I introduce a new person to firearms every week or two. Usually, we cover the basics of rimfire pistol and rifle. I teach the stances and positions learned in courses I took. Every so often, the learners stump me by adopting positions that are unorthodox and seemingly inefficient. For example, this right eye dominant shooter used a variation on the conventional sitting and kneeling positions that I have not seen before. It didn’t look stable, but she made 75 yard hits on sporting clays with it, so it worked well enough.
“Chris Ryan” is not his real name. Now he’s 50 years old, the author of several books, a television star, and a personal bodyguard somewhere in the U.S.A. 30 years ago, he was a proud member of the 22nd Special Air Service, on a secret mission in the Iraqi desert, and he was all alone. Separated from the rest of his squad, he ran for his life for seven days, setting a unique escape-and-evasion record that still stands today.
Act of Valor is a different kind of action movie. The crew who made it call themselves the Bandito Brothers. They originally made a recruiting video for the U.S. Navy, I am that Man, back in 2009. Among other things, that video showed a live-fire extraction of U.S. Navy SEALs by Special Warfare Combat Crewman in heavily armed fast boats, and it was extremely well done. Having proved to the Navy that they were trustworthy, they set out to make the mother of all recruiting videos using real Navy personnel, and the result is Act of Valor. The movie’s official status as a recruitment video allowed the Bandito Brothers to feature active duty Navy SEALs in all the starring roles, backed up by the finest men and women and coolest equipment ever brought to the big screen. I know, because I saw it in a sneak preview two weeks ago, and I can’t wait to see it again.
Attorney General Eric Holder testified in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform today as the “gunwalking” scandal surrounding the failed Operation Fast and Furious entered a new stage. Chairman Darrell Issa and other Republicans grilled Holder for stonewalling their attempts to get to the bottom of what happened. Under Holder, the Justice Department has only released 8% of the documents demanded by Congress and has refused to allow investigators access to witnesses who participated in the operation. Congress has been denied interviews with 48 Justice Department officials regarding Fast and Furious, including one who plead the 5th Amendment after being subpoenaed.
It’s now the time of year when legislators across the country are filing the paperwork proposing new laws which all law-abiding citizens must attempt to follow. Most of these proposed laws will wither on the vine, dying in endless committee meetings or stalemated by the efforts of determined opposition. Relatively few of them get the chance to be voted on by the general assemblies of our states, and only the smallest percentage will ever see a governor’s desk.
Yea, I know that title sounds kinda harsh and it is meant to be, but before I start trash talkin’ I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy new year!
Pirates are making the news on a regular basis these days. In 2005, Jay Barry and Carol Martini of Gloucester, Massachusetts, lived to tell about their encounter with pirates in the treacherous waters that separate Africa from the Middle East.
Cheaper Than Dirt took an office poll on Friday and asked our staff of gun experts what their firearm New Year’s resolutions are for 2012. We thought we would share a few of the better ones with you. Do you know what your firearm or shooting resolutions are for 2012? Comment below and let us know!
Whenever the discussion about Ruger Mini-14s comes up on our Cheaper Than Dirt Forums or Facebook page, the question of “Gen 1″ vs. “Gen 2″ magazines made by TAPCO accompanies it. There’s a lot of confusion about this issue right now, so we want to do our part to clear things up.
“Nutnfancy” is an online reviewer of guns, ammo, and gun gear. He posts informative videos on Youtube about what gun stuff works and what doesn’t after putting all the latest toys through his testing regimen. Yes, we are jealous of him too. A while back he posted up a review of some new Mini-14 magazines made by TAPCO, and he didn’t like them one bit. To their credit, TAPCO contacted him and asked for input on what changes he thought they should make. They made those changes, then sent him some of the improved magazines to review. He had much better luck with the second batch. He decreed throughout the land that the improved magazines were good to go. Nutnfancy dubbed the new impoved magazines “Gen 2″ or “second generation” magazines, and called the older magazines “Gen 1″ or “first generation” magazines.
There’s only one minor problem—TAPCO didn’t change their part number, packaging, or the UPC code on their Mini-14 magazines when they made Nutnfancy’s design changes. The packaging doesn’t say “Gen 2″ anywhere and if you are buying these magazines online, there is no way to tell which ones you are going to get. TAPCO’s Web site lists a Gen 1 magazine under their Ruger Mini-14 Components category, but they don’t list a Gen 2 magazine nor show that it comes in any color but black. So what’s the difference between Gen 1 and Gen 2, and how can you tell?
According to Nutnfancy, Tapco changed the composition of their polymer in the Gen 2 magazines, resulting in a stiffer magazine with feed lips that won’t spread apart over time if the magazine is left loaded with rounds. This doesn’t help us identify the different magazines, but the other major change they made does. The Mini-14 mag is a “rock and lock” design requiring the shooter to put the front of the magazine into the mag well first, then rotate the magazine to the rear until it locks into place. A round pin built into the front of the rifle’s mag well holds the magazine in place, interfacing it with a hole in the front of the magazine. On the Gen 1 magazines this hole is molded into the polymer mag body. On the Gen 2 magazines Tapco reinforced this hole with a steel band wrapping around the magazine body, as shown in the pictures. The steel reinforcement keeps this critical area from wearing prematurely. This is how you can tell at a glance whether the magazine you are looking at is a TAPCO Gen 1 or Gen 2.
Here at Cheaper Than Dirt, all of our in-stock TAPCO Mini-14 magazines are already Gen 2 specification, so if you’re ordering from us you don’t have to worry about this. We have ’em in black as well as the flat dark earth type pictured here, for $12.97 each. But if you happen to pick up some Gen 1 magazines at a gun show or something, know that TAPCO offers a lifetime warranty on their magazines, so if you have problems they will take care of you regardless of which ones you are using. Now take that Ruger out there and put some rounds downrange!
It isn’t every day that you get to meet real life heroes. CTD Martin and I had the honor and pleasure of meeting several heroes at the Warrior Cane Project event near Dallas, TX. The project is an effort to empower disabled veterans by training them how to defend themselves with a cane.
There are several advantages to this approach. You can literally take a cane anywhere. Airports and other controlled entry locations can’t take a person’s cane away. They also cannot legally ask you why you need a cane. Obviously, a person’s medical conditions are their own business. I was a bit skeptical in the beginning that a person could do any real damage with a cane, but after seeing the types of sticks these folks used for training, I quickly began to understand. Typically, canes nowadays are hollow tubes of aluminum, which are light and comfortable for the user due to padding around the curved handle. The fighting canes however, are hand-carved hardwood sticks with lethal grooves carved into the sides. Designers included this shark tooth pattern of grooves to tear skin off the bone should someone be so inclined, and getting smacked with a fast-moving wooden rod isn’t something I want to be on the business end of.
The class took place in a pub in Dallas, TX. When we entered the pub, I wasn’t sure we were even in the right place. A large shadow appeared to my left and I no longer had any doubts. The instructor for the class, Thomas Forman, stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and would make most NFL linebackers look like sissies. He graciously introduced us to some of the warriors taking the class and we had a chance to chat before the class started. We met several people who were anxious to discuss a myriad of topics including the fading support for veterans benefits that is stemming from Washington. There are veterans out there having to pay money out of their own pockets to take care of wounds they sustained while fighting for our country. This situation is obviously unacceptable. Randy Stamm, an author and veteran with a laundry list of military accomplishments and decorations that I can’t fit into one blog post, explained some of the hardships that currently face veterans under the current administration. Randy spends one hundred percent of his time helping veterans get the benefits they earned while keeping our country safe. As a veteran myself, I was happy to meet him. I recommend reading his book, “A Soldier’s Dying Heart,” a documentary about the Gulf War.
By the time the class started, the room filled up with heroes like Thomas and Randy. They stood in a large circle where Thomas began to teach the basics of cane fighting. This style of fighting originated in Korea, and Thomas has a perfected version that veterans can use to help defend themselves against attackers. Criminals routinely target the disabled and elderly since they believe they are easy prey. The crooks typically don’t expect the disabled elderly person to be a former special operations soldier who is wielding a three-foot stick with sharp edges. As the class continued to learn, you could see that warrior mentality surface in the faces of the students. Empowering otherwise disabled veterans is what this program is all about.
Due to the success of the initial training sessions, the Marine Corps and the Army have requested Mr. Forman and Valhalla Security Consulting to teach Combat Cane sessions all over the United States, and train Wounded Warriors to become Combat Cane Instructors. These Wounded Warrior instructors can then maintain partial or full active duty service.
As with most programs, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Each hand carved cane costs $160.00. The program relies totally on donations, so help these troops become warriors again. You can donate here, and your contribution is 100% tax deductible as a donation to the Metroplex Military Charitable Trust, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
When the winning Vietnam Veterans Memorial design was dedicated on November 13, 1982, a storm of controversy followed.
American history offers us many examples of a single vote being the deciding factor in important decisions with far reaching consequences. My favorite “your vote counts” story is when President Andrew Johnson was aquitted by a single vote when opposition leaders impeached him in the spring of 1868. Johnson had gained the presidency in an unhappy way—he took the oath of office after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln—and the country was in turmoil following the end of the Civil War. If Johnson’s opposition had been successful, he would not have been able to grant unconditional amnesty to former confederate soldiers just before the Presidential inauguration of Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was the former Commanding General of the Union who had accepted Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. General Grant also supported the continued occupation of the south by the US Army. The survival of the Johnson presidency by a single vote ended up making a real difference in how America was “reconstructed” after the end of the Civil War.
The future of our republic depends upon regular participation by a well-informed voting electorate—we the voters. If the electorate isn’t well informed, the system breaks down because the voters do not know the positions of the candidates they are voting for. Whether the candidates will do the things that voters expect is less likely when the voters don’t know much about them, and once elected they lose their accountability to the electorate who put them in power. In the internet age, the danger to the electorate isn’t being uninformed; anyone with an internet connection has instant access to more information about the candidates than ever before. The danger to us in the 21st century is becoming misinformed by a jumble of different information sources. These sources are often biased and their agendas can be either obvious or hidden. It is not difficult to find news stories about any party or candidate you are interested in, but finding a news source that you trust can be more challenging. The millions of dollars spent by candidates every election for advertisements that simply attack each other only adds to the noise and confusion.
Once the electorate has learned about their choices as best they can, they must participate in the election by voting. As U.S. citizens, nothing we do has as much impact on the way the government is run than casting our vote. You’ll notice that the recent massive “occupy” protests across the country have yet to result in a single proposed change to our nation’s laws. When congress was considering the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”, from the winter of 2009 to the spring of 2010, letters and emails against the proposal flooded the mailboxes of Senators and Representatives alike. Although the vast majority of these communications urged them not to pass it, the bill ended up passing, and the President signed it into law in June of 2010. Once elected, representatives can ignore petitions and protests, and act in the best interests of whomever they see fit. Our only way of holding them accountable is to limit their term of power by voting them out!
Never doubt that your vote counts. The presidential election of 1800 resulted in a deadlock in the Electoral College. The House of Representatives decided on the office of the presidency by a vote. Aaron Burr (who would kill Alexander Hamilton in a cold-blooded pistol duel 4 years later) was defeated and did not gain the presidency. Thomas Jefferson instead became the third President of the United States—by only one vote.
In Bushmaster’s product line-up, the M17-S bullpup was always the odd one. It shared a few components with the AR-15 rifle, but remained more of a low-volume curiosity for its entire 13-year product run. This rifle has its origins in the Leader T2 rifle mentioned last week. In 1986 the Australian Army invited bids to replace the L1A1 rifle. Charles St.George submitted an improved select-fire version of the Leader T2 designated the M18. The M18 used a short stroke piston and a gas regulator, with the non-reciprocating charging handle, bolt carrier and two action rods of the T2. The plunger ejector was changed to a fixed ejector like the Stoner 63. A folding stock was added. Beta light sighting system was to be standard. The Australian army eventually adopted the Steyr AUG instead and produced it under a license as F88.
Charles re-designed the trigger mechanism and converted the M18 into a bullpup rifle named the ART30. Once fully developed it was licensed to Bushmaster as M17-S. Probably to make use of more common parts, the U.S. version used AR-15 type plunger and a further altered trigger mechanism. A heavier extruded receiver added noticeable extra weight. The lower receiver was also altered in a way which made stripping and removal of the bolt carrier assembly more difficult. Rudimentary emergency open sights were built into the “carry handle”, but it was expected that an optical sight would be used. At the time, the reliance on optics for a defensive rifle was considered a flaw by most.
Partly as the result of those changes, the rifle came out somewhat heavy, with a spongy trigger and tended to retain heat. The heavy weight was mitigated by the excellent balance and very low felt recoil. With right-hand only ejection, it was also an awkward fit for left-handed users. Since bullpups were new, few training materials existed and most shooters viewed the manual of arms as awkward. One major plus of the M17-S was its use of the standard STANAG magazine. During the ban years (1994-2004), AUG magazines were extremely expensive, while AR-15 magazines remained at least somewhat affordable. The rifle itself cost about two-thirds of an AR-15 because the design allowed cost-effective manufacturing.
Recently, I test-fired an M17-S modified by K&M Aerospace. The modification started with ventilating the receiver to reduce weight by half a pound and to improve air flow. Combined with the already thick barrel, the ventilation greatly improved the sustained fire capability. Use of a vertical foregrip further insulated the support hand from the barrel heat. The “carry handle” was removed and replaced with two rails, permitting the use of standard AR-15 optics and other accessories. The longer rail also provided useful separation between the front and rear backup sights. Because of the central balance of the original rifle, addition of accessories didn’t make the gun too front heavy. Fired with GRSC 1-4x scope set to 4x, this modified rifle shot at 2MOA from prone with plain American Eagle 55gr ball. Surprisingly, the mechanical noise of the operating parts was not noticeable at all.
The major issues with the M17-S —weight, trigger quality and awkward take-down—have been addressed in the next rifle designed by St.George. I will cover it in the next chapter of this tale.
On the way to SHOT Show last year, I met Charles St.George. I didn’t know who he was, but somehow the Bushmaster M17 came up in conversation and turned out that he was the original designer. It was therefore no surprise that the rifle he displayed at the 2011 show looked like a very brawny M17. The Leader 50, while internally quite different from the M17 used the same basic extruded receiver design as the .223 bullpup. But the internals of the upcoming 50BMG rifle were based on a design of which I had not heard before, the Leader T2.
Charles St.George was born on Malta but moved to England with his parents at a young age. As a child, he had a Colt Peacemaker replica which even came with full-size dummy cases loaded with caps. The gun itself was precision die cast from zinc and Charles played with it until the toy literally fell apart. When his father’s regiment, the First Cheshire, got posted to Libya, Charles tried to replicate the zinc toy in steel. After a month of work with a hacksaw and a file, he had something only slightly resembling the intended form. “The experiment helped build arm muscles, at least!” he joked.
Upon returning to England, he decided to build a .303 semi auto rifle. Scotland Yard sent an Inspector from the Hampshire Constabulary to interview me at home before granting permission. Perhaps having a military father helped. The ammunition had to be kept at the Bisley Rifle Range and used cartridges logged in a register. The rifle he built used a simple tilting lock that locked the breech bolt into the receiver tube. A friend helped machine some of the parts, the rest were fashioned by hand. At the range it would not fire. In retrospect, Charles says that was lucky, for the rifle would have blown up. He knew nothing about metals, heat treatment or the designing of real guns.
As an adult, Charles immigrated to Australia started to tinker again. He built .223 semi auto rifle prototypes until he had a beautiful select-fire weapon with an aluminum receiver somewhat like the AR15 and a non reciprocating charging handle like the L1A1. Long stroke gas system used a piston pinned to a tube which housed the return spring and held to the bolt carrier by a wedge held in place by the cam track in the receiver, a triangular breech bolt and wooden handguards. The design eventually entered production around 1978 as the Leader T2. In use, this gun has particularly mild recoil, especially when compared to an AR15. Forgotten Weapons shows the T2 disassembly process on video. They also feature photos of a pre-production sample with a wood stock made before the Zytel furniture was ready.
The Leader T2 production went smoothly because the gun was designed from the start to be extremely efficient. The receiver was based on a 16 gauge steel square tube. Dupont provided the expertise for the Zytel parts, which had not previously been used on an assault rifle. The triangular bolt design (subsequently used on the Serbu rifle, the R4 and Barrett 82A1/M107) simplified the barrel extension and the bolt broaching process. The barrel blanks from Parker Hale were rifled with a simple button rifling machine also designed by Charles. It rifled a barrel blank in about 20 seconds. While T2 resembles an AR180 superficially, it is even simpler inside. All major parts can be removed for cleaning in seconds and stay captive to simplify the take-down. It used common STANAG (M16) magazines.
T2 was shown to represenatives of Italy, Portugal and Oman. About 2000 were eventually exported to the US and a few to Africa. By the time the 1989 and 1994 bans in the US caused the cessation of the production of the T2, Charles St.George had already moved on. His next rifle is familiar to Americans as the Bushmaster M17. We will talk about that design next week.
Be sure of your target and what’s behind it.
This rule of gun safety applies at all times no matter the circumstances. We need to see our targets to be sure of them, and in darkness that means bringing our own light (night vision and laser designators notwithstanding, for you military guys). Attaching flashlights to firearms isn’t a new idea. Now declassified photos of British SAS operators in the early 1980s show them using Mp5 submachine guns with big police-style Maglite flashlights taped to improvised mounts. In 1993 Heckler & Koch released their Universal Service Pistol, which included a compact Universal Tactical Light fitting underneath the slide and producing 90 lumens of light. Fast forward to 2011, and a dizzying variety of dedicated weapon lights ranging from very affordable to pretty darn expensive are offered for sale by a number of manufacturers. The latest generation of lights are smaller and brighter than ever. Nearly every new pistol design produced in the past few years features a rail underneath the barrel intended for a light. Light rails are being added to new variants of classic guns like the 1911 and Beretta 92. From SWAT teams everywhere to elite military door-kickers in Iraq and Afghanistan, from the local Sherriff’s deputy to pistols in civilian nightstands across the country, having a weapon mounted tactical light is becoming the rule, not the exception.
Some will say, “I’ve been shooting my whole life and I’ve never needed a tactical light before, why do you think I need one now?” Allow me to answer that question with another question. How much shooting have you done in darkness, where correctly identifying your target meant the difference between saving your life and killing an innocent person? LAPD SWAT is the busiest SWAT team in the world, responding to call outs and executing high risk warrants on a daily basis in one of America’s toughest big cities, and they have been using weapon-mounted tactical lights for decades. When they enter a residence to apprehend a dangerous barricaded suspect, instantly they need to be able to identify the bad guy, the bad guy’s thug friend lurking around the corner with a baseball bat, and the bad guy’s innocent wife and kids cowering in fear in the opposite corner of the bedroom. Regardless of lighting conditions in their operating area, their weapon mounted lights ensure that they can discern friend from foe quickly and effectively.
The predictable response is, “Ok, fine, so SWAT needs tactical lights, but I’m not kicking anyone else’s door down. Anyone who comes into my home uninvited deserves to get shot and my state’s castle law says so.” It’s a bad idea to blaze away in the dark at people you can’t identify, but you don’t have to take my word for it; take the word of Glenn Mizell. Having been burglarized a week before, Mr. Mizell woke up to the sound of his dog barking frantically in December 2007. He grabbed his home defense pistol and got out of bed, convinced the intruders had returned. Having calmed the dog, he was coming back to bed when he suddenly saw a figure rummaging around in his kitchen in the dark. Taking careful aim, he fired a single shot, which struck his wife Deborah squarely in the chest, killing her. She had not realized why he had left the bedroom, and had gotten up to make a snack. Mr. Mizell’s story quickly became fodder for gun control organizations, which spread the story around as a cautionary tale for wives who so foolishly let their husbands keep a gun in the house. Be sure of your target and what’s behind it folks.
Some flashlight companies like to advertise their tactical lights as a “less lethal” option capable of temporary blinding and disorienting an attacker. The opposing school of thought claims that flashlights are just a liability, giving your position away to the bad guys and presenting a bright circle for them to aim at. In my personal opinion, neither of these extreme perspectives is entirely correct. I sometimes do a drill at night which is easy to replicate (the hardest part is finding a place that will let you shoot in total darkness; this is where friends with large farms come in very handy). Duct tape a cheap 120 lumen tactical light to the head of a standard IDPA type target. Face away from the target, close your eyes, and have a friend activate the “constant on” switch. The light is shining on your back, but you are facing away from it with your eyes closed. Have your friend grab you by the shoulders and spin you 180 degrees until you are facing the target and your friend is safely behind you. Open your eyes and suddenly you are exposed to the brightness of the light. Bring up your firearm and shoot a controlled pair at the center of the target. If you are like me, the light from the flashlight will dazzle you, hurt your eyes, and be a major annoyance for a second, and you will then drill the center of the target with two well-placed rounds. On the other hand, the sights of my gun have never been drawn to the flashlight itself. I’ve never been tempted to shoot at the flashlight itself, but this is also a function of distance to the target—I do this drill at a distance of 5 to 7 feet from the target, which is a very typical indoors “close quarters” engagement range. If I were 25 yards away from a bad guy pointing a light at me, you bet I would be shooting at the light source.
The purpose of the tactical light is to help you be sure of your target. Up close, it may additionally buy you a split second of confusion on the other person’s part, while you make a critical split decision on whether it is wise to start shooting. Don’t view the tactical light as a substitute for lethal force or as a foolish gimmick that will certainly get you killed. Instead, view it as a useful tool that can assist you in certain situations, when used properly. You must choose your light carefully and know how to use it.
Light choices and techniques will be covered in Part II, coming soon!
Kahr Arms is building an empire out of a single innovative pistol design. Their first pistol, the K9, featured six US patents covering the locking, firing, and extraction design elements, and the company now lists 70 different models all based on the same features. All of them are made in Massachusetts using state-of-the-art CNC machining technology. Kahr bought Auto Ordnance (the Tommy gun people) in 1999, and in 2010 bought up Magnum Research of Desert Eagle fame. The company’s purchasing power comes from their President and CEO, Justin Moon, who is the son of Sun Myung Moon. Yes, THAT Reverend Moon, who founded the Unification Church.
Justin Moon started shooting at age 14, got his first license to carry at age 18, and wasn’t real thrilled with the choices available in an ultra-compact 9mm pistol. He decided to design and build his own, and the rest is history. The Kahr I have in my hand right now is the PM45, the smallest .45acp I’ve ever seen. It is striker fired, like a Glock or M&P, using a cam system to finish cocking the partially pre-cocked striker. This gives it an incredibly smooth double action type trigger pull, but like the Para LDA trigger you can’t re-strike the primer a second time by simply pulling the trigger—once the striker hits the primer, the trigger system has to be reset by moving the slide. I’m a single action kind of guy myself. I like a crisp 1911 trigger or a Glock with a 3.5lb connector, but I have to admit that in an ultra-compact defensive gun with no external safety, a longer trigger pull is safer. If it’s a smooth, light double action pull like on this gun, I can still hit my target quickly and consistently out to 25 yards or so, which is what the P45 is for.
Moon’s little gun includes a few very clever design features designed to make it as slim and short as possible. Most interesting to me is the offset barrel design—looking at the gun with the slide open from behind, the feed ramp is actually positioned to the left inside the slide, with the trigger mechanism next to it on the right. How did they make that work? Kahrs have an excellent reputation for reliability so obviously the feed ramp still does its job despite the offset. This lowers the height of the barrel over the shooter’s hand, known as bore axis, and makes the P45’s recoil kick to the rear instead of flipping the muzzle up. The barrel ramp is polished beautifully right out of the box, and the barrel uses polygonal rifling that looks a lot like Glock rifling. These guns have a reputation for outstanding accuracy due to the polygonal rifling and the tight tolerances made possible by CNC machining every metal component.
The polymer frame is molded with sharp raised squares on the front and back strap. This reverse checkering design really grabs your hand aggressively—considering the small size, light weight, and powerful caliber of this gun I think wearing shooting gloves might be appropriate if I were to take a high-round-count class using the PM45, but in a stressful self-defense situation I’m sure I would appreciate the extra grip. The dual recoil springs are super stout, although I can’t find the spec anywhere I guesstimate that it takes between 22-25lbs of force to pull back the slide on this gun. Kahr recommends replacing these powerful springs after only 1000 rounds or risk having the polymer frame battered to death by the stainless steel slide. There’s always a price to be paid when putting a major caliber in a tiny, polymer framed pistol, and Kahr has obviously decided to let their recoil springs be the part that takes the punishment. The sights are metal (are you paying attention, Glock?), big enough to be useful, and feature a white dot on the front sight and a white post on the rear sight for a “lollipop” sight picture.
The Kahr comes in a small, foam lined black plastic case with two 5-round magazines, owner’s manual and assorted paperwork, and of course a trigger lock. Kahr pistols are not cheap. Priced in the $650 range, the little PM45 costs about as much as some good quality 1911s. Kahr makes no apologies, their website proudly and honestly states that they don’t cut corners to build their guns to a “price point,” they simply build the highest quality gun possible using the technology available. When you are trusting your life to a tiny, lightweight polymer pistol packed with .45acp hollowpoints, that’s a reassuring philosophy from the folks who built that gun.
With the passage of Wisconsin’s concealed carry legislation this year, 49 states now have some sort of concealed carry law on their books. Of those, 36 states have “shall issue” right-to-carry laws comparable to Wisconsin’s. Only Illinois, which predictably also frowns upon open carry, stands completely alone in denying its citizens the right to bear their arms.
The 49 states that do feature some sort of concealed carry on their books have different regulatory schemes, different requirements to acquire a permit, and different rules about where guns may and may not be carried. They also differ in one other important way—reciprocity. Reciprocity is the legal process by which one state may recognize the laws of another, as they do with driver’s licenses for example. Many states do in fact recognize permits from certain other states, but many others do not, or their recognition is limited to certain states. Without recognition of an out of state concealed carry permit, a law abiding citizen must then obey the wide variety of state laws regarding firearm possession and transport for non permit holders. This makes it legally risky for folks taking a simple family vacation from Missouri to Pennsylvania, for example, to bring a self protection firearm along with them. There are websites online which can act as a guide for law-abiding gun owners to navigate this confusing situation, but the fact that they exist at all drives home the point that the hodgepodge of state laws are difficult to understand and follow. And if you’re a trucker who sees several different states each week, the 2nd Amendment probably seems more like something you just read about online than a basic human right which could save your life someday.
U.S. House of Representatives members Cliff Stearns (R-FL) and Heath Schuler (D-NC) have a solution. In February 2011 they introduced HR 822, a national right-to-carry reciprocity bill that, if passed, would force every state to recognize the concealed carry rights of visitors with concealed carry permits from their home state. That’s it. No national ID card, no national database of concealed carry permit holders, just the radical yet simple notion that states should recognize each other’s concealed carry permits as they do a driver’s license. Surprisingly, HR 822 has its basis in existing federal law. Due to the Armored Car Reciprocity Act of 1993, every state, including Illinois, currently recognizes the permits carried by employees of Armored Car companies to carry firearms in their vehicles and on their persons. How simple is that?
While this may seem like a simple change, getting the bill through Congress and signed by the President will be anything but. Representative Stearns has filed a version of this right to carry reciprocity bill every year since 1995, which means that the bill has failed for sixteen straight years. Like seeds planted in barren earth, each bill has withered and died. But there are some indications that the bill’s chances are improving. The landmark legal case of District of Columbia vs. Heller affirmed in 2008 that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual right, not a collective right. The Heller decision now backs up HR 822 from the standpoint of constitutional law, but more than that, it has helped turn the tide of legislation in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.
While the BATFE and the Justice Department are reeling from scandals involving the government’s involvement in trafficking firearms from the United States to Mexico and Honduras, there are indications that this Congress is refusing to go along with gun control proposals. The House of Representatives has adopted a provision protecting gun possession on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, and has shot down two anti-gun schemes by the BATFE and the Justice Department by removing funding from them. By contrast, HR 822 now has 241 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives, more than half the total number of members. The bill is currently before the House sub-committee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. If it can be successfully attached to an important piece of legislation coming through that committee, it is feasible that President Obama would sign it into law as part of a larger package, as he did with a bill allowing concealed carry in National Parks in May 2009.
With every state but one having concealed carry on the books, more than half of the House of Representatives co-sponsoring this bill, a recent Supreme Court decision affirming the 2nd Amendment, and a president who has previously signed pro-concealed carry legislation into law, is national concealed carry reciprocity an idea whose time has come? Cliff Stearns and Heath Schuler think so. They have been watering this tree with care and have watched it grow over time. Is the fruit of their labors finally getting ripe? Will the mishmash of conflicting laws be replaced by a simple edict that the states are to respect the rights of each others’ citizens?
Yesterday four of us managed to get ourselves cornered in an alleyway. Two of us laid down covering fire while the other two pulled a dumpster sideways, creating a choke point. We radioed for help to the remaining members of our team. We held off the crowd of dead heads for what felt like an eternity. Shortly afterwards, a truck pulled up at the end of the alleyway, and a towrope came flying through the air. We clipped the tow strap to the dumpster and jumped in. The truck tires squealed and we started sliding to safety, firing out of the side window of the smelly metal container. Next time I hope it’s a recycle bin instead.
Last night, Sharp-Eye showed me a rash she had developed overnight. I was in my make-shift lab all day, so I’m not sure what the group got into yesterday. Everyone seems to disclose just enough that is relevant to the situation at hand and hardly anything more. So, I’m quite pleased she feels she trusts me enough to tell me. Or maybe it’s just because I’m the only one with such extensive medical training. I dressed her wound and applied some Antiseptic from the first aid kit. To avert any suspicion, I encouraged the whole group to dress in long sleeves to avoid sun exposure. I lead them to believe that our first aid supplies are dwindling and that heat stroke is detrimental to our survival. In regards to the rash, I’m not too worried, though I did take a scrape of it to take back to my lab for dissection.
I’m not all by myself no more! I had to risk the sporting goods store because I was running low on filters for my Katydyn water purifier, and I wanted some other necessities, like clothes that don’t smell like burned zombie. And candy bars. I tried out the camera tripod spear and it works real good so I didn’t burn up all my ammo getting around. I’d already scavenged all the 9mm I could carry and I was shopping around for a new backpack when I heard the same machinegun as the other night, but this time real close. I got down on my belly and started yelling out as loud as I could that I’m Duke Jenkins, famous photographer and author, and I ain’t no zombie. I need to write a chapter in the book on how to not get shot when you run into people that are still, you know, people.
There’s a whole crew of these survivors and they seem alright to me. Not a good ol’ boy among ‘em, but if they made it this long they can’t be total idiots. And boy are they well armed, this feller that calls himself “Rampage” totes an M60 belt-fed machinegun around with him everywhere he goes, and it’s the same gun I heard the other night. Turns out they saw the fire from the gas station I torched too. None of ‘em has a radio or we might’ve found each other days ago, instead of me almost getting shot up in the men’s dressing room.