Saturday, June 26, 2010

great gun names

i thought i'd make a post about great gun names.

Colt: Challenger, Anaconda, Python, Peacemaker, and King Cobra.
Star: Firestar, Megastar, and Starfire.
Mossberg: Persuader
Browning: Hi-Power
Smith & Wesson: Combat Magnum. Let me say that the folks at S&W managed to put together the best name in the history of firearms. Two of the greatest words in the english language put together to name one superb handgun.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Ruger 10/22

The Ruger 10/22 rifle, chambered in 22LR is quite possibly the best rimfire rifle design in the history of the cartridge. That's a big statement to make, but look at the competition. The only similarly priced semiauto 22 that even comes close is the Marlin/Glenfield Model 60. The Marlin 60 claims to be the best selling 22 rifle in history and any pawn shop that carries guns will prove that. Marlin 60s are everywhere. Its hard to find a pawn shop that doesn't have a marlin 60 (or five).

Over the past few years, i've owned five Marlin/Glenfield rifles (models 60 and 75) and gotten rid of all of them. I sold four of them and gave one problem child to a friend of mine who was quite taken with the squirrel design on the stock. That gun was a $45 gamble to start with. The guy i gave it to still hasn't gotten it functioning other than just as a single shot rifle. Two of the guns i had worked great while the other three never worked well, if at all. I'm no gunsmith, but i have some experience fixing my guns when they break. These guns stumped me. I just couldn't figure out how to fix them.

Ruger 10/22s have been a different story for me. I have a lot of experience with 10/22s, shooting several thousand rounds through them over the years. What a great little rifle. I consider the Ruger design to be superior to the Marlin design because of how easy the Ruger is to work on. The trigger group comes out as a sub assembly. There really isn't much to go wrong because the magazine does the feeding. On the Marlin there's a feed throat, tube magazine spring, and a healthy dose of magic responsible for making the gun feed. The number of parts, pins, and C clips is quite intimidating. Imagine how much cheaper the gun could be produced if it were made more simply! Fewer parts almost always means cheaper. Also, having fewer parts means that there are fewer things to break. the KISS example works well here: Keep It Simple Stupid.

A big selling point for the 10/22 is the amount of aftermarket parts available to customize the little rifle into whatever you want. If you want a folding stock and a pistol grip, there are multiple comapnies that make those. If you want a wooden thumbhole stock or a dragunov style stock, those can be had too, also made by multiple companies. There is a vast array of trigger kits and entire replacement trigger groups, not to mention .17hm2 and 22 short conversions. The guns have sold so well and have such a loyal following because they work. Its a great design and well worth the cost, which is about sixty bucks more than your average Marlin model 60.

One interesting thigs that i've noticed is that i've only ever seen a few used 10/22s in my entire life. I go to probably 6 or more gunshows a year as well as plenty of gun shops. I just don't see used 10/22s. Its not that the guns aren't popular, because the aftermarket is booming with parts for these guns. I think they're just so good that people don't want to part with them. Either that or they get snatched up in a hurry whenever they hit the "used" section at your local gun shop.

The 10/22 isn't perfect though, it has its weaknesses. Putting the bolt back into the reciever can be a pain if you're not used to the operation. The bolt handle is small, almost comically so. Its a perfect size for the pinkee finger. A common swap is to use the charging handle from the 22 magnum version that Ruger offers/offered, but I wonder why they didn't just have one part to begin with. It would've been cheaper and easier for Ruger to make one charging handle and keep track of one part number at the factory. The magazine release requires the user to claw the 10 round rotary magazines out of the gun. This has been remedied with recent models that have an extended magazine release that's got a lever on the end. Aftermarket companies have been making extended magazine releases for years and Ruger has finally wised up and started installing them from the factory. The other somewhat odd problem with the 10/22 is the bolt hold open feature. It does not lock open after the last shot, but the bolt can be manually locked open. One would think that after the bolt is locked back, you could just pull the bolt handle back a little more and "slingshot" it into battery. Not so. In order to do that, you need an auto bolt release, sold for about fifteen dollars. Either that or you can take your chances modifying your factory bolt release.

Also worthy of mention is that the barrel has to be removed from the reciever to clean from the chamber end. I didn't like this fact at all, because every time i removed the barrel and put it back on the gun, i'd have to re-sight in my scope. VERY annoying. I wound up having my gunsmith chuck the barreled action in a lathe and spinning a hole in the rearward face of the reciever to act as a hole for my cleaning rod. This was in the days before the boresnake. I actually had him do two 10/22s for me at the time because i was sick and tired of wasting time and ammo trying to setup scopes that were perfectly set before barrel removal. Sure, i could've cleaned from the muzzle end, but I didn't want to adversely affect the condition of the crown. I'll clean a gun by its muzzle end if that's the only way it can be done (such as with the Marlin 60 with its splined and pinned barrel) but i don't like doing it. In the case of the 10/22, it was the right way to do it in order to protect the crown, even if it was a bitch to reset the scope after each and every barrel cleaning.

The 10/22 has its own special little quirks, but I think its the best we've got. Its the best semiauto 22 i've seen to date and its very attractively priced, selling for $209 brand new with a wood stock at Dick's Sporting Goods. Its a good sixty bucks more than a Marlin 60 sells for at Gander Mountain, but i consider the 10/22 a much better buy.

Kahr Firearms

Kahr Firearms was started in 1995 by Justin Kim. Why is that significant? Because he's the son of Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church or "Moonies". Kahr Firearms (as well as Auto Ordinance, Thompson, and Magnum Research) is owned by Saeilo, a subsidiary of the Unification Church.

Kahr makes an outstanding product. Parts fittment, as well as finish, overall build quality, and reliability are nothing short of amazing. These guns have the precision feel of a Sig, but they're made here in the states.

The Unification Church also owns the Washington Times, which is a joke compared to the other district newspaper, The Washington Post. There has been widespread rumors of the Church being a cult, a cash-hungry business more than a religion, and lavish use of Church funds on personal posessions and residences for its operators.

They're great guns, but I won't buy one now knowing that they're connected with the business machine that is the Unification Church. Its just a personal prefrence.

380: The Perfect Storm

.380 Automatic (also known as 9mm Kurz and 9x17mm) has been a somewhat oddball handgun caliber until just a few years ago. There were a few guns sold in 380, such as the Kel Tec P3AT and a couple of offerings from beretta and Taurus, but the popularity of the .380 has gone way up in the last few years. Why? Right to carry.

Many states have adopted legislation allowing people to get concealed permits. With this, there's been a huge thirst in the market for small, concealable pocket-sized guns. Since there is a general consensus among firearms enthusiasts that .380 is the bare minimum (debatable) for defensive shooting situations, the demand for small guns in this caliber has skyrocketed.

In just the past few years, guns such as the Ruger LCP, I.O. Hellcat, Magnum Research Micro Eagle, Diamondback DB, Taurus TCP, and Sig 238 have come on the market, all chambered in .380. Because of this, the once somewhat obscure cartridge has had a surge in demand, which has caused ammo prices for this particular caliber to go through the roof.

The .380 is the perfect storm. Why? because of its ballistic profile. Using ball ammunition, the round penetrates extremely well in a defensive situation (such as being fired from a relatively short barrel and impacting a target covered in a few layers of clothing). The problem is that it penetrates too well. On the other hand, when hollowpoints are implemented, their expansion is iffy at best. Which would you like when carrying your favorite 380? overpenetration (which endangers those other than your intended target) or questionable penetration? take your pick.

Small Caliber Hollowpoints

people who have specific loads for protection (whether it be home defense or concealed carry) often times carry hollowpoint ammunition. This isn't necessary in all cases. I've found that shooting a lot of 22LR and 25ACP ammo, regular ball ammo does the job well. These slow and relatively lightweight projectiles don't always expand properly. There are a few conditions to take into consideration. the guns people often times carry for self defense are small, short barreled handguns. The velocity to make a 22 or 25 caliber hollowpoint bullet expand like it should just isn't there most of the time they're fired out of short barrels.
Penetration seems to be a problem with these rounds in general, so i wouldn't want to jeopardize that any further by using a hollowpoint round, which in theory should slow down, expand, and not penetrate. Clothing is another thing to keep in mind. When you're shooting a 36-50 grain projectiles that often times aren't breaking 900 feet per second, you need every bit of penetration you can get. A bad guy wearing a heavy jacket or multiple layers of tough cloth can slow down a bullet considerably which drastically effects the penetration of the projectile. Also, if hollowpoints are used on someone wearing thick clothing, the point itself may become clogged and slow down considerably, not inflicting a desireable wound channel on the assailant.

If you have to shoot someone with a 22 or 25, make damn sure it'll do some dammage by using regular round nose or ball ammo. I'm not worried at all about overpenetration, not in the least. These bullets are likeley to ricochet off of bone such as ribs, not break it or go through it like larger defensive calibers tend to do.

When carrying larger calibers such as 380 and 9mm, I always carry hollowpoints to minimize the chance of going through an assailant and harming innocent people or causing unnecessary dammage to other people's property. This threat of overpenetration just isn't a factor with 22s and 25s.

Shipping Guns Through The Mail

If your firearm breaks, you'll need to send it in for service because its just not cost efficient to hand deliver a gun to a repair facility. Here in the United States, a regular old gun owner can legally send their firearm to an FFL (Federal Firearms License holder) or an authorized repair facility by themselves, without going through a transfer agent. There are some guidelines though:

Handguns must be shipped overnight, no matter where they're going. I once had to send a gun to Nevada for warranty work and it cost me 55 smackers to get it there overnight. Long guns can be sent 3rd day delivery. Both long guns and handguns must be shipped via UPS or Fedex. The US postal service does not allow the shipment of firearms. When shipping a gun, its very important that you check it before sending it away. Shipping a gun that's loaded or a gun that's got ammunition in the same box is forbidden and can get you in some very hot water.
Some gun companies (such as Smith & Wesson) will pay for the shipping both ways. After contacting the manufacturer about warranty service work, they'll give you an account number with either Fedex of UPS, which means they'll be picking up the tab for shipping costs both there and back.

Sending a handgun overnight can be very expensive! there's a way to save money though: by taking it to your local gun dealer (who has an FFL). FFLs are allowed to send guns to other FFLs or repair facilities utilizing slower shipping. 3 day shipping to Nevada costs far less than overnight shipping. Because of this, you can save a bunch of money. Be careful though, ask upfront what the gun dealer will be charging for this service of him sending the gun out for you.

Sending a gun through the mail to your pal in another state is not allowed. If you're sending a gun to a recipient in another state, it can't go directly to the recipient. All interstate transfers of firearms (no matter what kind of gun; handgun or long gun) must be completed using an FFL as a transfer agent. That's not a big deal though, since many FFLs will accept firearms from private individuals. In recent months, the topic of transferring guns to other residents of your state has been a hotly-debated topic on forums such as vaguntrader and glocktalk.

If you are in doubt of what is legal and what is not legal to ship through the mail, consult your local ATF office or police agency.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Hi-Point C9

The C9, made by Hi-Point Firearms (Mansfield, Ohio) is a 9mm single stack handgun. Its extremely well priced, selling for about $175 out the door at gun shows here in Northern Virginia.

A lot of people hate on Hi Point firearms because they're the gun of choice for gangbangers and have a quick "time to crime" rate. Its not the gun's fault or the manufacturers fault that these inexpensive handguns are sometimes used in crimes. Although they are large, clumsy, and difficult to take apart, they work extremely well. Too well considering what the gun costs. It is what it is, an inexpensive and ugly firearm. The difference between this inexpensive firearm and those offered by other companies (such as Cobra Enterprises and Jimenez Arms) is that this one works well right out of the box! the best part is that it isn't prone to frame dammage like the Jimenez Arms JA Nine is. The C9's frame is made with plastic, much like other polymer framed pistols such as Glocks, Springfield XDs, and various offerings from Ruger. There are several people on various gun-related forums who claim to have over ten thousand rounds through their Hi Point handgun, some without a detailed cleaning.

In my opinion, any gun that can withstand 10,000 rounds without blowing up and costs under $200 is a gun i'm willing to buy, so I went in search of a used one. I purchased one from a local forum user for $130, which included 4 magazines and a holster. The seller didn't have the original box, but the gun did come with the included ghost ring sights installed on the gun. I threw in a couple of boxes of ammunition to sweeten the deal and I think I did well. The simple blowback operation of the 9mm handgun is surprisingly soft to shoot. That is likeley due to the heavy cast aluminum slide implemented in the design.

I was disappointed by some aspects of the gun. First, and most glaringly apparent when first handling the gun was the fact that it is extremely top heavy. The grip angle is fine, but its hard to get over how top heavy this gun is, even with a full magazine. That leads me to the second disappointing aspect of the firearm: the fact that the gun is a full sized 9mm handgun and only holds eight rounds. That's right folks, it takes a single stack magazine. That big and heavy gun only holds 8 rounds. Other, more expensive ($300-325) offerings by Taurus, Ruger, and S&W hold 15 rounds or more. The last thing that really disappointed me about this pistol was its takedown. To take the slide off of this gun requires the user to lock the slide back, then drive out a pin that goes through the frame. This requires multiple hands because at least on mine, locking the slide back doesn't put the slide back far enough. On mine, the slide has to be held farther back than the slide lock keeps it, then the pin is exposed enough to be driven out of the frame. The metal pin in the plastic frame makes me a bit nervous too. It seems like that hole could get wallowed out after taking the gun apart repeatedly. Hi Point does not reccomend taking the slide off of the gun. They simply reccomend spraying the ejection port and cleaning the barrel. I don't like to clean from the muzzle of the gun (which can adversely affect the crown) so I took my gun apart twice for cleaning.

I've never dealt with Hi Point's customer service, but i've only heard great things. This gun has a lifetime warranty. That's not bound to the original owner either, so if you happen to find one used, you can still send it in for warranty work if it ever needs anything. The customer has to pay to send the gun to their repair facility, but they pay for shipping on the way back and always include an extra magazine to offset the cost of having to ship the firearm.

In closing: the Hi-Point C9 is big, clumsy, ugly, topheavy, and goes bang every single time. It looks cheap, feels cheap, and is cheap, but it works extremely well. If you can get past the terrible looks and top heavy handling of this pistol, go out and buy one. I reccomend this model of gun for anyone looking to get into handgun shooting or home defense. Its not the best choice for concealed carry because of its size and weight, but its a great gun to have in the trunk of your car or bedroom night stand.