Monday, November 29, 2010

Handgun Errors

Decorative Sig P210

by Ben Small

As a gunner myself, nothing -- except maybe too many adverbs -- makes me madder at an author than obvious mistakes about firearms, errors so easily corrected with a little research. I learned this first hand in Alibi On Icewhere I assumed all handguns had safeties.

Lucky me, my well-gunned editor safetied my error, then bounced it off my chest and learned me but good.

"Son," he said, stretching out those letters Southern-style, "if you're gonna write about fir'ahms...you ought to go buy some."

I thought he went on a bit long, frankly. A minor detail, that safety. I didn't need the history of safeties, who'd invented them, their various types and styles. I get it.

But he drawled on, "Well, have you ever carried one?" Silence. "A handgun, I mean." More silence. "Do you know how it feels?" All I felt was an embarrassed blush, a hot-flash, sorta. I'm sure I stained my tee-shirt. "Well, do you know how you sit, whether you change your gait?"

I remember I looked out the window, wondered if leaping would hurt. Well, not the leap, really, but the other end of it, the part down on the flagstones, the squashed-flat part. How much would that hurt, or would I notice at all?

"Do you touch it... for assurance?"  

That one caught me.

I ignored my dirty mind. If I were carrying a weapon and I got nervous, wouldn't I touch it? Of course I would; I'd wanna know that baby was there. Especially if I were new to being armed. In fact, I'd be self-conscious of it, act a bit too casual. I'd look at people, wondering if they knew...

He came at me again. "Do you check whether you've been printed?" A beat. "Do you know what that means?"

If on Jeopardy, I'd have pushed the button.

But my answer wasn't his point. "Son," he said, "you don't piss off gunners. Or people who know about guns. There are a lot of them." He took a breath. "And they'll catch your errors every time, point them out to you, paint you the fool." He paused. "You can't do that."

I thought about a Bang Ben Blog, sponsored by the NRA maybe. [Yeah, we authors are a bit self-obsessed. We think people read our books.]

So, lest you follow my fate, heads-up. Here are some pointers.

A .22 caliber bullet -- unless it's a .22 Magnum, an entirely different round -- will not pass through a skull. It'll rattle around inside like a BB in a bottle, causing massive damage while it bounces and disintegrates, which is why the .22 caliber round is in the Mob Hall of Fame.

There's an enormous difference between a .357 fired from a semi-automatic weapon and one fired from a revolver. While their ballistics may be nearly identical, put these shells next to each other and they're Mutt and Fat Jeff. The .357 Magnum case is much longer than the .357 Sig, and the .357 Sig case is much wider -- squat -- than the .357 Magnum's. The .357 Magnum is a revolver shell; the .357 Sig belongs only in semi-autos. They don't mate.


Shoot either a .357 or a .357 Sig indoors in a confined space without hearing protection and you'll be deaf...probably forever. Magnum rounds of any caliber are loud. That's why I do not recommend these rounds for home defense. More likely than not, if you need this weapon, you will not be wearing ears. Even outdoors, a magnum round in .357  or .44 will deafen you for awhile. But .38 Special rounds can be used in place of .357s in revolvers, as .44 Special rounds can used in place of Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum round. Shoot either the .38 Special or the .44 Special indoors in a closed room, and you'll be deaf, but you'll likely recover. If you want more power, more terminal force out of your .38 Special, get  +P ammo. Ammo with extra ooumph. Don't shoot +P+ ammo, however. The gun may handle it, but you probably void your pistol warranty. 

The .38, the .38 Special and the .38 Super are not the same rounds. Some fools don't understand this. Similarly, the .45 acp is not the .45 Colt, aka, .45 Long Colt.

The 10 mm is a hunting handgiun round. It's got good range. Originally developed after a disastrous FBI bank robbery in Miami, where agents died through blunder, bad luck and insufficient weaponry, the 10 mm got axed because it was too powerful, carried too far. Some ammo tinkerer at Smith & Wesson cut down the round case and powder charge, and the .40 S&W caliber debuted. A reasonable compromise: more stopping power than the .38 Special and 9mm,  but not as lethal as the 10 mm or the Mighty .45.

Shoot any gun inside a car, and say goodbye to your hearing.

Don't shoot a handgun sideways -- you know, the way gangs wave them on TV. Even idiots should realize muzzle-flip will spray bullets sideways. Shoot your wife, and the second shot hits her mother. Uh, wait... There's an exception to this rule...

When firing a semi-auto, you will probably hold your support hand under your shooting hand, perhaps a bit forward so as to control muzzle-flip, which occurs when firing any handgun. Doing so with a revolver will leave your support hand burned, as hot gases release  from the side of the chamber. So when firing a revolver, put your support hand slightly behind your shooting hand, under it. Or shoot one-handed, called "Point and Shoot." Some pistols are better at Point and Shoot than others. Glocks, for instance. A Glock pistol grip is angled differently than revolvers or most other handguns. Some like this Glock feature; some hate it. But if your perp or protag isn't used to shooting a Glock, the difference may affect his or her accuracy. Glocks shoot point-and-shoot well. So do Springfield XDs and XDms, or S&W M&Ps. Beretta, not so much. Yet, Berettas are supplied to our infantry troops.

If you have a large hand, you may like the Beretta 92FS, the pistol supplied to our troops. If your hand is smaller, the Vertec version may fit. I like the Beretta 92FS. I picked it for my Concealed Carry Permit qualification. And it's a snap to clean. If you have a smaller hand still, check out the Beretta Px Storm. A sweet shooter with interchangeable grips.

Beretta 92 FS

Beretta Px4 Storm
But there is a rap to the Beretta 92FS. With a swift move, an attacker can pull the Beretta's slide off the pistol, turning the pistol into a club. I've seen this done by a Navy SEAL friend. The moral:  Don't let your bad guy get too close.

Some guns will bite you, especially if you grip the pistol high or place your support hand too high. The Sig P210, one of the most accurate production handguns ever manufactured, is known for this, as is the Browning. One mystery writer used DNA traces found on one of these hammers for the solution to his puzzle. Smart guy. Sort of a devil-in-the-detail thing.  
Sig P210
Take a look at Michael Zeleny's Sig P210 parts diagram. [The lead picture in this article came from his website. Zeleny ]

Lots of parts.

What if someone filed a spring so the gun wouldn't fire? Springs fail, after all. Would the average coroner or local police focus on that spring and how it failed? What if it were the wrong spring? The wrong tension? Look at all the parts. Consider which ones might fail or be corrupted, affecting either the first or second shot. Would a forensics expert check Ace Hardware to see who'd bought what? 

Sorry. Got carried away. Mystery writer you know...

Some manufacturers add a Beavertail to protect against hammer-bite. A Beavertail is shown below, immediately under the gun's hammer. The man who invented the Beavertail, Ed Brown, is perhaps the premier semi-auto handgun manufacturer in the world. The gun shown is one of Brown's. One of these new will set you back well over three grand. Other maestros at the semi-auto premier level, like Les Baer, Wilson Combat and its arch-rival, Nighthawk Custom, provide pistols of similar quality and price. These guys all specialize in various versions of John Moses Browning's famed 1911 design, still very popular. 1911s now come in various calibers, not just the .45 acp. You'll find some of these specialty models in .38 Special, .38 Super, 9mm or 10mm.   
An Ed Brown beauty
All handguns are oily, some more so than others. The more premium the pistol, the more oily it will be. Semi-autos have numerous rubbing metal parts. So semi-autos are oilier than revolvers, Glocks being an exception. (More about Glocks later.) Premium guns are made to extremely tight tolerances, which is why they're so accurate. By the same token, because of these tight tolerances, you get oily.

Revolvers are often more accurate than semi-autos. That's because the cylinder is in a direct line with the barrel. Semi-autos must perform more functions than a simple revolver cylinder rotation and hammer release. They must extract a cartridge, lift another one, and line it up into the barrel before release of the trigger mechanism. If you open a semi-auto up and take the barrel out, you'll see a wider area at the cylinder end than at the muzzle. Unless the semi-auto is made to extremely tight tolerances, as with the rare and very expensive Sig P-210, expect larger firing groups than with a revolver.

Most handguns are more accurate than the shooter. A NYC police shooting analysis performed some years ago showed that at a distance of under ten feet, only about twelve percent of police-shots hit their target. But then, it's a fallacy that cops are good shooters. Most only shoot their firearms when forced to qualify, often only once a year. And in some cities, firing ranges are non-existent. So range time is hard to come by. As one well-known gunner put it, "If you shoot at twenty-five yards, you're asking for a lawsuit."

Only Wild Bill Hickok ever hand-gunned someone at seventy-five yards.

Load your ammo carefully, studying every round. A bent case means an unintended pressure differential. A loose bullet means the same. Your gun could blow up. And on that note, don't pull the trigger again on a semi-auto if you pulled it before and it failed to bang. There may be a bullet stuck in the barrel. They call that a "KA-BOOM." And while on that note, don't stick your gun in the mud and expect it to shoot.

Hollow point bullets are safer than full metal jacket bullets. That's because a hollow point bullet will usually stay within the victim, causing massive damage. It usually won't penetrate and cause harm to bystanders on the other side. A full metal jacket bullet, .22 short or long excepted, will usually pass through the target, causing harm to those even several hundred feet beyond.

Glocks are abundant because they're cheap, they require little maintenance and they always go bang. Many shooters never bother to clean their Glock, and their guns just keep firing. For this reason, one may not find much lube on a Glock. It doesn't require much. Ask what pistol cops prefer, and they'll probably respond Sig Sauer. That's because Sigs fit the hand so well. But a classic Sig will cost you almost double what you pay for a Glock, which is why police forces buy them.
Glocks are ugly, but they work

Glocks come in a variety of sizes and calibers, more so than any other pistol. For a Glock model chart, see below. Note: None of these are revolvers.


Model
Caliber
Capacity
Overall
Length
Height
Including
Magazine
Width
Length
Between
Sights
Barrel
Length
Weight
Without
Magazine
Empty
Mag
Weight
Full
Mag
Weight
Trigger
Pull
17
9 mm
17
7.32"
5.43"
1.18"
6.49"
4.49"
22.04 oz
2.75 oz
~9.87 oz
~5.5lbs
17L
9 mm
17
8.85"
5.43"
1.18"
8.07"
6.02"
23.63 oz
2.75 oz
~9.87 oz
~4.5 lbs
19
9 mm
15
6.85"
5.00"
1.18"
6.02"
4.02"
20.99 oz
2.46 oz
~8.99 oz
~5.5 lbs
20
10 mm
15
7.59"
5.47"
1.27"
6.77"
4.60"
27.68 oz
2.64 oz
~11.46 oz
~5.5 lbs
21
.45 ACP
13
7.59"
5.47"
1.27"
6.77"
4.60"
~5.5 lbs
21SF
.45 ACP
13
7.59"
5.47"
1.27"
6.77"
4.60"
26.28 oz
3.1 oz
~12 oz
~5.5 lbs
22
.40
15
7.32"
5.43"
1.18"
6.49"
4.49"
22.92 oz
2.75 oz
~11.46 oz
~5.5 lbs
23
.40
13
6.85"
5.00"
1.18"
6.02"
4.02"
21.16 oz
2.46 oz
~9.87 oz
~5.5 lbs
24
.40
15
8.85"
5.43"
1.18"
8.07"
6.02"
26.70 oz
2.75 oz
~11.46 oz
~4.5 lbs
25
.380 ACP
15
6.85"
5.00"
1.18"
6.02"
4.02"
20.11 oz
2.40 oz
~7.2 oz
~5.5 lbs
26
9 mm
10
6.29"
4.17"
1.18"
5.67"
3.46"
19.75 oz
1.98 oz
~6.35 oz
~5.5 lbs
27
.40
9
6.29"
4.17"
1.18"
5.67"
3.46"
19.75 oz
2.12 oz
~7.23 oz
~5.5 lbs
28
.380 ACP
10
6.29"
4.17"
1.18"
5.67"
3.46"
18.66 oz
1.98 oz
~5.11 oz
~5.5 lbs
29
10 mm
10
6.77"
4.45"
1.27"
5.95"
3.78"
24.69 oz
2.40 oz
~8.29 oz
~5.5 lbs
30
.45 ACP
10
6.77"
4.76"
1.27"
5.95"
3.78"
23.99 oz
2.50 oz
~9.87 oz
~5.5 lbs
31
.357 sig
15
7.32"
5.43"
1.18"
6.49"
4.49"
23.28 oz
2.75 oz
~9.87 oz
~5.5 lbs
32
.357 sig
13
6.85"
5.00"
1.18"
6.02"
4.02"
21.52 oz
2.46 oz
~8.64 oz
~5.5 lbs
33
.357 sig
9
6.29"
4.17"
1.18"
5.67"
3.46"
19.75 oz
2.12 oz
~6.88 oz
~5.5 lbs
34
9 mm
17
8.15"
5.43"
1.18"
7.56"
5.32"
22.92 oz
2.75 oz
~9.87 oz
~4.5 lbs
35
.40
15
8.15"
5.43"
1.18"
7.56"
5.32"
24.52 oz
2.75 oz
~11.46 oz
~4.5 lbs
36
.45 ACP
6
6.77"
4.76"
1.13"
6.18"
3.78"
20.11 oz
2.40 oz
~6.88 oz
~5.5 lbs
37
.45 GAP
10
7.32"
5.51"
1.18"
6.49"
4.49"
25.95 oz
2.68 oz
~9.53 oz
~5.5lbs
38
.45 GAP
8
6.85"
5.00"
1.18"
6.02"
4.02"
24.16 oz
~7.76 oz
~5.5lbs
39
.45 GAP
6
6.30"
4.17"
1.18"
5.67"
3.46"
19.33 oz
7.76 oz
~5.5lbs

Never shoot soft-lead bullets out of a Glock. The Glock rifling pattern -- unique to Glock -- clogs up, affecting accuracy. As one gun-mag guy put it, "You'll never get that stuff out."

Glocks -- and models based upon the Glock design, like the Springfield XD and XDm -- are striker-fired pistols. Experts debate whether a Glock is a single-action pistol, which must first be cocked to fire, or double-action, in which case cocking is part of the trigger action. The Glock's neither. As a striker-fired pistol, it and its brethren, are in a class by themselves.

Double-action, single-action pistols, often preferred by shooters, start in double-action, then once the first shot is fired, the pistol cocks itself for another shot. The DAK pistol, patented by Sig, is double-action only. The "K" stands for "Konstant," at least to most shooters. (It actually stands for the name of its inventor). DAK trigger-pulls don't vary. They're always the same, so a cop knows exactly where the trigger-break occurs in the shooting cycle. With double-action, single-action pistols, the trigger pull-weight for the first shot, unless cocked, will be greater than for the single-action shot. The difference adds variety and may surprise a novice -- or one who forgets the gun is cocked. The pull weight variable can be a much as six pounds or more.

Oops, had my finger on the trigger. Sneezed. Just blew out my knee.

The longer the pistol barrel, the less recoil experienced. Trust me, shooting a short barrel .44 Magnum is not fun. I've seen videos of unsuspecting first-time shooters, and I chuckle as the barrel strikes their noggin. Sure, barrel length adds weight; that's why there's less perceived recoil. But recoil is an issue to those who are squeamish or suffer from Carpal Tunnel.

Shoot any semi-auto with less than a firm grip and you won't get a second shot. The action requires a firm resistance to cycle. What you'll end up with if you limp-wrist the shot, is what's called a stove-top, where the shell only partially ejects. You'll have to eject the magazine, clear the jam, re-insert the mag and re-jack the slide for the pistol to become operative again. Some semi-autos come with a grip safety, which will not permit the pistol to fire unless firmly grasped. 

Speaking of jacking the slide, you cannot just insert a magazine and pull the trigger in a semi-auto and expect the gun to bang. First, you must rack (or jack) the slide. Professional trainers will instruct you to do this by pulling on the serrated back of the slide, rather than pushing back over the breech from the front serrations. That's because if you jack the slide from the front, you may catch part of your hand in the open breach. A very painful pinch, which will probably break the skin. I did it last weekend. Ouch! Talk about blood blisters... I turned to my shooting buddy and showed him my wound. He laughed and said, "Happens to us all, dude."

And it does.

Professional trainers recommend not using the slide-release button on the side of the pistol to rack the slide. There's no guarantee the buttoned release-pressure will be sufficient to load a round. Jacking the slide, i.e. pulling it back and releasing, does the best job. You know that round is ready.

Never, ever flip a revolver's cylinder back into place. You'll likely damage the cylinder, preventing rotation. You see this done on television and in the movies, but those folks don't care about reality; they're entertainment. Try that with someone else's revolver, and you'll make the owner very unhappy. Try it in a gun shop, and you may buy a new gun.

Never, ever shoot any .600 Nitro Express pistol. ( Not Me Video )

Classic Sigs and Glocks ('cept some Gen 4 models) don't have safeties. Neither do revolvers.

Colt Python, Nickel, 4" barrel
The Colt Python has the smoothest revolver action ever created. No longer manufactured, they are the definition of "revolver cool." The Python is .357 Magnum; the Anaconda the .44 Mag. -- Colt's version of Dirty Harry's S&W Model 29.

Never carry an expensive gun, unless you want to lose it -- especially if you fire it at someone. Doesn't matter if you hit your target or not. The cops will take it. They don't maintain custodial guns with quality care. 

There are now four generations of Glocks, each one varying from the one before it. The latest, the fourth generation, is only available now in three models. This will change as Glock refurbishes their entire line. The primary difference in the fourth generation pistol is the choice of backstraps, i.e. the back of the grip. More choices for a good grip. This is a modification Glock picked up from Springfield's XD and XDm lines and from S&W's M&P (Military and Police) collection.

Much has been made of the new Springfield XD and XDm models, and rightfully so. The XD is a plastic gun like the Glock, and its design is based upon the Glock, but the Springfield has some refinements, notably three choices of backstrap, a Glock-like price, and a hard case, an auto-loader and a holster -- right-hand only -- all thrown in. The XDm is a similar gun, but with some additional improvements, such as a match-grade barrel; a much smoother trigger; more capacity, and de-burring... so you don't catch in your draw.

More and more semi-autos are plastic, with steel barrels and slides. While some purists prefer all-steel semi-autos, the reasons for these changes are production cost related, and they're lighter than full metal versions -- an advantage if you carry in summer. There's no difference in quality, however, just weight, cost and a slight increase in perceived recoil.

Any pistol can be improved. Just Google "trigger job" or the name of the manufacturer, and you'll find specialists who'll charge big bucks for subtle refinements. But for those focused on accuracy -- like most gunners -- accuracy is important. For gangers, it is not.

.22 conversion kits exist for most models of handgun, except revolvers. So you can shoot a .22 lr round through what's normally a different caliber handgun. Just install the kit and blast away. Expect to be irritated as you switch back and forth.

Semi-autos which shoot .22lr are extremely ammo-sensitive. For instance, good luck shooting a Sig Mosquito with a non-CCI round. The gun may or may not cycle. Springs are the problem. There are so many different .22lr rounds, springs can be under-or-over powered, resulting in failures to cycle. Gun Test Magazine flunked the Mosquito because of jams. They rated the Ruger highly, but Ruger models don't clean easily. Might want to put "ears" on the kids.

California and Massachusetts limit mag size to ten bullets.

A gunner knows what the terms "over-travel" and "reset" mean. They're trigger terms, and for a shooter firing more than one round, they're important. A true gunner knows his trigger travel, re-set point and where the trigger breaks. He also knows not to mess with the sear unless he knows what he's doing.

Consider your ammo and trigger- pull tension carefully. In a criminal case, deviating from manufacturing standards or using high power stuff, may be used against you to show prior deliberation on a first degree murder charge, or a "trigger-happy" frame of mind. In an extreme case, it may show "Laying in Wait," and you risk the needle...which in many states means you die of old age. In a civil case, such evidence supports a punitive damage claim. Lose that one, you OJ to Florida.

After much deliberation and experimentation, the pistols I carry are a Glock 26 for concealed carry and car-gun, and a Springfield XDm when I carry openly, like at the range. (I don't usually carry concealed, just when I'm writing. I notice how I walk, sit and act. It's called practice. So I know what I'm writing about.)

One of the more interesting revolver designs in the last hundred years is Taurus the Judge, a five round pistol that shoots a .45 Colt Wild West style... or a .410 shotgun shell. Mix 'em up: bird, buck, slug or bullet. This revolver comes in various barrel lengths and in either a 2 1/2" chamber or a 3" chamber. I've owned both, and gave my brother in law -- a judge -- the smaller one. The pistol gets its name because judges like them. Varied, escalating rounds are measured responses to perceived threat levels -- just what you'd expect from a judge.

Besides, the look, smoke and fire of this dragon may scare an attacker to death. Just look at the size of the cylinder. Think of a three inch shotgun shell. Taurus the Judge might not kill a bear, but the bear would certainly take notice. Check out Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence, blowing off steel bathroom doors, or watch this video.

Taurus the Judge
Yes, it's a large pistol, not easily concealed. But the recoil of Taurus the Judge is less than you'd expect. It's got a soft rubber grip that absorbs much of the shock. The Judge is Taurus' fastest selling handgun ever. It's so popular as a home defense gun that three major ammo manufacturers now make special "Judge" rounds. While any shotgun shells of proper size will work in the Judge, these rounds take advantage of Taurus the Judge's rifled barrel. Most shotguns are smooth inside. The Judge has rifling, so important to make bullets spiral. These manufacturers now make rounds that hold .410 loads in a tighter pattern, taking advantage of the rifling. The Judge is lethal to twenty feet or so, unless loaded with .45 Colt or a slug. It's devastating at close range.

For some reason, .380s are all the rage. Just find ammo for one. But almost nobody recommends a .380 for defense, for while the bullet itself is almost the same as the 9mm, the .38 Special and the .357, the case and type and amount of powder behind the bullet make it the shrimp of the family. A hollow point .380 shell might not pierce a leather jacket, or even a heavy sweatshirt. And there's no guarantee a full metal-jacketed round will penetrate far enough to immediately damage an attacker. If pros or cops use them at all, it's usually a third backup gun -- for when all else has failed.

An interesting pistol of some merit is the FN Five-Seven, a lightweight pistol firing an incredibly fast small bullet. Essentially, a .22 (.224 caliber to be accurate) on Nike's finest. The pistol's gotten a bad rep, because one form of ammo pierces body-armor, but those rounds are only available to cops and the military. And the rounds -- the 5.7x28mm in a bottlenecked, centerfire cartridge, somewhat like the .22 Hornet or .22 K-Hornet --  are expensive, usually more than a buck apiece. But this beautifully designed, light-weight pistol blasts its 23 gr. bullet at 2800fps.

FN Five-Seven and ammo

Zippidy do-dah.

The FN Five-Seven will set you back $1100. But if you can afford the ammo, it's worth it. Dead-on accuracy, very light recoil, and a bullet that's off to the races. I know several women who own them, one who tells me it's the only gun she shoots with a bent finger. Bent, as in crooked -- broken during a beating years ago. I've offered her trades, but she's stubbornly refused my best offer. The last time I borrowed her gun -- I want one -- I teased her that it wasn't comin' back. 

Most cops will tell you the minimum caliber for home defense is a 9mm or a .38 Special. A .45? Anyone shot by a .45 caliber bullet will go down. None of the smaller calibers provide that assurance. And over-penetration? Studies in ballistic jelly show a 9mm more likely to penetrate and keep going, because its got a smaller mass than a .45. Still, experts can argue about the issue all they want. Everybody knows the best home defense gun is a shotgun. But in a handgun, I'll take the .40 S&W or the .45. The Judge is too loud, and I might burn the bedding. No, the .40 S&W looks like a good trade-off to me, unless one's talking about revolvers, in which case, I'd go .45. I don't think revolvers shoot the .40 S&W bullet.

9mm Parabellum = 9mm Luger = 9mm NATO. They're the same thing.

A .380 round would appear between the two little guys on the right
And yes, handguns even come in .223 (5.56 NATO). An AR-15 with no butt stock. Haven't seen a holster. Don't need one. Just put a sling on the thing and throw it over your shoulder.

Never put your finger on the trigger before you're ready to shoot. It just isn't done. Somebody says boo, you'll shoot your foot.

For a Rightie, shots patterning to the left mean either too much wind or too much trigger-finger. Shots patterning right mean too much wind or too little finger. Shots all over the place, mean you flinched. Warning: Flinch times vary; some people never open their eyes. People may die; maybe the flincher.

Don't make up a grain number, for powder or bullet, unless it's a wildcat round you know is feasible or it's a commercial or military round. If you don't know what "wildcat round" means, Google it. Some things are easy.

Any forensics expert will tell you, if you fire a handgun, you'll leave powder residue on your body and your clothing. If you're gonna have your perp wear plastic gloves, make sure of two things: They cover exposed skin, and your finger fits in the trigger-guard. Playtex long-arm plastic gloves might not be feasible. And don't go through an airport screener the day after you've been shooting. Those machine sensors are as sensitive to gun-gas as TSA junk-grabbers are to what Kim Kardashian's crammed in her cleavage.

And if you have questions, don't bother me. I'm in TSA training.



20 comments:

Mark W. Danielson said...

Great discussion, Ben. And more proof that size matters. Of course, if you really want to make sure the job gets done at close range, nothing beats buck shot out of a full choke shotgun.

Shane Cashion said...

Very interesting read, Ben.

Ben Small said...

Absolutely correct, Mark. But The Judge comes close.

Rie McGaha said...

I also hate it when I read gun mistakes in books. I am a reviewer and this comes up quite a lot, especially in historical's. I read one book where the female shot a man between the eyes, killing him from a distance of about 5 feet. She used a Derringer and still had 5 shots left! Oh boy, did I jump on that one!

I have a Taurus Judge, I love it. You did neglect to say that the Judge comes in two types, the regular Judge which chambers 3" .410 shot gun shells, and the one I have, which chambers the 2 1/2" shell...they are not interchangeable. The Judge also chambers the .45 Long Colt, not any other .45. Loaded the Taurus Ultra Light weighs about 3 lbs. This is important for me because I have RA and I can't hold a heavier gun, plus my fingers no longer have much grip power and I can't pull a slide on a semi-auto anymore. And I'm old and prefer the revolver. I also have a .357 Magnum, which is very large and heavy, so I don't use it much anymore. I have a 12 gauge pump shotgun, which I love. There is nothing like the sound of jacking a round into it, something anyone who has ever heard it never forgets.

My husband is a gun expert and we have numerous other guns and pistols in the house. Everyone in our family has been taught to shoot, and our year old grdau will get her first .22 next year.

Guns are like condoms, I'd rather have one and not need it than need it and not have one.

Ben Small said...

Rie, thank you so much for visiting. Your comments are dead-on. I gave my 2 1'2 chambered version to my brother in law and got its big brother when it came out. Now there's even a smaller-slide version. I, too, have RA, but the soft grip of my Judge softens the blow so well, I have no problem firing it. Wouldn't make a day of it, however. :)

BTW, movies make some of the worst mistakes. Get to know these things, and you notice when somebody changes guns suddenly or waves one around, finger on the trigger.

Also honks me off when the victim's blown backwards. Another myth.

Grrrr. :)

Rie McGaha said...

Ha Ha! Me too! Have you seen the Circuit Judge? It's awesome and my next Judge....it's a revolving rifle and chambers the 410 and .45 long.

Ben Small said...

Yup. Thought about getting one but I've got three lever action rifles now -- a .44 Mag and two .30-30s, and on a hike in Southern Arizona these days, I'd rather take one of them. Mountain lions and smugglers.

Helen Ginger said...

Very helpful, Ben. I've been trying to research hand guns. It's all so confusing, even what you've written, since I've never fired a gun. But this does seem to narrow it down for me. I'm going to save this to re-read and see if I can narrow down the choices for my protagonist to carry. She's going to carry it in her purse and if she uses it, it'll be at close range.

Ben Small said...

Thank you, Helen. She could go with the hammerless S&W .38 Special revolver, the Ruger SR9 or the Glock 26 or 27. The Glocks are the same pistol, differing only in caliber. The 26 is 9mm; the 27, .40 S&W. That's the Baby Glock model. The Glock 19 is what most cops carry. If she's got a little more moola, I'd recommend the Sig P239 in either 9mm or .40 S&W. Or she might like the S&W Military and Police (MAP) line. Glock, Sig Sauer and S&W all have websites where they describe their models. Pick one you'd like. The grip is the big deal, grip and recoil. That's why I like Sigs. They manage both well. If she's more careless about cleaning a gun, maybe doesn't like the smell or feel of gun oil, she'd probably opt for the Glock.

Ben Small said...

Helen,

If she's not shy about recoil, she may want to consider the Classic Sig line, particularly the P229 in .40 S&W. The P228 is the same gun, a nice concealed carry weapon, both of them, that used to be the FBI issue weapon. It's no longer manufactured, but you can get good deals on used P228s on the internet market, places like Gunbroker.com or Sigforum.com, or the Classified Ads on the fora on the manufacturer. Most of these fora have Buy/Sell classifieds, and they police them for scams. I've gotten great deals on both Gunbroker and Sigforum.

Sheila Deeth said...

Okay. Totally fascinating.

Ben Small said...

I've added a few paragraphs and a pic of the FN Five-Seven, a sweet-shooting weapon firing a tiny bullet very, very fast. I love this pistol, and I want one. Your character may, too.

Jaden Terrell said...

I love your gun posts, Ben. I always learn so much.

Helen, for a woman with small hands, there's a lovely little Smith & Wesson revolver--I can't remember the model right now, but it feels really comfortable, and the one I tried had a laser in the grip, so you could squeeze the grip and a little red dot would appear where your bullet was going to go. Sweet.

Ben, I don't suppose you know the model of that revolver?

Ben Small said...

Not really, Jaden. S&W makes a number of them. What you're describing is probably Crimson Trace or another supplier of a grip laser, possibly LaserGrip or another. Nobody should buy a gun without ensuring it fits well. You can always add a laser, night sights, or in the case of a semi-auto with rails, a flashlight. Besides, unless you're transferring with another in-state resident -- if as a seller, to one not known to be a prohibited possessor -- you'll have to go the gun store to get the gun, anyway. That's where you fill in the federal licensing form and have the FFL call Big Brudder Bubba (the BATFE) for clearance. [Note: State law may add more requirements]

It's not that I'm dodging your question. Rather, you can slap a laser on damn near anything, and Smith & Wesson makes so damn many models. It's really a question of an personal choice in fit and function -- like most things.

Jaden Terrell said...

I wrote the model number down, but of course now I've lost whatever it was I wrote it down on.

I practiced at the firing range with a small Taurus semi-automatic, since my detective uses a semi-automatic. He uses a Glock 9mm because, as Ben said, it's such a darn reliable firearm, but that gun was too big for my hands.

But Helen, I would go to a gun store and try holding a few to see what feels right to you and talk to the person working there. He or she will probably be glad to give you some insights into what gun would be a good fit for your character.

Ben Small said...

I looked through page after page of S&W models, and didn't see they offered a laser-gripped model; which doesn't surprise me, because that's usually fitted and sold by the dealer. Plus, with grip lasers, it's important to ensure your grip tension will trigger the laser, so you'll want to ensure it works with the pressure you exert.

Rie McGaha said...

Helen, you might try a S& W snub nose .38 hammerless revolver. I suggest this one because I have RA, which makes holding weapons difficult for me as most are too heavy and I can't pull the slide on semi-auto's. But this one is light weight and when you hold it the laser site is automatically activated. I think this is called a crimson trace (Ben?). It's a very compact, powerful, neat little pistol. AND the grips come in pink, which I just love!

Ben Small said...

Rie, it could be either Crimson Trace of Lasergrips. Both come in so many models, it's hard to say without seeing it. I suspect the one you have, Rie, is the Charter Arms Pink Lady. Sweet looking pistol. I just worry that some kid will think it's a toy. I know, that's what a safe is for, but as we all know, we get careless and kids are adventuresome.

Rie McGaha said...

Thanks, Ben. Yeah, I suppose in some homes kids could get a hold of a gun, but statistics show that kids who do get a gun is in homes who don't have experience with them and have rarely fired one. Here in OK, our kids get guns at birth...Okay, around age two, they get the single shot .22 Cricket. After raising 12 kids this way without a single accident, and 33 grandkids w/o an accident, I think we're okay. Not saying an accident couldn't happen, they can always happen even to the most experienced of us. We live in a very rural area where we can shoot our guns off the back deck and often do, everyone in this county owns at least one weapon and kids are given a week off of school when deer rifle season begins. We have little to no crime such as murder, rape, home break ins or other violent crimes because if you try any of those, chances are you're gonna get shot. Our biggest crimes are pot growing, kids drinking, and the usual traffic stops.

My motto is if you don't know how to use a gun, learn before you buy one or better yet, don't own one at all.

Gun control means hitting what you aim at!

Ben Small said...

I like you maxims. :)