Budget Rifles

Over at Gun World, Brad Fitzpatrick talks about the change in gun manufacturing, whereby “budget” (“cheap”) no longer means “can’t hit the inside of a barn”, and gives his take on various offerings from some well-known American gunmakers.  He likes them all.  Here they are, in no specific order:

From what Fitzgerald writes, and as I see it — because I’ve never shot any of them myself — all the above are great value for money, in that they combine a “sensible” price with outstanding accuracy straight out of the box.  (As for long-term reliability, of course, we’ll have to see in a decade or so’s time because they’re all relatively new and haven’t been through the hell that we riflemen subject our guns to, yet.)

All the above companies have taken the lessons learned in their respective experience and applied those when using new (and improved) manufacturing techniques, to what seems to be a great advantage for us gunnies.

Nothing wrong with any of that.

However — and you knew there was going to be a qualifier from me, didn’t you? — I think that this new Kraft Durch Technik  stuff has led to a bunch of guns that all look the same, and are not that great-looking withal.

Once again, let me reiterate:  if I were looking to buy an inexpensive bolt-action rifle in .300 Win Mag to take to the Cairngorms in Scotland for a deer stalk with Mr. Free Market, Doc Russia and Combat Controller, every single one  of these rifles would be on my short list, in the same way that if I were looking for a budget-yet-well-made vehicle to take on a long drive trip across the United States, I’d certainly consider cars from Toyota, Nissan, Honda and so on.

But paraphrasing Jeremy Clarkson’s famous question:  would you get a thrill every time you took it out of the gun safe / saw it in your driveway?

I wouldn’t.  I’m sorry, but as much as I have said, and believe that guns are tools and cars just means to get from A to B, I just cannot reconcile myself with the blandness of modern products, and these budget rifles don’t do it for me.  Something like this one does:

It’s a Mauser M18, and in .300 Win Mag as pictured it retails for about $750 at Euro-Optic (~$300 more than the Winchester XPR above).  Yeah, it’s a “budget” Mauser.  My  kinda budget.

Update:  It appears that I screwed up and used the wrong pic (of a new Mauser 98), as the M18 is only available with a plastic stock.  Ugh.  So much for that thought.  Okay, let’s go with an older “budget” rifle in .300 Win Mag, the Savage 110 XP with the wonderful Accu-Trigger:

This one’s on sale at Bud’s Gun Shop for just under $600, and while it’s no Mauser, it will probably do just fine.

[exit, kicking sand]

Carry Nation

Nah, not the foul old bat who went around smashing up bars in the early 20th century.

I’m talking about my handgun carry options, which are as pictured below.  First, the 1911 and High Power, both in their Don Hume IWB (inside-waistband) holsters:

Each has two spare holsters in re-purposed flip-phone webbing pouches:  the .45 ACP 1911 has Chip McCormick 8-round Powermags (for a total of 24 rounds) and the 9mm High Power has Pro-Mag 12-rounders (36 rounds total).

My backup is of course a .38 Spec S&W 637 Airweight in a Milt Rosen “Clamshell”, with a single 5-round speedloader (not pictured) —  and if I need more than ten rounds in my backup  piece, I’m probably in deeper trouble than I can handle.

Let’s just say I like options in my carry pieces.  Good options.

The last itch I have is for a decent .357 revolver option, so if anyone has an old S&W Model 65 in good working condition… I’d prefer a Python, but I have no money for that.  Does anyone, these days?

Gratuitous Gun Pic — HK P7 (9mm Para)

In my post about 9mm pistols last week, Readers chimed in about the Heckler & Koch P7 thus:

William O. B’Livion: “No love for the H&K P7?”

And Mike M: “I have a love/hate relationship with the P7. The squeeze-cock action is great in theory, but it aggravates carpal tunnel issues tremendously. No idea why. And it heats up FAST.”

Not everyone knows about the P7, of course, even among my self-identified gun nut Readers, so here it is:

As Reader Mike M. reveals, the P7 is cocked not just by working the slide (which you can do as well) or pulling back a hammer (no exposed hammer, duh), but by squeezing the grip.  In addition to his mention of carpal tunnel syndrome, let me say too that the squeezing action — which is severe, as it should be — had the effect of affecting my aiming of the gun;  so hard did I have to squeeze the wretched thing that after a while my hand got the shakes from muscle strain.  (Bear in mind that this happened after several dozen squeezes — I seldom shoot fewer than 50 rounds when testing a handgun.  YMMV.)

My biggest gripe was that the shorty barrel made accurate shooting impossible at any yardage greater than halitosis distance.  I know, I know… the P7 is purely a short-range self-defense pistol, not a long-distance target shooter;  but I found its strange action to be just that, or else the answer to a question never asked.

Anyway, I later had the opportunity to buy one at a very low price ($150 if I recall correctly), but passed.  There are far better guns for the job than this curiosity.

Old Friends Are Not Forgotten

My abbreviated honeymoon last weekend had one additional benefit:  it brought three old friends back into my life.

During the Great Poverty Gun Sell-Off (when I was forced to sell guns to pay medical bills), several kind and generous buddies came to my aid, buying several of my guns from me — with the caveat that should they ever decide to sell them, I would get right of first refusal.  (There was a hidden danger, of course:  that they would fall in love with the damn guns and refuse to sell them back  to me, which actually came close to happening with one.)  Recently I had a small windfall which made their buyback possible, so…

Anyway, here’s one of them, which I managed to persuade Longtime Friend Mark C. to sell back to me.  This is my prized Browning High Power 9mm, which had been on permanent loan to Connie.  Sadly, as her health deteriorated, she was no longer able to operate it and, well, there were doctors which needed paying, so onto the block it went.  But now it’s home again.  This was how it first arrived in the house:

…and this is how it looked when Reader Mark took possession:

I will soon (very soon) be reacquainting myself with this beauty at the range, maybe even this afternoon or tomorrow.  If I love it as much as I remember doing, it may well replace my 1911 as a primary carry piece.  (I know, I know, 9mm Europellet!  Say it ain’t so, Kim!!!  But as Loyal Readers will recall, the 1911’s .45ACP ammo has been beating up my old wrists badly… and anyway, pistol cartridges have come a long  way since 2004.  Right now it’s loaded with this new offering from SIG, which seems to be all the rage with the 9mm Smart Set.)

…and my bulk ammo order from the ammo dealers on my sidebar will follow shortly.  One problem:  I only have one mag for it, the original issue.  But a visit to the next Evil Loophole Gun Show (ELGS™) should provide me with some of those doubleplusungood 13-rounder magazines — you know, the ones which give the gun-controllers fits.  Five or six should do the trick, yes?

Welcome home, old buddy.  Range report to follow.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: When Speed Doesn’t Matter

There is something (okay, several things) about shooting an old-fashioned single-action .22 revolver that I like.  Take Ruger’s excellent Single-Six (and its modern -Nine and -Ten variants), for example:

The most common complaint about this kind of revolver is that it’s a royal pain in the ass to load and reload, in that you can only load one round at a time through the loading gate, and then, when the cylinder has been emptied, you have to push the spent casings one at a time back out of the gate with the ejector rod.

That’s not counting the PITA of only being able to fire the thing by re-cocking the piece manually after every squeeze of the trigger, of course.

To me, this slowness of operation is a feature, not a bug.  I like the slow, deliberate aspect of shooting as much as — or maybe even more than — the rush of sending as much lead downrange as quickly as possible.

It also satisfies the ingrained “make every bullet count” aspect of my shooting philosophy.

I can understand why shooting larger calibers like .357 Mag, .30 Carbine or .44 Mag ammo slowly through a bigger Ruger single action is defensible;  those big boys are expensive compared to .22 LR, after all.

But let’s be honest here, and compare shooting to fishing for a moment.  Is not one of the best parts of fishing the quiet relaxation of it, and would not the experience be a little spoiled if you hooked a fish every 30 seconds for the entire day?

I think that shooting single-action revolvers has a similar attraction.

Maybe it’s just part of getting older, but I’m starting to prefer an activity taken more slowly over something done in a frantic rush.  And I no longer own a Single-Six, mine having disappeared in the Great Gun Sell-Off Of 2015.

Which leads me to my final point.  I’m prepared to trade my new Ruger Mk IV 22/45 semi-auto (plus four magazines) for a Ruger Single-Six (and preferably a “convertible” with interchangeable .22 LR / .22 WMR cylinders).  I’m agnostic about blue- or stainless steel finishes and indifferent as to barrel length, just as long as the gun shoots accurately and the trigger is decent.

So if any of my Texas Readers is interested in getting a Mk IV and has a Single-Six gathering dust in the safe, let me know via email and let’s get together.

Update:  A Kind & Generous Reader has come forward.  We’ll be doing the swap sometime in the near future.

Iconic Handguns

The Washington Times recently published a list of the top dozen “Most Iconic Handguns”, and unusually for topics of this nature, I couldn’t find much fault with their choices.  To save you having to page through their stupid slideshow, the guns are:

  1. Colt 1911 Government (.45 ACP)
  2. Mauser C96 Broomhandle  (7.63mm Mauser)
  3. DWM P08 “Luger” (9x19mm Para)
  4. Browning P35 High Power (9x19mm Para)
  5. S&W Model 27 (.357 Magnum)
  6. Walther P38 (9x19mm Para)
  7. Colt Detective Special (.38 Special)
  8. Walther PPK (.32 ACP / 7.65mm Browning)
  9. Colt Single Action Army “Peacemaker” (.45 Colt)
  10. S&W Mod 29 (.44 Magnum)
  11. Glock 17 (9x19mm Para)
  12. Desert Eagle (.50 AE / .44 Magnum)

Like I said, I can’t find much to argue with, if you define “iconic” as “guns that are instantly recognizable to most people” either by their shape, their popularity or their place in legend / the movies.  Among gunnies, the list might look quite different.

But even then… one could argue that the two S&W revolvers are almost identical outside the caliber and frame design (to handle the extra recoil of the .44 Mag), and purely by the above definition, the Mod 29 (Dirty Harry’s gun) deserves its place, the Mod 27 less so.  Ditto the Luger and the P38:  the older P08 is instantly recognizable as much for its shape as for the name, but its replacement, the P38?  Not so much, even though the P38 is the better pistol of the two.  And as much as I hate to say this, the same is true of the 1911 and the High Power.  To us gunnies, the two are instantly distinguishable;  but to the general public?  Probably not.

Frankly, any such list which ignores the Colt Python (.357 Mag) must surely be suspect.

And finally, for the history buffs (and there may be one or two among us), there’s the British Webley Mk VI (.455 Webley or .38/200), which must surely rate as iconic, by any standard:

…and of course, there’s the the Smith & Wesson Model 10 (a.k.a. the Military & Police and/or Victory model in .38 Special), which some might justifiably consider the iconic revolver — certainly, with over six million manufactured, it was the most-produced handgun of the 20th century.

If I were doing the list, I might omit the Walther P38 and S&W Mod 27, and substitute two of the three beauties above (which two? aaargh).  How about a top 15?

Your observations in Comments.