My History With Handguns

Minneapolis

I’ve been shooting for something like 25 years, but I still started late. I never shot anything as a child (though I came close to owning a .410 shotgun at one point, by inheritance). I really got started around 1978, by some friends I’d met through the Minnesota Science Fiction Society (not, in general, a group heavily populated by hunters or shooters at that time).

I found I rather liked shooting, and the tech that went with it. Reloading was interesting, and understanding how guns worked was interesting. It’s a great geeky hobby, even if you don’t get into it very deeply.

I also found that a lot of similar techniques came into shooting and photography (a hobby I’d already had for years). In both, it’s important to hold something steady, pointed in the direction you want, and push a button or pull a lever to tell the device to do whatever it does without disturbing that pointing. Some of the same sling techniques used to steady a rifle in off-hand shooting can be used with cameras. All of the breath-control ideas transfer both directions.

Not so long after that, I bought a Ruger Mk I (.22) and a Ruger Security Six in .357 Magnum. I shot mostly at “The Gunnery”, a range in the basement of the VFW on 36th St. near Hwy. 100 (long gone; moved and changed hands and in some sense the successor is now the Burnsville Pistol Range, my current favorite place to shoot).

I even did a small amount of reloading, and some bullet casting, with a friend who did that.

Massachusetts

When I moved to Massachusetts in 1981, I chose to sell my guns to friends rather than worry about the complexities of transporting them. In Massachusetts I did buy a Colt Mk IV Series 70 “Government Model” .45, but I never fired it in Massachusetts. (I had to get a state firearms permit to do so; same form as a permit to carry, and required a photo and fingerprints.)

Back to Minneapolis

I got more involved in shooting after we moved back to Minnesota. I started shooting the Colt a little, and I bought a Glock 17 (9mm) and a Ruger Mk II (.22 rimfire) in stainless. I’m a big fan of stainless; I sweat rather corrosively. I shot these a little more, but never regularly and never competitively.

I discovered that I liked the Glock a lot more than the Colt. I found I was working pretty hard to get back on-target with the Colt after each shot. In hindsight I think perhaps a stronger spring might have helped; at least, I’m happy enough shooting a friend’s 45 Super, which means that level of recoil isn’t completely beyond me. (I also shoot .40 S&W including a Kahr K40, rather a small light one, and .44 Special in a light snubnose.)

In this rather big period, I got involved in introducing Joel Rosenberg and Oleg Volk to firearms. But I wasn’t the first person to take either one out shooting. It’s not my fault, I tell you! Other people were involved! I didn’t know it was dangerous!

Carry Permits

Some time later, Joel got his carry permit for reasons he’s testified to the Senate about, I think, but I can’t find a citation so I’ll skip that for now. Anyway, that made it something I considered real people doing.

I also had noticed Florida embarking on their great shall-issue experiment, the first of the modern round of it. I remember at the time thinking it was a daring experiment, and empowering people to see to their own defense was psychologically very important and good, but I was afraid that in the real world the cost in accidental and collateral damage would be too high. Well, we all know how that came out now — 35 or some such states have shall-issue laws and the cost turns out to be negligible. Civilians with guns are much more careful than I would have expected.

So I got involved with MNCCRN, the main group agitating for carry reform in Minnesota. Not too heavily involved, but I gave them some money, went to some meetings of theirs, wrote to my representatives when they asked me to, attended some hearings, and so forth.

I didn’t go so far as to vote Republican, though. Carry rights are important, but so are a lot of other things. Even without my vote, though, they put in a legislature and a governor who passed the MPPA. I was very excited.

I’d also, at this point, gotten involved more directly. Joel introduced me to Tim Grant and Joe Olson (from the MNCCRN leadership), who were starting AACFI, to provide an instructor certifying organization that would be sure to provide for Minnesota’s needs (at the time AACFI was invented, some years ago, the NRA didn’t even have a “personal defense outside the home” course, let alone any course that covered Minnesota law). AACFI needed a web site, with various rather specialized features (like instructors entering course information, and having that searchable by students), and I got the job of creating it.

In the process, I ended up an AACFI-certified instructor, and qualified to get a permit. So I was there the morning of May 28th 2003, putting in my application (and getting interviewed by three tv stations; I only heard of KSTP running any of the footage though).

Range Trip 24-Jun-2003

Kel-Tec P-32 Sights

My first project was trying to figure out how to use the sights on my Kel-Tec P-32. The last two times I’d had it at the range, I had never once managed to so much as hit the paper of the target using the sights (though it shot well enough using point-shooting).

The P-32 has rather unusual sights. They make sense when you consider the P-32 as a concealment and backup gun, to be used at short ranges, and with any risk of catching on clothing on the draw being very serious. There’s nothing in the instruction book on what the sight picture is supposed to be. I thought I had it figured out right, but since I wasn’t hitting what I aimed at, I figured maybe not. I knew that, at an indoor range where I could easily shoot at any distance from the target, I could quickly find out.

Well, I still don’t know what was going wrong before, but this time when I used the obvious sight picture (roughly as shown in the last two shots above) I hit what I wanted, close enough. Out to 20 feet, anyway, which is all I ask of a little “mouse gun” like this.

Still shot well for me with point-shooting, too.

I shot about 50 rounds through it, which brings the total up to somewhere around 100.

Had one failure to extract (shooting S&B 73gr FMJ this time). The shot felt and sounded weird to me, thought it might be a squib load or something, so I put the gun down and let it sit a while (paranoid protection against hangfires). When I picked it up and worked the slide the case ejected with no trouble. I then checked the barrel for obstructions, and found none. Unfortunately I wasn’t smart enough to check the target carefully to see if the bullet hit. So I don’t know if it was a squib load strong enough for the bullet to clear the barrel but not strong enough to fully operate the slide, or something else.

Glock 22

I’m considering picking up a Glock 22, the full-size .40 S&W one. I like my Glock 17 very well, and having a house gun, or a gun I could carry under a bulky jacket if necessary, in that caliber, is attractive. A friend has one for sale, so I was checking it out.

I ran 100 rounds of the Wolf 180 grain FMJ through it without a bobble or a problem. I hit mostly what I was aiming at. (When cleaning the gun afterwards I did find that the front sight had worked loose, however.) Although I didn’t have my Kahr K-40 at the range to compare head-to-head, I don’t think I found the full-size Glock any easier to shoot than the tiny Kahr. In particular, even in the Chapman stance, holding very firmly and with my off-hand index finger solidly planted on the front of the trigger guard to help control the recoil, I got enough flip on every single shot that my finger slipped off the trigger guard. I probably got back on target quicker by using a rather loose isoceles, letting the gun climb a bit, and then bringing it back down.

I shot single-handed with both hands, and got a nearly identical grouping with either hand. Since I’ve hardly ever in my life fired a pistol left-handed, this must mean that I’m not very good with my right hand either.

Taurus 445 vs. Blazer

The big issue was supposed to be running rounds through the Taurus 445. I’d just had the hammer spur removed (“bobbed”), and while there was no special reason to suspect the hammer wouldn’t be heavy enough, a lot of testing is necessary to establish the reliability of a firearm after even relatively minor surgery. I’d figured an absolute minimum of 100 rounds (which, conveniently, would give me some practice with the new gun).

The first problem was that I’d only been able to find one box of ammo locally. Well, I could start, anyway, 50 rounds would tell me something.

The second problem was that the one box I’d found were CCI Blazer (44 S&W SPL 200 GR. GDHP). Blazers are famous, I guess, for many things, but one of them is for using aluminum cases.

I hadn’t thought of this journal yet, or there’d be pictures. I loaded 5 cartridges into the cylinder. I fired 5 times. I put all 5 through the general part of the target I had in mind (at a reasonable self-defense distance of about 20 feet). I didn’t mind the recoil much at all (those Taurus “Ribber” grips, of ribbed rubber, are really very nice).

So I swung open the cylinder, and pressed on the ejector rod. Nothing moved. I pressed a little harder. The cases slid out about a quarter inch, and then stopped moving. I pressed a lot harder. Nothing moved.

So I cased the weapon and went out and talked to Roger (who runs Burnsville Pistol Range) for a second opinion. Roger told me it’s probably just that the aluminum doesn’t slide out of whatever metal that cylinder is made of (it’s an ultra-lite, but not titanium) very well after being press-fit when the powder went off.

Ouch.

Problem one was relatively easy. When I got home, I pushed the empty casings out with a pencil. Didn’t even need a mallet.

Problem two is uglier. I had the Blazers in the first place because it was the only box of .44 Special ammo I had been able to find. Even online it’s fairly rare, and a lot of the ammo I’d seen listed online were Blazers too. The 445 is supposed to be a carry weapon, but that’s not going to work out if I can’t find anything to feed it. Maybe when the reloading setup I have part ownership of gets set up again, I’ll solve the problem that way.

Me vs. My Eyes

Did anybody ever tell you the warranty on your body expired at 25? Well, it does. I’m a bit past that now (slightly short of twice that), and have been wearing reading glasses for the last 4 years. So I’m working a bit harder at distance shooting (which I was never any good at anyway). It’s a challenge, and I’m sure it builds character. Or something. One of the problems with the shooting sports is that they’re so damned objective.

I ran 100 rounds of .22 through my Ruger Mk II, quite a few of them all the way out at 25 yards. It was really quite satisfactory; I so rarely shoot that far out that I was pleased to be getting recognizable groups at all, instead of a random pattern of about half the number of shots I’d fired all over the paper.

I do shoot it considerably better two-handed than one-handed, which probably means I’d benefit from some arm and hand exercises and more practice. Still, defensive shooting is almost always two-handed, and at much shorter ranges. I’m never going to be a good shot, I don’t have the patience for it.

Then I actually cleaned all the ones I’d fired. I didn’t take the Ruger Mk II down — I forget how, and anyway I’ve been told that it shouldn’t be taken down more often than necessary. No idea if there’s anything to that. Must remind friend to get me that quart of Ed’s Red; the Hoppe’s #9 bottle is about empty.

Coins

Since the Euro has just launched as a physical currency, I’ve looked at some of the web sites for pictures of the coins (and not finding them; neither the Guardian nor the official Euro site has photos I can find of any coin other than the 1 Euro). This got me thinking about the denominations the choose to make, and how they differ from ours in the US.

Continue reading Coins

The Matrix

The Matrix is, I’m given to understand, one of the best SF films that Hollywood has produced. Many of my film-going friends tell me this. It was up for the Hugo award for best science fiction dramatic presentation in 2000 (it was beaten by Galaxy Quest, in what is said to be a rather strong field). It’s currently (19-Aug-2001) #31 in the IMDB Top 250, with a rating of 8.5 out of 10.