three of us managed to hit the frame at least once), and the shiny new white plates are no longer shiny and new.

I made a good dent in my goal of 200 rounds/month, shooting 60 rounds through the Para. Only 140 rounds to go this month and 30 days left to do it.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sending 2016 out with a Bang

I needed some trigger therapy, so I hit Mez up to take me to his indoor range. Most of my shooting has been done outdoors (in fact, that's what I'll be doing today), but I'm getting soft in my old age and shooting in a climate controlled area sounded wonderful.

My goal was to shoot the Dot Torture with both the G42 and the G43. I have been playing around with the idea of buying a 43. I like the 42, I really do, and have been carrying it pretty consistently for a couple of years, but I really like the idea of the 43.

I haven't shot the Dot Torture with the G42 since April; before that, the last time I shot the drill with the G42 was November, 2015. It's been a long time and I haven't been great about practicing. I'm confident enough with it that I carry it daily as a "get outta my face" gun, same as when I was carrying my Beretta Bobcat (.25 cal) and my Beretta Tomcat (.32 cal).

I shot the drill cold with the G42 and am not upset by the way I shot it. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised I did so well. My issue with any of the drills I shoot is that I get too much into my head - I start over-thinking everything. I have the skills to shoot these drills clean, but I need to find the quiet spot in my head. I need my shooting Zen place.

What I love about the Dot Torture is that I can pretty easily identify where I'm screwing up. Even when I "miss" my circle, I'm within a 1/2 inch of it. My confidence in the G42 soared with this go 'round. Feeling pretty good, I switched to the G43.

1st time through. 39/50 is a crappy score.
I was pretty disappointed with this round. Right off the bat, I got hung up on the crappy stock Glock trigger (Glock perfection, my ass), but that really isn't a valid excuse. I should be able to shoot *any* gun with *any* trigger, even if I'm a bit of a trigger princess.

I pulled my big girl panties back up, took a deep breath and had a second go with the G43.

Much better. 44/50.
I definitely need a lot more trigger time. My weak had was so tired, I could barely stay on target to pull the trigger, even with that, I did manage to stack two rounds. For the first time in a long time, I was pleased with the way I shot.

I felt so good that I challenged Mez to a little competition. We sent a target (8 1/2" by 11" piece of paper) out to 25 yards to see who could get the most of five rounds on paper. He won the first round, I won the second. It's a rare thing for me to beat him in anything, so I'll take it.

I left the range absolutely elated. It's been a very long time since I felt a "shooter's high" - where I just flat-out enjoyed shooting.

My goals for 2017 include way more shooting: 200 rounds per month; one match per month; and dipping my toes into 3-gun competition. I need a lot of work with my shotgun, but I've got people I can call on to help me with that portion. Through it all, I hope to continue to feel the "shooter's high" I felt yesterday. I've missed that feeling so much.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Thoughts on Gun Value

I have owned a variety of firearms over the last 20 something years, both antique, family heirloom guns and modern guns I’ve purchased myself. I’m not a brand or caliber fanboy. I’ve had steel and plastic, cheap and expensive, big and small including Taurus revolvers and semi autos, a Rossi .357 Magnum with a 2.5 inch barrel, a Glock 23, Smith & Wesson M&P full size, Smith & Wesson revolvers in .44 Magnum and .45 Auto and a Sig Sauer government sized 1911 just to name a few of the notables across the spectrum. They all have their pluses, minuses, trade-offs and compromises.

Here lately, current circumstances and future plans have me thinking and rethinking my preferences on firearms in general and handguns specifically. The lens through which I have been processing my thoughts is this: if I had to choose only 1 gun (maybe 2) to rely upon, what would give me the most “bang for my buck” and cover the broadest range of potential uses?

Warren Buffet has been quoted as saying “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.”

Current thinking by a lot of reputable firearms instructors/trainers is that a mid to full sized polymer double stack in 9mm is the best for the least. The general consensus on the reasons for this choice is that 9mm is cheap and as effective as other calibers in modern loadings allowing for more training, you can carry more 9mm than other calibers, polymer guns are cheap and easier to maintain, etc. But, is that really the best value? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Sheriff Jim Wilson relates a story about Bill Jordan’s opinion on the subject ( Bill’s take? A Smith & Wesson Model 19. Does that opinion (and Bill’s basis for same) make it the best? Again, perhaps. Perhaps not.

For hunting, you need minute of vitals accuracy and sufficient power to penetrate hide and bone to reach vital organs for a quick and ethical kill. For training new shooters, you need simplicity, safety, low recoil, ease of use…. For home defense, you need accuracy and a delicate balance of power without excessive penetration. For competition, you need accuracy, and…. You get the point. Each potential use has different and potentially conflicting needs.

Being a student of history, I was also intrigued by Old NFO’s offering from this morning ( copying the Saturday Evening Post interview of Wyatt Earp in 1931. First, can you imagine a publication like the Saturday Evening Post publishing such an interview today? Times have changed, and the mind boggles. Second, it is a truism that history is written by the winners. They won for a reason, and wise people learn from their success.

Please allow me to excerpt a few of the highlights for your consideration (text bolded for emphasis – ed.).

“Those old-timers took their gunplay seriously, which was natural under the conditions in which they lived. Shooting, to them, was considerably more than aiming at a mark and pulling a trigger. Models of weapons, methods of wearing them, means of getting them into action and operating them, all to the one end of combining high speed with absolute accuracy, contributed to the frontiersman’s shooting skill. The sought-after degree of proficiency was that which could turn to most effective account the split-second between life and death. Hours upon hours of practice, and wide experience in actualities supported their arguments over style. The most important lesson I learned from those proficient gunfighters was the winner of a gunplay usually was the man who took his time. The second was that, if I hoped to live long on the frontier, I would shun flashy trick shooting — grandstand play — as I would poison. When I say that I learned to take my time in a gunfight, I do not wish to be misunderstood, for the time to be taken was only that split fraction of a second that means the difference between deadly accuracy with a six-gun and a miss.”

“From personal experience and numerous six-gun battles which I witnessed, I can only support the opinion advanced by the men who gave me my most valuable instruction in fast and accurate shooting, which was that the gun fanner and hip-shooter stood small chance to live against a man who, as old Jack Gallagher always put it, took his time and pulled the trigger once.

 “In the days of which I am talking, among men whom I have in mind, when a man went after his guns, he did so with a single, serious purpose. There was no such thing as a bluff; when a gunfighter reached for his forty-five, every faculty he owned was keyed to shooting as speedily and as accurately as possible, to making his first shot the last of the fight. He just had to think of his gun solely as something with which to kill another before he himself could be killed.”

The short answer is that the best value in a “jack of all trades” firearm will vary from person to person based on their individual needs. No internet expert can tell you what will work best for you and your needs, and be aware that gimmicks and trends come and go. But, when it comes to the value of a firearm, Wyatt Earp has one last gem of wisdom: "Fast is fine, but accuracy is final."

Find the gun you can shoot comfortably and accurately, buy ammo, and then practice. 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Carbon Fiber Barrels: Worth the money?

In any sport, everyone is looking for better technology to help them be better, faster, more accurate.  One of these technologies is the use of carbon fiber.  It is a lightweight material, as strong and often times stronger than steel.  It has been used for years in the automotive and aerospace industries.  Its major drawback is cost. 

Carbon fiber technology is also available to the shooting sports.  One form is in carbon fiber wrapped barrels.  I was curious about this technology so I purchased a couple of these barrels to find out for myself if carbon fiber wrapped barrels are worth the money. 

The barrels I chose were manufactured by Proof Research, a leader in carbon fiber technology.  (Proof Research)

The first barrel is a 16 inch barrel for an AR15 chambered in 223 Wylde.  It is of medium weight configuration.  The barrel Starts at one inch diameter at the chamber, tapering down to .75 inches at the muzzle.  This barrel was assembled into an AR15 by myself.  

16 inch barrel AR-15

 Close up #1

Close up #2

The second barrel is a 20 inch heavy target barrel chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.  It is 1.2 inches at the chamber and necks down to .875 inches at the gas block. 
This barrel came assembled into a complete rifle manufactured by NEMO arms.  (NEMO Arms)

NEMO Arms 6.5 Creedmoor Rifle.

Close up

Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of carbon fiber barrels.

The big advantage of carbon fiber is saving weight.  Proof Research claims up to a 60% savings in weight.  The amount of weight savings depends on the diameter and length of the barrel.    

The 16 inch barrel I chose is 26 ounces.  As compared to 33 ounces for an equivalent steel barrel.  This is a 22% savings in weight.

The 20 inch 6.5 Creedmoor barrel is 3 pounds.  The equivalent steel would be 2-3 pounds heavier.  Up to a 50% weight savings.  Now you are talking some serious weight savings. 

I found the carbon fiber wrapped barrels to be just as accurate as steel barrels. 
Typical accuracy is 1 inch and better.  With the heavy target barrel giving me a consistent .6 inches.  (No pictures available of heavy target barrel accuracy)

 First 3 shots - cold bore.
(Australian Outback, 69 grain SMK)

 Next 3 shots - New ammunition

Last 10 shots of shooting session.  Approx. 20 shots between first shots and these last shots.
(Yep getting a bit tired and I forgot my rear bag.  So not as stable as I wanted to be)
(Yes, I'm making excuses for my poor shots.)

This is the category carbon fiber barrels lose.  They are 2-3 times the cost of a steel barrel. 
Most run approximately $900 - $1000.  Most steel barrels are $250 - $500.

Are carbon fiber barrels worth the money?  No and Yes.  Your end use and configuration of your rifle will determine if a carbon fiber barrel is worth the money.

In the lighter weight 16 inch barrel, I would say no.  It is not worth the money.  The carbon fiber barrel is three times the cost ($1000 vs. $300) and only saves 7 ounces.  Hit the gym and get stronger is a better solution. 

In a longer, heavy barrel configuration I would say yes.  Carbon fiber barrels are worth the money.  Especially if your end use is a run and gun type competition or hunting the back country and high degree of precision and accuracy are needed minus the weight.

On the 20 inch NEMO AR10 I purchased, I am saving 2-3 pounds of weight.  I have the benefits of a heavy target barrel without the weight penalty.  Yes, worth the money.  Overall I have a 10 pound rifle versus a 12-13 pound rifle.   

By Mez

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Tips for competitions: Things I should not see

Two weeks ago was the monthly pistol match at the local range.  Good times as always.  It is a mix of experienced competitors and new comers.  All are welcome.  But there are several items of note during the match that concerned me.  I point these out not to shame anyone, but to highlight areas of safety concern so we may all be better and safer. 

Know how to operate you firearm:

It is a must to know how to operate your firearm correctly and safely.  Every new firearm comes with an instruction manual.  READ IT!  If you bought it used, go to YouTube University and learn about your new firearm. 

On the first occasion a gentleman came to the line with a 1911.  A great gun with a manual safety.  He loaded and chambered a round, then paused and said “I forgot it had a safety.”  This phrase should not be uttered.  Ever!

The second shooter came to the line with a SIG pistol, loaded and proceeded to holster his pistol without dropping the hammer with the de-cocker lever. SIG pistols do not have a manual safety.  It is a double action pistol with a de-cocker lever.  It is not designed to be carried with the hammer cocked.  That is the point of a double action pistol.  I should not hear excuses of why it is OK to start with a cocked pistol and no manual safety. 

Read your instruction manuals.  Know how to operate your firearm.  For your safety and for everyone else. 

Tuck in your shirt:

I know it is hot and uncomfortable and you want to be comfortable so you un-tuck your shirt to be confortable.  Often times your un-tucked shirt covers your holster.  This is a problem when re-holstering, you holster your shirt with your pistol.  Possibly causing your pistol to fall out of your holster.  Best to avoid dropping a loaded pistol.

Buy a proper belt and holster:

I understand shooting is not a cheap sport.  There is a lot of new equipment you need to buy.  But it is important to have a good belt and holster.  The belt must be sturdy enough to support the weight of your firearm.  The holster needs to securely hold your firearm in place. 
What I noticed at the match some shooters simply wrap the belt around their waist loosely with their $20 gun sock flapping in the breeze.  The problem with this setup is when you draw your pistol you tend to draw the holster and belt with it.  It slows you down and potentially leads to you crossing the muzzle of your pistol across your own body.  This is unsafe.  Your belt and holster must be secure. 
If using a single belt, feed it through the belt loops on your pants.  Don’t wrap it around your waist, it must go through the belt loops.  Then cinch the belt tight so the holster does not flop around.  This prevents things from moving and flopping around too much.  It also helps with re-holstering.  You are not trying to place your pistol into a moving holster. 

If you are using a separate gun belt to hold your holster instead of your pants belt, you want to use Belt Keepers to prevent your gun belt from flopping around.  Belt Keepers are simple straps that wrap around your gun belt and pants belt to hold everything in place securely.   They may be made of leather or other synthetic materials.  They are fastened with snaps or Velcro. 
Heck, buy some Velcro straps from the local hardware store and wrap secure your belt with them.  They will work in a pinch. 

One final comment on holsters.  Avoid the $20 gun socks if you can.  In general they suck.  They are loose, floppy and generally do not hold your pistol securely.  I understand you may not be able to afford better.  But do try to afford better. 
The same can be said about the cheap holster and magazine carrier many manufacturers ship with their pistols.  These work if you have nothing else, but should be thrown away as soon as you buy something better.  Do you really want to trust a $3 holster that came with the pistol?  These are mostly marketing tricks to give the illusion you are getting something more than you are.
You may spend $50 - $100 for a good holster.  It is worth it, better and safer. 
Kydex is a great choice.  So is old fashioned leather.  Nylon is generally undesireable as it is loose and floppy.  Make sure the holster is designed for your specific model. 


These are a few of the safety concerns I saw during the local match. 
The shooting sports are fun and challenging and you meet lots of interesting and friendly people. 
But do be safe.  Know your equipment and buy the right equipment so your shooting experience is safer and more enjoyable. 

By: Mez


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Son of a Son of a Submachinegun.

I once watched a review of the S&W MP15-22, by Colion Noir, as being a fun gun to shoot and own.   I must admit I have one and have always thought it one of the most fun rifles I own.   Every time I take that rifle out I get a big ole smile on my face and want to shout, “WWWWEEEEEEEEEEEE”.   I recommend this firearm at every turn, totally a fun gun to own and shoot.   In this same vein of gun ownership I write about the Sig Sauer MPX-P.   This is a totally fun, versatile pistol that has many of the same advantages as the M&P15-22.   It’s relatively inexpensive to shoot, points quickly, light, easy to operate with the same controls as the AR-15, and allows for the addition of accessories to make it very uniquely yours.

The MPX-P is classified as a pistol, utilizing the Sig arm brace at the end of a side folding tube.  With the side folder closed, the overall length of the 9mm pistol comes in at a respectable 17 inches (8.5” barrel), and fully extended gives it a length of 27 inches, making it a compact pistol with many applications.   The gun draws on its short history as a new entry into the submachine gun world, as competition to the venerable HK MP5 series of submachine guns.   The Attraction of the MPX in this field is most noticeably the manual of arms.   This gun’s controls look like an AR15/M4, and operate as an AR15/M4.  Adding to this familiarity, the gun comes from the factory ambidextrous in safety, magazine release, and  bolt release!   The charging handle, safety, left side bolt release, and trigger are AR15.   The charging handle is shortened to accommodate the shortened cartridge length, but the operation and shape are the same you know and love.  The safety is very plump and can easily be found with thumb, finger, or knuckle depending on how you train.   Lastly the trigger is reportedly an AR15 trigger, but a careful read of the manual indicates it really isn’t.  The trigger is “basically” a standard single stage AR 15 trigger with a crisp break, and proper reset.  The hand guard is equipped with Key Mod style front end and comes with a very simple fore arm stop to prevent the shooter from over reaching the muzzle.   The top receiver comes with  picatiny rail from muzzle to pistol brace, for your favorite red dot style site and other accessories.  The gun comes equipped with flip up sights front and rear.   Rounding out the list of factory features is a single point sling mount in the rear part of the receiver, the sling is included, and a left hand thread flash hider.  The gun comes with a single 30 round magazine made by Lancer for Sig.

 I see this firearm as being very versatile and fairly easy to feed and maintain.    I purchased the gun to run incognito in my laptop bag with the folding brace, the gun easily stores in a standard back pack used to cart around laptops, with room for your laptop.   My pack carries two 30 round magazines for the MPX-P, and 2 for the handgun I carry, as well as a suppressor (and laptop).   However, this gun could also handily serve as a home defense firearm for shooters concerned with over penetration from either 5.56, or buck shot.   My MPX took the place of an AR pistol that was tasked with the same job, but had to be stored in 2 pieces for the length of the backpack.   At close quarters the gun is very easy to utilize when wanting to put multiple shots on target quickly.  In my vehicle carry scenario, the MPX was much faster to put into service than the AR taking into account the time spent assembling the AR.   A secondary benefit is the space needed by the magazines and the weight savings of similar loads.

The gun is easy to control and put rounds where you want them.   I adorned mine with a Burris Fast Fire II red dot site and was able to sight in the gun with a group that was coverable by a nickle at 7 yards, 21 feet, typical distance used in self-defense training and shooting.  My zero consisted of 6 shots.  I shot 100 rounds total (suppressed and unsuppressed) and experience no failures to fire, feed or other malfunction.  My particular pistol is a 9mm, but the gun is also offered in S&W .40 and .357 Sig.    The gun is easy to control when firing rapidly, and accurate when targeting deliberately.
From an innovation standpoint, not much on this gun is totally new to the AR shooter, it’s all been around, and AR’s have been offered in 9mm for many years, which all makes this gun seem familiar to the AR enthusiast.   The gun does utilize a short stroke piston for activating the bolt, and the sub gun fires from a closed bolt.   The piston system keeps the bolt carrier group relatively clean after extended use.   What was new, to me, is the bolt carrier.   The recoil springs are mounted to the top of the bolt carrier group, with the fore end of it otherwise looks similar to the AR/M4 bold carrier.   The bolt installs into the upper in a very intuitive way.   The gun fits well together, no contortions, force, or extra pieces were experienced from take down to cleaning, to re-assembly.

Take down is also very AR like.   Remove the two pins and it comes apart as an AR15 does, however upon opening up the front hinge point, the handguard is easily removed over the front of the gun, and reveals the 2 screws that attach the barrel to the upper receiver.    My understanding is that a replacement barrel can be purchased and the caliber changed at this point.  

In case you can’t tell by now, I’ll shamelessly plug I’m a fan of this gun.  The gun is simple to use, small to store, allows me to use most of my AR accessories, and utilizes the same ammunition as my carry gun.  I get dual use from my 9mm suppressor, which allowed me to skip suppressing my AR….err for now anyway.

While I do like this gun, I am going to circle back around to the magazines.   One magazine included with a gun of this expense is a bit of a rip off.  Additional mags are advertised on their web site for about $70 a piece or 3 pak for $169, but if you register on their web site, and receive their emails, they do offer frequent discounts of 15-20% off, and stores north of the border carry them at less than retail price.   Sig does seemingly jab you on the cost of their magazines.  Magpul are you listening?

If you like Sig Sauer handguns, you’re going to love this one!  The gun has many features you’ll love and putting rounds down range will make you smile and sing out,”WWWWEEEEEEEEEEEEE”!!  Your face will break into smiles and this gun will make you want to play tunes on steel targets.  This gun is, dare I say it, sexy as all get out!

If you’re not a fan of Sig Sauer, you’ll probably note that 9mm AR’s are certainly available with many of the perks and capabilities they do offer, at maybe a similar or less price point.   If you are willing to Franken-gun a Glock 17 or 19 with a bunch of strap on kits and call it equivalent, please do not leave any comments, just walk away, and maybe sign up for a remedial art class at your local community college.

and check out Lina Miculek with the full auto version.

See you at the range!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Printing, but not the way you think.

I've been carrying in my CanCan holster, but I'm really short waisted, so I have to carry at 12:00 otherwise the gun jabs into my thigh.

Anyway, I've had three children vaginally and I'm on the backside of my forties, so sneezing is always an adventure.

You know ... sneeze and pee, sneeze and pee.

Really the only way to keep from peeing is to squeeze my legs really tight and lean forward a touch when I sneeze. It's a maneuver I've pretty much perfected.

So last night, I get home and I'm walking into the house when I feel a sneeze come on, so I assume the position: legs clamped tight, bent a bit at the waist.

And then I sneezed.

Holy mother of God, it wasn't a little sneeze like I was prepared for, it was a sneeze from my f*cking toes. My abdomen tightened up and I doubled over with the sneeze. In doing so, the muzzle of my Glock *slammed* into my pelvic bone.

Like, SLAMMED into my pelvic bone.

I now have a muzzle-shaped bruise just above my hooha.

#arentyougladyoureadthispost #shortgirlproblems #kegelsdontactuallywork #onlyIwouldhurtmyselfsneezing