Monthly Archives: May 2012

Checking Your Ammo

Recently someone had a failure with their sidearm that required the services of a gunsmith to fix. The cause was attributed to a bad round from a major manufacturer with a reputation for producing quality ammunition. As the description of the failure was such that I cannot corroborate or debunk the diagnosis I will not name the manufacturer. However, I have seen enough failures with factory loaded ammunition that I feel safe saying checking your ammo is a good thing. Triply so if you handload your own (though like Mas Ayoob I recommend factory ammunition for serious social purposes).

Inspecting your ammunition isn’t a super tedious process, you can do most of the steps while loading your magazines. First check to be sure the cases all have primers and that none of them are inserted backwards (yes I have seen this), crushed or indented. Next check the case to be sure there are no suspicious bulges and that the case mouth is undamaged (I have seen a case where the bullet was off-center and crushed the case wall). Finally, examine the bullet to ensure that it is not set back in the case or protruding too far.

Once your ammunition has passed the visual inspection you might just decide it’s good to go and have at it. However, there is one final way to verify that your ammunition meets standards. The first is to use a cartridge gage to verify your ammunition meets SAAMI specifications. This is all well and good but some guns are not chambered to SAAMI specification, so we need another way. Fortunately, you already have what you need to do this.

Disassemble your pistol and stand the barrel on end. Most likely you will see something having at least a casual similarity to this:  In the circle you see what is referred to as the barrel hood. This is a critical dimension for ensuring the breech has fully closed and is safely ready to fire. It’s also a way to see if your ammo will safely chamber. As you can see in the picture the bottom of the case is flush with the end of the barrel hood. This is what you want to see when you drop a live round into the chamber of your disassembled pistol. If the case is too short, say for instance you have a .380 ACP mixed in with your 9mm the bottom of the case will be below the end of the barrel hood. If the case is too long the back of the round will protrude above the end of the barrel hood. I would not attempt to fire these rounds and if each round I was checking was too long or too short I would take the gun to a ‘smith and have them verify the chamber with the appropriate gage. I have on occasion seen guns brand new out of the box with out of spec chambers.

If your ammunition passes all of these it should chamber just fine assuming there is nothing else wrong with the gun. Notice I didn’t say it would fire. One year a bad round cost champion shooter Mickey Fowler a rather large match. During the manufacturing process the case had slipped through without getting a flash hole punched so the primer could ignite the powder. Short of taking the round apart there was no way to detect this flaw before the round was chambered and the hammer dropped.  It’s an extremely rare flaw, but it can happen.

One final note. Do not assume you can just cycle the ammunition through your gun rather than take it apart. Besides the fact you are creating an unsafe condition that could lead to a negligent discharge, you could also start the bullet in the process of setting back in the case which can lead to unsafe pressures if it gets set too far back.


What are the PROS and CONS of this handgun?

Sig P239

I saw this image and question posed the other day, the comments were unsettling to say the least. Rating quite heavily on the comments were remarks like; “it’s not a Glock, 1911, American Made.” Very few actually engaged in an objective analysis of the firearm in question. For those of you in Rio Linda it is a Sig Sauer P239 available in 9mm, .357 Sig and .40 S&W. Magazine capacity is 8 and 7 rounds respectively.

The firearm is 6.6 inches long, 5.5 inches high 1.2 inches thick and weighs in at 29.5 ounces unloaded. It is available with standard iron sights or tritium powered night sights, and will set you back somewhere between $700 to $775. Naturally the night sights make the price go north within that range.

On the pro side Sig Sauer pistols are well-known for their reliability, but with this pistol some of its pros may also be cons. It greatly depends on the user. Let’s take a look and see what you think.

Action Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA). This type of action used to be the hallmark of European and more modern American Pistols. The first trigger pull was long and heavy much like a revolver, the second pull was shorter and lighter with some noticeable slack before you got to the actual trigger pull. While the two different trigger pulls were manageable with training and practice, novice shooters will often have their first shot landing some distance away from their subsequent shots.

External Safety, none. Some see this as a feature others as a liability. The gun does have a lever for de-cocking or re-setting the gun so the trigger is back to its DA state. Traditional DA/SA firearms usually have this feature incorporated into slide-mounted safeties as well.

Now to compare it to the S&W Shield the Sig is .4 inches longer, .5 inches taller, .25 inches thicker and weighs 10.5 ounces more. So it’s a little larger and quite a bit heavier. While the size and weight do make it more difficult to conceal that extra size and weight also means the gun is more shootable. The weight helps to keep recoil down and the added length means your sight radius is a bit longer which increases accuracy. The width also means that the recoil will be spread out over a wider area of the palm of your hand, but at the same time that width may make the grip a little too large for some folks.

Personally, if I were restricted to the calibers available for the P239 and needed something of that size I would have no problem carrying it after I had established its mechanical reliability. The same goes for the S&W shield. As for which one I would prefer, that requires range time. Something I don’t get enough of with the guns I do own, much less the ones I don’t.

Quote of the Week

There was a time when men served – when to not serve was deemed cowardice.  There was a time when Captain America, the weak little kid who couldn’t enlist because he was too small and sickly but never gave up until he could wear the uniform, was our gold standard of manhood, service, and patriotism.


We all know those days are dying if they aren’t dead already.


It’s been replaced by a small patriotic civilian base who understands the founding principles of our nation and the 0.45%, a shrinking warrior caste that is expected to hold the Fort while much of the rest of the country pushes for their next thrill, next car, next reality TV show, and next pleasure.

From: Douche of the Week: Chris “The Real Hero” Hayes from MSNBC

I don’t have anything more to add to that

Big Damn Heroes

I grew up in a military town. To me it wasn’t unusual to meet someone who had fought in the trenches of World War One, Flew from the deck of a carrier at Coral Sea or Midway, stormed the beaches of Normandy, flew in a bomber over Germany, Okinawa or Iwo Jima. It also wan’t unusual to meet a Marine who had been at Chosin Reservoir or someone who had spent time over or in the jungles of Viet Nam, even former ‘guests’ of the Hanoi Hilton were not unheard of.

In some ways these were the lucky ones who, while scarred emotionally and sometimes physically, had always manged to return home. Other didn’t return alive and some have yet to return at all as no trace has ever been found. These are the ones we celebrate and remember today, the ones who we call Heroes (whining of a certain MSNBC Host aside).

Today I thought about a different hero, one who wore the uniform but didn’t give his life in combat. I didn’t know him personally, but I was there when he made the ultimate sacrifice. The young Lieutenant Commander’s QF-86 Sabre has suffered an engine failure over the desert of Southern California and was going down. The pilot popped his canopy in preparation to eject when he saw the elementary school in his path. He could have punched out and taken the chance that the plane would miss the school, but instead he chose to ride the plane in and ensure it missed the school. The pilot survived the crash, but his harness had jammed and he was unable to get it open. By the time someone with a knife showed up the heat from the fire was to intense to rescue the pilot. He died in the flames.

The town later re-named the school after the Lieutenant Commander and while he didn’t die in combat, he was in fact a big damn hero who sacrificed himself for a school full of children.

US Army Confirms Military Intelligence Still an Oxymoron

According to this article the US Army (more likely the brass or bean counters)  has decided that the Magpul PMag is persona non-grata for their units in the field. Neither the Army or Magpul is willing to state why but I suspect the decision has nothing to do with Magpul’s product.

I will admit to being one of those who scoffed at the product that started Magpul Industries into the company it is today. I have since found their gear to be first rate and their representatives to be friendly courteous and willing to listen to their customers. When they came out with the PMag I picked up a couple and gave them a run down at the range. Then I bought a few more and a few more and will continue to buy them until something better comes along.

Folks, do not do this!

Seen on twitter (personal identifying information removed):


Now I get that people shouldn’t have to worry about their car getting broken into. Unfortunately it’s a sad fact that they do get broken into and the contents taken. Most of the time it’s a quick smash and grab anything they can get to quickly, others they have more time. Either way do not make it easy for criminals to get at a gun. If you’re going to be gone from your car for a few minutes and can’t bring your gun with you lock it up in one of the many lock boxes available for just such an occasion. If you’re going to be away from your car for an extended period, take it with you or consider the possibility of *shudder* leaving it at home.

Travelling by car with a gun on your hip is not something I would describe as comfortable and probably attributes to more law enforcement officers suffering a life time of back pain than we would care to admit. However taking it off has its own perils. Most prevalent is a lesson from the 1986 FBI Miami shootout where an agent prior to ramming the suspects car had removed his primary weapon from its holster and placed it in the seat beside him. The collision sent the weapon flying and he was unable to locate it, forcing him to rely on a 5 shot snub-nosed revolver. Second you can forget about your gun and have it get stolen. Third the confined space is not the best place to handle a firearm administratively and you may not [want to] be seen handling a gun when getting in and out of your vehicle. Some options would be a different car with a different seat style, different seats or a different mode of carry. Ankle holster have been said to be good for those who travel in cars frequently and one person I know utilizes a shoulder holster when driving.  Either way try a few options and see what works best for you.

There he goes again…

Once again the “bald shooting instructor with a Brand Name®©™ and a goatee” is making controversial statements to generate more attention to himself and his brand. Last time he attacked the immensely popular 1911, this time he goes after Open Carry advocates and derisively refers to their advocacy as “assclownery.”

Interestingly enough another individual of great renown in the firearms industry briefly addressed the “bald shooting instructor with a Brand Name®©™ and a goatee’s” previous statements about one’s choice of defensive arm. Since they chose to later remove their comments I will not name names, but it is interesting food for thought. Here is the conversation:

[REDACTED] …asked: "What is your opinion of what another tactical expert stated that the 1911 is passé as a defensive weapon, said they have an 80% failure rate in his courses, with the 3 inchers worse than that."

[REDACTED]…the smaller the gun in the 1911 format the less
dependable…but the same applies to all the other manufacturers with smaller guns, so then is it a question of size or the person behind the gun? I have also seen people break bowling balls. Expert is a term used loosely today much like professional… operator… tactical and some other stuff. Also many "experts" ? have never used a handgun in a fight so is their opinion worth much to you? I don’t ever claim to be one. YOU should carry what you are willing to bet your life on… don’t trust ME or anyone else…go SHOOT the gun for yourself… that is the best way to decide what the experts are saying.

Now, I am of the opinion that there are far more reasoned and informed opinions on an individuals choice of defensive weaponry as well as their choice of carry than “bald shooting instructor with a Brand Name®©™ and a goatee” out there. As our anonymous person says you have to educate and inform yourself as to what is best for you both in terms of what you carry and how you carry it. Personally I prefer concealed carry for most situations, however if someone is willing to put the investment into properly open carrying a side arm and it is legal for them that is their choice.