For Day II in Raptor’s EPIC WEEK OF AWESOME (TM), I went and did something that I’ve been planning on and dreaming of doing for years and years and years: I went shooting for the very first time!

Went to Clayton’s Hunting, Fishing & Indoor Range in Horsham PA. Great facility, really nice and professional employees; if you’re local, I highly recommend them (not that I have much in the way of comparison, but still…)

Anyway, Clayton’s offers a one-on-one personalized firearms safety course, which is what I signed up for. Spent maybe 30-45 minutes in a classroom going over safety, shooting and firearms mechanics, etc. Very informative, and a heck of a lot more involved than I expected. Whoever called shooting “a point-and-click interface” lied: it’s freakin’ complicated!

Anyway, after my instructor went over everything and decided I was ready, we hit the range. He “only” set the targets 5 yards out, but it was still plenty tough. First firearm he had me use was a Ruger Mk. III in .22 LR. Fired about… I dunno, 30-35ish shots through that. Recoil was much greater than I’d anticipated (i.e. it actually had kick), but I got the hang of it pretty quick. No s*** this is one of my targets:

Dunno if you can read the writing, but that was an 8-round string. That circled cluster in the center? 4 rounds, all overlapping. Group is smaller than a dime. Yes, it’s only a .22 at 5 yards, but considering it was my first time, I’ll take it in spades. My instructor couldn’t believe I shot a grouping like that (heck, I don’t believe I did it.

Anyway, after I’d gotten the hang of the Ruger, my instructor swapped it out for a Kimber Stainless Target II in 9mm. Let me tell you, that thing is a whole ‘nother animal from the .22. Took quite a while to get the hang of the trigger. I can see why target shooters love the 1911 so much: the trigger is really light and barely moves.

I only fired 15 or so rounds from the Kimber, all on one target, but again, I don’t think I did too bad:

I only fired 5-round strings at max (most were 3-rounders), so that “cluster” below the bulls-eye is the result of multiple strings and not a single grouping, but again, I’ll take it in spades.

What did I think overall? Much different from what I expected. Recoil, at least for the 9mm, was a lot less than I’d anticipated. Noise from both guns was about what I’d figured, but I hadn’t expected the heat or pressure at all. And like I said, shooting itself is tough. Forget point and shoot, you gotta worry about sight alignment, grip, stance, breathing, trigger control, follow through… all while trying to hold a two pound chunk of steel steady out at arm’s length. My lesson ended about 2.5 hours ago, and my shoulders are still aching!

But even so, I had a freakin’ BLAST! Can’t wait to do it again!


Raptor’s Gun Wants, Part 2

I was looking over my previous post that covered the list of guns I plan on buying, and realized I made a serious oversight. In the Priority One (“Need”) category, I said I only needed one gun, a Browning Buck Mark .22 LR pistol. Now that’s all well and good (and I received compliments for my choice) but I realize now that a .22 LR rifle is probably just as necessary, if not more so, for anyone to learn basic marksmanship skills with.

With that in mind, I’m adding a .22LR rifle to my list. I thought about the Ruger 10/22, but as I understand it, their quality level QC has been increasingly iffy as of late, and I don’t feel comfortable enough in my knowledge of firearms to try buying a used one. Plus a .22 semi-auto doesn’t strike me as all that exciting. And while I’ll admit that lever guns are cool, they just don’t appeal to me all that much right now. So I’m gonna go with a good old-fashioned bolt-action rifle. Specifically, this one:

A CZ 452 FS. The CZ 452 has the reputation of being an all-around excellent .22 bolt gun, and really excellent value for the money. And I’m one of those weird people that absolutely loves the look of the full-length Mannlicher stock.

The only potential problem I see is that CZ is slowly phasing out the Model 452 and replacing it with the newer Model 455. I’ve no doubt that the 455 is a good gun (the early reports I’ve seen leads me to believe it is), I’m just concerned that they won’t make the 455 with a Mannlicher stock. I know that’s probably unfounded, but hopefully I’ll be able to pick one up before that becomes an issue. And if not, then oh well, I’ll just have to content myself with a “regular” CZ 455. 😉

Simple Advice on How to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse

So the Center for Disease Control has issued advice on how to deal with the Zombie Apocalypse. No, I’m not making this up. They’ve got some basics on there (stock up on food, medicine, water, First Aid supplies, etc.) but that’s it. Basically, it’s the same basic advice you hear on how to deal with any emergency. Nothing they say will, IMO, prove particularly useful with surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Let’s face it, when the dead start rising, normal preparation becomes pretty much useless.

Fortunately for us all, Thernlund over on We The Armed has posted a YouTube video in which he gives some very simple, yet incredibly useful advice on how to survive the Zombies:

Short, sweet, to the point, and much more useful than the “advice” that the CDC has.

Now I just gotta get myself a Mossberg 590…

Raptor’s Gun Wants

A conversation I had over dinner earlier this week and Mad Ogre’s recent post about his gun wants got me thinking: what guns do I want, I mean really want? Granted, I want pretty much every single gun ever made that I can legally own (and a few I probably can’t, the Glock 18 being at the top of that list). Unfortunately, I probably won’t ever be rich enough to live that dream, so I’m gonna have to prioritize.

Currently, I have no guns, but I intend to change that ASAP. But what takes priority? What should I buy first, and what can wait? Unfortunately, try as I might, I can’t come up with a definitive, I-will-buy-these-guns-in-this-order list. I have, however, managed to come up with several “priority levels,” i.e. I’ll probably buy a gun in this category before I buy one in this category.

So, anyway, that’s enough of me blabbing: here’s my list:

Priority One (“Need.”)

Only one gun in this category: a Browning Buck Mark pistol (.22LR). This will be the pistol I learn to shoot on. Inexpensive (base model lists for about $400 around me), well-built and reliable, negligible recoil and muzzle blast, and ammo’s dirt cheap)

NOTE: Guns in other Priority Levels not listed in any particular order.

Priority Two (“Must-Have”)

  • SIG-Sauer P239 (9mm)
  • SIG-Sauer P228 (9mm)
  • A full-size 1911A1 in .45 ACP (presently leaning towards a stanless Springfield Mil-Spec)
  • An AR-15 in .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO (would like one custom-built by Crusader Weaponry)
  • Remington 870

Priority Three (Want)

  • Lee-Enfield No.4 Mk1* (only reason this is here and not in “Must-Have” is because of ammo cost and scarcity)
  • M14/M1a
  • AK-47/AK-74
  • DSA-made FAL
  • Crusader Broadsword in .308 Winchester
  • Some sort of .357 magnum revolver
  • SIG -Sauer P220 (.45 ACP)
  • A snub-nosed .38 Special revolver
  • S&W Model 26/629 (.44 Magnum)
  • Steyr Scout
  • FN PS-90
  • FN FNP-45 Tactical
  • An Officer’s-size 1911 (3.5″ barrel, I’m thinking Springfield Ultra Compact)
  • Colt Delta Elite (10mm)
  • Aluminum-framed 1911 Commander in .38 Super

Priority Four (Would Like)

  • STI Perfect Ten (10mm, preferably customized like Larry Correia’s)
  • A Sharps Model 1874 replica from Shilo Rifles (either the Quigley or the Long Range Express)
  • Uberti-made S&W No.3 Schofield (.44 WCF)
  • Colt Peacemaker (or replica), any caliber.
  • Winchester 1873/1892  (or replica), any caliber
  • A full-size or long-slide 1911 chambered in 9x23mm Winchester.
  • Pretty much everything I haven’t already mentioned.

Really, the only thing I don’t want, and this is probably going to come as a surprise, is a .50 BMG rifle. Now don’t get me wrong, those things are freakin’ awesome, but once again it comes down to cost. The price of .50 BMG rifles has come down significantly in the last few years, to the point where a “baseline” single-shot .50 BMG bolt-action rifle costs around $3,000 (before you buy the optic, of course). The problem is the ammo: basic mil-surp ammo costs between $4.00-$5.00 a round, while precision-loaded match rounds cost anywhere from $7.00 to $10.00 a round. No matter how hard I try, or how rich I might be, I just can’t justify spending that much money on a single round of ammunition.

Quick Adennum to Gunshow AAR

Okay, in my last post I remarked that the Lee-Enfield No 4 Mk. I I handled at the gun show had a problem because it took a significant amount of effort to get the bolt closed. Turns out I was incorrect: the Lee-Enfield’s action features a cock-on-closing mechanism that makes the bolt harder to close, but much easier to open. So if anyone’s thinking about buying a Lee-Enfield (which I highly recommend, by the way), don’t worry. If you get the bolt about halfway closed and then feel it rebound off something, that’s normal.

Thanks to JesseL over on WeTheArmed for that nugget of information.

Valley Forge Gun Show After-Action Report

Well, I survived!  Didn’t leave campus until about 5:30 (emergency meeting of the newspaper’s editorial staff, short version is we’re all probably gonna get crucified on Monday, I might post on that later) and finally got to the show around 6:00. The guys I was gonna go with wound up leaving way before I did so we met at the convention center.

It. Was. AWESOME!!!!

I browsed for about 2 hours, right up until the show closed and they chased everyone out. By and large the retailers were all very nice. I saw more guns than I could possibly mention here, including a couple of really slick Class III full autos. I got to handle (in no particular order):

  • M1941 Johnson rifle
  • M1 Garand
  • Lee Enfield No 4 Mk. 1
  • Mosin-Nagant (several)
  • Springfield Ultra Compact 1911
  • SIG-Sauer P239 Tactical (front cocking serrations and threaded barrel)
  • Several AR-15s and AR-10s, and an AR-57
  • Several AKs
  • M14/M1A
  • FN SCAR 16s
  • FN FS-2000
  • Remington 870
  • Mossberg 500
  • DSA FAL rifle
  • Marlin 336

And I’m probably forgetting some too. Unfortunately, didn’t buy anything, though I did make a donation to the USO.

Thoughts… Guns are bigger than I thought, but bullets/cartidges are a lot smaller. The SCAR does feel like a toy, especially the stock. I kave no doubt that the gun itself runs great and is solid, but honestly, the stock felt like my Nerf Gun. The Mossberg sounds “meaner” when you rack the pump, but the Remington has a smoother action. The FAL is freakin’ sweet. If I buy an AR-15, I’ll get it with either a mid-length or rifle-length handguard since I have long arms (found them more comfortable). And I think I’ve fallen in love with the Lee-Enfield (more on that later).

It was interesting to see the dichotomy between the five of us in the group. I was looking at pretty much everything, but found myself drawn more towards semi-auto pistols and rifles (especially EBRs). My one friend is an avid hunter, so he mostly looked at bolt guns and lever-actions. It was kind of funny to watch him handle an AK and an M1A: he couldn’t figure out how to get the magazines out, then couldn’t get them back in either. My second friend is more into Mil-Surp stuff, so he was eying the Mosins (even though he’s got one already), Lee-Enfields, and Mausers. He’s also looking for a home-defense shotgun, so he spent plenty of time eying the Remington 870 and Mossberg 500. Third guy is ROTC, so he looked pretty much exclusively at paramilitary-style rifles. And the fifth guy I didn’t see much of at the show (we split up pretty early on) so I have no idea what his tastes are.

I liked the Springfield Ultra Compact, as that had a good deal of heft to it, but the SIG P239 fit my hand like a glove. I think when I buy my first center-fire handgun, it’s gonna be a SIG P239.

I also really like the FAL. I handled a standard DSA rifle with pane-Jane synthetic furniture and iron sights, I think it was an Imbel build. It’s a heavy gun, but not overly so, it’s built like a tank, and the controls are pretty simple and intuitive. And I like the sights too.

Yeah, I think I’ve got it bad for the Lee-Enfield, especially the No 4 Mk. 1 (handled a No 3 of some kind as well). It felt lighter than the other Mil-Surp guns I handled and felt perfectly balanced in my hands. The bolt was incredibly slick and fast (though it took quite a bit of effort to get it back into battery: I think it was a problem with the magazine follower) and as I understand it, the felt recoil isn’t too bad (lighter than a .30-06 and 7.62x54R heavy ball). I think I know what my first rifle is going to be… my Crusader AR-15 will have to be second.

The gun show was hands-down the coolest place I’ve been in a very, very long time. The VFGS is hosted 4 times a year, with the next event in mid-June. I’ll definitely be there, even if I don’t buy anything again. Next time, however, I won’t be looking just to look, I’ll be putting together a shopping list and checking out retailers. If I wasn’t serious about buying a gun before, I am now.