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.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: CZ 75B (9mm and .40 S&W)

Despite my aversion to double-action 9mm pistols, I’ve always had a soft spot for the CZ 75:

Made by the fine Ceska Zbrojovka Company in the Czech Republic, the CZ 75 is probably one of the most respected DA pistols ever made.  Reliable to a ridiculous degree, I think it was prevented from beating out the Browning High Power as the world’s most popular 9mm pistol only because Czechoslovakia had the misfortune to be once part of the Evil Empire, and as such it was difficult to export the guns to the Running Dogs of the Capitalist West.  To add to the irony, the CZ 75’s action is based on that of the High Power, so the design is as sound as a bell.

CZ is such a damn good company in so many respects, they put most American gun companies to shame.  For starters, their marketing is excellent—there are as many variants of the CZ 75 as you could wish for.  Their advertising is likewise great (check out their website for an example of how a gun company should advertise their product line, with great pictures and feature-rich product data).

And they are accurate.  It should be remembered that I am, in all honesty, no better than a “competent” shooter with a handgun, but I can shoot the CZ 75B well enough to impress even serious shooters.  Oh, and one more thing:  take a CZ 75B out of your gun bag at the range, and nobody will ever look down on your choice.

Here’s the best part, however.  For what you get, the CZ pistols are great value for the money.  You can get a new CZ 75B for less than $650.  For that price, you may have to spend another $90 on a trigger job — like all DA pistols, the pull is not always to the individual’s liking — but then again, it may suit you fine.

As I always say:  IF I were in the market for a 9mm pistol, and IF I didn’t prefer single-action (e.g. Browning P35 High Power) over double action, I’d already have a CZ 75B.  And all that said, I’m still tempted.  Maybe a stainless model?  I don’t have one of those

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Colt Combat Commander (.45 ACP)

Here’s the gun with which I learned to shoot the .45 ACP cartridge:  the Colt Combat Commander Model 70:

Now I’ve said a lot of bad things about Colt (the company) before, but I have to tell you, my Commander was an absolute joy to shoot, and I never had to do anything to improve it.  What’s more, it loaded, fired and ejected every possible type of .45 ACP I ever put into it, and within the confines of the shorter 4” barrel, it was as accurate as I could shoot it — which, I have to tell you, wasn’t saying much.  In those days, I had no patience, and every handgun shooting session seemed to involve shooting a box of ammo as quickly as possible, then heading off to the rifle range lanes to do the serious stuff, i.e. trying to get five rounds of .308 through a single hole with my Israeli Mauser.

It seemed pointless to me to spend a lot of time at the range trying to coax tiny groups out of a 4” barrel, when most self-defense situations involve distances of less than seven yards and shooting fewer than five rounds — when pin-point accuracy is largely irrelevant, really, as long as all the holes are in a sideplate-sized hole in the center of the target.

But to return to the old days:  after shooting off my first thousand rounds of .45 ACP, I could handle the Commander in my sleep, and saw no reason to spend more time than I needed “to keep my eye in”.  Ah, the silliness of youth…

To a certain degree, I still have some of that cavalier attitude towards large-caliber handgun shooting, and most especially with a carry gun.  Now, though, that’s confined to my backup S&W 637;  the 1911, however, always gets a thorough workout.

And here’s the scoop:  the smaller 1911 frames like the Combat Commander are a perfect compromise between stopping-power and concealability — for a man.  I think that women need something which either tames recoil better (i.e. a larger-frame pistol) or else should shoot a cartridge which has less recoil to start off with.  Or both.  Like this shiny Combat Commander in 9mm:

And yes, I know there are women who compete in IPSC and all that jive, using full-frame 1911s to shoot .45 ACP.  (David also killed Goliath — but that’s not the way to bet.)  The stainless Commander fits every bill for the ladies, I think.

As for me:  would I use a Commander for my carry piece nowadays?  In a heartbeat.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Beretta BM62 (7.62x51mm NATO)

After WWII came to an end, the Italians needed a locally-made self-loading rifle for their Army, and rather than reinvent the wheel, Beretta simply took the excellent Garand design, modified it to take a removable 20-round magazine (as opposed to the top-loading 8-round en bloc clip of the Garand), gave it a select-fire (full auto) switch, and called it the Beretta BM59. The BM59 was Italy’s battle rifle until 1986, when it was replaced with a poodleshooter-type “assault rifle”, the AR-70 in 5.56mm NATO.

Shortly afterwards, the semi-auto-only civilian version (BM62) was released, with a 19” barrel, and would still be an excellent choice as a citizen’s battle rifle.

Here’s a close-up of the action:

Unfortunately, not many of these beautiful rifles were made, so their prices are typically in the nosebleed range, generally well over $2,500. As with so many rifles of the post-WWII era, it’s just a case of there being more buyers than rifles, so if you find one and really want it, you just have to grin and bear it grimace and sacrifice the kids’ college fund.

Speaking personally, I would rather have one of these than an M14 of the same era—in fact, I would rather have one of these than an M1 Garand, come to think of it. The design is robust and reliable, the caliber excellent (and recoil more manageable than that of the .30-06), and the mag capacity quite acceptable.