Buh Bye.

Buh Bye.

I am outta here, headed off to SHOT.

One of the really neat things about the show this year is that I, along with Annette Evans, will be wandering the hallways of Sands Exhibition Center, looking for cool stuff to talk about for Shooting Illustrated. As all my efforts will be focused on what I’m doing for them, don’t expect any new content here next week.

In essence, I’ll be covering the largest gun show on the planet for the largest group of gun owners on the planet. Pretty cool.

And I *swear* I will not make it “All CZ, all the time”.

Ok, I’ll try to make it happen. But no promises.

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Which Is Better: An Indoor Gun Range Or An Outdoor Gun Range

Owning a gun is great thing, but owning a gun and shooting it on a regular basis is even better. Having a gun in your house isn’t going to make you safe anyomre than having a car on your driveway is going to get you to the corner grocery store: You have to learn how to use it safely and efficiently so it to do the job it’s supposed to do.

So what does it actually cost a new gun owner to shoot on a regular (monthly) basis? In 2013, back when I lived in Phoenix, I visited some of the local indoor and outdoor ranges to find out what a monthly practice session might cost a new shooter. My assumption is that you’ll go to the range and spend an hour shooting 50 rounds of FMJ ammo from a 9mm pistol at three different man-sized targets, which based on my experience, is about what most casual shooters do on a typical day at the range.

Ranges: Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club (outdoors), Ted’s Shooting Range (indoors), Caswell’s Shooting Range (indoors), Phoenix Rod and Gun Club (outdoors), Scottsdale Gun Club (indoors) and Shooters World (indoors).
Lane Rental: One person for one hour
Ammo: 50 rounds of 9mm FMJ. For ranges without ammo sales (PRGC, Rio), I used the price of a box of 9mm at my local WalMart.
Gun Rental: A 9mm pistol for one hour. For ranges without gun rentals, I used the cost of a typical quality 9mm pistol ($540) spread out over 12 months.
Membership: One year’s individual membership. Range memberships at Ted’s is for 14 months, not a year, so I reduced that amount for comparison purposes.

Just VisitingLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly Cost 
Rio Salado$5.00$13.00$45.00*$18.00$756.00
Caswells$15.00$21.00$7.00$43.00$516.00
Ted's Shooting Range$14.00$18.00$9.00$41.00$492.00
Shooters World$15.00$15.00$10.00$40.00$480.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$15.00$14.00$14.00$43.00$516.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$14.00$13.00$45.00*$27.00$864.00
With MembershipLane RentalAmmoGun RentalMonthly CostYearly CostMembership
Rio Salado$0.00$13.00$45.00*$65.92$791.00$95.00
Caswells$0.00$18.90$0.00$48.07$576.80$350.00
Ted's Shooting Range$0.00$18.00$4.50$44.17$530.00$260.00
Shooters World$0.00$14.25$5.00$40.08$481.00$250.00
Scottsdale Gun Club$0.00$13.00$0.00$44.67$536.00$380.00
Phoenix Rod and Gun Club$0.00$13.00$45.00*$71.75$861.00$165.00

* $45 / month reflects the cost of owning your own pistol, spread out over 12 months

So for just a couple hundred dollars more per year or so, memberships at Rio Salado or Phoenix Rod and Gun look like a real bargain, right? After all, that price includes a new gun, and they have long-distance rifle ranges as well.

Not so fast.

First off, they’re outdoor ranges. Not bad, now that temperatures in the Phoenix area are leveling off, but that sucks when it’s 115 degrees outside or, for colder climes, if it’s winter and the snow is waist-deep on the ground.

Secondly, the public ranges at both outdoor ranges have a minimum distance that you can set up targets, about 8 yards or so. Not a big issue for some, but if you’re trying to train a new shooter, it can get discouraging for them to shoot and shoot and shoot and not see decent groups on the target.

Thirdly, you can pull down at a set up targets at an outdoors public range only during cold range times, and those happen on a schedule, and not when you need them.

Finally, most outdoor ranges have pistol bays, where you’ll be the only one shooting and you can set up and take down targets however you like. These are where the real improvement happens, as shooters can set up advanced drills that involve drawing from a holster, moving with your gun in-hand and multiple targets at multiple distances.

So which should you chose?

That depends on your needs. I use both on a regular basis. I’ve been a member at Rio for over 5 years. I like their public range, and I like the people. But I’ve come to appreciate the comfort of indoor shooting and the convenience of reserving a lane in advance in an indoor range.

It comes down to what kind of a shooter you are. A public outdoor range membership is great for people who know what they want in a firearm and don’t need (or want) to try out new guns. However, indoor rental ranges are the perfect for  people getting into the shooting sports: For less than $50 a month, you can try out many different firearms and find the one(s) that suit you best and lets you grow into firearms ownership at your pace.

Either way, there are no bad choices: The worst day at the range is still better than the best day in the office.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

Ruger Continues To Break New Ground.

A Ruger shooting team? Anchored by Doug Koenig? Will wonders never cease?

Ruger’s never had a professional team, but today’s product mix gives them guns capable of competing in everything from cowboy action and rimfire challenge matches to practical disciplines like IDPA and USPSA, Steel Challenge, Bianchi Cup, even long range precision rifle matches.

What will raise eyebrows even higher across the industry is the identity of their new team captain: Doug Koenig.

After fourteen very successful years as a Smith & Wesson shooter, Koenig will now be shooting Rugers. And not just in the practical disciplines. Koenig tells me he’ll be expanding his schedule to include precision rifle competitions.

And this little bit from Doug is VERY intriguing.

“When I talked with Ruger engineers, they asked me what I thought – instead of telling me what they were going to do. So, I told them what I would like to see in a Ruger competition pistol, and it seemed like they were really listening.”

Let’s face it. Yes, Jessie shoots for Taurus, but does anyone REALLY think that her Open gun has any Taurus parts in it whatsoever? However, a competition-ready 1911 from Ruger, built to Doug Koening’s specifications would give Colt and SIG a run for their money.

Interesting times ahead.

Define “Normal”.

Define “Normal”.

Now that Trump is in office gun makers are thinking “Ok, Obama’s gone, now we’re going back to normal” but the fact is, we’re still in an abnormal market environment.
When was the last time that:

  1. Concealed carry, in one form or another, was the law of the land?
  2. Personal protection and target shooting were the main driver of gun sales?
  3. There is no federal Assault Weapons Ban, nor a credible threat of one being on the horizon?
  4. We have a pro-gun President and a nominally pro-gun (ok, how about ‘not virulently anti-gun’?) Congress?
  5. Legislation that expands our right to self-defense (rather than more gun control) made it through the House of Representatives?

This is a target-rich environment. I hope we do something with it. Market forces have driven the price of guns down to ridiculous levels, clogging up the Retention part of the customer lifecycle. People who own already guns have taken advantage of the ridiculous prices of the past year, which makes Ruger’s new product strategy a very, very good idea.

For the first time in over a hundred years, guns are normal. Let’s keep it that way.

Trust Icons.

Trust Icons.

You know those silly images on e-commerce sites which show who provided their SSL or say things like “Protected by McAfee”? To someone like me, who’s been on the web for over two decades, they’re at best a silly gesture and at worst totally useless.

But here’s the dirty little secret about them: They work. They bring in more business. Sites that have those images on their checkout pages have better conversion rates than sites that don’t have them. They’re called “trust icons”, and they work because people make buying decisions with their heart first, then with their head. They feel safe with a site that has them, and they want to do business with that site.

The same is true for firearms training, which is why trainers who talk about their military or law enforcement background can get away without little or no civilian training courses or instruction on how to teach anyone who isn’t being forced to sit in their classroom. They may not have be teaching stuff that’s particularly relevant to our lives as everyday people, but to many, many people out there, knowing that you’re getting your training from a cop or military veteran means you’re getting training from someone who has been there and done that, and you can trust what they say.

No matter if what they’re saying makes any sense or not.

A SIGnificant  Event

A SIGnificant Event

Is SIG looking to get into the subcompact, single-stack arms race?

All signs point to “Yes”.

A single stack 9mm that uses the P320 Fire Control Uint would be really, really cool. Here’s hoping.

Update: Maybe a bespoke, slimmed-down version of the P320 FCU that can be dropped into single-stack .380’s, 9mm’s, .40’s and a .45 as needed would be pretty cool. Doubly so if a .22 version is possible.

The Year In Guns

The Year In Guns

It’s been a good year this year. I’ve managed to bring in a decent amount of side-job money, and that meant I had the wherewithal to buy myself some toys.

First up is the .300BLK pistol that I wrote up for Shooting Illustrated. I’ve tweaked it a bit with a Vickers sling and whatnot, and I like shooting it quite a lot.

Next is my suppressor for that gun, a SIG Sauer SRD762-QD. With wait times steadily falling on NFATracker.com, I expect to have it in-hand around March, if not a little sooner.

I hope.

I then put the Mossberg 930SPX that I had been using for 3 Gun out to pasture in favor of it’s gamer cousin, the 930 JM Pro. More competition is in the cards for me later this year, and so this gun will have a baptism by fire in the near future.

Smith and Wesson had a fire-sale on the first-edition 9mm Shields, and I picked up without a safety to replace the one I was carrying which had a safety. With the bladed trigger and other bits, there’s really no reason for an external safety on the Shield, and the darn thing is so small, it’s tough to flick off if accidentally switched on. Better not safety than sorry, I believe…

Lastly, I upgraded my 3 Gun AR with a new hand guard from Midwest Industries and an anodized aluminum stock from LeadStar Arms. That bloomin’ (literally) Bushnell red dot is leaving soon, probably swapped out for a Holosun dot.

As I said, a good year. Better than most.

See you in 2018!