Well, This Week Certainly Stank

Posted: February 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

So, the Tri-State Area got hit with a massive ice storm last Wednesday. You might’ve seen it, or at least the aftermath, on national news. I say “might’ve” because I can’t say for sure, as we lost power Wednesday morning and didn’t get it back until yesterday at around noon. Phones & Internet are still down; I’m sending this from the local library. We had a generator (of course), so we were able to heat the house, run the refrigerator & freezer, and keep our cell phones charged, but once the sun went down, that was it. We only ran the generator long enough to heat the house & cool down the fridge, and reading by candlelight/flashlight does a number on your eyes, so that was it. Boring. As. Heck. And I’ll never take a hot shower for granted again as long as I live.

That said, as much as I’ve loved to gripe about it, we made out okay all things considered. Like I said, we had a generator, so we had hot, fresh food. Which was more than can be said for most of our neighbors. Heck, more than can be said for most of the area. The default disaster responses for the area seemed to be a) find a food store or restaurant that had power and camp out there, and b) completely freak out and lose your mind. I swear, on Day 2, Mama Raptor was walking the dog when she was stopped by some woman who was going on and on about how, and I quote, “It’s the end of the world! Its the Armageddon! It’s the end! We’re all going to die!” Man, I wish I was making that up. And the kicker is that this woman was in a car, that was running, on her way to stay with relatives who had power.

On a more sobering note, there is at least one family in our area who lost everything. Literally. A tree branch came down in their yard and snapped the power lines off of their house. The lines hit the house and arced. The house caught fire and burned to the ground. We lost power for six days. They lost their home. Permanently. Think about that next time you can’t get online for a few hours or you have to take cold showers for a few days.

On a different, though not exactly happy note, I won’t be able to take my new-to-me SIG P232 to the range for at least a few weeks. Turns out that I bought a broken gun: the takedown lever had snapped. Fortunately, the shop sent it back to the factory for me, and I think I’m off the hook for the repair cost. Unfortunately, a bit of research has revealed that this seems to be a problem with recent-production P232s. SIG appears to be saying that the guns were manufactured “out of spec” thought they haven’t said exactly what that means. Speculation on the internet seems to be that either it was a bad batch of parts or that the holes in the frame that the lever fits into weren’t drilled in perfect alignment with each other. Either way, apparently the problem is limited to guns manufactured in 2012. Guess when mine was manufactured.

On the plus side, it does appear that SIG is offering to replace the takedown levers free of charge, and possibly replacing the gun itself if the problem persists. But I’m not the original owner, so I’m not sure how that would work for me. Oh well, call it a learning experience, I guess. I’ll keep you posted on how this all goes. It’ll be at least a week, most likely, before I get the pistol back.

In the meantime, I’m going to start bracing for another snowstorm. This one’s supposed to dump 6-10 inches of snow on us on Thursday. This is Snowmageddon Round… 11, I think. I’m getting the feeling that this is Mother Nature’s way of giving Al Gore the finger. If that’s true, Ma’am, could you please stop? He doesn’t live anywhere near here.

Until next time, peace. And stay warm!


Happy Birthday to Me!

Posted: February 4, 2014 in Uncategorized

Today is the day that my family celebrates my entering the world kicking and screaming (more like squirming & whimpering), and as luck would have it I had the day off from work, so I decided to head to the range and treat myself to some full-auto fun. I planned to rent the MP5, or maybe the UMP9. Or a G36. Or M16. Or whatever caught my fancy when I walked up to the counter.

That didn’t happen.

See, what happened was, last time I went to the range, I spotted a CZ-83 in the used gun case for what looked like a screaming good deal. I thought it would make a good carry piece, but I’d never shot a straight-blowback .380 before. Fortunately, the range rents a SIG P232 which is also a straight-blowback .380, so I tried it out. I wound up liking it a lot more than I thought I would. However, I ultimately decided to pass on the CZ. Don’t get me wrong, CZs are good guns, and the price really was a screaming good deal, but it didn’t have some of the features I wanted (namely, a decocker) and it was nearly as wide as my P228, so I decided to walk away. But that P232, it had made an impression on me. So much so that I found myself actually considering it as a possible carry piece.

Fast forward to today. Like I said, my plan was to go to the range and rent a machine gun, but as I was driving down, I thought to myself, “Raptor, if there’s a P232 in the used case and the price is right, you should probably buy it.” Guess what was in the used gun case when I got to the range.

I rented the range’s P232 again, just to make sure I liked it as much as I remembered liking it. I did, and the price was pretty good, and I had the cash on me, so… yeah. I bought it.

It does a few cosmetic blemishes, but nothing major. Looks to all be honest wear, not abuse. Doesn’t appear to have been fired much either. Only came with one magazine, though, so I’ll have to buy some extras. After my wallet stops whimpering, that is.

Best birthday ever? Could very well be.

Until next time, peace!


Fickle, Thy Name is Raptor

Posted: December 30, 2013 in Uncategorized

First off, a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of my readers! And you have my apologies (yet again) for letting the blog lapse. Not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m writing a murder mystery novel, and I’ve been focusing all of my creative juices on that. It’s coming along quite nicely (though I’m afraid I’ve started to fall off the wagon with that too…) I’ll have to post a sample chapter or three on the blog sooner or later.

Anywho, onto the meat of the post.

I still haven’t picked up a carry piece yet. If you remember, I’ve been looking at a Beretta Nano, and after shooting a buddy’s, I was pretty much 100% set on getting one. Now… I’m not so sure. I’ve done some experimenting with my P228, and it turns out that my fears of it being too heavy are pretty much unfounded. In a decent holster, I can carry it around for extended periods of time with no problem. Even when my back is bothering me, I don’t really notice it’s there. And I don’t even have a good gun belt: just an old braided belt and an el-cheapo solid belt. With a good holster and gun belt, I probably wouldn’t feel it all.

That said, there’s still one problem that’s preventing me from using the SIG as my carry piece: it’s too thick. I know, I’ve griped about the grip being too thick before, but those were related to me being able to shoot the gun accurately, and ultimately proved to be issues with the user, not the gun. No, the issue this time is that the gun is wide enough that it prints if I cover it with anything lighter than a heavy sweatshirt or winter coat. Height and length wise, it’s pretty much ideal. But since I’m really skinny, I need my pistol to be skinny. So now I find myself looking away from the sub- and micro-compact 9mms and towards compact single-stack 9mms. You may remember that I looked at the Kahr CW9 many months ago and really didn’t care for it at all, but that’s about the size I’m looking at.

So far, I’ve narrowed my picks to either the SIG P225/P6 or the Smith & Wesson 3913. The SIG has the advantage of being nearly identical to my P228; same control layout, same grip angle & form (aside from being thinner), same manual of arms, and possibly can use my P228’s holster too. Downside is that it’s a bit thicker and heavier than the S&W (but not nearly enough to be deal-breakers) and the P6 variants can take some work to get them to feed hollowpoints reliably. The S&W is a bit shorter, thinner, & lighter than the SIG and will be ready to go right out of the box, and S&W 3rd Generation autos are reported to have the best triggers on the market. On the other hand, the S&W has a completely different control layout & manual of arms than the SIGs, and I’d need to buy new holsters too. That last bit isn’t a deal-breaker as I was planning on getting a new holster anyway, and the controls and manual-of-arms differences can easily be overcome with a modicum of training.

Unfortunately, both pistols share the same problem: they’re both out of production, and are increasingly hard to come by on the used market, especially in my budget and/or in decent condition. Not because they are breaking, but because people love them so much and don’t want to part with them. Additionally, magazines for each seem to be hard to come by as well. *sigh* Why must the guns I like most be the ones that aren’t being made anymore?

That said, as I’ve been typing this, one of my fellow WeTheArmed.com members made another suggestion: the SIG P239. It’s a bit smaller than the P225, but the same overall thickness. And unlike either the P225/P6 and 3913, it’s still in production. I have seen a decent amount in the used gun case in my LGS over the last year, but those have all been in .40 S&W, not 9mm (I’ve got a bunch of 9mm on hand, I want to stick with that chambering), and they’ve going for around $600 vs. the $350-$500 I’ve seen the P225/P6s and 3913s going for on the various auction sites. $600 is outside my budget, but… we’ll see.

I have Mama Raptor’s and Papa Raptor’s permission (but not their blessing) to bring another boomstick into the house, so hopefully I’ll be adding a carry piece to the stable sooner rather than later. I’ll let you know, but don’t hold your breath, it might be a month or two at the earliest before I can spare the $$$.

Until next time, peace.


Fairy Tales of the Gun

Posted: October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

Just stumbled across a collection of episodes of the old History Chanel show Tales of the Gun on YouTube and proceeded to watch a few of them. Now, I used to enjoy watching Tales of the Gun when I was a kid.

And now I feel embarrased just admitting that.

The show is so full of errors, so full of mistakes, so full of misconceptions… I swear, I haven’t seen this much concentrated FAIL in a single forty-five minute stretch since I quit watching America’s Funniest Home Videos. And at least that show as somewhat entertaining.

What am I talking about? Well, let’s look at the episode focusing around automatic handguns. The list is so long I’ll probably spend all night writing it down, but I have to be up early for church, so that’s a no-go. I’ll just point out the most glaring screw-ups here:

  • The Mauser C96 was not developed to compete with the Luger P08. It couldn’t have been, seeing how it was introduced a full twelve years before the Luger!
  • The Webley-Fosbery was not the only revolver “that featured a self-cocking ability.” EVERY FREAKIN’ DOUBLE ACTION REVOLVER IN THE WORLD FREAKIN’ “SELF-COCKS”!
  • The Beretta 92 series. For the love of John Moses Browning, there was so much fail related to this gun. It is not the only ambidextrous handgun design in the world. Standard magazine capacity is fifteen rounds, not seventeen. And in the name of all that is good and sacred on this earth, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO JUST CASUALLY REACH OUT AND YANK THE SLIDE & BARREL OFF THE GUN! THAT IS A MYTH!
  • This last one is common to every single episode: at least half of the supposed firearms “experts” on the show hold the guns with their fingers on the triggers. YOU ARE BREAKING RULE #3! Get your booger hooks off of those bang switches!
  • And finally, the show puts out this insulting presumption that the only ones who own or carry guns besides soldiers, hunters, and police officers are hardened criminals. I’m not even going to dignify that one with a rant.

I swear, I want to find the researchers, scriptwriters, and so-called experts and scream at them ’til my throat starts bleeding. The fact that they could even think about calling that series “history” or “educational” when it was so full of mistakes – amateurish and stupid mistakes at that – just defies logic.

Magnum Opus III: Enter the Bull

Posted: October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

As it turns out, my experience with the Nano wasn’t the only surprising discovery I made at the range today. You see, in addition to his brand-new Beretta, my friend also brought along his .357 Magnum revolver. It was a Taurus-manufactured clone of a Smith & Wesson K-frame. I’m not sure of the exact model, but the equivalent S&W would be the Model 66: a stainless-steel gun with target sights. His gun sported a four-inch barrel and wooden grips.

Now as you probably remember, for me the .357 Magnum has proven to be very much an acquired taste. I had a very unpleasant experience with a Smith & Wesson 686P, and then a sorta-kinda enjoyable one with a Ruger GP100. When my friend mentioned he’d be bringing it to the range, I asked if he wouldn’t mind bringing some .38 Special ammo too. Yes, I am a wimp.

Anyway, we opened our range session with the Taurus. The two of us took turns putting a cylinder of .38 Special at a time through the gun. Then after maybe 2/3 of the box, my friend loaded up the .357s. He put all six down range no problem, then turned and asked if I wanted to try it. I didn’t really want to, seeing as how that Taurus would be the lightest .357 Magnum I’ve shot by a decent margin. The Ruger LCR doesn’t count, as I only shot standard-pressure .38 Specials through it. But I wasn’t about to wuss out in front of my friend, so I loaded up one round, took careful aim, braced myself for pain, and fired.

Wait… what the… ? That didn’t hurt at all!

I immediately loaded up a full cylinder and put all six shots downrange fairly quickly. And while I definitely felt each and every shot, none of them were really painful at all. I was actually enjoying the .357s! Quite a lot!

I’m chalking this up to one, possibly two things. First and foremost is the Taurus’ aforementioned wooden grips. They were identical, or at least very similar, to the old Smith & Wesson “Target” or “Magna” grips.  They were checkered, and very wide & girthy, very hand-filling.  I was able to really hold onto the pistol when I was shooting, much better than I was able to even with the GP100.  The second possible reason was the ammo. With both the 686P and GP100, I was shooting American Eagle 158-grain Jacketed Soft Points. The ammo my friend had brought with him was PMC Bronze 158-grain JSP. I don’t know if the PMC is loaded a little lighter than the American Eagle or not, but it is a possibility.

Unfortunately, those seven rounds were all the .357 Magnum I was able to shoot today. It turns out that my friend’s Taurus was suffering from a mechanical issue. Three of the chambers would index smooth as butter, but the other three would drag. Two weren’t so bad, but the third felt like it was going to lock up. Took a great deal of effort, either by pulling the trigger or cocking the hammer, to get the cylinder to lock up. I didn’t mention it before, but the GP100 I fired was afflicted with this same issue, only the GP100 had it much worse. On that gun, you could actually hear a sharp metallic screech! when you indexed the cylinder. The Taurus was nowhere near that bad, but at the same time the problem was getting noticeably worse.

We’re not sure exactly what it is, and I’m 99% sure it won’t make the gun explode in his hand, but we both agreed that my friend should get the Taurus checked out by a gunsmith. So our time with the Taurus ended after my seven shots, my friend put another six through it, and we agreed that yeah, this isn’t good. He decided to put the Taurus away, and I didn’t argue. Like I said, I’m 99% sure the gun is safe to fire, but like I said, the problem was getting worse. Better stop shooting it then and cut our fun short temporarily than keep shooting and have the gun lock up on us completely.

But despite my aborted time with it, I really, really enjoyed shooting the .357 Magnum. So much so that I’ve decided that I’m definitely going to add one to my collection… someday. I’m thinking a Smith & Wesson K-frame (the genuine article, not a clone), but no matter what model I get, if it doesn’t come with nice, girthy wooden grips, I’ll be adding a set ASAP.

Going to the range with a very good friend, finding my future carry piece, AND learning to love the .357 Magnum, all in the same range session? Yeah, I’d say today was a very good day.

Until next time, peace.


… but, Beretta Nano, you made me love you.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, today was range day, and I rented a Beretta Nano. Actually, that’s not 100% correct: the Nano wasn’t a rental. No, I haven’t purchased one myself (sadly). A very good friend of mine bought one over the weekend, and we met up at the range today to break it in.

Now the Beretta Nano has been another one of those guns that I just did not want to like. But unlike, say, Glocks, my reasons for not wanting to like the Nano were rational. First and foremost, with the flush-fit magazine installed it’s only possible to get two fingers on the grip, whereas I much prefer a full three-fingered grip. Secondly, it lacks an external slide release lever. The slide still locks open on the last round, there’s just no way external lever to release the slide or lock it back. I rack the slide when I reload, but I use the lever to lock the slide back to verify that a pistol is clear when I’m taking it out our putting it away. Also, it looks very top-heavy and unwieldy. Plus it’s ugly. Yeah, I’m reaching here, I know.

Anywho, my first experience with the Nano was a few weeks ago. It wasn’t intentional: I’d gone to the range planning to rent a Ruger LC9. I did, but quickly regretted it after the first magazine. Recoil was, shall we say, stout, and rather painful as well. So much so that after less than half a box of ammo, I was done. But since I still had rental ammo left over, I decided to swap the LC9 for another gun. And since my buddy had asked if I had any experience with the Nano, I switched it with the LC9. And to my surprise, I liked it. A lot more than I thought I would. But I didn’t add it to my list of possible CCW pieces for two reasons: I’d put less than a box of ammo through it, and the rental came with only an 8-round extended mag, not the flush-fit six rounder. So I really couldn’t put the gun through its paces or see how it handled “stock.”

Flash forward to today.

As I said, my friend’s Nano is brand new. It came with both a six-round flush-fit magazine and an eight-round extended magazine, and my friend had purchased a second eight-round magazine separately. Between the two of us, we put roughly 150 rounds through the gun. And wouldn’t you know it, the Nano won me over. The gun felt almost perfectly balanced even with the six round magazine installed. And despite the two-finger grip, the Nano was very, very controllable. Recoil was noticeable, but not punishing at all. And yes, that’s also with the six-round magazine. The trigger was… good. I’m of the opinion that hammer-fired guns have better triggers than striker fired guns. But that said, the Nano does have a very good trigger. Relatively-short pull, weight is constant with no stacking, surprise breaking point, and it felt a lot lighter than it probably was. The trigger pull was a little gritty, but I’ll chalk that up to the gun being brand-spanking new. This was literally the first time the gun had been fired since it left the factory.

Unfortunately, our test run was not 100% smooth sailing. We experienced a small handful of failures to extract. They all occurred when we were using the same eight-round magazine, though we’re not sure if it was the one that came with the gun or the one he bought separately, they all occurred with Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ Value Pack ammunition, and (this is the weird bit), they only occurred when I was shooting it. Honestly, I have no idea what caused them. The gun had already eaten a box of 115-grain American Eagle with nary a hiccup. The jams started immediately after we ran out of AE and switched to the Winchester. The second and third round of the first Winchester mag FTE’d. My friend shot eight rounds through the gun, no problem. Then I shot eight more. The seventh round was another FTE. And that was it. We also had one double-feed, but I think that one was because I was limp-wristing the gun rather badly.  After the third FTE, we put another mag of Winchester through the gun without incident, then switched over to Fiocchi 124-grain FMJs. No further jams of any sort occurred. We’re chalking the FTEs up to the ammo, but I still really don’t know if that’s true.

Anyway, back on the positive: the gun is accurate. I mean scary accurate. Even though I have almost zero trigger time on the Nano, and my friend has very limited trigger time on pistols, period, we were both shooting three- and four- shot groups you could cover with a half-dollar. We even managed to shoot a few cloverleaf groups, putting shots nearly right on top of the other. Granted, the range was only seven to ten yards, but considering we are relative novices, were using a micro-compact 9mm, and with only a two-fingered grip a good deal of the time, I’d call that pretty darn impressive.

In short, the Beretta Nano has won me over. So much so that I’ve decided it’s going to be my dedicated carry piece. As soon as I can afford to, which unfortunately won’t be for quite a while, I’ll be picking one up.

Let’s See How Far We’ve Come

Posted: September 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

One year ago today, this was me:

Shooting the Ruger

Yep. One year ago today, I fired a gun for the first time. Seems like such a long time ago, yet I remember it oh-so-clearly. Just wish I could remember to follow my instructor’s advice half the time I’m at the range now. ;-) If you’d have told me then that a year from the moment that photo was taken, I’d not only have my own gun and be in the market for a second, but still living with Mama & Papa Raptor at the same time, I’d probably have laughed at you.  Heck, I still can’t believe it’s true.

So what’s on the agenda for my second year as a shooter? Get a dedicated CCW piece, get a long gun (or two, one .22lr and one centerfire), and above all, get Mama Raptor to the range.