Gratuitous Gun Pic: Ed Brown Special Forces 1911 (.45 ACP)

I must confess to having mixed feelings about this offering from Steve Barnett:

I know all about Ed Brown’s 1911s:  they’re fantastic bits of machinery, reliable to a fault, engineered way up the quality curve, and so on.

But the problem I have is that “way up the quality curve” thing:  at the end of the day, it’s still a 1911.  And just how much better is a quality offering like this one than, say, a Springfield Loaded 1911?

Four times better?  (Because that’s the price difference between the two models.)

Like I said:  mixed feelings.  As any fule kno, I love me my quality guns, most especially shotguns of the H&H / Abbiatico genre.  But those are hand made (which the Ed Brown isn’t), which has to count for something.

And maybe it’s just because it’s a 1911 — yes, essentially the same as a 1911 Government as used by Our Brave Boys in France, the Pacific, Vietnam and so on.

Finally, I have no issue with super-quality 1911s of the Nighthawk / Ed Brown ilk — several of my Readers own such pieces, I’ve been lucky enough to have them let me shoot their guns, and without exception, they’re wonderful to shoot.

But I have to confess to y’all:  even if I won a lottery, I’m not sure I’d buy a premium 1911 — note, I said “not sure” because hell, I might just indulge myself, much as I might indulge myself with an Omega wristwatch for about the same money.

And maybe it’s because I’ve just been so well served by my plain ol’ Springfield Mil-Spec 1911 (and yeah I know, it’s far from standard issue, with a widened ejection port and polished trigger group).  Maybe it’s because I just don’t see how much better an Ed Brown would work for me.

I must be getting old, for such common sense to have crept into my life.

Gratuitous Gun Pic: Walther PD380 (.380 ACP)

I’m trying to be even-handed about Walther’s new little handgun (Cliff Notes:  “unrivaled ease of use, carefully engineered to ensure an experience like no other, with minimal recoil and an effortless-to-rack slide”from their blurb.)  And it looks pretty much the same as the usual Plastic Fantastic:

Okay, I can see this gun’s application for people who have a problem with racking a slide — age-related, carpal tunnel etc. — but I have to say that the “PD” (personal defense) is going to be tricky with that underpowered Europellet.  Even if it was developed by John Moses Browning, PBUH.

The PD380 weighs almost nothing (26oz loaded — note to gun manufacturers:  I’m not interested in an unloaded gun’s weight because that ain’t reality).  So that’s also a good thing.

For we the people who care about practical self defense, I’m thinking that maybe this would be a decent backup piece? but I’m unconvinced.

But whatever:  let me not quibble about yet another means of putting bullets into a criminal (you know that’s what “self defense” ultimately means, don’t you?), but I can’t help but think that there might be some better options out there.

Your comments are welcome, as always.

Inflation: We Haz It

I remember being mocked on these very pages — and it wasn’t that long ago — for paying $275 for my Inland M1 Carbine.  Here’s an ad from J&G Sales:

Had I not lost it in the Great Canoeing Accident On The Brazos, I would now be sorely tempted to sell it and pay off the Ferrari. [/hyperbole]

I know, I know:  some of you Olde Pharttes got yours for $50 (and no doubt some of you likewise sold them for “stupid money” — $350, for a 7x ROI — thinking yourselves clever).

Given that said rifles were made in these quantities:

Inland Mfg. Division of General Motors — 2,362,097
Winchester — 828,059
Underwood Elliott-Fisher — 545,616
Saginaw Steering Gear — 517,212
National Postal Meter — 413,017
Quality Hardware — 359,666
IBM — 346,500
Standard Products — 247,000
Rock-Ola — 228,500
Irwin-Pedersen — ~4,000

…one would think that there would be little or no “scarcity” pressure on their resale prices.

But what with the attitude of various Socialist politicians towards eeeevil guns (Clinton, Obama, Biden, Schumer etc.), I suppose it’s not at all surprising that the humble M1 carbine is now being priced at secondhand Ferrari levels, relatively speaking.

Still makes me sick, it does.

The .32 ACP / 7.65mm Browning Cartridge

…is probably the answer to the question: “What non-.22 cartridge is the most fun to shoot?”, and it’s most certainly true in my case.

The problem with the .32 ACP is that it’s an old cartridge:  it was very popular during the early 20th century (and is still among the most popular handgun cartridges ever), but was soon superseded by more powerful cartridges such as the 9mm Parabellum, .380 ACP (9mm Kurz) and of course the .45 ACP.

And justifiably so, because it’s really not a stopper, by any measure.  Of course, with proper bullet placement, your target is not going to feel well at all, but that’s pretty much true of the .22 LR as well.  (I’ll come back to the ammo later in this post.)

Still, of all the semi-automatic pistols I’ve ever fired (which is quite a few), those chambered for the .32 ACP were the most pleasant.  And the .32 ACP is also part of the question:  can any invention by John Moses Browning be that bad?  (Answer:  no.)  For that reason alone, the cartridge should not be easily tossed aside.

In the early 1900s, a whole bunch of gun companies offered a pistol thus chambered.  Here’s the doyen of them all, the FN / Colt / Browning 1903 (also commonly referred to as the “Pocket” model):

I’ve shot several of these, and all were exquisite guns to shoot.  One in particular, which had been expertly re-blued in Colt’s Royal Blue (non-original) finish, made me drool bigly, and offer the owner lots of money on the spot, but the bastard declined all offers with a supercilious sneer.  And I can’t say I blame him, either.  Collectors has a few in stock (such as the above example), and all go for about $1,500 to $2,000 depending on quality.

The next is probably the most popular of all, the Walther PPK:

I’ll come right out and say it:  the 7.65mm Browning (Euro nomenclature of the .32 ACP) version of this pistol is the best of them all to shoot, with gentle recoil and astounding accuracy.  I’ve actually done a side-by-side comparison of the PPK versions at the range, and while the .380 ACP/9mm Kurz version is okay, the 9mm Para too much — the .32 is the Goldilocks.  From a price perspective, I should say that the PPK carries the Walther Premium;  in decent condition, they can fetch anywhere from $1,200 to Stupid.

One pistol that needs mentioning is the Savage 1907:

Several things need to be said about the 1907.  The action is wonderfully reliable — the .45 ACP version performed well and was actually preferred by several of the testers against the Colt 1911 in the original U.S. Army tests — but the problem with the 1907 today is that most of them have been carried often, fired lots and not really looked after.  Consequently, they look like hell and need to be approached with caution.  The one I shot belonged to a good friend, and was in near-mint condition.  (Yes, he also told me to take a hike when I offered to buy it from him after a single mag’s worth of shooting.)

Another worthy of mention is “Eva Braun’s” pistol, the Ortgies:

Made after WWI, the Ortgies was very popular among serious target shooters in Germany, and won several national competitions.  (Hitler gave one to his squeeze, hence the nickname.  It’s still around.)  John Dillinger also carried one in his pocket, so you know it works.  When you can find one, a good shooter will run around $700 or so.

Finally, there are the modern .32 ACP pistols — i.e. ones still in current (or at least recent) production.  I’m going to come right out and say that I don’t care for most of them, for the simple reason that as a rule (Beretta 2032 Tomcat, Seecamp LWS, NAA, Kel-Tec P32 etc.) their barrels are too short (usually around 2″-2.5″), and to be honest, the .32 ACP needs a 3.75″ or longer barrel to get the most out of it, both in terms of accuracy and stopping power (such as it is).

The only modern .32 ACP pistol I’d consider is the SIG P230 (itself a near-clone of the PPK):

Confusingly, SIG uses the P230 nomenclature for its .380 ACP chambering as well, so if you’re shopping for one, check accordingly.  Of course, SIG doesn’t make the P230 .32 anymore because idiots, but expect to pay around $650 for one in decent shape.  Here’s one I’d get in a heartbeat, if I could find one in .32 ACP because it’s gorgeous:

(this one is in .380 ACP, judging by the ammo pictured)

Okay, and now we come to the really, really Bad Thing about the older .32 ACP pistols:  replacement / additional magazines.

Cliff Notes:  they don’t exist.
Corollary:  if they do exist, they go for Stupid Money.

The Walther PPK-original mags with the finger extensions are a classic example ($60+ coff coff), but at least Mec-Gar makes a decent substitute, for half that.  (The finger extensions are necessary, because unlike the Colt 1903, most .32 ACP automatics have short grips.)

And speaking of the 1903, replica magazines can set you back around $60.  (I don’t have the stomach to research what COLT OEM mags might cost.)

Finally, we come to the ammo.

Unsurprisingly (given the total number of guns made in this chambering), the .32 ACP is still popular, and just about everybody makes it, for a per-round cost of anywhere between 32 cents to 45 cents.  That’s quite spendy compared to its plinking competition (e.g. .22 LR at 7 cents), but I have to tell you that the fun factor more than makes up for it.  Mostly, the cheapest type is full metal jacket (FMJ), but I see that my Balkan buddies also make an affordable 71-grain hollowpoint (JHP) (~40 cents per pull vs. Winchester White Box at 66 cents, ugh).  If I were to consider carrying such a pistol (as a backup only), I’d load it with Hornady Critical Defense rounds.  Caveat:  I’ve only ever fired FMJ ammo through these pistols, and I don’t know if the JHP would have feeding problems;  but I doubt it.

Okay, here’s my final take on this topic.

With sufficient funds, I’d get the Colt 1903 in a heartbeat.  No question, no hesitation.

For about half the money, I’d get the SIG P230.  Also, without hesitation.

As for the cheaper or smaller guns:  I wouldn’t bother.

Your opinions may vary.

Just To Make Sure

…that I have this right.  Below is the evil, awful 15-round magazine as made by Glock:

And then what seems to be acceptable to the gun-haters:

Did I get that right?

I’m pretty sure that it would only take me a couple seconds longer to fire off 16 rounds from two magazines than 15 rounds from one.

Is this really the hill they want to die on?  Two seconds’ difference?  (figuratively speaking, of course)

(Next thing, California is going to ban the carry of more than one magazine on one’s person — ugh, perhaps I should shut up and not give them ideas…)

And of course, those .45 John Moses Browning boolets are going to arrive on target with, shall we say, a tad more authority than that lil’ 9mm Europellet.

I’ll stick to my 1911 and Chip McCormick mags, thank you.