Thursday, August 9, 2018

The Politics of Guns: 3-D Printed Guns (Rumor Control)

By now you have probably heard a lot of crying over 3-D printed guns and how criminals and terrorists will be printing untraceable/undetectable guns (so called “ghost guns”) and the end of civilization is upon us. 
Well, I’m here to tell you that all this crying is nothing more than fear mongering and an excuse by the anti-gunners to use new technology to pass more oppressive laws and destroy freedom.

So what started all this crying about 3-D printed guns?  Several years ago a company called Defense Distributed created computer files (commonly called CAD files) for a 3-D printer that allowed you to print a gun and gun parts.  Defense Distributed only sold the CAD models, never an actual gun or gun parts.  The government considered the computer files a potential national security threat and placed a ban on the distribution of these computer files. 
Recently Defense Distributed won a lawsuit against the government, which overturned the ban and they are now allowed to sell their computer models to the public.  This ruling is a big win for freedom of speech.  Remember, no actual guns or gun parts were ever sold, only computer CAD files. 
The anti-gunners are now worried that these plans will be used by criminals and terrorists to print undetectable/untraceable guns and bring civilization to its knees. 
This is what started the crying and wailing. 

Now for some rumor control:

Here is what the law actually allows:

1.    Yes, you are allowed to manufacture your own gun by any means you want.  You can use an old-fashioned lathe, mill, hand files, etc.  Or use a modern high tech 3-D printer.  It does not matter.  BUT. THERE. ARE. RULES. YOU. MUST. OBEY. FOR. IT. TO. BE. LEGAL.
a.    You cannot be a convicted felon and make your own gun.  This is already illegal.
b.    As this home made gun will not have a serial number, you cannot ever sell it or even give it away as a gift.  It is for your own personal use only. 
c.     You cannot manufacture an undetectable gun.  It MUST by law, contain enough steel to be detectable by common means such as x-ray machines or metal detectors.  A truly undetectable gun is already illegal under existing law.
We have enough laws in place already to cover 3-D printers.

What can a 3-D printer actually do?

Can you 3-D print a functioning firearm?

Well, yes and no at the same time.  Let me address the no side first.

1.    First, No. 
a.    You cannot produce a fully functioning AR15 with a 3-D printer.  The material science is not good enough. The plastic parts will blow up if you tried. You need metal for the barrel, bolt, bolt carrier, trigger assembly, springs.  So the idea of producing a fully functioning gun as you would buy in the store is complete fantasy.

2.    Next Yes, here is what you can actually produce with 3-D printer.
a.    Low stress piece parts for guns.  For example, the lower receiver of the AR15 that houses the trigger assembly and buffer assembly.  BUT the upper receiver must be made out of metal.  And many parts such as the barrel, bolt, bolt carrier, gas block and firing pin MUST be made out of steel or other high strength material so they do not blow up when fired.  The common 3-D printers are not capable of producing these parts. 
                                               i.     Some will say there are 3-D printers that print metal parts.  Yes, but parts produced on these machines cannot maintain the tight tolerances necessary and the parts require secondary machining with a mill and/or lathe.  At this point, you have just geared up for major manufacturing and are spending tens of thousands of dollars.  None of this is done on a $1000 hobbyist 3-D printer. 
b.    What else can you print?
                                               i.     A very simple, single shot gun such as the Liberator by Defense Distributed
1.    Very simple.  Not very accurate.
2.    Fires a small pistol caliber only, thus not very powerful. 
3.    Only fires a limited number of rounds before it falls apart. 
4.    Single shot only.  Slow to reload.  Must be reloaded after each shot.  Not something you will use to commit mass murder. 
5.    Must include a block of steel to be legal.
c.     Can you print plastic ammunition? 
                                               i.     Not really.  I don’t think this is realistic.  Especially when brass cased ammunition is readily available off the shelf. 

What is to be done?

Nothing really.  This is 99% anti-gun hysteria.  The anti’s are trying to create a mountain out of nothing.  Using the ignorance of 3-D printing technology to create fear in the general population so it is easier to pass gun control and strip more freedoms away from the citizenry.  

Even if you ban Defense Distributed from distributing their computer files.  The criminals and terrorists can program the computer themselves.  They are not necessarily stupid.  All it takes is a computer and off the shelf software to program whatever you want.  3-D printers are 30 year old technology.  They were not designed to make guns. They can make almost anything.  If you can design it in the computer, you can print it.  In the future the frame of your car and house will be 3-D printed with large industrial size printers. 

Even if you ban or regulate private ownership of 3-D printers, you can still buy a lathe and mill and make a gun out of metal.  I can even make a simplified, single shot “zip gun” from material I buy at Home Depot. 
Give me a drill press and a Dremel and I will make a functioning gun. 
If the criminals really want to build guns they can.  Home workshops are not illegal, nor are the necessary generic tools.  Guns can be made with existing technology.  Nothing new is needed.   
(Side Comment:  I bet the gang-bangers really didn’t know about 3-D printers before all the hysteria.  But now they do, thanks to the anti-gunners screaming about 3-D printers to everyone.  If undetectable “ghost guns” were actually a problem, we would have seen it by now.  If we do see it, I bet we will be able to trace the idea back to the anti-gunners screaming about 3-D printers to everyone.  Just food for thought.)   

Don’t believe the 3-D printer hype.  That’s all it is, hype.  Designed to scare the uneducated masses into giving up their freedoms.
Why print a single shot “zip gun” or lower when it is easier to steal a real gun or buy off the black market?  Especially when the real guns last longer and are more powerful. 

Finally comment, Look what happened on 9-11-2001.  4 airplanes downed, 3 buildings demolished, a 4th damaged and all those guys used were box cutters.  No guns needed.
Don’t fall for the hysteria.
And never, ever give up your freedoms.  Not even an inch.   

By: Mez

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Movie Purse

This may surprise you, but I am not a purse kind of girl. If I can't carry something in a pocket, I don't carry it.

I do break my no-purse practice when going to the movies. How else am I going to smuggle all of my Dollar Store candy in during the summer? In the winter, it's easy, throw on the barn coat and load up the pockets, but in the summer ... well, it's just easier to carry a movie purse.

The movie theater we most often frequent (Cinemark) has implemented a bag limit of 12"x12"x6" and all bags are subject to search "for safety reasons". Now, if I was worried about someone smuggling in a gun, I sure the hell would have made the bag size smaller. I can fit my Para, Jay's full-sized M&P, and my G42, plus magazines for each in my size-compliant movie purse. This is another of those "feel good" rules. Whatevs, I carry on my body, not in a purse, so they can search it and take my $6.00 worth of Dollar Store candy out of my purse.

I bought a cheapo WalMart canvas purse at the beginning of the summer to use as my movie purse and it was adequate. I could fit two boxes of candy for each of us and a bottle of water if I forced it.

While on duty one night at our local venue, we were walking through getting the lay of the land and I saw this "concealed carry" purse ...

Yes, those are rhinestones and silver studs.
I didn't buy the purse that night (my shift was just starting), but I couldn't get it out of my head, so I dragged my husband back a few days later and bought it. I knew from the get-go that I wouldn't be using it for concealed carry, but I had to have it for my movie purse.

And what an excellent movie purse it is. Not only do I have room for a ton of candy, but I have room for a lot of other important things. Things like a flashlight, knife, tourniquet, gloves, etc.

Flashlight, sharpie, knife, tampons (traditional use only), gloves, CAT
The tourniquet and gloves slip down into the middle zippered pocket, which leaves ample room for other necessities.

Lots of room left for the important stuff - candy!
If my bag is searched, certainly the flashlight and knife will raise some eyebrows, but with the TQ tucked away, no one should give it any thought. However, if they unzip the middle pocket and see the TQ - and they know what the TQ is - they'll probably be suspicious that I'm carrying. I'm going to guess that the high school kids they have working at the movie theaters aren't going to know what it is, or aren't going to give a damn - they're just going through the motions.

There is a zippered area on the back of the purse that's supposed to be where you conceal your gun. Um, it's not very discreet and it's not lockable.

Nice try, but poor execution
This zippered pocket just screams "Look! Gun is in here!". There is no way to lock the zipper, so the bag must stay with the person At All Times to avoid little hands getting into it. Now, I'm not saying that if you have a proper concealed carry purse, with a discreet and lockable pocket, that the pocket should be locked all the time, because that's not feasible. However, if there are little hands around - ever - that purse needs to be under adult control At All Times and little hands must be kept away, or it needs to be locked. No one wants to be on the news for a child getting a hold of a gun and shooting themselves, a sibling, or a parent. (For the record, in case you hadn't figured it out, I'm not a fan of purse carry.)

Since this purse was sold as a concealed carry purse, and even though I have no intentions of carrying in my purse, I thought I'd slip my gun in and see how well it would do.

Wasn't sure there was room in the pocket for an actual holster, so went with trigger guard cover instead.

Slipped right in.

No printing, so that's good.

The inside of the concealment pocket is a basic lining material, so it's slippery. I wasn't sure that a holster would fit in there, so I used my trigger guard instead. If I was going to use this purse for carrying, I would either secure a soft holster (like a Remora or Sticky holster) in the pocket with velcro, or I would sew the paracord from the trigger guard in place.

There's no room in the zippered pocket to add an extra magazine without fouling up the arrangement. I suppose you could slip an extra mag into that small outer pocket, but that will print like hell, and if you put a mag inside the main part of the purse, it's not accessible.

This is a really well-made purse, but it is not a great choice for concealed gun carry. Concealed candy carry, though ...

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Range Night and Other Odds and Ends

I just realized I never got around to posting part 3 of the Caliber series of posts. Oops. I'll get around to it eventually. Maybe. No one's been sending me hate mail asking where it is. So, maybe not.

I had an opportunity to get out to the range this evening with my best friend. It was my first chance to go pistol shooting since we attempted to simulate a small war in Hill County on Mother's Day. Much fun was had by all; but, sweet barbecue sauce, it was monkey melting HOT that day. We took turns shooting and sitting in the shade of carefully positioned canopies while drinking plenty of water, and it was still hot enough to marinate in your own juices. I didn't take many pictures that day was just too dang hot to be bothered.

I did get to play with several toys that were brought by others including:

Ruger SR9 - my brother in law's Christmas gift from my sister. It's a polymer 9 made by Ruger. You could do a lot worse. Trigger is nothing to right home about, but I went bang every time.

Savage Mark II bolt action .22LR rifle with a suppressor - my cousin's friend Alex brought this little number out to play. It came nestled into a Boyd's At-One Adjustable Stock and propped up by a bipod. This thing was a frikkin' giggle factory. You've not heard quiet until you shoot subsonic .22LR ammo out of a suppressed bolt action rifle. Savage makes a really good trigger. However, their little stamped steel magazines, while functional, could be used to shave in a pinch.  I guess I'm just spoiled by Ruger 10/22 mags.

Sig P226 and P229 - Best friend brought both. I still don't shoot DA/SA triggers worth a flip, but I didn't embarrass myself quite as badly this time. Both of these guns are very nice with SRT triggers, upgraded suppressor height sights, etc. Maybe one day I will invest the time, energy and money into learning DA/SA triggers to make it worth it to add one to the collection. In the meantime...there's always 1911s to play with.

No name,  homegrown, AR-15 chambered in 9MM. My cousin's friend is a budding machinist in addition to being a gun nut. He made the lower receiver himself. Not hogged out an 80% lower on a jig made it. He took a block of aluminum, a mill, some measurements and went to town. This one uses stick mags, but he has another one he made which takes Glock mags. He's single and still lives at home with mom. So, he can get away with making his own toys.

AR-15 with a CMMG .22LR upper and a Franklin Binary trigger system - This is another giggle factory. It's as close to full auto as you are going to get this side of a tax stamp, and very controllable. I was able to put 25 rounds of standard velocity CCI onto a 3x5 note cards at 25 yards as fast as I could pull the trigger using a red dot optic. Like I said...giggle factory.

Tried out a 16 inch .300 Blackout AR upper on my Aero Precision lower. I might just have to get one as a short to medium range hunting option. Roughly the same power as a 7.62x39 or a .30-30. Not much more recoil that a 5.56/.223 AR.

There was my best friend's Sig P320 X-Carry with the Romeo1 red dot on it. He's had a lot of  stuff done to it including a flat faced trigger and a Norsso slide. I would need to spend a lot more time with it to give a fair opinion, but the trigger is really nice for a polymer striker fired gun. I need more time on a red dot equipped pistol to be anywhere near comfortable with them. It fed the rounds down range with reasonable accuracy. Further, affiant sayeth not.

There was a lot more stuff out there, but I didn't get to play with all of it.

Tonight was pistol night though.

We started off with DOT TORTURE. Again.

43 out of 50 at 5 yards with a Ruger Mk3 22/45
The hardest part of Dot Torture is learning to take your time. Once you learn how to control your gun and clean to drill, you can add a time element in...if you're a masochist. I probably should have run a magazine through the gun before starting the drill just to knock the rust off. But, sometimes you just have to see if you can perform the dancing bear routine cold.

Same distance - Sig P320 Carry 9mm
I'm not even sure how to score this target. If I'm being generous, that's a 42 out of 50. If I'm being honest, that's a sub 40 circus of mediocrity.

Learned something new tonight. Well, not really new per se. I already sort of knew it. I had just never thought about it in the context of a pistol before. When you shoot a bullet, it flies in a parabolic arc. That means that it leaves the barrel and "climbs" a little bit above the line of sight until evil, old gravity sucks it back to earth at which time it drops back below the line of sight and keeps going until it hits pay dirt. What this means for the pistol shooter is that your point of impact will "rise" as range increases for a constant point of aim to a certain point (the top of the parabolic arc). Rifle shooters already know this stuff and have serious, poo slinging arguments over what the best distance is to zero their weapons or maximum point blank range and other silliness that pistol shooters typically ignore.

My friend suggested I give this a whirl with the Sig P320 and the Ruger SR1911. The way you do this is put a 1" paster on the bottom of a piece of paper or 3x5 note card. Heck, any target will do. The key is to use the same point of aim. Fire one shot at 3 yards. Move the target back to 5 yards. Fire one more shot. Keep doing this at 7, 10, 15, 20 yards, etc. out to whatever range you can realistically center your sights on the same 1" paster point of aim reference. You should see your point of impact "ladder" vertically at each distance. With the P320, I shot a 3 round cloverleaf at 3, 5 and 7, but the 10 yard shot was definitely above the others. With the SR1911, the effect was more noticeable with each round stringing vertically with distinct separation between each shot. The shot at 3 yards was at least 2 to 3 inches lower (maybe 4) than the shot at 10 yards.

It's something everyone should do with any gun/ammo combination you intend to rely on for self defense. Not every self defense situation occurs at the same distance at which you practice, and you need to know where your gun will shoot for a given point of aim at a given distance. As a general rule of thumb, lower your point of aim as distance to target increases. Know yourself. Know your gear. Because you never know when you will have to hit the light switch on an intruder's the dark...with your pulse doing twice the speed of light.

Last but not least, we did draws from concealment shooting two rounds on an A zone target at 5 yards. This was to put to bed a bit of smack talking that took place some months ago when my friend mentioned he'd picked up a shot timer and was working on his draws. He had started out in the 4 second range for 2 shots on target from concealment. I allowed as how he was a ham handed, gormless ape with no thumbs and two left feet. He questioned my parentage and allowed as how I could put up or shut up. I challenged him to same gear/same distance, and he suggested loser buys a box of ammo. So, I put on his Deadpool Kydex holster along with the previously mentioned 9mm Sig P320 Carry and gave it my best draw from concealment.

According to the timer, I threw down a 2.23 second time landing both hits in the A zone at 5 yards. Frankly, I'd never timed myself specifically on draw to double tap before...ever...much less using this gun and holster. So, the result was news to me. If I were to practice more with that gun and holster set up, I'm pretty sure I can bring that down in the sub 2 second range. Probably. Maybe. I'll just keep telling myself that.

Now, though, it was my best friend's turn. His time....drumroll please....2.40 seconds. Huge improvement over where he started in the 4 second range.

After all was said and done, we agreed that we were both in the same ballpark and the contest was a draw. It was all smoke and noise, and we had a great time.

Oh, one last thing, I ran 10 rounds through my friends Sig P365. This is Sig's new sub compact carry pistol which manages to stuff 10 rounds of 9mm in a package roughly the same size as a Glock 43 or a S&W Shield. The things shot amazingly well for a gun that size. I put all 10 in a head shot grouping of about 2 to 3 inches from 5 yards. I'll just say I wouldn't turn one down if it were given to me.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What I Did

In both February and March, I asked myself "What Can I Do?" with regard to mass shootings. Primarily, I carry at work. I know that the threat to our campus is not going to be some random stranger, but someone we "know" - either a former student or a student's former significant other.

But the question was, "what else can I do?".

In the Renegade Medics' post, they mentioned the following:
"I can’t tell the country how to stop school shootings and I’m not even certain if there is such a solution. Certainly violence seems to find its way to every country eventually and when violence isn’t present, innocent injuries and accidents also occur. I do however know about preventable death and I do know that there are ways that we can prepare faculty and students and equip schools to handle the common injuries seen in these tragic events and if we can at least minimize the deaths, that in itself is progress. Here are some recommendations I have:
-Require all teachers and faculty members to attend annual first aid training specifically related to traumatic injuries such as the DHS “Stop the Bleed” training.
-Make annual “Stop the Bleed” training available to all secondary school students or built into the curriculum. This training can be accomplished in less than half of one school day.
-Require school nurses and other campus medical staff to attend and maintain Tactical Emergency Casualty Care certification (a two day course). This will allow them to oversee implementation in each school and serve as a better resource.
-Identify teachers and faculty members who have experience in pre-hospital medicine such as military veterans and volunteer Fire/EMS personnel who can take on additional responsibilities with implementing a program like this and will be of additional help in an actual event.
-Strategically placed small caches of medical supplies, ideally in individual classrooms. This is to avoid having to leave a locked or barricaded classroom to retrieve medical supplies during an active incident.
-Expand availability and funding for more EMS providers to attend Tactical Emergency Casualty Care training and facilitate more EMS Rescue Task Force training"
I took what they had to say to heart, talked to my Campus Director and got him to agree to mandatory CPR/FA training for all faculty and staff members. In March, we certified 20 employees in CPR/FA for the community. I wanted to make the Advanced Bleeding Control (similar to Stop the Bleed) mandatory, but settled for the basics.

I also opened up a free Advanced Bleeding Control course to staff, faculty, students, and their families. Through that program, I certified 13 people in Advanced Bleeding Control. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, so I bought some bone-in pork roasts. I shot one with a 9mm and stabbed/sliced the other, so they would have the opportunity to both pack a wound and use a pressure dressing on the other. A bit of stage blood helped to add to the effect.

Knife stab/slash to the "thigh"

GSW to the other "thigh". Bullet hit the bone and re-directed, exiting what would have been the butt cheek.

The students opted to pull down the patient's pants to pack the wound.

Direct pressure, using 4x4s and improvised pressure dressing.
The course was well received and I've already had requests to repeat it, which I'll do on campus again this summer. I had the students use four different kinds of TQs on our practice mannequin, so they could decide which they preferred. Unanimously, they chose the C-A-T, which is good, because that is what is staged.

While I was talking my Campus Director into requiring everyone to be CPR/FA certified, I managed to talk him into dumping money into staging bleeding control kits throughout campus. We now have them prominently displayed in every classroom and lab on campus. No one is more than 10-15 seconds away from a bleeding control kit, no matter where they are on campus.

Coming off of the success of teaching the course on campus, I managed to get permission from the Undersheriff to offer the class to our volunteer Posse members in May, which will allow our volunteers to carry their TQs.

While I can't accomplish everything laid out by the Renegade Medics, I do feel good about the changes I did make and will continue to do so. I hope others take their words to heart and do what you can to make your community (no matter how small or big) safer.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Do I Need the Super Elk Blaster 2000?

It never fails to to amaze me. You go into a gun store a few months before hunting season, and you will hear it. It, being some idiot behind the counter telling someone that they need the biggest most expensive gun they have in stock to hunt elk. When I hear that I want to turn around and walk out. Most of the time I wait around or slip into their conversation. The employee always seem to get annoyed with me and my two cents. Tough cookies!

My advice is always this: Hunt with the gun you are most comfortable with!

People always say you need a big gun, say a .300,.338, 375. What horse crap!!! While having all that energy can be a good thing, most people I know can't handle the recoil; and it causes them to flinch horribly. This causes a lot of animals to be wounded and suffer the rest of their days.

Personally I would rather take someone elk hunting that has a smaller caliber gun that can put all their shots where they need to, than to have someone that has a big caliber that can't get a decent group.. I know, I know, smaller calibers don't have a lot of energy compared to the big boys.  But all that energy isn't worth a hill of beans if you can't hit the target.

Take my mother for example. She shoots a .308. And she has had no problems dropping elk out to 400 yards. Sure the .308 doesn't have the highest energy level but she can put 5 rounds in a group the size of a dime. It's all about shot placement. Another group of buddies hunt everything with a .243 win. and they have harvested all the big game animals the lower 48 has to offer. Sure they have to get a little bit closer, but that's the fun part. Trying to get as close as you can without the animal knowing you are there.

According to the CPW hunting brochure all you need is rifle cartridge of at least .24 caliber with a bullet weight of at least 85 grs. producing 1000 ft lbs of energy for hunting elk and moose.

So if you have a hard time with recoil don’t fret, just grab your favorite light recoiling hunting rifle and head to the range. Then challenge yourself to see how small of a group you can get. When you can get a small group don’t be afraid to head out to get that elk. Just remember to keep your shots within a reasonable range, and you’ll have no problem filling that freezer.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

What Can *I* Do, Part II

A couple of weeks ago, I laid out my plan to train all of the staff and faculty in my building.

Luckily, my boss got on board and we got the ball rolling. We came up with a training plan. At our next all staff meeting, we will be getting everyone certified in Basic First Aid and CPR/AED. The staff meeting following that, we will train them on the kits from Stop the Bleed. I do expect some push-back from a few people, but you never know when an accident is going to occur. I fully believe that every person should be first aid/CPR certified beginning in high school, no matter a person's occupation.

On Friday, my life-saving box of goodies arrived.

Inside, there is a C-A-T tourniquet, QuikClot packing gauze, a compression bandage, and a mini sharpie. The price was right, too. $69.00 for a personal kit. I opted for 10 personal kits instead of their big response kit, so that I could stage a kit in every classroom (we're a small campus), the front desk/reception area, and the student lounge. While the bleeding control station is great, what happens if someone is injured in a classroom across the campus from the station? In my mind, it's more important to have smaller kits in multiple locations.

The one thing that the kits are lacking are chest seals, so I'll order sets to add to each pack before I put them in the classrooms.

I consider myself blessed that I have the knowledge and the skills to do this one small thing to prevent deaths on my campus.

Ask yourself, what can you do to help in your workplace?

(Besides carrying everyday, I'm going to assume that if you're one of our GunDivas or GunDudes that you carry whenever you are able.)

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Caliber Selection Part 2 - The Economics of Shooting

There is a quote attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte: “The amateurs discuss tactics: the professionals discuss logistics.” We can quibble about whether Napoleon was a better tactician or logistician (the Russians have very FIRM opinions on that subject), but the fact remains that you do not get to employ tactics until you have taken care of logistics. In part 1 of this series, we did a rough comparison of the physical attributes of several calibers. Here in part 2, we will compare the relative costs, or economics, of caliber selection.

Depending on your budget, there is something out there for almost anyone. For purposes of this discussion, I will be using pricing information from which happens to be a gun store in my area and one I have patronized personally. You can do your own pricing research with any online gun retailer such as Bud’s Gun Shop, Kentucky Gun Co., etc., etc. All the online stores will ship a gun to your local FFL where you can pay a small (hopefully…it’s about $25 to $50 in my area) transfer fee to get your gun assuming it complies with local laws. As an added bonus, you don’t pay sales tax on out of state purchases and some online retailers even ship the guns “for free” (TANSTAAFL – you can bet shipping costs are factored into the price you are paying). So, on guns above a certain price level, the FFL transfer fee is actually less than the sales tax if you had purchased locally. In my area, that price point is around $350 (at 8% sales tax = $28 tax).

So, what do guns cost? According to, the least expensive 9mm semi-auto handgun you can buy right now is a Highpoint that sells for $155. That’s about the same cost as three cartons of cigarettes or a week’s worth of groceries.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the Dan Wesson Elite Series Havoc “race gun” at $4679 and change. That’s a lot coin, and it’s not even the top of the heap when it comes to cost. Full custom, anything goes, speed is just a question of how much money you want to spend, guns are literally the sky’s the limit. If you want sticker shock, go spend some time on SVI’s website “building” your dream gun. Be prepared to have $5000+ lying around to make it a reality.

That’s not to say quality guns must be ridiculously expensive. The hottest segment of the gun market right now is the polymer semi auto market. This is the part of the market where Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, Ruger SR, Springfield XD and a host of others live. The price of poker in this segment starts in the low to mid $200 range for a Taurus or Keltec polymer semi auto and to over $800 for a Sig P320 RX equipped with their Romeo1 Red Dot. Smith & Wesson M&P9 2.0s are running right around $399 to $419 with standard 3 dot sights, Gen 4 Glock 19s can be had at $499 (more for the MOS, Gen 5, special finish or night sight equipped versions).

All metal guns are typically a little pricier. 1911s are a great example. Yes, you can get a Tisas or similar foreign made 1911 for under $400. They will not have the same level of build quality or parts as guns even in the $500 to $750 range. Rock Island Armory, Ruger, Taurus and some of the Springfield and Kimber lines live in this price range. It’s a good place to be if you love 1911s but don’t have a kilo buck to spare. These guns are surprisingly well put together and are worth putting money into to make them better. $750 to $1500 is where the 1911 market starts to go from adequate to really good. Colt, Springfield, Kimber, Dan Wesson and several others have excellent choices in this price range. Between $1500 and $2500, this is the semi-custom/high end production end of the market dominated by STI, Les Baer, and a few others.

So, you don’t have to spend a ton to get a great, reliable handgun for self-defense. But, you can if you want to. Shop around. Determine your needs versus wants. Find the best deal and place your money down.

Now that you have your preferred weapon, you have to keep the beast fed. Without ammunition, a gun is just a really awkward club or an expensive paper weight. To stay proficient, you need to practice. Practice means ammunition, and ammunition means money. How much money depends on from where and how much ammo you buy at a time.

Except for the residents of a few restrictive states, most of us can buy ammo online and have it shipped to our homes. The cost of shipping only makes sense if you are buying in bulk. For instance, the shipping price for a 500 round box of .22LR from is $11.74 via UPS Ground to my doorstep. The shipping cost for a 5000 round case is only $20.59. So, in general, it is not cost effective to buy a 50 round box or two here and there and have it shipped to your house. The exception to that rule would be for stuff that’s hard to find in your area such as Underwood Extreme Penetrators.

A word on where to buy ammunition. Walmart is not a bad place to find decent prices on basic plinking ammo. Don’t expect to find a wide variety or every caliber, but they will have a fair selection of the popular calibers such as 9mm, .40S&W, .45ACP, .357 Magnum, etc. Academy has a little wider selection and decent sale prices although their regular prices on some things can be higher. Gun ranges and mom and pop gun stores may/may not have a wider selection, and their prices tend to be higher than the bigger box stores simply because they cannot compete on the same volume level, but deals can still be had and you generally get better service in the bargain especially if you are a regular. For example, the local gun store near my office had a great buy recently on Sellier & Bellot Full Metal Jacket 230 Grain .45 ACP for $13.95 per 50 round box. Considering Winchester White Box for the same load tends to run closer to $20.00 per box in my area, that’s a steal. Shop around, know the general price spread in your area for the ammunition you need, and cultivate a favorite gun shop or two. Buy in bulk online when bonus time rolls around.

Let’s take a look at some examples to illustrate what I am talking about.

Let’s start with the humble .22 LR which is, without a doubt, the best bang for the buck in the shooting sports. On the low end of the quality spectrum, you can buy Remington Golden Bullet 36 grain rounds for between $0.06 and $0.07 per round not including shipping/taxes. A 1400 round bucket from costs $93.99 plus about $12.00 to $15.00 shipping. Total cost to your door: $108.99 ($0.07785/round). The same bullet purchased at Academy in a 525 round box is $28.99 plus tax (8% in my area) for a total of  $31.31 ($0.5964/round). So, in this example, it’s cheaper for me to buy 3 boxes of 525 at Academy than it is to have one bucket shipped from MidwayUSA.

If you are looking a little higher quality like Norman Match 40 gr., you are out of luck at Academy. But, MidwayUSA will send you a 500 round box for $82.99 plus shipping ($0.17/round).

What about the costs of something a little beefier? Let’s look at the relative costs of common centerfire calibers. For purposes of apples to apples comparison, I’ve created tables for Winchester White Box and Federal HST/Hydra Shok rounds priced from not including shipping.

Winchester White Box –
Bullet Weight (gr.)
Price / 50
Price / rnd
Price / 500
Price / rnd
.357 Mag
.357 Sig
Not Available
Not Available
.40 S&W
Not Available
Not Available
Not Available
Not Available
.44 Mag
.45 ACP

When it comes to training/plinking ammo, bigger bullets (= more raw materials = higher cost to manufacture) or less popular bullets (= lower demand = lower supply = higher cost) are going to cost you more (if can even find it…sorry 10mm fans). That’s pretty much common sense. A .45ACP case uses more brass than a 9mm case. They also use more powder, larger primers and bigger bullets. Duh. Bigger is better until you have to pay for it. As you can see, .44 Magnum gets a double whammy by being big and less popular. Ditto for .45 Colt. Ditto for .500 S&W. Etc.

Federal HST/Hydra Shok –
Bullet Weight (gr.)
Price / 20
Price / rnd
Price / 200
Price / rnd
124 (HST)
.357 Mag
158 (Hydra)
$639.99 (500 rnds)
.357 Sig
125 (HST)
$59.99 (50 rnds)
Not Available
Not Available
.40 S&W
180 (HST)
180 (Hydra)
Not Available
Not Available
.44 Mag
240 (Hydra)
$885.99 (500 rnds)
.45 ACP
230 (HST)

It wasn’t possible to do a completely apples to apples comparison with the hollow point rounds since Federal doesn’t load all calibers for HST. I find it interesting that .357 Sig HST actually costed out significantly less than 9mm HST. Otherwise, the general rule of bigger/less popular = greater cost appears to hold true.

Now, let’s take a look at what it will take to shoot/practice/train for a year comparing the cost of 50 rounds / week (2600/year) vs. 100 rounds / month (1200/year) in .22LR, 9mm and .45ACP.

.22LR Rem. Gold. Bullet – 2600 x .07 = $182.00
9mm WWB - 2600 x 0.28 = $728.00
.45ACP WWB – 2600 x 0.43 = $1118.00

.22LR Rem. Gold. Bullet – 1200 x .07 = $84.00
9mm WWB – 1200 x 0.28 = $336.00
.45ACP WWB – 1200 x 0.43 = $516.00

The take away here is that the smart money is on spending most of your training/practice dollars on .22LR ammo to keep fundamentals sharp and incorporate your centerfire practice monthly if possible (quarterly if necessary). A .22LR version of your self defense gun or even a .22LR conversion kit will pay for itself in less than a year in most cases.

Owning a firearm for self defense isn’t just a matter of buying a gun and bullets. You are buying a weapon’s system, and you need to treat it as such especially if you plan to carry it. If you expect to carry your heater around with you, you need accessories like holsters, gun rugs/cases, magazine pouches, extra magazines, revolver speed loaders, safes, gun cabinets, cleaning supplies and equipment, etc. All of this stuff costs money and there are varying levels of quality and price all over the map.

Holsters run anywhere from cheap $12 nylon “sausage sack” holsters to $150+ full custom leather holsters that are as much art as functional kit. Here’s a quick pro tip: if this is for your barbeque/church/court gun, money is no object. Get the very best custom leather you can lay your hands on with a matching gun belt. If this is your everyday carry gun, money is no object. Get the very best kydex or leather/kydex holster that fits your body and method of carry. Plan on budgeting between $50 and $100 to get something that works. Last pro tip: don’t skimp on the belt. Get a belt specifically made as a gun belt (they are typically either very thick leather or reinforced leather with kydex or steel cores). Dress belts and fashion belts may look great holding your pants up, but they are not up to the task of securely holding up your pants and 30 to 50 ounces of gun, holster and ammo up where you need it.

For semi-auto pistols, magazines are the Achilles’ Heel of the system. Don’t settle for second best on magazines for any gun to which you plan to trust your life. Take 1911s. Great pistols. The brainchild of (Saint) John Moses Browning (peace be upon him) designed over 100 years ago. Everyone and their dog makes them now. The same is true of the magazines. You can find 1911 mags for less than $15 if your try really hard. They might or might not work when you need them to. The gold standard for 1911 mags (in my humble opinion) is the Wilson Combat 47D. I’ve been in luck in that my local gun shop has been carrying them of late for $25. Other places charge upwards of $33 to $35 for them. Also, beware of “higher than normal” capacity magazines. I tried a Chip McCormick 10 Round Power Mag for my 1911. Reliable as the day is long with 9 rounds in it. Top off the mag with the 10TH round, and it was about as reliable as an Alzheimer’s patient. Factory mags are generally good since they have been designed and tested to work with the gun in question. Last note on magazines, treat them as maintainable but expendable items. Springs wear out over time, followers can get dinged, feed lips can be bent/broken, etc. If you start having problems with a particular magazine, just trash it and buy a new one (unless it’s the only mag you have for your pristine Bren 10 you use in the Sonny Crockett / Miami Vice cosplay outfit).

After the guns themselves, safes, gun cabinets, and/or other secure storage solutions are probably the next biggest single item expense for new bun owners. A fire proof, multiple gun, safe can run from north of $500 to the $1000s of dollars for very high end safes. If you only have one handgun, a fire safe is overkill. Most manufacturers ship their guns with gun locks which will prevent the gun from being fired by people who don’t know how to find and operate a key (like a toddler), but it won’t stop an adult with lock picking skills that wants to take the gun. Lockable pistol safes can be had for reasonable prices, but they also have their limitations. The sad truth is that locks are for honest people and children. There’s plenty of YouTube videos out there of people demonstrating how to breach even the toughest fire safes. It’s just a matter time and tools.

Reloading could be an article unto itself. Reloading equipment ranges from $40-$50 for caliber specific Lee Hand Loader kits that allow you to reload one bullet at a time with nothing but your kitchen table and a hammer all the way up to top of the line Dillon Progressive Presses costing close to a kilo buck that allow you to manufacture ammunition at several hundred rounds an hour. In exchange for your time and effort, you can save upwards of 40% on your ammunition costs through reloading after your recoup the initial investment. Truth be told, most reloaders will tell you they don’t save any money as they wind up shooting more. On the plus side, you can tune loads to your specific needs whether it be “light loads” for new shooters or hot “hunting” loads or anything in between. If you decide to dip your toes into the reloading pond, budget somewhere in the $200 to $300 as a minimum for a quality single stage press, caliber specific dies, and other equipment.

I'll wrap this up here by saying this is an expensive hobby, but there are deals to be had if you are patient and know where to look.