Teaching Your Kids To Shoot

Teaching your kids to shoot

My sons are six and nine now, and they’ve shown themselves to be old enough and mature enough to get behind the trigger. So this weekend, during a camping trip to the Mogollon Rim, I brought a Crossman BB gun and my AR with a .22 adapter and they got to fire a gun “for real”.

Two boys and dad's guns in the woods

Why these guns? They’ve shot the BB gun in our backyard before and enjoyed it, so I wanted to bring along something they’re already familiar with, and the AR is my lightweight upper AR with a Brownell’s .22 adapter, which I brought because it had a bipod and a red dot on it. I wanted something that would fit them (the AR’s collapsable stock suited that well), was easy to shoot (.22LR in an AR has almost no recoil) and something that would give them the immediate gratification of hitting the target. I’ll leave the sight picture and breath control discussions for a later day: Today was all about having fun with guns.

There’s a bunch of opinions about what makes a good first gun for a young kid and I’ll read up them over the next few months as Christmas approaches (shockingly, I’m leaning towards a CZ. Go figure). But for now, I’ll be content with creating memories like this.

I like it!

Shot Showoff

Shot Showoff

Another post in the Smith and Wesson Shield series.

So, how does the durn thing shoot, you ask? 

Very well. 

I started off with two mags of alternating Hornady XTP’s and Federal 115gr FMJ’s, because the FMJ’s are my usual practice ammo and the Hornady’s are my carry ammo of choice. I’m not a big fan of shooting mild FMJ’s for practice and then switching to SuperDeluxe ++P++ Expand-O-Blasters for a defensive round, and I was pleasantly surprised to find there was no difference in gun behavior or felt recoil between the FMJ’s and the hollow points. 

After that, it was a 3 yard Dot Torture Drill.

45 out of 50. Not too shabby. 

Considering this was done within the first 100 rounds I put through the gun, I’m very pleased with a 45 out of 50, and I’m sure that will improve as I get more used to the Shield’s trigger. 

Next up was a side-by-side comparison of the Shield as a defensive gun, and that’ll be tomorrow’s post. 

Who Needs An MP7A1 Or Recoil Magazine?

Who needs an MP7A1 or Recoil Magazine?

This is what set this whole brouhaha off, the Heckler and Koch MP7A1 PDW (Personal Defense Weapon).

Recoil Magazine's CopKiller of the Year

It weighs a bit over four pounds empty, is about 16 inches long with the stock extended and fires an .18 caliber round at about 2400 feet per second or so. Right now, we civilians can’t buy one because of the Hughes Amendment (which bans sales of new full auto weapons to the public), so even if we could get one (which Recoil Mag says we shouldn’t) it would be in a semi-automatic version only and either have its barrel length more than doubled (increasing the weight and decreasing portability) OR be for sale as an SBR, or short barreled rifle, which would require an additional $200 tax stamp and whole lot of paperwork. And that’s not counting the fact that Heckler and Koch product are spendy (sorry HK fanboys, they are. Deal with it.).

So what else is out there?


This is an FN PS90s. It’s semi-automatic with a 16″ barrel, which mean’s it’s fully legal to buy in most free states, fires a .22 caliber round at about 2100 feet per second, weighs about 7 pounds, is about 23 inches long and you can get one without have to beg the government for extra dispensation. Nice, but still a bit expensive at about $1500 out the door.

And now let’s go the wildcard.

Rmr 30 Carbine

The Kel-Tec RMR 30 has been announced for some time now, but I got a chance to play with one at SHOT this year, and I’m seriously impressed. It weighs about 4 pounds, is about 22 inches long with the stock collapsed (30 inches with it open), and shoots a .22 caliber cartridge at about 2000 feet per second.

It’s (still) not readily available, but I suspect it’ll sell for about $450-500 dollars when it hits the shelves… whenever. I’m a big fan of this gun because it ticks all the PDW checkboxes: It’s inexpensive, light, small, easy to handle and fires commonly-available .22 Magnum ammunition versus the more exotic 5.7x28mm ammo of the PS90 and ridiculously expensive 4.6x30mm round that the MP7 uses.

And we still haven’t talked about short-barreled AR-15’s or pistol-caliber submachine guns.

So why get an MP7? Damifino. Recoil magazine sure picked a silly hill to die on, that’s for sure. It’s not that the MP7 is a bad gun (it’s not), it’s just that there’s already alternatives out there for we civilians. Sure, I’d like to own one if I could afford it, but laying my hands on one isn’t a priority for me: Getting better with what I already own is my priority.

Recoil Magazine Learns How To Lose Friends And Gain Enemies

Recoil Magazine learns how to lose friends and gain enemies

There’s another brouhaha developing on teh gun interwebs (wow, when was the last time THAT happened?), this time over a statement made about the H+K MP7A1 PDW. 

Apparently, Recoil Magazine (a cross between Guns and Ammo and Wired) published a review of the MP7A1 which declared it was a good thing that mere mortals like we civilians not get ahold of such devastating H+K made weaponry

“Hey guys, this is Jerry Tsai, Editor of RECOIL. I think I need to jump in here and clarify what I wrote in the MP7A1 article. It looks like I may not have stated my point clearly enough in that line that is quoted up above. Let’s be clear, neither RECOIL nor I are taking the stance on what should or should not be made available on the commercial market although I can see how what was written can be confused as such.

Because we don’t want anything to be taken out of context, let’s complete that quote and read the entire paragraph:

“Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it. Mike Cabrera of Heckler & Koch Law Enforcement Sales and veteran law enforcement officer with SWAT unit experience points out that this is a gun that you do not want in the wrong, slimy hands. It comes with semi-automatic and full-auto firing modes only. Its overall size places it between a handgun and submachine gun. Its assault rifle capabilities and small size make this a serious weapon that should not be taken lightly.”

Let’ also review why this gun should not be taken lightly. In the article it was stated that the MP7A1 is a slightly larger than handgun sized machine-gun that can be accurately fired and penetrate Soviet style body armor at more than 300 yards. In the wrong hands, that’s a bad day for the good guys.

As readers of RECOIL, we all agree that we love bad-*** hardware, there’s no question about that. I believe that in a perfect world, all of us should have access to every kind of gadget that we desire. Believe me, being a civvie myself, I’d love to be able to get my hands on an MP7A1 of my own regardless of its stated purpose, but unfortunately the reality is that it isn’t available to us. As a fellow enthusiast, I know how frustrating it is to want something only to be denied it.

Its manufacturer has not made the gun available to the general public and when we asked if it would ever come to the commercial market, they replied that it is strictly a military and law enforcement weapon, adding that there are no sporting applications for it. Is it wrong that HK decided against selling a full-auto pocket sized machine gun that can penetrate armor from hundreds of yards away? It’s their decision to make and their decision they have to live with not mine nor anybody else’s.

I accepted their answer for what it was out of respect for those serving in uniform. I believe that we as gun enthusiasts should respect our brothers in law enforcement, agency work and the military and also keep them out of harms way. Like HK, I wouldn’t want to see one of these slip into the wrong hands either. Whether or not you agree with this is fine. I am compelled to explain a point that I was trying to make that may have not been clear.

Thanks for reading,
– JT, Editor, RECOIL”

Here’s the problem, Mr. Tsai. H+K hates the civilian market. They’d much rather let the military and police have guns and leave us with a smattering of carefully-regulated shotguns and .22’s (because hey, look how well that works in Britain!).

And Jerry, you fell for H+K’s message hook, line and sinker (although to your credit, your magazine hasn’t featured a cover photo like this. Yet.) .

There is no such thing as “sporting purpose”: That same tricked-out AR-15 that does sub-MOA at Camp Perry is kissing cousins with a soldier’s M4. The Remington 870 I use for quail is a barrel change and a magazine extension away from riding around in a police cruiser. 

And don’t get me started on 3 gun or USPSA. 

H+K sucks, and they hate you. Once you realize that, Jerry, you can begin to walk back your “only one” -esque statement about who should and should not have access to guns. 

Guns don’t need a “why”: Guns are what they are; it’s the people who use them that provide the “why”. 

Now That I’ve Fixed The Blog Issues…

Now that I’ve fixed the blog issues…

I’ll be away from things for the next couple of days as I sort out work and side work and family life. 

I have a couple of big side projects in the pipe, (a new site for my dojo, a re-make of TrainMeAz and a series of sites for a prominent local firearms attorney) and I’m going camping this weekend with my boys and bringing along a .22: It’s high time they take their first shots with a real gun. 

Next week, look for my first impressions on the Smith and Wesson Shield, a re-test of the Pocket Nine vs. Pocket .380 vs. Compact Nine test, and more of the usual blather. 

Oh, and big shout-outs to  ExurbanSteve for wrestling the GoDaddy bug to the ground and to Capitalist Pig of Great Satan Inc. for his WordPress expertise. 

A Beginner’s Guide To Choosing Defensive And Practice 9mm Ammunition

A beginner’s guide to choosing defensive and practice 9mm ammunition

So you just bought your first defensive pistol, and you walk out of the store with your gun in its case, a box of defensive hollow-point ammunition and a box of cheaper Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammo for practice. No problem, because as long as it’s not +P ammo (which essentially means “more powerful than normal”), 9mm ammo is all alike, right?


Well, let’s find out.

First, a brief note about bullet weights. Bullets are just the thing that goes flying out the gun: The whole thing together is called “ammunition”, and bullet weight is measured in grains, with 437.5 of them in an ounce. As you’d expect, heavier bullets like 147 grain 9mm rounds shoot the bullet out at slightly slower speeds than lighter bullets, but because the rounds we tested are all “normal” 9mm ammunition and not “+P” (or “+P+”, which means, you guessed it, even more powerful 9mm rounds), at the end of the day, the energy of a lighter bullet going faster should be close to the same as a heavier bullet going slower and everything should even out.

Should, that is. Should. We’ll find out if this is true in a bit.

You can buy 115 grain FMJ grain ammo from any gun shop or online ammo store out there, and while it’s a very common choice for practice ammo because of its price and availability, it’s a poor choice for defensive purposes because the round nose of the bullet tends to punch through the target and not deliver its energy into what’s being hit, and when it comes to defensive ammo, you want to drop all the energy of the bullet into the target as quickly as possible and not have the bullet go through and hit something else. Hollow-point defensive ammunition is designed to do just that by expanding and slowing down when it hits something substantial, delivering its energy all at once and creating what’s known as “stopping power” onto the target. Stopping power is at least another four or five cans of worms to open up, so we’ll leave that for later. How does four years from next Tuesday work for you?

I digress.

Hollow-points are also more expensive, usually costing about twice as full metal jacketed round nose ammunition, so it’s very common for people to practice with FMJ’s and shoot their defensive ammunition sparingly, if at all.

So let’s find if there is a difference:

Given the same bullet weight, does commonly-available full metal jacket practice ammunition feel different to shoot than hollow-point defensive ammunition?

Ruger LC9 and Springfield XD9

We’ll do a blind test with two common 9mm handguns, a Ruger LC9 and a Springfield XD9, and since I can’t do a blind comparison by myself, (well, I could, but my local range refuses to allow me to shoot blindfolded. Go figure…), we’ve enlisted Robert and Jaci of TeamGunBlogger.com help to shoot the test.

Ruger LC9 Test

This is good, because they’re both at a very similar level of shooting skill: They’re both “C” Class USPSA Production competitors and Sharpshooter in IDPA ESP, which is also about the same skill level as I am myself, so I’m very interested in seeing how this test comes out. They didn’t know what they were shooting for each test: I loaded their magazines for them and the boxes for the test ammo were nowhere in sight.

The Test:

Fire five rounds of each type of ammunition with each pistol at a 8 inch steel plate that’s 24 feet away. Start position will be pistol aimed on target, finger on trigger, and the shots should be taken as fast as possible while maintaining good hits.

Springfield XD9 Test

So let’s see how we did!

Test #1: Federal 115 Grain FMJ
1180 FPS – 356 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total (secs) Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.98 .83 2.29 1.34 .83 .69
Robert – XD9 3.16 .26 .64 .75 .91 .60

Jaci: “Straight push, light muzzle flip, recoil felt like a shove and not a hammer, not snappy at all”
Robert: “Soft, light push, slow felt recoil”

Test #2: 115 Grain Hornady XTP Hollow Point
1155 FPS – 341 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.35 .79 1.57 .79 1.41 .85
Robert – XD9 3.86 .26 1.06 .79 .67 1.06

Jaci: “Poppier with more muzzle flip, less push-back in my hand, louder report, still manageable”
Robert: “Soft, with not much felt recoil, easy to shoot, would use it in competition”

Test #3: 147 Grain American Eagle FMJ
1000 FPS – 327 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.32 1.17 .82 .84 1.70 .79
Robert – XD9 4.46 .32 1.35 .90 .78 1.11

Jaci: “Felt like gun was jumpier, more recoil, stung hands, barely manageable follow-up shots”
Robert: “Manageable, sharp push into hand, more flip, felt like it was a heavier bullet”

Test #4: 124 Grain Speer Gold Dot – 1150 FPS
364 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.00 1.16 .95 .94 .98 .97
Robert – XD9 4.14 .49 .92 .84 1.06 .83

Jaci: “Sharp recoil, lots of muzzle flip, snappy, hot”
Robert: “Stout recoil, drove gun into hand noticeably hard, felt like a punch in the hand”

Test #5: 124 Grain American Eagle FMJ
1150 FPS – 364 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.15 1.13 1.06 1.01 .98 .95
Robert – XD9 3.90 .30 1.02 .98 .85 .75

Jaci: “Snappy but light, some flip, manageable, comfortable and easy to shoot”
Robert: “Medium-soft, comfortable, some muzzle flip, would shoot it in competition”

Test #6: 115 Grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Point
1210 FPS – 374 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.32 .96 1.01 1.57 .91 .87
Robert – XD9 3.65 .51 .96 .79 .75 .64

“Heavy and hot, lots of recoil, felt ‘abusive’, some flip but lots of felt recoil”
Robert: “Not a lot of muzzle flip but a strong push into back of hand, felt the sting afterwards”

Test # 7: 147 Grain Winchester White Box Hollow Point
990 FPS – 320 Foot/Pounds Muzzle Energy

Shooter Total Shot 1 Shot 2 Shot 3 Shot 4 Shot 5
Jaci – LC9 5.95 1.15 1.08 1.48 1.09 1.15
Robert – XD9 4.08 .54 1.00 .83 .78 .98

Jaci: “Lots of muzzle flip, most of all the tested rounds, manageable felt recoil”
Robert: “More muzzle flip, sharp but not overly heavy felt recoil”

Shot 1, Shot 2, ETC: How long it took to get the next shot shot on target. Jaci had some problems at first with the looong trigger pull on the LC9 versus her usual gun, which is why some of the scores in the first two tests are a little weird.
Red Numbers:
A miss. Oops.
Bullet speed in Feet Per Second, or how fast the manufacturer says the bullet is going when it comes out of the barrel of the gun. This can change with different types of guns, so the numbers quoted here and from the ammunition manufacturers themselves.
Muzzle Energy: The theoretical force the bullet has as it leaves the end of the gun, which equals (Bullet Speed x Bullet Speed x Weight of the Bullet) / 450,240. More is better here, but remember, Newton’s Third Law of Motion means there’s going to be an equal and opposite amount of force to the force that goes out of the end of the barrel and that means more recoil and less control.


All 9mm “normal pressure” ammo is NOT created equal. Even though all these rounds are considered “normal” and not “+P”, there are big differences in how the ammo felt to shoot. We chose “normal” ammunition for this test because of the recent popularity of small and subcompact 9mm pistols: Because of their size, some of those pistols cannot shoot +P ammuniton safely, and even if you could, you don’t want to shoot +P ammo in a small 9mm because the added recoil and muzzle flip makes it a VERY unpleasant experience with little to no upside.

Surprisingly there wasn’t a big difference in the shot-to-shot times between each type of ammunition, indicating that while some brands and bullets weights FELT easier to shoot, and the end of the day, it’s the person shooting the gun and not the ammunition that matters. That being said, ammunition that feels easier to shoot will get shot more often, something to take into account as you choose your practice ammo.

It’s also important to note that we’ve reached a point in ballistics and bullet development that almost ANY of the modern hollow-point ammunition from the “name-brand” manufacturers will work as a defensive round and provide enough “stopping power.” I could link to literally thousands of blog posts and forum comments and reasoned opinions from some really, really smart people, but at the end of the day, with a few notable exceptions (Glaser Safety Slugs and similar “frangible” ammunition being one), all modern hollow-point ammo will do the job it needs to when it needs to it. The point of this test wasn’t to find The Ultimate Manstopper, it was to team up the best defensive ammo for your practice ammo of choice, and vice versa.

Judging by these results, if you practice regularly with Federal 115 Grain FMJ ammunition, you may want to consider the 115 Grain Hornady XTP over the 115 Grain Speer Gold Dot ammunition. If you shoot with 124 Grain FMJ’s, and unless you’re convinced that Speer Gold Dots are The Ultimate Man-Stopper, you may want to pass on them in favour of something with a little less recoil that more closely matches the ammo you train with. However, if you have 147 Grain Winchesters Hollow Points in the 9mm you rely on for personal protection, 147 Grain American Eagle FMJ’s seem to be a good choice for a practice round for you.

As for me, I’m changing defensive ammo as soon as I can afford it. I practice with 115 grain Federal FMJ ammunition, but the CZ P07 I carry currently has 124 Grain Speer Gold Dots in it, which means that if (God Forbid) I have to use that gun with that ammo in it, how the gun will react to the ammo and how I will react to what the gun is doing will be different than how the ammo I practice with reacts. I’ll be switching those out in favour of Hornady XTP’s as soon as I can, because in the end, you want your training and practice to be as close to what you’re training and practicing FOR as you possibly can get it.

Stay safe, have fun,

profile_pic_smHey, if you liked this, feel free to come back often. I write about this kinda stuff almost every day, and the best way to keep track of things is by following the site on Facebook.




Thanks to Lucky Gunner for some of the ammo used in this test, Jaci and Robert of TeamGunblogger for their help, and Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club for the use of their pistol bay and steel target.



Unc links to an interesting wallet-sized survival kit. There’s some stuff in it that I need to add to my small kit (Kevlar cord) and some stuff in it that I don’t need (non-metallic handcuff key), but the one thing that fascinates me about this kit and practically every other kit out there is the obession with fishing gear. 

I understand that fishing line and hooks have other uses and that a lead sinker doesn’t take up a lot of space, but the fact is, you’ll die from dehyrdaration or drinking polluted water LONG before you’ll die of starvation. Any Boy Scout will tell you to worry about first aid, shelter, fire and water first, then worry about food.

Cheap, Fast, Easy (Part One)

Cheap, fast, easy (Part One)

The Vuurwapen (that’s Dutch for “Firearm”, if you haven’t figured it out) Blog lit the candle about the professionalism of gun reviews and others have chimed in, so here’s my thoughts as well. 

The current state of gun reviews (online or not) is something that’s been bubbling inside my head since SHOT, and I’ve come to the conclusion that gun reviews, as they are now, are pretty much useless. 

And I blame myself as much as anyone else.

Let’s break down a typical gun review. It starts with a brief history of the product or the manufacturer, then swings into a paragraph or two about what features on the Überblaster 3000 make it new and exciting (or, alternatively, such a beloved classic). Next is a opinion piece on why that reviewer thought those features were good or bad, and then lastly a trip to the range where they’ll put about 200 or so rounds through it at varying distances and then pronounce (if we’re lucky) that said gun is a good value or if we’re not, they’ll just say whether they like the gun or not. 

What I didn’t learn was a) how it compared to other guns with a similar purpose b) what other people think of it and c) and what the gun is like to own and maintain.

It’s that last point that’s the biggest gap in gun reviews. Gun writing is in a permanent state of ADD: We’re always distracted by the bright and shiny new objects the gun companies dangle in front of us, and we don’t write about what it’s like to live with a gun for a long time. As I said on the post that started this whole thing, 

My main complaint with most gun reviews is they are similar to the car reviews in the auto magazines: “Look, here’s the latest and greatest thing from Detroit/Milan/Stuttgart/, and it goes REALLY REALLY FAST!!!!”

That’s nice, if I have an extra $50k+ to spend on a mid-life crisis. However, I’m more concerned about what a given gun will do over it’s lifetime. I don’t buy a gun a month, if I’m lucky, it’s a gun a year, so I need to make sure what I buy will hold up as an investment, and putting 200 rounds through it tells me squat about what it’s like to live with that gun day in and day out. A pistol that can hold up to a 2000 Round Challenge is much more interesting to me than the last überblaster. 

I’ll probably never buy a Lamborghini, and even my chances of owning a Mustang are beginning to fade as my kids grow up and bills increase. What matters to me more right now is whether my wife’s Nissan Pathfinder will be as reliable as my old Frontier pickup or what are the long-term maintenance costs of a Civic Hybrid. 

The fact of the matter is, most cars are reliable for the first 75,000 miles or so and, with a few exceptions, most guns are reliable for the first 1000-ish rounds (we’ll leave the “break-in” discussion for another day). Because I don’t buy a gun a month, I need to know that what I buy will last, and the 2000 Round Challenge is good way to mimic the life of an ordinary (non-competition) gun and how a typical plinker/CCW gun owner will treat their gun.

Gun reviewers (including me) need to start thinking about what it’s like to OWN a gun and not just what it’s like to BUY a gun. 

Part Two on Monday: Learning from Car and Driver.