Friday, April 24, 2009

Carry Systems-The defensive 1911 in .45acp

Before I start, there are metric tons of gun bloggers that carry 1911s and shoot them in competition. They're probably better versed in them than I am. Having said that, I've never let my ineptitude stop me from talking before, so why start now?

Stopping Power

Legendary and well-deserved. 230 grain FMJs or LRNs work wonders against heavily-clothed goblins. 185gr+p JHPs are nothing to scoff at, either.


Once you find a load and a magazine that your particular 1911 likes, you'll be fine as long as you keep the gun clean and well-lubed. I'd suggest that you number all of your magazines with a paint pen and take notes about any failures that you have during practice or training. Magazines will make or break your 1911. Don't be cheap, hopeful, lax in maintenance, or sentimental about them.

Ease and flexibility of use

They take a little more getting used to than, say, a Glock or a snubbie, but you'll usually be rewarded with a very accurate and hard-hitting defensive handgun. Reloads with them are a breeze with a little practice and a slightly beveled magwell. They tend to be less flexible than snubbies, however. Speaking of....

Size, weight, and concealibility

Full-size 1911s are long and heavy. They're thin enough to make them kind of comfortable when carying inside the waistband, but many small and thin-framed people will have a hard time concealing one. You'll also know for sure that you've been carrying all day if you've had a 1911 on your hip. For the most part, 1911s are best carried in traditional hip holsters, shoulder holsters, or a SmartCarry. My preferred rig is a Galco Summer Comfort IWB holster worn underneath a sweater, jacket, or open shirt.

Accuracy and trigger pull

I touched on this earlier, but a good 1911 is an amazingly accurate gun. Even the worst modern factory triggers are pretty good. Most loads are what I would describe as moderate in recoil, which will allow you to make better and faster follow-up shots.


The 1911 is one of the most easily and most often customized handgun platform in existence. Sights, grips, barrels, slides, hammers, safeties, guide rods, triggers... you name it, it can probably be changed to something that suits you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Carry systems-The defensive revolver

Let me start by saying that I only carry two types of primary guns: DA revolvers and 1911s. Ever since I saw Yosemite Sam dual-wielding wheelguns on tv, I had a fascination with them. As such, the first handguns I bought were revolvers. I trained with them and shot them endlessly. The modern DA revolver is a marvel to me. Below, you'll find my thoughts on it as a carry gun.

Ammo Flexibility

All of my main carry revolvers have been chambered in either .38spl or .357. For training and pure marksmanship practice, an all-stainless .357 shooting some light .38s is a pleasant experience. For defensive work, the .357mag is a pretty potent cartridge. Unlike some semiautos, most revolvers will fire just about anything you can cram in the cylinder. With a snubbie like the S+W 640 that I love carrying, I rarely feel like I'm ill prepared to defend myself. In addition, having two calibers of ammo for my carry gun on the shelves these days does make me feel a little better given the current state of the ammo market.


J-frames conceal easily. Not just in a strong-side belt holster, either. I've carried S+W, Taurus, and Ruger wheelguns in belly bands, ankle holsters, a variety of pockets, and a SmartCarry. I've even carried K and L frame Smiths with very little trouble. I would suggest that hammerless DAO or bob-hammered DA revolvers without the target-style rear sights be used for carrying.


A well cared for and well made revolver should last you a lifetime and give you very few problems. I have the utmost faith in all of the wheelguns I carry. They aren't susceptible to limp wristing or failing to return to battery when jammed up against something and fired. I would like to add that, if you have a Smith or Taurus with one of those awful integral locks, you should seriously consider disabling it permanently. Yes, I know the chances of its failing are small, but so is the chance that you will have to engage multiple targets in a low-light environment. We're pretty much all prepared for that, right?

Ease and flexibility of use

We all know how simple the manual of arms is. What I'd also like to add is that they are pretty versatile. One gun can easily serve as your primary carry during the summer when concealing is difficult and as your backup in the winter. You can even change the grip size to suit your concealment needs.

Limited capacity and difficulty in reloading

It's pretty easy to empty a wheelgun the loud way. Learning to reload a revolver quickly is a chore. Don't expect to walk into your local firearms training center and find a class on snubbie techniques and tactics, either. You'll have to practice diligently and scour the internet for information. Then, you'll have to practice more.

Difficulty in mastering

It's really, really hard to shoot a DA revolver well. Even with a trigger job or a well-worn action, it will never be a trigger pull like that of a Glock or a 1911. The sight radius is also shorter and most of the sub $800 dollar snubbies I've seen lately have plain black fixed-blade front sights and frame-notch rear sights. While these are great for an unimpeded draw, they are less than ideal (unless you're a point-shooter). Paint those front sights orange and practice. A lot. There's an upside to being really proficient with one... you'll be a lot better with your other guns.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Carry systems, Intro

When I talk about a carry system, I'm talking about these things: firearm, backup firearm, ammo, holster, reload(s), belt, illumination, and blade. Individually, there are legal and practical limits to what one can use to fill each of these roles. However, a carry system, in my opinion should include all of the above. Over the next few days, I'll go over the parts of the system and give some points to ponder as well as talk about some of what I learned while training and carrying. Certain parts will apply only to men, but there should be something to ponder for everyone.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Range Report-Taurus 431

That target held the first five rounds out of my unfired BAG day purchase. Michael Bane went on and on about how much he loved the .44 special and I, being the hardheaded SOB that I am, never tried one because surely the 1911 and the .357 snubbie were more than enough for my self defense needs. I'll be honest... I'm completely in love with the gun and the load. By the time I had the new gun warmed up, I looked like a genius in single action and a good combat shot in double action. Once I get 100 or so more rounds through it, I might even carry it. I mean, is there much I'd come across that a 200gr GDHP would fail to take care of?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

BAG Day 2009

I resisted buying a handgun in anything other that .38/.357, 9mm, or .45acp for a very, very long time. With ammo prices such as they are, stocking another caliber was not something my wallet looked forward to. However, I went to the Fun Shop today for my BAG day purchase and I came across this gorgeous Taurus 431 in .44 special. Unfired, in the box, and at a great price. Without exceeding my budget, I was able to get a used JIT slide and 200 rounds of self-defense ammo to boot. Given that I have a truck, this might just be my new ideal truck gun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

On Open Carrying

photo by Oleg Volk

I was chatting with Breda for the first time and mentioned that Open Carrying (OC'ing) with a partner was a great idea in the beginning. I'm lucky to live in a state that allows OC'ing for HCP holders. Having both OC'ed and CC'ed, here are my thoughts on OC'ing for the novice.

Don't OC alone

You don't necessarily have to go with another who is openly carrying, but go with another person that has some experience with it. I still consider OC'ing to be slightly risky behavior since it will make you more visible to thugs of the street and the jack-booted variety. The other person will come in handy as both a deterrent and a potential witness.

Don't OC your barbecue gun

OC'ing might get you disarmed. Yes, it's bullshit to be disarmed by an Only One, but it's still a distinct possibility. As such, do NOT take your favorite 1911 if you have a Sigma handy. Trust me, the Only Ones will not treat it with the same care that you do.

Dress appropriately

I'm not talking about a page from the Blackhawk! or 5.11 catalog, either. Ladies, ya'll can get away with murder from what I've seen. Guys, be conservative. A lot of times, sheeple won't even notice the gun if you're not dressed like a conspiracy theorist or a mall ninja.

Plan your trips in the beginning

Try meeting in a relatively safe place. I love to do coffee shops, family-style restaurants, bookstores, and small local clothing stores. Drive straight there, do your business, and go home.

Be as inconspicuous as possible

Yeah, your Roscoe is dangling off your hip. Try and be calm anyway.


If you're not comfortable drawing from a holster that has at least one level of retention, don't OC.

Have your talking points ready

You're likely to have someone ask you if you're a cop. Be prepared to answer them and make your point without being too pissy. My talking points are limited to my state's laws regarding licensing and the basic restrictions. I'm not trying to sell strangers on constitutionalism, I'm merely trying to gain some kind of ally or raise awareness that you don't have to be anything but a citizen in order to carry a weapon.

Be polite

I don't care how nice you normally are. Be nicer when you're OC'ing. We do not want visible firearms to be associated with plainclothes assholes.

Having said all of the above, I think it's a crying shame that I even felt compelled to write it. Such is the state of our country. We're going to have to exercise every right that we don't want to have legislated away from us. Let's just be smart and careful about how we do it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Guns are pretty....

When I was in grad school and came of handgun ownership age, I found myself wanting a good-looking and functional barbecue gun. Since I was in school and working as a musician and teaching fellow, money was much tighter than it is now. What I found was a used Taurus Model 80 (read as a Model 10 knock-off) that was finished immaculately and fit perfectly inside a Don Hume K-Frame holster. I rarely carried it, but I was proud to wear it to any social function at which openly carrying was acceptable. I still have it, and I still wear it from time to time. It serves as a reminder to me that there was a time in which owning an inexpensive and reliable gun was enough for me...

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wanna know why I'm unpopular?

Because I say things like this...

In light of the recent and very public shootings, I have this to offer:

Freedom comes at a cost. That cost is security.

As long as we are a nation of free men and women, things like this will happen. The proper response is to prepare yourself for events like these instead of whining to politicos to "Stop the madness." As long as we are (in my judgment) the kind of Americans that truly cherish freedom, we should accept that there is an inherent danger in it and accept the responsibility for our own personal safety.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What else can we legislate to make our world a better place?

Following the logic of banning or restricting use of the tool to prevent the crime.....

Let's see, we can severely restrict car ownership because people might go out and drink to much, which would impair their judgment and allow them to create a dangerous situation for innocent people. That would never work. The government has invested far too much money in the American auto industry for that to work.

We could ban hands, which would keep people like Chris Brown from hitting others. No, that wouldn't work, either.

Oh, I know... We could restrict the use of penises to curtail rape. (warning... bad pun ahead) After all, it's the tool and not the criminal.

I know it's not a crime, but obesity could easily be cured by restricting the use of utensils... After all, if the tools aren't available, the people obsessed with eating couldn't possibly find a way to get food into their mouths, right?


Friday, April 3, 2009

Parts Bin Trivia

Does anyone know what this is?