Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kel Tec P32 Range Report

I went to the NRA range tonight, the day before Thanksgiving. After waiting for about half an hour for a lane, I got a chance to shoot. When i put my stuff down on the table, i saw the guy next to me had the new Kel Tec PMR30. While he was packing up his stuff, I asked him how he liked the new gun. He said it was great, then asked me if I'd ever shot one. I said no, then he handed me a full magazine. What a champ.

I shot the PMR30 and it was pretty awesome. It barely had any recoil. the magazine release is strange though, instead of being a conventional heel release, the heel has a button that must be pressed towards the magazine as opposed to the normal heel catch magazine release that requires the user to move the release away from the magazine.

Now, onto the P32. I shot my new gun with three brands of ammo. I first tried Prvi hollow points. The gun shot fine. After a magazine of hollow points, i decided to switch to Prvi FMJs. The FMJs did not work well. I went through a couple of magazines full of the FMJs and the gun just wouldn't fully eject. The gun wasn't stovepiping, but the brass was not fully ejecting from the gun. I also noticed a fair amount of unburned powder on the magazine follower after shooting this ammo.

Next, i went to try Fiocci FMJ. This was the cheapest ammo out of the bunch. The gun shot great with this ammo. Zero failures whatsoever. I'll be buying a lot more at 10.95 a box.

I was pleasantly surprised that the hollowpoints worked. I got a box at $16 as more of an experiment than anything else. I don't know if I will carry the gun with FMJs or hollowpoints. I debate the ability of 32s to expand in real world situations. I think an FMJ load would penetrate better. I'm honestly not worried about over-penetration with this caliber.

As far as the actual handling and shooting of the gun, I like it. The gun feels cheap. its very plasticky. If the magazine is not in the gun, I can squeeze the plastic grip panels together. The gun just feels very lightweight and fragile, a feeling I've never gotten from a Jennings/Bryco/Jimenez JA22. I guess I'm just oldschool when it comes to my love of guns that are made from metal and wood.

The trigger on the P32 is vastly different from any other small guns I've shot before. The P32 is double action.... kind of. After the slide is racked, the shooter can pull the trigger. The travel of the trigger is rather long, but it works in a good-feeling sweeping motion. I wouldn't consider it a true double action because when I think double action, I think of being able to pull a trigger, then pull it again. The P32 isn't like that. After the slide is racked, the trigger can be pulled resulting in the hammer going back then releasing it all in one fluid motion, but if you pull the trigger again for a follow up shot, the trigger does not work the hammer. I'm just very used to having a short single action trigger on small guns. This is similar in size to a Jennings or Raven, but the gun is vastly different. This is the smallest gun I've ever shot that doesn't have a fixed barrel. The floating barrel is cool, like a bigger gun would have, but it seems like an expensive way of building guns. George Jennings pioneered the small fixed barrel design in the late 1960s with the Raven pistol. Those Ravens could be made cheaply and cranked out by the zillion. I wish this Kel Tec had a fixed barrel because it probably wouldn't have cost so much.

Overall, I'm pleased with my $60 purchase. I will be carrying it often.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From The Other Side of The Table

Over the weekend, I worked at The Nation's Gun Show in Chantilly, Virginia. I have only ever missed one show at that location, their very fist. I would have been there if I hadn't been in California at the time. After seeing the same vendors a few times a year for several years, I got to know some of the regulars who always worked the Chantilly show.
While buying my very first handgun, I wound up leaving my driver's license at the show. That day, I had only paid for one day's admission to the show, so i had to go back the next day and get it back. The woman who had forgotten to give it back apologized up and down, but I didn't really mind. This minor inconvenience just gave me an excuse to go back to the show.

Since that event, I always recognized the woman who'd forgotten to give me back my license. I regularly teased her about it. At a later show, I met her husband. Over the years I purchased a few inexpensive guns from him, including my first Jimenez pistol. Each show i would ask the couple how business was going, what was new, and other small talk. I also saw them at gun shows in other parts of the state.

A couple of mouths ago, I was asked if I could help them sell guns and accessories at an upcming Chantilly show. We did not discuss payment, but I knew these people would treat me well. After dealing with them for several years as a customer, i was quite confident these folks wouldn't screw me. In the gun show circuit, if you screw over somebody, others at the show will definately be hearing about it. Having a good reputation gets a vendor far in this business, often getting referrals from other dealers across the show.

Let me give you a little background information about the Chantilly show. Until a few years ago, there was a waiting limit to buy a handgun in some parts of Virginia. Each county, town, or city could decide whether or not they wanted a wait period on the sale of a handgun. Fairfax County (with over a million residents) decided that handgun buyers shouldn't be able to get their handguns in one single visit to a gun shop. Because of this waiting period, many people interested in buying guns would drive an hour or so to a nearby county that did not have a waiting period. Because of the waiting period in Fairfax County, no one wanted to hold a gun show in the area.

There was change in the legislation of Virginia in 2004 or 2005 that said municipalities and counties could no longer preempt state firearm laws. All wait limits on the purchase of handguns were eliminated, as well as a few other gun rights issues such as the bans on open carry that some areas (such as Alexandria) had on their books for decades.

Shortly after the waiting period was eliminated, the first gun show in almost half a century was held in Fairfax County. The capital expo center (also known as The Dulles Expo Center) was once a Sam's club and a Builder's Square. Both of these big box businesses failed and the land sat dormant for a few years. The two vacant buildings were then turned into show halls sharing a parking lto area. At times, The Nation's Gun Show occupied one building while a vintage militaria and surplus show occupied the other structure. These two-fer gun shows offered visitors over 1,500 tables of guns, ammo, accessories, jewelry, leather, and jerky.

The regular Nation's gun show offers 1,000 vendor tables and occurs about four times a year. Wealthy people from Northern Virginia are known to go into these gun shows with money burning a hole in their pockets. I have observed that the Chantilly show has higher prices than shows in Fredericksburg or Doswell, likely due to the fact that the clientele of a Chantilly show will likely pay the higher prices. People in northern Virginia (the wealthy part of the state) can afford to pay more than people living in other areas of the state and vendors definitely capitalize on that fact.

I worked THe Nation's Gun Show on November 19, 20, and 21 of 2010. The Chantilly shows are always open on Friday afternoon at 3pm while also offering the more conventional gun show times of 9-5 on Saturday and 10-5 on Sunday. I worked all three days, totaling 21 and 3/4 hours of labor. During the course of the show, I sold a few handguns, a shotgun, and countless accessories such as cleaning products and holsters. Many of the business transactions done at gun shows are cash, so by the end of each day working at the show, I had a decent wad of cash in my pocket. This money was my boss's money, not mine, so I had to make sure I kept my money in a different pocket.

On the second day of my 3 days working at the show, my boss and I discussed my compensation for working. The couple I was working for had already given me a Jimenez Arms JA32 as advance payment for the gun show, but he said that he would pay me more. I was doing a great job, required no training, and saved him some money versus him bringing someone with him from his part of the state. When he has brought people from his area, he had to pay for a hotel room and to feed them. Because of the expense of room and board, the workers were only paid $50 per day. Since I was local and didn't require a hotel room, I was told I would get $75 a day or an equivalent trade in guns.

Later that day, I told a fellow vendor that his price on a used Kel-Tec P32 was way too high. The gun had significant slide wear and did not come with a box or any paperwork, but the vendor still wanted $275 for it. Elsewhere at the show, brand new P32s were selling for about $240. After telling the vendor's assistant that his price was high, the vendor lowered the price to $175. I believe the gun was just mismarked. When I showed interest in the gun at it's new lower price, the vendor's assistant said that he could work on the price a little bit because friends help other friends. Although the gun seemed appealing, I also wanted to make some money at the show to spend on Christmas presents.

The following day, I discussed the small 32 with my boss. He said that since my Jimenez JA32 had a value of about $125 and he was planning on paying me $75 per day, he would still owe me $100. He said that if i wanted to (no pressure of course), I could put in $60 of my own money and get the gun. At $160, the gun seemed like a good deal considering I'd only be paying $60 for it. Because of the minimal investment, I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on the deal. Yes, that pun was intended.

I wrote about my negative experiences with Kel-Tec products elsewhere in this blog, but I thought that I might as well give the P32 a try. The gun looked well-used, so I assume it was carried a lot. If someone trusted it enough to carry extensively, I bet the gun functioned well. In hindsight, the gun could have broken and been sold off, but for a mere $60 out of pocket, I was willing to take my chances.

Over the course of that weekend, I learned a lot. I learned that the gun business isn't an easy way to make money. Some of the people that patrons see selling guns at gun shows are doing the show circuit for extra money to supplement their gun shop or pawn shop elsewhere in the state. Others do the show circuit as a way to survive, traveling around the state weekend after weekend for much of the year. I would not like to work over twenty hours over a period of 3 days, then have to drive home a good 4 hours. I have a lot more respect for these gun show sellers than I ever have before.

Many gun show patrons attend shows because they are a fun experience. I have always enjoyed standing in line during the fall or winter months. I would usually get there an hour before the opening of the show, freezing my ass off, waiting with excitement to see the newest models on the market or to see where prices had gone on my favorite calibers and brands of ammo. This stuff interests me. It isn't just a hobby for me, it is a passion.

For the people standing on the other side of the table, gun shows are not fun. They area a way for many hard working and honest people to put food on the table. Being on the seller's side of the table, I really got to see the whole gun show experience in a vastly different light. I used to try and haggle with certain sellers for a better price, whether it was to get them to throw in the tax or get something like a holster thrown in on the deal. After seeing what these people go through every weekend and how low their prices have to be in order to stay competitive, I will never again try to dicker with these people about a few bucks. Their prices are already good to begin with, far cheaper than any of the local brick and mortar gun shops. Yes, $5 off of a gun is $5 saved, but everyone has a right to make a living. I sincerely believe that the majority of the sellers at these shows are there out of necessity, not to just make a little extra money for their business.

I don't know if I'll ever work another show again. I haven't been on my feet working on a concrete floor for many years. Back when i worked retail (and weighed a good 50 pounds less), i could handle being on my feet for 8 hours at a time without hurting too badly. Working desk jobs for the past several years didn't exactly prep me for the gun show circuit. Working the biggest gun show in the state was definitely a great learning experience, but I would like to spend my weekends doing other things. I told my bosses that I would work for them at future Chantilly shows if they really needed me, but I have no intentions of making my employment with them a regular occurrence. Overall, I'm glad I experienced at least one gun show from the other side of the table.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

German Sport Guns GSG-5 Rifle

I purchased a GSG-5 Rifle when they were really hot. The gun cost me a pretty penny, $469 to be exact. I thought to myself that this gun better be damn good considering the price. I thought that for that kind of money I would be getting a quality product. I was mistaken.

I have a few problems with the GSG-5. The gun has a ton of parts. It is built more like an airsoft gun or a BB gun rather than a real firearm. The number of parts in this gun has got to be over a hundred. Many die cast parts are held together with nuts and bolts. It would have been slightly more expensive to have parts threaded to accomodate a fastneer, but they decided to use nuts and bolts instead. The design utilizes multiple recoil springs that ride on metal studs. These studs became worn down in a short amount of time on my gun. Also, the front sight fell out while shooting. The front sight blade is tiny and so is the screw that holds it in place. I was shooting at an outdoor range, standing in a gravel area while shooting. I never did find the missing parts.

I never would have purchased a GSG-5 if I'd done some research. If i had seen an exploded diagram of the firearm, i would have never purchased it. There are just too many parts, which means there are a lot of possible points of failure. Not only failure, but also a ton of fastenrs to get loose over time. The gun feels very plasticky and the buttstock is not only hollow, but also composed of a very thin plastic that does not fit well. The buttstock has way too much wobble to shoot the gun accurately at long distances. The stock fittment has gotten worse over time.

The gun looks amazing, but it feels cheap and isn't reliable. I will be sending this gun to Rochester New York for warranty repair sometime soon. It has been sitting in my collection, broken, for a couple of years now, so I think it is finally time to get it fixed. If the technicians at the repair center can't get the thing working reliably, I'm going to sell it.

There are a couple of morals to my story: Don't buy something right hwne it comes out. You are likeley to have a problem that didn't get ironed out in pre-roduction. Don't anticipate quality just because of the product's price. Also, don't buy a gun until you've seen an exploded parts diagram.

Kel-Tec: Why I Warn People To Not Buy Them

A lot of people own guns made by Kel-Tec. I bought a Kel-Tec PLR-22 right hwen they came out. I assume I got one of the first ones off the factory floor considering I got it about 2 weeks afte rhte product was released. The serial number was extremely low as well, which leads me to believe it may be part of the first batch.

The PLR-22 really appealed to me. I saw a scary looking 22LR and had to have it. The gun was a huge disappointment. I paid about $315 for it at a local gun show. The dealer i bought it from had only one and i was lucky enough to get it. I wanted to be the first kid on the block with this gun. I wanted people at the range to ask me what it was. I love having the newst thing which everyone is taking a look at while I'm shooting. There is a price to be paid for being the first kid on the block with the newest gun...

I should know better than to buy something right when it comes out. It is a better idea to buy something when it has been on the market for a little while because you want a good, reliable product that works. It sucks when a company uses its first consumers of a particular product as a guinea pig. That makes for unhappy customers and a tarnished reputation. Comapnies just don't spend enough on quality control or research and development.

I really think Kel-Tec dropped the ball on the PLR-22. The design isn't great. When the gun jams, brass commonly goes above the bolt and gets lodged behind the bolt. With a piece of brass behind the bolt, the bolt can't go back far enough to function correctly. Having to take the gun apart multiple times on the firing line to get rid of stray brass was nothing short of embarassing. Also, the chamber is extremely tight. Rounds do not fully go into the chamber. Because of that, the gun routinely fires out of battery, causing shards of brass to fly out of the ejection port.

It is a bad design to make a gun that will fire when the bolt is half open. The firing pin is inside the bolt, but there isa hammer behind the bolt which is part of the trigger assembly. The hammer can be released when the bolt is most of the way open actually. Not safe and definately not cool.

I contacted Kel-Tec to return the gun for warranty service. I explained in my email exactly what problems the gun was having. If i wanted to ship it to them for service, I had to pay the freight to get it to them. Since I am not an FFL holder, I would have to send it overnight to the warranty department in Florida. This would cost me over $50. Wow, $50 spent on a gun that should have worked in the first place is pretty frustrating. My $315 gun all the sudden was going to cost me $365.

THat isn't the only horror story of Kel-Tec. A good friend of mine got a PF9 right when it came out. THe gun was pretty sweet on paper. A relatively high capacity 9mm pocket pistol that's super slim and relatively small in size. It sounded pretty sweet, but it wasn't. The gun's magazine release was made of plastic. Because of that, the magazine would start to release itself while firing after a period of 200 or 250 rounds. No gun should be failing like that at such a low round count. This problem made the gun unusable aside from being a single shot firearm. As a carry gun it was worthless because it would only fire one shot.

The story of the PF9 got better. After my friend shot the 250 rounds or so, he took it apart to clean it. There was a portion of the frame which had broken away. The representative from Kel-Tec told my good friend to not worry about the broken portion of the frame. On newer PF9s, this portion of the frame has been removed. The PF9s I've seen at local gun shows have that portion of the frame removed, but it was obviously done later in production, as an afterthought. The gun looked as though someone had hacked out the problem area with a dremel tool. The finish around this area was obviously hacked away by a small die grinder, after the metal had been finished.

Word on the street is that new PF9s are being sold with a metal magazine release. I guess it took a bunch of pissed off customers to get Kel-Tec to make that magazine release metal, what it should have been to begin with.

Because of the failures I saw between my personal PLR-22 and my friend's PF9, I can't reccomend a Kel-Tec to anyone who asks me about them, soeley because of my first-hand experience with Kel-Tec products.

New 9mm from SCCY

I love small, inexpensive pocket piostls. I have never owned a SKYY (or SCCY as they are now called), but i'm really loving the looks of their second offering, the CPX-2. I'm not going to lie, i buy a gun because it looks good. I won't own an ugly gun. If I'm going to spend my hard-earned money on a gun, I hope to own it for a long time. There are so many great looking guns out there, why own one of the ugly ones?

I still don't know if I can trust guns from SCCY. The offerings from SCCY is basically a knock off of the Kel-Tec P11. I don't trust Kel-Tec guns in general, so I am very hesitatnt to trust a knock off of Kel-Tec. It does look amazing though, and its hard to argue with it's good looks.

Scrap Brass

Many of us shoot at organized ranges. Whether the firing line is outdoor or indoor, there is usually brass laying around. I reccomend picking up every piece of brass you shoot and everything that you find on the firing line.

I pick up all the brass that I see, even if I don't reload that caliber or even have a gun in that caliber. A lot of brass I see on the firing line is berdan primed, stuff that can't be easily reloaded. The brass is still worth something in scrap value. 7.5 Swiss as well as 7.62x54R brass is rather heavy, so a relatively small number of shell casings can add up to a few pounds worth of brass.

The scrap yard I go to offers a dollar and thirty cents per pound of brass. Even if you save 22s, it can add up after a while. It costs nothing to keep it, aside from a small amount of space. Call me a cheapskate, but I've got a solid $20 worth of brass waiting for the scrap yard that didn't cost me a dime.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Jimenez Arms JA32 range report

I took my new JA32 to the NRA headquarters range last friday night to try it out. while shooting at a distance of twenty feet, I noticed that my groupings weren't as good as they are when i shoot my Jimenez 22. after firing 30 or so rounds, I brought the targets in to see how I'd shot. The gun functioned great, but it was keyholing.

For those of you who might not know, keyholing is when a bullet goes out of the barrel of a gun and impacts the target sideways. Instead of making a nice round hole in the target, it makes a rectangular shape, sort of like a key hole.

This brand new gun needs to go back. You'd think I would've learned my lesson on buying brand new models right when they come out, but you'd be wrong. This gun needs to go back to Nevada. The problem is that Jimenez Arms won't pay for shipping to get it out there, so I have to find an FFL that will ship it out for me or I can send it myself using UPS for a sum of about fifty bucks.

Some of you may say that $50 isn't a lot of money. For me it is, especially considering the gun's retail value brand new is only about $150. It sucks that I have to send in a brand new gun, but hopefully they'll fix it. The strange part is that the barrel looks fine. It has decent rifling and the crown isn't screwed up.

Monday, October 25, 2010

ammo from the auction

I went to an auction about 70 miles from here on saturday morning. The auctioneer was combining two estates and auctioning off all their stuff. There were 3 boats, 3 trailers, about 10 guns, and lots of tools and junk. I bid on a few guns but didn't get any. After the guns, they auctioned a partial case of ammo. 12 gauge 2 and 3/4 inch #9 shot made by federal in paper hulls. I guess others at the auction were scared off by the fact that the shells were paper, but I knew they weren't that old just by looking at one of the boxes in the case. I opened the flap and saw the date code of 1997. Federal still makes shotgun shells with paper but they're expensive. I was the only bidder and got the partial case (7 boxes of 25rds) for $20. I got home and looked them up. that ammo is still made, but costs $9 per box or more. That's right folks, $63 worth of ammo for $20. I win.

I justified the purchase by equating these shells to what I can buy at WalMart. There I can get 4 boxes (100rds) of Federal or Winchester birdshot for about $22. I think $20 for 7 boxes beats $22 for 4 boxes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Jimenez JA-32

I recently picked up a Jimenez Arms JA-32 at a local gun show. For those of you who hate on "saturday night special" type of inexpensive firearms, read no further. For the rest of you, here is a little post about the gun.

For a little background information: Jennings firearms was started in 1978 in California by Bruce Jennings. The guns Bruce Jennings produced were similar in design and function to the Ravens made by George Jennings. The Jennings name was changed to Bryco arms sometime in the 1980s and went bankrupt in 2003. Bryco went bankrupt because of a lawsuit where a child was paralized due to an accidental discharge. Why blame the parents who had a loaded gun in the house when you could blame the gun company? Paul Jimenez, the shop foreman of Bryco, purchased the company for $510,000, beating an anti-gun group's bid of $505,000. The anti-gun group's mission was to melt down all the remaining stock and close the company. All the guns Jimenez produces are old models of Jennings/bryco origin, just renamed.
The rare Bryco was a 32acp that shared the same frame as the 380. These were made in the 80s, but are hard to find today. jimenez introduced Bryco's rare 32acp in 2009, naming it the JA32. After seeing multiple failures of the 380 version, I thought I'd try a 32 instead. The 32acp cartridge does not deliver as much punishing recoil as the 380, so in theory the gun should last longer. I've fired a Bryco 380 and i was surprised at how much recoil it had. That's probably why the cast aluminum alloy frames and slides sometimes break. If this does eventually happen with the JA32, I'll be surprised. Lifetime warranty anyway, so I'm really not worried about breaking this thing.

I got the gun for free, in trade for some work. When found, they're usually about $150. That includes two magazines and a trigger lock. Looks enticing, eh? well the problem that these guns have is the materials. Some gun snobs will dismiss anything made of cast aluminum as junk. Whether its a Davis, Lorcin, Bryco, or Raven, they're all junk in some people's eyes. This gun isn't junk to me. Sure it doesn't have great fit and finish, but the thing works. I know a guy that put over 14,000 rounds through his Jimenez JA22 before the slide began to show signs of cracking. Each and every time he took it shooting he kept track of how many rounds he shout, which type, and the number of misfeeds or misfires. Another guy i know has a Jennings that claims to have 10,000 rounds through it. Because of stories like those, I don't dismiss any inexpensive pocket pistol as junk.

OK, onto my JA32. The build quality is fair. I've seen worse from Cobra Enterprises of Utah. They're the ones that ressurected old Lorcin, Republic Arms, and Davis designs. Honestly, this gun feels like a step up from the Cobra FS or CA models. I perfer the design of the Jimenez anyway. The Jimenez is less top heavy, better looking, and better feeling in my opinion. This gun isn't perfect though, it has some casting flaws on the slide. The finish isn't great, but its OK. they missed a spot near the magazine release.

The firearm came with two 6 round magazines. The mags are single stack and are crimped together. That's right folks, you can't take them apart to clean them. That kind of pisses me off, but its good to know that new ones are only about $13 or $14 each. The metal baseplate on each mag doubles as a finger rest which is a nice touch.

The magazine is released via a "european style" magazine release or "heel release". Its not the most tactical way to go, but I'm not tactical anyway. I bought this gun to have fun with, to shoot and enjoy. Whenever people bring up an inexpensive brand of firearm on any forum, users tend to jump all over the original poster saying they should save up for a better gun. You know what folks? i have better guns. I have real guns. I have thousand dollar guns. Its not an issue of me being a young shooter and misguided, its an issue of me wanting to try something different and have a little fun.

These guns don't always work 100% right out of the box. I don't come to expect much from a gun that costs the end consumer $150 brand new, retail priced. On this gun I havn't had to do anything to it, but on other Jimenez products I've had to smooth out certain areas to make the slide glide freely against the frame. Also, magazine feed lips occasionally require slight tweaking to get the cartridge up to the right height.

The design of the gun is simple and effective. Honestly, I consider this one of the best firearm designs in history? Why might you ask? because it uses relatively few parts, its simple, cheap to make, cheap to buy, and easy to fix if needed. My favorite feature of the Jimenez has to be the ability to field strip it without any tools. I've seen 22s that require a mallet, paperclip, or allen wrench just to field strip. No thanks folks, I want something that's better engineered so I can take it apart on the firing line without needing to fumble with tools. Another interesting freature about this gun that sets it apart from some other cheap guns is the ability to replace the barrel if needed. It is pressed into the frame and held in place by two locating pins. Raven and Phoenix guns have barrels basically melted into the frame. That means once the barrel is worn out, the gun is done.

The box gave me a chuckle. Instead of getting new boxes made that say 32acp on them, they used old .380 boxes and put stickers over where it used to say .380. Its cheaper to get a few sheets of stickers made than it is to go get a bunch of boxes made.

So far I have shot S&B 7.65mm ammunition through this gun. Don't be worried folks, 7.65mm is the way Europeans identify .32acp. This ammo was cheap ($12 per 50rds) and came packaged in 25rd boxes. The primers as well as the projectiles are sealed with a red paint and the projectile appears to be cupronickel. Cupronickel was used extensively by the Turkish people as well as a few other countries because the material is not only a great gliding metal for gun barrels, it also won't corrode in a saltwater environment.
Overall, I am really pleased with my free gun. I won't reccomend that everyone go out and buy one though. This gun would be perfect for the gun collector who wants something a little different that isn't going to break the bank. The owner should be able and willing to tinker with the gun a little bit to smooth out the rough edges and get the thing to work well. Also, a firm grip is a must with these things.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

got some magazines

On Xaturday October 2nd, I was visiting my girlfriend in Fredericksburg. After an action-packed morning which involved hitting up the scrap yard to sell an old motor and a trip to sheetz for hot dogs, we hit stopped in my favorite pawn shop on the way home. After walking in, I quickly noticed that my favorite guy (the employee I always talk to) wasn't there. I did however see a plastic rubbermaid tub that had a bunch of magazines in it. the box was out ontop of one of the glass cases, so i assumed the stuff was for sale. I started rummaging through the box and no one stopped me.

In the box of magazines I found a lot of neat stuff. I don't know about you guys, but I really like rummaging through boxes of shit at gun shows and pawn shops. I just enjoy trying to identify magazines. In the box I saw at least 5 of the single stack AK mags from Romanian clinton-era WASR and SAR rifles. There were a bunch of used Glock mags as well as some old metal magazines. the ones I could identify were Tokarev, CZ52, Star 9 Largo, and some 1911 mags. Also, there were at least five 380 mags for bryco/jennings/jimenez 380 guns. I wish I had seen this box-o-mags when i was buying my friend a new magazine for his bryco 380. I also saw a couple of the Davis/Cobra 32 and 380 mags as well as some 22LR magazines for rifles. I picked out a few that struck my eye and went to ask what they'd cost me.

I put the 5 magazines down in a row on the counter infront of the employee. He asked the boss, who promptly came over. The boss looked at them for a second, paused, then said "40 for all, with tax it'll be 42." I had to think about it for a second. I'm not that quick when it comes to doing math problems. I was quickly trying to do the math in my head to figure out how much that'd be per magazine and then decided I'd take 'em. For those of you who don't want to do the math, that's 8.40 per magazine with tax included. I didn't get the change part of the equation, but I knew they were eight-ish bucks each.

I went to pay for them and my girlfriend said she'd get them for my birthday. Good stuff. Here's a breakdown of what I got: the one on the left is a very late Bryco arms J22 magazine or a Jimenez arms JA22 magazine. The next is an early to mid production Jennings/Bryco J22 magazine. You can tell because it has the large window. Both mags have black followers. Replacements are available through cheaperthandirt (sometimes, they've been sold out for a good 6 months) for like 7.99 each for aftermarket mags. Both of the ones I got are the real deal, not aftermarket. To get mags from jimenez they're either 12 or 13 each plus a flat shipping of $5 per order.

Next up are two Makarov magazines. These are either Russian or Bulgarian. Since they're not electropenceled with a gun's serial number and have a rather good finish, they're probably from a commerical production Russian Makarov, namely the Baikal IJ-70. I know for damn sure they're not German because the German ones have a bumpout where the bottom of the follower hits the floorplate when the mag is fully loaded. These have a notch in that place that goes all the way to the floorplate, no bump. They cost $18 each plus shipping from

Next on the list is a Browning 22 magazine. I bought it thinking it was for my Buckmark, but it didn't break down the same way as my other Buckmark mags do. The ones that came with my Buckmark have a slide off floorplate. This one has a crimped floorplate. To get the thing apart i had to slide the follower all the way down, then slide out the little nub commonly used to retract the follower while loading. Because of this, I think the mag may be from the precurser to the buckmark, known as the Challenger or Challenger2. Here's the good part: that magazine costs 27 new from midwayusa, not including shipping.

If I went to buy these mags, I would've paid 24 + 36 + 27 plus shipping on each order. that's $87 plus shipping of 10 to 15. The crazy part is at gun shows I see magazine sellers trying to get like $15 for raven or davis mags and $16 for jennings j22 mags which aren't even original equipment. The prices on mags at gun shows can be totally nuts, but on the opposite end of the spectrum, this pawn shop seller really hooked me up. This was probably because I've been in there at least ten times over the past 2 years. Its good to know people.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

CZ-82 vs. Makarov PM

the CZ82 and the Makarov PM are both chambered in 9x18 Makarov. that's about where the similarities end.

the CZ82 has some great, modern features available at an attractive price. ambi mag release, ambi safety (1911 style), and a double stack magazine. in my eyes, a lot of features for about $250 at your local gun show. that $250 will get you a gun with two magazines and a holster. not bad at all.

the CZ does have some downsides though. there are a lot of parts, so there are a lot of possible failure points. the more parts you have, the higher the chance is that something will fail. fifty five parts, not including the magazine. just the magazine release is five parts. to take one apart for cleaning, you're going to need a screwdriver, hammer, a couple of punches, and a small flat screwdriver, dentistry pick, or thick paperclip.

the beauty of the Makarov PM is in its simplicity. i consider the Makarov pistol basically the AK of handguns. sure its heavy, single stack, and relatively low capacity, but its simple and it works. there are some clever features to the Makarov's design which makes it far superior from an engineering standpoint. the mainspring is also the magazine release. that's one part doing two jobs. another part that does multiple jobs is the ejector, which is also the slide lock.

the really amazing part about the Makarov is how easy it comes apart. remove one screw (the only screw the gun has) holding on the grip and after that, you can take the gun apart without any tools. no punches, no screwdrivers, none of that. if you care to remove the trigger guard you can punch out a pin, but who ever needs to do that?

my hat is off to the designer of the Makarov. truely one of the most simple, rugged, and robust firearms designs ever.

the cz82 can't go without applauds though: it has many modern features at an attractive price, cheaper than any surplus makarovs on the market right now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Gun Companies That Don't Sound Like Gun Companies

There are a few companies floating around out there that don't seem like they produce guns. What I mean is that if you saw their sign on a building, you wouldn't think you were looking at a gun factory. I'm talking about gun companies that don't have the words "arms" "armory" "firearms" "defense" or "ordinance" anywhere in their name. examples of gun companies that don't have names that sound like they're gun companies include:
  • Lorcin Engineering
  • Davis Industries
  • Sedco Industries
  • Cobra Enterprises
  • Sundance Industries
  • Heritage Manufacturing
  • Talon Industires
  • Kel Tec CNC
  • Taurus Manufacturing Incorporated
  • Harrington & Richardson Incorporated
  • Magnum Research Incorporated (some people know magnum might have something to do with guns)
  • Sturm Ruger & Company
  • Kimber Manufacturing

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

AK Rifles: Stamped vs. Milled Recievers

As you can probably tell already, i love AK rifles. The design of this rifle is nothing short of superb. I consider the AK pattern the greatest firearm design of the 20th century, if not the entire history of firearms. There are two versions of AKs: ones with stamped recievers and ones with milled recievers. There are pros and cons of each.

Milled Recievers are the nicer AKs. They're just too expensive. The cheapest milled AK on the market right now is a Polish model available from Century Arms for about $650. These guns feel much more solid than your average stamped AK. the bolt carrier just feels so much more solid.

The other design features a stamped reciever. Stamped reciever guns are less expensive than milled guns. These are available from several countries such as Bulgaria and Romania. because they are made utilizing a flat piece of steel that's then bent, welded, and riveted into shape, the whole gun is much cheaper to build than a milled gun. It may sound like a lot of work, but the cost of materials and machine work is still cheaper than taking a block of metal and having it sit on a series of expensive milling machines that drill out all of the necessary gaps in the metal.

It is widely held that stamped AKs are not nearly as accurate as milled reciever guns. Milled guns don't twist and flop around like stamped guns do, which leads to better accuracy.

If you're on a budget, go ahead and get a stamped AK. They're a little loose feeling, but they're much cheaper, costing only about $400.

Saiga Rifles

Saiga rifles are made by Izhmash in Russia. They are neutered versions of the venerable AK platform. They are sold in this country in a "sporter" configuration with a unique handguard and no pistol grip. They are otherwise very similar to the AK platform they're based on. Many people chose to convert their Saiga rifles to make them more like a traditional AK. There are pros and cons of doing this modification.

Saigas are made in various calibers including 223 Rem, 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm, 7.62x51mm (.308 Win), and shotgun calibers .410 and 12 gauge.

I don't understand why people convert Saigas unless they're in 308 or shotgun calibers. Doing a Saiga conversion on a gun in 7.62x39 or 5.45x39 seems like a total waste. For what it costs (in both time and in parts) to make a Saiga look like an AK, you could've bought an AK instead: a gun that is what it is, not trying to be something that its not. If you want to get an AK pattern gun in 7.62x39 or 5.45x39, go for it! get a real AK, a WASR for $400 out the door or a Polish Tantal AK74 for just a little more. The WASR and the Tantal are real AKs, not some fooled around with wanna-be AK.

I totally understand converting AKs in .308, .410, and 12 gauge because you can't get an AK pattern with that evil pistol grip. The conversion itself is rather involved, not just dropping in a few parts. The conversion requires drilling out rivets, grinding out welds, and refinishing the unfinished portion of the underside of the reciver. If you have one of the .308s, .410s, or 12 gauges, go for that conversion! If you've got one of the other calibers, go ahead and get a real AK. No conversion required for the same money or less.

the SKS rifle

The SKS rifle (also known as a simonov) is a budget-friendly semiauto battle rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm. With a milled reciever and an internal 10 round magazine fed by stripper clips, it makes a great all-purpose rifle. The guns were made in countries such as Romania, China, Albania, Russia, and Yugoslovia.

The Albanian SKSs are easily identified because of their forestocks which have a longer section of wood covering the gas system than other SKS models. The bolt handle on these models feature a smooth hooked place for the operator's finger to chamber a round while all other SKS bolts have a rounded, knurled bolt handle.

Romanian SKS rifles are rare. They look like Chinese SKS rifles, but are imported from Romania.

Chinese SKS rifles were made by Norinco. The Norinco company is still in business, but they don't import many models to the United States, thanks to trade agreements by former president Bill Clinton. Norinco SKS rifles are the cheapes in the US makret because there were a ton of them sold in the 1990s, imported by various countries. The market is still rather flooded with them, hense the low price compared to other SKS variants. Worthy of mention are the SKS-M and SKS-D rifles, which accept double stack AK magazines from the factory.

Yugo SKS rifles are a strange design. Either you love them or you hate them. I used to hate the look of the Yugo SKS rifles, but the design really grew on me. The grenade launcher attachment as well as the jungle gym styled grenade launching sights make the gun look particularly busy towards the muzzle end. Yugo guns are the only guns currently being brought into the country and can be had for about $325 at gun shows, but they often sell out quickly.

Russian SKS rifles are in my opinion the most beautiful SKSs ever produced. Many of them had laminated stocks which often exhibit great coloration. Russian SKSs have a reciever cover with a star and the year of manufacture, so its easy to date a Russian SKS as long as that cover hasn't been replaced.

SKS rifles in general, no matter what country of origin, are a great way to get into shooting the 7.62x39mm caliber. For $300 to $450, you get a milled reciever rifle capable of surprising accuracy considering the distance shortfalls of the 7.62x39mm cartridge.

Guns for Emergencies

Everyone in the gun community has an opinion on this issue. If the western world were to come to a grinding halt, I'd personally want an "assault-style" rifle. I hope it never happens because i like things the way they are here, but if something bad were to happen, I'd like to have guns on hand. There are two guns that I'd want in a doomsday situation: a 9mm handgun as well as an AK rifle.

For 9mm handguns, it wouldn't really matter what, as long as the gun works well and is relatively high capacity. When i say high capacity, I think 15 rounds or more.

I like AK rifles because they don't need any upkeep and they'll always work with whatever garbage cheap ammo you can find to feed through them. The reliability in adverse conditions is unparalelled. Covered in mud, sweat, blood, and more, it'll still work just fine. I want a gun with a near zero failure rate if the shit ever hits the fan.

The other popular assault style weapon in this country is the AR-15 platform. These guns have something going for them: ammo availability. If we were in a situation where the military was deployed stateside to try and wrangle the populous, there would undoubtedly be 5.56mm ammo floating around. Having a self defense firearm that takes the same ammunition as the cops and military have would be a huge benefit in such a situation.

Basic Handloading

For handloading, I got into it on the cheap. I purcahsed a Lee Classic Loader for under $25 online. I then purhcased a pound of powder for about $20, 1,000 38 special plated projectiles for about $70, and a thousand primers for $30. Once i had all of my components assembled, i got to work.

The lee Classic Loader is very basic. I chose to reload the 38 special round because the overall length of each cartridge isn't important because they're being used in a revolver. Other cartridges, such as those used in semiauto guns, sometimes headpsace on the overall length of the casing. If your handloaded cartridges are too long, the base of the cartridge can protrude from the barrel and cause an explosion because that rear section of the brass is not adequately supported while firing, often causing case ruptures. 38 special isn't a necked cartridge, its straight like a piece of pipe, not tapered. This means that i can reload with little effort and reuse the same brass many times before stressing the brass ot the point of failure. Being held into the cylinder by a rim, the overeall length of the 38 special really isn't that important because they'll still fit in the cylinder.

The Lee Classic Loader requires the use of a hammer to produce loaded ammo. The process is loud and slow, but it works. My initial loads did not function well, but i'm still unsure whether that was an issue of a poor burn rate of powder, partially contaminated primers, or a crimping issue. There are two schools of thought on my possible crimping issue. Either i way overcrimped the brass, causing a big pressure buildup before the brass lets go of the projectile, or I did not crimp the brass enough to let the necessary pressure build up.

In all, it has been a great way to get into handloading and being cheap doesn't hurt either.

.30-30 vs 7.62x39mm

.30-30 is a venearble cartridge in the United States. It has been used in lever guns made by Marlin, Winchester, Mossberg, and others for a century or more. Of a similar ballistic profile is the soviet 7.62x39mm round.

7.62x39 is a necked down caliber used in soviet firearms such as AKs and SKS rifles. There have been a few bolt action offerings, but the majority of the guns available in this caliber are semiauto.

Both the 7.62x39 and the .30-30 have proven themselves as good deer killing caliber.s They each have their pros and cons. The .30-30 is more expensive and almost always brass-cased. Because of this, most of the .30-30 brass is boxer primed, and therefore reloadable. .30-30 is perfect for a shooter who's reloading. For one who doesn't reload, go for 7.62x39mm.

7.62x39 is everywhere. Its at every gun show, right alongside .223 and 5.56mm. This ammo is cheap too, costin ga little over $200 for 1,000 rounds. That sure beats the $12 minimum spent for a box of 20 rounds of .30-30. The cheap steel cased ammo broguth into this country is not reloadable in most cases (except for Golden Tiger) but its cheap. The ammo is so cheap that it outweighs any benfit from buying brass-cased ammo, holding onto the brass, and maybe reloading down the road. My advice is to go with the 7.62x39 because you can shoot a real rifle round for the same money as shooting cheap 9mm.

9mm Largo

imm Largo is exactly what the name implies: its a long 9mm. 9x23mm to be exact. The guns that shoot this caliber are few and far between, including most notably the Astra 400, Destroyer Carbine, and a few pistols from Star.

9mm Largo is a completely obsolete cartridge. No one currently manufactures loaded ammunition for this caliber. Some poepl ehave reformed brass from other calibers to work in 9mm Largo barrels and others acquire and shoot surplus ammo.

The surplus ammo on the market right now is stuff made by the Santa barbara Ammunition Factory in Spain in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. The earlier stuff is corrosively primed. The Largo ammo I've seen has had extremely hard primers. Even after being shot, the primers don't show a dent. The primers do have a mark on them, a scuff on the metal, but they aren't indented like the primers of any ohter ammunition I've ever encountered. I assume the Largo ammo I've been exposed to was designed for use in machine guns because machine guns often are fed ammo with hard primers to prevent a double-firing condition.

As with any surplus ammo, there are bound to be some click bangs and duds. This was apparent with some of the Largo ammo I've shot, but one vintage in aprticular caused more trouble than others. I assume my friend got a bad batch or the ammo was stored improperly sometime during its 40+ year existence.

I like 9mm largo, but there's really no reason to have it. Other calibers have come out such as 40 S&W, 10mm, and .357 Sig which take the place of this obsolete caliber.

22LR Lever Guns: Marlin vs. Henry

I used to own a Henry Golden Boy 22 lever gun. Made here in America, tube fed, and one smooth, slick feeling rifle. Fit and finish was excellent, nice woodwork, and an octagonal barrel. The buck horn sights gave the gun a very nostalgic, wild west flavor in a soft shooting caliber.

I've got some experience with the Marlin 39 as well. the Marlin 39 has been in constant production by the same company for over a hundred years now. The 39 is a great, expensive-feeling 22 rifle. This gun is also tube fed with a nice feeling lever, but not as smooth and slick as that of the Henry rifle.

The Henry is less expensive than the Marlin, but there's a reason for that. To take apart the Henry, you need a screwdriver, hopes, and prayers. The guns truely aren't designed to be taken apart. The manual says that you just need to clean out the ejection port and clean the barrel as you would with any other gun. I'm sorry folks, I like guns i can clean. I take apart my guns. That's just how i am and there's no changing me. I took apart the Henry Golden Boy once before i sold it back to the guy iI got it from. It came apart like your average BB gun, with plenty of pins, springs, plastic bits, and cast aluminum. I got the gun back together, but it took a while and i felt like i was performing heart surgery the whole time.

The Marlin is more expensive, but it is a nicer gun. You get what you pay for. Its better thought out and better laid out than the Henry. The Marlin comes apart, bolt and all, with no tools. That's a great design and I applaud them for their design. You can tell they spent some time at the drawing board designing a gun that can be easily taken apart for cleaning. With 22LR being a drity round, the ease of disassembly is a huge factor that I keep in mind when gun shopping. A gun loses major points in my book if it needs tools to take apart or if its horribly complicated once taken apart.

If you want to save money, get the Henry. It looks great and the lever action is by far the smoothest i've ever felt. The Henry shoots fine, but the Marlin seems like its a gun that you can pass down to your children, a gun that'll outlive you. Being made of all steel and not utilizing any Zamac aluminum (same alloy used to make "saturday night specials"), i feel that the Marlin is the most soid 22 on the market. Its horribly overbuilt and consumers are obviously willing to pay a premium for that or else it wouldn't be in production. The henry on the other hand is a very nice, slick gun, but the reciever is made of aluminum, along with some small interior bits. I just don't see those little parts lasting as long as parts made of steel.

If you don't mind spending real money on a sub caliber gun, get the Marlin. It'll outlive you.

Great Spanish Guns: Star Pistols

Star pistols of Eibar, Spain were imported to the United States by Interarms (interarmco, formerly FI or Federated Industires of Washington, DC( until the early 1990s. Star made pistols in calibers such as 380, 9mm, 40 S&W, and 9mm Largo. Interesting are the names of some models. There are normal-named guns such as the M, B, and BM, but there are others such as the Starlet, Ultraster, Megastar, and others. These creative names are half the reason I want to own them, just so i can pull out a gun and show it to someone while proudly proclaiming "This is my ULTRASTAR!"

The Star BM is the only gun in Star's lineup that i have much exposure to. Its a short, compact 1911 style pistol. It utilizes a single stack magazine and holds 8 rounds of 9mm. They were used by some police departments and military units in Spain. Because of that, some BMs have made their way to the states as surplus through Century Arms in the 1990s. These guns were in OK shape, but often times sported plenty of finish wear.

There were also plenty of good Star BMs made by Star specifically for the US market. These guns have no duty wear and the bluing on the guns is of a much higher quality than that of the surplus guns. I have also shot a 1911 style Star pistol in 9mm Largo. The interesting thing aobut their 1911 clones is that they lack a girp safety, something seen in more traidtional 1911 designs. The lack of a grip safetey doesn't bother me much. A grip safety is one less thing to break in my eyes. The best safety is keeping your finger off the trigger. Its pretty hard for a gun to go bang if your finger isn't even in the trigger guard. Long in short: keep your meat hook off the bang switch and you'll probably be fine.

.45 GAP, Why It Sucks

I was at Spotsylvania Gold and Pawn in Fredericksburg, VA a few weeks ago and saw a brand new GLOCK pistol. It looked a bit odd to me. The model wasn't a number i was familliar with. the gun was priced at $550, which seemed like a normal glock-ish price to me, but this one was odd. Why? Because it was chambered in .45 GAP. Why would you ever buy .45 GAP? To be different? To stand out from the crowd?

When it comes to calibers, I choose guns chambered in calibers that are easy to find. 9mm and 22LR are my favorites. Every gun shop, sporting goods store, and walmart has it. Everybody and their brother makes it, and its inexpensive. On the other hand, oddball calibers such as .45 GAP are never cheap. 9mm is cheap because a huge part of the world uses it. Its a NATO spec caliber and has been adopted by most armies worth their salt around the globe. Because of this, the whole world makes ammo. You've got choices: and with choices come competition for sales. Compeittion brings the price down because people are striving to sell a lot of their product. If you sell cheap 9mm, you might only make a few cents per box on the stuff, but if you sell it by the truckload because people want cheap 9mm, you're raking in the profits.

Why would you ever get a gun in 45 GAP? There are very few guns to choose from anywya. Springfield came out with the XD in 45 GAP, but it was discontinued a short time later due to poor sales. Who else makes a gun in .45 GAP? Of course! GLOCK, because they're the ones that developed it.

New calibers are conjured up for one of two reasons: the manufacturer is either trying ot make a superior product (in size, recoil, accuracy, power...) or they're trying to make money. If they can, both of those facotrs (superiority over other calibers and a chance for profit) will be met. I'm not really sure what GLOCK expected with this one, besides to make money on the deal. By getting customers to buy their highly-revered GLOCK pistol chambered in an expensive caliber means GLOCK is making money not once, but twice. Sure they made money when they sold the gun, but they're going to make more when people go out to buy ammo. There is an Achilles heel to this situation: when people wise up and don't buy the gun.

GLOCKS sell well. Its a well-known fact. Their GLOCK pistols chambered in 45 GAP do not sell well at all though. I've seen them brand new for $400 at gun shows as well as being advertised in Shotgun News about 7 or 8 months ago. The guns must not sell. I bet FFLs who ordered them are now trying to just get them off their hands. A gun on the shelf doesn't make a penny. Selling a slow-moving gun and freeing up that cash to spend on other (hopefully faster-moving inventory) would better suit any business conscious gun dealer. I bet the FFLS that were selling off 45 GAP pistols were taking a loss on each and every one of them.

Why would anyone buy one in the first place? I don't understand why a gun owner would curse themselves with getting a gun in a rare caliber. It never took off as the designers originally intended. GLOCK wouldn't have invested millions in developing a new caliber to just have it in their gun. With offerings such as .45 ACP, .357 Sig, and .40 S&W, there's no reason to buy .45 GAP. If the ammo was as cheap as 9mm, they'd sell a ton of guns in that caliber. Sadly, that is not the case. They need to recoup their research and development costs somehow. Now, for the poor guys who actually bought guns in .45 GAP, they're stuck with buying overpriced ammo from only a few sources.

Even though they may be the cheapest deal in the GLOCK lineup, don't buy one. If you want a similar ballistic profile, get a gun in .45 ACP or .357 Sig. As far as I'm concerned, the .45 GAP is already an obsolete caliber.

American Made Guns

I like things that are made in America. We as a country don't make much anymore. Our country has changed from being one of the world's manufacturing powerhouses to being a largely service-based economy. I wish we would have more industry here. It'd keep people working, but I can understand why factories accross our great nation are closing at an alarming rate. In places like China and India, they don't have benefits like health insurance. the EPA is a huge deal here, but environmental sanctioning bodies in third world countries often take a back seat to profitable manufacturing. Those countries usually don't have organized labor unions either. I won't get into that part here because this is a gun blog, but I will say that unions are single-handedly responsible for American car companies being unable to turn a profit. There is no reason a worker should make $46 an hour installing windshields. Toyota built plants in the southern part of the US, where there isn't such a union influence. As a result, they can make cars cheaper because they don't have to pay ridiculous wages.

Our gun industry is great. As a country, we produce some of the best guns in the world. I just hope that tradition continues. A major factor keeping the American gun manufacturing industry alive is import regulations on firearms. We simply can't get pocket guns from overseas anymore, which is why companies like Jennings, Bryco, Calwestco, Davis, Lorcin, Republic Arms, Leinad, Cobra, and Jimenez are in business.

I like to buy American. I have an American-made vehicle and i chose to buy domestically produced firearms whenever possible, especially when it comes to purchasing new guns. I own very few imported firearms. I've never purchased a foreign-made gun brand new, ever. Why? I want to do my part to keep America Working. Why should my dollars be going to an overseas company? Even if some of those dollars are being retained by a middleman or importer stateside, the vast majority of the expenditure is not contributing much to our economic figures.

Kel Tec .308 Rifle

Kel Tec CNC (of Cocoa, Florida) recently announced its introduction into the .308 section of the "evil black rifle" market. The gun itself looks good, until you get a glimpse of the price tag. The gun is amazingly expensive, placing itself in the price bracket of the DPMS 308 rifle. its no FN Scar rifle, but its still quite expensive costing about fifteen hundred dollars.

Who is going to buy this rifle? the late 20s, maybe early 30's meat head male who wears Tapout or Ed Hardy shirts. The kind of guy who makes decent money but drives a cheap car and goes to the gym a little too much.

I certainly won't be buying one. Even if i were in the market for a $1,500+ rifle, it wouldn't be anything offered by Kel Tec. Its not that they have a horrible reputation, but think about it like this: they're known for making inexpensive, decent quality handguns. They've never made high quality (or high dollar) guns, certainly not top-shelf black rifles. If i'm going to spend my money on a high-dollar rifle, it'll have an established name brand.

When i think of this new rifle, i can't help but compare it to cars. a $1,500 Kel Tec rifle would be about the same as spending $60,000 on a Hyundai. Sure, Hyundai may make a decent car, one step up from a Kia, but its still not great. No one in their right mind would pay $60k for anything made by Hyundai. While approaching the guy at the valet line (at your favorite country club or nice restaurant), he's going toask you what kind of car you've come to pick up. Well, do you want to tell him you have a Mercedes.... or a Hyundai? my point exactly. There is something to be said for buying a Mercedes: they've made luxury cars for decades. That's what they do, they do it well, and that's what they're known for.

Sure, a $60,000 Hyundai may be a tremendous value, it could be like a Maybach on the inside, but as they say in the south "It is what it is": still a Hyundai.

Some may ask: Well what does Kel Tec have going for itself in this situation? well, they might have a pray in getting a government contract for special ops or SWAT teams on a local governmental level, but that's only giving them a leg up on others because the Kel Tec is made in America. That will win brownie points with a lot of government workers.

Kel Tec has gone out of their comfort zone with this one. This is not a $400 Sub2k rifle, its not a small handgun either; its a high dollar luxury tactical rifle. Will it sell? I'd like to see them do well, but i honestly don't see this product taking off with a shocking MSRP of $1,880. Best of luck to them, but if I were them, I'd go back to doing what I know, and what people know me for: inexpensive pocket guns priced right.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To Hide A Gun In A Book

After reading some "how-to" articles about how to hide a gun in a book, I decided to attempt the project with my girlfriend on one saturday night. While doing the project, I took a few pictures with my cell phone to post on here as well as a forum which I frequent.

for this project, you'll need a few supplies:
  • a book thick enough for your gun (not a children's book or anything interesting looking)
  • a few razor blades or razor knife (for cutting the pages, they'll get dull)
  • Elmer's glue (to glue the edges of the pages)
  • water (to mix with the glue)
  • bottle cap (or something else to mix the glue in)
  • small paint brush (smaller than mine)
  • weights (we used a stack of books and old magazines)
  • pen or pencil (to mark where you will cut)
  • cardboard (i'll explain that later)

there were also some optional items which really made life easier:

  • chisel
  • hammer
  • tweezers
  • chip clips (binder clips or big paperclips would work well)
  • straight edge (we used a CD case)

ok, now onto the good part; doing the project. We did two books, one for each of us. Both of us love small cheap "saturday night special" type of guns, so we cut out books to fit our favorite pocket guns. Since we were going to be concealing the same model gun, we used the same template. I took out my gun, made sure it was unloaded, then put it ontop of a piece of cardboard and traced around it. I made the template a little bit larger than the line I'd traced. Idid this so the book could accomodate a larger gun if needed. Also, if we'd cut out the book the exact same size as the gun, it would have been hard to get the gun out.

While I was making the template, my girlfriend mixed up the glue. She used Elmer's glue and water (about 50/50) and mixed it in a large bottle cap. A bottle cap was great for this project because there was nothing to clean up, just throw it away.

when opening the book, we wanted to have a few regular pages before getting to the gun. We used thin cardboard (from an old package of crackers) to segregate the pages we didn't want to glue together. the easiest way to glue the pages was to just go around the perimeter of the book, gluing the edges together. After gluing, put the book under a weight. In our case, we used a stack of books and magazines. The stack of magazines was surprisingly heavy. After an episode of COPS (my favorite), the glue was dry and we were ready to start cutting.

Chip clips are good to hold the pages back that you didn't glue together. They're not necessary, but they do make things easier. Binder clips or big paperclips would work too.
Using the straight edge (CD case), I made the first cut with a razor blade. The blades for this project were sharp, brand new blades. Its really amazing how cutting paper can dull a blade in just about no time. We used razor blades instead of a pocket knife or something like that because of the thickness of the razor blades. They're so thin that they're great for detail work. No sharpening either, just throw them away when they get dull.

Both of us started cutting on our books using the same method. we each would cut a few pages at a time, then lift them out. The corners were an issue for us. Its hard to cut contours, especially when getting deep in the book. Tweezers helped get the corners right, but aren't a necessity.

To save time, i used a chisel and a hammer to get some of the pesky corners. By cutting several small lines next to eachother, I was then able to go in with the tweezers and pick out pieces of paper. This was a tedious job, taking us over two hours. We watched TV and talked while working on our books.

After cutting enough pages to fit the gun into the book, its important to glue the inside edges. After cutting all those pages, they started to get curled up towards the top. This made the book appear fat, like there was something in it. By gluing the inside edge of the pages in the same way that the outside edge was done, then placing a weight ontop of it, the pages were glued in place nice and flat.

Total cost for this project was very inexpensive. We picked up the books from a "free" box infront of salvation army. The glue and paint brush were about four bucks together. I had the razor blades, but if you had to go out and buy them at the hardware store they'd be a couple of bucks. Its a cheap project and a good crafty thing to do with your significant other.

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.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Guns chambered in 9x18 Makarov

In April, I was discussing guns with my girlfriend and we got on the topic of 9x18 guns, which is why I originally wrote about these guns on a forum that I frequent. I know a fair amount about the common offerings in that caliber, so i thought i'd list some of them here to be used as refrence for others.

The major players in 9x18 are the Polish Radom P64, Makarov PM (German, Bulgarian, Russian...), the CZ82, and the FEG PA-63. They can all be shot single action or double action and all are blowback. People on this forum are definately fans of blowback guns. Now for a little bit on each:

This Polish gun has a 6+1 capacity in its single stack magazine. some have pointed hammers and some have round hammers. they're polish surplus and they're used. i've heard (never shot one though) that these pistols jump around a bit while being shot. wolff sells a spring kit (some pistol sellers even have the spring kit on their website so people can buy it with the gun) which is supposed to tame recoil. this gun is C&R elligible.

This gun was produced for the Czechoslovakian military. It has a twelve round double stack magazine. This gun has polygonal rifling, much like a glock. It utilizes bumps in the barrel strategically placed rather than traditional lands and grooves. This gun is also C&R elligible, which is interesting considering most of the examples floating around the United States were made in the 1980s, far newer than any other guns on the C&R list.

The PA-63 was made by FEG in Hungary. The gun holds 7 rounds in its single stack magazine. It has an aluminum frame, but its still robust because of the alloys utilized in its construction. This gun is not C&R elligible, but the two tone appearence sets it apart from the others. This gun can be rather annoying for left handed shooters because the guns usually have a bump out on the left grip that righties use as a thumb rest.

Makarov PM
This gun was the military sidearm of much the soviet union for decades. Normal surplus makarovs have an 8 round single stack magazine, but some makarovs produced for consumers rather than militaries had a "widebody" grip to accomodate a double stack magazine. German and Russian ones command a lot of money and ones being offered currently in this country are usually of Bulgarian origin. Some of these guns are C&R elligible, depending on their vintage of manufacture and country of origin. It is widely held that the comercially-produced Russian Baikal IJ70 with its modern adjustable sights does not qualify as a C&R firearm.

Another thing worthy of mention is that all of these guns come apart in the same way. The trigger guard is bent down so that the user can pull the slide back, then tip up the rear end of it and slide it downrange, off of the barrel.

Popular 22LR Semiauto Handguns

There are a few popular 22LR semiauto handguns on the market right now. In this post, I'll discuss the most popular guns and the features of each.

First (and my favorite) is the Beretta U22 Neos. The first thing I noticed about the Neos when I picked it up is that the grip is small. I'm a big guy and have big hands, so the small grip wasn't a selling point for me. The magazine release can be easily engaged with the right hand's trigger finger, extended and out of the trigger guard. The placement of the mag release is a bit different, but makes sense to right handed shooters. I am a left handed shooter, so this took a little getting used to.
The ease of disassembly is what sets this gun apart from the other 22s. Disassembly requires zero tools and cleaning the gun is simple. A wheel is spun (infront of the trigger guard) which releases the barrel from the frame. the barrel is cantaleevered over the slide, holding it in place. the slide comes off easily and holds a recoil spring. with the slide out of the way, the striker and its spring are easily seen. all the parts are big and easy to clean, perfect for the novice shooter. I'd consider this a great first gun for someone getting into 22s.

Next on the list is the Smith and Wesson 22 series. They used to make the 22S and now only make the 22A. The difference between the guns was the finish used. The S&W 22 has a takedown similar to that of the Neos, but it has some flaws. The cantaleevered portion above the barrel is made out of a cheap cast aluminum alloy and is prone to breakage. there is a pin protruding from the bottom of the barrel that holds the barrel in place on the frame which is also prone to breaking, as well as backing out. Still, no tools are needed to disassemble this gun, so I give S&W big points for that. Instead of turning a little wheel like the Neos, the S&W uses a button the user presses towards the trigger guard to release the barrel from the frame. The grips on this model gun are ugly and not super-comfortable, rather boring actually, but they're easily replaceable with fat wooden grips for about $70.

The magazine release on this gun is in a wierd place: exactly where it can be found on earlier 22LR pistols such as the 422, 622, and 2206. Where might you ask? the frontstrap of the grip. Again, a little odd to get used to, but its ambidexterous, which means they get a lot of points from a leftie like me. The sights on this gun are the best of any i'll be talking about today.

Next up is the Browning Buckmark. A bit more expensive than the others i've discussed, its truely a better quality firearm. The trigger on this gun is nothing short of superb. The gun disassembles with the use of an allen wrench. When the rail is removed from the top of the gun, allowing for disassembly, the sights will sometimes be misaligned when the rail is returned to the gun. It loses points in my eyes because the user needs a tool to take it apart. Its not the worst i've ever seen though. This gun features a regular magazine realese like you'd see on a 1911 pattern pistol as well as most other popular modern pistols. Because of the location of the magazine release, the gun is a great tool to teach new shooters. They have to learn where the magazine release is once before progressing onto other guns in larger calibers.

The last popular 22LR semiauto I'll be talking about today is the Ruger Mark III. This gun is a departure from the more classic mk1 and mkII that use a heel/european style magazine release, but the takedown and operation of the pistol is similar to that of generations past. The gun balances well and feels like a well made piece of machinery, but the overall style of the gun is just weird. To cock the gun, wings on either side of the back of the gun are pulled towards the shooter, opening the breech. It looks like the gun has a backstrap safety, but no! that's part of the downright horrific takedown of this little gem. I would tell any new shooter to not walk, but run away from any Ruger 22LR semiauto. Even an experienced gun tinkerer such as myself had trouble getting one of these back together. The directions in the owner's manual are complete garbage and don't show pictures. These guns are commonly sold at gun shops around here with the warning of "never take it apart to clean it" because its such a bitch to get back together, even for veteran gun hobbyists. The takedown is downright terrible. That's why I won't own one of these guns. Shooting and cleaning guns should be fun, not frusterating. If you don't beleive me about the takedown of this particular firearm, check out the youtube video featuring the dingleberry and the cheeze. sorry folks, i will not, under any circumstances, own a gun that requires a hammer to put back together. Imagine how cheaply this gun could be produced (and then sold to the public) if it utilized a simple design! If it were mde of the same quality materials and implemented a simple design, I bet the gun would cost at least a hundred bucks less.
Function on all of the guns explained above is excellent. Each hold 10 rounds per single stack drop free magazine. These guns are the big players in the $350-ish range. Others exist, but these are the most popular sellers.