Saturday, October 25, 2008

Take Your Mom Shooting - I Do.

My mom was raised on a farm. Like most farm boys and girls, they started shooting guns well before they began walking to school barefoot, uphill both ways in year-around, waist deep snow that covered a thick layer of “goats head” thorns.

They were tough kids and shooting guns was as much, or more, of a necessity as is was for fun. There were coyotes that were always trying to steal chickens and rats rummaging through the trash that needed to be “taken care of".

When my 60+ year old mom said she wanted to go shooting with me I thought to myself, “Hm, this will be an adventure.” The day was perfect. It was cold and there was a light drizzle falling so going to the indoor range seemed like a good option. When we got there, I bought some silhouette targets and some ammo and we headed back. To keep from getting shot by my own mom, I gave her a quick safety briefing that I give all of my friends that are “new shooters”.
We started with a small Beretta Bobcat .22 that I’ve owned for over 20 years. It’s a fun, small caliber gun that’s perfect for “first timers” and “old timers” alike. After I “showed her” how to do it, I reloaded the gun, clicked the safety and laid it on the table. As she picked up the gun, I flashed back to all the grief and trouble I gave her as a rowdy teenage boy and suddenly wondered if this was a trap!

We once again did a quick review of what the sight picture should look like and I stepped back as she took aim. She sent all seven rounds down range and into the target in a group that was about four inches at its widest point. Not bad at all! Mom looked at me and asked, “Is that good?” I said, “Actually mom, yes. That’s very good.” After about five more magazines, the groups were down to about three inches, tight enough that I thought it was time to either graduate up to a bigger gun or move the target back.

She opted for both options so I loaded a snub-nosed .38 special with Crimson Trace Laser Grips and pushed the target back about five feet. Once again, I shot first then reloaded and stepped back. She took the gun, aimed the laser at her target and pulled the trigger. Her arthritic fingers had a real hard time with the double-action pull. Her shot was erratic as she fought the heavy trigger and the laser danced and flipped around as the shot broke. To combat this, we switched to the “cock and shoot” method. This was much easier for her and once again she accurately hit the target creating a nice tight group that landed almost exactly where the laser was pointed.
I was impressed! Mom turned to me and said, “You know, I’d like to have a gun at home for self defense.” My blood ran cold and my eyes bugged. “Uh, ok mom. Maybe…” Overall, it was a fun couple of hours.

For our second outing we went to the outdoor range. Once again we started with the Bobcat, and then moved to a Taurus PT92 9mm. It was a bit heavy for her and the grip was a too thick. Nevertheless she managed to hit the target, placed 25 feet away, with enough accuracy that if it were an intruder, she would have made 10 torso shots.

After she mentioned wanting to keep a loaded defense gun in her home, I told her that it would be ok only if she took a gun course first. For legal and practical reasons she would need to learn some basic skills and then practice them from time-to-time. One of the skills would be alternative shooting techniques like shooting from the hip in panic saturations. Why did I open my big mouth? She wanted to try it!

She picked up my 9mm, slipped in a magazine, held the gun at waist level and pulled the trigger. I wasn’t sure exactly where the bullet went but when I saw splinters of wood flying off my target stand, I knew she was at least in the right area code.

I cringed as another big piece of wood got blown off my carefully crafted, handmade, but luckily modularly rebuildable target stand. Mom smiled at me after seeing fragmented pieces of debris flying all over the place, “I’m hitting the target! That’s pretty good!”

I grimaced and scratched my head, “Yea, not bad.” I shook my head and mustered a small forced smile. “Uh, mom, let’s go back to shooting with both hands. You’re kind of destroying my target stand!”

Another hour went by and mom continued to have a great time and shot with a surprising amount of accuracy, for an “old lady”.

The moral of the story is, if she asks, take your mom shooting. You never know, in a previous life she might have been an Annie Oakley fan that was deadly with a 20-guage shotgun or a vicious coyote hunter like mine!

Things to think about when taking your mom, wife or girlfriend to the range for the first time:
  • Start with safety. Don’t feel embarrassed about going through a safety briefing. DO IT! Make it simple, but cover the basics of muzzle safety and range etiquette.
  • Always start with a .22 or other small caliber gun first. If you want to piss off or scare off your mom or significant other, give them a .44 Super Redhawk the first time you take them out. They’ll pull the trigger once and never do it again. If you want to help them enjoy the sport, start small and work up to bigger calibers slowly – at their pace.

  • Keep the targets close. Targets that are 15-25 feet away are hittable by anyone. This is a confidence builder and helps them with immediate feedback and gratification. Start close and work back in 5 foot increments. If you start anyone off at 25 yards, they’ll get frustrated and give up fast. Hell, I get frustrated with 25 yard shots myself.
  • Don’t preach and teach. Give some pointers but don’t make the outing a formal gun class. That’s boring and not why they wanted to go. If they want to learn more, they’ll ask. NOTE: If your mom has her thumb behind the slide of your 9mm, correct that! But don’t give military or police style training.
  • Praise their accomplishments. While shooting a 4-inch group at 15 feet at might not be a huge accomplishment for you, it’s more than enough to “drop” a bad guy and a VERY good job for a beginner or for someone that hasn’t picked up a gun in 30 years.
  • Lastly, do whatever it takes to make it fun for them. It might not be your idea of a perfect range day but make it fun for them. You’ll be surprised at how much fun you’ll have helping your mom have a great, safe shooting day.

FROM ONE OF MY READERS:
I just wanted to relate my story of shooting with my mom.  She was born in 1933 and grew up in Chicago - she moved to rural Wisconsin in the early 50's when she married my dad.  Not much of a gun enthusiast - but not stopping her four sons for shooting if they so desired.
 
She worked at the bank in town and became the second in command - so she had keys to the get in, knew how to turn off the alarm, and could open the vault.  When my dad passed away in 1993, a young man in town suggested that she learn how to handle a gun, for the reasons mentioned above - plus that fact that she lived alone in a small town with no permanent law enforcement. 
 
One day during that first summer after my dad's passing - we took my S&W .357, my fairly new Browning Buck Mark, and a few boxes of ammo out to a quarry just outside of town.  Like you, I showed my mom how to safely handle the firearm.  I don't remember much about that day - except that we went shooting.  But that's not where this story ends. 
 
For the next several years until she retired, she kept that Buck Mark in one drawer of her dresser and a loaded magazine in another drawer - knowing exactly what she would need to do should an intruder enter the house.  Luckily - she never had to use it for her protection.
 
Flash forward to 2010 - I was in the process of getting divorced and now had some free time on the weekends.  I live a couple of hours from where my mother lives and I go home as often as I can.  Mom and I started shooting again - in the quarry where I first took her to get familiar with the Buck Mark.  We try to go shooting once a week - usually on a Sunday.  There are times when I talk my girlfriend into joining us - but that is another story for another time.
 
My mom still has the Buck Mark and shoots it from time to time - but she has really taken a liking to my little Browning BL-22 lever-action with a scope.  While I haven't documented her shooting as well as you documented shooting with your mom - I can say that she really enjoys the time we spend shooting in the quarry.  We shoot plastic bottles that range in size from a few ounces to one gallon jugs filled with water - anywhere from 20 yards to about 100 yards.  We shoot rifles and handguns from .22 up to .357 - though mom sticks to the .22's.  After we've had our fun watching the bottles explode - we recycle the plastic.
 
I came across your website while looking for reviews on the Browning Buck Mark - just to see what others have to say about the firearm.  Besides the one my mom shoots - I have a Browning Buck Mark Contour with a 7.25" barrel - and it is a blast to shoot.  I'm not one to reply or add comments to online articles - but after reading your article I felt I had to share the story about my mom's shooting experience.
 
Reply back if you get the chance - just so I know you received this email.
 
Sincerely,
Bob

Did you like this article? Check out the PAST REVIEWS at the top of the page for several more.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Thumb Savers and Speed Loaders - Yes, you need one.

PART 1: .22 Caliber Hand Guns
When I go to the range with my Ruger Mark III Hunter, I don’t shoot 100 rounds. I don’t shoot 200 rounds. Usually, when I take out the Mark III, I blow through 300-600 rounds, or sometimes more. And why not, at $14 per 550 rounds of Federal .22LR, there’s no real reason to conserve or shoot sparingly.

The first time I did this I didn’t have a thumb saver. The next day I went out again and my thumb was so sore from pulling down on the follower button that after only two magazines, I was ready to call it quits. That’s when I spotted a great make-shift solution.

Next to my gear bag was a water bottle and the little blue cap. I picked up the cap, turned it sideways, covered the follower button with it and pulled down against the spring. My thumb was still tender but it made it easy enough that I was able to enjoy my day at the range until I could buy a “real” thumb saver (doesn’t really work with a S&W Model 41 since there isn’t a pronounced follower screw or button on latch on to).

There are several .22 Thumb Savers on the market and most are between $3-5. The ones that work with a Ruger Mark III work with the Browning Buck Mark don’t work with the S&W Model 41 since it has a different design and requires its own speed loader.

I own one made by Butler Creek but is now discontinued, too bad because it works very well. It can still be found on eBay and on a few web sites. A friend of mine has an ADCO Loader that works every bit as well as the Butler Creek and there’s always the HKS.

Since .22 is so cheap to shoot, you’ll want a way to make it fun and easy to shoot hundreds of rounds in one day. Don’t believe me?





Grab a Coke or water bottle cap and give it a try. Your thumb will thank you.




PART 2: Non .22 Hand Guns
For reloading all other magazines (.380-.45) there’s the amazing and unbeatable Butler Creek UpLULA. HKS makes $12 thumb loaders that do a great job but they are single caliber units only. The UpLULA can replace four or five magazine loaders saving you 25-35 dollars or more! Not to mention tons of space in your range bag.

I've successfully used the Up LULA on a Kel-Tec .380, Glock, Taurus, Para and Springfield 9mm and .40 mags, a a variety of .45 mags. Mine has yet to find a magazine it didn't agree with. You can buy one at AMAZON.com (Click on link).



The Springfield XD and XDm’s come with a reloader that I’ve tried and they’re not nearly as easy to use or as fast as the Up LULA. Plus, they’re designed to work on XDs.

Tough guys don’t think they need thumb savers right? Wrong, guys that don’t shoot much don’t need thumb savers and speed loaders. All of you that have pushed 16-18 rounds into a hi-capacity mag know what it’s like to get those last few in.

If you shoot enough, you will get a sore thumb pushing rounds into a magazine. This blog is called “Firearm Fun” and is dedicated to making shooting…fun. For a mere $30 you can have a .22 loader AND a universal loader that after one trip to the range will more than earn their keep in your range bag.


Did you like this article? Check out the PAST REVIEWS at the top of the page for several more. If you'd like to share your knowledge by posting an article or review, contact me at Kennard.yamada@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

REVIEW: SPRINGFIELD XDm .40 (vs. the market leading Glock)

This article is a bit long but after several outings with the Springfield XDm, I've found there’s a lot to write about.

Currently, the most talked/written about pistols are the Springfield XD and XDm family. There’s a good reason they’ve been on the cover of so many magazines and the subject of so many forums. From everything the media says they’re obviously great guns. Instead of just taking the word of others, I took my brother’s recently purchased Springfield XDm .40 cal. And spent a day at the range shooting it side-by-side with a Glock 27 .40 cal. (belonging to my friend Doug), a Springfield XD 9mm (belonging to my friend Bruce) and a Glock 34 9mm (Belonging to my friend Josh). What a fun day!

First off, I want to say I have not been a huge fan of the polymer pistol. They’re growing on me at such a high rate of speed as I began to buy and shoot them. I’ve shot Glocks for years and have never really developed “big love” for one of the world’s most popular and best selling pistols. Several of my friends owned them and I wanted to jump on the band wagon back in the late 80s, but after several shooting opportunities I didn’t see the big deal and stayed with the old “standard all metal” guns. It shows how closed minded I was.

As time passed, I’ve come to appreciate Glock’s design leadership and those that have followed. But until the Springfield XD and now XDm, I’ve seen most as “Glock wannabes”. The XDm is no “wannabe”.

To be fair, this is as much of a Springfield XDm vs. Glock article as it is a review of the XDm. But as a familiar baseline, I thought it would make the review more relatable to most readers.
Let’s start with this; it seems like the things I don’t like about the Glock I love about the XDm and the things I love about the Glock, I’m disappointed in with the XDm. Here are a couple of examples.

Feel:
For me, in-hand comfort is one of the first (of many) things I evaluate in a gun since that point of contact is crucial to functionally interacting with the firearm. The second I picked up the XDm (with medium back strap) I got that, “Ohhhh, that feels nice” tingle up my spine. To me, the ergonomic feel is perfect and with the replaceable backstraps (S, M, L) the gun should feel good to any sized hand. The checkering is aggressive and provides a lot of grip against the .40 S&W recoil.


Trigger:
Now, let’s flip back the other way. Springfield claims the XDm has the shortest trigger reset of any polymer, striker-based pistol on the market AND since the trigger releases the striker only (does not pull striker back like other striker based pistols) it has the lightest pull/break. Well, I love the light pull and quick, short reset of the Glock and after shooting the XDm along side two Glocks and an XD, the claim is false. The XDm definitely has shorter reset than the XD – 50% shorter by my estimation - but it’s in no way shorter than, or even as short as, either the Glock 27 or the Glock 34…period. A couple of my friends and I shot and reshot and reshot…and reshot the guns over and over and we unanimously came to the same conclusion. The Glocks resets quicker (shorter) – hands down.

We were divided on the pull. Without a digital device that measures trigger pull, we had to rely on feel. And the results were so close, we were split on which was lighter.

Sights:
I like the XDm’s sights but I like the adjustability of the Glock’s ingenious, low-profile combat sights better. Most combat/CCW guns have fixed sights that are bullet-proof and snag-free. Glock managed to build a tough, snag-free, low-profile set that can also be adjusted.

Safety:
Let’s face it. The Glock’s passé safety system (trigger-lock only) is the subject of much debate – love and hate – and has encouraged potential Glock owners to look at other options. In the past, I’ve personally have looked at their system with apprehension that has more to do with distrust of my own trigger finger than it does of Glock’s safety system. Now, as I’ve learned more about gun safety I can say that I’d carry a Glock without hesitation.


The XDm takes that same safety system and improves on (or just adds to it) to give shooters an improved “feeling” of safety. It adds a 1911-like palm safety that adds a marginal amount of added security and even offers a more logical thumb safety that option that I think should be standard and the palm safety eliminated. Either way, they’ve heard the public opinion and smartly reacted accordingly. In the long run, this will have a positive two-fold effect in purchasing decisions and in courtrooms.


Safety Part 2:
Both guns disassemble very easily but the XDm (only – not XD) can be field stripped without pulling the trigger to “de-cock” the striker. This reduces that possibility of an accidental discharge in your living room. Nice touch.

Shooting:
Now it’s time to get to the good stuff. All four guns shot like a dream. At 10 yards all four were quick to sights and easily delivered lethal hits on silhouette targets. At targets downrange, the Glock 34 reached out to 75 yards the easiest (by far) while the Baby Glock 27 struggle just a bit but still did a fine job for a 3” barreled gun. There wasn’t a dog among them. BUT, the things that differentiated them while throwing bullets down range were the things I already write about. For example, while the XDm and the Glock 34 both felt balanced the Glock grip felt bulky and slick forcing me to repeatedly re-grip the gun between shots. The XDm has more aggressive checkering and a better ergonomic feel that allowed me to keep my hands firmly attached to the grip for 10 continuous shots.

You already know how much I like the Glock trigger for the reason that the less you have to move your trigger finger the more likely you are to keep your gun on target.

Function:
In a long day of shooting and hundreds of rounds, not one of the four guns malfunctioned in any way, at any time. My Kimber Ultra Carry II has an occasional failure to feed but these guns fired without a single hiccup. As a matter of fact, there was a recent 20,000 round torture test done on an XD (see it here: http://springfield-armory.primediaoutdoors.com/SPstory11.php that’s so impressive, it literally made me want to run out and buy one on the spot! Read the torture test (after finishing this)!

Superficial:
While the trigger reset is demonstrated fact, the following is shallow opinion. Glocks are a utilitarian, flawlessly functional tool and look that way. They’re cool looking in an ugly kind of way (if that makes sense) but I don’t like the style. The Springfield XDm, on the other hand, is much more appealing to the eye. It comes in stainless or black and the angles give it an oddly “futuristic” look that I really like. It’s a good looking gun that also functions flawlessly.

Summary:
Glock has set the standard in polymer pistols but Springfield definitely raised the bar. They listened to the focus groups, police officers, military personnel and average consumers to create a product that’s an improvement in almost every way (except one).

With all of the XD and XDm size and caliber options, there’s definitely something that will fit your needs – carry, home defense, target, competition, etc. If you’re looking for a new gun, don’t buy anything until you look at, shoot and evaluate a Springfield XD/XDm. If you’re resistant to the polymer trend, snap out of it and shoot one! They’ve been so popular that someone you know has one, or someone you know knows someone that has one. Don’t be shy, ask. They will gladly let you give it a run, but you’ll have to buy your own ammo… $$$

My Brother Says:“I love the look and feel of the gun, especially with the SureFire light on it. The stainless steel slide allows me to keep it on my boat with minimal worry about rust and I also love the fact that it has a utility rail so I can mount a light for defense when I spend the night on my boat or at home.”



Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why Buy from Midway USA?


I buy almost all of my gun stuff from Midway USA. There isn't any place around here that has on tenth of the selection. I also appreciate the fact that Midway sponsors so many great TV shooting shows that I enjoy watching on Wednesday nights.
Their prices might not always be the cheapest but they're always competitive. But I now have a new reason to keep supporting Midway - their return policy.
After all these years of buying, I've never had to send a single item back for an exchange or refund. It finally happened. I wanted a Red Dot scope. I'd never really spent a lot of time shooting with one on a handgun but wanted to start. So, before dropping $200-300 I started with a $30 Tasco 30mm Red Dot. After only five weeks the red dot died. I did the natural things like putting in a new battery and shaking/smacking the dead unit to no avail. It was dead.
I went to the Midway website and found the return area. It instructed me to print a form and send back the defective product for 1) refund, 2) replacement or 3) exchange. No phone call was necessary.
I filled out the form, checked the "replacement" box and sent back the scope. In about nine days a package arrived with a brand new Tasco Red Dot scope. In between, I received a couple of email updates giving me the status of my return.
It was that easy. Since so many (everything) inexpensive products seem to be made in China these days, the opportunity for failure exists. With that possibility, it's nice to buy from a company that stands behind every purchase and makes it so easy to replace a defective product.
We all want great prices and huge selection but when it's all said and done, we also want unwavering customer service. Midway USA offers all of the above.
Did you like this article? Check out the PAST REVIEWS at the top of the page for several more. If you'd like to share your knowledge by posting an article or review, contact me at Kennard.yamada@gmail.com.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

REVIEW: KEL-TEC P-3AT

Several years ago my friend Doug showed me a new gun he bought. I picked it up, looked it over but since we were in his living room I didn’t have an opportunity to shoot it. It felt like a toy and I wasn’t very knowledgeable about Kel-Tec so I kind of blew off the gun as a novelty. Although my buddy that owns the gun might be sad to hear that, if he reads on he’ll see my attitude changed…greatly.

For the vast majority of people out there, the issue of carrying a concealed firearm is more of a logistical issue rather than a moral one. Anyone can carry covertly when wearing a parka or a baggy sweatshirt but what about shorts and a tank-top? What about while out jogging? Or what about small framed men and women that find even sub-compact 9mm/.40/.45s a challenge to carry?

That’s where a pistol like the Kel-Tec P-3AT comes in. The cleverly named mini gun (P-3AT, say it out loud, 3AT = 380) is chambered for 9mm’s baby brother, the .380. I’m not going to even talk about the 9mm vs. .380 issue here since it can be found all over the internet and the variety of opinions all have merit. I will say that when you need to go slim, the .380 is better than a whole host of other popular sub-compact options (.25, .22 LR, .32) that people carry every day. It’s funny because James Bond carries a Walther PPK and it comes in all four of the mentioned rounds. Enough said about that.

This gun is SMALL. I have a Beretta Bobcat .22 and the Kel-Tec is smaller in almost every way, especially in width. It’s silly how wide the Bobcat seems next to the P-3AT. My buddy keeps this pistol in his pocket almost all the time and I haven’t ever noticed it printing or giving away its presence. Ergonomically, the gun feels really good in your hand. It’s actually comfortable to hold. I said comfortable to hold…

Fast forward to now. I’ve had several opportunities to shoot the Kel-Tec P-3AT and love the little fella’. At distances 25 feet and under I can easily hit a torso target seven out of seven times in a an acceptably lethal group. The double-action only trigger isn’t too hard to pull but the gun is so small it makes the trigger feel heavier than it really is. Even though the pull is very smooth, the effort causes you to fight to keep your hand firmly clasped on the small grip.


Kel-Tec did its research well and really aggressively checkered the polymer grip to help you keep a hold of this little gun. The first thing you notice when you fire the pistol is that it kicks harder and is louder than you’d think (on looks alone). As the muzzle flipped up my trigger finger got pinched between the bottom of the trigger and the trigger guard - every freakin’ time. Look at some of the Kahr Arms trigger guards. I’ve noticed that they have a bend in the guard and have wondered if that’s to eliminate the “pinch” (see photo to the left).

The gun does its job well. With brass ammo Doug rarely experiences any misfires of failure-to-feeds. BUT the gun will not feed aluminum ammo like Wolfe or Blazer. I’m not talking about an occasional jam; I’m talking about every shot! Maybe this is unique to his gun but he only feeds his Kel-Tec brass, stainless or nickel cased ammo and it eats it up with aplomb.

Like most little guns, this one has little sights. The good news is that Kel-Tec put a bright white square centered on the rear sight and a white triangle on the front to make lining things up quick and easy. Just set the triangle on the box and pull the trigger. To Kel-Tec’s credit, they’re much better than the Ruger LCP’s plain black sights. While I haven’t shot the LCP (yet), the ones I handled at a gun show and gun store lacked in this area.

Speaking of the Ruger, the Kel-Tec has been so successful and so popular that Ruger has started manufacturing a close copy of the P-3AT. Side-by-side they look almost identical. If Ruger’s copying you, (of which they do a lot) you have something really special.

Back to the Kel-Tec. Here are my impressions after shooting several magazines through the gun on several different occasions. The gun isn’t fun to shoot. No fun at all. After just 14 total rounds, I was ready to stop but for the sake of this review, I shot a few more mags. The hard polymer grip is so small and so aggressively checkered that it’s like shooting a tiny .45 with sandpaper grips. The trigger pinched my finger over and over (though it doesn’t pinch the gun owner’s finger) and .380 ammo is almost as expensive as .45 ACP!

Fun or not, this gun could save your life. In the stress-filled seconds you’re fighting for survival, you won’t notice any of the unpleasant side-effects I just mentioned - none of them. All you’ll notice is how grateful you feel having some form of defense in your pocket.

If you own a Kel-Tec P-3AT, you WILL carry it. You won’t have a single excuse for leaving the house unarmed. This gun is perfect for a slim neoprene ankle holster, a belly band or dropped in your pocket. There’s even an ink-pen like clip option that allows you to clip it directly to the inside of your waistband without a holster. Shorts, swimsuits or even wearing those silly cycling shorts (I cycle so…) you can go armed.
Since my first exposure to the Kel-Tec P-3AT, I’ve learn a lot more about the company and the other options they offer. The popular company has a solid commitment to manufacturing small, easily concealed pistols.

So, how much has my opinion changed? I want one. Actually, I want the Ruger LCP but I see the benefit in owning a small, sub-compact pistol for those occasions when it’s not practical to carry a my Kimber Ultra Carry.

Did you like this article? Check out the PAST REVIEWS at the top of the page for several more. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

REVIEW: FREEDOM ARMS Mini .22

It's tiny and it's cute. While not words usually associated with guns the Freedom Arm Mini .22 Revolver is exactly that - tiny and cute. This gun belongs to a co-worker of mine and she was kind enough to let me take it out and run a few rounds through it.

I've seen these before, this and the North American Arms version, and I've always wanted to shoot one. They look practical but only marginally useful. I would say having this is better than nothing but anything less would be nothing.

The gun is very small. In the next photo you can see it compared to a Taurus Ultra Lite .38 Special. The Taurus itself is small and the Mini looks like a toy next to it.


As "cute" as the gun is, it's definitely no toy. The .22 LR might be might be a small round that many people deem unsuitable for defense carry, but used at close range and aimed at critical organs, it's lethal.

The downside is actually employing the firearm. The gun is so tiny, that fishing it out of your pocket isn't all that easy. Once you get your hand on it, you'll find it upside down (I tried several times to carry it in my pocket right side up but the shape and top weight always let it flip over). Pull it out of your pocket and you need to flip it over, grab the tiny grip, pull back the hammer and pull the trigger.

Just for the heck of it, Sunday afternoon I donned some boot cut jeans, strapped on my ankle holster (and unloaded .38 snubbie) and dropped the unloaded Mini in my front left pocket. Then I tried to get each gun in firing position quickly and smoothly. On the fifth try, I finally was able to get the Mini ready faster than the .38. Even then it took an extra second or two to get a firm grip on the Mini.

Neither draw would be considered fast but since the draws were pretty close, I'd take my chances with a snub nosed .38 Special loaded with +P over the .22 LR round.

On the range, the first 10 rounds were very fun to shoot. A guy shooting with his family next to us even came over to see what we were shooting.

You have to have a very firm grip on the glossy grips or the thing flips up with every shot. Even with a good grip, I found that I had to regrip the gun between every shot. This wasn't a big deal since you have to cock it every time which forces hand movement. After 20 rounds the novelty was gone and the fun started to diminish.

Every few shots you will feel the slight sting of burning powder on you hands. Enough to be bothersome but not painful. In a fight, you wouldn't even notice. One thing is certain, when fired, this "little cricket" makes a "crack" that's disproportionate to it's size.

After four cylinders, another shooter named Dale walked over and gave me a very helpful tip. He suggested that I adjust my grip so that I used one hand to hang on and the other to pull the trigger. See the next photo.

It worked. The gun stayed stayed put and I cocked the gun with the thumb on my non-holding, trigger hand with ease.

Summary:
As a small pocket gun that would be better than poking a bad guy with a sharp stick or throwing a rock at him, the Freedom Arms Mini .22 would work well. But I've seen this gun for sale between $200 - $500 ($200 for the NAA Version) and for that price, I'd rather have a Kel-Tec .380 that's about the same size but has more punch and a more substantial grip.

After shooting it, I can say that as a last line of defense of a necessity carry (due to clothing), it would give me a limited feeling of security.

As a novelty, it's a blast. If you have money to burn or a large collection of "real" guns and are looking for something fun and different, this gun is something you might want to own.


Video of Doug Shooting the Mini .22


Doug's Dad's Story:
My friend Doug's dad, Al, owned one of these guns. While entering his house, Al ran into a guy burglarizing his home. He immediately reached into his pocket and started fishing for his Mini .22. The burglar ran toward him, weaved his way through the house then crashed through the back sliding glass door before Al could even get the gun aimed and cocked. Al was in a panic and the little gun was just too hard to put into service in those conditions. The very next day Al sold the gun.


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Is Target Grade Ammo Worth It?


October 6, 2008

Is buying “target grade” ammo really worth it? I’ve always believed a shooter could get better results using higThank quality, target grade ammo but I didn’t know how it would work for me. When I’m out plinking why should I spend 30-50% more for .22 ammo? Besides one of the reasons I shoot the inexpensive stuff was so I could shoot big quantities without breaking the bank.

I do know that my Ruger Mark III Hunter likes Federal ammunition better than Winchester or Remington. I was in Wal-Mart the other day and noticed some Target Grade Federal .22 sitting next to the Federal .22 I normally buy. On a whim my buddy Doug bought me a box of both and headed out to the range.

Cost breaks down like this. Standard Federal .22 is $14.88 for a box of 550. The Target Grade is the same price for a box of 325.

I wasn’t sure what to expect but the results were staggering. The photos you see are of targets shot at about 12 yards. Doug and I tried to make the experiment as real and truthful as possible. We allowed ourselves to shoot with elbows rested on the range table but not using a Ransom-type rest or sand bags. To eliminate the psychological effect, we loaded each other’s guns so we wouldn’t know what ammo we were shooting.

Also, we replicated this process about 10 times each so we could estimate the average benefit of shooting a more expensive Target Grade Ammo. Here are three pictures that sum up the result of our experiment. Each photo shows 10 shots with standard Federal ammo and 10 with Target Grade. It's obvious which is which.



I will be adding to this article as soon as we can try this with several another .22 pistol and a Ruger 10/22 Rifle. Stay tuned…

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