Thursday, December 31, 2009

Concealed Carry / Firearms Dogma, Hype, Regurgitation, and Explanation.

It seems that after a couple years of hanging out on the gun boards I see an almost vicious cycle of the same questions and statements coming in going in cycles. Some stuff is repeated so often that the understanding of what started it is lost and it's just repetitious hearsay.

We see it go around that you shouldn't do the following things:
Have safeties removed from a gun or have "other" modifications done to firearms that we plan on using for self defense. We shouldn't use reloaded ammunition or "hand loads" and we "Should use the ammunition that your local Police uses."

 So where did all this come from? Almost all information regarding lawyers and defensive use of a firearm can be traced to Massad Ayoob.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sig Model Reference Guide - End of 2009

I've debated posting this as SHOT Show us upon us and Sig will probably intriduce twenty-eight new models this year just to spite my efforts in composing this. A couple of days ago someone was asking about all the acronymns that Sig uses and it occured to me that there wasn't a really good reference for all the different packages that Sig offers, sure the models are pretty easy to figure out, but what happens after you decide you want a 229? You have to choose from the DAK, Elite, Equinox, SAS, Elite Dark, SCT etc. Even with a catalog in front of you it's hard to really tell the differneces.

So in a nutshell (OK a rather large nutshell), here's the overview of available Sig Models

The Sig Sauer (Sig Arms) Information Guide

As if choosing a handgun wasn’t hard enough, this manufacturer has gone above and beyond as far as variety of options is concerned. Not only do you have to select size, caliber, capacity, trigger type, etc. You now need to select WHICH “package” you want to go with. Sig Sauer has fourteen (fifteen if you include the Sig 556 Pistol) different choices as to which handgun to buy before you even factor in which package; the possible current production offerings are below in a brief overview of the guns.

Trigger Types Defined and Explained.

There are multiple types of trigger types available for use but most of them are of the following sort:

Single Action OnlyAbbreviated SAO

Your two most common types if SAO guns are 1911 pattern semi-automatics and your "Western" revolvers" such as the Colt Single Action Army. A lot of people get confused on this as they mistake action type and trigger type. With both the 1911 and single action revolver, the hammer must be cocked in order for the gun to fire. Pulling the trigger causes one action, that of the hammer to fall and make contact with the firing pin. To confuse you even further, there are some single action only guns that are striker fired as they are fully cocked by the manual cycling of the slide or other operation. Two examples of single action, striker fired guns are the HKP7 family and the Springfield XD (includes XDM) line. There are some that will disagree and say that striker fired guns are not SAO. But looking at the requirement that pulling the trigger facilitates only one action, the release of "X" that initiates the firing sequence, YES they are single action and are even considered SA by the IDPA.

Double Action Abbreviated DA.

Most modern revolvers are referred to as double action, despite the fact that they are still capable of being fired in the single action mode, why this is I don't know. Double Action indicates that pulling the trigger caused two actions, 1: the cocking and 2: release of the hammer. One action=two results. Common double action revolvers are the Ruger GP100 and Redhawk

Double Action Only, abbreviated DAO.

DAO guns can not be manually cocked, they are cocked and released by trigger manipulation. DAO guns can be revolvers or semi-automatics. Glocks are erroneously referred to as DAO as the trigger must be pulled to fire the gun, THIS IS FALSE. Glocks and many other makes/models are partially cocked, striker fired guns, more on them later.

A DAO gun has the following traits.
1: Is only cocked by trigger manipulation and the trigger pull is the same for every shot.
2: In semi-auto guns, the hammer will go back to rest (hammer down behind the slide) after each shot. Remember, the trigger cocks and releases the hammer, not the slide in this case.
3: As the trigger is the driving force to cock and release the hammer, second strike capability is there. If you have questions on second strike capability...try Google, I'm not covering that in this piece. Common DAO guns are the S&W 642 and KelTec P3AT

There are some different types of DAO, such as DAK and LDA from Sig and Para Ordnance respectively, I will cover those in brief at the end.

Traditional Double Action / Single Action Abbreviated DA/SA.

This type of trigger is what is found on the Beretta M9,and other semi-automatic pistols. The first shot can be double action or single action IE one pull of the trigger will cock and release the hammer. If the hammer is manually cocked, the pulling of the trigger will release the hammer. As the M9 is a semi-automatic pistol, the slide will re-cock the hammer after the gun is fired. With a DA/SA type of gun, all subsequent shots will be fired single action until shooting stops and the hammer is de-cocked.

Partially Cocked Striker Fired / Striker Fired

Glock, Kahr, some S&W models and others operate on this type of mechanism. What sets these aside from DAO guns is that the cycling of the slide partially cocks the striker and the pulling of the trigger finishes cocking the mechanism and releases the striker to make the gun go bang. Remember what I said before, some striker fired guns fall into different categories.

Now that we go the basics out of the way, we can take a look at some different "sub-types" of triggers. As mentioned previously, out there in the world there are these two strange beasts that are called DAK (Double Action Kellerman) and the LDA (Light Double Action) which are found on so equipped Sigs and Para LDA models.

Per Wikipedia:

SIG released an altered version of the double-action only (DAO) pistols called the DAK (for Double Action Kellerman, after the designer of the system). The DAK capability is available in 220, 226, 229 and 239 models. When firing the pistol the first trigger pull is 6.5 lbf (compared to 10 pounds for the standard DAO). After the pistol fires and the trigger is released forward, the trigger has an intermediate reset point that is approximately halfway to the trigger at rest position. The trigger pull from this intermediate reset point is 8.5 lbf (38 N). If the trigger is released all the way forward, this will engage the primary trigger reset and have a trigger pull of 6.5 lbf (29 N). To engage the intermediate reset, the trigger must be held to the rear while the slide is cycled, either manually or by the recoil of a round being fired. The United States Coast Guard has adopted this firearm as its PDW (Personal Defense Weapon), replacing the older M9 pistol.[9]

As there are two different pull weights?? this is not a conventional DAO.

Para LDA:
Without going into gross detail, the LDA is a super smooth, lightweight trigger. Generally speaking most DAO guns have a heavy pull and no safeties. The Para LDA incorporates the 1911 pattern thumb safety thus allowing for a very light pull but still has the hammer going back to rest after every shot, but if I recall correctly, the LDA has no second strike capability and needs the slide to cycle in order for the trigger to do it's thing in cocking and releasing the hammer.

HK refers to their DAO as LEM (Law Enforcement Modification) which is thought to be another form of lighter double action, but it is really another pre-cocked hammer system, you can read more about it at HK's website

It's a lot of info to take in. Each method has it's advantages and disadvantages. If you'd like to read more on the types of trigger actions on semi-autos, I would definitely recommend checking out Automatics: What Action Type for Me? by Stephen Camp.

1911 Buyer's Reference Guide - Revised 2012-06-16

I originally posted this to my Blog on Defensive Carry in September of '08 and on in July of '09, I try to keep this up to date. Any thing in orange text is newly added from the original.
So here we are, some months after 2011, the hundred year anniversary of the 1911 as patented Feb 14th 1911. In case you missed it, there were a lot of commemorative models last year  
and a couple of new manufacturers popped up on the radar.

 So where does that leave us in 2012? With a lot more manufacturers of 1911s. Some worth taking a look at, and others worth looking at sideways with suspicion.

Some of the newer guns we've got to look at are offerings from Ruger, Remington, Desert Eagle a return of Rock River 1911s with a twist, and we've also had some come off the list and some mild rebranding over the last couple of years since the original date of this posting.

We have a another couple of names to add to the Filipino imports, the Llama / Firestorm brand of 1911s imported by Eagle Imports is now the American Classic / Firestorm line of pistols, which is a sub category of Metro Arms. Citadel is new one as well, I believe those may be an Armscorp brand.

 Charles Daly is toast, which oddly enough got Desert Eagle into the 1911 game. 

I have moved Taurus into the mid-tier from the low tier, but it should be noted that I do not do so based on quality, but by price. When the PT1911s first hit the market they were priced as a low tier 1911 but after much market success the prices on them have risen.

We also had the addition of the S&W E Series which has been catching a lot of attention from the market.

So basically if there were more 1911 makers than you could shake a stick at prior to this's now definitely worse.

Purchasing a 1911 Revised 6-15-2012

So every now and then (every other week) it seems someone asks for input on which 1911 to buy, or which 1911 is best. This is going to cover most of the bases on 1911s. This is not meant to be the most elaborate description of every 1911 ever made, or a piece of propaganda for any one make and model. This is just a brief or rather not so brief overlook of various makes, models, and features of the more popular 1911 brands available.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking “Why should I give a hoot what this guy thinks or has to say?” We’ll let me just say it now, I’m no expert, I’m not a gun smith, I’m not a professional shooter, I’m not some ex-Navy seal that’s killed umpteen million people with a 1911 and one arm tied behind my back, I’m just a prior Marine Corps Radio Tech that happens to be a low/mid tier pistol instructor and current match director for an IDPA club that has had over a dozen 1911s from different makers, some have been good, some great and some horrible, the wife and I had have had the following 1911s.

One Llama, two Colts, four Para Ordnances, four Kimbers, one Springfield, two Les Baers, one Wilson Combat, one Nighthawk and one Ithaca from 1944. I’ve learned a lot about 1911s, shot plenty of other 1911s, and heard many a horror story about them as well has lived my own horror stories. Having spent a good number of years since 2003 handling, shooting, studying, and researching I AM STILL learning more and more about this type of pistol and I’m the last person that will give a hoot what you have to say about what I have to say, so let’s get to it shall we.

To say that one 1911 is better than all the others is just not accurate, some are better than others, but there is no "One 1911 to rule them all"

Before we get started, let’s take a minute to familiarize ourselves with some 1911 terminology.

Terminology and overview
The original design, patented in 1911 and the 1911-A1 which began in 1926 are different pistols than what we are seeing on the shelves today, while not much has changed, there have been some “enhancements”. Please understand that when I say “1911” I am referring to the genre of pistols based on John Browning’s original design, this is why I refer to them as 1911 pattern pistols. There are multiple books and websites covering the history of the 1911 so I see no need to cover that information.

Firing Pin Safeties:
Series 80: In most terms this refers to the Colt series 80 and mainly it reflects that it has a firing pin safety, most makers of 1911s incorporate this type of firing pin safety in their design. The series 80 firing pin safety incorporates a firing pin block that prevents the firing pin from moving unless the trigger is pulled. Personally, I can’t tell the difference in trigger pull, but that’s just me and I don’t obsess over what my trigger pull is provided I can hit what I’m aiming at in an efficient manner.

Colt Series 80 Firing Pin Safety

Kimber uses a different firing pin safety known as the Swartz Safety that was originally used in Colt pistols (briefly) but was abandoned, this design is actuated by the pressing in of the grip safety and care must be used in assembly that the grip safety is not pressed in as that will cause the lifter to protrude from the frame and can be damaged by the installation of the slide.

Kimber Swartz Firing Pin Safety

Smith & Wesson uses a different variant of the Swartz safety in that it is still actuated by the grip safety but has a more robust plunger lever similar to the Colt Series 80 mechanism.

Of the two, I prefer the Colt series 80 design as removal of it does not require the removal of the rear sight like the Swartz safety, not that I would ever advocate the removal of a safety device. Given a choice I would not have a pistol with a "mechanical" firing pin safety.

Some prefer the Swartz style safety as it does not effect trigger pull like the Series 80 mechanism, however as the Swartz safety is activated by the grip safety, if the parts are not fitted well, it is possible to deactivate the grip safety but still have the firing pin block in place.

Government Model (Gov’t): This generally refers to any 5” 1911 in standard configuration, it has the full 5” barrel with bushing, (although some models do exist with the 5" bushing-less bull barrel) and full frame which with modern magazines will hold 8 rounds of ammunition.

Commander Model: The original Commander model has a 4.25” bbl with bushing and full frame, several makers do not use the bushing barrel, but instead have a 4” bull barrel with a full frame, for Kimber this is the Pro model, and Springfield refers to it as the Champion.

CCO: This was the Concealed Carry Officers model since discontinued by Colt; this was the 4.25” upper from a Commander mated to the compact frame of the Officers model which with modern magazines holds 7 rounds. For Kimber this is the Compact model, several others make guns in this configuration or a similar variation and their nomenclature differs.

Officers: Originally this was a 3.5” barrel on a compact frame which is .5” shorter than the full frame of the Gov’t and Commander models. With modern magazines this will hold 7 rounds of ammunition. Springfield refers to this size as the “Compact” model.

Defender or Micro: This is a 3” upper on a compact frame, these models in most if not all cases will have a 3” bushing-less bull barrel. Kimber refers to this as the “Ultra”, while Springfield refers to it as the Micro, other makers have different nomenclature for guns of similar size.

Long Slides: Long slide models have 6” or longer barrels on full frames, these pistols are mainly used in competitions and for hunting, as the purpose of this piece is geared mainly for defensive use, I am not going to cover these models, they are only mentioned here to show the variety of options available.

The following is a common question, and a good one at that.

“I know that there are 1911 pistols with 3 inch, 4 inch, and 5 inch barrels available. Which length is the best choice for a balance of reliability, accuracy, proper ballistics performance, and concealment?”

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Selecting a Handgun for Defense

This started out as something I was writing up for a friend in MI and it just kind of grew into this. Eventually I'll be adding several parts, so keep an eye out.

Selecting a Handgun for Defense
 Part 1


While the vast number of makes and models seems daunting don’t be too putt off by all the possible options. There is something out there for every one. Purchasing a gun for defense is easy; purchasing the right gun for you is what’s going to be hard. Especially with no one helping you out other than the guy on the other side of the counter trying to make the sale. Some gun shops are fantastic in helping buyers select the right gun. They will ask about your experience, they will ask about your likes/dislikes, intended use, Etc. Some just want you to buy something and get out so they can sell something to the next guy. I’ve seen all types of gun shops. Some won’t help you at all and act as if the process of selling you a gun is too taxing for them and you should be ashamed for making them work. Silly me, I thought that was part of their job. But not all of it is the fault of the employee. Some customers can really irk a counter worker, if you don’t intend to buy at that moment, tell them. If you are just browsing and looking over a number of different models, you aren’t making the shop any money and can take up a lot of time that they could be using to help out someone that knows what they want. I’m not saying that you’re acting as an inconvenience, I’m just saying that you should be polite and not be expected to be waited on hand and foot if it’s a busy day.

The goal of this piece is to get someone not overly familiar with handguns to the point where they can look over info, create a list of what they want, see what’s available and walk into a gun shop looking for “A”, “B”, “C” and “X” for a DEFENSIVE handgun. And not waste a ton of time looking over guns that don’t meet their needs. This piece is not geared toward one who will buy the gun and leave it in a sock drawer or shoot it maybe once a year. This is geared toward someone looking to buy their first handgun, shoot that first handgun often, qualify (if needed) with that gun, and carry that gun on a regular basis and should shoot often to build and maintain the skills needed to work that gun in an acceptable manner. If you’re new to guns and buying your first, I would definitely recommend the NRA First Steps Basic Pistol Class.

Now as my wife says, “On with the show!” let’s get started shall we?

Rimfire Bullsye Shooting-50'

I started in a bullseye league back in November, it's getting pretty cold here in IA and figured shooting in the league would be a fun way to keep some of the skills sharp until spring when IDPA starts up again. It's a weekly shoot and so far the time hasn't been a burden. We shoot indoors in a range that's actually built directly under an overpass, as far as in-door ranges are concerned, it's not too bad but for $40.00 a year it can't be beat.

I'm shooting a Browning Buckmark 5.5" Pro Target with a Bushnell Trophy Dot scope.

My only gripe is that a decent shooter's box for bullseye shooting is getting hard to find. Pachmayr and Gun-Ho ceased making cases and the current selection is either quite expensive or not quite what I'm looking for. I managed to find a decent box at work that is serving as my bullseye range box until I can manage to win a Gun-Ho on eBay.



It's not the prettiest thing out there, but it works for now.

These are my match scores so far:
Date                 Score           X Count

2-Nov 490
9-Nov 491
16-Nov 489
25-Nov 532 14
2-Dec 529 7
16-Dec 491 4
23-Dec 520 7

I've found that I'll break 500 if I skip caffeinated beverages after lunch. I don't know what I did right on the 25th of Nov, but I hope I figure it out.