Worst Gun News Ever

So… bye bye Browning High Power?

Small arms manufacturer Browning has ended production of the Browning Hi Power semiautomatic handgun. The legendary pistol served in armies worldwide, from Nationalist China to the British Special Air Service and was one of the first high capacity pistols ever invented. An invention of prolific arms designer John Moses Browning, the Hi Power was the inventor’s last pistol design.

I don’t wanna talk about it. I just hope some company buys the tooling and continues to make it to the same standards of excellency, like they did with Llama. (Okay, they improved the Llama by using better steel, but you know what I mean.)

So good and beautiful a gun cannot be allowed to disappear.

(Thanks to several Readers who wrote to tell me about this.)

Teething Troubles

So the dotmil’s initiative to field a new handgun has encountered a few speed bumps in its introduction thereof:

The MHS [Modular Handgun System — K.] requirement calls for both pistols to use the XM1152 ball cartridge, which uses a 115-grain, full-metal-jacket projectile, and the XM1153 Special Purpose cartridge, which uses a 147-grain jacketed hollow point projectile — a bullet Army officials have labeled as the service’s new “go-to-war” ammunition.
While it’s not in the formal MHS requirement, “gun makers were encouraged to optimize their guns’ performance to the special-purpose round,” according to a source familiar with MHS requirements and testing but not authorized to speak publicly on the subject.
If a pistol is designed specifically for a 147-grain special-purpose round, it can affect its performance with a lighter 115-grain ball round, the source said.

What a load of crap. “You should build your piece so that it performs best with heavier bullets, but it also has to use the BB-sized 115gr FMJ pellet (because we have boatloads of it in our stores).” Typical procurement bollocks. No wonder the SIG piece failed dismally with the 115gr ammo.

The only good news is that it seems as though our kids are — finally! — going to use a cartridge which can actually, you know, stop an enemy (which the 115gr. FMJ bullet can’t, as any fule kno and as I can attest to personally).

I also like the way that a hollowpoint-tipped cartridge has been renamed as a “special-purpose” round — as though killing the enemy is a Special Purpose in today’s Army. But I suppose it’s to placate all the tools who are going to start whining about “dum-dum” bullets and how they’re prohibited by the Geneva Convention (actually, the Hague Convention), neither of which the U.S. ever signed anyway so it’s a moot point.

As I hinted earlier on these here pages, I may consider changing to a 9mm handgun myself sometime in the future [pause to let everyone pick themselves off the floor]; but you may rest assured that if I do, nary a 115gr FMJ will ever find a place in any of my carry magazines.

Best Of Show Part 1

So: over three days and countless examples of gunny goodness on display, what were my favorites?

The first may come as a surprise to you: the Llama Micromax mini-pistol in .380 ACP from Eagle Imports, seen below in black and stainless:

Llama? Indeed. My very first pistol ever was a Llama, and it was a beauty. They’re no longer made in Spain, but in the Phillipines using the original Spanish machining and specs — only now they’re made with harder 4140 steel (always a knock on the older Llamas).

But that’s not why I like this new Micromax. Why I like it is that unlike the plethora of striker-fired plastic teenies, this bad lil’ guy is all-steel AND it’s a scaled-down 1911 action. I had Royce Honeycutt of Colorado Gunworks, Eagle’s warranty gunsmith — of whom more later — walk me through the manufacturing process. Then he field-stripped it, and in fact it’s more like a High Power action than a 1911 (i.e. easier to reassemble).

Now, why not go with something like the Kimber mini-pistols (as covered here)? After all, they come in larger calibers as well as the .380 ACP, and they too are scaled-down 1911 actions, miniatures of existing Kimber 1911s, as it happens.

My answer is simple. A pocket pistol in .380 ACP is not going to be your primary carry piece, it’s going to be your backup — and as such, the Micromax’s price tag of about $400 is going to be a better deal than Kimber’s $900, and a much better deal than a Walther PPK/S’s $1,100.

And the Llama Micromax isn’t a poxy DA striker-fired piece of plastic; it’s a steel 1911, fer gawdsakes. Here’s a review of the thing.

If I have a spare few dollars floating around in a couple-three months’ time, I’m going to get one. In stainless steel. Because when I held it, the Micromax felt as though I’d been holding it since… oh good grief, I bought my first Llama in 1975.

I think I’ll go back to bed.

Parking The Smoke-Wagon

Here’s the first of my impressions of 2018’s SHOT Show.

I was heartened to see that amidst all the new plastic (Kydex etc.) holster manufacturers at the show (Tami Keel did a good write-up here), there were still a goodly number of old-fashioned leather wranglers in evidence (Galco, Old El Paso and the like).

I was heartened because (and this may came as a huge shock to many) I am completely old-fashioned about this topic in that my preferences for gun materials are steel (the gun) and leather (holsters). For my carry pieces, therefore, I use the following:

That’s a Don Hume H715-M Clip model, which I wear inside the waistband in the small of my back (for extra concealment — even though I’m right-handed, I need a LH model because of where I carry it).

When I’m wearing a long coat or driving long distances, I carry the Springfield inside a Simply Rugged 1911 pancake style on my hip:

Then there’s the S&W 637, which rides in a Mitch Rosen Express Line pancake:

Please note that none of my holsters has a retaining strap, because straps slow down the draw. I’m unlikely ever to run after someone (or, for that matter, run away from someone), and I’m certainly not going to get into a scuffle with a goblin wherein he may take my gun off me. The whole purpose of my carrying a gun is that I can do my scuffling at arm’s length, so to speak, so I don’t need to restrain my gun in the holster. Your opinion and needs may vary, and that’s fine, but this is what suits me.

Going back to the plastic holsters: I have no problem with them at all. They work, cops and tactical operators use them, and they are pretty much indestructible. Unlike leather, they don’t wear out or loosen — but I should also point out that I’ve been using the above holsters for well over a decade, and they’re almost as tight as the day I first got them. I’ll also grant that it’s easier to re-holster a gun in a plastic holster, but I don’t care about that either — I’m not going to have to put my gun away quickly while I slap cuffs on a goblin because, quite frankly, cuffs are somewhat redundant on a dead person and under those circumstances re-holstering can take a little extra time. Anyway, with quality leather such as what I have, the re-holstering time differential is pretty small anyway — and when it comes to holsters, whether plastic or leather, this is not an area for pinching pennies: get the very best you can afford because long after you’ve forgotten (as I have) what you paid for your holsters, you’ll still be using them with confidence.

One’s choice of holster is a “horses for courses” matter.  I find leather to be perfectly adequate for my needs, and I prefer the feel of leather to plastic anyway (which is also why I wear veldskoens on my feet and not Crocs ugh).

Clearly, quite a few people think as I do, which is why leatherware was proudly on display at SHOT.

SHOT Show Part 1

Rather than doing a day-by-day report on the show, I think I’ll wait till I get back to Texas, collect my thoughts and read off my notes (yes, I do that), then do a summary. Here are my first impressions.

The show is huge — far too large to take in all at once — so yesterday I started off in the hall containing the “small” guys, because in many cases, this is where innovation tends to come from, rather than from Ruger, Remington etc.

To my admittedly out-of-touch eye, it looks like 2,000 guys all making variations on the same 50 product lines. Example: if you can’t find an upper for your AR-15 that tailored exactly to your taste, it probably doesn’t exist by now, and won’t.

I am heartened to see how many small gunmakers there are, all creating versions of ARs, AKs, bolt-action rifles and shotguns. Ditto the specialists like barrel-makers — there are dozens upon dozens of them, some small operations, some very large, all making good, quality products.

The Gun Thing is in good shape, folks. And it’s We The People who are keeping it that way.

And one last thing: if there’s anything anyone wants me to look at in particular, email me (there’s wifi at the show, duh) and I’ll see what I can do. (Can’t promise anything because the show is so large I might not get round to where it is, but I’m here a couple of days yet and I’ll do my best.)

Finally: many, many thanks to Reader Drew Kelley of Goldfield Small Arms for sponsoring me and making all this possible. He is a good man with excellent taste in all things, and I look forward to spending more time with him as the show goes on.


Last week Doc Russia and I went off to the range for a “Welcome Home” shooting session with our handguns (to celebrate the fact that Over Here we can do such a thing as opposed to in my erstwhile host country of Britishland, where shooting and ownership of handguns is streng verboten).

As always, I took my Springfield 1911, while Doc brought, in addition to his 1911 in 10mm, a SIG-Sauer Model Something in 9mm.

Dear Readers, I got hurt. Badly hurt. Not from a gunshot wound or anything like that; but I regret to say that after 100 rounds, the heavy (230gr) .45 ACP rounds were beating up my arthritic old wrist something fierce. Worst of all, the pain was giving me an uncontrollable flinch. Even a padded shooting glove didn’t help. At that point, I quit and shot the SIG instead. And I discovered that with the Europellet, my wrist didn’t hurt at all.

Shit. Time to rethink what I’m shooting.

Before anyone gets all upset and starts hooting ‘n hollering, let me reassure you that I’m not going to dump the old 1911 warhorse yet, oh no. First, I’m going to try shooting the lighter 185gr boolets, just to see how that works out. I’ve ordered some experimental ammo from our friends at Ammo.com (see my Blog Roll for a link), and if that works then I’ll replace all my .45 ACP 230gr ammo with the lighter stuff. (“Replace” means just giving all the 230-grain stuff to Doc, of course, and ordering a couple-three thousand rounds of 185s.)

From a  self-defense perspective, I don’t think there’s much difference between the two rounds; the 185gr bullet is lighter but it arrives a little quicker than the 230gr, so anyone at the naughty end of the shot is going to be just as dead. But I will need to shoot a lot of practice 185gr rounds to make sure that I get accustomed to the lighter bullet, after over four decades of shooting the 230gr loads almost exclusively.

I don’t need this shit in my life, but needs must. As one of my friends said, “This getting old stuff isn’t for sissies.”

I just hope that the lighter .45 ACP ammo does the trick. The alternative is just too ghastly to contemplate — and I think y’all know what I mean.