Customer Service Done Right

I have a GunVault MicroVault in my upstairs bedroom to hold my CCW pistols when I’m not carrying, but last week, the durn thing wouldn’t open from the keypad, I had to use the backup lock to pop it open. 

Called Cannon Safes about it, and what shows up on my doorstep a week later, free of charge? 

MicroVault Deluxe

Well-done, guys, well-done.

 

Product Review : Strikefire Red Dot Scope

1x power red-dot scopes have been the red-headed stepchild of the 3 gun world for a while now. They’re not as powerful as an ACOG, but they give a distinct advantage over iron sights. Many matches (including the Superstition Mountain Mystery 3 Gun) have resolved this quandry in favour of lumping them in with iron sights as “Tactical Limited”, which kinda sucks for iron sight shooters like myself. 

Rather than carry on with iron sights (and suck), I decided to take the plunge and start shooting with a red dot (and still suck), and Brownell’s was kind enough to supply a Strikefire Vortex Red/Green 1x scope to help me out. 

Strikefire Red Dot Scope

The scope came with an extra-high Picatinny mount that co-witnesses my flip-up sights (more on that later), cleaning cloth, battery, wrench for the mount and a 2x magnifier, a very nice addition that helped with the sighting-in process. 

The stuff

If that looks like a low Picatinny mount in the photo, that’s ’cause it is, but the people at Vortex swapped it out for the extra-high mount at no cost. Nice work, guys!

Installation was quick and easy, and sighting it in took less than a half-mag. Now it was time to test it in a match, so off it was to the monthly rifle/shotgun match at Rio Salado.

Stage 3

This is why I love this scope. Making that 30-yard shot with iron sights would be difficult (at best) with iron sights, but it was MUCH easier with the red-dot, and for once I wasn’t in last place on a rifle stage.

But then disaster struck. The next stage was the long-distance rifle stage, and for once it wasn’t horrid: Four 100 yard MGM’s, a 100 yard MGM Flag target and two 200 yard LaRue’s

“Ah-ha!”, I thought to myself, “This should be EASY! I know I can hit those with my new sight because I’ve done it on the main range while sighting in!” 

But somehow, my new sight was switched into “Night Vision” mode, making the dot invisible in daylight. At the time, I thought the battery had died, so I shot the stage with my iron sights, with predictable (and horrid) results. 

Dot sight on rifle

Bottom line, I like the scope. It needs a more secure mounting method (the nut on the Picatinny mount was loose when I got home) and the on/off switch could be better, but it’s a great starting point for people like me who want a red dot but don’t want to shell out hundreds of dollars for something they may not like. 

FCC Disclaimer: Brownell’s gave me the scope. I said that already, so buzz off.

Off the channel grid

A little more on Thursday’s post about the economics of making Internet-only TV channels, from Robert X. Cringley, who knows a thing or two about TV and the internet

I am not saying that All My Children and One Life to Live are headed to YouTube as the basis of a Soap Channel, but I am saying that they’d be profitable both for their producers and for YouTube if they were headed there.

Each show has about 2.5 million daily viewers — each a potential buyer of an Internet-connected TV. That’s $2.5 billion worth of TVs and well worth a $4 million production subsidy.

If YouTube or any of its competitive services could reliably get 2.5 million viewers per original episode they’d see that as well worth the money, too.

This is long form video with commercial breaks going to a dedicated audience which can now be global (that last part could be huge). Remember 2.5 million viewers of a 44-minute soap opera is the equivalent of 36 million typical three-minute YouTube video views. As professional content with a 40 year heritage that’s an easy sell to advertisers — a no-brainer for P&G. 

Somebody (Cheaper Than Dirt!, Brownell’s, LuckyGunner, Sig Sauer, etc.) is going to realize the size of the market and the opportunities to be had for quality internet-only name-brand shooting shows and establish their marketshare ahead of all the others. Good for them, whoever they may be. 

Cordless

My family cut the cable TV cord last month: Now all we have is an antenna for over the air TV and a fast DSL connection for Hulu and Netflix

And something interesting: There is literally no personal defense/protection programming on Hulu or NetFlix, and precious little hunting/outdoors content as well. I’ve gone from watching Wednesday Night At The Range and 3 Gun Nation to… nothing. Sure, Top Shot is on History.com and YouTube is rife with shooting-related content (some good, some not), but with a quickly-growning market for streaming content and heavy hitters like Google TV entering the fray, you’d think that there’d be more content out there for the shooting community, especially since streaming TV is perfect for shows that rely on a small but loyal audiences. 

Ok, Michael Bane, there’s your audience. Now go do something about it.

That was easy

Went to the local Staples last night to pick up some Cat 5 (What, doesn’t EVERYONE shop for networking cables in the late evening?) and noticed a shiny new “No Firearms Allowed” decal on the front door.

Well, that’s it for me and Staples. Fry’s Electronics doesn’t allow firearms, either, so it’s time to get nice and friendly with the people at Office Depot.

Self Defense Insurance Comparison

Update: I have a newer, more comprehensive comparison over here. And hey, if you’re new to the site, feel free to stick around and/or give me a Like on Facebook.

There’s now three self-defense insurance plans out there for CCW carriers (and others) who want to win the court battle that comes after the gun battle. We spend hours on the range and thousands of dollars on guns, ammo, gear and training to prepare to defend our lives, but don’t spend a nickel on preparing to defend ourselves in court. Once my current bout of funemployment is over, I will be taking advantage of one of these offers, and it’s something I’d recommend for every civilian who carries a firearm.

Armed Citizen Legal Defense Fund

The purpose of the Network’s Legal Defense Fund is to provide legal defense support to Network members, when these lawfully armed citizens face prosecution or civil lawsuit after exercising their right to self defense. The Network does not offer an insurance program or a prepaid legal fee service, but rather a number of benefits are made available to members. If a member is involved in a self defense incident, a fee deposit is paid to the member’s attorney by the Network to get the legal defense immediately underway, with representation during questioning, and arranging for an independent investigation of the incident. If the incident results in felony charges the fee deposit is $10,000; if the member faces misdemeanor charges, a $5,000 fee deposit is sent to his or her attorney.

Network members, by virtue of their membership, are entitled to case review by one of the Network experts and have access to contact information for Network-affiliated attorneys and expert witnesses. For this service, there is no charge beyond the Network membership fee. Beyond that, distribution of monetary grants to help with legal fees is at the discretion of the Network’s Advisory Board, comprised of Massad Ayoob, John Farnam, Jim Fleming, Tom Givens, Dennis Tueller and Network officers, Marty Hayes and Vincent Shuck, as ex officio members.

NRA Self-Defense Insurance

Our Self-Defense Insurance protects National Rifle Association members who need extra protection not found in most homeowners’ policies.

The coverage is a rider to the Excess Personal Liability coverage, and provides civil defense and liability and criminal defense reimbursement if you are involved in an act of self-defense.

What’s Covered:

• Provides coverage up to the limit selected for criminal and civil defense costs.
• Cost of civil suit defense is provided in addition to the limit of liability for bodily injury and property damage.
• Criminal Defense Reimbursement is provided for alleged criminal actions involving self-defense when you are acquitted of such criminal charges or the charges are dropped.

US Concealed Carry Association Legal Defense Foundation

The Self-Defense SHIELD consists of an insurance policy owned by the USCCA that designates the members as beneficiaries. No individual ungerwriting is required. As a Silver PLUS, Gold PLUS or Platinum PLUS member you automatically receve these insurance benfits. The USCCA owns and pays for the policy while you get the benefits.

Criminal Defense Grant
This layer of the Self-Defense SHIELD can help you pay for your criminal defense lawyer if you’re charged with a crime.

Court-Related Expenses
Our final layer of the USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD allows active members to apply for an additional grant for any other court-related expenses.

Policy Comparison


Criminal Court Costs Civil Court Costs Expert Witneseses Addt’l Grants Cost /Year
USCCA Silver $25,000.00 $50,000.00 Y $25,000.00 $127.00
USCCA Gold $50,000.00 $100,000.00 Y $50,000.00 $197.00
USCCA Platinum $75,000.00 $300,000.00 Y $75,000.00 $297.00
NRA Self-Defense Insurance One * $50,000.00 * $100,000.00 * N N $165.00
NRA Self-Defense Insurance Two * $50,000.00 * $250,000.00 * N N $254.00
Armed Citizen Legal Defense Fund $5000/$10,000 Y ** Y Y *** $85.00

* Total coverage is split between civil and criminal cases, with a $50,000.00 sub-limit on criminal court cases

** From the comments: “In your comparison grid you incorrectly state that the Network extends no assistance forcivil court costs. That is not correct. While The Network is not an insurance scheme, and thus does not have coverage limits, our commitment to our members who have had to defend themselves against criminal attack is to assist in their legal defense — be that a criminal trial or civil litigation — to the extent that our advisory board deems appropriate.”
The post has been updated to reflect this new information

Also from the comments: “The NRA-endorsed insurance programs require that you be an NRA membership. Average price is about $25 per year. The ACLDN membership requires no other membership costs. The USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD memberships at the Plus levels also include membership in the USCCA at the listed level which costs $37, $67, or $97 for Silver, Gold, and Platinum respectively.

In addition, the spreadsheet only marks the NRA coverages as having the criminal limit being included in the civil limits. The SHIELD program does the same thing. The listed limits are per occurrence, including all coverage – civil and criminal. The criminal limits are the portion of the total which may be used for criminal defense.”

The table also misstates the USCCA coverage for expert witnesses. The summary of benefits states the coverage includes “reasonable and necessary costs and expenses incurred in connection with the investigation and/or defense of any criminal charge or criminal proceeding caused by the use of a firearm”. After checking with the insurance company, Tim Schmidt confirms that this is the correct interpretation. The USCCA Self-Defense SHIELD program does indeed include coverage for expert witness testimony, private investigators, laboratories, and any other related expenses that would be needed to prepare and present the necessary defense.”

*** Grant amounts are unspecified

All descriptions of the policies were taken verbatim from each organization’s website.

 

Range Review – Caswell’s Shooting Range

Caswell's

Caswell’s has been in Mesa, Arizona for over twenty years, but they’ve recently acquired new ownership. I got a chance to talk to the Carolann Bergeson, the new Director of Operations about the changes at Caswell’s and what that means to shooters in the East Valley.

Interior of Caswell's

There are over a dozen gun stores in the Mesa area, including heavy hitters like Bass Pro Shops and Sportsman’s Warehouse, which could make for over-saturation of the market. Caswell’s has found success by focusing on the personal protection and hobby shooter rather than pursuing the hunting and outdoor markets and ties in their sales department with a full range of training options and the popularity of their indoor range. Their 11 bay range has electronic target retrieval systems and air-conditioning (a welcome relief in the Arizona summer) and are staffed with friendly range officers to help keep everyone safe.

With Arizona removing the permit requirements for concealed carry last year, demand for the state-approved CCW course has dropped off, but Caswell’s has seen a marked improvement in other training courses like their Intro to Firearms and Defensive Pistol classes.

Guns. Lots of guns.

One of my pet peeves is gun store clerks who treat you rudely or ignore paying customers in favor of chatting with their friends, and I asked Carolann about their customer service training.

“The key to good service is first making sure you have enough people behind the counter”, she said, “and then making sure they know what good customer service is. We coach our sales staff and have monthly feedback and training sessions where they tell us what the customers are asking for and we coach them on the best way to help the customer. We want salespeople who are courteous and helpful and have a real enthusiasm for the job.”

Range

Another pet peeve is gun store customers who shop for their wives/girlfriend and insist on getting a snub-nosed .38 or something similar, and I asked Carolann what her staff does in that situation.

“We ask the person themselves what they want in a gun. We’ve found that if we get them talking about what they’ve shot in the past, we can find the right gun for them, and if we can’t, we suggest they try a few pistols out on our range before making a decision.”

I also asked Carolann what her pistol of choice was: “A 9mm HK I got as a gift, but I’ve been trying out some of the rental guns and I think I might want to make a change.”

The indoor range and the training options it provides are what sets Caswell’s apart, allowing prospective gun buyers to try a rental version of the pistol they’re considering before they buy it, and if they chose to buy a new gun that day, Caswell’s will discount the range fee off the purchase price.

Urban Firearms Institute

Caswell’s is located at 856 E. Isabella Ave. Mesa, AZ 85204. Their phone number is 480-497-5141 / 1-888-72SHOOT and they can be found online at www.caswells.com.

All photos c. 2011 Exurbanleague.com

This is my rifle, this is my gun. Oh wait, no, it ain't either of those.

My 14 year old nephew has an extensive airsoft collection including several replica M4 carbines. According to one local police department, he’s a criminal who is just WAITING to commit robbery.

AVONDALE, AZ – Avondale police officers are concerned over the amount of replica military assault guns now being used by children and criminals.

Officers seized 25 military assault-looking rifles, some fake and some airsoft, being used in home invasions, armed robberies, threats and intimidations, police said.

The seizure was part of an undercover operation with the Avondale Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit.

Ok, got that “children and criminals” part? The guns LOOK like real guns (well, aside from the fact that they’re the wrong caliber. Oh, and made of plastic.), so therefore, we have to seize them. It’s for the children, after all.

What’s next, seizure of fake VW-based Ferarris and Rolls-Royces? I mean, they LOOK just like a real Phantom or 308GTS, right (well, aside from the wheelbase, trim, engine noise, styling, interior, etc.), so they have to actually BE the real thing and not a harmless, cheap wannabe luxury car.

We need to shut down the kit car industry right away. Please, won’t somebody think of the children?

 

This is my rifle, this is my gun. Oh wait, no, it ain’t either of those.

My 14 year old nephew has an extensive airsoft collection including several replica M4 carbines. According to one local police department, he’s a criminal who is just WAITING to commit robbery.

AVONDALE, AZ – Avondale police officers are concerned over the amount of replica military assault guns now being used by children and criminals.

Officers seized 25 military assault-looking rifles, some fake and some airsoft, being used in home invasions, armed robberies, threats and intimidations, police said.

The seizure was part of an undercover operation with the Avondale Police Department’s Street Crimes Unit.

Ok, got that “children and criminals” part? The guns LOOK like real guns (well, aside from the fact that they’re the wrong caliber. Oh, and made of plastic.), so therefore, we have to seize them. It’s for the children, after all.

What’s next, seizure of fake VW-based Ferarris and Rolls-Royces? I mean, they LOOK just like a real Phantom or 308GTS, right (well, aside from the wheelbase, trim, engine noise, styling, interior, etc.), so they have to actually BE the real thing and not a harmless, cheap wannabe luxury car.

We need to shut down the kit car industry right away. Please, won’t somebody think of the children?