Category Archives: Handguns

RETRO-REVIEW: Colt SAA

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The Colt SAA is perhaps the most easily recognizable revolver in the world. READ MORE

saa

Heyward Williams

Some handguns give you a 1200 psi adrenaline flow just handling them. Others are as exciting as a dance on broken ground. The Colt Single Action Army is among the former. The Colt is an icon in the truest sense, and iconic handguns and the use they have been put to in times of war and trouble are immensely interesting. Despite being introduced in 1873 the Colt SAA (sometimes called Frontier Six Shooter or Peacemaker) remains in production and is still a useful firearm. I often carry the Colt Single Action Army in the field, as a trail gun, when hiking, and sometimes just because it feels right. My philosophy of a hard hit delivered with accuracy in preference to a flurry of small caliber shots seems a good fit for my lifestyle. The Colt isn’t at the top of the list for personal defense anymore but then it isn’t at the bottom either. For protection against dangerous animals including feral dogs and the big cats the Colt seems just right. The Colt was the first choice of experienced gunners many years ago, in spite of good quality double action revolvers being widely available. Lawrence of Arabia, Frank Hamer, Tom Threepersons, Douglas McArthur, George S Patton and others relied on the Colt SAA for everyday use. It is a practical and hard hitting handgun and these men were on the point of danger. (Hamer and Lawrence each referred to the Colt SAA as their Lucky Gun or Old Lucky, and each also used the 1911 pistol.)

In the early 1870s Colt Firearms was given the task of creating a new Army revolver. The goal was a handgun and cartridge capable of taking a Native American war pony out of action at 100 yards. (More horses than men were killed in practically every battle in the west.) The result was the solid frame Single Action Army. The .45 Colt used a variety of loads ranging from 230 to 260 grains, at 750 to 900 fps, and in both copper and brass cartridge cases. The cartridge lived up to its promise. While there were other cartridges chambered in the Colt, notably the .44-40 WCF, the .45 Colt is my favorite. It resounds with authority today.

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This is a second generation .45 Colt SAA.

The original Army revolver featured a 7 ½ inch barrel. The later Artillery Model featured a 5 ½ inch barrel and finally a popular 4 ¾ inch barrel or Gunfighter’s Model. The Single Action Army requires the hammer be put on half cock to load. Open the loading gate. Load one cartridge, skip a cylinder, load four and cock the hammer and lower it on an empty chamber. The revolver then and now is only safe to carry with five beans under the wheel as the firing pin would rest on the primer of a chambered cartridge otherwise, an unsafe practice. To unload open the loading gate and kick each cartridge out individually with the ejector button. The first guns were manufactured with iron frames that were case hardened to strength. I still prefer the case hardened look with modern high quality steel revolvers. There are incremental improvements in the type and many different chamberings. The SAA earned a reputation as a durable and hard hitting handgun. The balance of the revolver is excellent. It is among the fastest pointing and hitting handguns I have used. The 1911 fits my hand well and it is superior in rapid fire, the double action revolver required a different grip style to stabilize the handgun as the forefinger works the trigger. But nothing points like a finger like the SAA. Even today few handguns are as fast and sure to an accurate first shot at moderate range. The wound potential of the lumbering old slug is unsurpassed in standard calibers although equaled by strong loads in the .45 Auto Rim.

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The .45 Colt responds well to careful handloading.

My modern SAA is the 4 ¾ inch version with case hardened frame. The revolver is plenty accurate for most uses. I have used quite a few loads in this Colt and still enjoy working up handloads and testing factory loads. Winchester still produces the original 255 grain conical bullet. The Super X load is faster than the modern cowboy action loads and breaks just over 800 fps in the 4 ¾ inch barrel SAA. This load exhibits excellent penetration. The bullet will tumble in some media creating an extensive wound the length of its travel. I have the greatest respect for this load as a personal defense load and for defense against animals into the big cat class. I have also tested the Winchester PDX hollowpoint. This load operates a modest pressure but jolts a well designed 225 grain JHP at 800 fps. Expansion is good. This loading would make an excellent defense load for home defense. There are combinations I load myself for occasional use that are even stronger including a 255 grain SWC at 1,000 fps, but I do not need these for most uses. With any of these loads the Colt will group five shots into 2-2.5 inches at 20 yards.

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.45 Colt loads compared to the .45 ACP.

A great advantage of the SAA is its balance on the hip. The revolver sets right, with the proper balance of barrel, cylinder and butt to offer a forward tilt on the draw. While I am not adverse to tucking the revolver in my belt — with the loading gate open in the appendix position == you really need a good holster. Among the finest possible holsters to be had is the DM Bullard shoulder holster. This is a relatively fresh design with excellent utility. The holster load bearing harness features a steel reinforcement for rigidity. The holster itself may be detached for belt use if needed. The rig shows excellent fit and finish including creased straps and excellent adjustment. During the winter months there is no handier type of carry. I also use a concealed carry holster with a severe tilt that offers practically as much concealment as an inside the waistband holster. Mine is of carefully crafted exotic leather. Also from DM Bullard this holster is a sturdy companion that keeps the handgun secure but ready for a rapid presentation.

The Colt has the famous plow handled grip and a decent trigger. A tip on firing the beast- don’t take the time to carefully steady the gun and fire slow fire but use it as intended. Draw, cock the hammer as it is brought on target, and press the trigger smoothly but quickly. Colt revolvers are among the most famous of handguns. They are historically important and offer practical utility today. If a sense of history and emotional attachment mean anything to you these are the handguns to have. Don’t lock them in the safe. Fire them often. Carry them. They are valuable but in my opinion more valuable to a shooter than a collector.

saa

The Glock M44 — Glock Imperfection?

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It isn’t perfect but the Glock M44 is a good addition to the Glock battery. READ WHY

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The Glock M44 is a great all around trainer and target practice handgun.

Heyward Williams

The Glock 44 rimfire was met with some derision by those wishing to own a single column magazine 10mm or perhaps the long awaited Glock carbine. I don’t know if Glock is seriously considering these firearms but they listen, they certainly do. They listened when American officers asked for self loading pistols to level the playing field. Chiefs, bean counters and administrators were grudging to give officers much needed hollow point bullets. The avoided leveling the playing field. (Anti gun and anti cop goes hand in hand.) The Illinois State Police paved the way with self loaders but the Democrats in charge limited them to FMJ ammo. A Republican governor finally made the change. In most jurisdictions administrators agreed to issue self loaders when a double action only was offered. The big American makes turned a deaf ear to American cops offering a warmed over Americanized P 38 for police service. They thereby abrogated the police market to the Europeans for the next four decades. Glock’s Model 17 9mm was the first Glock followed by many other Glock pistols including my favorite the Glock 19. Glock responded to police requests with the Glock M 22 .40 and the .45 GAP, an underrated caliber with many applications. That is all a thrice told story. The .22 rimfire Glock is today’s headline.

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The M19 and M44 frames are similar but not identical.

Glock has boldly moved out of the personal defense and service market. Many makers or aftermarket makers offer rimfire conversions for their handguns. Some work well, others not so well. I have used a .22 caliber handgun for marksmanship training, practice, and small game hunting for decades. They are just fun guns. You don’t have to have a reason to own one. Shooters that neglect to own a .22 handgun are missing out on an important tool. The cost of a handgun pales over the cost of an extensive training regimen. The .22 allows many thousands of rounds of rounds of ammunition to be fired for a pittance. The problem is the .22 is a hoary old design. The rimmed cartridge case and heel based bullet don’t make for the most reliable feeding not to mention powder designed for rifles. The resulting pressure curve makes for difficulty in convincing a pistol to feed properly. Most makers warranty their pistol with work only with high velocity loads. Since standard velocity loads are generally more expensive than bulk produced high velocity loads this isnt a demerit. CCI alone manufactures billions of .22 LR cartridges a year.
The Glock M44 is a Generation 4 type with finger groove frame. The pistol is designed to mock the popular Glock 19 9mm. The Glock 44 is well suited for rimfire practice for those that own Glock centerfire handguns. The pistol is equally well suited to beginning shooters and those that enjoy informal target shooting and small game hunting. A radical departure from the Glock 19 is a lightweight slide that is a hybrid mix of polymer with metal reinforcement. A steel slide would be too heavy to be actuated by rimfire recoil. While it may be tempting to fit aftermarket sights, perhaps the same XS sights found on your Glock 23 as an example, makers tell me they do not recommend steel sights be pressed into the polymer Glock hybrid slide. Downer there. Otherwise the takedown, magazine release and trigger action are straight up Glock.

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The internals of the Glock 44 and Glock 19 are similar. The Glock 44 has a longer ejector and different locking block.

You cannot place the Glock 44 slide on a Glock 19 frame. The locking block and other parts differ. The barrel is removeable. The barrel is what Glock calls a Marksman barrel. The chamber is fluted to aid feed reliability. A threaded barrel will be available within weeks Glock tells us. Spare magazines are about twenty eight dollars. The pistol is supplied with two magazines. And no loading tool. The easy load design doesn’t need a loading tool.

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An easy load magazine is a big plus for the Glock 44.

The overall length is 7.28 inches. Barrel length is 4.02 inches. Standard Glock type frame inserts are included. The Glock 44 features a rail for mounting combat lights. Unlike most .22 caliber rimfire handguns the Glock 44 may be dry fired without harming the firing pin. The difference most apparent in handling is weight. The Glock 44 weighs just over 14.5 ounces, nine ounces less than the Glock 19. The Glock 44 uses a single column ten shot magazine. Glock tells us that a high capacity magazine is difficult to convince to feed with the rimmed .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The magazine features a nicely located tab on the follower that makes loading easy. Depress the tab and load one round at a time to properly stack the ammo in the magazine, do not depress the tab and drop cartridges into the magazine. The proper sequence ensures feed reliability. The Safe Action trigger breaks at 5.8 pounds compression.

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The Glock 19, top, in 9mm, is a bit heavier than the similar Glock 44 .22, bottom.

I have fired the Glock 44 extensively with a lot of help from the grown grandchildren. The pistol is a fun gun. Personal defense drills may be ran quickly. It really isn’t much faster to fire a string than the Glock 19, at least accurately, as you have to be careful to center the sights and the whippy slide makes it a bit more difficult. No problem this is a .22. So- cross training with the 9mm is pretty realistic. As for hunting I will no longer have to hold the Colt Frontier .22 in one hand and a light in the other. I can use two hands and light up a racoon with the TruGlo combat light on the rail of the Glock 44. As for reliability well it isnt up to the usual Glock standard. Various institutional shoot outs have subjected the Glock 9mm to ten to forty thousand rounds of ammunition and found the piece very reliable. Occasionally a trigger return spring will break at thirty thousand rounds. Big deal. The Glock 44 has a drawback in mounting after market sights, but that’s ok. Just not perfect commonality with the service gun. The trigger action may be changed out with an aftermarket trigger group so that’s good. The slide and barrel differ in the locking block so you cannot put a Glock 44 slide on the Glock 19 and that’s good. Reliability is the big problem. It isnt as reliable as Glock claims. With several types of High Velocity loads it is almost but not quite one hundred per cent. Be careful how you stagger the cartridges in the magazine. Subsonic ammunition is supposed to work. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Once the piece is dirty sub sonics don’t work as well. The first sign is the slide doesn’t lock open on the last shot. The pistol is reliable with CCI Mini Mags, either RN, HP or segmented. These loads are one hundred per cent at least up to about four hundred rounds. Don’t laud my efforts too much, it was a lot of fun. Keep the Glock 44 .22 pistol clean and lubricated and it will go several hundred Mini Mags without a hiccup. That’s all we can ask. It is a neat .22, a Glock, it is less reliable than some .22s and more so than others.

 

Federal Judge Enjoins Massachusetts Gun Store Lockdown

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Gun stores struggle to remain open during national crisis. READ MORE

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NRA-ILA

Last week, Judge Douglas P. Woodlock of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts issued a preliminary injunction that allows gun stores to resume operation in the Bay State as long as they adhere to a set of social distancing guidelines. The ruling is an important victory in the fight to protect Second Amendment rights during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

On March 23, Governor Charlie Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 13, which required the closure of all businesses not deemed “essential.” The order did not designate gun stores as “essential” businesses.

On March 28, the Trump administration updated the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (“CISA”) guidance on the critical infrastructure that should remain open during state shutdown orders due to COVID-19. The guidance identified “Workers supporting the operation of firearm or ammunition product manufacturers, retailers, importers, distributors, and shooting ranges” as critical infrastructure.

Following the federal government’s determination, on March 31, Baker issued COVID-19 Order No. 21. Complying with the DHS guidelines, the order designated firearms retailers as “essential” businesses.

However, later that same day the Baker administration removed firearm retailers and shooting ranges from the list of essential businesses. This reversal was cheered by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who declared to her Twitter followers, “Gun shops and shooting ranges are NOT essential businesses during a public health emergency.”

On April 9, a group of Massachusetts gun stores filed suit to halt Baker’s gun store closure on Second Amendment grounds. Later that month, NRA and its state affiliate Gun Owners’ Action League filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs.

In the amicus brief, NRA made clear that Baker’s orders were an impermissible violation of the Second Amendment. The brief pointed out that in the landmark case District of Columbia v. Heller the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated a total ban on the acquisition of a single class of firearm — handguns. Baker’s order effectively prohibited the acquisition of all classes of firearms in Massachusetts and therefore are illegal under Supreme Court precedent.

Further, the brief noted that Baker’s order was impermissible under First Circuit precedent. In the 2018 case Gould v. Morgan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit adopted a controversial two-step analysis for Second Amendment cases. First the court must determine “whether the challenged law burdens conduct that falls within the scope of the Second Amendment’s guarantee.” If the measure does implicate the Second Amendment right then the court is tasked with determining what level of scrutiny to apply to the measure and whether the law is permissible under that level of scrutiny.

In Gould, the First Circuit “identified the core of the Second Amendment right as ‘the possession of operative firearms for use in defense of the home’ by responsible, law-abiding individuals.” As Baker’s order foreclosed the ability to acquire firearms for this purpose, the order struck at the core of the Second Amendment right.

The First Circuit also made clear in Gould that “A law or policy that burdens conduct falling within the core of the Second Amendment requires a correspondingly strict level of scrutiny.” Therefore analysis of the Baker orders demands strict scrutiny.

Strict scrutiny requires that the Government prove the restriction furthers a compelling interest and is narrowly tailored to achieve that interest. A closure of all firearms-related businesses is not narrowly tailored. Moreover, the state cannot demonstrate that a blanket closure of firearm retailers will directly or materially alleviate the harms posed by COVID-19 considering the plaintiffs challenging the order stated that they would abide by all social distancing and workforce requirements for the operation of essential businesses.

Woodlock’s order underscores the excessive nature of Baker’s actions, as the standard for obtaining a preliminary injunction is rigorous. A plaintiff must show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of the case, show that there is irreparable harm without the injunction, demonstrate that the balance of equities is in their favor, and establish that the injunction is in the public interest. In granting the preliminary injunction, Judge Woodlock made clear that Baker’s orders are likely unconstitutional, cause irreparable harm to Bay Staters’ rights, and that this attack on Second Amendment rights was against the public interest.

According to Reuters, Baker told the press that his office will review Woodlock’s order and stated, “[w]e will certainly comply with any kind of judicial ruling on anything.” Sincere compliance with a lawful court order would mark a welcome change in the Baker administration. In late 2018, the Baker administration declared its intent to defy court orders issued by the state’s courts pertaining to the issuance of firearms licenses before backing down in early 2019.

NRA will continue to monitor the situation in Massachusetts and work to ensure that Second Amendment rights are not a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis. Please visit HERE to stay up-to-date on this and other important COVID-19 related Second Amendment issues.

Joe Friday’s Gun

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This old .38 is a formidable handgun. READ MORE

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This is a useful revolver with value beyond the fascination with Dragnet.

Heyward Williams

Among the first police procedural dramas was Dragnet. Dragnet was down to earth and presented the facts well. As a child I enjoyed the series very much. Dragnet still has much to recommend. Professionalism and results are valued. Later many of the prima donnas and flawed characters in TV shows were less interesting. Few would have lasted a minute in any agency I worked for. Some of the shows were basically good trash versus bad trash and the good trash wins. Then we had the original Criminal Minds. While they compressed a six month investigation into an hour show the original was very good. Then the show devolved into ridiculous plots and became basically a show case for personalities. The tired old plot of cop gets framed or cop gets divorce and a lack of originality seems to dog many shows after the first season. Kind of a soap opera. The point of my dialogue is Dragnet was a very good show and it set the pace for some of the better dramas such as Law and Order. As long as there are criminals and cases there will be fertile ground for police dramas. If you can read a file and get the facts then you can write a dramatization of it. And it doesn’t take a show of force akin to an Israeli police action against terror to get the job done. Joe Friday, like all LAPD detectives of the day, carried a .38 Special revolver.

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A four inch barrel Military and Police .38, above, compared to the two inch barrel revolver.

I began my reading and research in the firearms world with well written books by C B Colby. His work whetted my interest in firearms and most were written in simple prose that a nine year old could understand. As I progressed to reading Gun Digest I learned a great deal about handguns. By age eleven I had a Crossman air pistol and had fired several of my grandfather’s revolvers. I knew that Joe Friday carried a Military and Police .38 Special with a two inch barrel. This was one of the first short barrel .38 Special revolvers, introduced just before Colt’s Detective Special. The Military and Police revolver is a K frame revolver. It is considerably larger than the J frame five shot revolver. The Military and Police revolver features a full size grip that makes control good for experienced shooters. The sights are excellent for a fixed sight revolver. The action is smooth. While the smaller frame Detective Special has much merit the Military and Police snub nose is a fast handling and effective revolver.

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The Smith’s fixed sights are precise when properly aligned and fast to pick up.

I had wanted one of these revolvers after seeing Joe Friday draw and use his on Dragnet. Very seldom was the big Smith used but when it was Friday fired a single shot and got the job done. The lumbering old 200 grain Super Police load was standard for the LAPD in those days. While Friday’s gun fired blanks the LAPD fired many Super Police loads in the line of duty. I have owned a good number of J frame revolvers, primarily for use as a backup, and somehow I hadn’t added a full size Military and Police .38 Special revolver with two inch barrel to my collection. I kept my eye open for an example and actually ran across one about three years ago at a fair price. This was the first and last time I entered this shop. (It is now out of business.) I saw an older Smith and Wesson two inch barrel Model Ten with the desirable diamond grips. The revolver had a bit of wear, just like I like. A nice looking lady of perhaps forty years age handed me the revolver and we were within a few dollars of making the deal. A crusty overweight sourpuss (the owner) came to stand beside his daughter. I held the gun up to the light looking it over and remarked, ‘Hey this is Joe Friday’s gun.’ Sourpuss said, ‘I don’t care who in the hell pawned it it’s mine now.’ Seldom have I met such a solid combination of ignorance, disdain for a customer, and a lack of personality. I smiled at his lovely daughter and said ‘Let me think about it.’ I never graced the place again.

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A snubby barrel makes for fast handling.
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The revolver came with a chip out of the stock at no extra charge.

A few weeks ago I saw another of the now hard to find revolvers. The piece was in one of my favorite shops and it was marked at a fair price. I managed to whittle a few dollars off the price and took the piece home, cracked grip, worn muzzle and all. I didn’t want a new in the box example at all and that wasn’t in the budget. The action is tight and a check of the serial number showed the revolver left the factory in 1972. The bluing was decent and the chip off the bottom of the grip didn’t affect firing. Who knows — perhaps someone had used the gun butt as a kosh and buffaloed some deserving SOB. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a trouble free revolver. You could by pass every new revolver in the gun case at a well stocked gun shop and pick up a new Military and Police revolver and have a handgun that will last you for many years with heavy use.

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Several Remington .38 Special loads gave good results in the Model Ten.

I took the revolver to the range and loaded up the classic 158 grain RNL in the Remington Wheelgunner line. The revolver lines up on target quickly. Accuracy is good. The K frame really soaks up recoil. At 10 yards it was no mean feat to put six rounds into the X ring firing double action. Of course we don’t carry RNL loads. The Remington lead semi wadcutter hollow point is soft enough to plump up to .60 even at 820 fps, the clocked velocity from the Smith’s short barrel. There was more recoil with this 158 grain load but the big Smith and Wesson remained controllable. After firing a number of double action pairs I appreciated Sgt. Friday’s choice. This is a good handling revolver. The two inch barrel allows good concealment even when worn on the belt as a relatively short covering garment will conceal this handgun. I even tried a few shots at a long 20 yards. Bracing against a barricade and firing five rounds single action all five went into less than two inches- with three in 1.5 inches. These were among the most accurate revolvers to leave Smith and Wesson. Since the initial outing I have also fired a number of handloads using heavy cast bullets from Matt’s Bullets. A hard cast 200 grain bullet at 800 fps thumps the steel plates hard. Not recommended for J frame revolvers.

Joe Friday carried his Smith in a crossdraw holster. My research indicates this was a Lewis holster, a well made scabbard long out of production. I have on hand a spring loaded G Man crossdraw from the 1940s or so. The Smith and Wesson fit well and the draw was excellent. The holster has become loose with the years and that wont do. A modern Wright Leather Works crossdraw is superior to most anything Joe Friday would have owned. The Smith and Wesson Military and Police is a good fit for this holster, originally intended for a Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum with 2.5 inch barrel. The Wright Leather Works holster holds the gun butt in the perfect position for a rapid presentation.

In the end I like this combination very much. I am certain I will be using the Smith and Wesson .38 when hiking or other low stress activity and probably carrying it concealed from time to time. I would rather have this vintage Smith and Wesson than perhaps half of the guns I see in shooting classes. And that’s the facts — just the facts.

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Wright Leatherworks offers first class concealment leather.

What I Learned When I Took a Disabled Friend Shooting

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What challenges arise for disabled shooters? READ MORE

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Brian McCombie

My good friend Randy Schiferl wanted to buy his very first handgun, and he had questions for me. Lots of them–best models, worst, prices, calibers and on it went.

“Let’s go to the range,” I said. “I’ll bring a half dozen handguns and ammo and we’ll see what works best for you. Okay?”

“Just give me the day and a time,” said Randy.

A couple days later found me deciding which handguns I should bring to the range, when it hit me: Randy is disabled. I don’t usually think of Randy as disabled. A very good friend is how I think of him, as well as a committed family man and a very successful dairy farmer. You can count on Randy—a good many people know this firsthand.

But, yes, Randy has disabilities. I wondered how it might affect his ability to use the various pistols I brought along that afternoon to our local sportsmen’s club shooting range.

This happened to him just a few years ago. In October 2017, Randy was walking to his car when his legs suddenly gave out. The rest of his body went limp, too. He had to be helped into the car and carried into our local emergency room. Numerous tests and consultations later, the medical staff arrived at a diagnosis: Guillain-Barre syndrome.

According to the Mayo Clinic: “Guillain-Barre (gee-YAH-buh-RAY) syndrome is a rare disorder in which your body’s immune system attacks your nerves. Weakness and tingling in your extremities are usually the first symptoms. These sensations can quickly spread, eventually paralyzing your whole body.”

Days later, an almost completely paralyzed Randy listened to his doctor’s prognosis. Randy found out he would never walk again; never feed or bathe himself; never leave a skilled nursing home; and that he should expect a lifetime of near-complete paralysis.

Randy, now 55, heard it all and accepted it. Accepted that his doctor was wrong, that is. Today, after a tremendous amount of work, faith and (he will deny this, but I believe it is true nonetheless) a large reserve of inner courage, Randy walks, works his dairy farm, drives and does much of what he once did.

“Will I ever be 100% back to where I was before all this?” he said to me recently. “Probably not. But I’m not spending the rest of my life in a bed, either!”

He rates himself as physically at about 75% pre-Guillain-Barre. He does physical therapy and works out regularly, has monthly infusions and gets a little stronger and more flexible every week.

But he does wear leg braces and he walks with the noticeable, rolling gait of someone with a physical disability. Plus, he frequently travels on business. He goes to strange places and it occurred to him that criminal types might see him as an easy target. So, to maintain his safety and independence, Randy knew it was time to get a concealed-carry permit.

“I’ve always been a strong supporter of the Second Amendment,” Randy told me during our day at the range. “With my current physical condition, I am thinking about my right to own and use a firearm in a different way now, I will admit. I guess I never felt vulnerable before, but,” and here he shrugged, “Guillain-Barre has changed my life and I have to adapt.”

Randy is not alone in his need to adapt to changing physical conditions. According to the NRA’s Adaptive Shooting Program, some 74 million Americans qualify as “disabled.”

“This population is growing,” the Adaptive Shooting Program website notes, “as the Baby Boomer generation ages and as injured soldiers return from overseas. As a group, they are generally under-represented in the shooting sports, personal protection and hunting communities. The NRA’s goal is to increase access and participation in shooting activities for people with disabilities through specialized techniques and technologies that are safe and unique to each individual.”

“The NRA is one of the nation’s oldest civil-rights organizations with a mission to protect and defend the Second Amendment for everyone regardless of age or ability,” said Dr. Joseph Logar, PT, DPT, National Manager for Adaptive Shooting Programs. “The Bill of Rights doesn’t have an age limit; there’s no eye chart on the back; there’s no height requirement or strength testing needed to exercise your rights.”

The Adaptive Shooting Program website provides an Americans with disabilities information page, a range-accessibility checklist, an accessibility subsidy program and an adaptive product database. But the program’s work goes beyond providing information.

“We recently donated around $7,000 worth of gear to Lonestar Para-Athletic Development Academy, a non-profit out of Texas, to establish a training center/program for veterans with disabilities,” said Logar. “We are involved in many other similar projects to help people to actually participate in the shooting sports, whether it’s hunting or recreational shooting or self-defense.”

At the range that day, Randy and I did a safety briefing first, and then I had him handle the unloaded pistols. We immediately discovered that a small “pocket” pistol wasn’t going to work for Randy, given the flexibility issues with his hands.

But he did great shooting and manipulating larger handguns, including a Smith & Wesson M&P 45 Shield and a Remington R1 Enhanced 1911. Once he got used to handling these two pistols, the bullseyes hits started coming–and kept coming.

“This is a lot of fun!” Randy said with a big smile, after he was done putting a magazine of .45 ACP rounds into the center of a target. “I think my next stop is the gun shop!”

NRA ADAPTIVE SHOOTING PROGRAM

Photo courtesy of Brian McCombie

First-Time Buyers Explain Why Coronavirus Drove Them to Gun Stores in Record Numbers

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More than 2 million guns sold in March. READ MORE

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Stephen Gutowski

Aaron Eaton learned how to shoot in the Army back in 2006 but holstered a pistol for the last time when he left in 2009 and took a job as a technician for a sewer company. That all changed on March 26 when the father of four walked out of an Alabama gun store with a Beretta 92FS, the same gun he handled as a military policeman at the height of the Iraq war.

“Simply put: I wanted peace of mind when it comes to the safety of my family,” Eaton said.

sales marchgun sales march 2020

Eaton’s pistol was one of 2.3 million firearms to fly off the shelves in March, the single busiest month for gun sales ever. The Washington Free Beacon spoke to half a dozen new gun owners who purchased a total of six handguns and two shotguns. All of the new gun owners provided proof of purchase, though some asked not to have their last names published because of potential career backlash.

“To me, it’s all about protecting my family, and if a gun makes that easier, so be it,” Scott, a California tech worker with a wife and daughter, said.

Many of the new gun owners cited concerns about personal protection as states began emptying jail cells and police departments announced they would no longer enforce certain laws. Jake Wilhelm, a Virginia-based environmental consultant and lacrosse coach, purchased a Sig Sauer P226 after seeing Italy enact a nationwide lockdown on March 9.

“[My fiancée and I] came to the conclusion in early March that if a nation like Italy was going into full lockdown, we in the U.S. were likely on the same path,” Wilhelm said. “Given that, and knowing that police resources would be stretched to the max, I decided to purchase a handgun.”

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, said new customers represented a large swath of new gun sales even as gun stores faced depleted stocks and shutdown orders from state and local governments across the country. “A large portion of the 2.3 million sales during the month of March were to first-time buyers is what we’re hearing back from our retailers,” Mark Oliva, a spokesman for the group, said.

Retailers told the Free Beacon they’d never experienced anything like the recent surge of new buyers.

Brandon Wexler of Wex Gunworks in Delray Beach, Fla., said “at least 50 percent” of his sales in March were to first-time buyers. Michael Cargill of Central Texas Gun Works in Austin, Texas, said he was getting “100 calls an hour” at the peak and most were from new customers. Wayne Viden, vice president of Bob’s Little Gun Shop in Glassboro, N.J., said he also noticed an influx of new buyers.

“I think a lot of people were afraid of exactly what’s happening now,” Viden said. “They’re afraid if it continues to go on longer, things are going to get worse.”

Charrie Derosa, a saleswoman at Wex Gunworks, said shopworkers attempted to alleviate the unease caused by the lethal virus.

“‘We’re here for you.’ That’s the exact feeling that you have when you’re standing there and you’re looking at them,” she said. “And you can see it. You saw fear. You saw desperation.”

The fear extended past the disease to how communities would bear the strain of job loss, lockdown orders, and law enforcement policies adopted in the wake of the spread. One Tampa inmate who was released over coronavirus concerns has now been accused of murder, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Brian, a 40-year-old living near Tampa, lost his full-time bartending job in March but was concerned enough about deteriorating public safety that he dipped into his savings to purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield.

“My biggest fear is that our local police force comes down with the virus,” he said. “If the good guys are all out sick, who is going to stop the bad guys? When people have no hope, they get desperate. And we fear the worst is to come.”

Scott, the California tech worker, said he is preparing not just for thinned policing, but for a potential uptick in hate crimes against his family. While he is not Asian, his wife and daughter are. He said they have already faced racial harassment during the outbreak.

“Just walking on the street, folks have honked and yelled at us [for] wearing masks,” he said. “And robberies are common in Asian communities. I worry about them.”

Matthew Rosky, a North Carolinian who bought a Benelli 12-gauge shotgun for himself and a 20-gauge shotgun for his wife on April 4, said he doesn’t “plan on being relieved of my property or my life if it comes to that.” He said the couple lost their home to a landslide in 2019 and the threat of a national emergency pushed them to follow through on the purchase they had already been considering.

“I am not real enthused with politicians letting criminals out of jails, nor will I be surprised to see crime go up since many police departments are not responding to anything but the worst emergencies,” Rosky said. “Obviously, this is a pessimistic outlook but, ‘Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,’ seems like a good mantra at the moment.”

Andrew, a federal contractor living in Virginia who bought a Heckler & Koch VP9 for himself and one for his wife on March 21, said he had already experienced societal breakdown firsthand. He was a student at the University of Southern California during the Los Angeles riots and witnessed some of the destruction. He recalled “the acrid smell of smoke and the ceaseless police and fire sirens and LAPD choppers” as “the most poignant and searing memories” of his lifetime.

“The sad reality [is] that civil order can break down in less than 12 hours and the overwhelmed police can’t help you,” he said. “As I explained to my wife, I’ve seen things go sideways quickly — and with unpredictable results.”

Some of the new gun owners now find themselves caught in the political battles that have emerged in the wake of the coronavirus. Santa Clara County shut down gun stores before Scott could pick up his Smith & Wesson .357 revolver.

“To me, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it,” he said. “That’s why it’s frustrating to have that right taken away.”

Retailers said customers like Scott are the reason they have resisted shutdown orders. The stay-at-home order in Texas did not include an exemption for gun stores, but Cargill of Central Texas Gun Works kept his doors open even before state attorney general Ken Paxton said localities cannot shutter gun stores.

“I’m refusing to shut down because a lot of people lost their jobs,” Cargill said. “They don’t know where their next paycheck is coming from but they do know it’s up to them to protect their family. And they’re coming to me and they’re saying, ‘Hey, I have food for now and I have water and I have medicine but what I don’t have is a firearm to protect my house.'”

The adjustment to being a new gun owner has been easy for Eaton, the Alabama veteran.

“It’s the weapon the Army trained me with. I figured I should go back to something I’m familiar with,” he said.

He is an outlier among those the Free Beacon spoke to. A majority said they want to pursue further training–including those needed for carry-permits–once lockdowns are lifted and classes are available again. With closures in place, Scott has turned to online communities and video training. He said he had been impressed by what he’s seen from gun owners both in-person and online.

“It’s all about safety first and practice, practice, practice,” he said.

SKILLS: Handgun Stopping Power

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One Shot Stops, 9mm vs. .45, Magic Bullet. READ MORE

Bob Campbell

stopping power
The .45 ACP was developed to offer similar wound potential to the .45 Colt, lower. These are old school handguns perhaps but only a few months old. One is for concealed carry and the other accompanies the author on the trail.

In writing, I prefer my information to be valid and the research verifiable, and the experiments repeatable. I like to give the reader an opportunity to get a handle on things. Quite often the things that the critic points out harshly are the things that majority of the readers find valuable. I have found that the subject of handgun wound potential or stopping power isnt a puzzle at all but remains a puzzle to those that make it so. I realize that there is not natural law that gives a man a reward that matches his endeavor, so I hope that the reader finds something of value in this work. There has been more debate concerning handgun stopping power in the past 20 years than in the previous 100. A lot of gunplay took place in the old west, but period literature covers the tactics and personalities far more closely than the guns and calibers used. The .44 and .45 caliber revolvers in wide use on the frontier seemed to work with authority, and no one much questioned the efficacy of their ballistics. There are reports of the effect of the .44 on horses and the problems with the .36 at long range during the Civil War, but perhaps that is going back too far and reading too much into different technology.

Since the days when word-of-mouth was the only barometer of handgun effectiveness, we have made many advances in measuring handgun power. The standard was once pine boards to test handgun cartridges, penetration being the only criteria. Penetration is still the most important criteria. Ductseal and clay were widely used to test hollowpoints, both unrealistic media. Today we have carefully formulated ballistic gelatin, developed by trauma surgeons to replicate human tissue, as well as some highly significant scientific studies of gunshot effects.

stopping power
With plus P loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration the .38 Special and 9mm Luger are lifesavers. These handguns are the right size for good control.

The study of tactics and human behavior is more important than the weapon, caliber and loading used in combat. Marksmanship can be proven to be the most important component of handgun effectiveness. Wound ballistics is a science, with conclusions drawn from studying bullet tracks in both ballistic gelatin and corpses in the medical examiner’s morgue. Detractors of laboratory tests feel these tests cannot duplicate differences in point of impact, clothing, attitude, muscle structure and intoxication. But a ballistic scientist does not ask us to believe anything. He simply presents the results of his tests. The results are not only verifiable, they are repeatable, the real test of science.

Stopping power “studies,” on the other hand, ask us to believe in someone’s conclusion. Assuming such compilations are valid requires a considerable leap of faith. Reports are often sensationalized, even glamorized. Are such studies grounded in reality? Are they even useful? Can they be supported by scientific methods? I don’t have all the answers, but I do know this — cartridges and loads are not as important as basic shooting skills. I don’t believe trick loads significantly alter the ability of a smallbore cartridge to inflict damage. I simply don’t accept many published reports because they are anecdotal and based on hearsay. Even if the shootings actually occurred — which is reasonable to ask — the methodology is flawed. In other cases, there are conclusions made that are so irrelevant to the reality of interpersonal combat that they are not even worth publishing.

A Skeptical Eye
When it comes to the various handgun “studies,” we must consider their validity. These “researchers” are not writing the King James version of stopping power. Yet the figures expressed are often quoted in the popular press as gospel. A criticism of some of the work might be the inability of others to inspect and review source material. To some, this reduces the validity of the study to zero. Certainly, such unsubstantiated work does not meet an investigative standard. As a longtime officer, I understand both sides of this debate. Confidentiality and respect for families must be considered. Cops who collect shooting histories may not have engaged in much gunplay, but have arrived just after quite a few gunfights ended. Cops from Area Six in Chicago, Fort Apache (the Bronx) in New York, or The Wall in California have a good idea of the type of damage different handgun calibers inflict. They are good investigators as well. They realize that three eyewitnesses testifying in good faith may perceive events three different ways.

Human perceptions differ. The road to a detective’s badge in many agencies is through the traffic division. Working wreck scenes is small-scale investigation, and separates the sleuths from the duffers in some cases. Applying normal investigative standards to stopping power studies often reveals bankrupt methodology or standards. These “studies” do not even meet the criteria demanded by some agencies in ascertaining who is at fault in a fender bender.

stopping power
The author prefers the balance of control and power in the .45 automatic. The Nighthawk, top, and Colt, below, are frequent companions.

Most police trainers have long abandoned the attempt to study stopping power and instead have concentrated on tactical movement and the actions of felons in combat. Tactics carry the day. By criticizing issue arms and equipment, we undermine an officer’s confidence in his gear, something he is usually unable to change. Sure, a DAO 9mm loaded with subsonic ammunition is not my first choice but a good man or woman behind the sights can make a difference. Tactics and marksmanship are a better answer than hotter loads in minor calibers.

One writer did the boys and girls in blue no favor when he stated in pat terms that load selection is more important than shot placement. His reasoning was that we can control load selection, but not marksmanship. Evidently he does not realize that shots that do not find critical areas are relatively ineffective. Any hunter knows better, and hunting lessons do indeed translate to self defense. A gut-shot man behaves just like a gut-shot deer — both are up and running for quite some time. A man and a deer are similar in size and may be about as hard to put down. The man knows he has been shot, the deer does not, and men are more susceptible to shock.

Most studies, or rather I call them published opinions, eliminate multiple bullet strikes from the data as they ‘confuse the issue.’ This simply makes small caliber bullets look much better than real world experience would indicate. Most handgun fights will be multiple strike incidents. One shot failures would be rare. After all, if the first shot fails, won’t you fire another? Besides, trained shooters often fire double or triple taps before a subject can fall. A problem with handgun histories is qualifying hits. I have on hand a report from police sources in which a coroner and a medical examiner, both reputable men, disagreed concerning the number of hits on a felon’s body. In a class I once attended, a medical examiner spoke in glowing terms of a certain new generation hollowpoint. He showed an impressive slide in which a bad guy — “Satan Lives” was tattooed on his chest — took a single hit which produced a long and wide wound track. Years later, the officer involved in the incident spoke at a seminar. He noted the man took the shot, stopped his attack, and remained mobile for some time, asking the officer to call an ambulance. The felon expired. The officer was certain the man could have continued the fight had he so wished. Two conflicting opinions on the same shooting. Some adversaries are “machinegunned” in shootings — five .38s, seven .45s, or 41 9mms. Excited, frightened men empty their guns under deadly stress. If the felon goes down in such a volley, it may have been a one-shot stop. The volley that leaves a felon standing is always a failure to stop. Dismissing multiple hits eliminates the majority of smallbore shootings.

stopping power
The .357 Magnum, above, pretty much eclipsed the excellent .38 Super, below. In appropriate sized handguns each is a viable personal defense handgun.

There are three components of wound potential that must be stressed — marksmanship, marksmanship and marksmanship. We are not very bright if we have time to arm ourselves with a long gun and fail to do so. In comparison to a 12 gauge shotgun or a .223 rifle, the “weak .38” and “strong .45” are more alike than they differ. A sobering thought.

Tactical Info
Shooting histories should be used for tactical information first and bullet performance information second. As for lab work, gelatin is homogenous and flesh and blood are heterogeneous. It is not the same, but gelatin is a good media for comparing bullet performance. What counts is point of impact and perhaps the adversary’s tox sheet. (Certain drugs are not called painkillers for nothing.) Even ordinary water is good for comparing bullet expansion and penetration. Whether or not we regard the studies as valid, one rule we may take away from learned research is that bullet selection is more important in the weaker calibers. One authority, Dr. Vincent J. Di Miao, has stated that perhaps half of all handgun bullets designed to expand actually fail to expand in the body. They strike a portion of the body that doesn’t stop the bullet or they strike bone and close up on the nose. The works of this respected medical examiner do not inspire confidence in smallbore hollowpoints. We are led to the conclusion that all handguns are weak instruments.

stopping power
A fast handling short barrel revolver is a reasonable choice for personal defense. That’s a five shot .45, left, and a six shot .38, right.

Some decades ago the Police Marksman’s Association published a study that I found among the more valid of the day. The calibers included were .38 Special, 9mm Luger, .357 Magnum and .45 ACP. The .40 S & W was yet to come, so, yes, this was some time ago. While the results of the study are valid, the study, which was conducted by a respected researcher and the records were available to interested researchers, also included hit probability. This simply reflected the number of hits per shots fired. This was a reflection on training than anything else but notably the .357 Magnum exhibited the highest hit probability. The .45 auto and .357 Magnum revolvers showed the highest hit probability of any service handguns. Hit probability is a side issue, but one which remains valid. You would imagine if the agency has a hit probability of fifty per cent with the 9mm, the shots that hit are probably not well centered. Some agencies, such as the Kentucky State Patrol, engaged in rigorous training with their Magnum revolvers.

What follows is a divergence from the scientific, but bear with me — life has to have some fun too — and all this about combat reminds us that life is what it is because men live it.

Fun With Math
One “study” shows a 9mm cartridge that has proven to be a 50 percent stopper. Hit probability in this agency has proven to be 50 percent — far higher than average at the time. What are the chances two felons will be stopped with two shots? Given that only one out of two rounds will hit Felon X and Felon Y, at least four shots will have to be fired to connect, and then only one opponent is likely to be stopped.

Here’s the math on that probability: .50 x .50 = .25. What you have is a one-in-four chance of stopping Felon X with one shot.

What about the .357 Magnum revolver, per PMA stats? It works out like this: .75 x .60 = .45. The conclusion, if we were peddling this “study” as a major work, would be this: The .357 Magnum is nearly twice as likely to produce a one-shot stop as a 9mm Luger. So there you have it. How much faith can we put in these studies? We can learn from the PMA study that firing less with more accuracy means a lot. That doesn’t mean we are slower to the first shot but we should fire with greater accuracy.

The Answer
What stops human adversaries during a deadly attack? A brain shot or a spine shot are the only two instant stoppers. Damage to blood bearing organs which causes rapid blood loss and a drop of pressure causes the body to shut down. Common sense is the best guide. Bigger bullets cause more damage. Bigger knives cut better. Bigger engines pull better. However, handgun bullets aren’t very big. We should practice with the largest caliber we are able to control. Accuracy can make up for power. The reverse may not be true.

REVIEW/RETROSPECT: A Look At An Old Bullseye Gun

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There were giants in those days… READ MORE

madore
G. Madore’s Bulls Eye gun is a Colt in most regards but definitely not like anything that left the Colt shop during the previous century.
madore
The pistol’s appearance is period and the performance outstanding.

Heyward Williams

When we reflect, ruminate, reminisce, and muse on the past, we generally use images from the past in our thoughts. Few are able to think completely in the abstract. When I think of my younger years and getting into shooting I recall my fascination for the 1911 .45 at an early age. That is a long fifty years ago, and my interest has never waned. Early in my shooting and working years I owned perhaps four or five good guns and usually traded one to get another. Sometimes I traded a good gun and didn’t get a better gun in the trade, but we have all had such mishaps. I think a great difference in the shooters of that time and the shooters beginning today is that they expect a handgun to be ready for use out of the box. To some it is a great surprise that few if any 1911 handguns were ready for competition in the 1970s and 1980s. Les Baer and Bill Wilson were yet to come. Some of the finest work ever accomplished on 1911 handguns was the work done by Army gunsmiths between 1918 and 1935. The Colt National Match gave us a decent bullseye gun but the best examples were turned out by shops ran by craftsmen that mixed art and mechanics, and sometimes engineering. I grew up in the heyday of these makers but could not afford one of their guns. Today I own one of the best examples of the era.

madore
A GI Slide was the basis for the Colt’s modification.

Very often when looking at the work of artists in steel we discover past styles that influenced their work. The pedigree is traced to the instructor or gunsmith where the artists did their journeyman work. Sometimes we have very little to go on save for the surviving work. I have seen several 1911 .45s modified by George Madore. These pistols are credible examples of the gunsmiths trade. There were many gunsmiths that performed good work and a few that were exceptional. My examination of the handgun on hand falls into the exceptional category. Madore worked on many handguns prior to his death about fifteen years ago. Among these were Hammerli 208 handguns and quite a few 1911s. He worked, by my best information, in a shop at his home, as many smiths of the era did. He provided witness targets with the guns. Among his innovations was a tab on the barrel to snug up the barrel fitting. I have also seen a single example of what must have been his later work. A 1911 slide was fitted with an AimPoint sight. Not on a rail or a mount but fitted directly to the slide, among the first examples of an optic mounted directly to a moving part. Today I often fire and enjoy my factory red dot equipped SIG P 229 RX. I did not know the direct AimPoint mount on a 1911 existed until recently. Madore definitely had a forward looking bent.

madore
These old Colts are similar in concept, giving the shooter an advantage over any factory gun of the era. The upper gun is fitted with MMC sights and had a trigger job performed. It is a good carry gun. The Madore is a target gun.
madore
The Madore gun, lower, is slightly more accurate the modern Colt Gold Cup, above, with most loads.

I found my own Madore 1911 in a reputable used shop. I knew it was a bullseye Colt and did some research before returning to purchase the piece. This beat doing the research after the fact, and that is a hard lesson for many of us! The piece features what is probably a GI slide and a Series 70 frame. As I looked more closely I found modifications that were popular in the era. This marks the pistol as one of his early guns, but I have no certainty save my own experience and opinion. As one example — some shooters either miss the standard GI or Colt Commercial grip safety or do not because they can’t depress it sufficiently to release the trigger. There is a great difference between a competition gun and a carry gun, and blocking the grip safety was common a generation or two ago. A thin wire was sometimes ran through a hole drilled in the frame and grip safety. Some were simply taped shut. The Madore guns were sometimes modified by cutting the leaf spring that controls the grip safety. This eliminated the grip safety’s lock on the trigger. You are free to use the thumbs forward grip and allow the palm to rise off of the grip safety. The pistol will fire. Much later, Novak offered a backstrap that eliminated the grip safety, and it is quite well made. The Madore modification worked. I should stress I strongly prefer an operating grip safety for a carry 1911, but for Bulls Eye, the Madore solution is fine. The pistol has some of the classic upgrades of the time. The slide features a well done scalloped ejection port. The square front post was possibly hand cut, but it may be a King’s — I am not certain. The rear sight is a Bomar. The Bomar is far more rugged than the factory Colt sights of the day. The stainless steel barrel bushing is tight and was difficult to turn. It required a large bushing wrench with plenty of leverage to turn and a bit of tapping to remove. The slide and frame are a tight fit. Since they are a mismatch this indicates that some fitting of the frame to the slide was done. There was no lateral play at all. The trigger action isn’t light but very smooth at four pounds even. There is no creep or backlash. The grips are a set of Pachmayr double diamonds with plenty of adhesion. While the Madore gun seems to be set up for Bulls Eye, this handgun, with a few changes, could make a fine all around .45 for general duty, even personal defense. I would return the grip safety to operation and install a heavy recoil spring and go about my business.

madore
The slide is tastefully engraved. Note lowered ejection port.

These handguns were not particularly expensive at the time, costing perhaps twice as much as a factory Gold Cup. Compared to the present price of Wilson Combat and Les Baer guns, they were a bargain. And they are true custom guns, each being an individual. A word to the wise — caution is indicated when investing in older custom guns. Be certain you know your way around the 1911 and its safety checks. There is no guarantee someone not up to Mr. Madore’s workmanship hasn’t had their hands on the gun in the interval since he built it. In this case I was lucky and the workmanship and function remain flawless. Another caution — if you expect this gun, a Heinie, Novak, or Action Works build to bring a fair price, it should have the original build list outlining the parts used. This one did not have that. A trip to the range was planned with some excitement. I lubricated the long bearing surfaces liberally and loaded a couple of MecGar magazines with a proven handload. The classic accuracy load for the .45 ACP is a 200 grain SWC over Unique for 850 fps- at least in my book. From a solid benchrest firing position I put five rounds into 1.5 inches at 25 yards. Perhaps the accuracy potential is even greater with a bit of handloading and hard work. I also fired five rounds of the Remington 230 grain Black Belt JHP. The pistol not only fed well; the five rounds clustered into 1.75 inches. This is exceptional accuracy for any 1911. The G. Madore marked pistol has a sense of history and emotional attachment combined with excellent performance. I am proud to own this well turned out pistol.

madore
The Madore gun features a solid adjustable trigger.

REVIEW: Glock Model 34 9mm Generation Five MOS

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This may be the best of the long slide Glocks and that is very good! READ MORE

G34
The Glock 34 9mm is at home with a combat light from TruGlo. This is a formidable home defense system.

Heyward Williams

The Glock 17 9mm is among the most successful service pistols in history. The Glock 17 spun off the compact Glock 19 and sub compact Glock 26 concealed carry handguns. Glock also offered a long slide version of the Glock 17. The Glock 17L was a popular handgun in many ways. While it featured a six inch barrel, the Glock remained relatively light. This handgun was used by competitors and special teams. In one instance a few states away, a team went in against an armed individual holding several children hostage. The point man worked his way into a firing position, took aim with his Glock 17L across a long room, and fired. He placed three 9mm bullets in the offender’s cranium, saving the children. In some forms of competition the 17L fell afoul of match rules specifying length. The Glock 34 with a shorter 5.3 inch barrel was introduced. The Glock 34 has been a successful pistol for Glock. While not as popular as the Glock 17 or Glock 19 the Glock 34 is a steady number with those that appreciate the performance of a long slide handgun. Some of our taller brothers and sisters may find it useful as a duty pistol. A few generations ago the six inch barrel Smith and Wesson K 38 revolver was favored by marksmen for much the same reason, and the Glock 34 is an exceptional handgun. It really isnt any more difficult to conceal than a Government Model 1911 and much lighter.

G34
Glock’s long slide pistol isn’t much more difficult to handle quickly than a Government Model 1911.

I have fired the new Generation 5 Glock extensively. I find the balance of the Glock 34 excellent. Most polymer frame handguns have a heavy slide balance that limits fast handling without a great deal of acclimation. The Glock 34 has a neutral balance — not dissimilar to the 1911 Government Model. The result is a handgun that is well suited to competition shooting. I enjoy shooting this  firearm on the range, and I do not find the Glock 34 too large for concealed carry under covering garments. ( I use a J M Custom Kydex AIWB holster.) After all, it is little longer than the Colt Government Model I have carried for some time. At thirty ounces the pistol isn’t heavy. The holster illustrated is a dedicated appendix carry holster, which I have tried experimentally. JM Custom Kydex offers many OWB and IWB styles as well.

G34
JM Custom Kydex offers a number of first class kydex options for the Glock 34.

I have fired the Glock 34 9mm and Glock 35 .40 extensively. Recently Glock introduced the fifth generation of Glock pistol. The improved Glock pistol is well worth its price. While I sometimes cling to older handguns in this case the improvements are well worth anyone’s consideration. The Glock’s Generation 5 grip treatment makes for good abrasion and adhesion. The Generation 5 Glock pistol eliminates the Generation 4 finger grooves. Even in long practice sessions the pistol remains comfortable while maintaining a good grip. The new Glock features several internal changes. Glock Gen 4 trigger parts, including aftermarket accessory triggers, will not fit the Gen 5. Trigger compression is tighter than the previous Glock, consistent and controllable. The Glock also features an ambidextrous slide lock. This makes the Gen 5 Glock left hand friendly. The new design slide lock works well during speed loads. The Glock 34 points well. Practical accuracy is exceptional. It is no mean feat to strike man sized targets at 100 yards. With a high velocity loading such as the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain +P hold on the neck and you will get a hit at exceptional handgun range. Firing at this range is something of a stunt but enjoyable as well. Hitting a man sized target at 100 yards or more is not difficult when firing from a solid braced firing position.

g34
Braced barricade fire is very accurate.

Part of the reason the new Generation 5 handguns are more accurate than previous handguns is the Marksman barrel. This barrel features a modified form of rifling. The Marksman barrel is well fitted. Compared to older Glock pistols, the Generation 5 features a tighter fit without any effect on reliability. I have fired the pistol extensively in close range combat drills. If you were called upon to draw and use the handgun inside a vehicle, or to draw the piece as you exit a vehicle, there is a chance of banging the barrel on the door frame or steering wheel if you have not practiced with the longer slide. It depends on how comfortable you are with the long slide pistol and how much you feel the additional weight, barrel length and sight radius improve practical accuracy. For some shooters the Glock 34 will be a great choice for all around use. The pistol features a light rail for mounting a combat light or laser. This makes for a superior home defense option. The shooter may even add a Glock 33 round magazine to obtain an excellent reserve of firepower. The pistol is comfortable to fire and use. This means a lot of shooting. The Glock 34 may be used in competition or informal target practice. As for absolute accuracy, the pistol is capable of five shot groups of 2.0-2.5 inches at 25 yards from a solid benchrest firing position. The Glock 34 also offers the option of mounting a red dot sight. The top plate is removable and four plates for different types of red dot sights are available. The plates do not fit every sight but most of the top rated red dot sights are covered.

G34
The Glock 34 is a joy to fire off hand.

Additions

The factory supplied adjustable sights are excellent for target shooting and competition. Since my Glock 34 is more likely to see use in home defense and outdoors use I added a set of night sights. The TruGlo night sights are an excellent all around choice for the Glock and arguably among the best self luminous iron sights available. They make for a true 24 hour capability, something that cannot be overrated.

Accuracy — 5 shot group fired from a solid standing barricade at 25 yards —
Black Hills Ammunition, 115 gr. TAC +P         1.9 inch
Black Hills Ammunition, 124 gr. JHP                 2.4 inch
Black Hills Ammunition, 115 grain JHP +P    2.0 inch

g34

SEE FULL SPECS HERE

SKILLS: Choices — Just The Right Size Handgun

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The middle ground is pretty good… READ MORE

bob campbell choices
The CZ 75 9mm, top, is among the finest service pistols of all time. The CZ P10C, bottom, is a great concealed carry handgun.

Bob Campbell

When choosing a handgun the analogy to a vehicle, something most of us use every day, is useful. We all know what dead weight is. That is the weight of the bed of the truck (or the support structure in architecture — that’s not what we are looking at today) when unloaded. Live weight is the truck loaded. The handgun, its ammo, holster and spare gun load add up quickly in live weight. Sticks of copy and reams of paper have been slugged during this discussion and now bytes by the millions. The thing is while there must be room for personal choice there is a bottom line for performance and quality. If you like a small car you can easily drive in the city — that’s fine. But you cannot go out and pick up a dining room set with it. If in the worst case scenario, a truck runs a stop sign and hits the Smart Car, well, you may have wished you had something a tad big larger. By the same token any gun is good for a threat but if you really need the pistol you may wish you had something larger and more appropriate for the task at hand. There are really small guns that people find attractive and make all kinds of excuses for wearing them. Some are high quality, others are actually dangerous in my opinion. I think that the middle of road and a handgun that fires a credible cartridge with a good chance of being effective is ideal. The pistol should be a mid size so to speak.

bob campbell choices
Top to bottom— Nighthawk Falcon Government Model, five inch barrel, Devil Dog Commander, 4 and one quarter inch barrel, and the Guncrafter CCO with a shorter grip and Commander length slide. For most of us the CCO is an excellent compromise.

A good number want the security — and it is false security — of carrying a gun but they don’t want to invest in proper training and carry gear. They just want a gun, no matter if it is potentially ineffective. If the gun is so light it is unnoticed it may be misplaced or lost. Don’t laugh. I have seen plenty of this in my career. Guns have been left in lavatories, bedrooms on the dresser, and dropped between car seats. The gun should not be comfortable, it should be comforting. You don’t want to give up your CWP because of a dumb move, so always be aware of exactly where the carry piece is. A number of years ago the FBI did a study on duty guns. FBI agents are better trained and in better shape than many of us, but just the same the results were interesting. A handgun over thirty five ounces becomes a burden on the belt, the study concluded, and the rank and file will complain or even leave the gun in the car. In other words a three inch barrel .38 on the belt is better than a .357 Magnum you don’t carry. So is an Officers Model 9mm better than a Government Model .45 you don’t carry. But then modern polymer framed Glock handguns are light and they are reliable. A Glock 43 9mm is just one example. Of course, you will shoot the Glock 19 even better…

bob campbell choices
Snub nose .38 Special revolvers are generally delivered with a 2 inch barrel. A slightly longer barrel as found on the S & W Model 60, top, is a beneficial to most shooters. That is a Blackhawk! holster, an excellent choice for concealed carry.

Then there is the fellow who tells you that most, if not all personal defense shootings occur at very short range. That is true but you do not get hits by instinctive shooting any more than you can drive a car with your eyes closed. You must aim somehow, even if using the meat and paper type aiming as all you have. The junk guns are not very accurate past bad breath range. There are so many scenarios that could happen, from an adversary behind cover to a mass shooter in a public place, that it is pretty important the handgun be reasonably accurate. Even a quality snub nose .38 Special will place all its shots in the cranium at 7 yards, but the shooter behind the trigger must do their job. Medium sized handguns such as a three inch barrel revolver or a compact self loader are much easier to shoot well. I think that a handgun with the potential to place all five shots into 5 inches at 25 yards is a realistic minimum.

bob campbell choices
If you are able to carry and conceal the CZ 75, upper, or SIG P210, lower, you have a wonderfully accurate low recoil handgun. Most of us must compromise to an extent.

Then there are those who feel that the .32 and .380 are just fine, as long as they put the bullet in the right place. This usually comes from someone who has only fired their handgun during the CWP class and doesn’t actually shoot very well. Despite feel good ballistic preaching and revisionist history, no, the little gun doesn’t perform like the big gun. Don’t use small calibers to attempt to solve a big caliber problem. The baseline should be a .38 Special or 9mm Luger caliber handgun. I guarantee you that with proper training you will fire and use a compact 9mm or three inch barrel revolver better than the smaller guns. The grips fit most hands better, the controls are easier to manipulate, and the sight radius allows better accuracy. Actually fire the guns and you will understand the difference in hit probability. Hitting more accurately with a more powerful round seems attractive to a thinking person. Remember that there are three factors in the application of force in this light. They are direction, strength, and point of application. The first and second properties are combined in a mathematical calculation called vector. The point of application, well, that is the point of the arrow and the spot on the target where the force does the most good and the most meaningful damage. This means accurate delivery.

bob campbell choices
Whichever gun you choose — you must practice often. The comfort level is dictated by grip length and width and the pistol’s weight.

Others claim they cannot conceal an effective handgun. I feel the pain. You may be the envy of everyone around you as the rest of us attempt to cut weight. But a thin person may have to wear looser fitting clothing, and perhaps take a longer look at holsters. Wear a quality IWB — supple leather works best for me — over the right rear pocket. The draw is compromised but you simply cannot wear a handgun on the point of the hip and conceal it. You will look like a water moccasin that has swallowed a muskrat. It isn’t pretty. The draw is compromised just a little but concealment is excellent. Buy a quality rig, not a ten dollar fabric holster at a chain store! Galco is a good name, Blackhawk! has interesting designs. If you go the custom route then you will find a number of very interesting designs, well made, crafted one at a time just for you. At the minimum you will be able to conceal a Glock 43 X or an Officer’s Model Citadel.

Think hard about the concept of concealed carry. What are you carrying for? What is the likely scenario? What is the worst case scenario? Don’t be the person in the unenviable situation of being armed with a deadly weapon but unable to defense themselves well.

bob campbell choices
The SIG P229 is perhaps the best balanced and sought after of the SIG P series double action pistols.

The Best Choices?

Citadel 9mm Officers Model — reliable, accurate well past 25 yards, and fast to a first shot hit there is a lot of love about the Citadel.

Smith and Wesson Model 60 Three Inch Barrel — compared to the two inch barrel snubnose that little bit of extra sight radius and dampening weight makes a difference.

CZ P10C — just enough larger than the Glock 26 to make a difference the CZ P10c is among the finest of the striker fired compact handguns.

There are others — choose the one that suited you best.