Ruger LCP II 2000 Round Challenge : Rounds 223-383

Even though most of my free time is spoken for (there should be an announcement on what I’ve been working on in the next two weeks or so). Nevertheless, I found some time this weekend to duck out for some range time and continue this test (thanks, Jason!).

Odds and Sods.

I’ve got a bunch of partially-full boxes of .380 ammo laying around, so I spent this range session burning through them and freeing up space in my ammo cans, along with shooting some of the PMC .380 provide to me by the good people at Lucky Gunner, so I loaded up them all up and shot them.

Because that’s what you do with ammo and guns, that’s why.

Ammo Fired
6 Speer Gold Dot JHP’s
11 Winchester White Box FMJ’s
2 Hornady XTP JHP’s (why I had just two of them, I’ll never know)
142 PMC .380 FMJ’s

All the rounds fired and fed with no issues, bringing the total round count up to 383 rounds fired, with one possible failure to feed on round 116 of the challenge.

One thing that’s interesting to note is that I shot 48 rounds strong hand only and 24 rounds weak-hand only with the LCP II during this range session. The gun felt surprisingly good in just my strong hand and I was able to shoot it as asccurate as I could with two hands, just a bit slower while doing so. In the weak hand however, ho boy, it first weird, and I am fairly used to weak-hand shooting. I don’t know how to describe it beyond saying it felt more like a water gun in my hand, not a real pistol.

As I said, weird.

Also, the gun is quite easy to shoot for extended periods of time compared to my P3AT (which, I realize, is quite a low hurdle to cross). I had no problems dropping 3 boxes of ammo in out of this gun, and left the range with the same amount of pain in my right hand as when I arrived.

That is to say, none. Not a bad accomplishment for any pocket 380, especially a lightweight polymer one.

Well That Was Nice.

Whilst searching for an article I wrote for Shooting Illustrated (Memo to Jay: Bring back the “Author” feed feature. My ego demands nothing less.), I ran across this nice little critique of my first article for SI (the one that got the Instalanche).

“…an ankle holster was a very slow mode of carry, adding seconds to the draw. No shock there, either. Everyone knows that with an ankle or leg holster you’re trading speed for stealth.

What was shocking was that pocket carrying — these guys were using a pocket holster, which helps both concealment, by breaking up the outline, and the orientation/presentation of the weapon — was substantially faster than a tucked IWB holster, and even a little faster than gimmick holsters like faux day-planners or computer bags.”

It’s always nice when I can add a little bit to the sum total of gun knowledge out there, no matter how small it may be.

How DARE You Show Up To MY Class With A Gun Like That!

Thinking more about this post, whether we like to admit it or not, we are in a golden age of guns. With a very few notable exceptions (coughcoughR51coughcough) we expect our guns to work correctly with most types of ammunition right out of the box, and guess what, they do. This is true of Taurus, Glock, Kimber, you name it. Now, do all of those guns handle long stretches of high round count shooting equally well, like at a training class?

No.

But guess what, that doesn’t make those guns “bad guns,”, it makes them bad guns to take to a class, but not a bad gun to carry on your person.

Right now, a significant portion of the firearms community is saying to themselves, “THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE TWO, BECAUSE MY TRAINING IS WHAT YOU NEED SO YOU DON’T GET KILLED ON DA STREETZ TOMORROW (and twice on Sunday)!!! YOU NEED THE GUN THAT I HAVE PERSONALLY DECREED AS THE ÜBER-WAFFEN (or similar) IN ORDER TO KEEP YOU SAFE!!!! IF YOU DON’T DO THAT, YOU’RE NOT ‘SERIOUS’ ABOUT YOUR TRAINING AND I DON’T WANT YOU IN MY CLASS!!!!”.

And chances are, the gun that those trainers are saying is the best (and only) choice for you is a compact, striker-fired 9mm double stack handgun. They’re good guns. I recommend them a lot. Those guns work GREAT on a training range and they’re really good off the range as well. But are they the only viable self-defense pistols out there? Of course not.

Which person is more serious about self-defense, the person who carries a Glock 19 in an AIWB holster to the training range, but then carries nothing with him on a day-in, day-out basis, or the person who has a compact .380 (or better) on him every waking moment? We tell people that “A .22 on you is better than a .45 in the truck” (or some variant thereof) and then we insist that people bring that .45 with them to class, rather than provide training opportunities for the .22 they have with them.

And then we wonder why no one wants to get training beyond what’s required to get their CCW.

Confidence. It’s What You REALLY Carry.

“If it isn’t on you when you need to fight, it ain’t your primary.”

– Tim Chandler.

I find no end of amusement in those who say, “YOU SHOULDN’T USE METRICS IN TRAINING BECAUSE FAILING A TEST DOESN’T IMPROVE A STUDENT’S CONFIDENCE !!1!” and then turn around and say “YOU STUDENTS SHOULD NOT USE THE GUNS YOU ACTUALLY CARRY EVERYDAY WHEN YOU COME TO MY CLASS!!!1! YOU NEED TO BUY A GLOCK 19 AND A KYDEX OWB HOLSTER RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL BE KILLED ON DA STREETZ TOMORROW!!!1!”

Well, which is? If we are so concerned with people’s confidence in their abilities, why do we mock them when they show up to class with perfectly adequate guns like a Sig P238 or a S&W SD9VE instead of an FDE Glock? Are those *bad* guns? No, they’re not. Are they *great* guns?

Well, they’re not made by CZ, so no.

I kid, I jest. Mostly. But they are good enough guns.

I’m not sure how many trainers out there are aware that it is possible, VERY possible to take a class with a gun that isn’t a 1911 or a striker-fired, double-stack polymer 9mm.

I’m not sure how many trainers understand how useful a pistol that slips into your pocket and stays out of the way really is, and I’m certain that most trainers don’t understand how asking new gun owners to lug around a Glock 19 rather than something smaller is a big barrier to new gun owners.

You want to increase the confidence of new gun owners? Give them confidence in their ability to chose a firearm that fits THEIR lifestyle, rather than telling them which gun fits your lifestyle best.

 

The Possible First, Then The Unlikely.

I have two young sons. They tend to do stupid things. They have a better chance of getting hurt and needing first aid than my chance of needing a spare magazine for my concealed carry pistol of choice. Therefore, do I carry bandaids and other such things with me pretty much all the time?

You bet I do.

Because of my lifestyle, the odds of me needing to use a Bandaid are pretty good. The odds of me getting into a gunfight and needing  to use a spare mag are incredibly small. The stakes, though… the stakes are incredibly mortal.

Après Le Déluge, Nous Sommes.

“After the flood, there is us.”

So what happens now, after the levee has broken? Well, aside from all the things that I mentioned before, the companies that will thrive in the future are the ones who can best answer this one, simple question:

“Okay, I just bought a gun. Now what?”

Sounds easy, right? The fact of the matter is, though, that Gun Culture 2.0 has grown up and matured without having to answer that question. For just short of ten years now, the only reason needed to buy a gun was “It’s a gun, and I should buy it now, because I don’t know if I’ll be able to buy one in the future.”

Imagine what’s happening in California right now, writ large. That’s what we were afraid of, and that’s what drove gun sales. That’s not happening for the foreseeable future, and now we’re in a new phase of gun ownership in America, where gun owners are buying guns for positive reasons, not negative ones.

This is a challenge for Gun Culture 2.0 because it’s driven, by a large part, by negative outcomes. Gun Culture 1.0 was about positive outcomes: You take a walk in the woods, you see Bambi, and you provide meat for your family and a trophy for wall by blasting him into oblivion. Everyone was happy with the outcome (except Bambi, that is).

This is not true for today’s gun owner, because we are preparing for the very, very bad day when we may need to use lethal force to protect a life that is dear to us. It’s not something we enjoy thinking about, but it is satisfying knowing we’re ready. Is it fun, though? No, and the company that is most-able to bring the fun into Gun Culture 2.0 is the one that will grow the most in today’s new gun world.

Harley was successful because they transitioned a negative brand image (biker thug) into a postive brand image (Open road! Freedom!). No one (yet) is working on transitioning from a negative outcome (killed on da streetz) to a positive outcome.

Heck, I’m not sure we KNOW what a positve outcome even is yet.

 

Oh, and what’s up with the title? Well, to borrow a line from the third-greatest Christmas movie ever made*, it’s one of the benefits of a classical education.


* Ronin is #1 (yes, it’s a Christmas movie) and Lethal Weapon is #2.

Justify Your Existence On This Planet.

So the question was asked by a friend on Facebook,

Just exactly what is the purpose and goal of defensive firearms training? It really can’t be based on probability, because the probability is you will never need to use a gun to defend yourself.
So what circumstances should we train for and what should be our priorities?

I have three answers for that question.

  1. Because I can, that’s why.
  2. Yes, the odds are very, very low. The stakes, however, are very, very mortal. It’s like being in a traffic accident. No, I don’t get into an accident every day (even with #FloridaMan as a constant companion on the roads), but despite that, I still wear my seatbelt every time I get in the car.
  3. One of the reasons why I got started in this was because of the perception of increasing violence in and around my city.

Now, though, ten years later, things have changed. I still want to be become a better gun owner, but in the process of becoming a better defensive gun owner, I’m a quieter, gentler soul (because of the need to de-escalate), I’m an active participant in the (fun) sport of practical shooting, gotten in better shape, met some great people, learned how to be a better driver and a better parent thru more awareness and I’ve *definitely* become more aware of the long-term consequences of my actions.
As it turns out, one of the biggest reasons for the journey is not the destination, but rather the journey itself.

Ruger LCP II 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1-222

ruger_LCPII_2000_Rounds

If you’ve been in a gun shop recently or spent any time reading a gun magazine, you’ll soon find out that there is a big gap between the guns that the experts recommend for concealed carry and the guns that people can carry without major adjustments in their lifestyle. As Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, once said,

What we of the ‘cognoscenti’ fail to recognize and accept is that few average people will carry a service weapon. Here’s why: A holstered Glock 19 is the size of a Small Priority Mail Flat Rate Box and weighs as much as two cans of uncondensed soup. What normal person wants to carry that on their belt or in their pants?

This is where the ultra-small .380 pocket pistol comes into play. The original Ruger LCP in .380ACP  marked the beginning of the boom in concealed carry and concealed carry pistols, and now Ruger has rolled out a new, improved version, the LCP II, with reworked texturing and in-demand features like last-round slide lock and an improved trigger.

And it’s a good little gun. The most controllable, most-shootable pocket .380 I’ve found (so far) is the Sig Sauer P238. The P238 is comfortable and easy to shoot, but because it’s based on the 1911 platform, it’s also heavier than most pocket guns and has a manual thumb safety that needs to be flicked off before it can be put to work. It’s also more expensive than a lot of pocket. 380’s, and let’s face it, that does play a big part of the cost/benefit analysis when it comes to buying a gun for anyone whose life doesn’t revolve around guns.

If this were a side-by-side test (and it’s not), the LCP II would be in second-place when it comes shootability and comfort for pocket .380’s, and it’s a LOT more affordable than the P238. The LCP II is a single-action only (SAO), hammer-fired gun that comes from the factory with a six round magazine, a pocket holster and a crisp six and 1/2 pound trigger pull. The trigger on the LCPII is, quite frankly, the best trigger I’ve encountered in a pocket .380 that’s not based on a 1911 and is a marked improvement from the original LCP trigger. The pistol has a blade trigger safety, a drop safety and small, but usable sights for aiming. The LCP II is comfortable to shoot, although more than 100 or so rounds in a given range session might be a bit too much for comfort.

The sights on the LCP II are an improvement from the LCP, but they are still small and hard to pick up in low-light conditions compared to larger, more conventional sight setups.  The magazine comes with a flat floorplate and an optional pinkie extension, and that extension really helped me get a grip on the gun while shooting it.

Speaking of shooting it, let’s get to the reason for this post.

Shooting the LCP II – The First 222 Rounds

The 2000 Round Challenge was proposed by the late Todd Green as a way to measure the reliability of any given gun. The rules are quite simple: Shoot 2000 rounds through your pistol, any type of ammo, over any length of time, and report what stoppages/malfunctions/misfeeds you run into along the way. 2000 rounds without a hiccup is a fairly big challenge for stock service pistols that have to survive being carried around by cops for years and years, so if a small pocket gun like the LCP II can make through this challenge (or even make it through a significant part of it) without any major malfunctions, I’d say Ruger has a winner on his hands.

Lucky Gunner was kind enough to provide the first 500 rounds for this test: 400 rounds PMC Bronze .380 ammo and 100 round of Hornady Critical Defense. This, along with a hodgepodge of rounds from my ammo cans are where we’ll start, and I’ll mix in more ammo types as we go along.

The pistol was field-stripped and lubed with Brownells Friction Defense Extreme gun oil and then taken to the range. It will not be disassembled or lubed again until it reaches 2000 rounds or the test results show it can’t take anymore firing. Most of these rounds were shot with a two-handed grip, however, some were shot one-handed with the strong and support-side hand alone, which did affect the results, as we’ll see in a bit.

Ammo shot through the gun so far:

12 Rounds Hornady Critical Defense 90 grain Hollow Point 
12 Rounds Tula Ammo 91 Grain Full Metal Jacket
200 Rounds PMC Bronze 90 Grain Full Metal Jacket

I encountered one Failure to Feed (FTF) at round number 112 with the first magazine of ammo I put through the gun shooting with only one hand. I believe that FTF was due to me not gripping the gun enough for it to cycle properly, (I was just getting used to the darn thing), but I will note it here with an asterisk and see if it happens any more.

2000 Round Challenge Results:

Rounds Fired: 222
Failures Encountered: Round 116, FTF*
*Probably user-induced

So far, so good. 200+ rounds, and only one little (probably user-induced) hiccup. Not bad for something the size of a chocolate chip cookie.

After-Class Report: The Law Of Self Defense With Andrew Branca

I’ve read his book (twice), and I’ve watched all the DVD’s on self-defense law I received with my ACLDN membership at least two times each.

So why would I want to spend the money and time to also go to Andrew Branca’s Law Of Self-Defense Seminar?

Because going to the seminar means you’ll learn what Andrew Branca thinks is important about self-defense law, not what I think is important about self-defense law as I went along in his book. One of the biggest takeaways for me from the seminar (not necessarily the book) is that a legal strategy of self-defense only applies after you admit to the fact that you used deadly force against someone to defend your life. Your defense, essentially is “Yes, I shot him/her, BUT it was justified because I did it in self-defense.”

See the problem there? You’re admitting that you shot someone, and you’re betting on the fact you did it legally because it was in self-defense. If that self-defense justification goes away, you’ve just admitted you used deadly force.

The book and seminar are both built around five principals of legal self-defense (I won’t say what they are here: Spend the money for the book, it’s worth it. However, all five elements he speaks about are CUMULATIVE: All of them must be present in some form or another for a self-defense claim to be valid. If one or more of those elements aren’t present, everything we talked about in the “but” part of your previous statement (“Yes, I shot him/her, but it was justified”) vanishes, and the “Yes, I shot him/her.” is all that remains.

See why this is so important now?

It’s important because law cares about the law, not your intentions. Just as it is up to us to know the rules of the road before we drive a car, it is up to us to learn the rules of self-defense as well. If we blow through a red light, the law doesn’t care if we did it because we meant to do it or because we didn’t see the signal light change, the law says we’re getting a ticket.

By looking around and watching other drivers, we can learn that running through red lights is a bad idea (although the drivers here in Florida do give me pause about this fact…). Yes, we can learn a little bit about the rules of the road by observing the environment and we can learn a bit of the rules of self-defense from the environment of gun forums and magazines around us, but if I learned to drive from watching the antics of my fellow drivers here in Florida, I’d be dead by now.

And yet so, so many gun owners think they know about the legalities of self-defense because of what other gun owners tell them.

Whoops.

A few more thoughts…

The class had a professional environment and was blissfully free of the usual “Can I shoot him now? Ok, what about now? Ok, now?” kind of questions that are so typical to concealed carry courses and other legal seminars. Also, the seminar really brought home the need to have at least one option for non-deadly force handy at all times. We are 5x more likely to be faced with a non-deadly force than deadly force, but are we 5x more likely to get training in the use of non-deadly force like OC spray or combatives than we are to get pistol training?

If not, why not?

When if comes to how and when you can use deadly force, what you learn about this class about the legal complexities of using deadly force in defense of your property and others should swiftly disabuse you of any “sheepdog” notion. The law gets really, really tricky when you start to talk about the use of force to help a third-party, and the law is even less on your side when it comes to using deadly force to defend your personal property.

You are not Batman. You are not charged with wiping out the criminal element in your town, so don’t do that.

Serious drivers are not content to mimic the bad habits of their fellow drivers, they take the time to learn the rules of the road from serious people. If you are serious about self-defense, you should take the law of self-defense seriously as well.