Friday, November 21, 2008

What Does the 2nd Amendment Really Mean?

If you only read or watch one thing on this blog, watch this. You might have already seen it as it has been circulating around for a long time. But if not, it will add perspective to anyone's thoughts about the 2nd Amendment.
No matter who you are, what you believe or how you were raised, you can't deny she makes a strong point. After watching the video below ask yourself ONE question. Did she deserve the right to defend herself and her family and by default many others around her? 
Remember, if guns kill people then...
- Food makes us fat.
- Cameras cause pornography.
- Cars cause traffic accidents.
Restrictive gun laws don't take guns away from criminals - criminals disobey laws of almost every kind! Look how well the government is doing with the War on Drugs/Prostitution/Illegal Immigration/etc! 
Criminals will always find ways to commit crimes. Gun laws only take away the right for law abiding citizens (those who will obey laws no matter if they agree with them or not) and eliminate their right to defend themselves against acts of violence.
Please pass this on to one person you know. Just one.

Suzanna Gratia Hupp (born January 11959)[1] is a former Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives, who represented traditionally Democratic District 54 (BellBurnet, and Lampasas counties) for ten years from 1997-2007. Hupp is recognized as a leading advocate for the Second Amendment and an individual's right to carry a concealed weapon. She was elected to her first term in 1996 but did not seek a sixth two-year term in 2006.

Click here for the Wiki link to read Dr. Gratia-Hupp's bio. 

Saturday, November 8, 2008

REVIEW: Ruger Mark III Hunter

I love to shoot. I can spend hours shooting on the plinking range or I can spend hours trying to practice double taps with my Taurus PT-92. No matter what, I love shooting as a hobby. Kind of like golf, shooting is a sport/hobby that can be approached in one of two ways. You can be a lifetime hacker or you can constantly try to improve your game. I lean toward the second. I like to try to improve at least one skill a little bit each time I’m on the range. The problem is, shooting can be expensive. Ammo costs are killing me! So a while ago I decided to buy a .22 pistol to enable me to shoot on the cheap.

After weeks of online research, talking to friends and shooting a variety of .22s. I finally decided on the Ruger Mark III Hunter with the 7-inch fluted barrel. It was about $100 more than I had planned on spending (I spent $469), but I justified it by telling myself that I’d recover that cost overrun by shooting one 550 count box of .22 rounds for $15 in place of 5 boxes of .45 for $150! (I still shoot plenty of .45 and 9mm)

The first thing you notice about the Mark III’s long barrel is the weight. It’s a heavy .22 and the extra barrel length makes it a bit nose heavy. The 5.5 inch barrel seemed perfectly balanced. But I was after accuracy with this gun. That extra barrel length would give me a long sight radius with open sights and a bit more muzzle velocity - not to mention virtually no felt recoil.

The gun comes standard with a scope rail, two magazines, gorgeous cocobolo grips and a fiber optic front sight with five replacement fiber optic pieces in both red and green. All that in a nice heavy duty box. For comparison, my friend Bruce bought a Browning Buckmark Camper (reviewed here)that cost $100 less but came with one magazine, no scope rail and no replacement fiber optic pieces. By the time you buy all that, you’ll spend at least $50.

The next day I took it to the range and started shooting. Boy was I disappointed. I was getting a jammed bullet in every magazine. The Remmington bullets were actually bending at the point where the bullet met the case. It happened over and over again. I chalked it up as a break in issue and decided that after a several hundred rounds the problem would stop.

On my way home I had an idea. I stopped by Wal-Mart and bought a box of Federal ammo so I could test it against the Remmington the next day. Back on the range, I loaded one mag with Remmington and the other with Federal. After only four magazines, I realized the problem was the Remmington ammo, not the gun. For some reason my Ruger likes to eat cheap Federal ammo and not cheap Remmington green box ammo. Problem solved.

With the right bullets, the gun shot like a dream. The v-notch rear sight makes for amazing accuracy. Go to your local gun store that sells Ruger Mark III Hunters and try this experiment. Pick up a square notched sighted gun and line up the sights. Then while lined up, move the gun a hair and notice the how the front sight looks as the gun moves. Next, pick up the Hunter, place the bright red fiber optic sight at the bottom of the V, right on top of the vertical white dash mark and move the gun a bit. With the Ruger, it’s immediately obvious that the bright red dot is off line as it comes out of the “v” notch and off mark with the white line. You can tell if you’re .1 mm off! With square notched sights, .1 mm isn’t obvious, 1 mm is but one tenth that isn’t. Try it for yourself. You’ll see.

During the first hundred rounds, the trigger was a bit stiff but quickly smoothed out. It’s now very light and breaks with a confident, light snap. On the plinking range, I find it relatively easy to hit cans at 75 yards out in on or two tries. I can knock spent shotgun shells off of my target stand at 50 feet at will. This gun shoots!

About a month after purchase, I decided to try putting a red dot scope on it. Not knowing if I’d like a red dot or not, I went cheap for my first one. I bought a $29 Tasco Red Dot from Midway USA. Once sighted in, things only got better. After shooting the Tasco, my friend Bruce said, “That kind of takes the fun out of sucking”, as he accurately shot a water bottle at 75 yards.

- Why did I buy the gun? For cheap fun at the range. More shooting for less money. The choice was a combination of reputation, looks and price (The S&W Model 41 is $1,000).

 How long have I owned the gun? About seven months.

- Would I buy it again if faced with the decision? If I had to do it over again, I would buy the same gun. I have no regrets whatsoever.

- How have my feeling changed since I bought it? My feelings haven’t changed much. I still look forward to shooting it.

- Best and worst? Best is the trigger, sights, build quality. Worst was taking it apart. It was a pain to field strip at first but now, it’s not that bad.

Would I recommend the gun? Yes. If you want a .22 for target/plinking on the cheap. This is a great option. It’s not the cheapest .22 you can buy, but the inexpensive ammo will make up for the additional cost of the ammo over a very short time. There are also a ton of modification options out there if you want to improve the gun in any way.

When you mix the reputation of Ruger, the beauty of this stainless gun with gorgeous wood grips and pinpoint accuracy, it’s hard not to love this gun. I find it to be a mixture of beauty, accuracy and fun.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Careless or Stupid?

Ok, I've been hesitant to write this entry. The incident I'm about to describe happened a while ago but it's taken me a some time to get the nerve to write publicly about it. And I only do so to help give you one more reason to use absolute caution when handling a deadly weapon.

It's not a big deal in and of itself, but the end result could have been beyond my most horrific nightmares. My friend Doug and I were at an outdoor range shooting my brother's Springfield Armory XDm for this blog (see that review here). I reached down, picked up the gun and it went off shooting a hole through the plywood range table. 

How did it happen? That's the scariest part of this whole short story. I'm not really sure. I'm a stickler for keeping my finger off a trigger. I'm a freak about checking the condition of a gun. The XDm has a loaded chamber indicator. All of this failed in a split second. Luckily, the gun fired through the table and into the dirt - no one was hurt.

I was so mad at myself that I had a hard time acknowledging the incident for several days. In a split second of stupidity, carelessness and cockiness I let myself down, I let my friend down and I let the private range down (I owe them a piece of plywood). 

I could have very easily shot myself or my friend in that momentary lapse of consciences. Keep your guard up. Don't get cocky handling guns just because you do it a lot. And practicing good muzzle safety can help you avoid tragedy if your finger and brain let you down.

Thank you for reading.

REVIEW: Taurus UltraLite Model 85 .38 Special

People love semi-automatic pistols. They can make revolvers look, feel and shoot like a weapon of a long gone era. From what I buy and what I see my friends buying, there was a time when I wondered if anyone still bought revolvers anymore. Well, I own a revolver. And it’s a good one. Actually, it’s a fantastic one!
I bought my first Taurus handgun in 1989 when Mel Gibson and Lethal Weapon made the Beretta 9mm “the cool gun to own”. I couldn’t afford that Beretta so I bought the less expensive, copy-cat Taurus PT-92. Several of my “friends” panned the Taurus saying that they made cheap, knock-off guns and questioned their long-term quality.
For a time I actually felt a little embarrassed that I owned such an “inferior” gun. Well, 19 years later and somewhere between five- and ten-thousand rounds the gun has failed to feed maybe twice, even though at times I’ve fed the old girl some of the cheapest ammo I could find. I’ve changed the recoil spring once and dabbed on some sight paint to brighten the faded white sight dots. So my opinion now is that Taurus makes a quality gun that just happens to be priced for the average guy. 
When it comes to a potentially life-saving self-defense tool, the basic rule of thumb is reliability first. If you’re really going to bet your life on a gun, I personally feel that a reliable .38 Special is a better choice than a problematic .45ACP with a history of failures and jams. So for me, the gun I carry at least five days a week is a reliable Taurus UltraLite Model 85 revolver loaded with .38 Special +P Federal Hydra-Shoks. 
I once heard a great quote, “Revolvers are like forks, you pick them up and they just work”. While that might not be perfectly true, it’s true enough for the point to be effectively made. I went to a local well-stocked gun store and started weighing my options. I wanted unbeatable long-term reliability, minimal weight, easy concealability, enough stopping power to get my butt out of a sling, heaven forbid, and priced under $500. 
After an hour of deliberation, I finally landed on the Taurus UltraLite Model 85. It gave me a nice mix of all the things I was looking for and came in at only $299 (I’ve seen it for $320 in late 2008). The price left me with money in my pocket so I even added a Crimson Trace laser grip for $170. 
The Model 85 is a 5-shot .38 Special that's +P rated and comes in a stainless/alloy version and a blued version. It's sights are very difficult to use as are most snubbie's, but they are not target guns. The laser turns the sights into a back up rather than a primary aiming system.
 Crimson Trace makes two types of snub-nosed revolver grips - a soft rubber four finger version and a hard plastic three finger version. I went with the hard plastic three fingered version for several reasons. First, it most closely matched the size of factory the grip that came on the gun. Second, the hard plastic will not “catch”, “hang”, or “stick to” a pant leg (if ankle carrying) or a shirt like a soft rubber. Third it was about 1/2 of an inch shorter making it easier to conceal. 
I anxiously took the gun to the range and ran 50 rounds though it. The trigger was heavy and not perfectly smooth but other than that, the gun shot well. The Smith and Wesson’s I dry fired in the store had triggers that were much lighter and definitely smoother but with factory installed CT laser grips, they were coming in at $800. That was well over my, and my wife’s, budgeted limit for this purchase. 
The light gun felt great in my hand but the weight in no way gave the +P ammo a heavy kick that you get with a snub nosed .357. 
On my second trip to the range, I tried moving my target stand out to about 25 yards. Big mistake I couldn’t hit a thing. Double action, I was having a difficult time getting bullets to hit the IDPA targets let alone getting one to hit somewhere on the 8” Shoot N-C that I stuck on it. Switching to single action, I started hitting the target with enough regularity that my confidence in the gun immediately sky-rocketed though the confidence in my double action trigger finger bottomed out. 
At ranges that more closely resemble self-defense situations (15 feet or so) the gun is dead on. The Crimson Trace laser makes aiming fast and easy and as long as you pull the trigger smoothly, the bullet hits the target with in an inch or two of the laser dot. I love shooting this gun. I practice shooting isosceles, on handed, weak handed, and from the hip. If the target is 15 feet away, I can effectively hit the target at will, which is a good thing.
After about 600 rounds and another 600 dry fires, the trigger has really smoothed out - a lot! It’s still not a Smith and Wesson but if I had $800 to burn, I’d have bought an Air Light. I don’t have that kind of money to throw around so I went with what I consider the next best thing. A Taurus. 
Carrying, this gun is as comfortable and light as any I’ve every tried. I carry it on my ankle or in a bellyband , some times for 12-14 hours in a day and its barely noticeable. I actually feel naked without it!
- Why did I buy the gun? Concealed carry self defense.
- How long have I owned the gun? Just over a year.
- Would I buy it again if faced with the decision? Absolutely, without a doubt or a moment's hesitation. Period. And I'd add the laser grips again too.
- How have my feeling changed since I bought it? I like it more now than when new. Much more.
- Best and worst? Best is weight and quality. Worst is trigger pull but even that's not bad like it was fresh out of the box.
- Would I recommend the gun? Yes. I think it's a great value and I'd bank my life on it.
In summary, the gun is very easy to carry, light weight, super reliable and with the CT Laser Grips very easy to get on target. If you are looking to get a small frame revolver on working man wages this is definitely a gun to look at. Let your friends tell you how a Smith and Wesson is better. Just smile back at them knowing you own twice as many guns as they do...