Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Want a Chance to Win a Trip to SHOT Show?

This is a rare opportunity for someone outside of the firearms industry (a/k/a a "civilian") to win an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas (4 days/3 nights) for SHOT Show as a guest of SOG.

In addition to the trip to Las Vegas, the winner will get to meet The Gunny and will receive $1,600 worth of SOG gear.

Click HERE to enter, but hurry - you only have until November 4th!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Gettin' Better

I had the opportunity to spend some quality time at the range yesterday with close friends and family. It was not my day on the rifle range; however, the pistol range was another matter entirely.

The M&P is starting to show signs of adequacy if not actual promise.

That's roughly 30 rounds at 7 yards. The top two shots near the twelve o'clock nine are the bottom of my best friend's test drive mag aimed at the twelve o'clock eight. I own the shot near the six o'clock 9 as a called flyer. I would call tearing up the 10 and x rings more than acceptable.

While the M&P trigger is clearly workable as is, I still don't like it as much as I would like to. As a result, we are rapidly reaching the point at which time I order the Apex kit. Borrowing my cousin's girlfriend's Glock 23 (earlier Gen...probably a post AWB Gen 2 based on the plethora of 10 round mags) for 10 shots didn't help especially when I turned out even better accuracy from the Glock without even thinking about it.

The Ruger 22/45 got a work out as well. Ten shots at the x box on the scoring chart at seven yards with five in one hole measuring about a half inch. I can't be happier with that.

My cousin gave me a turn behind his Mosin-Nagant. Ten rounds of 7.62 x 54R later, and I can happily report that I can hit the broad side of center mass at 50 yards with one. That, and my kidney stones have been pulverized sufficiently while my shoulder remains intact.

In other news, BSA reflex red dots do not work in bright light even on their highest brightness setting and even cheap 1911s are freakishly accurate. Borrowed a Umarex made Regent 1911 belonging to a friend of my cousin's for one mag. Six rounds through the same hole punching out the x at seven yards is hard to argue with.

The weather was beautiful, our energy ran out before our ammo did, and any day at the range beats a day doing anything else.

Friday, October 18, 2013

I'll Be In My Bunk...

Dear Ruger,

I've been a good boy this year. I've taken care of my wife, done the dishes, cooked dinner and changed diapers. If you send me one of these for T&E, I'll be your new best friend.


Daddy Hawk

P.S. The adjustable stock needs to be upgraded. For a $1995 MSRP, at least spring for a Magpul stock. That, or chop the MSRP by a $100 and give us an A2 stock option. That rifle is too pretty for a cheap, ugly stock.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Virtual Bad Guys, Oh My!

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of experiencing simulator training at Writers' Police Academy.  For the purpose of WPA, we were using it to simulate shoot/no shoot scenarios so that the writers could better understand their characters.  A great number of writers left the simulator training with a whole new respect for the split-second decision making done by law enforcement personnel.

After WPA I was sold on simulator training, so when Double Tap began talking about installing one to incorporate to his classes, I got really excited.  Last week, when Ti Training installed the simulator, I was almost as giddy as he was and couldn't wait for the RMFiTS "sneak peek".

I had an idea of what to expect, but found that my expectations were quickly exceeded.  The FATS system that we used at WPA was an older version, but the new RMFiTS updated technology - the scenarios blend together seemlessly.

The tech can control the reactions of the "bad guy" based on the commands of the "good guy". If the "good guy" is giving clear alpha commands, the tech can either have the "bad guy" comply or attack or run away.  I find the running away to be hilarious, but there are some bad guys who know when they're out-gunned.

The scenarios vary from basic target shooting, like you would do in a live-fire range, to shoot/no-shoot pop-up targets, to LE/Military-quality scenarios.  For the Zombie Killer in all of us, there is even an "entertainment" package that allows you to hunt zombies.  Or participate in an Old West Quick Draw.  There are also no-win scenarios, where all you can do is try to minimize the damage.

The guns are "real" guns that have been fitted with a replacement barrel containing a laser that is activated by the CO2 "bullet" from the magazine.  Since the guns are actual guns, they are the correct weight for training and allow the shooter to experience the recoil just as they would in live-fire exercise.  The beauty is, of course, that there is no brass to pick up after you're done.  Currently, Double Tap has a Glock 17, with a Sig 229 on the way, and plans to add a variety of handguns in addition to an M4 and an 870.

The beauty in this kind of training is that you get to enter the realm of "what if".  Self defense trainers for years have been telling students to imagine scenarios and try to figure out how they would react to those scenarios.  With RMFiTS, you can get dropped right into the scenario and practice.

You can easily identify your weaknesses.  For instance, I took Tara to preview RMFiTS last week.  She ran her first home invasion scenario and realized she was squeezing off one shot, waiting for the bad guy to drop, then squeezing off her next shot, waiting for the bad buy to drop, until on her third shot, she hit the guy.  She took a moment to digest what she had done and it flipped a switch in her brain. The next scenario she ran, there was no hesitation, she shot until the threat was neutralized.  In fact, not only did she shoot until the threat was neutralized, but she advanced on him did not give up until he was out of the fight.

RMFiTS was a game-changer for Tara.  She and I have been shooting together for several years and she knows she needs to draw and fire faster than she does.  But she wants that perfect shot (which is why she's 100x better on a long gun than I am) and sacrifices time to get it.  However, the sim proved to her that she can get those first shots off and still hit what she's aiming at.  I bet the next time we do live-fire training together she cuts her draw to first round time in half.

I was talking to Double Tap earlier and I was trying to explain to him why this post was so difficult for me to write.  It's because I don't have adequate words to express how I feel about the depth this can add to a person's training.  It's one thing to imagine scenarios.  It's a completely different thing to be dropped into a situation with little or no background and have to solve it.

Since I feel like I can't express myself in writing, I took some video of our preview the other day.  It's as close as you can get to actually doing it yourself.

You can see Tara's transformation from being hesitant to taking the bastards out.  I should mention that Jay also shot the sim and pissed me off.  I literally shoot 12x more than he does, yet he can pick up a gun he's never shot before and hit everything.  He killed the home invader with one shot.  Oh, I wish I had his shooting talent - I have to work at it, while it comes naturally to him.

As far as we can tell, RMFiTS is the only LE/Military-quality firearms simulator open to the public in Colorado and the surrounding states.  The rates are exceptionally reasonable in my opinion.  $30 for a half hour of simulated range time, where the tech sets up the virtual range and the shooter gets to shoot for thirty minutes straight, or $50 for an instructor-driven training, with one-on-one training tailored to the shooter's needs.  Now, some might think the rates are pricey, but you have to figure in that there are NO AMMO COSTS!  How many times have you wanted to do some serious training, but have been limited by the amount of ammunition you have available?  Also, simulator training allows a shooter to practice things that are generally frowned upon at ranges.  Things like drawing from concealment (or even just drawing from a holster), kneeling, using cover, moving left/right/forward - all those things that as defensive shooters we want to practice, but are rarely allowed to outside of classes and matches.

I'm in love with RMFiTS and am excited to have this training modality available to me and my students.  If you are in the Northern Colorado/Southern Wyoming area and want to preview RMFiTS, Opening Day is Saturday, October 19th from 9:00 am - 6:00 pm at Rocky Mountain Shooters Supply in Fort Collins.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Review: Back Country Chest Holster by K-J Leather

Review: Back Country Chest Holster by K-J Leather

A few months ago, Gundiva made contact with K-J Leather based out of Newell, South Dakota.  http://kbarjleather.com And the folks at K-J Leather were gracious enough to send a sample of their Back Country Chest Holster to me for review. 
The holster that was sent to me was designed to fit the Ruger GP 100 with a 4 inch barrel.  (K-J Leather can build this holster to fit other models of handguns as well)
Included on the left hand side are loops for 5 spare rounds of .357 ammunition.  The revolver is held in place by a leather retention strap. 
Construction is all leather held together with rivets and stitching and plastic buckles. 

What I like:

-       -  The quality of craftsmanship is excellent.  The edges are sealed.  Rivets and stitching are tight. 
-       -  The single buckle design makes it easy to put on and take off once adjusted.
-       Comfortable to wear.
-       -  Being a chest holster, it keeps your handgun off your waist and easy to access.  Also    allowing you to wear a fanny pack or backpack in comfort. 
-      -   Adjustable to fit most sizes. 

What I don’t like:  (Things I want to see improved upon)

-       - A tighter fit on the retention strap.  It works well but could be tighter for a more secure fit.
-       - Extra loop on the left side to hold 6 spare rounds instead of 5. 
-      -  Extra ammunition loops on the shoulder strap or holster itself.  Not a mandatory change, but would be nice to have for quick and easy access to spare ammunition. 


I like this holster.  I think K-J Leather has done an excellent job and makes a quality holster.  I would buy their products again.
If you are looking for a quality leather holster, check out K-J Leather.  They make this Chest Holster as well as standard Belt and Concealment holsters and many other leather products.

Update 10-20-2013

Based on comments, here are a few more items.

1. Yes I would recommend this holster to my brother.  With one caveat.  Make sure the retention strap holds your firearm firmly in place.  This is the one must have for this holster.

2. Cost.  I do not have pricing at this time.  And I did not see prices listed on their website.  Call/email K-J Leather for pricing.

3. Appropriate use for this holster would be an open carry scenario where you want easy access to your firearm but want it off your waist.  Backpacking or hunting is a good example.  Typically the waist belt of the backpack will not allow the use of a traditional belt holster, this will solve that problem.  Or if you are horseback riding.  This holster puts your firearm in an convenient and easy to access position.  But still allows for ease of movement.  
Definitely not for concealed carry.  

By: Mez


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Initial Review/Range Report: Smith & Wesson M&P40 (/9/357Sig)

Cross Posted at Daddy Hawk's Toy Box

It's been a stressful few weeks. Between work, getting ready to be out of the office for work and personal travel, The Queen not feeling well, M&M needing her daily dose of Daddy Hawk, house work, cooking, shopping and generally failing badly at getting the sleep necessary to function as a normal member of the human race, I was getting ready to shoot something. Whether that something turned out to be an animate or inanimate object was rapidly becoming less of a concern to me. So, the other evening, I finally had a chance to sneak away from the house (actually, I just didn't return home as early as I otherwise would have) to visit the local range for the purpose of taking the new M&P out for its first official test spin.

So, before I dive into breathlessly describing how wonderful the M&P is or isn't, I'd like to issue my standard disclaimer and tell the FTC (who I hope are enjoying a restful Obamacation) that I paid my own hard earned, seriously value deflated dollars to buy this particular M&P. Smith & Wesson has no idea who I am and has not offered me any compensation or consideration for this review. So, go suck on your banana punk monkey. These opinions are 100% mine.

Alright, now that my libertarian tendencies have been mollified for a little while, let's get down to business.

Starting with the title of this review, you will notice that I am calling this the Smith & Wesson M&P 40/9/357Sig. The dirty little secret is that M&P saved a whole hoochie load of money developing this pistol by going big for commonality across the platform. The recoil spring is identical for all three calibers. Need proof? Go look up replacement recoil springs on Midway USA's website. Barrel dimensions are identical (a fact we will address in more detail in a bit) which means the slide dimensions are identical which in turn means that the frame dimensions have to be pretty darn close too. There may be (though I seriously doubt it) a tiny skosh bit of difference in the mag well on the 9 as opposed to the 40/357; however, the 40 mags are marked ".40S&W/.357Sig" (or vice versa depending on your perspective) meaning that the frame of those two calibers have the same freaking dimensions.

Now, reading the forums [for a?] (and even watching a few videos from manufacturer reps) you will find many a post that suggests that the slide on the 9 is not strong enough to hold up against the pressures generated by the .40. I've not come across any comment on the .40 slide not being strong enough for the .357Sig, but give it time. Someone will decide that the slides on the .357Sig MUST be stronger to contain the uber high specialness that is the chamber pressure of a .40 case necked to a 9mm bullet. Personally, I call el toro guano. I don't see Smith & Wesson making some slides "stronger" when they are toleranced to the same dimensions as other "weaker" slides when using the same (presumably...I'd be happy to hear a S&W rep confirm that) materials on the same manufacturing line. I'm no metallurgical expert, but I don't think it works like that.

Don't take my word for it though. Proceed at your own risk. Do your own research. I take no responsibility for your own stupidity for something you read on the internet from someone who is a self avowed non-expert in the field.

Here is my personal, anecdotal experience on the subject to close out this portion of the review. I bought the M&P40 as well as a 9mm replacement barrel. I can confirm for you that the 9mm replacement barrel was a perfect, drop in fit. 9mm ammo fed from the 40/357 mags without a hitch (including the last round despite what I've read from other noted internet experts on that point). The pistol fired and cycled the 9mm ammo without incident. I would not hesitate to attempt the same with a .357Sig replacement barrel. Your mileage may vary.

I'm not going to spend much time here on the aesthetics of the M&P. As polymer pistols go, I think it's a good looking pistol. The fish scale slide serrations are unique as well as functional. The black Melonite finish performs its intended function well enough and will serve as a good canvas for a custom coating should I ever decide to get around to doing something to set my M&P apart from the masses. The rounded grip is quite comfortable, and I had no problems hanging on to the gun even during moderately rapid fire (something between .5 and 1 second per shot). A texture job on the grips would certainly enhance that, but I don't see it as a necessity unless you were gifted with exceptionally sweaty palms.

As to safeties, Smith & Wesson wisely in my humble opinion took the “buffet” approach of offering a wide variety of options. Do you live behind the nanny state curtain? They have you covered with 10 round mags, magazine disconnects, thumb safeties and infernal (internal) locks. Do you live in free America where you are trusted to make decisions for yourself? They offer versions without the infernal lock, with or without the thumb safety, etc. My particular model is completely safety free (other than the odd trigger safety which is marginally okay). Call it a point and click model if you like.

From a concealability point of view, I have no problems hiding it in the appendix carry position under an untucked polo shirt. Bear in mind that I am 6'4" tall and heft about 240 pounds on the scale. So, petite folk may have a different perspective on this. Wearing it unloaded, "Mexican" style (as I have not found an AIWB holster for it yet that I like), The Queen did not notice the gun (she was not informed that there would be a CCW "printing" test) over the course of an hour or two. Even without a holster, the gun was comfortable (hardly noticeable in fact) and stayed put fairly well while performing normal household activity (I would try jumping jacks without a good holster). I have not tried it in the 4 o'clock IWB position yet; however, I don't foresee it being any more visible than in the AIWB position. In the 3 o'clock OWB position, I would expect it to bulge an untucked shirt just a bit. But, balance it with a mag carrier at 9 o'clock and it might not be an issue.

Function-wise, I only had time to run 70 rounds of .40S&W, 10 rounds of 9mm (including time for the barrel swap back and forth), and 47 rounds of .22 (through the Ruger 22/45 Mk III which was feeling all lonely neglected in the range bag). I had no failures to feed, fire or extract. The only function issue of any note was that the slide did not lock back after the last round consistently. As a matter of fact, it probably locked back less than 50% of the time. I didn't diligently keep track of the problem. So, I can't say how often for sure; however, it was definitely noticeable. Next range outing I try to see if grip firmness affects that or if there is a mag follower issue.

Speaking of the 47 rounds of .22 as a quick digression, it would have been 50 rounds but for these little treasures.


I've never seen anything like that in a box of factory ammo. Not even from a box of cheapo, Walmart, Remington bulk pack.

And, just for GunDiva, a picture of the target.


No, I didn't WANT to change the target. That's 47 rounds at 7 yards fired as quick as I could load mags and fire. It was *VERY* satisfying to use the .22 as a bullet hose. Not that I am suggesting that one should EVER skirt the range rules or anything. Fortunately, the dude in the next bay giving his girlfriend her first taste of semi auto (using a Ruger P94 in .40...after letting her shoot .22 and .38/.357 revolvers...with full power magnum rounds no less) and was going all bullet hose with his gat (he was nice enough…so, I won't call him nasty names here) giving me the cover necessary to have some fun unnoticed by the front desk.

Now, digression complete. Move along. Nothing to see here.

In an earlier post, I commented on the quality of the trigger pull. I believe I said something about broken glass. That issue is still there; BUT, I found it much less noticeable when actually focusing on the front sight with the intention of shooting something. Maybe I'm easily distracted. Who knows? That's not to say that I might not still have a trigger job done and/or splurge on an Apex trigger kit. I want at least 250 rounds (preferably 500 rounds) through it before I decide on any substantive changes like that.

A quick note on field stripping: it’s pretty simple. Remove the magazine, clear the chamber, use a tool to push or pull the lever in the mag well that disconnects the sear down, thumb the take down lever down, remove the slide from the frame, remove the recoil spring assembly and remove the barrel. Done. It’s as quick as stripping a Glock though the downside is that it’s not completely tool less unless you have a finger that can manipulate the sear disconnect lever (I don’t). Reassembly was equally unremarkable.

The sights are fine for their intended purpose. This is not a bullseye gun. The rear sight is drift adjustable for windage. For elevation, it’s either learn your hold overs/unders or get a different front sight post. Having said that, I’m 95% certain I will be replacing these sights with fiber optic replacements soon since my 40 something year old eyes don’t focus at arm’s length the way they used to.

Moving right along, let’s talk accuracy. My first shot at 3 yards was in the x ring which, let’s be honest, shouldn’t be that hard at that range. The remaining 4 shots out of my first string were inside the 10 ring (four in the x ring); however, the grouping is not as tight as I would expect of myself at that range. My next string of 15 (one full mag) at 7 yards was even less impressive.


I was aiming for the top 8. Other than that, I have no explanation for that pattern or the others that follow. I’d like to throw an alibi out, but I got nothing. It’s certainly minute of bad guy accuracy and will get the job done, but I’m just disappointed because I am used to getting most everything inside the 9 ring at that range.

Finally, the only thing left to talk about are some odds and ends. Recoil was quite manageable for me at least (especially after my recent experience with the S&W M325PD). The 147 grain subsonic 9MM ammo had less felt recoil than the 180 grain .40S&W ammo. Duh. No surprise there. It’s no .22 pistol, but you’re not going to have to worry about digging the rear sight out of your forehead either. No issues with the mag release. It did its job just fine. I was unable to remove the little frame mounted tool that lets you swap out the grip panels. I’m sure I was just not doing it right since I hadn’t bothered with reading the manual yet. The witness hole/loaded chamber indicator worked as advertised. No issues with the mags themselves other than the first round is sometimes a pain in the butt to get in if you’re not paying attention to the follower and the feed lips. Rounds 14 and 15 will be challenging for most people to load without the use of a mag loader which Smith & Wesson did not see fit to include. Some people swear by the Uplula’s, but I’m not sure that a stiff, thin piece of metal wouldn’t work just as good. I may just have to test that theory and report back.

So, to sum up, I like the gun. It fits my hand well with the medium grip insert, and I can shoot it adequately as is. There are things I would like to change and probably will. Is it as good as a Glock out of the box? Meh, maybe. Glocks have better triggers out of the box while the M&P has better sights and more options in addition to being better looking (IMHO). After typical modifications (triggers, sights, texturing), they are a wash from price point, reliability, and functionality standpoints. Glocks have a slight edge when you consider accessories and other ancillary items like the fact that there are carbines available that use Glock mags but none that I am aware of that use M&P mags.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I've been working on a project since June for a startup company that will be opening up on Oct 19th.  The company is an idea and creation of my own (scary I know), but I think we have something special.  Something unique and may change the way NoCo trains for CCW.   On the bar just above the feature article....yes the bar that says "home" on the left side, and then "Gun Diva" and "Mrs. Mom"....way out on the right side is a button labeled "FiTS".   FiTS is my baby, a new twist on an old idea.   Firearms Training Simulations, is the long name, and as the name implies, will be offering high end, LE quality simulation training to the public.   There are several faces for FiTS, it can be a serious training tool, virtual range time, or just plain old fantasy entertainment. Further, we'll be offering private training and courses based up simulation. Additionally, we are able to film at private locations and drop in bad guys for the company that wants to give their security team a taste of what an active shooter situation might look like in their own buildings.   I've been working with Ti to get this project right, their bread and butter is the LE market and most of their sales go to Sheriff's departments and lately TSA.  The "scenarios" we've been concentrating on revolve around range time and CCW applications, throw in some zombies for fun and I think we have a training and shooting combination that is not found for public consumption in Northern Colorado, or the rest of the state, maybe the rocky mountain west for that matter.  I hope you'll take 10 minutes and read our introduction.

I'd love to hear any ideas, comments or warnings you have.

Shoot Straight,