Tag Archives: Personal Defense

The Glock M44 — Glock Imperfection?

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

G44
The Glock M44 is a great all around trainer and target practice handgun.

Heyward Williams

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

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The M19 and M44 frames are similar but not identical.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SKILLS: Handgun Stopping Power

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

Bob Campbell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW/RETROSPECT: A Look At An Old Bullseye Gun

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There were giants in those days… READ MORE

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

Heyward Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

madore
The Madore gun features a solid adjustable trigger.

REVIEW: Glock Model 34 9mm Generation Five MOS

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

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

Heyward Williams

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

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

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

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

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

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Braced barricade fire is very accurate.

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

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

Additions

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

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

g34

SEE FULL SPECS HERE

SKILLS: Holsterless Handguns — Viable?

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A true packing pistol should be viable if simply shoved in the waistband… READ MORE

no holster carry
Carrying the piece crossdraw in the waistband works well for many shooters.

Bob Campbell

For years most of us have counseled concealed carry handgun carriers to choose a proper holster. A holster keeps the handgun stable and angled for the proper draw. Just the same, who am I to go against two hundred years or more of tradition? Wild Bill Hickock kept his revolvers in a tightly woven sash. Few early holsters were suitable for concealed carry. Even today many folks like pocket carry. I will leave that for another time. Many of us like to shove a handgun in the belt for a quick run to the store or for more casual carry. Among my friends that are retired cops the trend seems to be toward such carry. That’s fine as long as they know what they are doing. The handgun must be tightly sandwiched in between the belt and the body and reasonably secure, not likely to be dislodged. I am not recommending concealed carry with no holster, far from it, but I am also a realist and feel that this common practice should be discussed.

no holster carry
If there were ever a better packing revolver than the Colt SAA the author has never seen it.

Sam Colt designed pocket, belt and holster guns. Each was a different size, for different needs. They generally ran .31, .36 and .44 caliber. Today we have sub-compact, compact and service size pistols. Some are less suited for concealed carry than others. As an example, I usually carry a Commander .45. I may carry a Government Model .45. I have learned after much experimentation that rail guns can be tricky on the draw. The Springfield Operator seems the best of the bunch when coupled with the Galco N3 holster, and a sharp draw isn’t difficult. Sometimes this isn’t true with other designs. If you are going to carry the 1911 in the waistband then the casual outlook probably doesn’t include a rail for mounting a combat light. The rail may snag on clothing. It is important to practice the draw. It is obvious that carrying the pistol cocked and locked isn’t the best idea if the handgun isn’t carried in a holster. The 1911 may reasonably be carried hammer down in relative safety if the pistol features a firing pin block or extra strength firing pin spring as most all modern 1911s do.

no holster carry
A cocked and locked 1911 rail gun, upper, may not be the best choice for waistband carry. The P210 9mm, lower, is long but slim and rides well without a holster. It is also easy to cock the hammer quickly.
no holster carry
This rail may snag the undergarments — practice a few draws to be certain.

The problem is cocking the hammer on the draw. It isn’t that difficult with the modern Government Model with a spur hammer. Some practice needs to go into this draw and making the pistol ready. It is slower than cocked and locked carry. But it is faster than carrying with an empty chamber. If you are carrying a self loading handgun with an empty chamber you really need to be carrying a revolver! When it comes to other single action hammered self loaders we have a mixed bunch. I am not exactly a snowflake, but I find the hammer of the Browning High Power 9mm very difficult to cock on the draw. The hammer is powered by a very heavy spring. The High Power will certainly crack most any primer, which is the design intent, but that hammer renders the High Power much less desirable for holsterless carry. I have to use two hands to rack the High Power. The CZ 75 is another matter. This piece is snug against the body, nearly perfect for carrying in the waistband. While the CZ is a double action first shot pistol it is pretty easy to cock the hammer on the draw. I am very much enjoying the SIG P210A. This is a wonderfully accurate and very well made single action handgun. I find cocking the hammer on the draw quite easy. I don’t feel comfortable carrying any striker fired handgun thrust in the waistband. Neither should you. Some self loaders dont work well based on design. Among my favorite light handguns is the Bond Arms Bullpup 9. The Bullpup 9 is a great shooter and its double action only trigger makes it a safe enough pistol to pack without a holster. The problem is the super compact geometry. The piece just doesn’t fit and balance well in the waistband.

no holster carry
The Model 69 .44 Magnum, top, is a good waistband gun — the Ladysmith, center, is pretty good but the snub .38, bottom, may squirm too much.

For the most part revolvers do not work nearly as well in the waistband without a holster. The snubnose .38, among the most trusted defensive handguns, is too short and squirms in the waistband. A three inch barrel version is a bit better. I sometimes carry the Model 69 2.75 inch barrel Combat Magnum .44 in the front, to the right of the belt buckle, and it is okay for a casual walk. The absolute best balanced revolvers for casual in the waistband carry are the plow handled Single Action Army types. This is among the reasons so many lawmen kept the SAA long past its prime, it is simply well balanced and fast handling. A 4 ¾ inch barrel SAA is about as compact as most double action .357 revolvers and balances well if worn in the front and tucked into the waistband. If you are worried about the revolver slipping into the pants then open the loading gate (crossdraw in the waistband also works as well) as you draw close the loading gate.

no holster carry
Striker fired pistols such as the SIG, top, are not the best choice for carry without a holster. The DAO Bond Bullpup, lower, is a good handgun but the geometry demands a holster. Just not enough real estate to keep the piece steady in the belt.

I think that there are times when holsterless carry works well. It isn’t ideal but then all types of concealed carry are a compromise.

REVIEW: The Glock M44 — Glock Imperfection?

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

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

Heyward Williams 

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

The .22 rimfire Glock is today’s headline.

Glock has boldly moved out of the personal defense and service market. Many makers or aftermarket makers offer rimfire conversions for their handguns. Some work well, others not so well. I have used a .22 caliber handgun for marksmanship training, practice, and small game hunting for decades. They are just fun guns. You don’t have to have a reason to own one. Shooters that neglect to own a .22 handgun are missing out on an important tool. The cost of a handgun pales over the cost of an extensive training regimen. The .22 allows many thousands of rounds of rounds of ammunition to be fired for a pittance. The problem is the .22 is a hoary old design. The rimmed cartridge case and heel based bullet don’t make for the most reliable feeding — not to mention powder designed for rifles. The resulting pressure curve makes for difficulty in convincing a pistol to feed properly. Most makers warranty their pistol with work only with high velocity loads. Since standard velocity loads are generally more expensive than bulk produced high velocity loads this isn’t a demerit. CCI alone manufactures billions of .22 LR cartridges a year.

Glock M44
The Glock 19, top, in 9mm, is a bit heavier than the similar Glock 44 .22, bottom.

The Glock M44 is a Generation 4 type with a finger groove frame. The pistol is designed to mock the popular Glock 19 9mm. The Glock 44 is well suited for rimfire practice for those that own Glock centerfire handguns. The pistol is equally well suited to beginning shooters and those that enjoy informal target shooting and small game hunting. A radical departure from the Glock 19 is a lightweight slide that is a hybrid mix of polymer with metal reinforcement. A steel slide would be too heavy to be actuated by rimfire recoil. While it may be tempting to fit aftermarket sights, perhaps the same XS sights found on your Glock 23 as an example, makers tell me they do not recommend steel sights be pressed into the polymer Glock hybrid slide. Downer there. Otherwise the takedown, magazine release, and trigger action are straight up Glock.

Glock M44
The internals of the Glock 44 and Glock 19 are similar. The Glock 44 has a longer ejector and different locking block.

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

Glock M44
An easy load magazine is a big plus for the Glock 44.

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

Glock M44
The M19 and M44 frames are similar but not identical.

I have fired the Glock 44 extensively with a lot of help from the grown grandchildren. The pistol is a fun gun. Personal defense drills may be run quickly. It really isn’t much faster to fire a string than the Glock 19, at least accurately, as you have to be careful to center the sights and the whippy slide makes it a bit more difficult. No problem, this is a .22. So — cross training with the 9mm is pretty realistic. As for hunting I will no longer have to hold the Colt Frontier .22 in one hand and a light in the other. I can use  both hands and light up a racoon with the TruGlo combat light on the rail of the Glock 44.

As for reliability, well, it isn’t up to the usual Glock standard. Various institutional shoot outs have subjected the Glock 9mm to ten to forty thousand rounds of ammunition and found the piece very reliable. Occasionally a trigger return spring will break at thirty thousand rounds. Big deal. The Glock 44 has a drawback in mounting after market sights, but that’s ok. Just not perfect commonality with the service gun. The trigger action may be changed out with an aftermarket trigger group so that’s good. The slide and barrel differ in the locking block so you cannot put a Glock 44 slide on the Glock 19 and that’s good.

Reliability is the big problem. It isn’t as reliable as Glock claims. With several types of High Velocity loads it is almost, but not quite, one hundred per cent. Be careful how you stagger the cartridges in the magazine. Subsonic ammunition is supposed to work. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Once the piece is dirty sub sonics don’t work as well. The first sign is the slide doesn’t lock open on the last shot. The pistol is reliable with CCI Mini Mags, either RN, HP or segmented. These loads are one hundred per cent at least up to about four hundred rounds. Don’t laud my efforts too much, it was a lot of fun. Keep the Glock 44 .22 pistol clean and lubricated and it will go several hundred Mini Mags without a hiccup. That’s all we can ask. It is a neat .22, a Glock, it is less reliable than some .22s and more so than others.

SEE MORE HERE

 

 

REVIEW: Dan Wesson Guardian

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This Dan Wesson is a faultless performer with good features. READ MORE

dan wesson guardian
The Guardian is well made of good material and a formidable handgun.

Heyward Williams

For some time I have regarded the Commander size 1911 handgun as the perfect carry gun for my needs. A Commander is simply a Government Model 1911 with a slide ¾ inch shorter and an aluminum frame in place of the larger handguns steel frame. This makes for a packable handgun with plenty of power. The Commander retains the low bore axis, straight to the rear trigger compression, and excellent features of the Government Model. After a number of difficulties, fights for my life including a fall from a porch of some four feet with four hundred pounds of felons intertwined with me, car wrecks, and climbs in ancient artifacts of architecture I find my back isn’t what it once was. Just the same the 1911 does the intended job like no other and I am not one to compromise. The 1911 .45 is my handgun and the one that I will carry. There are modern choices using space age alloys that allow me to carry the 1911 in comfort. Recoil is greater with these lightweight handguns as there is seldom a free lunch, only tradeoffs. But thank God I am not yet troubled by pain in the wrist and hands and I am able to handle .45 ACP recoil in the hands. The .45 ACP has a push rather than a rap in my perception and the 1911’s low bore axis and well shaped grip helps to an extent with recoil. If you carry a lightweight .45 prepare for a greater investment in time and ammunition to master the piece. With that in mind I looked for the best combination of features, accuracy, and excellence of manufacture. The sky wasn’t the limit — the price must be reasonable for the quality. I have constantly upgraded my 1911s as better types became available. One of those types is the Dan Wesson Guardian.

dan wesson guardian
Dan Wesson’s LW .45 provided excellent results.

The Guardian features a 4.25 inch barrel and a full length grip frame. The shorter slide is much easier to conceal in an inside the waistband holster. A full size grip allows fast handling. The sight radius is shorter than the 5 inch barrel Government Model but excellent shooting may be done with the handgun by those that practice. Shorter handguns require a bull barrel and dispense with the barrel bushing. I prefer the original type and if we keep the barrel length at 4.25 inches we may retain the barrel bushing. The handgun is superbly finished. The dark blue practically black finish is evenly applied and flawless. There are no tool marks inside or out. The finish is non-reflective. The trigger features an over travel adjustment. Mine is sealed in place. The trigger breaks at a very clean 5.0 pounds with little take up and no trace of creep or over travel. The pistol features tight fit in the slide lock safety with a positive indent. This is the first thing I check on a 1911, before I press the trigger. If the fit is sloppy the pistol isn’t considered for personal use. The ejection port is scalloped for more efficient unloading of a chambered round and for positive ejection. The slide release is a re-design of the John Browning type and works well in speed loads. The steel hammer is skeletonized. The grip safety is the popular beavertail type. This type of safety lowers the bore axis slightly and aids in recoil control. The speed bump aids those that have a problem addressing the grip safety. When you use the thumb forward grip there are times when the palm may be raised off of the grip safety and this safety addresses that concern. When depressed the grip safety releases its hold on the trigger about half way into the grip safety’s travel, properly operating and offering a degree of safety as it springs back into position and locks the trigger when released. The fit of the barrel, barrel bushing and locking lugs is custom grade, as it should be on this high end pistol. The Guardian barrel features a reverse crown, a nice feature. A beneficial step is the dehorning and smoothing of all sharp edges. The pistol features low profile sights with tritium inserts. The Guardian pistol is simply ideal for concealed carry in every way.

dan wesson guardian
Front strap checkering is well done and effect.

The final advantage is the bobtail mainspring housing. This mainspring housing neatly chops away the square edge most likely to print on covering garments when the pistol is worn concealed. The bottom edge of the gripstrap is radiused. This treatment balances the good handling of the arched mainspring housing or the ease with which a beavertail safety may be fitted to the flat mainspring housing. It is one of the best features of the Guardian. The grips are well turned out with a smooth area that allows rapid adjustment of the grip while the checkered areas provide good adhesion. The front strap is tastefully checkered at twenty five lines per square inch. This checkering does more to keep the grip steady than checkered grips and makes for ideal gripping surface. In this type of handgun you are paying for fit and close tolerances. This type of fitting ensures less eccentric wear as the pistol returns to battery in the same manner time after time. The handgun is supplied with two magazines.

dan wesson guardian
Front strap checkering is well done and effective.

For this evaluation I loaded a range bag with a good mix of ammunition. The Guardian was lubricated along the bearing surfaces, barrel hood, barrel bushing and cocking block. A big help was the Butler Creek single column magazine loader. I have a loader for my high capacity handguns and also the AR15 and they are a real time saver. As of this writing I have fired just over one thousand rounds in the Guardian over a period of less than six months. Results have been excellent. There have been no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. One of the reasons I favor the .45 ACP is that its wound potential is based more on diameter than velocity. The .45 ACP operates at modest pressure. This limits wear on the handgun. Muzzle flash is limited. In training one of the best choices for economical training is the Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ loading. This loading makes for affordable practice but it is accurate enough for any chore. To evaluate the pistol with hollow point defense ammunition I used the Remington Ultimate Defense in 185 and 230 grain bullet weights and added the Fiocchi Extrema 200 grain XTP loading. All loads fed, chambered, fired and ejected properly. All are controllable by those that practice. While all are good choices marksmanship and shot placement mean the most, but these are formidable loads. I have also fired a good quantity of handloads with WW 231 powder and hard cast 200 grain SWC bullets.

Firing off hand first shot hit probability is as good as Commander length .45 and the Commander length 1911 is a bit faster to clear leather for the first shot hit. Control after the first shot isn’t as good as the heavier handguns. The pistol is controllable with the proper technique it simply takes more time to recover. The first shot is most important in a personal defense situation. In competition speed and control for a long string of shots is important. The Dan Wesson is built to save your life. Firing for groups at 25 yards produced several two inch five shot groups. While this type of accuracy may not be needed in personal defense it just might be if you need to fire across a parking lot at a felon that is firing from behind cover or if you have an active shooter at longer range.

dan wesson guardian

This dog will run. With a combination of reliability, power, accuracy and fast handling the Dan Wesson Guardian is a formidable carry gun.

Leather
For concealed carry I have used the Jeffrey Custom Leather EZCarry. This holster features a strong steel belt clip and is usually worn inside the waistband. The user has the option of wearing the holster between the belt and the trousers as well. This is a true custom grade holster that exhibits the finest workmanship and stitching. There was a modest break in period. The pistol exhibits a brilliantly fast draw with this combination. Another holster I have found useful is an Avenger style from the same maker. This holster may be concealed under a light covering garment such as a vest. The Avenger features a belt loop design that keeps the holster cinched in tight to the pants. When the weather allows this type of holster it is a good choice with a less complicated draw than an IWB design.

Check out Jeffrey Custom Leather HERE

Note that the Guardian is listed as a limited production offerering now. Read MORE HERE

SKILLS: The Real Deal

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The real deal may not be flashy or exciting but it will save your life. READ MORE

bob campbell
Whatever firearm you choose, practice often and master the pistol to the bet of your ability.

Bob Campbell

In a profession that should be conservative by nature we see a lot of flash, bling, and pie in the sky in the personal defense field. A healthy dose of self respect is sometimes alloyed with ego, but the real deal in training means that the trainer must train for likely scenarios.

bob campbell
Marksmanship is a critical skill.

Personal defense isn’t a tactical operation by any means. It is small scale and most important only to the ones involved. I have trained many individuals. Most were civilians but a number were police and a few were military. Some wanted the paper and the permit and a few genuinely wanted to be proficient. Many showed up for class without enough ammunition, an improper holster, and without a spare magazine. Some had the gear but they left it at home. Quite a few showed up with the cheapest handgun they could find and there were problems with these choices. On the other end of the scale some showed up with tactical gear including tactical vests, a thigh holster and a chest full of magazines. A few showed up with practical gear well suited to concealed carry. None of those showing up with the tactical vests, knee pads and long slide Glock pistols were police or military. There is a big difference between public safety, which I was originally trained in, and private safety, which should concern each of us the most. We may use good tactics but the term “tactical” is sometimes confusing when applied to personal defense.

bob campbell
While a fast reload may not be needed often, it behooves us to practice such skills.

Most of the concerns in personal defense are mental. If your everyday gear is a tactical vest and eight magazines then your agency is most likely providing good training. There is little I can add to that. If it is all a game then get involved in IPSC and shoot against some of the best marksmen in the world. Personal defense is another discipline. Many shooters attend tactical courses, even carbine courses, and may do well but they do not really understand the application of skill. It is good to be all you can be but another to understand which skills are applicable to your likely scenario. If you are serious concerning personal defense you will learn and practice the applicable skills. An observation I have made often among shooters is that many simply cannot recognize quality gear. They come to glass with junk ammo and cheap plastic holsters. I have had to move shooters from the line because their floppy fabric holster demanded both hands to return the handgun to the holster! The handgun should be a quality piece, not necessarily expensive. The Glock 19 or the CZ P01 are good examples of very reliable but affordable handguns. They are not too small or too large. They are just right. The holster should be rigid and supported by a quality gun belt. Carry ammunition isn’t difficult. Hornady Critical Defense is affordable and reliable and offers good wound ballistics. You need a couple of speed loaders for the revolver and at least three magazines for the handgun. You probably won’t need a reload but best to err on the side of caution and carry a spare gunload. High round count battles occur when the police are chasing armed felons. If the threat retreats don’t chase him or the situation becomes mutual combat.

bob campbell
Firing quickly and getting a good hit is important.

The National Rifle Association has stated many times that the presence of a firearm deters crime more often than it needed to be fired. Many battles are over before they begin when the attacker realizes you are armed. The first thought is to get the handgun into action but it is also important to move off the X and get out of the line of fire. Felons motivated by profit don’t wish to be shot. But then some threats are psychopaths bent on causing human pain and suffering or even death. They may be formidable both physically and mentally and they may have been shot or stabbed before. All attackers may not be shaky junkies and you must be prepared to deal with the threat. If no shots are fired you are ahead of the game. The real goal is to escape unharmed without being shot stabbed or assaulted. That is winning the fight. Presenting the firearm quickly from concealed carry and getting a fast and accurate hit is what counts. The most important shot is the first one.

bob campbell
But just because you can get a lot of lead in the air doesn’t mean you should unless they are all on the target.

In a home defense situation you may have a shotgun at the ready for quickly access. You may have a handgun or a rifle. The goal is much the same with a shift in focus to convincing the intruder to leave and break off any conflict. If there are children or other family in the house we have different concerns and will engage room clearing or a search. You must quickly insure the family’s safety. This means moving carefully, taking cover, and making certain you have identified the threat. There are worse things than getting shot and shooting the wrong person is one of these. This is simply common sense. Have illumination handy. The final consideration comes when the situation demands you fire. While a double tap is acceptable, a volley of fire or hosing down the target isn’t. Only accurate fire is effective. You fire to the center of mass of the exposed target. You fire to stop. What the adversary is doing must be so terrible it must not matter morally or legally if they die as a result of being shot — but we never shoot to kill. We shoot to stop.

You are preparing a strong defense against attack. There is nothing wrong with going on the initiative and clearing the house and being proactive in training but never lose sight of the ultimate goal. That is to survive without firing a shot. And if you do fire, that you survive within the law. Concentrate on marksmanship. This doesn’t mean getting a group centered on target but getting a hit quickly and following with other hits. A group of fifty shots with the occasional shot outside the scoring rings isn’t ideal. The important shots are those that that you are firing now, and which hit the target. Fire accurately and if the shot doesn’t take effect fire again. Practice moving. Drawing the handgun and moving may conflict but the balance may be found in practice. Draw as you move off target. Train hard and practice relentlessly. Be aware that you may need your handgun to protect yourself and your family. Be certain that you are willing to use the handgun. The use of the firearm must be justified morally and legally. This is a very narrow range of circumstances.

 

 

 

The Round and the Square of It

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Sometimes the shape of the grip is everything. READ MORE

square vs round
The author is firing a round butt .44 Magnum Combat Magnum, M69. The round butt allows the shooter to take a good grip.

Heyward Williams

When choosing a double action revolver the shape of the handle makes a great deal of difference. The primary difference is between round butt and square butt grip frames. Smith and Wesson offers only one grip frame, the round butt, in modern revolvers while conversion grips allow the use of either round butt or square butt grips. Understanding the how and why of grip design will allow you to make the best choice for different chores. Let’s look at a little history and the pros and cons of round butt and square butt design. The first revolver grips were well designed and survive with little modification. The Colt Navy grip fits most hands well and the plow handled Single Action Army is similar. When double action trigger cocking revolvers were introduced there was a need to stabilize the grip as the trigger finger swings down and back rather than straight back as with the single action revolver. Recoil and abrupt edges began to be a concern with the grip design.

square vs round
The round butt, left, has less area overall than the square butt grip, right.

A grip frame that properly stabilized the firing hand was essential and slippage was a concern. Some revolvers had bird’s head type grips. This is an odd shape that while round in cross section in double action revolvers offers a stabilizing wedge. The square butt and round butt had made their appearance by 1870. Smith and Wesson’s first revolver, the No. 1, was introduced with a square butt but later models were manufactured with a round butt grip frame. Concealed carry and the ability to cup the small grip in the hand were advantages of the round butt.

square vs round
Round butt Smith and Wesson on left and square butt on right.

When Smith and Wesson introduced the successful Military and Police double action revolver it was manufactured with a round butt grip frame. Eventually the square butt frame became more popular and the majority of Military and Police .38s were square butt revolvers. I frame revolvers were mostly round butt designs but the Regulation Police was a square butt design. The original .22 Kit Guns had special grips that fit over the I frame’s round butt. The J frame was much the same but today is offered in round configuration only. Target sighted revolvers were delivered with square butt frames and when the N frame .44 frame was introduced it was a square butt. When Smith and Wesson introduced the Model 19 Combat Magnum with 2.5 inch barrel it was designed as a round butt revolver. Among my prized revolvers is a Smith and Wesson Model 66 four inch barrel with round butt. It is relatively uncommon. This revolver and its good traits spurred this article forward. While Smith and Wesson revolvers are the ones I use most often Colt also had different frame designs. The Colt New Police and the first Police Positive revolvers had one of the most uncomfortable grip frames ever designed for a double action revolver in my opinion. The Colt Police Positive Special and the treatment given the Detective Special were great improvements. In the small calibers used in the Police Positive the grip frame didn’t matter as much. With the .38 Special things were getting uncomfortable.

square vs round
This is the classic square butt Smith and Wesson K frame revolver.

With this background in mind we have a basis on which to choose our best hand fit. When Smith and Wesson went to the modern transfer bar actions they also went to the round butt grip frame. Both K and N frame revolvers have the same frame dimensions. (The Classic line differs.) This is fine for manufacturing process but not always the best for the consumer. The revolvers supplied with square butt grips are fitted with conversion grips that give the round butt grip a square butt profile. The worst kicking .44 Special I have ever fired was a Smith and Wesson Model 21 with the modern round butt and small pre Magna grips. I fitted a set of Culina round butt grips with plenty of wood as soon as possible and had a tractable and controllable revolver. The round butt is a good choice for fast handling defense revolvers. The square butt is best for target revolvers. The single action press must be controlled and the larger square butt grip allows that. As an example even the 2 inch barrel Combat Masterpiece with square butt grips is a very accurate revolver. As a field gun for accurate shooting well past fifty yards I will choose my proven Model 19 Combat Magnum with square butt grip. The hand remains in place when the thumb is used to cock the hammer for single action fire. On the other hand the Smith and Wesson Model 66 with four inch barrel and round butt handles quickly in double action fire. The round butt is less likely to print on covering garments when the 66 is worn concealed. The round butt is smaller and has less area but also invites a very fast grip acquisition. When firing heavy loads the smaller grip frame of the round butt may transfer more energy to the palm but that is a trade off — the trigger is more quickly manipulated, in my opinion, with the round butt grip. Another concern is heeling, sometimes called combat heeling. This is the effect when the handgun is gripped improperly too high on the grip. With this grip the shooter will often fire for the heart and hit the head unless the bullet simply flies over the head of the target. This is a product of hurried training and not taking time to affirm the grip. For what it is worth I believe that this type of problem is less likely with the round butt grip frame.

square vs round
Early double action revolvers had to cope with trigger cocking demands on the anatomy. The Smith and Wesson Number 1, top, is a late model with round butt.

After firing revolvers for many years I have learned that how a grip feels may not necessarily mean it will give the best performance on the range. Smaller grips may actually make for more encirclement with the fingers and a stronger hold. Trigger reach may be slightly shorter with the round butt for most hand sizes. This is important when dealing with a double action revolver. Carefully consider your needs. Smith and Wesson began manufacturing their most successful double action revolvers with a round butt and today the round butt may be the best choice for most of us. I use both Hogue and Pachmayr grips with good results.

square vs round
The author is using a set of Hogue MonoGrips on the round butt M66. The Hogue presentation grips, left, are good for most uses and the hide out grips, far left, have their place.

 

SKILLS: Training and Re-Training

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There are many considerations in training- but in the end you are responsible for your own safety. READ MORE

training
Any training regimen should include a presentation from concealed carry.

Bob Campbell

There is a lot of discussion concerning training. A lot of it revolves around choosing a trainer. There is much truth in this as the trainer gets you started on the road to proficiency, but it is all your own responsibility in the end.
You have graduated from the public school system good or bad and you are able to read so you survived and perhaps have learned a great deal on your own.  We all remember fantastic teachers who inspired us — and then there were the inept. So it is with firearms trainers.  Some practice by rote and use the training wheel method and then advance to repetition of the same boring drills. A broken record perhaps. You are well advised to never go to the range without learning something new and thinking about it- and never thinking that you know it all. There should be some stress involved in training. Different personalities handle stress differently. Some have stress from peer pressure others want to be all they can be. There are a number of types of trainers just as there are different types in every work place. There are a several types of men. If you have any work experience, institutional or otherwise, you know these men. The “me first” type cares little to nothing for his fellow man. He is out for himself. The “me too” guy is much the same but generally inept and will cause you much grief. The deadwood really cause a lot of trouble and while some mean well and may even be honest they just don’t get it and will get you killed. Then there are the dedicated. They are in the minority and everyone seems to know who they are.  They do things right for its own sake. They master whatever profession they have chosen and will do their best in whatever situation they are thrown into. Trainers of this type understand the physical and mathematical forces at work.

training
Training should be fluid and include movement.
training
Firing while moving is an important skill.
There are things I have learned which may be helpful. Some of you may have experience that makes my own experience no more than light reading, but then battle scars are a form of validation. You learn as you go along the things you need and concentrate on these skills. You can learn to master stress and perhaps even fear. A good healthy respect for the possibilities of combat will serve to make an intelligent person avoid such battles if at all possible. A well trained person will default to training and do what needs to be done and perform as well as possible during a critical incident. Afterwards they may decompress and have the shakes, knocking knees or even tears. True fear is a different thing. There is a type of fear that is a fester. Determination, gumption, self respect and ability are robbed of us by this type of fear. We have all been demoralized by a losing streak and given exuberance by a sense of accomplishment. We must balance the two. One of the ways to balance apprehension and confidence is to move from two dimensional to three dimensional training. Because standing squared to a target and firing for groups is practically one dimensional.

training
Mixing up the targets with targets without a clearly defining scoring ring is a good idea.

The practice of firing at a one dimensional target you are squared to is one that is suitable only for beginners. We were all there at one time and we progress further we hope. Then there is the problem of aiming for center mass or even finding center mass. Where is the center of the target? Hopefully we are able to quickly set the sights in the center of the target we have available. There is a very good chance that such practice by rote will result in hesitation when confronted by a problem we have not trained for. If the assailant is running toward you, running to one side and firing or particularly if the adversary is behind cover you much revamp your expectations and do so very quickly. There is a steep learning curve to be addressed. You may well be conditioning yourself for failure with poor training. Waiting for a perfect shot or for the adversary to present himself in a more likely position for a shot may result in serious death or injury. In real life the threat shoots back.

training
Getting on target quickly is important. The steel plate is a good training aid.
Ok, so you are using the center of mass shot. This is firing for the center of the opponent in order to increase the likelihood of a bullet hitting the target- the whole target, the threat. This is something of a compromise as this isnt necessarily the most efficient area to produce a shut down of the body, but it is a reasonable tool for most situations. There are degrees of wound potential lost by aiming for center mass versus aiming for the arterial region, the area most likely (other than the cranium) to induce a shut down for blood loss. The ideal type of training will involve moving target, the shooter moving off the X and finding cover, and firing for center mass when there is no other opportunity and firing for the arterial region when you are able. Consider the likely problem and keep your training three dimensional.