Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sporting a New Look

My Para's almost nine years old (she was "born" on my birthday according to her paperwork) and she's been well-used.  So well-used that she was beginning to look a bit rode hard and put away wet.  Before Christmas, I won a $50 gift certificate from 13 Zulu so I thought I'd give my faithful 1911 a bit of a facelift.

Poor, haggard looking Para
The problem was that I had no idea what I wanted to do with her.  13 Zulu has done some amazing DuraCoat jobs, including a Zombie Hunter theme for my brother Junior's gun.  I spent a lot of time looking through their photo galleries, both on their website and Facebook page, but couldn't come up with an idea.

I kind of had maybe an idea, but was open to suggestion.  I dragged Jay along with me to drop off the Para and to help me come up with some ideas.  My problem is that I'm not super passionate about anything in particular.  Junior loves zombies, so he had blood splatter and a zombie put on his gun.  Mrs. Junior fell in love with a "tribal" design and had one put on her gun.  But I have a 1911, I wasn't going to put a 1911 on my gun, that would just be silly.  A great deal of the guns 13 Zulu has DuraCoated for women were coming out of the shop pink, but I'm not a pink kind of girl.  That was the one thing I was certain of - absolutely no pink anywhere on my gun.  I was going to go with matte black and threw out the idea of putting "GunDiva" on it somewhere.

Mike was incredibly patient with me and gently guided me away from the plain old black. (I think it offended him to do something so boring.)  He kept offering up ideas, but I was luke-warm about most of them until he told me he could make it look like stone.  Oooo, my ears perked up.  Finally!  We had a starting point.  The more he and Jay talked, the more excited I got about her facelift.  I left the shop so excited I could hardly stand myself.

Mike was great about sending me updates, starting within an hour of leaving her in his care.

Fresh out of the blasting cabinet

In order to put "GunDiva" on the slide, he had to get rid of the maker's stamps on each side.  I didn't even know that was possible, but he did a great job of filling them.  You can't even tell they used to exist.

...and the marks are gone.

Before I knew it, I was getting pictures from Mike of my completed gun.  Which I then showed to everybody at work.  I carried my phone around and if anyone made eye contact with me, they got stuck seeing pictures of my baby, even if they weren't gunnies.

I can't believe it's the same gun.  She feels the same.  When I pick her up, it's like she's home, but I can't get over the transformation in her looks.  There's a Defensive Pistol match coming up on Sunday and I can't wait to show her off.  Mike recommends not putting her in a holster for about four weeks, and I love the job he did, so I'll be following his recommendation and shooting her from low-ready - all the better to show her off to everyone at the range. :)

I already have plans to have him do a matching job on my shotgun once I get it finished; I think the matched set will look extra bad ass.

I highly recommend 13 Zulu to anyone who is interested in having their gun DuraCoated.  Mike was unbelievably patient and helped me come up with a design I not only could live with, but love.  The turn-around time was a matter of days; in fact, she sat in the shop longer after she was done while waiting on me than it took Mike to finish her up.

Monday, April 29, 2013

If You Have Children...

...you need to read this.

And then you need to share it with your non-gunny friends.  No, it's not about how scary guns are around kids, it's about teaching your children about safety.  Gunny or no gunny, we all want to protect our kids; that's our commonality.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Ammo Shortage - An Example By The Numbers

Okay, I know some out there really hate the new math especially when it translates into a 50 round box of Winchester White Box 230 grain .45ACP going for 40 of my hard earned dollars, and I know many of us would like to blame the evil government like any good conspiracy theorist would. We can blame the government INDIRECTLY all we want. BUT, let's take a step back an look at some real numbers for a second.

According to the May 2013 issue of American Rifleman (that'd be the NRA's membership magazine for those of you who are not NRA members), somewhere between 1 billion and 1.5 billion rounds of .22 long rifle ammunition is produced by all manufactures ANNUALLY. That's up to 1,500,000,000 .22 pills of all sizes and flavors from my personal favorite CCI Stingers to your cheap, dud infested, big box store, bulk pack stuff made to supply the whim and demand of every man, woman and child over a 365 day span of time. And, last I checked, the goobermint wasn't sending out orders for .22 bullets by the ship load.

So, assuming for the moment that the smallest size box you can buy is a 50 round box of formerly cheap fun in a gun, that's 30,000,000 (30 million for those getting tired of seeing zeros like I am) boxes of .22 caliber satisfaction hitting the streets every year.

But, wait, that amount of ammo doesn't hit the street all at once. There's twelve (12) months in a year. 30 million divided by 12 is 2,500,000 boxes hitting the streets a month on average. If we assume that there are an average of 30 days in each month, we get that narrowed down to 83,333.33 50 round boxes of ammo arriving on store shelves somewhere every day (setting aside the fact that deliveries don't happen every day).

And where is all that ammo going? Well, the USA is a big place. There are literally millions of gun owners spread across 50 states clamouring for a piece of that action every day. I know that reality is different, but let's assume that the 83,333.33 boxes a day gets spread equally among the states. That leaves us with 1666.66 boxes per state per day.

What's the likelihood that you're going to be one of the lucky ones to snap up a box or two on any given day when every other Cletus in town is waiting at the gun stores doors on delivery day with cash in hand? Um, yeah. Not good. Do those per purchase limits make a little more sense now?

What does all this mean? That's an excellent question. I'm glad you asked. I don't know much, but I do understand basic economics.

Ammunition manufacturers and their suppliers are and have been working at or near capacity according to every report I've gotten a hand on including perusing some of their websites. That means that supply is pretty well maxed out; or, at the very least, it's as good as it's going to get for the near future. That leaves us with two options: increase supply or lower demand.

As long as the current resident at 1600 Pennsylvania is in office, lower demand is unlikely for the foreseeable future. Maybe ever. As long as there are gun banning politicians clamouring to relieve us of our Constitional rights, people are going to be stockpiling ammo. Truth be told, I don't blame them. If I had the extra cash in my budget, I'd be stockpiling too. Which makes me part of the problem.

On the other side of the coin, supply is harder to predict. For the near term, we can expect it to be relatively constant. In order for there to be an increase in supply at this point, one or more manufactures would have to invest in additional facilities, equipment and the manpower to staff the production line as well as getting their raw material suppliers to ramp up too. The likelihood of those stars aligning comes down to a cold, hard, cost/benefit/profit/loss calculation. If a company foresees that investing the necessary capital to increase production by adding another plant will yield a net profit over a period of time that makes sense to them, it will happen. If not, don't count on it. 

Don't ask me to figure out what that magic profit/loss number is...I don't have enough information to figure it out. For example, if you assume those 30 million boxes sell for an average of $8.00 a box (don't quibble with me about prices for match ammo...this is an example), that's $240,000,000 ($240 million) in gross retail sales. A guesstimated SWAG of the manufactures net profit out of that would be 10% or $24 million. Split that among however many ammo manufactures there are based on market share, and the picture gets even bleaker for the chances of a new ammo factory sprouting from the earth anytime soon.

Now, go ask your buddy who's bragging about his 1000 round score to sit back and let the rest of us have a shot.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tactical Carbine

Yesterday, I finally got to take the class that Jay previewed last fall from Double Tap.

Like him, I was a bit nervous to take the class.  I always get jitters before any training class, but I had very little experience with an AR-15.  Like, less than 100 rounds in the entire time I've been shooting, and even then, that was more of the "hey, wanna try this gun?" kinda shooting.  No formal training, just plinking.

My nerves got a lot worse before they got better.  When Mez and I rolled up, I was a bit intimidated by the guys and their gear.  Did I have the right stuff?  Was I going to make a fool of myself?  You know, the normal pre-training jitters.

Double Tap's instructors, Casey and Mike from the DuraCoating and custom holster company 13 Zulu, are awesome and made me as comfortable as they could.  They've obviously worked together a long time and their class flowed well.  I feel lucky to have benefited from their experience; it's not often that students get to have instructors with real world experience.

I'm not gonna lie, I spent the majority of the morning fumbling around and feeling way out of my depth.  It was not their fault - they are excellent instructors.  I, however, tend to over think everything.  I was getting in my own way.  Once I realized what I was doing (getting in my own way), I was able to relax and things started getting better.  I started being able to manipulate the gun and its controls so much better.  Funny how, when you stop fighting, you can start learning.  I had to trust that I did actually know what I was doing and that they would correct me if I did something wrong.  Much like my students in real-life, I wanted to be perfect the first time.  I wanted to pick it up immediately.

Casey and Mike were super patient with me, even when I got so frustrated with myself that I just stopped, let out a heavy sigh and re-composed myself.  They rocked.

The morning was spent on drills: basic functions of the gun, clearing malfunctions, reloads, scan and assess, etc.  After lunch, the fun started and so did my grinning.  I quit trying to over think what I was doing and just did it.  Amazing how that happens.

The afternoon drills really brought everything together for me and they were fun!  Even the dreaded nine-hole was fun.  I did have a few moments of hesitation at the nine-hole, because the first hole I had to shoot from looked to be too tall, and it almost was.  However, I found that if I stood on my tippy-toes, I could get just enough of a sight picture to get that round off and move to the next hole.  I mistakenly thought that the last three holes on the ground would be easiest, because I had the lack-of-height advantage.  Boy was I wrong.

I came away from the class grinning like a fool and having accomplished my goal of becoming much more comfortable with the AR platform.  I went from being a fumbling fool to feeling competent.  I've got a ton more to learn and a lot of practice, but I feel like they gave me a great start and I'll be taking the class again in June.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Finally made it to the range Sunday with a new toy. Quickly figured out what food it REALLY likes:

5 shots on a 3 x 5 index card with a 1 inch target circle from a bench
This group is a tad low as the initial sighting in was done with CCI Stingers which are a 32 grain bullet moving about 400 FPS faster.

More to follow when I get all my photos and thoughts in order.