Saturday, December 19, 2009

Will Dropping the Slide with the Slide Stop Lever Hurt My Glock?

It is not unusual for this question to be found on general firearm forums, but those dedicated primarily to Glock handguns as well.

Some express concerns whether or not the stamped steel slide stop lever will eventually round off and no longer retain the slide after the last shot is fired if they use it to release the slide after inserting a loaded magazine. Others worry that the thin slide stop lever might round the rear vertical edge of the notch cut in the slide for hold-open after the last round is fired.

In some of these threads, the original question may actually be answered but in many instances it becomes very secondary to generally boorish behavior such as crude remarks, personal attacks and name-calling.

I thought it might be novel to attempt a sensible approach and check with the manufacturer. Looking on page 23 of Glock’s “Instructions for Use” (REV.11/08) manual under “Loading and Firing”, we see that Instruction 4 states: “After the last round has been fired, the slide remains open. Remove the empty magazine from the weapon by pushing the magazine catch (19). Insert and new magazine and then either push the slide stop lever (27) downward (see photo 2), or pull the slide slightly backward and allow it to spring forward. The weapon is now again ready to fire.” (Bold added for emphasis.)

My goodness gracious alive! Either method can be used. It seems that the shooter has a choice and will not be struck blind and dumb if he or she chooses either least not according the pistol's actual manufacturer.

Someone frequently brings up the concept of fine motor skill loss under stress and suggests that retracting and releasing the much-larger slide is more easily accomplished than depressing the smallish slide stop lever. On one site this suggestion was countered with the claim that a very well-known competition shooter uses the slide stop exclusively to drop his Glocks’ slides, and reports no damage.

My opinion (and that’s all it is; feel free to disagree) is that anytime a steel part rubs against another steel part a tiny amount of wear occurs. For something to never wear out, it must never be used. It strikes me that despite the company’s claim of “perfection”, there will also be miniscule wear on the Glock slide stop lever if it is used to release the slide. The keyword here is miniscule. For those shooting their Glocks but moderately, it will probably never be an issue. Based on my own observations and conversations with “heavy duty” Glock users, it is quite unlikely that the practice will damage the lever (or slide for that matter). If it does, the part is quite inexpensive and very simple to install yourself.

Pick the method that works best for you. One requires but a single hand to accomplish but might induce a tiny bit of inconsequential wear to an inexpensive part that will not cause the pistol to “jam” or otherwise suffer a stoppage. The other requires the use of two hands, but both hands are already in close proximity if a fresh magazine has just been inserted and it is unlikely to be injured in the time taken after seating the new magazine to pulling the slide rearward and letting go.

That’s as honest, accurate and civil an answer as I can provide.


Monday, December 07, 2009

9mm Glock Case Support: Adequate or Not?

Whether a fan of Glock handguns or not, most agree that the Glock “KB” (“Ka Boom”) is a topic that is both enduring and widely-discussed on many firearm boards. Glock detractors frequent speak of inadequate chamber support, flawed gun design allowing the pistol to be fired with the barrel slightly out of battery to skyrocketing pressures from shooting non-jacketed lead bullets through the factory barrel’s polygonal bore (which Glock does advise against). Glock enthusiasts blame these KB’s on improperly loaded ammunition, defective factory cartridge cases if factory ammo was being used, and worn-out cases reloaded too many times if handloads were being fired. Improper reloads mistakenly stoked with too much powder is frequently cited as a possible cause, too. Who is right?

Though not as much in 9mm, the widely-used Glock pistol does suffer from the stigma of blown cases in what is called Glock “KABOOM’s” or “KB’s”. Is this something just inherent in the Glock design or might it be the product of other factors?

The first Glock KB’s that I personally witnessed were with a state-issued Glock 22. Texas’ Department of Wildlife had recently issued them to the state’s game wardens, one of whom was a friend of mine. He fired a few shots using brand new factory .40 S&W 180-gr. JHP’s before he got a KB. He was not hurt but the extractor left the gun as did the magazine. The case was still in the chamber and had blown along the extractor groove ahead of the rim. His pistol was repaired in short order and within few days he took it back to the range with the same issue-ammunition…and with the same result, another KABOOM! Damage was about the same but he was losing his enthusiasm to fire his Glock 22, and I admit declining his invitation to shoot it as well!) About this same time, a friend of mine bought one of the first 40-caliber Hi Powers to arrive at the local gun shop. He had not fired it but with a few days received a call from the gun shop owner advising him to call a specific number at Browning. He did so and was asked to return the pistol for a free “upgrade” which had mistakenly not been performed on his brand-new Hi Power. Though it was like pulling teeth, he eventually learned that the Hi Power barrel was to be replaced with one that had been given a little bit more barrel support in the chamber due to possible KB’s with but one brand of factory ammunition: Federal. This was the same brand being used by the game warden in his Glock 22. (It should be noted here that I am both a fan and user of Federal ammunition and that the problem with their earliest initial runs of the then-new .40 S&W appears corrected long ago. I have personally shot lots of it through many 40’s (Glocks and others) over the years with exactly zero problems. I do not know if Glock has increased chamber support in their 40-caliber barrels or not.

Though I didn’t witness it, a friend of mine reported a KB in his Glock 21. Neither he or nor I can blame it on the pistol. Seems he mistakenly left a cleaning swab in the barrel. Though a “low-pressure” cartridge compared to the .40, 9mm or .457 SIG, escaping gases around the trigger-area nearly severed his trigger finger. (He checks barrels before firing now for some reason!)

I saw a minor Glock KB in 9mm while a police firearm instructor. The department was using “remanufactured ammunition” (commercially reloaded) from an obscure company because of the price. I saw this 115-gr. ammunition blow and expel magazines from both a Glock 19 and a Beretta 92. I had no problems with it in a Browning Hi Power but still refused to personally shoot or issue it for practice after that. It could be that the Browning just took the ammunition in stride or more likely, I happened not to get one of the company’s inadvertent overloads by pure luck or chance! It is possible for brand new factory ammunition as well as factory reloaded rounds to be out of spec.

I thought that it might be worth the time and effort to compare the Glock 9mm barrel with other factory barrels and see if anything can be deduced. (I understand that 9mm is not the primary caliber in which Glock KB’s are being reported, but 9mm is the only caliber in which my Glocks are chambered, so it will have to do, at least for this initial report.)

If interested, details are here:


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Anti-Freedom Lautenberg at it Again...

This is essentially federal registration of new firearms though by the FBI and not BATFe, though a separate amendment later own could certainly allow them a copy. Another amendment and the ten-year time-limit disappears and we have firearm registration and eventually confiscation with the “wrong” administration.

Note anti-gunner Attorney General Holder’s comments and recall that he has wanted firearm registration:

“ Last week, Attorney General (AG) Holder announced his support for a separate Lautenberg bill, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Criminal Act of 2009, which would give the Department of Justice discretion to deny a gun purchase to someone on the terrorist watch list.”

The question is, “Who or what constitutes being on the ‘terrorism watch list’? Does being a conservative, NRA member, current gun owner, military veteran (You already know of course that DHS has suggested that veterans are potential terrorists.”) The idea is to use fear instilled by the “terrorism” camouflage to do what they have so far been unable to: register firearms.

Here is the press release from Lautenberg:

“Press Release of Senator Lautenberg

Lautenberg Introduces Bill to Preserve Gun Records Critical to Law Enforcement, Terrorism Prevention

Contact: Lautenberg Press Office (202) 224-3224

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC – Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today introduced the PROTECT Act, legislation to preserve records of gun sales for longer periods of time to aid law enforcement officials in preventing gun crimes and terrorist acts. Under current law, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) must destroy these records in most cases within 24 hours of allowing a gun sale to proceed.

“It makes no sense to immediately destroy information linking a gun purchase to its buyer and seller,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “We are too often asking law enforcement to protect our communities with one hand tied behind their back. Preserving background check information would help law enforcement do its job and keep our families safe from criminals and terrorists. We must overturn the ill-conceived 24-hour destruction policy so we can successfully combat gun violence and terrorism in America.”

The Brady Law requires federally-licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) before they sell guns. The NICS system creates an audit log of the purchase during the course of the search. A rider that has been attached to appropriations bills each year since 2004 mandates that the FBI destroy this audit log within 24 hours of allowing the gun sale to proceed.

The 24-hour destruction requirement hinders the FBI’s ability to verify that gun dealers are conducting background checks properly and to retrieve guns from those who are prohibited from having them. In 2002 - prior to the 24-hour rule - the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that over a six-month period the FBI used retained records to initiate 235 actions to retrieve illegally possessed guns, 228 (97 percent) of which would not have been possible under a 24-hour destruction policy.

Records are also destroyed when known and suspected terrorists purchase firearms, since nothing in current federal law prohibits them from purchasing guns. The FBI’s current practice is to keep background check records for these purchases for 90 days. If, at the end of the 90-day period, the FBI still has not found any other disqualifying reason to prohibit the purchase under current federal law, all records related to the purchase are destroyed.

At the request of Sen. Lautenberg, the GAO released a report earlier this year finding that from February 2004 through February 2009 there were 963 cases in which a known or suspected terrorist identified in federal terrorist watch list records attempted to buy a gun or explosives. In 90 percent of these cases -- a total of 865 different times -- the known or suspected terrorist was cleared to buy a firearm or explosive. Last week, Attorney General (AG) Holder announced his support for a separate Lautenberg bill, the Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Criminal Act of 2009, which would give the Department of Justice discretion to deny a gun purchase to someone on the terrorist watch list.

Sen. Lautenberg’s legislation, the Preserving Records of Terrorist & Criminal Transactions (PROTECT) Act of 2009, would:

• require the FBI to retain for 10 years all records related to a NICS transaction involving a valid match to federal terrorist watch list records; and

• repeal the requirement that other background check records be destroyed after 24 hours, and instead require that the records of all non-terrorist transactions be maintained for 180 days.

When asked about the 24-hour destruction rule at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in April 2007, FBI Director Robert Mueller said, “[T]here is a substantial argument in my mind for retaining records for a substantial period of time.” Video of Director Mueller’s remarks can be found here.

Last week, Tom Kean, former Republican governor of New Jersey and Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and Mayor Bloomberg of New York City wrote an op-ed opposing the 24-hour destruction of gun records and the inability of law enforcement to block gun sales to terror suspects.

The measure is cosponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY), Carl Levin (D-MI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). Sen. Lautenberg is a long-time advocate for responsible gun safety measures. He has also introduced legislation to close a loophole that allows guns to be sold at gun shows without a background check. And Sen. Lautenberg is the author of the domestic violence gun ban, which has successfully kept more than 170,000 guns away from domestic abusers.”

Note the usual anti-freedom co-sponsors.

Folks, it is time to contact our elected officials again and oppose this.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Replying to Posts on Firearm Forums: What's the Real Motivation?

Hello. I doubt that I am alone in noticing that it is not unusual to see some poor soul, new to shooting or not, ask a legitimate question on a firearm forum only to be pummelled with worthless responses, be ridiculed or made the butt of jokes. Thankfully, some people genuinely attempt to provide a relevant answer or at least something tangentially-related to the original poster's topic. I truly appreciate those who provide meaningful responses. On the other hand, my contempt for the seemingly-increasing number of smart alecks is growing exponentially.

"Smart aleck" seems appropriate when we look at the definition as provided by the "Merriam Webster Dictionary":

"an obnoxiously conceited and self-assertive person with pretensions to smartness or cleverness"

Some reading these words are folks who have made long-term efforts to help others within the shooting community, provide information believed to be of interest and therefore enhance the quality of that firearm site (or sites). Kudos to these fine folks.

Sadly, others have selfish motivations such as:

1. trying to make themselves appear clever with some snide remark of exactly zero value to the original post, or

2. inserting their own opinion or belief regardless of the OP's original parameters.

Example: "I only own a XYZ caliber handgun and cannot afford another at the present time. It is my sole option for self-protection. What would be the best ammunition or load?" Some will offer different answers pertaining to specific loads in that caliber that they believe to be best in XYZ caliber and answers will probably be differ; in my view, that is fine. Hopefully, with the information presented, the original poster can read and maybe make a better decision than before. However, there will be some "genius" posting tripe like, "XYZ sucks. Get ABC caliber. 'nuff said.", or

3. trying to stimulate "spirited debate" which is actually an easily-spotted lie. It is clear that they are really only trying to ignite an "e-fight" and they usually succeed when rather than ignoring these trolls, people engage them in a "battle" that quickly becomes little more than "verbal masturbation". Intended or not, they help the troll hijack the OP's thread. In the vernacular of younger folks, "That sucks." I reckon that means people doing it suck as well, doesn't it? "Spirited debate" usually turns out to be nothing more than an infantile fight in which correct answers are no longer relevant, only winning. We see the carcasses of such threads bearing the little padlock symbol indicating that the thread has been locked. Think about it for a minute; supposedly mature men (and women) with a common love of firearms posting in such an infantile manner that they caused someone else's thread to be locked...if not their own?

I have pretty much given up on trying to communicate with the smart alecks, as are previously defined, but hope that maybe I might encourage others to:

1. not "feed" the trolls. (How can I put this? Hmmmmm? Ignore the arrogant, tasteless bastards.) I suggest that engaging in this behavior not only lowers the quality of the site, but possibly plays into the hands of the anti-gun tripe browsing gun forums not from any interest in firearms...other than to separate honest Americans from them,

2. and keep trying to provide helpful information and encouragement for folks legitmately asking a question, sharing a new prized firearm or revealing their latest "epiphany"...even if it is "old news" or has been known for decades.

There will always be differences of opinion and legitimate mistakes of fact but we should be able to consider the merits of differing opinions and either accept or reject them after doing so. Factual mistakes can be courteously corrected and the right information provided in my opinion.

If we can ignore the trolls and individually try to be helpful instead of hateful in answering firearm/ammunition-related queries, I bet we would see the gun forums become more interesting and useful than cess pools for "spirited debate" in which the participants too frequently appear to be finalists in a hydrophobia contest.


Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Hanging Together...

At the signing of this country's Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin asserted, "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."

That was true advice then and I believe that it still applies to gun owners and firearms enthusiasts today.

"Gun control" efforts are at their lowest approval levels in decades, something that has got to irritate those who would gut the Second Amendment and eventually the entire Bill of Rights. It is a time when gun enthusiasts from quail hunters to IPSC competitors, benchrest rifle shooters and black powder fans should be united but in my opinion, we simply are not.

If the shooting/gun-owning community in general would understand that if any one section or type of firearm ownership and use is threatened, all are.

But, no. We do not. If a gun control proponent begins a jihad against handgun ownership, magazine capacity, etc, some shooters not interested in handgun disciplines are frequently not too quick to join in the opposition. It appears that far too many of us refuse to react, much less be proactive unless we see our own particular "ox being gored".

That is sad.

It is also stupid and in my opinion, inexcusable. What happens is that a minority of shooters have to carry the complete burden and wage the entire fight that the lazy take no part in ... but gladly reap the rewards of.

How often do we hear things like (insert whiney voice here), "But the NRA (or whatever group) doesn't do everything the way I think it should be" or "They're always wanting money" and so forth?

I agree that some groups do push limits it seems on begging money but how many use this as their excuse to never financially help those who do fight the fight?

Folks, it is much easier to keep a freedom than to regain it if lost.

Please do not respond with, "Why should I have to fight for what is clearly supposed to be a Right?" Folks, I AGREE. We should NOT have to do this, but it is what it is and if we do not, we will lose this Right.

It really is that simple.

I hope that more and more of us will refuse to lay down to the anti-freedom politicians from federal to local levels and stand up for the Second Amendment. If we do not, it will be gutted and soon after its demise, the antis will be wiping their asses with what's left of the Bill of Rights.

Are you doing your part and at least carrying your end in the apparently neverending fight for what is supposed to be a Second Amendment Guarantee? If not, it is never too late to start. I've been doing this since the late '60's. I'll never quit fighting the elitist bastards who would deprive honest Americans of their Right to keep and bear Arms.

Remember in the '90's before the libtards lost control of both Houses of Congress? Schumer, et al, were smiling for the cameras and grinning about all of the gun prohibitions that they had planned?

I'll never forget these laughing, smiling, treacherous bastards.

We are still fighting them today. The only reason that we are NOT seeing their continuing attempts at gun control (and eventual gun prohibition) is that they fear for their jobs as gun control at this moment is not a popular idea when compared to the past. Further help came with the panic buying of arms and ammunition when The One was elected. Even though, these actions were individual, there were enough to show that these separate buyers would probably be united voters against pro-gun control politicians. Imagine what would happen if we as pistol shooters, or rifle fans, or hunters or trap and skeet shooters would REALLY make an effort at uniting behind each other! Think of what could be done if EACH of us signed up just one new NRA member! (It would at least double in size, wouldn't it?)

I believe that we within the shooting/gun community really do need to unite. If someone begans an assault on shotguns as "area weapons" (happened under Clinton) or begins referring to scoped sporting rifles as "sniper rifles", we should all vigorously oppose them tooth-and-nail. We should contact our elected officials over it and donate to those organizations opposing them. I personally am a "one-issue voter" and Second Amendment freedom is the issue. Rest assured that my elected representatives know that.

Instead of being separate, warring "shooting discipline tribes", let's unite and help guard all areas of firearm freedom. Let's do our legal utmost to protect the Second Amendment.

In short, let's help each other.

Are you doing your part?


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finding Myself Posting Less and Less ...

...on some boards!

I wasn't sure why, but over the past several months I find that I no longer post to the degree I did a few years ago on shooting/firearm boards. I think that the reason has worked its way out of my subconscious and it's actually quite simple: It appears that a greater number of the shooting forums' posters view confrontational, in-your-face responses as acceptable behavior. More frequent just does not necessarily equate with acceptable or necessarily even intelligent in my opinion.

Initially, there were a few subjects that could almost be guaranteed to degrade into near-threatening cyberspace shouting matches. Threads on self-defense calibers are still very frequent but are now described as "caliber wars" and for good reason. Instead of reasoned responses based on personal belief, observation or studies, name-calling and often thread-hijacking to praise or belittle various "stopping power" researchers occurs.

Why? I have pondered this question quite a bit. Why is it that some people simply refuse or find themselves unable to discuss some firearm-tangential threads without the the rude bluster that's far too common now? Perhaps it is that some egos are tied to choices in caliber or specific firearms? Could it be that a suggestion that something other than heavy caliber (or take your choice) for defensive use threatens some people's egos for choosing precisely that very particular heavy caliber (or take your choice)? I've wondered if they somehow felt that because not all would make the same choices that:

A. Such people are morons or,

B. Those not making the same decisions think that they are morons?

That neither option is universally correct somehow seems to elude them.

But "caliber wars" are not the only hotspots for "spirited debate"...which is just a cop-out or excuse for emotional "cyber-screaming" at each other, at least in my observation. When this sort of thing occurs, temperatures may rise, but not the knowledge level, I bet. How about you? What do you think on it?

Consider merely discussing different handgun brands. How long before someone makes a derogatory statement usually containing the terms "kool aid" or "fan boys" in reference to those choosing a different brand handgun? Sadly, it is not very long. Though I see it often in seemingly endless Glock vs. 1911 threads, it can pop up with about any brand and don't forget that if you happen to prefer a firearm costing more than others believe is prudent, you are labeled a "snob" for that brand. Do they really believe that or is it more likely that they are either jealous or trying to justify their (less-expensive) choice? It is patently ridiculous in my view. The reason is that many people (including myself) have and enjoy firearms pretty much ranging the price spectrum! In my own case, while I own and use some high-end custom Hi Powers and 1911's, I also use, respect and enjoy shooting the inexpensive but great-shooting 9x18mm Makarov pistols. They get the same treatment and cleaning regimine all my handguns receive. I just do not understand the mindset, but sadly see what can breed it when some claim that only the most-costly firearms serve any purpose adequately. An example of this very thing can be found in a recent article relating to what one fellow referred to as a "valid 1911 experience". If interested, it is here:

In any event, over the last decade I have tried to honestly answer as many questions as I could based on either personal observation or experienced shooters whose opinions I trust. If expressing an opinion, I said so and did not try and disguise it as a fact. (Watch for opinion being pushed as fact.)

To me it appears that the general tone on the boards is coarser and such things as thread hijacking, irrelevant answers, and just plain rude comments are more and more common. For example: Let's say that an original poster asks, "I am going to buy a 380 automatic. Which .380 pistol would you choose?" The poster did NOT ask about other calibers only which .380 handgun others would choose. Inevitably, he will be answered with something like, "Get a .45," or "Why get a .380 when you can get a compact 9mm that's the same size?" Understand that I am NOT speaking against the .45 for defense; it's a favorite choice of mine. I am NOT suggesting that a small 9mm wouldn't provide more "ballistic power" than a similar size pistol in .380 ACP. I AM saying that neither answer is what the poster asked for! Personally, I would have no problem with the compact 9mm suggestion IF it also contained something like, "...but if you want to stick with a .380, I've had good luck with Beretta (or Walther, Bersa, SIG-Sauer; take your pick) and explain why. At least the original question has received a relevant response rather than irrelevant responses such as, "Get a .45" or "380 sucks", etc.

In any event, this is why I just don't spend nearly as much time on many of the boards as in the past. I still try and help out folks having problems or asking questions, but frequently it is by either email or PM.

I wonder if others share my observations? I believe so since I've received more than a few emails from folks where the topic came up. Some R&D folks in the ammunition manufacturing sector as well as shooting instructors and 'smiths have advised me that they just won't post much anymore due to rude nature of some posts. As a result, I think that we all lose another source of information. In any event, I do not blame them for their withdrawal from Internet gun forums.

At the same time, I think some of us may attach too much importance to these forums. Maybe I am one? I just don't know yet but while I will continue reviewing, researching and studying various handguns and related tangential topics, I'll probably be less "universal" in posting it. If you happen to enjoy reading my stuff, more and more often it will be only at a few select forums or my own site at or here.

Some will be interested and others won't give a hoot, but I wanted to explain why I have not been posting as much as in the past. My interest in firearms has not diminished even a tiny bit in the 50+ years I've been so facinated with them and I will continue to research, review and report my findings on them and other tangential subjects but in significantly fewer places.

Best to you and yours.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ruger SP101: A Thousand Rounds Later...

Hello. Four years ago I wound up with a NIB Ruger SP101 with the 3 1/16" barrel. Almost exclusively an S&W revolver shooter, I was not sure if I'd keep the thing or not, but do admit that there was sort of an "instant attraction" to the little .357 after handling it.

I shot it during a few range trips and then wound up doing an initial evaluation of the gun. Here's the link should anyone want it read it:

I also used it as one of the "test guns" when trying out Corbon's then-new .357 Magnum 125-gr. DPX ammunition:

Since those reports, I've continued to shoot the little thing off and on, but not with great amounts of ammunition each range session, but over time, my somewhat skimpy notes indicate that it has put at least another thousand rounds of 357 ammunition downrange.

This SP101 has been a reliable performer for not only me but thousands of other shooters since its debut.

If interested, here's report on the same SP101 and a few minor alterations I've had done to it:


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can the Browning Hi Power Still Make the Cut?

I read and responded to a firearm forum post in which a fellow was concerned about an upcoming IDPA match. It seems that he expected I to be more of a challenge than a previous one and he noted that he would probably be the only Hi Power shooter amongst folks using Glocks, XD’s, S&W’s and other handguns. At one point he wrote, “Hope I’m up to it”. He then expressed concern about the Hi Power being rated at No. 9 in the latest American Rifleman’s article, “Top Ten Handguns of All Time”, in which the 1911 got first billing, Gaston Glock’s creation claimed third place with the Browning/Saive Hi Power way back in 9th place.

At the time he posted, the match was still several days away and he sought advice on whether or not to trade his Hi Powers for some Glocks and practice with them before the match.

My response was, “The gun will do its part if you do yours, assuming that the Hi Power is in good working order. They've been in tight spots all over the globe for decades. If you think you'd prefer Glocks, get them, but I wouldn't make any decisions based on a magazine article.” I believe my answer, though short is true and to the point, but also thought I might elaborate on why I believe it to be so, even though the original poster later advised his post was “tongue-in-cheek” and that he had no intentions of trading his Hi Power for Glocks or any other pistols.

Here is a Norinco 1911 that was “home-tinkered” and has made comfortable and reliable shooter for not much additional money. The only things done by the gunsmith were to fit the fixed sights and reblue the slide. Though not “match accurate”, this one shoots 3” or so @ 25 yards with most loads. This one is toward the lower end of the 1911 “cost envelope” but provides loads of fun and has proven itself capable of self-protection duties if necessary. I do not expect to see the 1911 fade from the scene for decades.

The 1911 is the longest-serving military pistol to date unless I’m sorely mistaken. Though no longer our military’s standard -issue sidearm, it is still used by some military units having a choice. It has held top billing as a competition gun in both formal bullseye shooting as well as the more practical types of defense-oriented shooting sports. Fans are legion and ‘smiths with the skills of artisans can make this long-lived design a thing of true beauty capable of both extreme reliability and superb accuracy. Some police agencies do allow this design to be carried by both plainclothes and uniformed personnel, though those doing so are (sadly) a distinct minority. In my view, the fault is not the 1911’s; it is bureaucracies of the uninformed caving into baseless complaints based on perceptions of unsafe carry or looking “too aggressive” rather than facts based on decades of carry. Combine an unsafe officer’s handling and the resultant negligent discharge and the first move is usually to no longer allow the cocked-and-locked 1911 for that agency’s use. I believe that it is true that the 1911 doesn’t suffer foolish handling well but the ease with which it can be shot depends on both safeties being disengaged and someone’s finger on the trigger when it shouldn’t have been. (There are plenty of Glock mishaps as well but the Glock remains a very popular duty gun with many law enforcement agencies. It, too, isn’t all that tolerant of safety violations but it has no exposed, cocked hammer to frighten the masses.)

1911’s come in price ranges from but a few hundred bucks to as much as one can afford to spend. We can usually find one that fits our budget and have a myriad of parts from which to choose if personalizing our pistol. With 1911 manufacturers in fierce competition with this high-volume seller, some do get out that don’t run reliably. In my view, this is due primarily to subcontracted parts being out of spec as well as sometimes just missing a lemon due to the sheer numbers being produced as quickly as possible to meet market demand.

This Glock 34 is popular with both competitors and some police tactical teams. If a person favors this design over either the Hi Power or the 1911, I suggest that they learn its manual of arms and do their utmost to excel with it. Learn its strong points but never turn a blind eye to any design’s weaker points. Any handgun design excels in some areas but not in others. That includes them all in my view.

One of the Glock’s major strong points in my view is its reliability. Were I told that I had to use an untested autoloader straight from the box, I’d choose either a Glock or a Hi Power; I’ve had near 100% reliability with both, usually from the first shot on!

Mr. Glock’s line of pistols has proven the precursor to today’s glut of polymer-framed pistols. Lighter weight and lower manufacturing costs go hand-in-hand with the Glock’s design as well as the pistols it spawned. Add in its usual extreme reliability and at least adequate service accuracy, and we have the ingredients for an extremely popular and quick-selling handgun to be sure. The Glock’s appearance on the US police scene when most were transitioning to the “Wonder Nines” of the day couldn’t have been better for the Austrian firm and I am not convinced that the Glock didn’t help hasten it! Many law enforcement agencies as well as military users chose the Glock pistol and the “acceptance barriers” broken by the company paved the way for a myriad of “plastic pistols” to follow.

The Hi Power being either 9mm or .40 (but NOT a .45) simply has not got the following of the 1911 amongst more “traditional” shooters nor the light weight or quite as high of magazine-capacity as many of the newer designs with more “contemporary” pistoleros. Its usually less-than-stellar trigger-pull doesn’t endear it to the 1911 fans and its high price doesn’t attract folks comparing it to that of the Glock, XD, etc. Police administrators not happy with the 1911’s Condition One Carry are less enthralled with the Hi Power since it (“Gasp!”) has no grip safety!

That the Hi Power is usually not accurized to the same levels as some 1911’s does not mean that it is not already more than accurate enough for the vast majority of tasks it will be called upon to perform. Though the FN Competition Model as well as Hi Powers fitted with oversized match-grade barrels can certainly shrink group-size, the average 9mm Hi Power will usually shoot into about 3” or less at 25-yards with ammunition the gun “likes”. To me, this is quite acceptable for a pistol designed and intended as a service arm, not a formal bullseye pistol.

Claims of its being reliable only with ball are outdated to the tune of over two decades; the Mk II, which hit the scene in the ‘80’s, came from the factory without the old “humped” feed ramp that did cause some problems with the older Hi Powers. From the Mk II pistols right on through today’s Mk III Hi Powers, feeding is reliable in the extreme with FMJ and almost any and all JHP’s.

I submit that the Hi Power’s out-of-the-box trigger-pull remains the pistol’s major distraction, especially when considering today’s prices for a new Hi Power…when one can be found! For this kind of money, I think that the buyer should rightfully expect a lighter, crisper trigger-pull than we usually see on this design. For those enchanted with the Hi Power and willing to spend the money, Hi Power specialists can provide very useable triggers in the 4 to 5-lb. range with or without the magazine disconnect in place.

The Hi Power’s 13-round 9mm or 10-round .40 magazines do not hold as many cartridges as do some later autoloaders but for real world use, I hardly think that either is deficient! I continue to believe that if we cannot end the close-in and immediate threat with our first few shots, we will be beyond caring. In other words, I believe that we still run out of time before ammunition. The highest-capacity 9mm magazine for the Hi Power that is reliable and that I am aware of holds twenty rounds. This is over ten rounds shy of the Glock 18’s magazine sometimes used by Glock 17 and 19 fans. This really doesn’t concern me but if it does you, maybe the Glock would be the better choice. Each of us needs to go with what we believe we need and what we have faith in…at least to a degree.

The Hi Power is not going to be the favorite of the majority. At least I’ve not seen it in my near 4-decades of using them. The law enforcement agency I worked for allowed Hi Powers for duty use and as a police firearm instructor, I saw Hi Powers on the firing-lines next to Glocks, SIG-Sauer pistols, S&W’s, Berettas and others. The determining factor on who shot best, passed or failed was never determined by the particular pistol, but rather the shooter.

Can the Hi Power still tow the mark? I think so. It has for decades in both public and private bloodlettings all over the globe, in varied climates by “good” and “bad” guys alike.

This is my old “Duty Hi Power”. After retirement, I had it reblued as much had been worn away. It now sports Novak fixed sights and a C&S hammer and sear. The right-side thumb safety lever has been removed and the shaft rounded off. This pistol’s magazine disconnect has been removed. It has proven reliable in the extreme with both FMJ and expanding rounds. It is heavier than the Glock, but I shoot it better as well. It is the pistol I chose to protect my life should push come to very hard shove in police service. Other, more modern designs were available but I chose what I shot best and had faith in.

The Hi Power’s fans will probably remain with it, at least for the foreseeable future for to us, no other single-action auto has that “special feel” to it. They fit our hands as though extensions of our bodies and many of us find the things works of art. In short, we’re pretty well wed to the design.

But does that mean that everyone has to be?

In my opinion, the answer is a resounding, “No.” align="justify">

If the Hi Power just isn’t your “cup of tea” or you simply trust another design more and shoot it better, go with it, but do so for real reasons and not just what was read in a magazine article. That you just “want” to is good enough in my opinion…not that anyone’s decisions have to meet my OK. I only suggest that we make this decision based on other than what we read in a magazine article on pistol popularity.

Choosing a particular action-type, caliber or firearm make are choices all shooters have to make. None are usually cost-free! I suggest that we try and honestly evaluate what we want and why and be able to articulate it to ourselves. If we cannot be either honest with ourselves or put forth a convincing argument, we’re almost certain to suffer “buyer’s remorse”, a malady suffered by most of us…on a repeated basis!

I know that I’ve had a dose (or ten) of it and always for not thinking my decisions through.

I hope that you do better than I did.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

"Portuguese Hi Powers"

Hello. I recently read a post in which a fellow referred to the "Portuguese Hi Power", saying that they were "built" in that country. Now and again, I've seen this same thing written about by others. Such claims are simply in error.

The fact is that no FN or Browning Hi Power has ever been manufactured in Portugal.

For the last several years, Browning-marked Hi Powers usually have the familiar "Made in Belgium" on them along with "Assembled in Portugal" but so far absolutely none have been made in Portugal. (FWIW, since some may not be aware of it, FN makes the Browning Hi Power. Browning does not make it. Browning has never manufactured a Hi Power. FN (Fabrique Nationale in Belgium makes the Browning Hi Power. Browning is the US importer.)

Kurt Wickman, who was one of the early 'smiths at Novaks, told me that some of the very best Hi Powers he'd ever seen were early "Assembled in Portugal" guns. When I asked why, he advised that FN sent folks to Portugal to make sure that their tolerances were held. Since I own both early and later-run "Assembled in Portugual Hi Powers", I examined examples of each. I can find no major differences at all! It would appear to me that either the Portuguese assemblers take pride in their work or have their "feet held to the fire" by FN, but I find no consistently measurable differences; the work remains very nice indeed. (As I understand it, the original reason for having the guns assembled there was simply lower labor costs.)

I shoot a lot of 9mm Hi Powers and have for right at four decades now. In my observation, current guns do not usually have trigger pulls that are either as light or break quite as cleanly as the older guns from the '60's, '70's, and even '80's but they group just as well or better! They definitely feed a much wider variety of blunt-nosed ammunition, ie: JHP's.

This refinished Mk III has flawlessly fired many, many rounds. It was "Assembled in Portugal". It continues to serve well and function flawlessly. I would trust my life and those of my family to it.

This is fairly typical of what I expect Hi Power Mk III 9mm pistols to do at about 15 yards. For me, this is accurate enough. These pistols were never intended as Camp Perry match guns. That said, I think that they offer very excellent service accuracy. This gun used to shoot the group in this picture was also assembled in Portugal.

Some of the T-series Hi Powers had a fine a polished blue as could ever be in my opinion but I am in no way convinced that they grouped any better or were any more reliable than current Hi Powers. I like both the "old classic" Hi Powers and the newer Mk II and Mk III pistols. I actually prefer the Mk III for a heavy-use Hi Power.

The older guns are getting harder to find to be sure and will only continue to do so. Find 'em while you can and buy them if you want examples of the earlier Hi Powers. I find them as gorgeous a pistol as has ever been made! Having said that, do not think that you have a "second-rate Hi Power" if you happen to have a "C" series, Mk II, Mk III or one of its variants.

You don't...and it wasn't "made in Portugal"!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Defensive Snubs: Conventional DA/SA or DAO?

The double-action revolver is so named because a single press of the trigger performs two functions:

1. Moves the hammer rearward and,
2. Releases it, firing the gun

The vast majority also have single-action capability. In other words, the hammer can be manually cocked so that a lighter and shorter trigger-pull discharges the weapon. It is generally believed that this allows for more precise shooting, perhaps at a greater-than-expected distance.

Do we need or even want both on a defensive revolver, particularly a compact snubnose?

Opinions vary on this question so let’s examine this area in more depth.

Folks wanting conventional DA/SA capability on their defensive revolver usually cite wanting to be more able to make a very precise (head) shot in the event of a hostage situation or if firing across a parking lot. They also like the idea of thumb-cocking in an emergency should a slightly high primer be causing the cylinder rotation to “drag”.

Shooters preferring double-action-only can argue that the longer, more deliberate trigger-pull necessary to discharge the revolver, makes is less likely that an unscrupulous attorney would try to claim that they cocked their deadly weapon and then “negligently” shot his criminal client. Older shooters as well as law enforcement officers trained on the wheel gun frequently prefer DAO. With proper training, double-action defensive revolver shooting can deliver very effective results.

Nothing in this world is for certain, but I’ll cast my lot for the DAO snub with a bobbed hammer if carried via a pocket holster and the same for the revolver that’s to be carried inside-the-waistband, regardless of barrel length. If it’s being carried in an outside-the-waistband holster, I still prefer DAO for self-protection but am ambivalent about the hammer spur being removed or not.

My choice does not necessarily have to be yours. If you already own or simply prefer a double-action revolver that also retains single-action capabilities, no problem here but I strongly suggest learning to shoot it double-action for defensive purposes.

Though nothing actually requires it, many DAO revolvers with exposed hammers have the spur removed or “bobbed”. The idea is that the spur is unnecessary as the revolver cannot be manually cocked so why leave it there to possibly snag on clothing if carried concealed?

Can revolvers still having single-action capability have their hammers bobbed? Sure, but I’d treat them as though they were DAO. That said, some folks have revolvers just that way, some having the tops of the bobbed hammers serrated for (somewhat) easier lowering from the cocked position. In the past, I have had such revolvers. Normally, I don’t get nearly so wrapped around the axel with lower cocked hammers over live rounds as do some. Yes, it requires one’s full attention and the potential for an accidental discharge is present, but it is just not as difficult as disarming say a live atomic bomb as in “Goldfinger” if the spur is present. Remove it and I do believe that the potential to inadvertently fire the revolver goes up considerably. Certainly, the reader should make his/her own decisions on this matter, but my bobbed hammers are on DAO revolvers.


Saturday, January 31, 2009

A "New" Old .38 Special Revolver...

Hello. A while back I got the opportunity to buy a Model 64-5 revolver at a very good price. This one sports a 4" heavy barrel and came with the factory smooth trigger and bobbed hammer. It still wore factory checkered service stocks and that was fine with me. The gun is capable only of double-action firing, ie: it cannot be cocked for single-action shooting. Reportedly, this was a revolver being retired from an armored car service that had been toted quite a bit but shot little. A few basic "checks" convinced me that it was sound and worth the tarrif. Though not an NYPD gun, this set up is sometimes referred to as "NY-1" and FWIW, I like it. In fact, I like it a lot.

This Model 64's trigger and hammer are not "flash chromed" to appear stainless nor are they stainless steel. They're "regular" chrome moly and that's fine by me. The revolver had a few dings and scratches, but they were cleaned up a bit with fine wet-to-dry sandpaper and the stocks were refinished with Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil. The Model 64 is merely a stainless version of the classic Model 10 and is built on the popular K-frame that many found extremely comfortable to use for decade upon decade.

I have been told by those more "tactical" than I that one cannot adequately defend home, hearth and heinie with a wheel gun. While I agree fully that the 6-shot revolver has to be reloaded more often than a comparable size autoloader, I also believe that we "solve our problem" in the first few shots and run out of time before ammunition. In other words, in most deadly force scenarios involving private citizens, I think that the revolver can hold its own if he can get the hits. This is true with any handgun and I've said before that "placement is power". In other words, I still believe that placement remains a primary component in "stopping power" and whether we survive or don't! (Do not make a mistake here and think that I support anything like "high-capacity magazine bans". I am firmly opposed to such anti-Second Amendment tripe and do all that I legally can to oppose it and I always will.)

Taking the revolver to the range, I was pleased but not surprised to find that the fixed sights were perfectly regulated for 158-gr. ammunition.

These six shots were the first I fired out of the revolver. Distance was seven yards from a standing position and using a two-hand hold. Ammunition was Georgia Arms 158-gr. SWC's. These shots were fired in slow-fire with absolutely no effort at speed.

More "practical" defensive-type drills such as the common Failure to Stop drill were tried and a timer revealed them well within accepted standards.

In my opinion, the 4" .38 Special (quality) revolver with defensive ammunition is still a very viable defense gun and one that can be easily understood by shooters having less experience. That said, I definitely do not relegate this as a gun suitable only for a "beginner". I am aware of some very seasoned retired (and current) lawmen and shooters who stick with the DA revolver by choice and I assure you, they can get the hits and in a hurry.

These service-style Smith & Wessons turn up not infrequently for sale at pretty nice prices ($250 to $300, depending upon condition), but I fear that frequency will decrease with each passing year. I submit that these revolvers make a most useful addition to the owner's collection for both fun and more serious aspects of shooting. I think that at these or similar prices one gets more rather than less quality! These wheel guns are capable of extremely accurate grouping and if a person's willing to learn accurate double-action shooting, that person's probably going to be very surprised at what can be accomplished with the time-proven double-action revolver.

I am certainly not about to part with my 13-shot Hi Powers or other semiautomatic pistols but neither do I feel unarmed in the least with this retired old work horse. As this is written, it's loaded with Remington 158-gr. LHP +P less than a foot from my strong shooting hand.

If you get the opportunity, I strongly recommend one (or more) of these for your collection.


Friday, January 16, 2009

My Hi Power Fails to Eject on the Last Shot. Why?

Hello. One of the reasons for the Hi Power's continued popularity must be its very fine reliability. Having said that, I note that a somewhat FAQ concerns the Hi Power not ejecting the last fired case. Prior shots always extract and eject but that last round fires, the slide locks back and sure 'nuff, the empty case is lying atop the magazine.


I have a Hi Power in which this frequently occurs. It has not affected reliability at all but I can see how it could cause some concerns for those considering the pistol in a self-defense setting.

On all but the last shot, there is a cartridge in the magazine beneath the fired case being extracted as the gun fires. This keeps the hull from sliding downward on the breechface if the gun's extractor claw doesn't hold the case quite tightly enough to keep it from doing so. On marginal cases, the Hi Power might fail to eject the last hull with Brand X but never do it with Brand Y. The reason is slightly different rim thicknesses on the different makers' rounds.

The problem can usually be corrected by very lightly stoning the pad that bottoms against the slide in the groove in which the (external) extractor rides. Not much is necessary to eliminate the problem and this frequently takes care of it.

If the gun is failing to extract/eject on all shots, the problem is either a damaged extractor claw, a weak extractor spring, or both.