Category Archives: Handguns

SKILLS: Misconceptions About Pistol Sights

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The sights are your connection to the target. Don’t buy into myths surrounding choices in a sighting system for your handgun. Read about it!

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Tom McHale

What’s that old saying? A lie, told often enough, becomes truth?

We gun people are often guilty of a related thing. That would be passing along hearsay comments over and over, until they become assumed fact.

pistol sight big dot

Some of the things that I’ve heard a thousand times relate to gun sights. You know, observations like “Big Dot sights are too big to be useful” or “they’re not precise enough!” I got an itch to put some of these handgun sight myths to the test so I could start to separate truth from hearsay.

Let’s take a look at a few of the more common handgun sight myths.

Big Sights Aren’t Precise Enough
To test this potential myth, I figured it was a good time for the first annual Shooting Illustrated Math Fair. In this inaugural event, we’re going to use really basic geometry to see exactly how big that Big Dot sight looks down range. In other words, at realistic handgun shooting distances, how much of your target is covered by the Big Dot sight?

Since this is supposed to be fun and informative, I won’t be a buzz kill and share the math in excruciating detail, but it’s pretty simple. We know that the shooter’s eye is the starting point. We also know that this particular Big Dot Sight is .18 inches in diameter because I measured it with my reloading calipers. We also know, that in my specific case, the front sight is about 24.5 inches from my eye when I’m shooting. Seriously, I measured with a yardstick. So now we have a proportional relationship. At a distance of 24.5 inches, the sight is .18-inch wide. As a result, we can easily figure out how big that sight appears at other distances.

Don’t fool yourself. Even “big” sights don’t cover an appreciable percentage of the target at reasonable distances.

Here’s how much the Big Dot covers at various ranges. Keep in mind that the Big Dot is a circle, so “coverage” of the target down range is also circular. The sizes I relate below reflect the diameter of that circle.

BIG DOT SIGHT

Clearly, Big Dot sights aren’t intended for NRA Precision Pistol Matches. Rather, they’re made for self-defense handguns with the emphasis on speed, clarity, and “good enough” accuracy at self-defense ranges.

What’s the bottom line? When you look at the real numbers, that huge front sight doesn’t cover much of your target at all. At 25 yards, it’s just 6.6 inches, and that is a much farther distance than 99.9 percent of defensive shooting scenarios. If you can shoot into a 6.6-inch group from a distance of 25 yards while someone is shooting at you or charging with an ax, then please submit your application to be my permanent bodyguard! At more realistic self-defense distances like 3, 5 and 10 yards, we’re talking an inch or two of target coverage by that front sight. Even at a whopping 100 yards, if you can hold well enough, you can easily hit a standard 19-inch-wide self-defense target. Yes, your front sight will overlap it, but just a little. To me, this precision myth is exactly that — a myth.

Big Sights Aren’t Any Faster
The idea behind using a large front sight is that your eye can pick it up really quickly as you raise your gun to target. There’s no ambiguity or confusion about which dot is the visible area is the front or rear. In fact, XS Big Dot brand sights don’t even use rear dots. Rather, the rear sight is a shallow “V”shape, much like the rear sights on lever-action carbines from the Bonanza era. I don’t know if Ben Cartwright gets royalty checks or not, but he should.

So, is this approach to handgun sights faster? I decided to find out by performing some semi-scientific testing. Since I’m writing this article during the great Charleston Monsoon of 2015, my shooting range has been unusable, being submerged in water. So I decided to get creative and put my LaserLyte Reaction Tyme targets to work along with a Beretta Px4 Storm, a LaserLyte Cartridge Laser, and a set of XS Big Dot Sights. My plan was to set up two Reaction Tyme Targets in my (relatively) dry living room and recruit a couple of people to shoot for time using the standard Beretta Px4 factory sights. Then, I would install the Big Dot sights and repeat the process, comparing before and after times. If nothing else, I figured this would be a great way to burn off some “four days of non-stop rain” stir crazy.

pistol sight on target

I recruited two shooters, neither of which had any experience with Big Dot Sights. I set up the two Reaction Tyme targets about four feet apart at a distance of 12 feet. The idea was to hit one and have to transition to the other quickly. My thinking was that would exercise the sight acquisition part of the experiment. Each shooter fired 10 shots alternating between targets. The “hit” area on the Reaction Tyme targets is only about a two-inch circle, so shooters had to aim, even at a distance of 12 feet. Only hits counted, so each shooter had to stay on a target until it registered a hit with an audible beep.

What were the results? Each shooter completed three timed runs and I averaged the results. Shooter A completed the course using standard sights with an average time of 12.6 seconds and Big Dots sights in 8.0 seconds. That’s a 36.6-percent speed improvement. Shooter B averaged 20.4 seconds with standard three-dot sights and 17.2 seconds using the Big Dot configuration. That’s a 15.2-percent improvement.

While not completely scientific, the results were pretty clear. Each shooter reported seeing the dot much faster and commented that there was not a need to “focus and line up.”They simply covered the target with the dot and pulled the trigger. The rear “V” sight just fell into place naturally.

Iron Sights Aren’t Accurate
People often refer to the inaccuracy of iron sights. That’s not exactly a true statement. Iron sights are plenty accurate. It’s our ability to line the sights up properly and consistently that is the issue. The accuracy capability of shooting with iron sights is really more about the limitations of our eyesight and our ability to hold those sights steady shot after shot.

Very rarely is the firearm the reason we don’t shoot accurately. Sight radius plays a part, but the shooter’s role is far more important.

Here’s what I mean. Like the precision scenario we discussed earlier, the accuracy potential of shooting iron sights boils down to a proportional relationship. In this case, we’re concerned about how much or little the front sight moves relative to the rear sight. If you put your handgun in a vise or perfectly mounted Ransom rest, your sights are going to be in the exact same position for every single shot. The minute you rely on human eyesight to line up those sights for the next shot, you’re limited by your vision.

A real example will help illustrate my point. Suppose I fire a shot at a 25-yard distant target using the same Beretta Px4. Now, I settle back into my sandbag rest to fire a second shot in the group. It’s up to me, the shooter, to make sure that the front sight, rear sight, and target are all in the exact same alignment as they were for the first shot. What happens if my front sight is just .01 inch out of perfect alignment relative to the rear sight? Let’s find out.

handgun sight radius

The sight radius of my Beretta Px4 is 5.77 inches. That’s measured from the rear of the rear sight to the rear of the front sight, or the parts that my eye actually sees. If my front sight drifts just .01 inch in any direction relative to the rear sight, that translates to 1.6 inches off target at 25 yards. If we were using a gun with a 2-inch sight radius, the error down range would be even larger. Considering that many modern production pistols care capable of shooting one to two-inch groups at 25 yards when in a Ransom Rest, that’s a big deal.

What does all this mean? When you read about “accuracy” of any given handgun, know that unless machines are involved, what you’re really getting is an indication of that pistol’s ability to be shot accurately. That may depend on the quality or type of sights, the sight radius and the overall ergonomics of the pistol. Viewed another way, a pistol with a 10-inch barrel may or may not be more accurate than one with a two-inch barrel, but it sure will be a heck of a lot easier to shoot accurately. If a human shoots those two guns from sandbags at 25-yard targets, they’ll almost certainly get better groups with the 10-inch gun. That’s because it’s easier to aim precisely with its longer and more forgiving sight radius, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the gun is more accurate.

We shooters tend to pass around too much hearsay information and consider it truth. It never hurts to be a bit skeptical and think things through on your own or even test them if possible. Heck, your life may one day depend on it.

SKILLS: Three Self-Defense Myths That Just Won’t Die

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Don’t buy into these age-old myths! Sheriff Jim tells the truth, and the truth might just save your life… Keep reading!

defensive rounds

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated
by Sheriff Jim Wilson

Just about the time it appears they have been proven false and dismissed, the same self-defense and gun myths pop again. Part of this is probably due to the fact there are always new people who finally realize they need to do something about their personal safety and begin seeking answers. Unfortunately, it is also due to the tendency of some people to pass on advice they have heard, but never took the time to find out if it is really true. Since it sounds cool, it must be right. This is one of the many reasons why defensive shooters need to receive professional training. With a good, professional instructor, it is remarkable how many of these myths quickly fall by the wayside and are replaced by cold, hard facts. Let’s look at three of the old self-defense myths that just won’t die and discuss the truths they conceal.

Myth No. 1: Hit him anywhere with a .45 and it will knock him down. This myth probably started with the advent of the .45 Colt back in the 1870s, but it has been repeated most often when people refer to the .45 ACP. Nowadays, you will hear it touted regarding the .44 Mag., the .41 Mag., the .40 S&W or whatever new and powerful pistol cartridge that has just been introduced. The truth was discovered way back in 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton published his third law of motion. Newton stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if a bullet shot from a handgun was so powerful that it could actually knock a person down, it would also knock the shooter down. There are a lot of reasons why a person who is shot may appear to fall down, or even be knocked down. But, the truth is the force of the bullet striking him is not knocking him off his feet. That only happens in the movies and TV. In reality, a person who is shot with even a relatively powerful handgun may show very little indication of being hit. There will also be very little sign of blood, especially at first. Therefore, the defensive shooter should not rely on these as cues that the fight is over. The important thing is to recover from recoil, regain your sight picture and quickly re-evaluate the threat. If the criminal is still armed — whether or not he is on his feet — and if he appears to still be a threat, additional shots may be necessary. Just don’t expect the bad guy to go flying off his feet, because it probably won’t happen.

Myth No. 2: There’s no need to aim a shotgun, just point it in the general direction of the bad guy and fire.
The shotgun is an awesome firearm that is altogether too often overlooked by today’s defensive shooters. However, it is not a magic wand. People who claim you don’t have to aim a shotgun have simply never done patterning tests with their favorite defensive smoothbore. When shot exits a shotgun barrel, it does so in almost one solid mass. That mass is smaller than a man’s fist. It is only as the shot travels downrange that it begins to spread apart, and it spreads much more gradually than a lot of people expect. Whether you are using buckshot or birdshot, from 0 to 10 yards you should consider it to be one projectile. Actually, by about 7 yards the shot has begun to spread noticeably, but not as much as you might think. From 10 yards to about 25 yards, the average shotgun will deliver a pattern that will still stay on the chest area of a silhouette target. But, by 25 yards some of the pellets may stray off target. When dealing with a threat at 25 yards and beyond, it’s time to think about transitioning to a slug. Instead of taking anyone’s word for it — mine included — the defensive shotgunner should run pattern tests using his shotgun from extremely close range out to 25 and 30 yards. He will also find his shotgun performs better with one brand of ammunition than others. There are a lot of reasons for this preference for particular loads, but the defensive shotgunner should know this occurs and make his selection accordingly. The smart defensive shooter will run tests until he knows which load his gun prefers and exactly what his shot pattern is doing at the ranges his shotgun could be called upon to perform. Always true: don’t just believe it, test it!

Myth No. 3: If you have to shoot a bad guy in your front yard, drag him into the house before calling the cops.
As ridiculous as this may sound, it is one of the self-defense myths that just won’t go away. A student brought it up once in a defensive pistol class. There are couple of good reasons why this is a terrible idea.
To begin with, most states determine the justification for using deadly force as being a reasonable response to prevent immediate death or serious bodily injury. Therefore, if a person is justified in defending himself inside his home, he is also justified in defending himself in his yard, because he is under an immediate attack in which he could be killed or seriously injured. This varies from state to state, so check your own state’s laws before determining your home-defense plan. The second, equally important, reason is the crime scene will quickly make a liar out of you. Any investigator worth his salt will know within five minutes that you moved the body. And, if you’re lying about that, you are probably lying about everything else, or that’s what the investigator will assume. It is the quickest possible way to go directly to jail. Protecting yourself in a completely justifiable shooting can get expensive. So can lying to the police about a shooting.
Part and parcel to obtaining a defensive firearm should be obtaining advice from a criminal defense attorney. He can tell you what your state laws are, how they are interpreted in court and the limitations regarding use of deadly force and how they apply to a legally armed citizen. Getting that sort of advice from the guys down at the bar or from an Internet commando is a sure-fire recipe for disaster.

SKILLS: Top 3 Terrible Pieces of Advice Women Get in Gun Stores

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With an increasing number of women purchasing firearms, Tamara Keel advises that’s it’s about time the counter staff wises up… Read the story!

Girl gun

SOURCE: NRA Publications, Shooting Illustrated, by Tamara Keel

Every now and again, I get a writing assignment that’s not even work. This is one of those. “Hey, Tamara, would you like to do a piece on some of the worst advice women get in gun stores?”

Oh, honey. Pull up a chair…

I wouldn’t have worked in the gun sales business as long as I did if I didn’t enjoy it, but like all career fields, you get a wide range of quality in employees. You know that one guy in your office who means well but still hasn’t figured out which part of the envelope he’s supposed to lick? Well, his cousin sells guns, and for some reason I have interacted with him from the customer side of the counter a bunch of times over the years. Let me tell you, he has some downright awful ideas about women and guns. Let me share a few of them with you.

ONE: The worst piece of advice I’ve gotten in a gun store…
…is hopefully an artifact of the past. I haven’t heard it in many years, but who knows? Maybe some dude working in a place out back of beyond is still handing it out. Basically, it’s the, “What do you want a gun for? Let your man defend you…” The first time I heard this in a gun store I was dumbstruck. I am standing here trying to give a dude money for merchandise and he’s trying to talk me out of it. That was a unique retail experience.

It didn’t happen often and, like I said, it hasn’t happened for years, but I swear it happened. There was this occasional guy behind the counter who thought I was intruding in his clubhouse, and told me that I didn’t have the defensive mindset or mechanical aptitude or whatever for a gun, because, well, icky gurrrrl.

Closely related to this is the next piece of bad advice, usually delivered by a guy who is affecting the “veteran persona,” which is this: “Oh, what you need to do is load the first chamber with [a blank/snakeshot] because you don’t want to kill anyone. You don’t know how horrible it is…” At which point they gaze off at a far corner of the shop with a 10-yard version of a 1000-yard stare.

I mean, he’s sort of right, in that I don’t particularly want to kill anybody. But another thing I don’t want to be doing is explaining to a judge and jury why I blinded or maimed a person for life when I didn’t think they rated the use of deadly force. Because make no mistake about it, pointing a firearm at someone and pulling the trigger is deadly force, and “snake shot” or “rat shot” is not some kind of harmless stun ray. It’s perfectly capable of blinding and maiming at defensive distances.

TWO: The second-worst piece of advice I’ve gotten in a gun store…
The second most common piece of bad advice I’ve gotten in gun stores is the “cute gun.” This is where the clerk, apparently operating on autopilot, steers you to the tiniest little nickel-plated, pearl-handled .25 or .32 in the case. Apparently he has decided that those are girl guns, and you’re a girl, and so… Obviously a match made in heaven, right? It sometimes doesn’t even matter if you’re in there to get a trap shotgun or a long-range precision rifle, it can take a crowbar to pry the clerk off trying to sell you that little .25, because you’re fighting (or frightening) his automatic programming.

THREE: The most common piece of advice women get in gun stores…
And this brings us to the most common piece of bad advice given to women in gun stores, and it’s one often given with the best of intentions: The lightweight .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver. If there is a single firearm configuration that has put more novice women shooters off the idea of shooting as a hobby than the lightweight 5-shot .38, I don’t know what else it is.

Don’t get me wrong, the lightweight .38 snubbie has settled a lot of bad guys’ hash over the years, but it’s not really a beginner’s gun. The light weight amplifies recoil and also hurts accuracy, in that a 12-pound trigger pull on a 1-pound gun will really test the shooter’s abilities to keep the sights aligned through the whole trigger press. The sight radius is short, the sights are minimalistic and low-contrast, and the grip is tiny.

In short, the little snub is an expert’s gun that gets foisted on novice women shooters because it’s small and light and has a reputation for being effective. I think there’s also this idea that because it’s a revolver that it’s “simpler” and therefore easier for our lady-brains to understand or something. Nothing is more discouraging than being handed a gun that’s unpleasant to shoot and challenging to fire accurately when you’re a novice, especially when you’ve been told it’s the perfect gun for you.

So there are a few of the worst pieces of advice I’ve been given in gun stores, but there’s plenty more where that came from. Hopefully this will become a quaint relic of the past as more and more women get involved in shooting.

REVIEW: FN 509 Pistol

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Here’s a close look at FN’s entrant in the Army’s XM17 trials. It turns out there weren’t really any losers, and the big winner was the American pistol shooter. Read all about it…

FN 509

SOURCE: NRA Staff, by Tamara Keel

The Army’s XM17 Modular Handgun System (MHS) competition ended up delivering an embarrassment of riches to the American pistol shooter. The Sig Sauer P320 MHS won, but several of the runners-up have found their way to gun dealers’ shelves in the months since the competition ended. This is the offering from Fabrique Nationale, which has trickled to the commercial market as the FN 509.

While not the exact gun used in the trials, it is, I want to say, “close enough for government work,” but that would be a lame joke. It would be somewhat true, though, since between the MHS contest and the release of the 509 to the market, FN met with representatives from law enforcement agencies to solicit input on various changes that would make its XM17 entrant more marketable to the domestic-law-enforcement market.

Basically, the FN 509 is an improved version of its existing striker-fired, polymer duty gun, the FNS, which has seen some success in both law enforcement and in the action-pistol world. The new version features a plethora of modifications from the familiar FNS, some to fit specific requirements of the MHS contract and others to make it an even more attractive choice as a fighting pistol than its predecessor.

Gone is the slight beavertail on the back of the full-size FNS frame; the FN 509 has the more rounded contour of the FNS Compact. I’m assuming this has something to do with the maximum overall length specified by the MHS program. The gun measures overall at just under 7.5 inches.

The slide on the FN 509 is similar to that of its progenitor, but the grasping grooves fore and aft are more aggressive, and worked well even with hands that were slippery with sweat and sunscreen. The slide boasts a satin-textured, rust-resistant finish.

The sight dovetails are dimensionally identical to those of Springfield Armory XD and Sig Sauer. This means there are a variety of aftermarket sighing options. Unlike the factory sights on the FNS, the 509’s rear-sight body features a bluff front rather than a Novak-style slope, the better to perform one-handed malfunction clearances by running the slide off a boot heel, belt, or holster mouth.

FN 509 details
Takedown is accomplished in a familiar manner, and the pistol breaks down into the expected component pieces.
(left) More-aggressive front serrations aid in press-checks and slide manipulation. (center) Want to change the white dot up front? Numerous options exist. (right) The rear sight’s front face is a ledge for one-handed racking of the slide.

The grip on the FN 509 is full-size, as it must be to accommodate the 17-round magazines specified by the program. The gripping surface textures are a quilt-like combination pattern of pyramid-shaped raised points of varying sizes as well as “skateboard tape” style accents. It looks odd, but it works fine. One of my last days with the gun was spent at a very hot and humid indoor range. Even dripping with sweat, the FN 509 had enough texture in the right places to allow me to shoot 4- and 5-round strings rapid fire without feeling like I was trying to hold onto a bar of soap.

FN 509 grips
(left) A variety of textures and patterns help to anchor the FN 509 in the shooter’s hand. An interchangeable backstrap contains a lanyard loop. (center) Two backstrap offerings allow the 509 to be fitted to the shooter’s hand. (right) Magazine capacity, as established under the MHS program guidelines, is 17 rounds.

The bottom of the grip on the FN 509 is heavily scalloped on the sides to permit a good grip if one needs to rip a magazine out to clear a malfunction. When I unpacked the gun, I field-stripped it and lubricated it with a few drops of Lucas Extreme Duty Gun Oil in the usual places, and then commenced to shooting. Over the course of the next 784 rounds without any further lubrication or cleaning, the gun suffered one user-induced failure-to-feed, on the last magazine, trying to provoke a “limp-wrist” malfunction with some Speer 147-grain TMJ Lawman ammo.

One of the stated goals of the MHS program was to get a gun that was as adaptable to the gamut of end users as possible, regardless of hand size or hand preference. Implementation of this ranged from the completely swappable frame shells of the SIG Sauer P320, to the wraparound backstraps of the Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0, to the Glock entry’s add-on backstraps carried over from the company’s Gen4 offering. The FN 509, by way of contrast, ships with two interchangeable inserts that take up the lower three quarters of the backstrap. There is a choice between either arched or flat, and neither really alters the reach to the trigger. No worries about it being too large for any end user, though, since the circumference around the trigger is, at just less than 7 inches, less than an eighth of an inch more than an M&P with the small backstrap and barely a quarter-inch greater than even a diminutive single-stack 9 mm like the Walther CCP.

Trigger pull weighed in at a consistent 6 pounds on my scale, with a light takeup that met an abrupt wall, and then broke cleanly. Before I actually put it on the scale, I would have bet money that the trigger broke at 5 pounds — it feels lighter than it is.

 

Trigger reset was distinct and short. It was easy to shoot this gun well. My very first day at the range, I pulled it out of its box, lubed it to spec, and used the first 50 rounds from the gun to shoot a clean Dot Torture drill, cold. This impressed me even more, since the last three days had seen me consistently dropping a shot for a 49/50 with my Glock G19 carry gun.

FN 509 details
(left) External extractor, enlarged ejection port, and protected levers all lead to improved reliability. (right) A four-slot accessory rail allows attachment of lights, lasers, or combination accessory items.

The barrel of the FN 509 features a thicker bearing area around the muzzle, with a smaller contour along the remaining barrel length, which shaves ounces compared to a full-thickness barrel for the entire length. This likely contributes to my postal-scale measured empty weight of 26.5 ounces. Even with 17+1 rounds of 124-grain Federal Premium HST in the gun, it still weighed only 34.3 ounces, which is well less than an empty M1911 Government model.

The muzzle’s crown is countersunk to enhance accuracy and protect it from damage. Grabbing three different factory loads at random from my ammo stash, accuracy testing was performed at 15 yards shooting off sandbags. Two of the loads, Winchester NATO 124-grain FMJ and Federal 147-grain +P HST Tactical, turned in best five-shot groups smaller than 2 inches. Even steel-cased Russian TulAmmo 115-grain FMJ turned in a couple groups right about 2 inches. (The TulAmmo, or at least this lot, was also amazingly consistent, velocity-wise, from the FN 509, with a standard deviation for the 10-round string of only 10.77 fps.)

 

The FN 509’s Spartan origins are reflected in its packaging, at least with the test gun. It arrived in a brown cardboard box with a hinged lid, and inside the box was a zippered black nylon pouch with a tastefully embroidered FN logo in gray thread on the outside. The inside is lined with fuzzy soft cloth and has a pocket to hold the spare mag and whichever of the two backstraps isn’t in the gun.

There is the mandatory cable lock and an instruction manual in the box as well. There is no pin or punch provided to drive the roll pin out that secures the backstrap in place. The first time this is done will probably require a bench block and maybe a second set of hands. I’m not saying it’s depot-level maintenance, but nobody’s going to be doing it at the range.

One other praiseworthy change from the FNS is that the controls are better “fenced off” with raised areas around them. It’s a lot harder to inadvertently eject a magazine or ride the slide stop and prevent the slide from locking back (or to accidentally bump it up and lock the slide back on a full magazine) on the FN 509 than it was with the FNS.

The magazine release is noteworthy, in that it’s not just reversible, but actually ambidextrous. There’s no need to pull the button out and flip it around, and that’s what caused problems for large-handed shooters in the FNS — the flesh at the base of the shooter’s trigger finger could activate the right-side button. Not so with the new FN 509, or at least not that I could make happen.

The only real issue I found with the test sample was that the rear sight was just enough off-center to the right that it was throwing groups off slightly in that direction. A bit of attention with a sight pusher or a whack with a dowel would fix that in short order, but I just held an inch or so of Kentucky windage at 10 yards and everything was cool.

All in all, this is a mature pistol from FN. The time the company took to solicit opinions from potential end users shows in the finished product. It runs reliably, shoots accurately, and has a very usable trigger right out of the box. If these are things that are important to you, the FN 509 is definitely still in the running for Your Handgun System competition.

FN 509 specifications

Check it out HERE

RELOADERS CORNER: The Priming Process

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Priming is the final case preparation step, and it’s one of the most important. Read how to do it right.

Glen Zediker

There are pretty much three different style tools used to seat primers.

The first, and way on most common, is the priming “arm” attached to most every single-stage press. This works, but it’s the least best way to do it. There’s too much leverage at hand, and that makes it hard to feel the seating process to its best conclusion.

Take a close look at how a primer is constructed: there’s a cylindrical cup, inside the cup is the incendiary compound, and then there’s the anvil (that’s the little part that extends below the cup rim; it’s like a flat spring with three feet).

rifle primer close up
Take a close look at a primer. The anvil is the tripod-shaped thin metal piece protruding above the bottom of the primer cup. Getting the primer sitting fully flush on the bottom of the primer pocket in the case, without crunching it too much, requires some keen feel for the progress of primer seating, and that’s where the stand-alone tools come in to help. I strongly suggest using one.

Ideally, a primer will seat flush against the bottom of the primer pocket, with compression, equally of course, against the anvil. Also ideally, there should be some resistance in seating the primer (if there’s not then the pocket has expanded an amount to cause concern, and a rethink on the suitability of reusing this case, and its brothers and sisters).

If it has to be a choice, even though it doesn’t have to be, it’s better to have “too much” seating than not enough. The primer cannot (cannot) be left too “high.” That’s with reference to the plane of the case head. There are both safety and performance concerns if it is. First, if the primer is not seated snugly to the bottom of its pocket, then the firing pin will finish the job. No doubt, there will be variations in bullet velocities if this happens because it affects ignition timing.

Each and every loaded round you ever create needs to be checked for this. Every one. Get in the habit of running your finger across the case bottom and feeling a little dip-down where the primer is. Look also. Rounds loaded on a progressive machine are susceptible to high primers. The reason is no fault of the machine but rather because the feel or feedback is that much less sensitive than even when using a press-mounted priming arm. If there are a half-dozen other stations on a tool head in operation at once, then the one doing the priming is that much more obscured from feel. And also because we’re not usually able or willing to inspect each finished round as it emerges from the rotating shell plate. But do check afterwards as you’re filing the loaded rounds away into cartridge boxes. Much more to be said ahead on this topic next edition.

correctly seated primer
Check each and every (every last one always) primer you seat to make sure it’s below flush with the case head.

The better priming tools have less leverage. That is so we can feel the progress of that relatively very small span of depth between start and finish. There is also a balance between precision and speed in tool choices, as there so often is. Also, so often, my recommendation is one that hits the best balance.

The press-mounted primer arm styles exhibit variations from maker to maker, but they’re all about the same in function. What matters most in using a press seater is going slowly and double-checking each and every result. Again, it’s the lack of feel for the progression of the primer going into the pocket that’s the issue.

press priming arm
Here’s the most common means for seating primers: the attached arm assembly on most single-stage presses. It’s tough to really feel the primer seat correctly because there’s a honking lot of leverage at work.

The best way to seat primers, or I should say the means that gives the best results, are the “hand” tools. They are also a little (okay, a lot) tedious to use, and, for me at least, aren’t kind to my increasingly ailing joints after priming a large number of cases. Those types that have a reservoir/feeding apparatus are less tedious, but still literally a pain. The reason these type tools give the best results is that they have poor leverage. The first few times you seat with one, you’ll be amazed at just how much pressure you need to apply to fully seat a primer.

LEE hand priming tool
Here’s a “hand” tool. This one from LEE works plenty well, despite its low cost. There are others similar from most major makers. The whole point to these designs is absence of leverage. Check it out HERE at Midsouthl

The best choice, in my book, are the benchtop stand-alone priming stations. They are faster than hand tools, and can be had with more or less leverage engineered into them. I like the one shown nearby the best because its feeding is reliable and its feel is more than good enough to do a “perfect” primer seat. It’s the best balance I’ve found between speed and precision.

Forster Co-Ax priming tool
Here’s a Forster Co-Ax bench-mounted tool. It’s a favorite. It provides relatively low leverage for better feel for the progression of primer seating.

Forster Co-Ax priming tool

Get a good primer “flip” tray for use in filling the feeding magazine tubes associated with some systems. Make double-damn sure each primer is fed right side up (or down, depending on your perspective). A common cause of unintentional detonation is attempting to overfill a stuffed feeding tube magazine, so count and watch your progress.

RCBS APS
Another good one is available from RCBS, the APS. Check it out HERE at Midsouth.

It’s okay to touch primers, by the way. Rumors abound that touching them with bare fingers will “contaminate” the compound and create misfires. Not true. All the primers I’ve ever used, and all those anyone else is likely to encounter, are treated to a sealant. Now, a drop of oil can penetrate the compound and render it intert, but not a fingerprint.

The priming process, step-by-step is almost too simple to diagram. Place a primer anvil-side-up in the device housing apparatus, position a case, push the primer in place. It’s learning feel of the whole thing that takes some effort. As mentioned, using a tool with poor leverage, you might be surprised how much effort it takes to fully seat a primer. On anything with an overage of leverage, there’s little to no sensation of primer movement into the pocket. It just stops.

TWO DONT’S:
Don’t attempt to seat a high primer more deeply on a finished round. The pressure needed to overcome the inertia to re-initiate movement may be enough to detonate it.

Don’t punch out a live primer! That can result in an impressive fright. To kill a primer, squirt or spray a little light oil into its open end. That renders the compound inert.

ONE (BIG) DO:
Keep the priming tool cup clean. That’s the little piece that the primer sits down into. Any little shard of brass can become a firing pin! It’s happened!

See what’s available here at Midsouth HERE

The information in this article is from Glen’s newest book, Top-Grade Ammo, available HERE at Midsouth. Also check HERE for more information about this and other publications from Zediker Publishing.

SKILLS: Pocket Pistol Drills

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Preparation is key to concealed-carry success, so make sure you take the time to prepare! Here are 4 drills for skills with the smaller end of the spectrum. Read on…

pocket pistol kit
This pocket pistol is the popular Ruger LCP II, carried in a DeSantis Gunhide SuperFly holster and loaded with Hornady Critical Defense .380 ACP ammo.

SOURCE: NRA Publications, by Ed Head

Small, easily concealed handguns have become an increasingly popular choice among firearm consumers. It makes sense to assume many of these pistols are carried in pockets. Pocket carry may actually be the most-popular mode of carry, but I wonder how many folks actually practice with it? Being small, lightweight, and often equipped with miniscule sights and heavy trigger pulls, pocket pistols aren’t the easiest guns to shoot well. Then again, attributes such as compact size and light weight make these handguns easy to carry around. Some folks use them as primary-defense pistols, while others relegate them to the role of backup guns.

There are a good number of folks who often rely on a pocket pistol but spend their practice time with a larger handgun. Don’t assume that because you’re confident and competent with the preferred “full-size” pistol that you’ve developed the skill set necessary for equal competence on the pistol you perhaps more likely will have to rely on.

Pocket pistols should be carried in a holster! Well-made pocket holsters protect against accidental firing by covering the trigger, position the gun in the same way in the pocket every time and break up the outline of the gun, making it more concealable and less likely to “print” while in the pocket. With the pistol in the pocket, you should be able to obtain a firing grip, with your finger straight along the outside of the holster, and pull the gun from the pocket, leaving the holster behind. Now here’s the important part: Never, ever attempt to re-holster the gun with the holster in the pocket. Keeping the pistol pointed in a safe direction, finger off the trigger, safety on (if there is one), take the holster out of the pocket, re-insert the pistol, then carefully place the holstered handgun back into the pocket.

Depending upon how big you are and the size and cut of your pockets, you may wish to pocket carry with the pistol in a front trouser pocket or rear pocket. Pocket carry is possible in jacket pockets as well. Have you ever seen a police officer approach a driver with his or her support hand in a jacket pocket? You can bet that hand is grasping a gun, most likely a small revolver. While not strictly pocket carry, I know people who use a pocket holster as an inside the waistband holster, either in the appendix or behind the hip position. The same careful holstering rules apply to this carry method.

Here are a few drills you can practice with your pocket pistol. If you’re really comfortable with drawing the pocket gun, start these drills with the handgun holstered. If not, it’s best to start with the pistol in the hands at a low-ready, muzzle-depressed position. After each shooting drill, top off or reload the pistol and carefully and safely return it to your starting position. This isn’t a quick-draw drill. Take your time and keep the finger off the trigger until your sights are on target. Considering the role of the pocket pistol, you can do these drills at close range — 3 to 7 yards — on paper. If you want to practice on steel targets, maintain a safe distance of 7 yards or farther.

Drill #1: Fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of your target. Repeat. Total of 4 rounds.

Drill #2: Fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of your target and 1 round to the head zone. Repeat. Total of 6 rounds.

Drill #3: With two targets placed side by side, fire 2 rounds to the vital zone of each target. Repeat. Total of 8 rounds.

Drill #4: Repeat Drills 1 through 3 by taking a step to the side as you bring the pistol up on target. Total of 18 rounds.

A little practice with your pocket pistol will pay big dividends in improving your accuracy and confidence. Put down your favorite big pistol for a while and spend some time with your little, constant companion.

SHOOTING SPORTS: 3 Great Shooting Disciplines for New Shooters

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Fun and simplicity are the two keys to choosing a first shooting sport experience. These are proven great beginnings! Read more…

smallbore rifle
Smallbore rifle.

SOURCE: Shooting Sports USA, by John Parker

These days there is no shortage of new sports for prospective shooters who believe they are ready to take the plunge into formal competition. The three disciplines listed below are ideal for beginners.

ONE: BB Gun/Air Rifle
Air guns are traditionally regarded as guns for beginners. Some types, such as the familiar BB gun, are excellent as a “first competition gun,” while there are numerous other types designed and used by seasoned international competitors. One great reason for air rifle shooting is how easy it is to set up a range, even in your own home.

Juniors can compete in BB gun until their 16th birthday. NRA rules define BB guns as: Any shoulder held smoothbore BB gun with metallic sights, in which the propelling force is developed through the use of a compressed spring, gas or compressed air. Courses of fire are 40 shots; 10 each in prone, standing, sitting and kneeling, or the three-position course of fire which omits sitting. Also something to note: NRA BB Gun rule 7.10 provides for ISSF-style “Finals” for top competitors at matches to have a chance to show off their shooting prowess. Matches with Finals also provide for a great learning experience for those who plan to continue his/her shooting career.

The NRA Sporter Air Rifle Position rules govern the conduct of 10 meter three-position and four-position air rifle shooting. The rules allow for any type of compressed air or CO2 rifle with a few restrictions: Only .177-cal. pellets are allowed, and the weight of the rifle may not exceed 7½ pounds. Prone, sitting, kneeling and standing are the four positions utilized. Common courses of fire for sporter air rifle are: 10 shots each prone, standing, sitting and kneeling; 10 shots each prone, standing and kneeling; 20 shots each prone standing, sitting and kneeling; 20 shots prone, standing and kneeling; 40 shots standing; and/or 60 shots standing. NRA Sporter Air Rifle also has rules for a “Finals” for sanctioned matches, very much like BB gun.

BB guns and air rifles are an excellent way to begin competing in the shooting sports. In recent years, air guns have undergone dramatic improvements in reliability, durability and accuracy. These guns offer flexibility?because they can be fired safely by shooters of all ages and experience levels.

TWO: Smallbore Rifle
Smallbore rifle competition is the logical next step after learning the ropes with an air gun. It’s a sport that dates back to 1919, back when companies like Savage and Winchester introduced special .22 target rifles, the Winchester Model 19 NRA Match Rifle and the popular Savage Model 52. To be a precise and accurate smallbore shooter, you’ll need a quality rifle, sights and ammunition. But you really don’t need a new rifle to try out the sport of smallbore rifle; if you have a decent .22 LR in your safe, just use that to begin.

The NRA Smallbore Rifle rules allow for just about any .22-caliber rimfire rifle for use in competition. There are no restrictions on the barrel length or the weight of the rifle.

NRA Smallbore courses of fire are shot over 50 feet, 50 meters and 100 yards. There are four positions utilized (see Section 7 of the NRA Smallbore rules): prone, sitting, kneeling and standing. All four may be used, or even just one, depending on the match. NRA smallbore can be fired indoors or outdoors.

Recently a new form of prone shooting?Metric prone?has gained in popularity. It’s a combination of the two styles of smallbore prone shooting, NRA and ISSF, using a more difficult target with a shorter course of fire.

THREE: GLOCK Shooting Sports Foundation (GSSF)
Are you more interested in action shooting, rather than shooting at static paper targets? There’s no denying the satisfying feeling one has when shooting steel and hearing that characteristic “ding.” GSSF is one of the most popular practical shooting disciplines around, and not because it’s an easy sport?it’s mostly because the main requirement is the use of a GLOCK pistol, which isn’t that hard to scrounge up if you don’t have access to one already. GSSF stages will include steel plate racks or poppers, and others will use the NRA Action Pistol D-1 tombstone target, or combinations of both steel and paper.

Think of GSSF as “practical shooting-lite.” There’s a total of eight divisions: Civilian, Guardian (law enforcement, firefighter, military etc.), Subcompact, Competition, Heavy Metal, Major Sub, Masterstock, and Unlimited. No holsters are necessary, and the common G17 model can be used for any category except for Subcompact and Major Subcompact.

GSSF shooters are divided into masters and amateurs. Masters are defined as “competitors who are classified as ‘master class’ in USPSA, PPC, ICORE, NRA, Cowboy Action, or shoot on an Armed Forces shooting team, or have been promoted to master by GSSF.” All other shooters are considered amateur.

Want to learn more about the shooting sports? Visit www.ssusa.org!

REVIEW: Colt Cobra Revolver

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One of America’s premiere handgun makers just redesigned one of its premiere handguns: read all about the modernized Colt Cobra. Full REVIEW.

Colt Cobra

SOURCE: NRA/Shooting Illustrated, Dick Williams

From the mid-19th century (including our Civil War) up to World War I, Colt single-action revolvers were almost mandatory issue for the intrepid adventurers who put their shooting skills to work taming the Old West. Moving forward through the first 3/4 of the 20th century, vast numbers of lawmen and civilians alike carried the new Colt double-action revolvers manufactured at the company’s Hartford facility. No change in purpose: the newer revolvers were still used to correct unacceptably rude behavior, or advance unacceptably rude behavior. Despite the massive changeover to semi-auto pistols by law enforcement agencies around the 1970s, Colt continued providing double-action revolvers to private citizens (and backup guns for cops) until the new millennium when the company finally phased out production of the classic wheelgun. Well, they’re back!

Recognizing the strong demand for small revolvers in the self-defense market, Colt redesigned and is now producing a newer (and much better) version of its Cobra. It has a stainless-steel frame rather than lightweight aluminum and a shrouded ejector rod, but it still has a hammer design that allows both single-action and double-action firing, a push-to-the-rear cylinder-release latch, and holds 6 rounds of .38 Special. In keeping with today’s ammo trends, the new Colt Cobra is rated for +P loads.

Colt Cobra
(left) Prominently displaying its serpentine heritage, the Colt Cobra’s barrel sits atop a shrouded ejector. (right) Considering that most single-stack 9 mm semi-autos carry only six or seven rounds on board, the capacity of the Cobra isn’t much of a disadvantage.

The Colt Cobra is larger than the typical S&W J-frame 5-shot revolvers but still quite compact. It will fit in a box 7.2 inches x 4.9 inches x 1.4 inches. You could shrink the height and width a bit by replacing the Hogue grips with a smaller set of panels, but to me that would be a bad trade. While reduced dimensions might allow the gun to fit in a trouser pocket, the revolver’s empty weight of 25 ounces is more than double that of some 5-shot competitors making pocket carry dubious depending on one’s wardrobe and lifestyle.

Colt Cobra
(left) Colt’s signature cylinder release pulls to the rear, like Colt double-action revolvers should. (center & right) Despite “turning the wrong way,” the cylinder mechanism on the Colt Cobra rotates cleanly and offers smooth operation.

The new Colt Cobra has an attractive matte, satin finish, and while looks may be irrelevant in a self-defense handgun, the finish looked about the same after five days and perhaps 400-500 rounds fired without any cleaning. The Hogue rubber grips fit me perfectly, which helped absorb recoil and made the little six-shooter almost as easy to shoot well as a service/duty-sized gun. The plastic Cobra box contained an interesting trigger profile graph, which I didn’t find particularly interesting because I didn’t understand all of it. Doesn’t matter, because just dry firing the Cobra double-action convinced me it had a superb trigger. After a couple days on the square range, I took another look at the graph. It says that within the first 0.05-inch of travel, trigger pressure rises to just under 7 pounds and then smoothly increases another pound or so before the hammer falls after a total of 0.50 inches of travel. While the chart presents the facts, it doesn’t prepare you for just how great the Cobra’s trigger is. The trigger guard is enlarged behind the trigger to allow for the use of gloves.

Colt Cobra
(left) Carved into the topstrap, the rear sight’s simple notch is snag-free and intuitive. (center) Slightly too large for pocket carry, the Cobra is right at home in a Galco leather holster on the belt. (right) Hogue’s overmolded rubber grip makes for excellent purchase, but may catch on cover garments and outer layers.

The rear sight is simply a 1⁄8-inch-wide notch in the topstrap. It will not be readjusted either by you or by any hard object it might crash into. The front sight is a replaceable blade, and the test gun was in current vogue featuring a black blade with a red fiber-optic insert. The whole sight is replaceable because Colt anticipates offering other options up front such as a night sight or a plain-black post. Throughout my close-range drills, the front sight was superb. With any reasonable level of ambient light, the red optic almost forces the shooter to focus on it, and with the Cobra’s excellent ergonomics, the gun seemed to emerge from the holster with the red fiber pipe properly located in the rear notch and centered on the target. For my eyes, the rear sight could be a bit wider. Even in relatively bright daylight I could not see any light around the sides of the front sight blade, so I had no ability to judge windage. Such was not a problem inside 20 to 25 yards; if the red fiber is visible and on target, simply press that incredibly smooth double-action trigger for consistent hits.

Colt Cobra
(left) With the exposed hammer on the Colt Cobra, precise shots can be taken single-action. (right) While a red ramp or black blade might be more traditional, the red fiber-optic pipe is easily acquired in most settings.

As mentioned, the ejector rod is protected by a shroud that is integral to the barrel. Good thing, since a bent rod can really ruin your day in an armed confrontation. As on other “pocket revolvers,” the ejector rod is, by necessity, quite short with less than one inch of full travel.

When fully pressed, the .38 Spl. cases are still partially enclosed in the cylinder’s chambers. There’s good news and bad news here. Good news is that for a tactical or partial reload, a full-length stroke on the rod with the muzzle pointed downward leaves the fired cases sticking out of the chamber almost an inch while the unfired cases drop back into their chambers. It’s considerably easier plucking those empties from the Colt Cobra with that much case exposed. The bad news is that you really need to practice your speed loads, i.e. keeping the muzzle elevated when stroking the ejector rod, allowing gravity to help the empties drop clear of the weapon and ensure an empty case doesn’t drop back into its chamber beneath the extractor.

Colt Cobra
The Colt Cobra revolver, along with a Safariland Comp II speedloader, Al Mar SERE 2000 folding knife, LA Police Gear Operator Mini EDC flashlight, Galco Gunleather holster, and an NRA Carry Guard insurance card. It’s the centerpiece art of a complete defensive kit.

I don’t usually look forward to range visits with a pocket pistol when the objective is to perform the protocol tests. Firing through a chronograph or from a rest to test groups can be enlightening, but it is also usually boring and sometimes painful. It was not until after a five-day class at Gunsite that I took the still-uncleaned Colt Cobra to my home range for the basic data gathering. I set the distance at 15 yards. At Gunsite, I used Cor-Bon’s 147-grain FMJ .38 Spl. ammo. It has a small meplat (flat nose), which in my opinion, means it could be used for both training and defensive purposes. As it turned out, I had enough left to take some velocity measurements but not for the full-protocol accuracy tests. At 783 fps, the Cor-Bon’s velocity was exactly in the middle of all ammo tested through the Colt Cobra. Selection of other ammo was based on including as many “known” .38 Spl. preferences as possible.

Both the Remington wadcutters and lead round nose bullets demanded a seat at the table based upon historical usage. I’ve used the lighter-weight Hornady .38 Spl. loads before and been pleased with them, particularly in small revolvers. They are designed specifically for defensive use in short-barreled, light guns and are very manageable. In addition, they are “friendly” enough in popular, lightweight revolvers to encourage practice sessions, the elemental ingredient for competence.

But it was the Super Vel ammo that sparked a real romance and swept the little Colt Cobra across the dance floor. With an average muzzle velocity of 1,260 fps, it smoked the competition. Perhaps even more importantly, it was totally comfortable and controllable to shoot, something I attribute to the Hogue grips and the 25-ounce weight of the stainless steel gun. The Super Vel didn’t produce the single smallest group of the day (that was a string of Remington wadcutters, which somehow seems fitting after a decades-long reputation as the accuracy load for .38 Spl.), but it did produce the smallest average 5-shot groups for five strings. The new Super Vel .38 Spl. loads are absolutely my first choice of ammunition for the Cobra. It’s like an upgrade to .357 Mag. power without the pain.

There was not one malfunction during the five days at Gunsite or later when I shot the Colt Cobra at my home range.

So what is the niche that Colt’s new Cobra could fulfill in today’s self-defense market? Its 6-shot frame equipped with the oversize Hogue grips appears large for a trouser pocket pistol, clearly too big for all the jeans and most of the casual trousers I have, but it should carry well in a coat jacket pocket or ankle holster. I carried it for a week in a Galco belt holster and felt both physically and psychologically comfortable. Perhaps a purse or pouch carry technique might be best: manageable weight with no tell-tale bulge.

But to me, new shooters — especially those who are a bit intimidated or confused by the required manual-of-arms that must be mastered by the user of semi-automatic pistols — may benefit most from Colt’s return to wheelguns. There are two members of my family who much prefer the simplicity of revolvers, and the new Cobra is a superior choice to other the revolvers previously selected by my family crew. Think about the Cobra’s “not too heavy, not too light” 25 ounces, the excellent ergonomics and grips that mitigate recoil, and the gun’s incredibly consistent trigger. This is a revolver that can easily serve as a house gun, car gun, or carry gun. So please don’t tell me there’s no room for a new, compact revolver!

Colt Cobra specifications

Colt Cobra

Check out the factory site HERE 

REVIEW: Remington RP9 Pistol

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After many, many years without a pistol of any kind, Remington has been increasingly turning out new handguns. And finally: a polymer striker-fired pistol. How good is it? Keep reading and find out…

RP9

Source: Shooting Illustrated, NRA by Duane A. Daiker

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

Since 2010, “Big Green” has been churning out new handguns, including various models of the 1911-style R1, the compact R51, and the pocket-size RM380, but also with some notable missteps along the way. Until recently, however, Remington was still missing a staple of modern handguns: the full-size, polymer-frame, striker-fired 9mm. Since the introduction of the Glock G17 in the 1980s, most of the major gun companies have been innovating by building upon this concept. As a result, the “Remington Polymer 9,” or RP9, enters a crowded market of similar pistols. So, the question: How does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition?

At first glance, the Remington RP9 appears pretty typical. The pistol has a striker-fired action with no external safety, other than the ubiquitous trigger-paddle safety. While polymer-framed guns are often described as ugly or lacking the soul of traditional steel-and-wood pistol designs, the Remington RP9’s smooth, rounded lines give it a distinctly European look. While opinions may differ on the Remington’s aesthetics, the Remington RP9 is definitely a recognizable and distinctive-looking pistol design.

RP9 details
(left) A section of Picatinny rail allows mounting weapon-lights and/or lasers. (center) While the author found the “R” on the grip a touch gaudy, the grip itself proved remarkably comfortable in testing. It also provides excellent ergonomics regardless of the shooter’s hand size. (right) Perhaps the greatest benefit of the RP9 compared with most competing models is the added capacity of its 18-round magazine.

Another differentiating factor with the Remington RP9 is its impressive 18+1-round capacity. The proprietary Remington magazines are slightly longer than typical 17-round magazines in similar guns, which explains the slight increase in capacity. I also appreciate the slightly longer grip frame to accommodate my large hands.

Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the Remington RP9 is the impressive grip. This gun is designed to fit almost any hand. Small hands will appreciate the more rounded grip shape, which seems impossibly small for this full-size, double-stack handgun. Large hands will appreciate the lack of finger grooves, which never seem to fit anyone with bigger-than-average mitts, and the ability to install larger interchangeable backstraps. Each pistol comes with three backstraps, and almost everyone should be able to find a good fit.

RP9 features
(left) The slide- stop lever is small and somewhat difficult to actuate from a shooting grip. (center) The RP9’s trigger has a familiar paddle device for added safety and broke at a respectable 5.5 pounds. (right) In addition to the ergonomically-designed grip, three interchangeable backstraps ship with the RP9 as part of Remington’s goal to have the pistol fit the hands of 95 percent of shooters.

Shooters with smaller hands, in particular, will be very pleased. Aftermarket gunsmiths have created a whole industry of grinding polymer pistol grip frames, but this gun won’t likely need any such work. After passing the Remington RP9 around at the range, no one seemed to find the gun uncomfortable or ill-fitting, from the smallest woman I could find to the largest man.

Left-handed shooters are accommodated well: the magazine release is reversible for left-handed shooters and the only other external operating control, the slide-stop lever, can be operated from either side of the frame without modification.

The three-white-dot fixed sights typical, but the rear sight features a flat “fighting surface” to permit one-handed racking of the slide in an emergency. This can be accomplished with a belt, shoe, or similar improvised surface. The factory sights are drift-adjustable in the dovetail, and easily replaced if white dots aren’t your preference.

RP9 sights
(left & center) Both the front and rear sights are dovetail-mounted to the slide and can be adjusted laterally. This also means they can be replaced with potential future aftermarket options. (right) The external extractor also serves as a tactile loaded-chamber indicator.

Disassembly is simple: aafter ensuring the gun is unloaded, employing a single takedown lever enables removal of the slide. From there, removal of the metal recoil guide rod, recoil spring, and barrel is easy. Field-stripping the pistol does require pulling the trigger, but that is pretty common for guns in this category. Use caution.

RP9 disassembly
Disassembly is simple and tool-free, though it does require a trigger pull.

Overall, the design and features of the RP9 are impressive. Remington has included all the features required for a modern, striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol design. There is nothing particularly innovative, but there is really nothing missing either; the RP9 is a solid offering in a crowded market of similar pistols.

With any new design, the first question must always be: Does it work? Over the course of several weeks, I put more than 1,000 rounds through the RP9. To make the testing as thorough as possible, I shot a wide variety of factory ammunition, including 115-grain range loads, 115-grain hollow points, 124-grain hollow points, 124-grain +P hollow points, and 147-grain hollow points, along with an assortment of 115-grain commercially-reloaded ammo.

RP9 slide

The RP9 digested it all without a single hiccup. Its reliability was pleasantly boring and made testing easy. During one session the pistol digested more than 300 rounds in an hour, getting uncomfortably hot. Even with such high-volume shooting, there were no functional problems. In fact, the entire testing protocol was done with only a single quick cleaning right before accuracy testing.

The only functional issue encountered was a tendency for the pistol to fail to chamber the very first round of a magazine unless the slide was worked vigorously with the “slingshot” method. Simply pressing the minimalist slide-stop lever to close the slide and chamber a round would not work with all ammunition types. Most trainers would agree that the gross-motor movement of the slingshot method is a better gun-handling habit anyway, and the Remington’s slide-stop lever is a bit small to be reliable under stress, as is true of many modern pistols. With proper pistol technique, the slide-stop lever is rarely used under stress, so it is not a major concern.

Remington emphasizes the “shootability” of the Remington RP9. Frankly, I have always loved this term, but I was never convinced it was really a word, and, well, now I feel like I can get on the bandwagon. The RP9 pistol rates high in shootability for a number of reasons. A major factor is the relatively small and ergonomic grip. The trigger guard is undercut for a higher hand position, and the web of the hand is well protected from slide bite by a generous, integrated beavertail. As said, the Remington seems to fit a majority of people well, and a good fit makes accurate hits easier and makes recoil softer and more manageable.

RP9

Despite its reasonably sized grip, the Remington RP9 as a whole is on the large side, and carries plenty of weight. The size and weight help dampen perceived recoil; even the hottest loads are pleasant and manageable in the RP9.

Shootability is also a function of the trigger mechanism. The Remington RP9 has a middle-of-the-road trigger for a striker-fired gun — not the best, but definitely not the worst. It’s not as “mushy” as a standard Glock trigger, nor is it as crisp as an aftermarket job. The trigger itself has a wide face and minimal overtravel. The reset is a bit long for my taste, but it can certainly be felt (and heard if you’re dry-firing).

Assuming most people will use the Remington RP9 for personal defense, I focused my accuracy testing on self-defense ammunition. In particular, I was impressed with the Federal Personal Defense 124-grain +P JHP, and the SIG Sauer Elite Performance 124-grain V-Crown JHP. Both averaged better than 1,200 fps, with impressive accuracy at 25 yards. The RP9’s performance at the range was quite exemplary.

While the Remington RP9 is high on the “shootability” scale compared with other pistols in its category, its “concealability” is a different issue. Nothing about the RP9 pistol is small, so carrying concealed is more difficult, though it is similar to other duty-size guns. For most people, that means belt carry with a cover garment of some kind. If you want to carry a full-size service pistol, you will have to dress around the gun.

RP9
The company did not reinvent the wheel with the Remington RP9, but rather combined some of the best features of extant polymer-frame, striker-fired pistols into a nice package for defensive uses.

The Remington RP9 has an MSRP of $489, which makes the pistol $50 to $100 cheaper than a comparable Glock, Smith & Wesson, or Springfield Armory. Better yet, actual street prices can be considerably lower, with aggressive discounts and occasional factory rebates. At press time, reputable retailers were offering the RP9 handgun for less than $300 after rebates. While such prices may not be available all the time, the Remington is clearly going to be less expensive than most competing handguns.

Remington ships each pistol with two, 18-round, metal-body magazines and the usual accessories, including the obligatory cable lock. Given this price point, Remington packages the gun in a cardboard box as opposed to a lockable plastic box.

So, how does the Remington RP9 compare to its competition? Its quality and performance is similar to all of its most obvious competitors. There are a few factors that favor the RP9, like the accessible grip, and the 18-round magazines, but the Remington’s strongest appeal may be its price. For price-conscious shoppers, a new Remington RP9 with a lifetime warranty may be priced comparably to used guns from other manufacturers. While not necessarily innovative in any particular way, the newest Remington offers an outstanding value in a good quality pistol from a historic company.

RP9

RP9 specications

CHECK OUT THE REMINGTON RP9 HERE
Check out available ammo at Midsouth HERE

4 Weird Things People Ask Women Who Carry Guns (and How to Answer)

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Prepare yourself for a good chuckle, but, really, it’s not “ha-ha” funny… There are a lot of misconceptions many have about CCW, and seemily especially so for women who chose it. Keep reading!

confused woman

SOURCE: NRAFamily, by Wendy LaFever

If you’re a woman who chooses to carry concealed, chances are quite good that sooner or later someone will question you about your decision. Most of the time, anyone with whom you’re close enough to have shared that information will be respectful towards you, but let’s face it: There’s a lot of misinformation out there about guns, gun owners, the laws about armed self-defense and carrying concealed. We responsible gun owners are usually facing an uphill battle trying to gently and respectfully correct those misperceptions.

For some reason, the conversation tends to be even more difficult when the subject is a woman who carries a firearm for self-defense. The reasons why are both beyond the scope of this article and this writer’s qualifications — although a tentative guess might be cultural expectations of women as nurturers — but it’s a fact that the questions directed at women who carry concealed tend to be a bit more pointed, shall we say, than those directed at men. It can be frustrating. That said, it remains important that we serve as good ambassadors for our beliefs, and that we do our best to be respectful towards people who (however clumsily) are at least trying to understand. One key to success is to keep your initial reaction on the inside…and have some polite replies ready to go. Here’s what that might look like…

Weird Question #1: “Aren’t you scared the gun will go off?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Firearms don’t really work that way. The only way to get my gun to discharge is to grip it securely in both hands, releasing the grip safety, then to deliberately squeeze the trigger. It’s not something that can happen on its own, or if the gun gets jostled or dropped.”
(Of course, different kinds of guns have different safety mechanisms, from passive to active, or both, so you’ll want to tailor your response. Just keep it simple and try to avoid using specific firearms terms that people unfamiliar with guns may not know.)

Weird Question #2: “Aren’t you worried the ‘bad guy’ will just take the gun away from you and use it against you?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“The only reason I would ever even let the ‘bad guy’ know I had a gun is if my life were already in immediate danger. It’s an absolute last resort. What’s more, I’ve undergone extensive training to learn how to draw the gun from concealment and fire it quickly and accurately to stop the threat.”
(Of course, you have had the training, right?)

Weird Question #3: “Can’t you just carry pepper spray / get a whistle / learn martial arts?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“Some people do choose ‘less lethal’ methods of self-defense, and that’s entirely up to them. The problem is that they’re generally not as effective at stopping a person who is determined to harm or kill. Even martial-arts experts can be overpowered physically by someone who takes them by surprise or is much bigger and stronger. Whistles won’t help unless there’s someone around to hear it…and they’re willing to intervene. Finally, although pepper spray can be quite incapacitating, it doesn’t work the same way on everyone. Some aggressors who are intoxicated or just very determined are able to power through it. It’s not a risk I choose to take.”
(Of course, “less lethal” self-defense tools can certainly be a part of your overall strategy, depending on your circumstances!)

Weird Question #4: “So…can I see it?”
Snarky reaction that you keep inside your head: “No.”
Actual reply:
“No. It’s irresponsible and, in some areas, illegal for me to display my concealed-carry firearm in public unless I am actively using it to lawfully defend myself. But if you’d like to go to the range with me and let me teach you the rules of gun safety, not only will I let you see it, I’ll let you shoot it.”

What weird gun questions have you been asked? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments!