Putting In Work.

I didn’t want to dryfire this morning.

Nope. The next episode of “Longmire” beckoned like a siren, loading mags with snap caps and strapping on a holster seemed to be a major and unnecessary pain in the rear, and besides all that it was Valentines Day. So the girlfriend naturally had my day planned like a head of state. No motorcade, unfortunately.

Yet , dry fire I did. It was a choice I wish I could box up and take to the range I work at, so that all who see me shoot aren’t impressed at my live fire performance, but are instead impressed by the work it took to get here. It would also vindicate the verbal dispute I had with my signifigant other on the issue.

Alas this is not to be, because we are a visual society optimized for “get results quick”. In reality, good or bad results aren’t quick. People don’t get fat overnight-so why would we expect a pill to turn people thin overnight? True financial wealth isn’t built overnight either, and neither is debt. So why would we expect a get rich quick scheme to work?

When I go to the gun range I see much discussion about the size, caliber, holster, and nature of what guys and gals own and shoot. Very little is said about putting in work to attend classes, dry fire with a plan, and to practice using measured methods.
Which to an extent saddens me, because that’s how we get better at anything in life. Without putting in work, we will not improve. Whether its money, food,the Olympics or firearms.

Chronicles of Derp , The Sequel.

I visited a local, brand new gun range expecting a speedy range check in and excellent counter service like last time.

Instead I learned the hard way that the frequent stock firm ad disclaimer of “Past Performance is No Guarantee of Future Equivalents” has merit outside of finance.

“Whatcha shootin today” drawled the counter guy.

‘Oh, just a Beretta 92’. was my casual response.

“Aww man, I HATE those things. I know i’ve been told they’re stupid reasons (DANGER WILL ROBINSON!) , but I just gotta show ya.”

He then proceeds to retrieve the M9A1 rental gun in the case.

“They end up doing THIS!”

He inserts an empty mag into the slide locked rental pistol as fast as he can. The slide remains open.

“Well, it didn’t do it this time” he re-inserts the magazine into the gun a second time. It refuses to drop. Perhaps the pistol was itself sick of the show, as on the third try he gets the M9A1 to auto-forward.

“See? THEYLL DO THAT. And I don’t think its safe when a gun does that. The pistol could SLAM FIRE. I’ve seen it happen. ”

That’s right. A gun store employee believes a Beretta 92FS can slam fire if the slide is dropped on a loaded chamber.

“Now, see , this pistol I just bought recently is MUCH safer.”

I feel like im in a traffic jam on the freeway, and i’ve turned a corner to discover the congestion goes all the way to the horizon. The hope drains from my soul as he hands me the following pistol.

Common Sense Not Included.

Its a beat up FMK 9mm, complete with Bill of Rights inscriptions. I safety check the pistol , at which point I discover the gun will not lock open on an empty magazine.

“Oh, that’s just because someone dropped the magazine on the ground once. Its actually a quality handgun you know. $300 , and its MADE IN AMERICA!”

So was the M9A1 he just called unsafe ten minutes prior, but even the President once said we had 51 states. No one’s perfect , eh?

“That’s one reason why I like it. The money stays in AMERICA, with only American workers. Did you know they’re based in California?”

‘Interesting. Is that still considered part of the United States?’ I answered.

“Yeah, they’re a little left of common sense out there. But yeah, every gun they sell is made right here and the money stays here. Its not like Glock where the money goes to Germany (???) or Italy (he gestures to the cased M9A1).”

It was at this point I bid a hasty walk to the range door.
I wonder if Amazon sells a Derp detecting Geiger Counter device? If not,its a great business opprotunity.
Perhaps a clicking yellow box marked “Radioactive Bullshit ” being pointed at someone might motivate them to think before they speak.

Baseline, Part 1.

Session 1 Screenshot

Time to get serious folks. No more eyelballin’, Kentucky Windage, “Gun Feels Good In My Hand” busted heuristics here. At this here blog, we use numbers and data to make decisions.

Much like the rest of the world does every day, actually. It may seem like i’m mocking the rest of my shooting peers saying this, but think about it. How long would someone working at Apple, Microsoft, or US Steel have a job if they went to their boss and said the reason behind their workplace decisions was “it felt good at the time?”

Or “I heard a guy at Firm X uses this system, so I decided we should too”

Or “The local government uses this technique, so I thought it’d be good here too.”

They’d be on Monster.com before the boss’ blood pressure meds kicked in. So it goes here. Note that the gravity of those business & organizational choices only affects the profits or functional ability of those institutions-much less the personal safety , health, and very life of an individual and their family. If deciding which machine to use next year at the factory isn’t left to personal opinion , why should our firearms choices be so cavalierly evaluated when literal lives are at stake?

By no means is data analysis and collection a silver bullet; incorrect conclusions and flawed data gathering can still snarl the works. But the choices I make vis-a-vis my firearms will not be based on the shaky folk tales one finds at the local range counter.

As such , i’ll be completeing a statistical evaluation of my personal shooting status using 31 executions of the Pistol-Training.com FAST drill. The first series of 10 runs are pictured above with computed data. Its just the first set, so the only thing to do now is to go shoot and see what the data says.

 

Logistics

 

See the 4006 above?

Cool gun, no? .40 Caliber, metal frame, DA/SA. Old school badass in a way evocative of a 1960s Yenko Camaro.  Unfortunately I will neither be carrying or practicing with this pistol frequently for the forseeable future.

Why?

Logistics.

I called S&W this morning and spoke to a good natured fella named Jared. I asked him some questions about the 3rd Generation S&W parts situation. In summary: small parts may or may not be in stock, but frames and slides are no longer available.

While the notion of a catastrophic failure bad enough to damage the frame of my stout 4006 seems to be in the realm of “omgLOLnoway” , stranger things have happened. Having witnessed and experienced personally squib loads (bullet doesn’t leave the gun due to insufficient charge, which is aggrivating to fix) and an overpressure round ( blew out magazine and destroyed grips on my Kimber Custom II) , and seen other things happen on the range I work at , suffice it to say that Things Can Happen on the firing line.

If a Glock, Beretta, Sig, etc has a problem like that a spare parts replacement can be relatively easily done. Even if a frame or a slide is necessary for a repair, those firms still produce those guns which means replacement of the existing gun is possible.

In the case of discontinued and hard to find guns like my 4006 , should a problem happen that cant be fixed by the factory I’m hosed.Not just because the handgun itself cant be repaired ; I’d also be deprived of the skill investment behind that pistol. If I hypothetically carried my 4006 and it broke in a fashion S&W couldn’t fix, I’d probably recieve a credit to an M&P40. Not a bad thing from a money perspective, but i’d now have to re-train from scratch on a totally different handgun system.

My humble words of advice to any newbies reading this: by all means buy guns that are cool, fun, and niche. But carry something that’s still being made by the factory today .

Wilson Combat Battlesight Review.

 

Most bloggers open their websites with a visually stunning video or picture set of an amazingly cool, drool-worthy piece of gun pron.

That said, I love breaking stereotypes. Especially  internet–based ones.

So i’ll post my first review of a gun accessory; specifically the Wilson Combat battlesight.

To understand why they’re awesome, some background on their application vis-a-vis the Beretta 92 is needed. For most of that handgun’s service history, the sight options have been both limited and expensive. No one important noticed this however, because the military rarely trains its folks on pistols and Hollywood movies make it clear every round fired will hit provided the Beretta 92 user is flying through the air sideways while shooting.

And then, on the 8th Day, Bill Wilson of 1911 notoriety noticed the Beretta 92.

The sights ship in Wilson Combat’s trademark blue packaging. The plastic includes 1 rear sight, a set screw, and an allen wrench for the set screw. Bonus points for Wilson Combat here-they didn’t skip the allen wrench or force the separate purchase of a screw+wrench as an “installation package”. Everything one needs to put the sights onto the pistol is included. If only other end-user products were so thoughtfully packaged.

The stock sight picture is useable, but basic. The square post up front combined with the fixed square rear notch and smaller rear sight area makes for a busy sight picture. While the three dots and smaller viewing window are acceptable for square range slow fire, things get messy when its time to hit the gas. Being able to acquire the sights quickly is a fundamental cornerstone of high performance shooting,and the stock sights inhibit that with their square and obsolete layout.

Rearview Stock Sights

Old and busted sight picture.

Rearview Wilson Sights

New Hotness Sight Picture.

WIlson Sights Firing Pin Block

So the sights look good, shoot exactly where the maker says they will, and are easier to acquire on the draw. There are two drawbacks ; using the factory .270 height rear sights, occasionally you’ll see the little black firing pin block rise up at the end of the trigger press. During live fire stuff is happening way to fast to notice, but in a quiet room during dry fire it may be noticeable during some focused trigger presses. I personally don’t mind it; but you must decide how such a thing would impact your training process.

The sights have a healthy ledge in the front, so one-handed ubercool tactical manipulations in the Glock vein are now child’s play. The battlesight lends a modern look to the 92FS that I find purposefully attractive ; the gun no longer looks like a 1970s refugee at first glance as it does with the stock stub rear sight.

The second drawback to these sights are you no longer have an excuse to do this:

 

Available Here.

Price:$49.99 + shipping & handling.

 

The Impossible.

DA/SA guns are too hard to shoot

“.40 Caliber Sucks

High Bore Axis is Bad

Lots of haters in the gun world, eh?

 

There’s my novice self mag dumping a .40 S&W , high bore axis, stainless steel DA/SA 4006 at five yards.Don’t let anyone tell you proficiency with a quality pistol can’t be achieved because of some arbitrary feature.

Grab your Dot Torture targets and get to it! What counts is end user performance, not the finish, national origin, or caliber of your chosen firearm. Even Quentin Tarantino movie fans can train to proficiency.

The Chronicles of Derp.

The following is a catalogue of events i’ve witnessed during my last range officer shift. Unfortunately, these events are not just based on true events…they are true events.

-Logged into the range. Discovered range management purchased rental guns. One of them is a Bodyguard .380 with a laser. In all fairness, the administrators don’t know much about guns specifically so this error can be excused. Impressed fellow RSOs and customer when I could disassemble the rental AK and put it back together.

-Customers arrived with a SW1911 equipped with a laser grip and a Springfield TRP. Hope turned to sorrow as the shooters reeled their targets out to seven yards and proceeded to put their patterns low-left of the bullseye. I felt sorry for the inanimate Springfield Armory pistol. It was built to do so much more.

-Discovered rental M&P 40 was missing a magazine. It was located in the Sig P229 9mm box. The magazines look nothing alike. Thou art confused.

-Spotted a customer shooting with his offhand thumb behind his Ruger P94, equipped with a laser/light combo. It is entertaining to see trigger flinch in real time as the laser dips from center to the low left position right before the bang.

-I took apart and cleaned the 9mm 1911 rental gun. Fellow RSOs were awed by my ability to disassemble a 1911 without scratching the frame. At this point I discover one of my coworkers carries a compact Kimber 1911 with a 3″ barrel-Chamber Empty.
Let us hope he never needs to use it under defensive duress.

I point out these events for a singular purpose. If we don’t point out bad behavior , we don’t stand much chance of correcting it. Insert trite quote about the definition of insantity here____.

You Can’t Buy Skill.

Two summers ago, I used to be a big 1911 acolyte. For those who’ve not seen such a pilgrim, here’s a primer for what they look like.

-They disdain anything made after 1935.
-Colonel Jeff Cooper is their prophet.
-Every trigger made , especially striker fired and DA/SA, sucks compared to the 1911.

I bought into the ‘3.5lbs, crisp’ hype-because I didn’t know any better. I shot and kept my 1911 because it was the only gun in my collection I could shoot competently well. While my ego said it was because the pistol was a superior shooting instrument, the reality was that I was an inferior shooting instrument and the lightweight trigger of the 1911 allowed me to shoot the pistol before my piss-poor grip and trigger control could ruin the shot. No such margin of error using a striker or hammer fired trigger system.

Ultimately the lesson I had to learn the hard way running a 1911 on the clock vs a borrowed Sig was this: you can’t buy skill. Trigger springs and lightweight connectors can’t cover failed technique, and the more money a shooter sinks into hardware the less skilled they become at shooting. Worse , the “light trigger” pursuit tends to have no bottom. If 3.5lbs is good, wouldnt 0.00lbs be better?

Case in point.

The above link is for a trigger modification to the Walther PPQ, which already ships from the factory with what is likely the lightest and crispest trigger in the industry as it is. The trigger is so light that it actually can’t qualify for Law Enforcement use in Germany, where the pistol is made .
Speaking of Germany, lets look at why that is. Years past the German government couldn’t figure out why their officers despite serious disciplinary consequences kept ND’ing their Sig duty pistols.

After commissioning a scientific study using sensors on the pistols and training scenarios, the staff discovered a worrying statistic-almost 30% of German police officers touched and engaged the trigger without conciously realizing it. The working theory was that stressfull events -like drawing a gun in the line of duty-caused certain people to instinctually trigger-check their pistols despite being conciously trained otherwise. In light of those results, the German government specified LE trigger standards for pistols to have. Standards the PPQ already doesn’t meet, and now there’s options to modify them further.

Untrained people with light trigger guns is a recipe for ND’s and other safety disasters. My newbie self two years ago didn’t need a 1911, he needed a class. Using modified parts to cover up bad technique only wastes money and delays the inevitable and necessary investment in a proper shooting course.

When I was active duty, I used to get weekly Air Force-wide emails on the Afghanistan/Iraq campaign events. Without fail there would be double-digit ND’s recorded with the M9 service pistol, a handgun used by military personnell with at least moderate familiarity with the gun. A weapon which also has an external safety, two internal safeties, and a heavy DA trigger pull.

Now picture a subset of untrained gun owners who might shoot twice a year, sticking the above part into their PPQ and using it at your local range-or even imprudently deciding to carry it. Again, we know from science that a certain group of folks WILL check the trigger of their pistol under stress. That doesn’t get into reckless changes like people intentionally using non-factory spec parts or cutting factory springs to lighten the trigger weight further.

Given the above it is likely we’ll start seeing ranges and classes stenciling signs like this on their bulletin boards:

NO WALTHER PPQS ALLOWED“.

A Man’s Got to Know His Limitations.

IMG_20160116_113137_zps3npa4fv8

Not pictured: Limits.

The title contains one of Dirty Harry’s more memorable lines.It also has real-world relevance to firearms- and i’m not talking about oversized S&W revolvers.

The Beretta M9A1 in the above picture is the handgun equivalent of a rescued stray. I strolled into the local big box store-in my area, a Scheels- and noticed it in the used case next to a lime-green cerakoted Glock 22 with a Punisher slide cap. Between the two guns, the Beretta was actually the one worse off.

I took it out of the case-WHOA. That’s a LIIIGHT double action trigger. I suspected the previous owner changed the spring. I hoped it was a proper D spring or Wilson Combat setup.
Further inspection turned that hope quickly into a pipe dream.

The front sight was painted pink. Wonder what class the previous owner took to decide that was the best color? /sarcasm.

The magwell was beveled to a mirror sheen. Bubba didn’t have steady hands-the grips have gouges where his Dremel overran the magwell area. He further decided to polish the frame clearance underneath the barrel , an area not directly involved with feeding rounds into the pistol. Fortunately , unlike a 1911 where dremeling the frame-clearance area is a death knell for the pistol , it only poses a cosmetic problem for this design.

Unfortunately ,since bare aluminum is exposed in the magwell and part of the top of the frame the pistol is only fit for range duty until I can send it off for professional refinishing.

Given those “improvements” this Scheels store , normally comfortable with pricing used guns $50 more then the prevailing market value ,discounted the Beretta heavily.

I felt i’d be doing the universe a favor , taking this abused gun and using my Beretta fanboy knowledge to give it a great home.

SOLD!

I took it to the range. After repainting the front sight orange, I loaded my third magazine and discovered my worst fears. Bubba indeed cut the factory spring to lighten the trigger weight. He also cut the odds of the pistol functioning without multiple light strikes.

The photo above is my personal installation of a set of Wilson Combat Battlesights, reviews soon to come. I include it to make the simple point that as people all of us have various degrees of knowledge and experience. I’m comfortable installing sights on a pistol. I’m NOT comfortable or trained in perfecting trigger jobs or modifying fire control parts on a pistol while still preserving safe function. For those tasks, i’ll box up my gats and take them to a professional gunsmith.

By taking on firearm modification jobs which are beyond our skillsets, not only do we risk damaging the end product (see above story) but we put ourselves and others in danger as well. Assume for a moment I didn’t buy my M9A1 and left it in the case. Some poor soul could have read all about the bulletproof reliability of the M9 series, spotted the discount price (easily $100 less then the price of most used M9A1s locally) and decided it was time to try out a new home defense gun. He would have bought an unsafe, poorly modified pistol which could have choked on him at some inconvenient point.

Like using it to defend their home, or shooting a competition.

Further ;unless the buyer was a Beretta geek such as myself, they’d have to spend probably $100 in parts and labor at a gunsmith desk to fix the trigger spring /light strikes problem. Had it been a 1911 and it was treated the same way, the frame polishing would have ruined the pistol and the poor guy/gal would be the owner of a beautiful paperweight.

There’s no shame in knowing your limitations. Even Dirty Harry endorses that message.

Training Stumbling Block 2 : Gender & Discrimination.

Its a frequent sight at my range. Whenever a male-female couple or mixed friendship group arrives at my range to shoot, two things are going to happen.

The male(s) will brag about being a good shot, usually with a lame John Wayne one-liner.

Said braggart will then be hilariously outshot by the female(s) in attendance.

I’ve listed this as a training stumbling block , because us men in the shooting and training community need to get our collective act together. What’s the point of discussing ninja self defense techniques if we can’t even treat our students and customers right from the get go, or rely on our neighbors in the business to do the same ?
I’m also higlighting the matter because as a minority shooter I can identify with how women feel in terms of being pidgenholed at first sight.

I’ve visited gun ranges and shops where the proprietors assumed I was some sort of well-dressed straw purchaser or other category of urban felon by nature of my skin color. Cue surprised look and “OMG, howyadoin” after I reveal my Active Duty service and NRA membership. There’s been several instances where i’ve gotten a VERY cold reception at the display case until i’ve established those bonafides.

By no means is that experience a common occurance everywhere in the shooting world , but it’s happened enough to be discouraging. All it takes is one experience of being treated like a cretin to sour someone on the whole idea of the shooting sports. With folks like Hillary Clinton running for office, that’s not a recipe for long term preservation of the 2nd Amendment.

Being categorized like that takes the fun out of going shooting and participating in the shooting sports. Most male & Caucasian shooters are ignorant of this state of affairs, and how could they know -not many gun shops will look at a white male customer walking in and immediately assume he’s either a criminal or an incompetent. When was the last time you’ve seen a white guy get handed a .380 and told he can’t handle anything bigger?

If other businesses were run this way, they’d be sued into oblivion a long time ago. Can you, dear reader, imagine your spouse being told by the Internet Utility company that they cant handle the high-speed data plan on account of being female? Picture how fast Ford would be in court if a dealership told a female shopper she couldn’t handle the HD F250 truck because she’s a woman.

Most of the rest of society has figured out discriminating against customers based on external characteristics is bad for business and reputations. That’s an example we in the shooting world would do well to emulate.

I should walk onto the shooting line of my range, clock in, and put on my RSO vest knowing female shooters at my range are treated and welcomed in the same manner as the tacticool ninja with his AR and OperatorBeard. I should be able to bring a date to the range and not worry about her being told she cant handle a full size weapon. I should be able to bring my mother to a gun shop i’ve never been to before and not worry about her being treated like a felon for asking about their products.

By no means am I beating the drum for extra regulation or some sort of #BLM revolt , but of all the industries in America we really cannot afford to treat minorities and women poorly. They’re the future political majorities of this nation , and we should act as such if we plan on our grandkids enjoying the same freedoms we do.