Saturday, February 28, 2009

Range Day and a New Shooter

A buddy of mine has been thinking about getting a handgun. I offered to take him with me for some time at the range just to get the feel of shooting a bit. He agreed, and we set it up to shoot today.

We started at my place, where we reviewed the 4 laws of gun safety. We then ran through the basic functions of the pistol and how it works. After that we progressed into some basic marksmanship. He was worried about looking foolish on the range. I said to him "As long as you're safe, you won't look like an idiot. You can shoot terrible, but if you are safe people will respect you." I sincerely hope that is the attitude that all shooters carry.

My friend shot reasonably well for his first time. Ideally, we should have started with a .22 pistol, but I just had him start with a 9mm (Glock 17). He struggled with anticipating shots, flinching, etc. I had him shoot a magazine with dummy rounds to help him see what he was doing.
He did fire a couple magazines of 40 S&W through my Glock 23 as well. I will have to say, I quite enjoyed helping my friend begin to learn to shoot, and to handle a weapon safely. Its something I would like to do more of. While not an expert at anything, I love teaching and helping people learn something I might be slightly more proficient at....whether it be guitar, singing, medicine, shooting, or bowling ( high bowling score is 108. Cancel bowling). When doing any "teaching" on shooting, I believe its of the utmost importance to stress saftey and responsibility.

I even loaded up some dummy rounds, which I haven't done in awhile, and was surprised to find there was still a bit of a flinch in my pulls. I was concentrating mostly on slow fire today, as it seems my accuracy has suffered as of late. I believe I am struggling with over travel, as many of my shots are driven left, despite my best efforts to not "milk" the grip.

At close distances, I was no problem. In fact, my buddy looked at me in amazement when I could so effortlessly put rounds through the X at 10 feet. If only I could continue that with rapid fire at twice the distance.....

At 25 feet rounds were placing fairly well with slow fire. I was satisfied with this.

At 50 feet, my groupings are trending up and left, the the target's X is quite safe from the lead I sling at it. While not overly concerned about nail-driving at 50 feet from a self-defense standpoint, the USPSA meets I shoot in have a few more longer shots, and I find that in a hurry my shots do not group at all. Hence, my trigger pull continues to need work.

All in all, a great day at the range, 200 rounds fired, several pieces of paper laid to rest, a fresh shooter with new skills in his hands, and everyone home safe. Satisfying and delightful.

I only wish I could say that for the movie we rented: Bangkok Dangerous starring Nicholas Cage. Do yourself a favor. Don't rent it.

But Not Here.....

Often enough, when people talk to me about carrying a gun, many of them think its acceptable, but don't see any reason why they or I should carry.

Living in South Dakota, surrounded by generally good midwest people, having a gun around for self-defense seems unnecessary to most.

Its true, if you avoid dark alleys and certain parts of town at night, you're generally safe.

But things are changing. This week, in my town a man walked into a Fryn' Pan restaurant armed and began an 8 hour standoff with the SWAT team. News story here. Fortunately, he ordered everyone out of the restaurant, and no one was injured.

However, my fiance, my parents, and I have been to that restaurant a couple times in the last year, and we easily could have been in that situation, and what if he had been more careless with others' lives?

In addition, there's been a couple shootings where someone has died this year in my town, and I know several people whose homes have been burglarized.

Me? I feel safe most of the time. If I could know for certain when, where, and how I'd be in danger, I'd just never go there. Since that is an impossibility, I exercise my right to legally and responsibly carry a gun. I have a permit, I've received instruction, I train often, and I am religious about safety.

As for the Fryn' Pan......lets hope they still keep making those really good sweet rolls......

Monday, February 23, 2009

Time to Change

Dropped by the range for about 15 minutes today to shoot off my carry ammo and rotate in fresh stuff. 26 rounds of 40 S&W and 10 rounds of 38spl.

With my G23 I was combat accurate. I didn't pound a hole through the X, but firing double and triple taps from high ready put shots where they needed to be.

I shot so horribly with my J-frame, I could hardly believe it. I am too embarrassed to put a picture of the target up. I sat at the range and dry fired over and over. I make no excuses, its trigger pull. While all the shots hit a man size target, several were abdomen and arms. I barely considered myself combat accurate. I left the gun at the store to have a lighter return spring in, hopefully to help my trigger pull.

Being somewhat new to shooting for self defense (vs. leaning back and haphazardly target shooting), I need to continue to shoot and develop my skills. Switching back and forth from the Glock to the J-frame is an odd adjustment, but must be done.

Still, no excuses, the gap is in the shooter, not the equipment.....

Ammo Shortage Update

Made the rounds (no pun intended) around the stores today searching for ammo. Specifically, I've been looking for Federal Hydrashocks in 40 S&W, which has been my carry ammo.


One sporting good store happily has had plentiful target ammo in several brands for most common calibers, so that has not worried me (though price has gone up).

Hydrashocks for .38spl are usually still around here and there, which is fortunate as I often carry a J-frame revolver. When I found 6 boxes of 40 S&W in Fargo, I should have bought them all. I only bought two.....

I'm considering changing what I carry in my Glock, simply due to the fact that a local gun store always seems to have plenty of self-defense ammo available in everything but Hydrashocks.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Milk Jug? Milk Mug.

Don't know why, but milk just tastes better from a coffee mug.

The Pocket Problem

When I bought my Smith and Wesson 642, I bought it with the intention of frequently pocket carrying. I thought I would pocket carry....all the time. The salesman at the gun store promised it would disappear into a pocket, and indeed, he produced a j-frame revolver from the front pocket of his jeans. I had no idea it was there. Perfect.

I, however, am struggling with pocket carry. It seems I have no pair of pants which accommodate the revolver in such a way that it "disappears" into a pocket. While I don't wear the biggest, baggiest jeans on the planet, I certainly don't wear skin tight cowboy jeans.

In an Uncle Mikes pocket holster, it seems to still print a fairly obvious pattern through a pair of jeans. I can always identify a cylinder and a grip.

However, most people aren't specifically looking for a gun, and may not see those things. However, it still seems to leaves a fairly large.....uh......bulge.....for lack of better term, in my pants pocket.

So, while I may be able to carry and not obviously have a gun, I still look like I stuffed a Cornish game hen down my pants. That is a far cry from the revolver that disappears into my pocket.

I do have several coats that work just fine, though my favorite coat does not have deep enough pockets, and the grip sticks out. To carry with that jacket, I must keep my hand in the pocket at all times.

So, suspicious looking hand in pocket at all times, or small fowl in the pants.....this seems to be my dilemma. It was hard to capture in pictures, but trust me, its quite obvious.

Hence, i carry IWB most of time.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

To Do/To Acquire List

I need to slow down on my purchasing. Instead of buying everything with every extra dollar I have, I need to make a list, prioritize it, begin saving, and acquire or do things one by one. This list I'm sure is subject to change and become reprioritized, so I will edit this post as it is changed.

In order as of 2/14/09

1. Better CCW Holsters. I need better holsters for my G23 and S&W 642. I'd like an IWB for each, and an ankle holster for the G23. Thinking Milt Sparks, but I may downgrade to Galco Summer Special for money's sake. I'm taking comments and suggestions. I'd like to keep each holster under $100.

2. Trigger Work. I'd like to do a drop in Ghost Rocket 3.5# connector on both my Glocks, and put a lighter trigger return spring into my J-frame revolver. This will probably get done soonest, as its the cheapest thing on my list.

3. Night Sights. Probably Trijicons on my G23.

4. Glock 26 vs. S&W M&P 9mm compact. I'd like a semi-auto that I am more apt to carry. I'm finding the grip on my G23 too long. Since I shoot mostly Glocks, I'm leaning toward the G26 to keep a uniform platform/trigger, but the M&P is just looking really good. Used is fine, I would like the gun to have night sights and a good IWB holster.

5. Deer Rifle. Something simple, probably in 270.

6. Pocket Pistol. I'd like one of those tiny 380 pistols for when I really need something small. Probably a Ruger LCP.

7. Home Defense Shotgun. Again, nothing fancy. Just a plain, short barreled 12 gauge. Load it up with 00 buck. No pistol grips or anything, just the gun.

8. AR-15. Actually, will probably build one from Del-ton Inc. This is getting to be a ways out in the future now. Doesn't have to be real fancy. 16" barrel, probably a forward pistol grip. Eventually, I wouldn't mind a red-dot sight, but I need to learn to shoot iron sights well first.

9. 1911. I'd like 1 or several 1911 guns again. Wouldn't mind reclaiming the Kimber Custom II I sold.

Kindered Idiots

It was 6pm when I finally strolled into Target today, Valentine's day, to get a card for my fiance. A gentlemen in his 50's approached the cards the same time as I did. We slowly gave each other a sideways glance, made eye contact, and smiled.

"We were supposed to be doing this a lot earlier, weren't we?" I remarked.

"Well, at least we're here, right?", he asked.


New Poll

Shooters- check out the new poll on the right of the page. How much do you shoot a month?

Helping Shop

A friend of mine has never owned a gun nor has shown any interest in shooting. After the election, he calls me and tells me he'd really like to buy a 9mm pistol. I was fairly surprised buy more than happily agreed to help him shop and then teach him what I know about safety and shooting if he buys one.

But helping someone "find" a gun is tough, especially when they aren't sure what they want. Having recently bought a house and with a baby on the way, he is understandably budget conscious. Yet, he hasn't really set a firm price range.

So what we have is: 9mm, semi-auto, reasonably price. Purpose: home defense, possibly some plinking (no intention to carry concealed).

Search results: a dizzying array of possibilities. Seems like price is the driving factor, though he's not willing to buy complete junk. At least we've ruled out Hi-points for starters. He's also not buying a new Sig Sauer, or a 1911 style 9mm.

But really, what a prospect. Since he knows nothing about guns, I feel obligated to come up with options. Its always a matter of "find something that fits your hand and shoot it and see if you like it."

Not always so easy in SD. Not a terribly large amount of people own handguns. There is only one store which allows you to rent and fire guns, but they only have a fraction of the selection to try.

Originally, he seemed bent on a new S&W Sigma, which I steered him away from. I'm not sure they are built to last. I encouraged him to consider used- a quality gently used gun is better than a cheap new one. He has been very interested in the used Sigs I wrote about in my last post, but they are in 40 S&W (which he is not opposed to). For that price, he's near the price of some decent new 9mm guns though.

n consideration is myriad of new and used guns: Sprinfield XD, Smith & Wesson M&P, S&W 99, Glock, Taurus, Sig, Browning Hi-point, Beretta, FNH, Tangfolio, EAA, Stoeger, the bigger Kahrs, and on and on and on......

At the end of the day there are many decent guns in the running, all seemingly in a price range he's willing to pay for. He's really in a win-win- they would all be fine. He indicates that he knows he wants one, he knows he is going to get one, and his wife has okay'd it, he just can't quite bring himself to write a check.
Oh well, guess I have a great excuse to window shop.

Gun Show

pent about an hour this morning buzzing through a gun show here in town. First hour of the first day of a gun show.....beyond crowded.

It took me under 5 minutes to end up childishly grabbing at a couple guns like a kid at a candy store before being shooed away by 3 mustached men yelling "display only!" Leave it to beaver.
I hate it when I look like an ignorant kid, since I'm regarded that way often enough. Sometimes I think I'd like some grey hair. Maybe it would buy be me some credibility. Careful what you wish for....
In my defense, there was no "display only sign" up.

Gun shows in South Dakota tend to be...less than impressive. There was plenty of junk, as always. Lots of racks with fairly priced guns, but not a lot of deals that would drive you to buy.

I was hoping to find some Glock mags for my G23 a little cheaper, but they were all the same price as any store, and since I paid $5 to get it, it wasn't worth it. Maybe you're supposed to haggle those things. I'm bad at haggling.

I did find one booth- a company that buys police carry guns and refinishes with duracoat. They had some Sig Sauer P226's that looked very fine, internals looked very good. 1 mag and night sites for $525. Brand new that's a $900-1000 run.

Since police guns get a lot of finish wear, but aren't actually shot a lot, they can be a nice find if you don't mind the cosmetics. After a refinish they looked brand new. Was I in the market for a DA/SA handgun, I probably would have walked away with one......

Sugar Buzz

Let's see here.....

Late night, no patients in the unit. Check.

2 cans of diet Mountain Dew. Check.

1 large heart-shaped monster cookie delievered by fiance. Check.

2 generous pieces of apple crisp. Check.

.......Yup. I've got a bit of a Sugar Buzz goin'.

There is some insulin about 20 feet away from me..........Nah.

Mossberg 835

Finally, I have my first shotgun. Its also my first long gun in something other than .22lr. To see the story of buying it from the old man I named Joe, click here.

The gun I bought was a Mossberg 835. Its used, the cosmetics are probably 85-90%. Its internals look great. That's exactly what I was looking for. A slightly used, decent pump action. Its old enough that it is still finished with shiny lacquered wood, which I love. Not the cheaper looking stuff you see today. This gun came in at $175 even.

To be exact, its the Mossberg 835 Ulti-Mag. 28" barrel, built-in Acu-choke, accommodates shells up to 3.5" You can find specs from the company here.

I still haven't shot the thing (lets hope it works!), but have several offers to shoot clays soon. I'm looking forward to trying my hand at pheasant and duck this year. I've never hunted birds, so should be a new experience for me.

I am debating buying a second slug barrel for it, cutting it down to 18.5", and using it as my home defense shotgun. Then, when I want to go sporting I'll pop on the longer barrel. I'm emailing Xavier to get his opinion on this.

I'll post an update after I've shot it. Cheers

A rainy day, an old man, and my first shotgun

The story of how I came across my first shotgun.....

I've wanted a shotgun since last fall. After having bought 4 guns and selling 2 in less than a year, I was an a bit of a hold. Well, my fiance approved me of one more little splurge before we buy our house and realize we have no money. All I wanted was a reliable, decent pump shotgun. No bells and whistles, it just needs to work. And used is totally fine. Right off the bat, I was looking at Remington 870s or a Mossberg. Like the rest of the world. I don't deviate much.

So, I'm at large chain sporting good store, looking through a rack of used shottys. Several Remingtons that I liked, including one b-e-a-utiful wingmaster, but I told my fiance I was aiming to keep it under $200. The wingmaster was $299. I debated. Moving down the line, I found a Mossberg 835 in nice shape which seemed promising, and rang in around $220. I'm milling and looking, when an old crotchety man with giant glasses and large hearing aids hobbles up to me. He had on an old grey coat, grey velcro shoes, and a grey plaid hat. He had a half smile as he handled the guns with swollen arthritic knuckles.

"Looking for a good shotgun?"

"Yes, sir, I am"

"I've got one I'm trying to get rid of", he tells me in a loud voice.

While sporting a kind and gentle demeanor, "Joe" as I'll call him was quite hard of hearing. With great difficulty I asked him what he had, and he informed me he had a Mossberg 835, and his gun was in "a hell of a lot better shape" than the guns in the store. He told me $175 was his price. The store had another 835 for $179, but it was in pretty beat up shape, and the action told me it was used, abused, and tired.

I informed him I was willing to look at the gun, and Joe and I headed out to his car. With great care he mounted the escalator heading down mumbling "my hunting days are long over" while I prayed he didn't fall on his face. We headed out through a light drizzle to an old grey Oldsmobile parked in a handicap space. Apparantly, this guy likes grey. Hopping in the passenger side, I was presented with a soft gun case.

Quickly, I unzipped the case, expecting to find an old, beautiful, pristine gun in the gauge of 12. I saw a flash of a corncob pump. Good sign, gotta love the ol' corncob. It took a bit of effort to follow the 4 Gun Laws in the cramped old car as I removed the gun, opened the action, and checked the chamber. Excitedly, I read the barrel to confirm my findings.....

"20 Gauge. Coast-to-Coast"

What!? I tried not to look annoyed as I said, "Sir, I believe this is a 20 gauge, and it appears its not a Mossberg".

"What!?" Joe said, tipping forward to see the gun and almost butting heads with me. Sitting back, swinging an arm, and looking a bit confused Joe blurted, "I got the wrong damn gun. That's the grandkid's gun".

"Well sir, I'm really more interested in a 12 gauge."

"I can be back in 10 minutes with the right gun" he tells me. Honestly, I sort of want to tell this guy to have a nice day and be on his way.....I kept thinking of that beautiful old Wingmaster that cost more money that I was allowed to spend. Being a bit of a sucker and bad at saying no, I agreed to wait.

Like a cop on stakeout, I waited in my car, watching in my rear view mirror for Joe to return. 10 minutes. 15 minutes. 20 minutes. Okay, 1o more minutes and I'm out of here. Really, I'm hoping he decides not to come back.

With 5 minutes to spare Joe slowly pulls back into his same parking spot, struggles out of the car, and produces a different gun case from the trunk. I tell him I'd rather look at it while standing under the open door of my SUV trunk, as its safer to handle, and he agrees. This time its the right gun. Mossberg 835. Not old and vintage, not brand new. Not mint condition, but not beat to heck.


However, being a bit distrusting, I'm thinking "what if thing doesn't work". Joe reads my mind and assures me "it works as well as it looks". Well, its looks about 85%. I'd like it to work 100%. He informs me he shot it last a year ago, and it hasn't even had a box of shells fed through it. Offering his phone number as proof of his confidence, I am still unsure. After all, this guy could be giving me a fake number, or fake name. I'm too polite to ask for ID though. I don't want to offend this man, just doubt him in the private recesses of my pessimistic mind.

None-the-less, I get the feeling that he doesn't prowl large sporting good stores to sell broken guns to young men. I decide to risk it on the old man.

Still, walking back to his car, I inconspicuously write down his license plate number. Just in case.

Back in his car, I write a check signing it in my usual manner: first initial followed by a big scribble. Joe eyes my check with a bit of suspicion.

"You going to sign this?"

"....I did"

"The bank going to cash it with a signature like that?"

"Well, yes....they always do. If you have any troubles, you call me and I'll make it right immediately."

Joe shakes his head with true disappointment.

"Young America", he sighs......

......I guess trust has to go both ways.

At least the serial numbers are still there.

Cleanin' Time

After some time at the range, and with an upcoming USPSA competition, I needed to get the fleet cleaned up. There's something so enticing about the smell of gunpowder and solvent......I love it. Its quite wonderful to get in there, scrub up the guns, rack the slide of a freshly oiled pistol....I wonder if they make any candles in that scent........

Stupid Cupid

I'm sitting here in the PACU at about 1:45 am. I'm going to a gun show at 9am and it dons on me......its Febuary 14th. Who's idea was it to have a gun show on Valentine's Day? Is someone purposely trying to tick a bunch of wives off, or what?

Friday, February 13, 2009

High Sierra Gear Review

I'd like to put my two cents on in High Sierra gear. Of course, I am just a lone blogger, and to my knowledge, no one has actually read my blog since November, so it goes without saying that High Sierra has no investment in me and my opinions are strictly my own.

I really like High Sierra stuff. High quality, holds up well, for the most part works well, and has a great price tag.
I first discovered HS as a brand several years ago when I bought a backpack online. I had never heard of them, but the pack was the right price. They offered gear with all the bells and whistles other brands had for half the price. I ordered the bag and took a chance.
I've been using that book bag for 3 years solid, and it is 95% of its original condition. I used it daily in college, I've packed for quick overnight trips, and have taken it on short hikes. It comes with me to work daily and literally gets tossed on the floor under the nurses station, kicked around, slung around.....generally abused. It has held up tremendously. Literally the only thing that has any issues is the velcro closure on the little cellphone caddy. After 3 years of constant use the velcro has frayed and doesn't work if much pressure is applied to it. But, that took three years to occur. The bottom, straps, and zipper show no wear.

I can't remember, but I think I paid somewhere between $30-50. It has rip-stop like construction, good zippers, a laptop compartment, an mp3 player cubby, a cellphone pocket on the shoulder straps, and a sad version of a hip belt and chest strap (it works buts its not too substantial). Really, it has the material, features, and build of a $100+ bag. Also, while not built for CCW, it has a padded pocket in the front that perfectly holds my Glock 23 or J-frame revolver. They don't seem to make this particular bag now, but it looks very akin to this one, only with a laptop compartment and no hyrdation sleeve.

I also have a HS internal frame hiking pack (Explorer 55). Find info here. Its a very standard 55 liter top loading pack with internal frame. Like the backpack, it is very well built, using "Duralite" material, and has all the feature other packs do. Both bags have a padded mesh vented side that goes against your back, allowing for airflow. It has help up extremely well in 3 hiking trips. It also includes a rain cover, which I have not seen in most affordable packs.

This bag is good, but not perfect. The zipper for the bottom sleeping bag compartment is difficult at times, and I'm hoping it "breaks in". Fortunately, I only tend to access that compartment once or twice a day. I'm not wild about the top flap. Unless the bag is loaded to the brim, when cinched tight it pulls to the rear so extremely it almost doesn't cover part of the bag, which is not a huge deal since it has a cord locked storm cover inside. Its almost more of an aesthetics thing than a real problem.

The kicker is that I don't really care because this pack only cost $60! That is literally a fraction of what most comparable bags cost. And, given I've tested it, and have complete confidence in how it holds up, its a complete steal for the price.

The main downside in all HS bags I've found is that they like straps- a lot. Every bag is loaded with cinching straps to tighten down loads and hoods and everything- but so much and with so much extra length that one finds them self with a host of nylon tentacle-like extensions hanging from their back. Occasionally, I will fold up the slack and rubber band it together.

On the whole, however, I find High Sierra gear to be extremely rugged, well built, reliable, and long-lasting. I would highly recommend their product. Given the few negatives- a few extra straps and some difficult zippers- you can sure save a few bucks for an overall well built product.


I have entered myself into an old and presitgious institution; H.I.T. or, Husband In Training. A self imposed course, I'm trying to develop into someone that could actually be useful around the house. Its a well known fact that when I pick up a tool, my IQ drops by 50-60 points. Tim Taylor, the accident prone host of Tool Time in the show "Home Improvement" is dear to my heart.

I'm fairly proud of recent achievements however, including hanging Christmas lights (successful and injury free use of a staple gun) and the unclogging of a sink.

A side note on the sink. After 4 bottles of Drano didnt' work, my dad suggested I take apart the elbow under the sink and clean it out. So I did.

It was the most disgusting thing I've ever done.

And I'm a nurse.

I was close to vomiting as I cleared out the foul, putrid clog in the sink, feeling like quite the man with my floral printed kitchen gloves. Nothing oozes manhood like kitchen gloves and flowers.
But hey, sink works like a charm now.