Category Archives: Tactics & Training

Do You Need A Rail Gun?

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Maybe yes and maybe no, but if you do need a rail gun you will need it badly!


By Bob Campbell


rail gun light
Tactical illumination is a great advantage best utilized with the rail gun. When you have a rail gun with mounted light in the home-you can light them up! A rail gun and light can give a homeowner a great deal of confidence, and also avoid an unforgivable mistake… See your target, know your target!

Among the decisions to be made when purchasing a personal defense handgun is caliber, action type, and size and weight. Also now among the options to be considered is the light rail. A “rail gun” is common parlance for a handgun with an accessory rail. The rail is there to mount a flashlight bracket or a laser sight. Some handguns leave the buyer no choice. All modern Glock pistols, save for the very smallest such as the Glock 42 and Glock 43, have light rails. The Colt 1911 may be had with or without a rail, and the popular CZ75 is another available in both versions.

An important part of owning a handgun is pride of ownership. You have to be happy with the handgun.

Some feel that a light rail isn’t fitting on a traditional design such as the 1911. Others feel that the added weight and the possibility of snagging on the holster are real problems. There are also difficulties in finding a proper holster for a rail gun. As an example, the Springfield Armory Range Officer Operator and the Rock Island 2011 Tactical have different light rail designs and demand different holsters.

1911 rail gun
Some don’t think a rail is a good “fit” with a traditional handgun design, but the rail on this 1911 Springfied Armory Range Officer Operator adds great utility in a defensive application, and it’s not obtrusive or awkward in this instance.

But then there are those who like the light rail and some have been in a position where white light has been beneficial to their survival or in situations where they wish they’d had the light. Many handguns feature the technical over the tactical, but the light rail is a tactical improvement. The catch is the pistol is a reactive weapon, when the pistol is drawn in response to an attack. Few, if any, concealed carry permit holsters will carry a handgun with the light attached. They may carry a light in their pocket, but very few will practice quickly attaching the light to the handgun. If you can anticipate a fight, then you had best avoid it or at least get to cover. It is better to have the rail and not need it than to need it and not have it of course. You just have to ask yourself, “Are you are willing to embrace the rail and obtain a suitable light or laser and learn to use it properly?”

rail guns with lights
Rail guns top to bottom: CZ P-01 with Lasermax laser, Springfield Range Officer Operator with Viridian light, and Glock 35 with Insights light.

Practical Concerns
The 1911 pistol balances well. Nothing feels better in my hand. Some 1911 rail guns are neutral.  The new Rock Island 2011 with its monolithic rail is very well balanced. It isn’t quite muzzle-heavy but it certainly dampens recoil due to extra weight out front. The Colt Rail Gun may be an improvement in balance over the Colt Government Model. The CZ 75 is among my favorite handguns. But after a hard test and firing hundreds of rounds of ammunition I find the CZ P-01 a great compact 9mm that is very well balanced. I can fire the pistol more accurately than the full-size CZ. The P-01 features a light rail on its long dust cover. I like this a lot. Keep an open mind when considering a rail gun.

Home defense
The best place for a rail gun is home defense. No handgun is too large to keep at home ready! As an example, one of my personal favorite handguns for “just shooting” is the Glock Model 35 .40 caliber. This long-barrel pistol balances well and it is plenty accurate. The accuracy load, the Hornady 155 grain XTP, breaks over 1180 fps from the Glock 35. The pistol has factory night sights, and with an Insights M3 combat light I don’t think there is anything better as a home defense handgun. This brings us to another consideration.

CZ P-01
The CZ P-01 is a good fit with the Lasermax laser. This stays behind the muzzle even on a pistol this short.

When choosing a combat light make the choice one that is appropriate for the application. A neat compact light such as the Viridian types seem ideal for the Glock 23 class of handguns. No need in having a light protruding past the muzzle. With the Glock 35 this isn’t a consideration but with my compact CZ pistols the smaller lights are best. And it isn’t always lights: it might be the Lasermax Spartan laser for some applications. This is a handy, affordable, and well-designed laser that gives the user a sharp point of reference when the sights cannot be seen. If you do not have a rail gun you would have to purchase expensive laser grips, which are are not available for every handgun.

The rail gun should also be proofed with its attachment in place. On occasion handguns have had their cycle reliability affected with the light attached. I think that this is less likely with steel frame guns. Handguns with frames that give or flex a little in recoil are most susceptible to this problem. This is simply another consideration when you deploy the rail gun, and the answer is simple: test it!

For myself I continue to deploy standard handguns for the most part, usually a Commander .45 or a CZ 75 variant. But I am not blind to genuine progress. I keep a rail gun with light attached and ready to go in the home. Just in case.


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).


Check out the accessories Midsouth has to offer CLICK HERE

Shooting Skills: Dry-firing Practice, Part 2

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Click, Click, Boom. Here’s three ways to get more from indoor practice. Read on!


By Glen Zediker


 Defined: dry-firing is shooting with no ammunition. Cock the gun, hold on a target, break the trigger. It’s a simulation.

Last episode we talked about the essence of dry-firing, the means. Here are more ideas on getting the most from this valuable venue.

1. When to make it “real.”
There are two fundamentally-differing approaches. One way is to use dry-firing as a means for technical or mechanical improvement. That’s main, and that’s the usual focus. Another, though, is as a way to rehearse a course of fire or another orchestrated shooting scenario. Some believe that the more “real” we can make dry-firing the better. I agree, and then I don’t. If the idea is to replicate a competitive event, for instance, that means setting up a firing point, running a timer, adorning all personal gear, positioning all kit items, and so on. I think that is a great exercise for newer entrants because, in NRA High Power Rifle, for good instance, it’s all the “other” things beyond shooting that can get in the way of progress. There’s a lot to remember, a lot to do.

1907 sling use
Something like learning to install a 1907-style sling onto your arm for support is decidedly not something you want to experience first at a shooting match. Such as this needs to be done over and over (and over) to learn. Best way is taking your time at home.

 Away from needs on the firing line, dry rehearsals are way on more than wise. If, for instance, you’ve never fired a gun at night, start experiencing that scenario sans ammo. If you’re a concealed carry person, figure out the smoothest and fastest way to get your pistol pointed. That might “go without saying,” but I just said it because it needs to be done. Anything, for that matter, that has changed or modified a firearm or the means to deploy it should be drilled over and over until you “got it.”

 It takes more than a lot of directed thought and careful planning to get a gun leveled through a car window, for example. Have you ever seen how fast you can get to another room in your house in the dark? If you think that might be valuable to file in the been-there-done-that archives, then be there and do it. It’s a kind of self-made “fire drill.” Doesn’t make much sense to put stock in something that’s really important without verifying that it’s workable… And it’s plenty easy enough. Just make sure the gun isn’t loaded.

When technical and mechanical improvement is the focus, I don’t think it matters even a little bit to attempt to duplicate “real” conditions. Just make yourself comfortable.

2. Do something different.
Once you feel like you’ve honed the skills of triggering mechanics, noticed progress in hold quality, and all-around have attained some satisfying improvement, take a stab now at dismantling the entire thing!

shouldering rifle
Same goes for working on the other essential elements in a shooting position, like learning to position the buttplate in the same spot each time. Here’s me first figuring out exactly where that spot should be…

Dry-firing is the time to run experiments, so experiment! These can be major changes, like a different holding or gripping method, or small things, like nudging the head a quarter-inch farther forward on the rifle stock. Everything and anything that’s not part of the “routine” is an experiment. Backing up: dry-firing gives the opportunity to really tune in to just exactly what your routine is. Competitive shooters often call it the “control” position. When you make a change to that control position, do it one thing at a time. Otherwise feedback might be less accurately reliable. Decide that the big change is worthwhile (even if only for more testing) before incorporating more changes along with it.

Use your imagination. As long as you have a place to return to, any side trip is a no-harm, no-foul experience. Try canting the rifle inward a little more, changing the position of your right foot, gripping more (or less) with the little finger, loosening or tightening a strap on the coat. You name it.

 And do by all means name it. Write everything down! Don’t end a session without making a few notes. State what you tried and then what happened. Add on ideas for next time. Don’t trust memory. It’s right then and there that you have the most keen sense of feedback.

air rifle
This photo is a many years old. If you’re training for competitive shooting, at the least, wear your coat, glove, and ear phones (if you normally wear them). I learned the very hard way to now give that advice. I used to shoot my air rifle without my coat or any other gear but a glove. My idea was to develop a standing position that relied that strongly on skeletal support. (My idea also was to stay cool and reduce set up time.) As a result, I got to where I could shoot really good targets just in a t-shirt. I worked and worked (and worked) on this. Well, then I put my coat on, and my hear-phones, and found out that I couldn’t duplicate my t-shirt position! Oops. I learned a lot but overlooked the future application of why it was that I was learning.

3. Test yourself.
Don’t over-stay a dry-firing session. There’s a time to quit, and that’s so decidedly for your own good. A yardstick for a competition shooter is no longer than the “official” duration of a string, plus 5 minutes more or 5 shots more for a little extra strength. Those among us who tend to be, well, a little hard on ourselves, don’t like quitting until they “get it.” After a point, which varies with us all, we experience a physical and mental breakdown where we then are running experiences through a tired mind and body. I’ve seen this in other sports. Hitting too many golf balls, throwing too many pitches, running too many laps on a racetrack. If you’re trying to teach yourself when you’re tired, you’re learning only how to perform when you’re tired. If you want to build strength and endurance, do exercises where that is the focus. Hold the gun to the point of exhaustion, just don’t drop the hammer! I think you’ll get more from lifting weights.

 Speaking of exhaustion, still considering the cautions just presented, find out how long you can hold on a shot attempt. This is important. Over-holding can kill a score, so can “over-staring” the sight. Pay attention to sight movement, and then, mostly, see when it’s just done with until the next attempt. This is valuable. It’s hard sometimes on a record shot not to continue to hold beyond the point you should have brought the gun down.

Dry-firing is not shooting… We all score more “10s” dry than live. So, point is that if you can bring dry-firing closer to live firing you’ll be hitting a lot closer to center a lot more often. As always, call each shot, dry or live. We learn all this dry-firing and then we hope to remember this on the range. That’s the whole point.


Last: Take all your dry-fring practice to the limit first trip out to the live range this Spring. Here’s how: Have someone load your gun for you. Or not… Right: it might fire or it might not fire. You’ll be slap amazed at what you might have learned. It helps to have a friend with a dark sense of humor. Remember: the idea is to take that dry-fired perfection straight to target center.


 Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Zediker Publishing. Glen Zediker has worked professionally with some of the greatest shooters on the planet, and he does pretty well on his own: Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information, please check ZedikerPublishing.com

Shooting Skills: Dry-firing Practice, Part 1

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The art of shooting without shooting. Here’s how to make a big improvement in your on-target accuracy come Spring, and it doesn’t cost a thing but some time… Read on!


By Glen Zediker


Defined: dry-firing is shooting with no ammunition. Cock the gun, hold on the target, break the trigger. It’s a simulation.


First: Will dry-firing hurt my gun?
No. Any and every centerfire bolt-action rifle I know of (that “we” use anyhow) can be dry-fired endlessly with no damage done, and it’s the same for pistols. If you are at all worried, use a “snap-cap,” which is a cartridge duplicate that provides a cushion. Midsouth Shooters Supply carries them. .22 rimfires people have different opinions about. The fear is peening the area around the chamber friom firing pin contacts. Ruger actually encourages dry-firing its 10/22 (so says my factory manual). Inserts are also available to cushion the blow, and even a spent cartridge case left in place will do the trick too.

snap-cap
A-Zoom Action Proving Rimfire Dummy round.

Check out a few products at Midsouth, if you’re worried…


Every shooting coach I know of sings the value of dry-firing. It’s a training staple for competitive shooters, and, as a matter of fact, me, David Tubb, and most others I know spend time dry-firing prior to an event to get mind and muscles warmed up. However! It’s the equivalent of stretching for a runner. As with many things, most things, as a means toward improvement, you get from it what you put into it. A big part of that is also in how you put into it.

First is safety! Make double-daggone sure there is no ammunition in the gun (of course) and also that there is none nearby. No loaded magazines in vicinity. I’ve heard stories from people who reloaded their handguns, in this instance, after a dry-firing session and then decided to snap just one more “for the road.” Yikes. Don’t trust memory.

Part of the point and advantage to dry-firing is elimination of distractions. We can then see and sense things when we’re in our little cocoons that may be obscured in live-fire at the range. I’m not saying that no one can tune in as keenly outdoors with a loaded gun, but can say there are always more distractions in that environment. The point is to see it dry-firing, and then experience it again at the range. That’s the idea.

The first and foremost conviction necessary to make dry-firing “work” is a commitment to two things. One is observation, close observation, of sight location and movement. No matter what, that’s the “it.”

You must be able to connect sight location at the instant you are aware of the audible “click” of the hammer or striker fall. Not just when the trigger breaks. There’s a few milliseconds in the interim. It won’t take long to, on its own, develop the skill of “calling” shots with more precision and realism dry-firing with this as a goal. (Calling a shot is providing an estimation of its location on the target based on sight location at the moment of firing.) It’s how a shooter learns to separate what should be and what actually is. If you are perfectly aware of the sight location on the target at the strike, that by itself may have improved followthrough. You are then “holding on” just a little longer, and I discussed the importance of that in an earlier article in this series. Experience will show you the difference between seeing the sight picture and breaking the trigger, and calling that result, compared to seeing the result upon the strike, and calling that result. It’s a small thing, but many small things happen in the time it takes for the bullet to exit. No matter what your last name is, everyone’s gun is moving. It’s also here that the shooter learns to watch closely for movement.

Dry-firing allows a shooter to discover perfection in natural point of aim. Natural point of aim (let’s cut it to “npa”) is a drilled and preached fundamental by every instructor or authority I know. Dry-firing gives the opportunity to honestly get in tune with it. At least three things you’ll learn: npa is a finite point, not an area. It has two components, vertical and horizontal. And it changes! Even among the very best shooters, it’s not likely to start and stop with the exact same body orientation for a full shot string.

A huge key to refining npa is watching for sight movement just before or just as the trigger breaks. That’s easy to see in dry-firing and more difficult with a loaded gun. I’m not exactly sure why npa sometimes “reveals” itself in this moment, but it does.

AR15 dry-fire device
Here’s handy for AR15 shooters. Renown AR15 builder John Holliger of White Oak Armament developed this device to help dry-firing an AR15 easy. It drops in and replaces the magazine and lets you reset the trigger using the lever on the device rather than racking the action each shot. Cool. Check it out HERE

The target you select for dry-firing exercises can be very variable. If you’re looking to replicate the same target you use outdoors on a small scale, a calculator and computer printer gets you close, and experimentation gets you closer. Otherwise, anything can work. Light switches are great for pistol practice. They look a lot like a USPSA-style “Milpark.” And, why not also try the “Holding Drill” targets shown last time?

dry-firing target
Scale a target for dry-firing. I can’t tell you exactly what size to make it, but a little math usually gets it pretty close. Due to varying appearance that results from distance outdoors, the one you train with dry-firing might need to be a tad different size than calculations indicate. Lighting conditions change the appearance of a bullseye, as can perception of sight picture relationship to same. This is what I use from 20 feet for rifle practice: the aiming black area is 0.700 inches diameter to replicate an NRA SR1 (200-yard target). That’s a little smaller than the calculation indicates. CLICK HERE  to download a .pdf ready to print

 Information in this article was adapted from material in several books published by Glen Zediker and Zediker Publishing. Glen is a card-carrying NRA High Master and earned that classification in NRA High Power Rifle using an AR15 Service Rifle. For more information and articles available for download visit ZedikerPubllishing.com

Glock G29 10mm Pistol Review

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Here’s a “real” 10mm Auto for the real world. If you’re looking for a very compact and very powerful semi-auto, the author thinks you can’t do better than this one… Keep reading.


By Major Pandemic


msss_g29_from_glockDuring my behind-the-scenes tour of the U.S. Glock factory, many things drifted through my mind. At that time I was one of eleven editors invited to the unveiling of the secret release of the Glock G43. That predictable and yawn-able moment of the G43 introduction where we all exclaimed, “Good Lord, finally…” my mind was thinking about a G29. The G29 is in essence a G19 in 10mm and is Glock’s “compact 10mm” pistol. Though the G29 is actually about 1/4-inch shorter than the G19, the reality is that the G29 is like a G19 9mm that has overindulged a bit at the pasta bar.

The 10mm G29 is also Glock’s most powerful compact pistol, capable of delivering 550+ ft/lbs of energy depending on the chosen ammo. Not bad considering there’s 10+1 rounds on tap… It’s a lot of power in a small and concealable package.

Brief History of the 10mm Auto
The development of the 10mm round is a story that dates back to the 1970s. The idea was a high-power flat-shooting semi-auto cartridge that would run in a 1911-platform pistol, and that would approximate .357 to .44 Magnum (mid-weight loads) ballistics. In the end, Col. Jeff Cooper was involved in its development at the point Norma began producing ammunition in the early 1980s. The FBI felt a little outgunned on the streets and briefly adopted the 10mm with the full-bore loads that were first released. The reality turned out to be that the vast majority of the agents were uncomfortable shooting and handling the larger-dimensioned and significantly more powerful 10mm guns. The ammo manufacturers responded with the 10mm “Lite” rounds which essentially dropped the power all the way down to about .40 S&W levels; however, the FBI and the public then wanted a smaller cartridge format with less power than what the original 10mm round delivered. Smith & Wesson thought there was a waste of unused powder space in the longer 10mm brass and developed a “10mm Short,” or what we now know as the .40 S&W. That round delivered everything the FBI specs wanted in a format that would fit in a smaller 9mm-sized pistol platform.

10mm, .40 S&W, 9mm
10mm, .40 S&W, 9mm

The current crop of 10mm rounds from Hornady and others are not powered-down to the degree the earlier “Lite” rounds were, and some are certainly loaded hotter as we see with the higher-power Buffalo Bore, Federal, and Liberty Ammunition rounds. The current 10mm rounds are much more powerful than .40 S&W. .40 S&W usually delivers around 450 ft/lbs of energy and the 10mm typically delivers around 550, about 20-percent more power.

Today the 10mm cartridge has devoted fans and still has a following in Special Forces, Special Law Enforcement, and is growing as a hunting cartridge.

Glock’s 10s: G20, G20SF, G29
Glock began producing the G20 in 1991 to answer market demand in the 10mm Auto’s heyday. Even after demand tapered off there was still a desire for the 10mm Auto pistol, but the major complaint was the overall large size of the grip. Later in 2007, Glock introduced the G20SF which is the “Short Frame” model. The G20SF model provides a grip feel circumference equal to a standard .40 S&W-chambered Glock.

G29 vs. G19
The G29 is about the same size as a Glock 19 but a little thicker.

The net result is that those with medium to small hands can establish a comfortable and secure grip. Glock has been specifically marketing the G20 and G20SF as hunting companion firearms to be used for the hunt or to provide a humane finishing shot on very large game. For those hunting in bear country, a 15-round pistol that can deliver power that rivals some magnum rounds is an asset to personal security, to say the least. Many of the relatively rabid 10mm fanatics, myself included, requested/demanded a smaller concealable gun… The small format G29 10mm was born.

Why I Had To Have One
I would argue why wouldn’t you want one, however I can see there may be some folks who just do not understand. I’ll put it this way: Why would someone carry a .357 Magnum Ruger LCR snubby revolver when they could just carry the same gun and shoot it with less recoil in .38 Special? The simple answer is POWER and the same reason muscle cars were created. Do I need the power in a handgun to down small aircraft? Well not recently, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to have it. In fact, I have been lusting after the rather surprisingly mild-recoiling G29 since I picked up my G20. Who doesn’t need .41 Rem. Magnum power in a concealable 11-round pistol? Well I did.

Fit, Finish, Feel, Features, Function
The G29 has the fit, finish, and features the same as any other Gen-3 Glock you may have handled, however the slide and barrel is even wider and beefier than Glock’s .40 S&W pistols to handle the power of the 10mm Auto round. The side profile of the G29 is just a bit fatter than a G19 but about a 1/4-inch shorter as noted previously.

If you want night sights, I recommend getting them as an option directly from Glock as they are a bit less expensive than adding them later plus they will come factory zero’ed.

Just like any other Glock, reliability was flawless from the first to the last round. Thankfully Hornady sent me a couple boxes of their lighter-shooting 560 ft/lb Custom 10mm Auto 180gr XTP rounds and Federal supplied some of their full power 650 ft/lb 10mm 180gr Trophy Bonded JSP rounds. What surprised me most was that the recoil was really quite pleasant and even easily tolerable and controllable with the harder-hitting rounds. I will admit, the full-size G20 is a treat to shoot with hot rounds, the G29 is a bit snappy and I had to take a break after every three mags. Not painful, but the lighter G29 is snappy enough with the harder-hitting rounds that the snap feels more like bite after more than three or four mag-fulls.

Accuracy
My friend and I have made it a habit to routinely plink and hit the 12×12-inch steel 100-, 200-, and 300-yard gongs with our Glocks. Oddly enough, once you figure out the 12-15 foot holdover at 300-yards, it is not that difficult. Just like the G20 testing I did, shooting flatter shooting 10mm at distance was a whole new game. 100-yard torso shots were simply and downright easy. The original intent of the cartridge was clear: this is a longer-range handgun round and if zeroed at 50 yards, the 10mm Auto only drops about 4.5 inches at 100 yards and is only 36 inches low at 200 yards and still delivering around 400 ft/lbs of energy (about the same energy a 9mm has at the muzzle). This is a very impressive round that is more than adequate for hunting deer-sized game at a little distance.

Otherwise at normal combat distances, the G29 was marginally less accurate than your average G26 or G27 due to the increased recoil the shooter is managing.

G29, G43
10mm power is not that much bigger than the 9mm G43.

Final Thoughts
I love this little 10mm. If you have a need to drop something with about 70 to 90 percent more power than your average 9mm then the G29 is your pistol. What I love about the G29 is that it delivers the most powerful semi-auto pistol round in a reliable gun outside of a Desert Eagle. I own two Desert Eagles, and would argue the Glock 10mm is the most reliable high-power semi-auto pistol, and the G29 is the smallest format available.

G29 specifications


SOURCES
Glock – http://us.glock.com
Federal Ammo – http://www.federalpremium.com/
Hornady Ammo – http://www.hornady.com/


Major Pandemic is an editor at large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly.  MajorPandemic.com

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3 Things Holiday Travelers Need to Know About Traveling Across State Lines

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During the holidays, many people will be looking to travel this winter, driving across state lines to visit family and friends in other states. Whether you have a concealed carry license or not, if you will be traveling cross-country with your firearms, particularly through states that may not be as “firearms friendly” as your home state, you’ll be happy to know that the federal Firearm Owners Protection Act, or FOPA, allows you to legally transport your firearms in your vehicle while you drive, so long as you comply with a short list of requirements found in what is known as the “Safe Passage” provision, or 18 U.S.C. § 926A.

When not to run over a snowman

There Are Three Conditions You Must Meet to Take Your Firearms With You

  1. The first condition is that any firearms you are transporting must be unloaded and locked in the trunk of the vehicle or in another container that is out of reach or not immediately accessible. Any ammunition must also be locked in the trunk or another container. This does not include the glove box or center console!
  2. Second, your journey must begin and end in states where your possession of the firearms is legal. So, for example, if you begin your journey in your home state of Texas and are looking to drive to Grandma’s house in Kansas, where permitless concealed carry is legal, you will be protected as long as you meet the other two conditions. However, if you begin your journey in Texas and are driving to New Jersey for vacation, where a state-issued license is required to even own a firearm, you will not be protected under the Safe Passage provision.
  3. Last, you must be “traveling.” This applies especially while going through a firearms-hostile state. Unfortunately, the term “traveling” is not defined in federal law. Courts have interpreted it narrowly to indicate that a person must not stop in one place for “too long.” Unfortunately, how long is “too long” is not entirely clear. In an actual case decided in 2013, a man was convicted for illegal possession of his shotguns and rifles secured in zippered cases, after he stopped for a brief nap in New Jersey while moving from Maine to Texas. The best course of action is to get through firearms-hostile states as quickly as possible.

car holster

Safe Passage Protection May Not Always Prevent an Arrest!

A word of warning: even if you qualify for Safe Passage protection, some states, such as New York and New Jersey, treat Safe Passage protection as a mere affirmative defense instead of a protection from arrest and prosecution, meaning that police in these states may still arrest you if you are pulled over with firearms in your vehicle, despite meeting all of the conditions of the federal statute. To beat potential charges of illegal possession of firearms and/or assault weapons, you would then need to assert your Safe Passage protection as a defense in court. This could involve substantial court costs and inconvenience, not to mention putting a halt to your vacation plans.

Article originally posted on the U.S. Law Shield Blog.

Skills: Holding Better

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Become a better offhand shooter over the winter, without firing a single round…


by Glen Zediker


Last time I talked about an offhand shooting method called an “approach,” where the sight is deliberately started at some point away from target center and then systematically and methodically brought to bear on target center. The shot breaks when the sight touches center. Technically, the rifle is in motion during the span of time and distance that encompasses employing this technique. And. There’s no question that this technique or method or mindset, whatever names it best, is the surest and simplest way to fire a whole lot of center shots.

Pursuing a quest to become a truly good offhand rifle shooter, however, still requires attention directed toward improving the hold. “Hold” is the static portion of a shot where the sights are on the target. Part of the reason for this is because, in refining and improving the hold, you are also refining and improving the shooting position. That is then the base and basis for the approach. Shooting on the move is way on easier and more productive and reliable when you don’t necessarily have to rely on it… The better quality the static hold is, the more control and finesse can be employed into the approach. In calm and quiet conditions, when there’s no time element pressing, then watching a nicely centered static hold is a true accomplishment as a rifleman.

A many years ago I had the pleasure to meet Troy Lawton at an NRA Silhouette Rifle National Championship in Raton New Mexico. Then USAMU Sgt. Lawton (United States Army Marskmanship Unit), best known as an ISSF Running Target ace, was also a dominant silhouette rifle shooter (two perfect 40-target tournament scores among his accomplishments). We discussed the importance of holding ability, even though we’re shooting moving rifles, including intentionally moving rifles (as in the tracking engagement that defines running target competition). Here’s the essence of a very effective training element he used to go from “good” to “world-class” in ability to calm a rifle.

HOLDING DRILL

holding drill
Manufacture a series of target circles as shown, or use this one, and affix it to a wall any place you can dry-fire. Make the circles using a template as found at an office supply, a compass, or, easy, a computer and printer. Dry-fire (and you know the gun is empty because you’ve looked into the chamber) and determine a circle size you can maintain the sight fully inside during the most comfortable segment of your hold. The idea is that, using the slowest, most deliberate trigger pull you can, the goal is to release a shot at any time during this holding period and land it inside that circle. You’re not even trying to hit the center of the circle. Then we make it smaller…

This drill is best done indoors. Distance from the target doesn’t really matter as long as it’s always the same.

Troy’s “Holding Drill” is pretty simple: To start, determine the area you’re working with. Do that by holding and watching the range or area the sight is covering. As said last time, this will be an orbital pattern, fluctuating around your natural point of aim.

So, this initial observation defines and draws the first circle. (Or you can just print out the included illustration and hang it at 15 feet distant and see where you stand.) That circle should be a size where you could slowly pull the trigger and hit within the circle, but not necessarily the center of the circle, at any point during the time you’re holding. We’re going to work systematically to reduce the size of this circle.

Click here to get a .pdf of the circles: msss_holding_drill_target

The targets as shown here are designed for best use with a scoped rifle. Crosshairs show up well and precisely show movement area. Modify the targets to accommodate iron sights. Try white squares with a post front sight, and the target area will have to be bigger to define the holding area because the sight itself is a good 5 MOA wide.

holding drill
No doubt, the smaller the sight orbit and more consistent its pattern, the easier it is to employ an approach, even if the movement in the approach is reduced to the pulse-induced rising and dropping to a perfectly centered sight picture. This drill helps you help yourself, all by itself. All you need to do is do it. Remember, the idea is to stay within this circle throughout the shot attempt.

Back to the drill: after you’ve confirmed your ability to hold within the original circle you chose, make a target with a smaller circle and go back to work. There’s no end to this: you can always try to hold a smaller area. It’s recommended to reduce the circle size by one-half-moa each step. You’ll need a calculator to figure out what that might be in inches for the distance you have.

Holding Drill
Now. A really good question: “how long…” How long to hold? That depends on the state of muscle tone, position effectiveness, and, mostly, how efficiently your body uses oxygen. The holding limit is reached when there’s clear deterioration in the whole state of the effort. You start shaking! Symptoms of oxygen depravation are fundamentally obvious. Take the rifle down and start over. This drill also improves this capacity. NOTE: I am dry-firing in these photos, and that’s why no ear and eye protection! Otherwise: ALWAYS!

Spend some time with this over the winter. Even a couple of times a week for 30 minutes a whack, and you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll shoot. This drill is one of those perfect “indirect” learning tools where you will specifically improve where and what you need to improve keeping only this goal in mind.


For more tips and articles, all free to download, visit ZedikerPublishing.com

EVALUATION: Ruger SR1911 9mm

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A fan of the 1911, the author found this Ruger to be a great pistol, perhaps as good as it gets!


by Wilburn Roberts


SR1911

Ruger is an old-line maker that has offered quality products at a fair price for more than 68 years. They were a latecomer in the 1911 market but introduced their version that has earned an excellent reputation for reliability, accuracy, and, as always with Ruger, value.

The Ruger SR1911 9mm is an aluminum-frame 1911 in the Commander configuration. “Commander” is a generic description of a 1911 with a full-size grip and frame but shortened slide and barrel. Taking that 3/4 inch off the slide makes for a fast-handling handgun that’s more compact to carry.

There are many 1911s available. Unfortunately some are cheaply made from inferior parts. Others are very well made, and with high price tags, but have extraneous features not really needed on a combat pistol. I adhere to the principles put forth by the late Colonel Jeff Cooper. His consensus (and it wasn’t only his but as he stated “the conclusion of learned minds”) was that the ideal combat pistol was a handgun that featured good sights, a good trigger, and a speed safety. The Ruger SR1911 has all of that. After evaluating this pistol I found a service-grade handgun well worth betting your life on. And it is Ruger’s first 9mm 1911.

SR1911
Ruger’s two-tone treatment creates a handsome handgun. The fit and finish on both pistols tested was excellent. A custom-grade beavertail safety makes handling easier and shooting more comfortable. CNC machined front strap grooves are a nice touch and improve feel.

Examination
The stainless steel slide is well finished. I particularly like the chevron-style cocking serrations. They do seem to afford a bit more leverage than the original-style 1911 serrations. The gray hard-anodized aluminum frame look great, well done. The pistol does not incorporate a Series-80-style firing pin block. The Series 80 drop safety seems to irritate some shooters. The Ruger accomplishes the effect of a drop safety by means of a low-mass firing pin backed up by an extra-power firing pin spring. The sights are Novak Low Mount with three dot inserts. The sights are solidly dovetailed in. These sights allow precision fire at modest range and area aiming to 50 yards or more. The hammer is a lightweight version. It is easily cocked if desired. I carry my 1911s cocked and locked, which is correct as designed. With the hammer to the rear and the safety on, the disconnector is solidly blocked. Unless the grip safety is depressed the trigger is blocked. The grip safety is a “memory-bump” type, which aids in properly depressing the grip safety with a less-than-perfect grip.

novak
Lo-profile Novak sights front and rear offer excellent visibility along with precise shot placement at reasonable distances.

The barrel features conventional 1911 locking lugs and barrel bushing. The recoil spring plug is likewise conventional and there is no full-length guide rod. This is best for a service pistol. Over the years quite a few “target” features have crept into 1911s. A personal defense pistol is best served without these add-ons. The barrel is a ramped type, an asset to improve case head support and feeding reliability. A good improvement is a permanently attached plunger tube. Staked tubes can become problematic over time. The trigger is a long target type. I can live with this. The trigger is superb. It is crisp and clean, breaking at 5.25 pounds. The mainspring housing is a flat type, the only way to go with a custom-grade beavertail. The slide lock safety snaps into the locked position smartly indicating a tight, quality parts fit. The grips are hard rubber. They are comfortable and provide good abrasion. There is a slight dip in the front strap beneath the trigger guard that aids in gripping the pistol and also lowers the bore axis. The relatively short height of the centerline of the bore over the hand is one reason the 1911 is so controllable in rapid fire; there is little leverage for the slide to rise in recoil.

SR1911
The SR1911 comes with two high quality stainless steel magazines. These have stout springs and will feed anything I asked them to digest.

The magazines are well-made stainless steel units, with stout springs. It is a bit difficult to load more than seven cartridges but I was able to get the ninth cartridge in with some protest. I like this as there are many different 9mm loads that will cycle the slide at different speeds. A stout spring presents the rounds more quickly for better assurance of feeding reliability.

The 9mm chambering offers modest recoil yet it is undeniably a powerful cartridge. The 9mm may be used well by those who cannot tolerate the recoil of heavier caliber. Accurate shot placement can make up for power; the reverse is seldom true. 9mm loads are available for economical practice. The Winchester USA 115 grain FMJ is one example, and the Winchester USA Forged steel case ammunition is another. For those wishing to field a credible defense loading there are +P 9mm loads with a good balance of expansion and penetration. As velocity approaches 1200 fps we see powerful performance.

SR1911
Despite its shorter slide, lighter weight, but also its 9mm caliber, the Ruger SR1911 is controllable, fast on target, and reliable. Fast, accurate shots are easy with this gun.

The Firing Line
The Ruger SR1911 gave excellent results on the range. There were a handful of short cycles in the first magazine of one the pistols tested, but after that it was smooth sailing. The second pistol never stuttered. The piece fed, chambered, fired, and ejected every cartridge. Like most firearms the SR1911 exhibited an affinity for one load over others for accuracy but not for reliability.

The combination of lighter weight, shorter slide, and 9mm chambering means that this pistol is fast from leather, fast on target, and offers excellent control. The 9mm just doesn’t kick much so fast and accurate double tap and controlled pair hits were easy. This is simply a great-handling 1911.

ruger-sr1911-9mm-c9

I like the Ruger SR1911 very much. The workmanship is flawless and so is performance. This is a handgun well worth its price.

SR1911
I was able to test and evaluate a number of loadings. The Winchester 124-grain PDX Defender +P is a good choice for personal defense. The balance of expansion and penetration is impressive. If you do not wish to run +P loads in your 9mm, and many do not, the Winchester 115-grain Silvertip offers good expansion in a lighter load. I fired a number of loads for accuracy, firing five-shot groups at 15 yards. 15 yards is a long distance for personal defense.

Wilburn Roberts is a veteran police officer, gunsmith, and professor. His articles have appeared in numerous publications over many years.

LINK: Ruger.com

Why Nine?

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Why not? One of the most disrespected of all handgun cartridges, Dr. Fadala says there’s plenty of good reason the 9mm Parabellum is the most popular centerfire handgun cartridge in the world. Keep reading…


by Sam Fadala


Many cartridges from long ago rage on. My Professional Hunter (PH) rifle in Africa for eight seasons running was .45-70 Government (1865, standardized 1873) handloaded with a 500-grain bullet to 1,800 feet per second. It was replaced two years ago with a .416 Remington Magnum for longer-range shooting, not because of 45-70 inferiority. The 1902 9mm Parabellum (para-bellum, “for-war”), thrives in the 21st century for hardcore reasons: for military, police, self-defense, it is powerful yet manageable even in lightweight handguns, plus pure shooting enjoyment, which alone is a “good enough” reason to own a nine.

1911 9mm
Author Fadala carries a Springfield Armory Range Officer chambered in 9mm Parabellum. His on-target impact testing methods used for big-game cartridges convinced him the nine was right on target for defensive reliability. The FMJ 115-grain load (on right) is undeniably the most popular for 9mm pistols, and there are also very effective open-cavity defensive loads that pack a punch.

After consulting with my handgun instructor, a retired SWAT commander, I latched onto a pair of Springfield Armory Range Officer (RO) pistols, 41 ounces of reliable accuracy. My usual practice session burns five magazines, five rounds short of a 50-pack. And though I handload for many cartridges, the nine is not one. Considering today’s cost of fuel, grub, house, car, mandatory insurances, and just plain living, a box of factory 9mm is a “bargain.”

Factories worldwide produce a dizzying array of loads in two major bullet types, FMJ (full metal jacket) and “upset,” most often hollow-point. Bullet weights as this is penned, and as far as I know, run as light as 50-grains (that is not a typo) to 147gr. Most of my shooting is with 115gr FMJs, such as Russian Tul-Ammo with non-reloadable brass, okay by me since, as said, I don’t reload the nine.

The Russians say trust, but verify. I trusted information on 9mm performance, but also ran my own demonstrations in “Sam’s Bullet Box.” This device is as scientific as tossing monkey bones to tell your future, yet it works “tolerably well,” and the box is far cheaper than ballistic gelatin. While gelatin is the standard, I have proved to others as well as myself that the box reveals vital information. Projectiles that penetrate deeply in the box do likewise in other mediums. Those that blow “big holes” in the clay behave the same in “the real world.”

9mm ammo
The vast array of 9mm Parabellum rounds cover all needs and all price ranges. It’s plentiful! This is especially important if one is not a reloader.

 

The wooden box is simply long and narrow with open top and closed ends. It’s the “stuffing” that counts. For my 9mm demo, constants were two: water balloon and clay block, neither representing tissue of any kind. Water tortures bullets. Shoot into a swimming pool, even with high-power rifle, and watch bullets die quickly. Clay provides the performance channel, also known as “wound channel.” Test mediums were arranged in this order: entry into end of box (0ne inch thick), water balloon, quarter-inch plywood separating balloon from 50 pounds of damp modeling clay. Beyond the clay: compacted wrapping paper one foot thick, and finally the inch-thick box end. Backup was our winter woodpile.

When oak, juniper, and aspen were removed for the wood-burning stove, several 9mm bullets were collected. Some of these were FMJs (expected). But many were also self-defense-type with open-cavity noses. That’s a lot of penetration! Massive cavities in the 50-pound block of modeling clay displayed extreme disruption with self-defense ammo. Surprise: FMJs also did terrific “injury” to the clay.

After the bullet box, all test loads were directed into gallon-size water-filled milk containers. Devastation is the word. The little 50-grain copper monolithic, starting at around twice the speed of sound, blew the bottles into pieces of ragged plastic. The FMJs also splattered the water bottles. Any thoughts of lacking energy flew away as I picked up the debris. My wife, who is the woodworker of the family, had leftover plywood panels that I stacked close, again for demonstration only. The half-inch plywood boards verified the effective penetration of the 9mm round.

The “little nine” did “big work” with little more offense than shooting a .22 pistol. In a lighter handgun, this statement might not bear up; but my “full-size” 1911 ROs were easy-on-the hand.  I carry a nine daily in open carry. Scouting and exploring hikes, an RO rides on my hip in a Triple K Number 440 Lightning Strong Side/Crossdraw holster. Concealed carry, you bet. Not a compact, but my ROs fits neatly into a U.S. Army Tank shoulder holster under a coat. Home protection, obvious. Self-preservation of life and limb, as well as coming to the aid of an accosted innocent, no concerns. My big fist fit into the channels in the clay.

1911 shoulder holster
A full-size handgun chambered in 9mm Parabellum is a joy to shoot. The light recoil belies its effectiveness, according to the author.

When I went for handgun antelope not long ago, I packed my S&W Scandium .44 Magnum, same I carry along for hikes to fishing lakes in grizzly country, and twenty-two pistols remain my choice for small game and mountain birds. But it’s easy to see why the 9mm Luger is the most popular pistol cartridge in the world.


Dr. Sam Fadala has been a full-time author for 30 years and authored 30 books. Sam is a lifelong big game hunter, using bows and long guns, and is Professional-Hunter-licensed in Africa.

SKILLS: “Approach” Offhand Shooting Like a Pro

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Learn how to “shoot on the move” to improve your offhand shooting results. Here’s how!


by Glen Zediker


Firing a rifle off your hind legs can be a devilish venture. It’s tough to hold the sight still, or at least hold the sight still for long enough to get together all the other elements of a good shot: sight on target center, correct breathing status, deliberate trigger break. Not when the sight is bobbing and shaking around, darting on and off the target, and mostly off. A more firm hold, increasing muscle tension, can help some, or sometimes, but that’s not the answer. Not when there’s fatigue involved, and especially not when it’s breezy. Finishing off a center shot when the wind is blowing is a challenge.

offhand skills
Instead of being a slave to the unwanted but unavoidable movement inherent in a sight, take control of it, direct it, and use it. Drive the gun onto the target and take the shot. The movement and the shot funnel in together. It’s tough to get past the “freeze and pop” sort of tactic that a lot of folks use. Again, the sight is always in motion, and if it’s dead still for an instant, in the next instant it’s going to move. Don’t let it get away from you…

All good shooters work on their hold. “Hold” is the static portion of a shot where the sights are on the target. Working on the hold always seeks a goal to reduce the movement of the rifle at rest. But there’s always movement… So, if you can’t beat it, use it. This next idea is not universally adhered to by all top-level shooters, but it dang sho works for some of our best. He didn’t necessarily invent it, but David Tubb, 11-time NRA High Power Rifle Champion and winner of over 40 NRA Metallic Silhouette Rifle titles, uses an “approach” method to fire all his standing position shots.

It’s pretty simple, but, as with many things, details increase the scope of a technique. So, what it is, is, deliberate movement of the sight onto the target, firing the shot when the sight touches on target center. “Shooting on the move.” Don’t wait until the sight sits still on the target. Move it in, take the shot. But it’s not a rapid swing across, yanking the trigger as the sight streaks across the target. It’s a small, deliberate, controlled movement, and “controlled” is the key word.

Keys to warming up to and exploiting shooting from an approach are, first, that the natural point of aim has to be dead-solid-perfect. Since the sight is deliberately being started away from center, looking to a point that’s not on your natural point of aim, driving it then into center is arriving at the natural stopping and resting point for the sight. That’s very important. Another key is maintaining a strong focus on the sight. You already know where the target is, so eliminate that element of your attention. The closer you can learn to watch the sight, the sooner you’ll master this technique.

To use an approach to best advantage, the approach distance and direction needs to be the same each and every time. We’re following a deliberate pattern to get the sight to the target. Take the shot as the sight is going into the target, not after it’s gotten there and the next move is for it to twitch out and away from the target. It is, no doubt, a matter of timing! The sight has stopped as I break the shot, and it’s for a very brief time. But it has stopped. Just follow the bouncing ball… Fire when it lands. That’s the way I think of it.

Using an approach strategy reduces the time needed to complete a good shot, and it also condenses that time into a schedule, in a way of looking at it. It becomes a routine. This goes a long way toward battling fatigue, and reduces the number of “restarts” following over-held attempts. This is important in competition where we’re firing 20 shots in 20 minutes. That’s a strain, or it is when we’re trying to put them all in the 10-ring.

So how far off the target to start the sight? That varies a whopping lot, and the answer, as anticipated, comes from experiments with an eye on making this determination. I start pretty close, others start a good way off the target. I don’t think it matters as long as, as also anticipated, it’s something experimentation has shown works best for you.

approach sequence
This illustration shows a breakdown of Davd Tubb’s approach method. Total time elapsed: about 3 seconds. Now, I go the opposite direction: I start my sight on the right edge of an aiming black (at 200 yards it’s a 13-inch-diameter circle), take up the first stage in the trigger, and move it over. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, bang. To be very specific, I also start it a little high and bring it across and slightly down on a diagonal. I do this because, one, it’s the natural “wobble pattern” I tend to see in my static hold, and, two, it helps guard against the high shot I am prone to endure sometimes. All that comes from a whopping lot of practice.

I’m kind of “wound up” in my offhand position. I use a lot of hip twist to get my elbow down on my hipbone for support. I’m twisting toward my left, so I start the rifle off to the right. That way I’m winding in rather than spinning out. Others, like Tubb, tend to approach from the left because they prefer a more natural “uncoiling” direction.

A calm trigger break is crucial. That’s not slow or gentle, but one that evokes no anxious moment or sporadic reflex. The finger just presses back.

This is where the previously discussed advantages of a good two-stage trigger, and one with additional overtravel, show their values. Both provide a “ready-to-go switch” waiting on a shot green light. The extra overtravel means you don’t have to be delicate pressing the trigger back; the rifle won’t be disturbed like it might if the trigger stopped abruptly.

With experience, and a few experiences where you see that this, indeed, “works,” it’s possible to narrow down the approach to a short amount of time.


The preceding is excerpted from some materials I have worked with David Tubb to develop and publish. For more insight, articles, and tips, visit DavidTubb.com, and also ZedikerPublishing.com

U.S. Law Shield: Untraceable “Ghost Guns” On the Rise, But Are They Legal?

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Ghost Gun .(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
Ghost Gun (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Gun enthusiasts and hobbyists have long been building their own firearms by purchasing lower receivers or kits and other parts needed to assemble a firearm.

The lower receiver is a small block of metal about the size of a deck of cards where the trigger mechanism is housed and where bullets pass through. A gun cannot function without it. A finished lower receiver is the piece of the firearm regulated by federal law and must contain a serial number stamped into it.

Technology today and the hundreds or even thousands of websites selling lower receivers, kits, and parts over the internet makes it even easier. There are no background checks required to purchase these lower receivers or kits.

There are no federal restrictions on an individual making a firearm for personal use, so long as it does not violate the National Firearms Act (NFA), according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).

The ATF has long held that items such as receiver blanks, “castings” or “machined bodies” in which the fire-control cavity area is completely solid and un-machined have not reached the “stage of manufacture” which would result in the classification of a firearm per the Gun Control Act of 1934 (GCA). That stage is “80 percent complete.” ATF regulations hold that receiver blanks that do not meet the definition of a “firearm” are not subject to regulation under the GCA.

Furthermore, under federal law, no serial numbers are needed on firearms that are built for personal use, making them untraceable by law enforcement.

By leaving the lower receiver unfinished— meaning only partially drilled — it fails to meet the ATF’s requirement of being more than 80 percent complete and is therefore not considered a “firearm” subject to regulations. Buyers can finish the receivers at home by finishing the drilling.

The ATF refers to such guns as unfinished receivers, though they’re also called 80 percent receivers, home built firearms, or “ghost guns.”

And it’s all perfectly legal.

These self-assembled and untraceable “ghost guns” are becoming increasingly more popular amongst gun enthusiasts across the country and is becoming big business for parts manufacturers and for dealers selling kits.

Elite Custom Railing in Holly Hill, Florida, for example, specializes in unfinished lower receivers for a do-it-yourself AR-15. A company spokesperson said they sell between 100 and 150 lower receivers each day.

It is just one of six companies in Volusia County alone engaged in manufacturing and/or selling kits or unfinished receivers that allow buyers to assemble military-style, semi-automatic rifles at home.

Another Volusia County company, Stone Mountain Gold ‘n Guns in DeLand, will sell the “80% receivers” to a customer only in person and not over the internet as others in the county do. A manager said he will complete the sale only if he feels comfortable with the person buying the receiver. Stone Mountain sells about 20 a month, according to the manager.

The ATF and some law enforcement agencies have expressed a concern about these homemade firearms, believing that the availability of the untraceable receivers will encourage criminals and terrorists to start building their own weapons.

Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi said in an interview in the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “We’re making it easy for the criminals. I have a concern — a huge concern over that.”

Mary Salter, ATF Tampa Field Division public information officer, believes some criminals are purchasing non-serialized and therefore untraceable firearms because their intent is to commit crimes.

“ATF, and law enforcement, in general is seeing homemade firearms without serial numbers at crime scenes,” Salter said. “Tracing firearms found at crime scenes to the original purchaser is a valuable tool in law enforcement,” Salter added. “When a homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, investigators are left with a dead end, where a trace of a firearm may generate valuable investigative leads.”

“With advancements in technology in regards to 3D printers,” Salter said, “CNC milling machines, and the availability of receiver blanks, it has become much easier for a person to build a firearm. “When a “homemade firearm is found at a crime scene, it means investigators are virtually left with a dead end,” said Salter.

And in California, Graham Barlowe, resident agent in charge at the ATF’s Sacramento Field Office, said he started seeing crimes involving untraceable guns about two years ago. In November of this year, Barlowe’s undercover agents arrested eight men for manufacturing and selling illegal firearms, seizing about 90 un-serialized firearms out of the more than 230 illegal firearms found. His agents have also found electronic mills that carve a complete receiver in 12 minutes.

“It is one of the biggest problems in Northern California for our office, if not the biggest problem,” Barlowe says. He estimates that his office has seized about 500 un-serialized receivers since 2013.

The Santa Monica shooter, John Zawahri, used a rifle made from parts he purchased online to kill himself and five others on June 7, 2013.

atf-receiver-1
From ATF.

And in neighboring Arizona, between 2009 to 2011, ATF reported that it seized 191 of the 80 percent receivers in Tucson that were headed to Mexico to be assembled, possibly by cartels.

In Florida, law enforcement officials claim the unregistered guns can make it easy for criminals to arm themselves with untraceable weapons.

However, others disagree with that assessment, claiming the skill and equipment necessary to build the firearms is anything but easy and, therefore, makes this approach more costly and time-consuming than simply acquiring an already completed firearm. A milling machine (or at least a milling guide kit), for example, can cost around $1,500, and it could take weeks to complete an AR-15 kit.

And to complete an unfinished lower receiver, a person must carefully mill or drill out a portion of the inside of the receiver, which can take many painstaking hours. Without a properly milled lower received, a functioning firearm would be impossible to produce.

Many believe manufacturing a homemade weapon is generally too costly, too troublesome, and too expensive for criminals.

Furthermore, FBI statistics indicate semi-automatic weapons are used in less than one percent of crimes in the U.S. Most criminals use handguns, and most guns used in crimes are stolen. Criminals looking to buy a weapon can get them from private sales without a background check and do not have to go through the trouble and expense of building their own rifle.

Rob Dunaway, President of American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale, Arizona, says most of the customers who buy the incomplete receivers are people who like to personalize their semi-automatic rifle and or more worried about changes to the gun laws.

“Some people buy them to store them for potential future use,” Dunaway said.

Previous attempts to regulate “ghost guns” in California failed, when a bill that would have allowed the manufacture or assembly of homemade weapons but required the makers to first apply to the state Department of Justice for a serial number that would be given only after the applicants underwent a background check, was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014.

However, earlier this year, Gov. Brown did sign a bill requiring people who build guns from these 80% receivers to register them and get a serial number. That law takes full effect in 2019. — by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog

Do you believe “ghost guns” or the 80 percent receivers pose a serious problem? Should you have to undergo a background check to even buy an 80 percent receiver or kit before you are allowed to build your own firearm for your own personal use? Should you have to register a firearm you build yourself and obtain a serial number? Let us know what you think.