After The Hunt.

After The Hunt.

The article on hog hunting for American Hunter is written and sent to my editor. Here’s some stuff that didn’t make it into the mix.

  • A hog hunting school like I attended is a really great way to get into hunting. If you’re like me, (and I know I am), the biggest problem with trying something new is that I don’t know what I don’t know. As such, having one day set aside to sight in our rifles and learn a little bit about feral pigs, how they live and how you hunt them made the hunt itself a lot easier.
  • Watching the skinning/quartering process is essential to the experience. I spent my summers on a farm that raised chickens for market, so I know just what it takes to make the food we eat. It’s my sincere belief that Americans have no idea of the amount of effort needed to raise the food we eat, which is why we have a problem with obesity: All it takes for us to eat is money. A hunt will set you straight on such things right quickly, as you’ll so find out it takes WORK to stalk, shoot, quarter and then butcher a hog.
  • Jeff Cooper believed that hunting was essential to understanding self-defense, and he’s right. There is just something about knowing that you need to take a shot to end another creature’s life and you need to take that shot NOW that can’t be found on a stage at a match or in a bay while training. There isn’t that sense of urgency at a match, or even shooting a qual at a class. If I blow a stage, there’s always the next one. If I blow a qualifier while training, it’s only my ego on the line, not my family’s supper.
    Hunting, though? With hunting, you begin to realize that the stakes are truly mortal.
  • I was initially leery about hunting on a private preserve with a guide because I thought it’d be one step up from bear baiting. However, hunting with a guide was a lot more active than  I thought. It wasn’t a “Ok, pig there, shoot now” sort of thing: In reality, I spotted my critter first and led the stalk and helped in the chase afterwards. Yes, I’d get a lot more of the “outdoors” part of thing if I tramped around a wildlife preserve for a day or more chasing hogs, and that’s fine, I like the walking in the woods, and I’ll try that soon as well.
  • I was also a little dismissive at first about the gear that one of my fellow hunters brought to the hunt. He was using a budget .30-30 with a UTG scope on it rotated 90° so that elevation is now windage, a setup that doesn’t exactly scream “Competency!” to me. You know what, though? Dude used that effed up budget gun to make a 50 yard headshot on his pig, dropping it with one round right behind the ear.
    Serves me right for judging a book by its cover.

The haul? I ended up with two racks of ribs, two five pound hams, five pounds of backstrap and pork chops, six pounds of italian sausage and a pound of ground pork.

Pork products

On the whole, as I said in the article, (which should be published next month) I’ll do it again, and soon. It was too much fun not to go again.

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 351-450

Colt Competition .45 ACP 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 351-450

In addition to calling an end to the Ruger LCP2 test, I also put one hundred rounds of Lucky Gunner’s .45ACP ammo through the 1911 during that same trip to Shoot Center, working on one-handed shooting and reloads. Not much to report here: Everything worked, nothing blew up, the gun just ran.

Bor-ing. So far, this entry-level 1911 is doing what you want a gun to do: Shoot, shoot accurately and shoot all the time.

My reloads are noticeably slower than with my double-stack guns, which I attribute to a combination of the smaller mag opening in the grip of the 1911 and the forgiving triangular prism shape of the top of a double stack mag. I’m going to work with a timer a bit to see which is faster for me on my reloads: Hitting the slide stop release with my thumb, or going over the top and reaching the slide. I suspect that as it stands now, they’ll be pretty much the same, but hitting the slide stop faster will be better for my times in the long run, although running the slide is the more useful of the two as it applies to just about every gun out there.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

100 Rounds Sellier And Bellot .45ACP

Results:

No issues.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1751-1850.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1751-1850.

I took the gun up to Shoot Center to do some indoor range work with the Crimson Trace green laser I have on the gun. I can see the dot during the day, but it’s indoors where it really shines.

Yes, I meant to write that.

The MagTech and Fiocchi ammo I had been using in this test caused this gun no end of troubles, so I loaded up my mags with Federal Premium .380 from Lucky Gunner, and I headed off to the range, where something interesting happened: I couldn’t hit crap with the laser, but did ok with the minimal iron sights on that little gun. Here’s the same target, shot at 10 yards with irons vs. laser.

While neither target is a shining example of marksmanship, something happened when I saw that green dot show up on the target, and BLAMMO, I jerked the trigger. However, when I lined up the sights, I took my time and pressed the trigger and managed to deliver acceptable results for a .380 pistol that’s slightly bigger than an index card. I’m *used* to the lousy sights on this gun, what I’m not used to is the green dot. More work on this is needed, but at a later date because I’m calling an end to the test.

Yep, that’s right, the 2000 round test of the LCP2 is ending 250 rounds short of the goal. On the 87th shot of my session, the pistol threw a Failure To Eject malfunction at me, and I’ve had enough. The gun was reasonably reliable through the first 500 rounds, but boy howdy did things go downhill from there.

Ammunition-wise, this was the tale of the tape. From what I’ve seen, if you get a change to shoot MagTech in an LCP2, don’t.

RoundQuan. ShotFTEFTF
Hornady Critical Defense 90 Grain JHP24
Tula Ammo 91 Grain FMJ12
Speer Gold Dot 90 Grain JHP6
Winchester White Box 95 Grain FMJ5062
Hornady Custom XTP 90 Grain JHP2
PMC Bronze 90 Grain FMJ85021
Magtech 95 Grain FMJ1004
Fiocchi 95 Grain FMJ1002
Federal American Eagle 95 Grain FMJ1001
Blazer Brass FMJ95 Grain 50

The LCP2 is a pocket pistol, not a service pistol. It’s not built to the same standards as, say, an S&W M+P or a Glock, and it turns out there’s a reason why they’re called “service” pistols… they’re meant to stay in service and not barf up ammo after 500 rounds.

Now, does this mean that the LCP2 is a bad choice for a defensive gun? No, not at all. Pocket guns just are not designed to take the same abuse as a service pistol and are rarely have even 500 rounds put through them over the course of their lifetime (although I was kinda hoping this one would go further into the test than it did).

Bottom line is if you have an LCP2 is that unless you’re as dumb as I was and took things to the extreme, you little gun will serve you well. Put 100 or so rounds through it a year to maintain competency, and save the torture tests for the guns that can take the abuse.

Ruger LCP2 2000 Round Challenge Results

Rounds Fired
100 Rounds Federal Premium FMJ 

Total Rounds Fired: 1750
One possible failure to eject on round 116
Failures to eject: Rounds 400, 489, 974, 993, 1277, 1323, 1359, 1737
Failure to feed: Round 873, 1526, 1534, 1556, 1583

Upcoming Training: Florida Firearms Training Hog Hunting School.

Upcoming Training: Florida Firearms Training Hog Hunting School.

As I said before, I’m going on my first-ever hunt this weekend, a two-day hog hunt with Florida Firearms Training, and I’m really looking forward to it, as it sounds like something I’ve been searching for, namely, an on-ramp into hunting for fat, middle-aged white guys.

Plus (if I’m lucky) I’ll be ridding central Florida of an invasive species and harvesting some free-range, organically-grown, antibiotic-free bacon for my family to enjoy.

Win-win-win!

Product Review: Mag Guts +1 Magazine Springs And SSA MagFix Baseplates

Product Review: Mag Guts +1 Magazine Springs And SSA MagFix Baseplates

I’ve pretty much settled on the Smith&Wesson Shield in 9mm as my “go-to” carry gun for more-casual occasions.

I can hear the teeth gnashing as I type this, but the fact is, I’ve trained with this gun, I know what it is capable of, and I am absolutely confident in my ability to perform with it on-demand. However, with 8+1 rounds it’s not the highest capacity gun on the market right now, and it means that carrying a spare magazine is usually a good idea.

Enter the MagGuts +1 Follower. At $22.95, it costs around what eight round Shield mags are going for these days, but it works as advertised. I popped the baseplate off of a S&W 9mm +1 mag, dropped out the existing spring and follower, and slid the new base plate right back on. I did have to do some spring-wrangling to get the follower to line up, and unlike the stock spring, the edges on the MagGuts spring are sharp and pointy. No blood was shed in the alteration of the magazine interior, but I did get the point, and I got it often.

I also received a couple of MagFix baseplates for the 8 round Shield magazine, and these are terrific. I had been using pre-production aluminum MagFixs on my Shield mags, and I was curious to see how the plastic ones would compare. The good news is, they’re easy to install and work well with the MagGuts +1 follower. The only change I had to make was to use the standard S&W baseplate instead of the thinner MagGuts plate, but it was an easy fix to make.

The MagFix is a great addition to the Shield: Besides solving the sliding insert problem, there’s a little lip on the bottom of the sucker that adds stability to my firing grip and makes the gun feel more secure in my hand. Also, it’s a low-profile solution to the 8 round mag baseplate issue. Other magazine baseplates for this gun, like the ones from ProMag or Taran Tactical, add bulk to the butt of your gun, making them harder to conceal. The MagFix, though, is essentially the same size as the S&W magazine and prints much less than other options.

All of this is moot, however, if the combination doesn’t work, so I shot 50 rounds through the MagGuts / MagFix combo over the weekend, and there were no issues to report. I would have liked to do more, and I will, but my initial impression is that this is a great way to get one more round out of your Smith and Wesson Shield, and if Nigel Tufnel taught us anything, it’s that one more is ALWAYS better.

The bottom line is, if you have a 9mm Shield, these would definitely be two additions I’d add to your gun to make it a more effective fighting tool

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 226 – 350

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 226 – 350

I brought the Colt out to one of Step By Step’s Shoot N Scoot events last week to work on shooting in a match without the pressure of placement and to re-shoot stages where I screw up. I’ve written before about how the Shoot N Scoot is a good on-ramp for new gun owners,  but it’s also a great way for more advanced shooters to learn from their mistakes in a short period of time.

The stages are all-steel, easy to shoot and the longest stage was 22 rounds, making them easy to shoot with an eight-round mag. I concentrated on muzzle control with two hands and one-handed shooting with the 1911, and while much more work is needed, at last I understand the scope of the problem now.

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

250 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ
100 Rounds Sig Sauer 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

No issues.

I also put my first 100 rounds through the Beretta APX I have on loan, and it’s a nice little service pistol. While it’s about the same size as a Glock, it’s got better sights (3 dot night sights*) and a better trigger. Looking forward to putting this gun to more use.

 

* Note that I said “better,” not “optimal.” I’m not that big of a fan of three dot sights, but they are better than what Glocks ship with.

Slide, Hammer, Holster.

Slide, Hammer, Holster.

One thing I like about Step By Step Gun Training’s Shoot N Scoot events is that they give the average gun owner an opportunity to safely draw a loaded gun from a holster, shoot it, then re-holster. The gun industry assumes that such things are common skills that everybody knows how to do, but the reality is quite different, both inside the industry and with regular gun owners as well. Not everybody does gun games or has access to a pistol bay or backyard range, and very few indoor ranges allow for drawing from a holster. As a result, the only opportunity a student receives to draw and shoot a loaded gun from a holster is at a training class.

This is not a good thing.

A couple of observations from TacCon this year:

  1. There was a shooter in Lee Weems’ class shooting a SIG Sauer 938 from a wildly inappropriate holster, a Nate Squared tuckable hybrid holster carried at the appendix position. We can debate the utility of hybrid holsters at a later date, but the holster this student was using was definitely NOT set up for AIWB and they were struggling. A few minutes on a range with an instructor could have solved a bunch of problems there.
  2. I shot almost all the pistol classes at TacCon with my CZ P07 in a Comp-Tac CTAC carried on my strong-side hip. One thing I learned in MAG40 was to side-step left and push my right hip out towards the holster, giving me a clear path to the holster which didn’t put any body parts in mortal danger as I was re-holstering. And, as best I could tell, I was the only one doing that. AIWB carriers at TacCon were, for the most part, leaning forward and making sure their wedding tackle wasn’t in the way of their muzzle, but I didn’t see any extra-special care with re-holstering done by strong side hip carriers. This is not good.

I can’t help but wonder if practical shooting has an influence on this somehow. Don’t get me wrong, I think competition is fantastic and every serious shooter needs to do it, but the “…and holster” command is done with an empty gun in USPSA and IDPA. This gets people used to holstering quickly and moving on to scoring, and that’s not a good habit to have if you’re doing it on a hot range. 

Bottom line is, the more venues we have to normalize the idea of carrying a gun on your hip, the faster the culture of concealed carry AND practical pistol will grow.

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1 – 225

Colt Competition 1911 2000 Round Challenge: Rounds 1 – 225

Let me state upfront that I do not have a zillion rounds through a 1911. I grew up in Western Canada, so pistol shooting was completely unknown to me before I moved to the U.S. Before getting in this gun, I had maybe a hundred rounds or so through a 1911 in my entire life, so I am not comparing this gun to other 1911s, I am comparing it to what I know, namely DA/SA guns both metal and plastic, and striker-fired service pistols

So here are my initial thoughts on the 1911, and this Colt Competition in particular.

The trigger is fantastic: A surprise trigger break is easy to achieve even with this entry—level gun, and I can see why people like the 1911 so much. Recoil is more than with my all-metal CZ75, but it easy to manage in a  full-size 45 like the Colt, and it was super easy to punch out the center of a target 7 yards away, even under rapid fire. Coming from the CZ, with its skinnier slide, I’m used to riding my thumbs up high on the frame because there’s room there to do so. This is not going to work with a 1911.

The front sight on the Colt Competition is a little thicker than what I’m used to, but that larger front sight definitely helps me acquire it faster at speed. The ergonomics on the gun are terrific… seriously, why did gun designers see a need to screw around with this design? The slide stop is right where it should be, the safety is super easy to activate or deactivate, and everything just FITS.

I picked up the pistol from my FFL, and lubed it with some Tetra gun grease on the slide and some Brownell’s gun oil everywhere else, then headed out the range to break it in. I fired off 100 rounds of Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ from Lucky Gunner just to get used to the gun and how it handled, and also to practice with my new holster for the gun, a Red Hill Tactical Kydex holster in a nice rich shade of brown.

One thing I have to consider in this test is that I’ll be shooting USPSA matches quite often with this gun, and that means dropping magazines into the fine sugar sand we call soil here in SW Florida. Add in the fact that the reliability of the 1911 is closely tied to the magazines than just about any other pistol out there, and you can see the quandary I’m in. The point of the 2000 Round Challenge is to test the reliability of the gun under average conditions, and I’m not sure that dropping mags into sand, reloading them and then using them again is “average” conditions. As such, when I shoot a match, I’ll let you know, and I’ll be cleaning the magazines (but not the gun) after every match.

Speaking of which, I shot a match last week, the Thursday night USPSA match at Hansen Gun Club, and I used the Colt to shoot it. And I sucked, of course. I was slow, but the interesting thing was, because I was dealing with a lot of eight shots per port shooting locations, I was paying a LOT more attention to accuracy than if I was shooting it with my ten rounds per magazine Production gun.

An example.

Yes, my splits are glacially slow, and yes, you can time my movement on the stage with an hourglass, but I was in the top third on total stage points on every stage in the match.

I’ll take it.

In the mean time, here’s where we stand after the first 250 rounds through the entry-level Colt Competition 1911:

Colt Competition 2000 Round Challenge

Rounds Fired:

125 Rounds Remington UMC 230 Grain FMJ
100 Rounds Sig Sauer 230 Grain FMJ

Results:

No issues.

Gimme The Roots, The Radicals

Gimme The Roots, The Radicals

Colt CompetitionGimme the roots, you know I’m a radical.

I’ve wanted a 1911 for a long time, and so I reached out to Colt for one of their Colt Competition 1911’s in .45ACP. I’m writing a story for the NRA about trying to get back to the roots of IPSC/USPSA, so that means shooting a 1911, because that’s where it all began. It was also important to me to get a *Colt* 1911, because while “Colt 45” might be associated with Billy Dee Williams, the name Colt has also been associated with the 1911 since, well, 1911.

In conjunction with this, I’m also going to try a 2000 Round Challenge with this pistol. The late Todd Green showed us that yes, a 1911 can be REALLY reliable, but the gun he used in his test was a higher-end 1911 in 9mm. I want to see how reliable a plain-Jane, entry-level 1911 is actually is, so it’s 2000 rounds or bust for this gun.

Let’s see what happens.