Thursday, December 18, 2014

If you’ll be my Smith & Wesson Model 638-1 Bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal.

 I can call you Betty, and Betty when you call me, you can call me Al.


Meet “Betty,” my recently acquired pre-lock S&W Bodyguard.  After satisfying the requisite Illinois waiting period, (plus a day or more due to personal languor) I picked her up from the local gun store this past Tuesday.  Betty is not a youngster, but she is in top condition, a classic beauty; she qualifies as a "grail gun," one that I have long considered but, until now, always turned away.  Welcome home, Betty.


My Centennials have enclosed hammers, making them (by design) double action only.  This is my only J-Frame snub gun with an exposed, albeit snag resistant, hammer.  The single action trigger on this 638 is very sweet, but I doubt that I will use it much.


Lefty Lewis at Bell Charter Oak states that his Gaylord 8-Ball pocket holster is more for coat pockets than for pants pockets;  maybe so, but for me it works out wonderfully as a pants pocket carry.  I usually carry the respective airweight revolvers in pocket holsters or one of the Ken Null Shoulder holsters.  The all-steel Centennial revolvers I prefer to carry IWB.

As is the Model 442, the 638 is an aluminum frame S&W Airweight; cylinder, barrel, and crane are carbon steel on the 442 and stainless on the 638.  Will the 638 replace the 442 as my preferred pocket revolver?  I dunno; I have not had a chance to take her to the range yet.  Also, this is my first revolver with Crimson Trace laser grips.  I was into laser grips when they first became available and became disillusioned early on.  Crimson Trace has a great reputation; I may just become a believer.


J-Frame convertible IWB / Pocket holster by Matt Del Fatti.  This is the only IWB revolver holster design that works for me.



Nutnfancy does a fantastic review of an identical (other than the lock) S&W Model 638, including the use of laser grips (same manufacturer, different model).


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What exactly are the reasons for shooting the coaches?

“We need more women shooting coaches.”  That sounds mighty extreme.  What did the coaches do to deserve this?  What I mean is that I can see that we need more women shooting coyotes and we need more women shooting feral hogs but I dunno about needing more women shooting coaches.   In the worst case, the women should maybe just rough the coaches up a little bit in a bar fight. 

I must be missing something.  I’ll read the article later.



Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Combat Magnum "back to basics" shooting range session


(For those wondering how big the red portions of the targets are, they measures 6-inches across.)

This practice session format was the same as it was for the previous session; same target style, same distances, same number of rounds, all fired double action, only this time with a centerfire revolver having decidedly better grips (aka stocks) to fill my hand.  Have I mentioned before that I really like this handgun?


ABOVE: The first cylinder full of the session was Federal . 38 Special +P 158-grain lead semi wadcutter hollow points, which is my preferred self-defense load for this revolver.


ABOVE: This cylinder full (and both that followed at 21-feet) contained my preferred .38 Special practice load, the standard pressure American Eagle 130-grain full metal jacket ball.  






ABOVE: On the first of the targets at 30-feet, five of the holes are from Federal .357 magnum 110-grain semi-jacketed hollow points (that's all the magnums I had with me; I messed up when packing my range bag for this session).  I used a Federal +P .38 special 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point to fill out the cylinder.  The recoil from the magnums was noticeable (but not punishing by any measure) and produced more muzzle flip (as one would expect) than the .38 Special loads; the magnums were noticeably louder and there was a noticeable flash of flame from each (that's a good sign; if I see flame, that means I am not flinching).  As a rule, I use magnums sparingly with this revolver; IMHO, and in the lettered opinion of others, it is not "magnum durable," and critical replacement parts are scarce.


The final target at 30-feet was again a cylinder full of the American Eagle 130-grain ball.


SESSION SUMMARY NOTES:

I am trying to squeeze the trigger as soon as I reacquire the front sight on the target.  Maybe it is too soon for me to be trying to work up to rapid-fire.  I also noticed that my grip was shifting a bit after the first three rounds and I wasn't stopping to readjust.  

I need more practice.

Practice is fun.

It is fantastic to have an indoor shooting range 8-minutes from my front door.

Life can be good.

Seriously, life can be very good; this is the lobby area / viewing room of the indoor shooting range that I frequent.  Yeah, it is surprising that they let a lowlife like me into such a classy joint.


Thursday, December 11, 2014

I try to make a contribution to the Gun Control Movement every year

Here it is for this year.


I could not remember if I bought any guns this year, so I stopped by Schrank's Smoke 'n Gun and bought one just to be safe.  When I get a chance next week I'll swing by and pick it up (Illinois has a waiting period, doncha know).  Merry Christmas to ME!  


Al, thanks for the Christmas discount! (Available to everyone, on all guns except consignments.)




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A "back to basics" shooting range session


DISCLAIMER:  I have no credentials as a firearms expert or as an instructor;  I am just an average gun enthusiast and shooting hobbyist.  This blog post is akin to idle prattle over a drink once the guns are cleaned, oiled, and locked safely away.  If you are among the majority who shoot better than I do, bless your heart. If you are among the few who shoot worse than I do, hang in there,  you will soon get it all down and done.  

Recently, I decided to drag the .22 caliber S&W Model 63 out of the safe to help give me a restart on the fundamentals of double-action revolver shooting; stance, grip, trigger control, and sight picture.  This is something that I do periodically, but likely not often enough.  I have an arthritic strong-side hand; the .22 removes recoil from being a painful distraction during the re-learning process.  Lately I have had the luxury of going to the range once a week but I probably will soon drop that down to once a month; I dunno if that will be often enough to get to the proficiency that I desire.  We shall see.



The cartridges used for this session are from a box that is at least twenty-years-old.  Thirty-five of the thirty-six rounds did fire on the first try while one cartridge required a second whack.  



Up until now I have been limiting my practice sessions to plus-or-minus thirty-rounds, with around ten-rounds fired at each of three B-27 silhouette targets at distances of five-yards, seven-yards, and ten-yards (without coincidence, the qualifying distances for Illinois Concealed Carry, which I completed back in June).  For this session I switched to a different style of target.  In the future, I won't be completely giving up the B-27 silhouette targets, but I do think I'll be doing more of my practice with this alternative style of target, a design which I feel gives me more focus and feedback on my shooting.  Overall, each sheet is the size of a B-27 but there are six target areas per sheet and the scoring area on each circular target ends at the outside edge of the six-ring, giving each target a ten-inch diameter.  



This is an iPod photo of my target-sheet at twenty-one-feet.  In realtime the six target sections on the sheet look much larger than they do in this photo, but you get the idea of the challenges and advantages.  BTW, the B-27 target to the right of my target is sitting at seventy-three feet, and the shooter was master-blasting some mighty small, tight groups!  For now, I can only aspire.



Above, six rounds slow-fire, double-action. 



Above, all six rounds slow-fire double-action.  A bit better.



Above, all double action, three rounds slow-fire and the three rounds semi-rapid-fire.



Above, all six rounds slow-fire double-action.



Above, slow-fire double-action.


Above, semi-rapid-fire; one total miss (edged the target paper on the far right, highlighted by the three blue arrows).



SESSION SUMMARY NOTES:

I may switch out the Model-63 classic splinter-grips (stocks) for boot-grips identical to those on my J-frame .38 carry revolvers.

Shooting is still fun.

I need more practice.

Life is good.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Instruction Sheet for Ken Null’s SKR (City Slicker) Shoulder Holster



Ken Null does a much better job describing how this holster works than I can.  I scanned the primary side of the instruction sheet that came with the holster, but had to cut the resolution in order to get the file to a reasonable size for use on this blog.  You will likely have to zoomify it with your browser or make a copy for home use in order to read it.

BELOW is a copy-and-paste product description of the SKR taken from Ken Null’s Website.

----

"Conceived specifically for the Smith & Wesson Model J-Frame revolver, including all variances, the SKR personifies in full the high tech concept of "less is more".

Constructed from an especially dense, though extremely thin, polymer material, the SKR thoroughly dispenses with the bulk, weight and discomfort usually associated with shoulder holsters, yet sacrifices nothing in terms of security or durability. It is high pressure moulded to follow the exact contours of the specific J-frame it is ordered for, fits like a glove and adds no appreciable width beyond the weapon’s own. Alternate models will NOT fit, ONLY model ordered for. Additionally, this material is totally maintenance free, will neither attract nor retain moisture or lint and, owing to the holster’s all-enveloping design, completely protects the weapon’s finish and inner mechanism, even if so stored.

Safety, as well as retention, are assured by the SKR’s covered trigger guard. Featuring a vertical, butt-down carry mode for maximum concealability, weapon presentation is accomplished through a simple and error free, natural pull forward. The SKR is designed for under jacket carry but does not lend itself to carry under a shirt or blouse as the SMZ is famous for and access to the weak hand, if necessary, is perfectly practical. No speed is lost fumbling with unreliable safety straps, thumb breaks and the like.

The SKR holster is suspended by our unique Tri-Span Harness, the most compact yet comfortable system on the market. Unlike typical harnesses utilized by most manufacturers, which have changed little since the turn of the Century, the exceptionally discreet Tri-Span positively will not "print" through one’s clothing, signaling that the user is armed.

The SKR is supplied in white or black with a white or black Tri-Span harness.


Total weight of the Holster, Tri-Span Harness and loaded Airweight J-Frame revolver: 19 oz.!"

----

I first started using the SKR back in early February of 2014 when I purchased one (white color) for use with my J-Frame S&W Centennial Revolvers.  Since then, I purchased another pair of them, one in black and the other in white. 

Two of my Centennials are plain vanilla 442 airweights  (.38  special) and there is also a stainless steel 940 (9mm) that fits the same holster(s).  The airweights are an amazingly light carry with the SKR, but I have to admit that they pretty much feel the same when carried in an SMZ.  The ultra-light J-Frames are where both the SMZ and the SKR shine; the extra weight of the steel revolvers (and any reloads clipped to the harness) become noticeable.

Judging by years of Internet scuttlebutt, one of Ken Null’s many frustrations has been folks who try to get all possible configurations of J-Frames (big front and rear sights, etc.) into a standard SKR; the SMZ is the design with built in versatility while the SKR is limited to the revolver it was fitted for.


In this photo, my black version of the SKR is shown with the S&W Model 940, a 9MM stainless steel revolver that is noticeably heavier (but not unbearably so) than my .38 Special airweight Model 442.



A former PTSD cat named Freak earns his keep as our resident computer geek


Anxious to get back to the Cyber Monday bargains, Freak patiently waits for OS X Yosemite Update Version 10.10.1 to download and install.

Freak has been with us for over three years now.  His semi-feral aggressive (i.e. murderous) personality is mostly under control and he no longer needs periods of isolation from the other two cats, even when he is unsupervised.  He has evolved into a full family member, although our 20-year-old queen cat still swats Freak whenever she gets a chance, and Freak has learned to graciously turn the other cheek (and then run to the fridge for his reward for being a good sport).