Saturday, November 22, 2008

Walther PPK .380 ACP



Another semi-automatic pistol that I keep readily available for home defense is a 1967 vintage
Walther PPK chambered in .380 ACP. Why do I keep a PPK for home defense? Mostly out of habit, once upon a time I only owned a couple of handguns and this PPK was one of them. Not all PPKs are equal. This particular one has a decent double action trigger. I once owned a 1966 PPK in .32 ACP but the double action trigger pull was the worst I have ever experienced, so I sold it at my first chance to turn a profit.

Suppose that I did not own this PPK; some might ask if I would I run out to purchase a Walther PPK over all other handguns available for home defense or concealed carry. No, I probably would not, but I certainly would not fault anyone who did choose one; the PPK is a fine little pistol.

Older PPKs may be unreliable when fed hollow-point ammo. Mine does well with the Federal Classic 380BP hollow-point, which can be hard to find. I believe I have enough 380BP in the ammo locker to outlast my remaining heartbeats. If I use up my supply of 380BP before I kick the bucket I most likely will just sell this pistol or retire it to the gun-safe. There are plenty of other effective .380 ACP hollow-point loads on the market, but my old PPK doesn’t like any of them. If I absolutely HAD to get my PPK to work reliably with other brands of hollow-points, I would save up some money and have
Cylinder & Slide do a tune-up.

Under license from Walther,
Smith & Wesson currently make a modernized version of the PPK in the USA. I have never fired an S&W PPK so I cannot say how it compares to an older, European made PPK. Click here for a 2005 Charles E. Petty article on the old and new PPKs.

There are a few arguable advantages the .380 PPK may have over a .38 J Frame revolver. Some consider the PPK easier to conceal; the PPK is a flat, very thin pistol, while the revolvers are thicker because of the cylinder. The .380 PPK holds seven rounds of ammo (six in the magazine plus one in the chamber) while the .38 J Frames hold five rounds. I actually find it easier to conceal a J Frame in a pocket holster than I do a PPK. Since there is no manual safety to deal with on a J Frame revolver, I find bringing it into service (for me) is faster and more intuitive than a PPK. My ability to shoot accurately is the same for both the PPK and the J Frame; I find the recoil of both manageable, you may not.
Click here for a Stephan A. Camp article comparing the .380 ACP with the .38 Special.

Click here for some good Walther PP and PPK photos, and disassembly instructions.




Shooter Hearing Protection

Brigid has penned a GREAT article on hearing protection for gunslingers.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hard Times Investing: Update

Holy poop, the markets tanked yet again today! The economy is continuing to deteriorate and jobs are being lost in record numbers; the bailout has not yet fixed a damn thing. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson had these soothing words “this only happens once or twice every 100 years …” Yeah, Henry, the citizens who have lost their entire life savings will be very glad to hear that. Happy Holidays, and by the way, where is their bailout?

I did my November market buying today, using 66% of my maximum monthly allowable, which is not a full vote of confidence on my part but (for me) a significant sum nonetheless. My next allowable window for trades will be in December. In spite of chest pains, migraines, and night sweats, I’m sticking to my “system,” it evolved over many years, it won’t make me rich, but it probably won’t bankrupt me either. Markets are unpredictable so I prefer a nice conservative set of rules to keep me sane and sober during market highs, lows, and everywhere in between those extremes.

The reasons I was a buyer today:

1) I had my trigger set for when the S&P-500 hit the range of 750.


2) I was thrilled to hear the Democrats acting as Republicans are supposed to by DEMANDING to see a business plan from the Auto giants before there would be any agreement to toss money at them. Way to go Democrats! Too bad Paulson did not require that from the financial institutions before feeding them hundreds of billions of OUR tax dollars.

3) I am still a believer in our country and in our markets. Sometimes you just have to believe when there is no reason left to believe.

4) Even after today’s purchases, roughly 50% of my portfolio is still cash. Cash is the only “hedge fund” that is effective against falling equity markets.

On a somewhat related note, why have I not heard
Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase suggested as a possibility for becoming our next Treasury Secretary? The man is a master at making numbers work, and a master dealmaker. Yo, Obama people, James L. Dimon for Secretary of the Treasury!





Monday, November 17, 2008

BearClaw Holsters

Apparently BearClaw Holsters is out of business. Their website has been deactivated for some time now. I removed them from our list.

Links to some discussions about BearClaw Holsters.

http://concealedcarryforum.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=7247

http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?p=11539610#post11539610

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Hard Times Investing: Just thinking aloud


Now that there is no doubt that we are in a recession, we need only guess how long the recession will last and how brutal it will be. A 5% decline in GDP would not surprise me, nor would 10% unemployment. Is a depression coming? We have already had a depression era meltdown of our financial systems, but I sincerely doubt that we will meet the definition of depression by suffering a 10% decline in GDP. However, this might still become the worst recession in our history. If oil prices spike again, I’ll guarantee it will be the worst.

At the worst of this market crash, the value of my portfolio was down 18% from its high point while the S&P-500 was down roughly 46%. That market low point was tested a few days ago and normally I would have taken that as an opportunity to follow my guidelines and do my buying for November. Instead, I lost my nerve and decided to sit tight. My allocation currently is 44% equities and 56% cash. The amount of cash I have left should last the rest of my life provided economic Armageddon does not take out my pension, and provided I am not foolish. It may be best that I not put more cash in harms way before I do some critical thinking, which usually requires that I do some solemn drinking. Three fingers of bourbon please, with no ice!

On the far side of foolishness, I am tempted to say, “Screw everything, we are all DOOMED” and squander what cash I have left on outfitting a boat worthy of some heavy-duty Lake Michigan cruising. My budget says that my available cash would purchase and float that boat for 10 years. My budget does not include income from Social Security, so if Social Security was available to kick in 10 years from now I could continue to float the boat, otherwise my finances would sink. Nah, betting on Social Security being around is not an option for me. I will NEVER count on the government to feather my bed. The boat idea is again out of the question. Damn!

Stock markets have only one absolute “support level,” they can go no lower than ZERO. Aside from that icy fact, any conceivable stock market scenario is possible. We all doubt that the major markets will become valueless, but they have dropped to within a nudge of 50% market losses. Many investors are wondering if the markets can drop to levels of 60%, 70%, or even 80% below their high points. Many are wondering what the markets will do AFTER hitting bottom. Will markets trade sideways in a narrow range for a decade or more? For the markets to sustain a rally, they need investors with money, investors with the ability to leverage, investors with the courage to invest, and there has to be at least the scent of a growing economy. We come up near empty on those requirements. The credit market crash, along with the equities market crash, has temporarily crippled some of the institutional investors. Many individual investors are saying “never again” to stocks and mutual funds. Yeah, the markets look bleak; the markets suck.

The minimum requirements needed to live through this economic epoch are prudence, prescience, and patience. I am hearing more “experts” telling investors to sell out of the markets at these near 50% loss levels. Since “experts” are usually wrong at market highs, and at market lows, normally I would take their “expert” advice as a good sign, but I am scared that more “unknowns” may drive these markets much lower. Maybe the “experts” are right this time; I am not prepared to promise that they are wrong.

My being scared may also be good sign, since I truly believe the markets will not turn around until everyone loses faith. I don’t know about you, but my faith is gone. The future looks dark and cold. Perhaps it is time for me to suck it up and buy more equities after all. If ultimately I win, I may be able to buy that boat I lust after and possibly still have enough cash to last until the end of my days. If I lose, I’ll have plenty of company in the soup line, remembering what once was, and wondering what might have been.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Dumb Luck Investing: Commentary



The government has already SPENT $350 billion of the $700 billion bailout money.

One of
Barack Obama’s first great acts of leadership should be TO NOT HOLD OVER HENRY PAULSON as Treasury Secretary. In fact, I believe that George W. should “ask” Henry Paulson to immediately “step aside,” and then George W. should directly appoint whomever Barack Obama chooses as Paulson’s replacement.

In any case, Paulson today FINALLY smelled the coffer and realized that all of the
TOXIC DEBT he was planning to buy from the “troubled” financial institutions was PURE SEWAGE and not worth a damn. Instead, he is proceeding with his SECOND WORST IDEA, which is to pump money into the balance sheets of those same “troubled” institutions that hold the junk debt. At the very least, I hope that Paulson will continue to trade our tax-money for equity in those institutions, and I hope that the Obama administration will have the fortitude to LIQUIDATE those “troubled” financial institutions if they don’t soon prove they can again become productive and responsible.

It is beyond logic why Paulson and Bernanke did not choose to take the bailout money and loan it to institutions that WERE NOT “troubled,” contingent on them taking total control of ALL of the assets of the “troubled” institutions. That way the U.S. Government would be rewarding GOOD BEHAVIOR, and they would be letting the “troubled” institutions “fail with grace” by being acquired by institutions with responsible management.

Quoting Henry Paulson
“And to adequately reform our system, we must make sure we fully understand the nature of the problem which will not be possible until we are confident it is behind us." The translation is that our Treasury Secretary does not have a clue.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Colt Model of 1911



Veterans Day, formerly known as Armistice Day, is a day to honor those women and men who served in our armed forces.

The
Colt Model of 1911 pictured above served in the U.S. Army, although I am uncertain for how long before a soldier took it home as a cherished souvenir, or perhaps as a cherished friend.

Old 1911 pistols are becoming as rare as old soldiers from the same era are. During the 90-years since this pistol left the Colt factory (the serial number dates it to the year 1918), it has accumulated its share of blemishes consisting of dents, scratches, and pitting from corrosion. What little bluing that remains is mottled over both the slide and the frame. I doubt that the pistol was ever refinished during its time in military service, or during the years afterwards. The pistol was never “modified,” its sights are original. It has never been buffed; the lettering is still crisp. For some bizarre reason someone hogged out a bit of metal from the underside of the slide, but it does not affect function or safety.

When I first bought the pistol, I found that the barrel link was functionally the wrong size so I replaced it. The slide-stop was an ill fit, just barely engaging the slide-stop notch so I fit a new one; the slide-stop notch fortunately was only showing moderate wear from the original bad fit. The grip screws had been dished out very badly and were jammed solidly in the bushings, so they were all replaced. One of the grip bushings stripped from the frame so I replaced all four of them. Both grip panels were so dry and cracked I doubted that they would hold together during recoil, so I replaced them with new panels having the correct double diamond pattern. I installed a new recoil spring with a shock buffer, as well as a new firing pin spring. I saved all of the old parts so they could remain part of the history of the pistol, or reinstalled (if salvageable) for the sake of purity. A Wilson 7-round magazine makes the old war-horse superbly reliable. There will be no fancy beavertail grip safeties, no tricked out triggers, no match-grade barrel, and no fancy sights; it will remain just as stock as an old, well-used pistol can safely be. Arguably, nobody has ever improved what
John Moses Browning created.

This old pistol may be a good candidate for professional restoration by
Paul Lippold, but for now I like the old gun as it is, with all of the blemishes and wounds that it has earned during its 90-year existence. An old gun is a handful of history; if only this one could talk, what tales it might tell of those women and men who served our country.



Sunday, November 9, 2008

Common Sense Gun Laws



There is a “run on guns” currently underway due to citizens fearing that anti-gun politicians will soon have enough power to pass every anti-gun law imaginable. Inadvertently, the pending administration has given a needed boost to the economy by sparking the sales of guns, ammo, and high capacity magazines.

Obviously, I am one of many against our government passing laws that will make criminals out of law-abiding citizens

The gun laws having the most common sense would read:
A) Law-abiding people may purchase and possess any gun they choose.
B) Criminals cannot purchase or possess guns.
C) Go to A
.

According to the definitions that I have read in some drafts of “common sense gun laws,” my .
54-caliber Hawken muzzle-loading rifle would be banned, as would shotguns using slugs. Often the people preaching “common sense” possess absolutely none.

If you are a shooter and you have never fired black powder firearms, I recommend that you try it. It is fun, loud, somewhat dirty, and very educational.
Black powder has roots going back long before the beginnings of our great nation. Once all of the “common sense” gun and ammo laws have passed, small-bore black powder firearms may be all we will have left for hunting and home defense. Then again, our elected officials may find it to be “common sense” to ban them too. Your vote counts.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Dumb Luck Investing: Commentary


The oil price bubble cost consumers, and many large and small businesses, every spare dime that they had available, and then drove (pun intended) them into unfathomable dept. Not only is all discretionary cash gone, discretionary credit lines (mainly credit cards for consumers and many small businesses) are also gone. All of that credit card debt will take a vast amount of time to pay off at the current usury rates. Gone are the days, at least for now, when consumers and small business could tap home equity to provide needed relief. The housing market crash, the derivatives crash, and the credit market freeze are all big issues, but fuel-costs broke the back of the camel.

This unsophisticated armchair economist would suggest that our government, current or pending, might wish to:

A) Henceforth, do whatever is in the power of government to stabilize fuel and energy prices. If they want to see a total economic disaster, worse than in 2008, let gasoline and diesel again surge past $4.25 per gallon during 2009. Our economy runs on oil, like it or not. Airlines cannot fly jets on solar energy. Oil at $140 per barrel was speculative nonsense; some still suspect criminal manipulation.

B) Insist that the lending institutions that are being “bailed out” with OUR tax dollars in turn “bail out” the consumers buried in credit card debt. Yes, I mean force the lenders to lower the damn credit card interest rates and kill the onerous penalty fees.

For the economy to recover, consumers and businesses need to get out of debt. Nobody can buy without having cash or credit, and if nobody is buying, this economy is going nowhere but down. Stimulus packages that give us all a touch of cash are fine, but relief from credit card interest rates would go much further.

Lest someone think I am looking for a break, I carry NO credit card debt from month to month, and my finances are sound. Being a conservative, I despise rewarding bad-behavior, but if our government is going to bail out the big lenders with our tax-dollars, the least government can do is force the big lenders into helping those taxpayers who “screwed up” and those taxpayers victimized by the big lenders. That’s not socialism, that’s justice. Our largely unregulated finance industry makes the Mafia look benevolent.

Barack Obama and the Democrats soon will have near total charge of a ship run aground. Wish them well, help them make their changes, and hope that they make changes that count.



Gun sales are booming.

Fear of Democrat crackdown lead to boom in gun sales.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Let's party some more!


Wow! I just woke up. What a hangover, my head is killing me!

How big was the margin of McCain’s win?

What do you mean Obama won? Seriously?

Oh well.



CONDI RICE in 2012!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Winchester Model 1873



Another 127-year-old gun in my safe is a Winchester Model 1873 that left the factory in 1881, as did my 127-year-old Colt Frontier Six Shooter Model 1873 revolver, both chambered for the .44 Winchester Centerfire, AKA .44-40., AKA .44 WCF. Since the same cartridge fed both that model rifle and that model revolver, the load became very popular with frontier American shooters as a matter of convenience.

My old Winchester ’73 holds 14 cartridges in the magazine, 4 rounds over the “assault weapons ban” benchmark magazine capacity of 10.
The Battle of Little Bighorn was in 1876 and the Cavalry was using the single-shot Springfield Model 1873 .45-70 carbines. During the same period, having more foresight than the military, many civilians had armed themselves with the high-capacity Winchester repeating rifles, the 1873 being so common it was called “The gun that won the west.” The .45-70 load was not replaced until the military adopted the 5-round capacity .30-40 Krag Jorgensen in 1894, which was replaced in 1903 by the 5-round capacity Springfield Model 1903, which was replaced by the 8-round capacity semi-automatic M1 Garand in 1936, which was replaced by the 20-round capacity select fire M14 rifle in 1957.

The significance of this short thesis is that high-capacity rifles did not become universally popular with the military until long after civilians began commonly using them back in the frontier days.


James A. Zachary Jr.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Entry for November 02, 2008


Due to the logistics of car repairs, yesterday I drove one of my younger brothers back to his home state of Indiana. We then had a nice, long-overdue dinner with his family. I told my niece that it was good to see her without someone being dead in the room; I often lose track of the priorities of life and only get together with relatives at wakes and funerals. It was nice to catch up at little.

Today when I gassed up the Chevy Cobalt for the return trip, it was almost erotic to fill the tank in Anderson, Indiana for $2.09 per gallon. That’s at least half a rock cheaper per gallon than here in Northeastern Illinois. The autumn weather was perfect for the round-trip drive and the tree colors were splendid. There were some construction related traffic jams on the way there yesterday, but it was a clean drive back home today. The lower gasoline prices do have the highways coming back to life.

Where we were in Indiana, Obama ads ruled the radio and television airways, McCain dominated the bumper stickers.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Studs Terkel, Rest in Peace


Somewhere inside one of the many boxes holding my life’s souvenirs I have an old fund-raiser program from Chicago Public Radio WBEZ, titled something like “An evening with Studs Terkel and Mike Royko.” It was about 15 years ago; for a donation of $365, I qualified to attend the event hosted by The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. I am not one to chase “stars” of any magnitude, yet I felt that it would be very special to see Studs Terkel in person; he was very old back then and I felt this would be my one and only chance to see a true master. Besides, also seeing the famous Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and best selling author Mike Royko, another of my idols, would be a treat. No one would have ever guessed that Terkel would outlive Royko, who was 20 years his junior; Mike Royko died in 1997.
Studs Terkel, a grand piece of our history, a man of incredible talent and fortitude, died yesterday at his home in Chicago. He was 96 years old.