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Revolutionary Firepower

Battle of Bunker Hill

As July Fourth approaches, and Americans everywhere prepare to celebrate our independence, some of us take the time to look back at the stories and legends that helped shape our future as a nation. When British forces invaded the United States to try to take back control, the Continental Army and its various militias were waiting with an array of weapons, anxious to send a message to King George. In this post, we are going to look at the weapons of the time, and some of the legends that go along with these almost ancient tools of war.

Standard Issue

Flintlock Mechanism

One of the most prevalent long guns of the era was the Brown Bess. This was a smooth-bore musket designed for ranges between 50-100 yards. This would later prove to be problematic, since American sharpshooters had rifles that were effective up to 250 yards. The  .75 caliber, muzzle-loading flintlock-design Bess, allowed an experienced soldier to fire between three and four rounds per minute. As required by law, most American Colony male citizens  owned arms and ammunition for militia duty. The Long Land Pattern Brown Bess was a common firearm in use by both sides in the American Revolutionary War. Field tests of smooth-bore muskets in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries reported widely reliable expectations of accuracy and speed of fire. Estimations of rate of fire ranged from “1 shot every 15 seconds” (4 shots per minute) with highly trained troops, to “2 to 2.5 shots per minute” (1 shot every 24 seconds) for inexperienced recruits. Loading a Brown Bess was cumbersome at best, especially compared to modern-day firearms. The standard military loading procedure from prepared paper cartridges containing ball and gunpowder in an elongated envelope is:

  • Tear cartridge with teeth and prime the pan directly from the cartridge;
  • Stand the musket and pour the bulk of the powder down the barrel;
  • Reverse the cartridge and use the ramrod to seat the ball and paper envelop onto the powder charge.

Standard European targets included strips of cloth 50 yards long to represent an opposing line of infantry, with the target height being 6 feet for infantry and 8 feet, 3 inches for cavalry. Estimations of hit probability at 175 yards could be as high as 75% in volley fire. This, however, was without allowances for the gaps between the soldiers in an opposing line, for overly tall targets, or the confusing and distracting realities of the battlefield. Modern testers shooting from rigid rests, using optimum loads and fast priming powder, report groups of circa five inches at 50 yards (Cumpston 2008).

Long Distance Precision

Colonists developed the Pennsylvania Rifle (and its many variations) during the early eighteenth century. The Long Rifle was the one of the first completely American designs. The rifle had a somewhat elegant look, due mostly to the stock of the gun, which gracefully bends at the stock. It had an unusually long barrel, sometimes more than four feet. The barrel of the Pennsylvania featured rifling, allowing much greater accuracy. This accuracy came at a price however; the rifle could take up to a full minute to load. To conserve materials, the weapon was often made in smaller calibers, ranging from about .36 to .45 caliber. In 1778, a British officer, stuck his head out from behind a tree, and was shot through the forehead by Daniel Boone. Both sides later confirmed the shot to be at a distance of 250 yards, well beyond the effective range of the Brown Bess.

Up Close and Personal

One of the most gruesome weapons of the war was the bayonet. A soldier who only had one shot tended to feel a bit better when his rifle doubled as a stabbing weapon. Armies of the time often routed when facing a well-timed bayonet charge from the enemy. The Americans in particular had a difficult time facing off with British regulars, who often had trained for years in bayonet combat. Recent advances in technology had resulted in the plug bayonet. This design allowed the gun to fire with the bayonet still attached to the end of the barrel. The triangular cross section of the bayonet made wounds particularly difficult to repair, which later led to the international banning of this type of blade.

Artillery Gun Crew

Death from Above

Known as the queen of the battlefield, the cannon often stood supreme. With varying ranges, a well-placed array of cannons could potentially hold off an entire regiment of soldiers. Militiamen in often did not have cannons of their own which resulted in a large number of British victories early in the war. Cannons of the time could fire either solid or grape shot. Grape shot consisted of an iron ball, filled with black powder, and fitted with a fuse. These projectiles would often detonate above the heads of the opposing forces, causing heavy casualties. Solid shot, on the other hand, was devastating to stationary targets as well as units that lined up in open field. With an effective range of up to 800 yards, solid shot was the advanced artillery of the time.

Tactics Win Wars

Weapons do not always decide the outcome of a conflict. This is a lesson that the United States has re-learned in recent decades. Invariably, a guerrilla force operating on its own turf, can wreak havoc on an occupying army, far away from its supply lines. The Continental Army, at first, could not hope to defeat the largest army in the world in the open field. As a result, an ingenious combination of unconventional weapons, spy networks, and yes, a little help from the French, ended up turning the tides in the favor of the America revolutionaries.

Doing What You Love

Sometimes, it’s important to remember that shooting is supposed to be fun.  For me, that means hauling the revolvers and putting the pedal to the metal.  Not worrying about “accuracy” or anything silly like that, just good old fashioned six-shooter speed.

Gun: S&W 625 WCA Custom
Ammo: BVAC .45 ACP
Holster and belt: Safariland!

And as usual, Caleb’s wardrobe by Woolrich Elite Tactical, which have so far survived being covered in mud, rained on for five straight hours, set on fire, rolled in the Arizona desert, and generally abused.

Ultimate zombie combo

Last week, Ruger announced the launch of the new Ruger 77/357, which is a bolt action rifle chambered in .357 Magnum.  I got to thinking about this gun, and despite the fact that it only has a 5 round magazine, when paired with a revolver also chambered in .357 Magnum such as the Smith & Wesson 686 you have yourself an almost perfect “zombie combo”, or more accurately you’ve got a great rifle/pistol combination for the woods.

BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP

The Ruger 77/357 has all the desirable aspects of a great “bug out rifle” – it’s light, coming in at only 5.5 pounds, can readily accept modern optics (and would probably be a pretty sweet pairing with an Aimpoint), and it’s chambered in what is one of the most versatile handgun cartridges in existence.  .357 Magnum is available in pressures from mild cowboy action loads at 1000 FPS with all lead bullets all the way up to 200 grain bear-killing hardcast bullets at ungodly velocities.  However, for a good “general use” round it’s hard to beat a 158 grain JHP, like this one from BVAC.  The BVAC .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP is cruising at around 1200 FPS from a pistol, which means from a rifle you should see a velocity increase of around 100-200 FPS at the muzzle.  That’s plenty of bullet to deal with many of the 4 legged dangers you might encounter during a rural bug out situation, and of course the .357 is well proven as a fight stopping projectile for two-legged danger.

I honestly think that pairing a .357 bolt gun with a revolver makes more sense as a bug out gun combo for 99% of the popular than an AR15 pattern rifle and a hi-cap 9mm.  I like that you only have to carry one kind of ammo, the revolver isn’t dependent on magazines to keep it in action, and while the bolt gun does feed from magazines in an emergency it can be used as a single shot rifle if you lose the magazines.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have an AR and a Glock with 400 mags for each gun, but if you’re on a limited budget, it makes more sense to me to drop $650 on the new Ruger 77/357 and another $460 on a Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum than it does to go out and spend the money on an AR and whatever other pistol you need.  .357 ammo is relatively cheap, with lead practice ammo running about the same as .40 S&W and less than 5.56 ammo.  A bolt gun in .357 and a good revolver in the same chambering will solve 99% of the situations I can imagine getting myself into during a short term survival emergency!

Traveling with Guns

My responsibilities to Cheaper than Dirt, Gun Nuts Media, GunUp, and all my other sponsors keep me on the road quite frequently.  Because that usually involves shooting matches or other firearms-related events, that means I get the pleasure of flying with guns almost every time I do fly.  In fact, recently it’s gotten to the point where the guys at the SeaTac American Airlines counter just pull the firearms declaration form out and hand it to me when I walk up.  Good customer service!

Flying with guns is actually pretty easy, but if it’s not something you’ve done before then it can actually be a very intimidating process.  Here are some guidelines that I’ve found that will make the process go smoothly for you when you try it.

  1. Know the rules!  I can’t stress how important it is to be intimately familiar with the TSA and your air carrier’s guidelines on traveling with firearms.  The TSA publishes their rules at this link, and when I travel I carry a printed copy of those rules in the pocket of my Woolrich Elite Tactical Pants.  However, just knowing the rules often isn’t enough, because I’ve had multiple occasions where the particular TSA agent didn’t know their own rules and regs as well as I do.  In those situations, the most important thing to do is stay calm.  Getting angry won’t help, and will likely increase your chances of missing your flight.  Speak to their supervisor, be polite and firm but do not allow the TSA to do anything that could compromise the security of your firearms.
  2. Keep your guns in a separate case than your other checked items.  This Pelican Gun Case is a perfect example of the best way to transport your guns.  Since I usually fly with multiple pistols, magazines, and the legal maximum of 11 pounds of ammo, I always use a long gun case for my pistols.  I also fly with cameras a lot, so any valuable cameras will go in the locked Pelican case as well.
  3. Speaking of locks, get good locks.  You can actually buy sets of Master locks that share a common key, which eliminates hassle both in packing and loading at the airport.
  4. Ammo is important as well!  Know what your ammo weighs.  My preferred carrier is American Airlines, and their rules state that ammo is limited to 11 lbs per passenger.  250 rounds of .45 ACP ammo weighs about 11.8 pounds in boxes, and the TSA will pull passengers off the plane for having too much.
  5. Be courteous to everyone.  I shouldn’t have to say this, but I firmly believe that part of why I’ve always avoided drama when flying with guns is because I’m just so dang happy.  Everyone gets smiled at, even the TSA guys, because it doesn’t do me any good to go through the airport glowering and scowling at folk.  Attitude helps a lot, and having a good attitude can be the difference between an easy trip or getting to know your airport’s holding center.

Now that we’ve looked at things to do, let’s look at a couple of possible crash landings that could cause problems.  Here is my list of “don’ts” for flying with guns.

  1. Don’t connect in Chicago.  Seriously, just don’t do it.  I will pay extra money to avoid Chicago.  I don’t want to risk my plane getting delayed overnight, and all of a sudden I’m stranded in the most anti-gun city on earth with a bunch of guns.  I have no desire to be a test case for the Firearms Owners Protection Act.
  2. Seriously, don’t connect in Chicago.
  3. Don’t talk about your guns!  Mostly for security purposes, but whenever I’m checking in at the airport, I don’t know what greedy baggage handler or sticky fingered TSA agent might be listening, so if anyone asks I’m carrying “my dad’s old junky .22 to give to my nephew for his birthday”.

There is a lot more to flying with guns, and I’d like to hear from the readers out there as well.  What are you experiences with flying with firearms, good reports and bad reports?  One thing that always cracks me up is whenever I get on the shuttle to go from the airport to the car rental center, I will almost invariably make a new friend who wants to know if I’m a hunter.  I take that time to preach the gospel of action pistol shooting.

From the Trenches to the Fields

The Trenches of WWI

After April of 1917, the United States Army was waging a terrible war in Europe. The US Military was deadlocked in a struggle with Germany in the war to end all wars. The conflict saw the use of machine guns, artillery, and chemical weapons. The carnage was on a scale previously unseen on the word stage. Despite the use of devastatingly effective weapons, the major powers that were competing for dominance locked themselves in a never-ending stalemate. The standoff was partially due to the implementation of trench warfare. Out of date military tactics had not kept up with weapons technology. The commanders on both sides failed to come up with strategies that allowed armies to take ground without heavy casualties. US soldiers needed something different to assist them in sweeping out German trenches. John Browning had been kind enough to develop something years earlier that would assist our troops in doing just that.

The army issued the M1903 Springfield to most of its doughboys during the war. The Springfield is a legendary bolt-action rifle that is effective to up to 1,100 yards. Although the Springfield was an effective battle rifle, it only shot one round at a time, and the bullet only hit in one area. A shotgun offered something different, although not effective at long range; a pump shotgun could engage a large number of targets inside 22 yards. Couple that with a bayonet and one shotgun soldier could give a whole squad of enemy troops a very hard time. The army chose to use a slightly modified version of the Winchester Model 1897, or M97. The M97 used a perforated steel heat shield on top of the barrel, and a bayonet lug for attaching the M1917 bayonet. It held a maximum of five shells in the chamber with one in the barrel, for a total of six rounds. Unlike most modern hammerless shotguns, the M97 could be slam-fired. All the shooter had to do was hold back the trigger while pumping through the rounds and the weapon would continue to cycle. Incredibly, American Soldiers who were skilled at trap shooting deployed themselves in positions where they could take out enemy hand grenades in mid air. Enemy messenger pigeons were also on the target list. The gun was so effective that in late September 1918, the German government issued a diplomatic protest. They were attempting to ban the Winchester model 1897 shotgun, arguing that the weapon was illegal because it caused unnecessary suffering. The United States Army promptly rejected the German’s diplomatic proposal.

An M97 and a Norinco

The Model 1897 improved upon its predecessor, the Model 1893. Winchester strengthened the frame to allow for 2 3/4– and 2 5/8-inch shells. The designers placed the ejector on the side, rather than the top, which allowed a much greater amount of strength in the frame. While firing, the recoil of the gun gave a slight forward motion to the slide handle, which released the action, enabling immediate cycling of the gun. If the operator was not firing the gun, the slide handle had to be pushed forward manually in order to release the action slide lock.

Winchester produced several variants of the Model 1897 until 1957. During its 60 years on the market, Winchester produced over one million 1897s. Recently, Norinco (Interstate Arms) has developed a Winchester clone called the 97. Modern variants include the 97W, and the 97T. The 97W is the standard Winchester clone, while the 97T is a trench gun replica. Both are popular models since the original trench guns can cost upwards of 3,000 dollars, and are highly valued by collectors.

The 1897 in all its variants continues to be a popular choice among shotgun enthusiasts. Its legendary wartime record, combined with over a century of hunting experience, makes the 1897 a solid choice for any collector.

Check out our available Norinco Shotguns here.

Virginia State IDPA Championship – a teaser

I’ll have the full match footage uploaded to YouTube this week, but since I’m typing this from the Dulles Airport, today I’m just tossing up a single stage video. This is stage 7 from the match. The procedure was simple: start seated in the chair, move to the door, open with your strong hand, draw and engage the four visible targets from cover with two rounds each. Then retreat and engage the remaining targets on the move while retreating with two rounds each. I decided to do a tactical reload after the first array specifically because I had screwed up my reload on an earlier stage and only fired one round at a target. By tactical loading, I had more than enough bullets to finish the COF (course of fire) without having to do a 1-reload-1 drill on any targets.

Stage Score: 15.70(-3). This was one of my best stages of the day on my way to a 4th Place finish overall in CDP (Custom Defensive Pistol)! Another match, and another Top 10 finish for Team Cheaper Than Dirt!

Carolina Cup Gear Review

On Monday at the Shooter’s Log, I took a look at the 2011 Carolina Cup and the kind of match it was.  In short, it was the perfect example of what an IDPA match should be.  Today on Gun Nuts I want to take a look at the gear I used for the match and how it performed, starting with my most important piece of gear: my gun.  I’ve been running a Sig Sauer 1911 Tactical Operations for a while now, and as many people have seen the gun has picked up some customized touches.

It's...beautiful

The gun is now sporting a 10-8 Performance Flat trigger, TechWell TGO Magwell, 10-8 Performance u-shaped rear notch, and an STI single side thumb safety.  During the Carolina Cup, the Sig went 213 rounds of ammo without a single bobble or malfunction, and has fired over 2000 rounds now since its last stoppage of any type.  One interesting issue I ran in to is something I’ve experienced with Techwell grips in the past, where the grip screws will start backing out after 50 or so rounds of ammo.  I’m going to put some small star washers under the screws to see if that solves the problem, because the current remedy of “tighten the grip screws every couple of stages” is kind of annoying.

My holster remained the same holster I’ve been using all year for IDPA – a Comp-Tac Speed Paddle, although the model I use for the Sig TacOps is somewhat…modified.  To find a holster that fits the Sig’s slide profile, I actually special ordered a Speed Paddle for a Sig P250 with an open muzzle, and then cranked the retention down until it fit the TacOps.  The result is a really great holster that provides excellent retention and speed for IDPA.  At the upcoming Virginia State match this weekend I’m going to be using a Galco Triton, my actual carry holster for the entire match.  My belt is also a Comp-Tac, their polymer reinforced belts are absolutely top notch.

People don’t think that their clothes are part of their gear, but the fact of the matter is that they certainly are.  One of my biggest sponsors is Woolrich Elite Tactical Gear, who has provided me with vests, shirts, and pants for shooting IDPA and USPSA this season.  The Elite Pant has honestly been the best thing that’s happened to me this season.  Even in the sweltering North Carolina heat, I was comfortable in my Woolrich pants, and I was especially glad to be wearing them on a number of stages that involved low cover.  For CDP shooters, the pant’s “cell phone pocket” that’s located on the thigh is the perfect place for the barney mag.  I’ve got to stick that extra round somewhere, and it’s much easier to get to in a simple flap pocket than it would be if I had to fish around in a deep cargo pocket.

My magazines are probably the most important part of the gun, and for mags I have been using Chip McCormick Shooting Star magazines with great success.  They work reliably, are cost effective, and the best part about the screw-on basepads is that they don’t fall off when you’re practicing reloads on an unforgiving concrete surface.  I have 10 of these mags, and whenever I’m at the gunshop I’ll usually buy 2 or 3 more if I can afford it.  Since life is too short for crappy mags, you can’t have too many!

The gear you use is an important part of your competition system.  On Monday I’ll talk about how important it is to have ammo in your gun that you trust 100% in addition to everything else.

ISSC MK22: A Modern Sporting Rifle

An Austrian Solution

At first glance you might be thinking that the ISSC MK22 looks just like an Austrian FN SCAR, and you would be right. You also might ask yourself why you would want a .22 rimfire that looks and feels like the Austrian battle rifle. The answer is simple, ammo. It is far more costly to enjoy an afternoon at the range using 5.56 NATO ammunition. A box of.22LR ammunition, on the other hand won’t put such a huge dent in your wallet.

Under the Hood

When you pick up and handle this weapon, it is apparent that ISSC really took the time and effort to piece together an accurate representation on the SCAR weapons system. The Picatinny-style quad-rail is made of aluminum and offers a significant amount of real estate to accessories like the Sightmark SM13001 red dot sight and the Eminence PM007 vertical grip. This weapon also has a variable and open folding sight. This allows you to switch between a three-dot sight system and a more traditional rifle sight. The adjustable stock has three positions to fit almost any shooter’s length of pull, and folds to the side in the same fashion as the FN SCAR. The stock has an adjustable cheek rest to fit the shooters’ individual style. There are sling mounting points on both sides of the rifle at the barrel end, but only on the left side on the stock end. Left-handed shooters will appreciate the noticeably large safety switch located on both sides of the grip. Cartridge capacity is pretty decent, 22 rounds plus one in the chamber offer plenty of firepower for plinking or varmint hunting. When the magazine release is engaged, the cartridge falls out of the weapon smoothly. The barrel length is a standard 16 inches and has six grooves of rifling. The charging handle can be easily removed and placed in any one of six locations on either side of the gun to allow for endless customization. The trigger pull is rated at approximately four pounds and has little creak.

The Bottom Line

Overall, this seems to be a very well built firearm that is suitable for many roles. Whether you are looking for a practice version of your FN SCAR, a varmint rifle, or just a plinker for the range, the ISSC MK22 delivers. Saving money on ammunition overtime while still getting in quality time at the range can be a little hard to achieve, but this Austrian firearm makes that job just a little bit easier.

Specifications:

  • Caliber: 22LR
  • Overall Length Collapsed: 34.65 inches
  • Overall Length Full: 36 inches
  • Overall Width: 2.81 inches
  • Barrel Length: 16 inches
  • Rifling Length: 15 inches
  • Number of Grooves: 6
  • Sight Length Max: 15.7 inches
  • Weight without Magazine: 6.5 pounds
  • Magazine Weight, Empty: 3.8 ounces
  • Trigger Pull, approx.: 4 pounds
  • Magazine Capacity: 22 rounds

We have ’em in stock, too! CLICK HERE!

Down Zero TV: Classifier Breakdown

On today’s special Down Zero TV, we take a look at our first USPSA Classifier Breakdown.  Today’s classifier is CM 09-14: Eye of the Tiger.  This is a classifier that has given me trouble in the past; when I shot it for the first time I managed to score 18% in what I termed my first ever “classifier meltdown.” So when I had the chance to go after it again, I was pretty excited. Plus I got to play with slow motion on my video editor and mess around with voice overs.

Now, I mentioned in the video that I need to work on my press-out, and that’s very true. The problem is that I’ve developed an excellent physical index for my draw, which means that in most situations when I’m facing the target I can just draw the gun and it will magically appear in the A-zone or the down zero area. This becomes an issue when I’m drawing to a low probability target like a head box or a partially obscured target. You’ll see in the video that my gun comes out to the target, then bobs up as I correct my aim to get the shots on target. That bob is HUGE in terms of the amount of time it takes in the draw stroke and was likely the difference between an A-class score and a B-class score on that particular run.

I’ll always probably be a little intimidated by Eye of the Tiger, since it’s the only classifier that I’ve ever well and truly screwed up on. But to go from an 18% to a 68% is a pretty huge improvement!

Lone Wolf G9 Joins the Pack

Many of us among the shooting community love to shoot AR-style rifles. Some of us build them from the ground up; painstakingly honing each and every component into a thing of precision and beauty. However, when it comes to taking it to the range we face the endless, and sometimes problematic, issue of ammunition cost. It is the same problem drivers face when they go to fill up at the pump. If you want to drive your car, you have to fill it with gas. If you want to fire your weapon, you best be ready to fork over some greenbacks. With the rising cost of ammunition, this has become a problem for many would-be shooters. A common solution, for the person who enjoys the look and feel of an AR-15, are AR-15 .22 conversion kits or AR rifles chambered for the .22, built from scratch. However, what if you want a firearm that offers a more lifelike experience to that of a standard .223 AR-15? Lone Wolf distributors have the answer in their new G9 Carbine.

The G9 Carbine is a 9mm AR-15-style rifle chambered to fit your standard Glock magazines. What are the advantages to shooting 9mm ammunition out of an AR-15 type rifle? Indoor range use comes to mind. There is nothing worse than going to the big outdoor range and experiencing the misfortune of getting rained out. Some of us just shoot better in an indoor environment. If you already own a Glock 9mm, you are in luck. Your magazines will fit perfectly into the lower receiver of the G9. If you bring your Glock and your G9 to the range, you only have to lug along one type of ammo.

This carbine is compatible with many AR-15 parts. If you already own a tricked-out AR-15, customizing this weapon to fit your lifestyle is seamless. The rifle we tested featured a free-float, picatinny-style quad-rail system for mounting whatever accessories you can think of. The Lone Wolf 9mm compensator reduced recoil, but not as much as we would have liked. We used a Burris Fast Fire II red dot sight to aim the rounds downrange and the gun proved to be accurate with a variety of high quality and value brand ammunition. We also experienced no jamming issues while firing at the steel-plate targets. We tested the crisp trigger pull at four and half pounds. When the magazine is empty, the bolt will only hold open if the bolt catch is manually engaged. The spring seemed a little light for the 9mm round. A heavier buffer would have assisted in reducing recoil, but it wasn’t unmanageable.

Designed for the shooter who does not want to take out a second mortgage to buy ammunition, the Lone Wolf G9 Carbine is an excellent choice. Glock owners will be pleased that they do not have to buy a stack of new magazines, and the act of shooting the wider 9mm round gives you a near exact experience to shooting a .223 AR-15.

Specifications and Features:

Lower:

  • 2.4 lbs
  • 15 5/8″ collapsed
  • 17 7/8″ extended
  • 6 5/8″ high
  • 1 9/16″ wide

Upper:

  • 4.2 lbs
  • 24 1/4″ long
  • 2 1/2″ high and wide

2011 Carolina Cup Recap

Caleb's Sig 1911 Tactical Operations

If you could only shoot one major IDPA (International Defensive Pistol Association) Match in the country, it should be the Carolina Cup.  This is what IDPA is all about—a match that squeezes the maximum amount of fun out of IDPA while staying true to the spirit and principles of the sport.  I’ve shot IDPA matches all over the country at all kinds of locations, and I have to say that the crew running the 2011 Carolina Cup was absolutely the best match staff I’ve seen at an IDPA major match.  My hat is off in gratitude and respect for the professional and efficient way that they handled the shooters through the day.  The big “IDPA Pitfalls” were avoided—there were never any questionable rulings, cover was enforced fairly across the board, and all in all it really was the best example I’ve seen in over 4 years of shooting of IDPA of what an IDPA match should look like.

My match started on Stage 13 (not me in the video).  There were a total of 16 stages at the Cup, and most of them were 12-15 rounds.  The total round count was 213, through which my Sig 1911 TacOps ran like a sewing machine with no bobbles or hiccups.  My first stage went okay; I was slower than I wanted to be, but didn’t make any major errors.  Stage 14 went better; I shot nice and fast but somehow dropped 7 points on a 12-shot stage.  The Carolina Cup was a great match for challenging your mental focus – lots of 12-round stages mean that dropping too many points is going to hurt a lot, and you absolutely have to stay on your front sight or you will end up looking at your score sheet wondering “where did that -3 come from?”

My favorite stage at the match was Stage 5, which was a very fast but technically challenging stage.  The shooter steps off the box and activates three disappearing targets simultaneously, all of which moved at different speeds.  You had to have your timing perfect or you’d end up getting behind and dropping a ton of points on the disappearing targets.  This is just one example of the excellent, creative, and challenging stages that you saw at the 2011 Carolina Cup.

And now for the fun part: the Results.  I shot CDP/MA, this being my first major match as a 5-Gun Master.  I definitely felt the pressure to perform to a higher level than I had before.  I’ll be the first to admit that there’s a huge difference between shooting Master class classifiers and performing like a Master in a major match.  I’m very pleased that I was able to bring home a Top 10 finish in CDP!  I finished 9th in CDP Master and 10th Overall in CDP, with first place going to Glenn Shelby, the only Distinguished Master competing in CDP.

This was a great match, and I want to thank all the companies that sponsored and supported the match, especially my main sponsor, Cheaper than Dirt.  Tomorrow, right here on the Shooter’s Log, I’ll take a look at the guns and gear I used to bring home my first Top 10 finish at a major IDPA Match in the 2011 season!

Ammo Stash

Sig 1911 TacOps and BVAC .45 ACP

A few days ago, Tam (if you’re not reading her blog, you should be) put together a list of the various calibers she keeps on hand to shoot through the various guns in her collection. It’s a pretty extensive list, as it should be for a collector of obscure firearms. My own list is a little more mundane, but it also fits my collection of guns which are all primarily uses for competition and heavy shooting. That means that instead of a lot of different calibers, I have a lot of rounds of just a few calibers. On hand right now are the following calibers:
5WU5TGHDVEWF

Tiny Gun, Huge Punch

Many people have differing ideas about what a backup gun is. Is it a good idea to sacrifice magazine capacity for size? What caliber is best? What about reliability or accuracy? Some of you might be familiar with small pocket-sized pistols such as the Ruger LC9 or the Kahr PM9. These small, concealable firearms allow shooters to carry a bit of extra firepower out of sight. The new Diamondback firearm is something to consider. What if you had a firearm smaller than most .380 pistols that can carry a six-round magazine of 9mm stopping power, ready to fly at a moments notice? Enter the Diamondback DB9.

 

The first and most obvious advantage to this firearm is the ballistic superiority of the 9mm cartridge. Some experts say that the .380 round, in general, will expand or penetrate, not both. 9mm ammunition tends not to have this problem. There is a reason why many law enforcement and military personnel use the 9mm. It is light enough to carry a lot of ammunition, and heavy enough to put a bad guy down, which, for a belly gun, seems ideal to me. The next major feature this firearm brings to the table is its incredibly small size. At only .8 inches wide, it is just a tiny bit wider than the handle on my coffee cup. It fits on the inside of my belt line much more comfortably than any other 9mm’s I have tried. This could be, however, due to the lack of a slide catch on the side of the weapon. The grip is still easy to handle despite its ultra thin physique. The extended bottom plate makes holding this firearm much more comfortable. The ridges on the sides of the grip help to hold the gun firmly in your hand. Striations along the slide aid in chambering a round. When empty, the gun weighs in at only 11 ounces and has a very balanced feel. A steel trigger with dual-connecting bars allows for a crisp smooth, five-pound double-action-0nly (DAO) trigger pull. I noticed almost no creaking when cycling the weapon. Accuracy seemed to be spot on, the rounds shot to point of aim with no problem. The three-dot sight system on top of the gun is adjustable for windage, but did not need adjusting out of the box.

In firing the weapon, recoil was fairly pronounced but in a straight line, as opposed to whipping to one side or the other when cycling. We experienced no jamming or feeding problems when firing rounds through the gun.

Overall, the Diamondback DB9 is an excellent choice for a backup or belly gun. I like the idea of carrying something with a bit more bite than your average .380 pocket gun. A lot of firepower in a tiny, travel-sized package is to me, just plain genius.

Specifications and Features:

  • Capacity: 6+1 Rounds
  • Weight: 11 Ounces
  • Length: 5.60″
  • Height: 4.00″ with mag
  • Width: 0.80″
  • Barrel Length: 3.00″
  • Firing Mechanism: Striker Fire

Cheaper Than Dirt! Chats it up with ISSC Owner Mike Weisser

We recently had the opportunity to speak with Mike Weisser, owner of ISSC, the exclusive importer and distributor of the M22 range pistol and MK22 rifle. We discussed where the company comes from and the thoughts behind the ingenious designs they put into their firearms.

Cheaper Than Dirt: Tell me a little bit about how ISSC Austria got started and how they grew into the company they are today.

Mike Weisser: The founder of the company is Austrian Wolfram Kriegleder. He is a graduate of the Austrian technical college which awards degrees in gun engineering and design. It is the only such degree anywhere in the world. It has been there for a long time. Austria of course is a country, along with Germany, that makes very high-quality firearms in both handguns and long guns. Many of the people who are designers or engineers for the Austrian, German and Swiss gun companies went to this college. He originally started as a designer and engineer with WALTHER, a German company that imports into this country through Smith & Wesson. He designed a very popular pistol for them called the P22. After designing that gun for WALTHER and actually having some disagreements with the management of WALTHER over the design, which I’ll get into in a minute, he decided in 2008 to found his own company so that he could design the pistol that he really wanted to design. One thing led to another and he and I met at a trade show in 2008. The gun market is such that if you are not in the United States, you aren’t anywhere. I agreed to import and set up a sister company over here which is also called ISSC and to import and service the American market for his products. So ISSC was founded by Wolfram in Austria 2008, and I founded a separate company over here with the same name in 2009.

ISSC MK22

ISSC MK22

Cheaper Than Dirt: So does the United States-based company take the parts and symbols and assemble the gun here?

Mike Weisser: No, the gun is wholly manufactured and completely assembled in Austria, then shipped to us.

Cheaper Than Dirt: I see, so this meets import regulations.

Mike Weisser: Correct. All our guns are made in a factory in Austria which is outside the village of Ried, in western Austria about 40 to 50 kilometers from the German or what we used to call the Bavarian border.

Presbyopia: The Impact of Aging on Vision

We can all remember the first time we were squinting at the range, trying unsuccessfully to get a clear view of both the sights and targets.

Sight comparisons

Sight comparisons. Image credit: EveryDayNoDaysOff.com

As we age, our eyes progressively lose the ability to focus over the full range of vision from far to near. This happens to everyone, regardless of regular distance vision correction, and takes place gradually over time. The cause is presbyopia, a condition in which the eye’s crystalline lens becomes increasingly inflexible.

Presbyopia of the Eye

Presbyopia of the Eye

The eye’s cornea directs light onto the lens, and the lens focuses the light onto the retina. In an eye with perfect distance vision, the relaxed lens will focus a distant object on the retina. When we are young, the lens can change shape (increase curvature) to focus on objects at closer distances. The closer the object, the greater the curvature required. The ability to do this is known as “accommodation.” Accommodation is measured in diopters (D). As we age and the eye’s lens becomes increasingly inflexible, its accommodation declines.

Eye Accommodation Comparison

Eye Accommodation Comparison

Most people first notice a difficulty in adjusting between distances around the age of 45, and by the time they are 65, they will have lost virtually all of their accommodation.

Presbyopia and Nearsightedness

Presbyopia and Nearsightedness

Presbyopia and Nearsightedness

The nearsighted eye is not so perfectly formed. The result is that even with the lens in the eye relaxed, distant objects are focused somewhere short of the retina. A nearsighted person can usually focus on close objects, but distant objects are fuzzy. With distance vision corrected by glasses, the lens in a youthful nearsighted eye can still increase curvature to focus to closer distances. As a nearsighted person begins to experience presbyopia, however, they will find that they need assistance to focus to closer distances as well.

 

Presbyopia and Farsightedness

Presbyopia and Farsightedness

Presbyopia and Farsightedness

Those who are farsighted have the opposite problem as those who are nearsighted. The focus point for distant objects is somewhere beyond the back of their eye. When the lens in the eye is relaxed, distant objects will be fuzzy, and closer objects will be even fuzzier. The lens in a youthful farsighted eye can increase curvature to focus to distance, and can increase even more to focus on still closer objects. As a farsighted person begins to experience presbyopia, however, they will find that they need assistance to focus on close objects, and, at some point, they will need assistance even to focus on distant objects.

 

Presbyopia and Astigmatism

Presbyopia and Astigmatism

Presbyopia and Astigmatism

Astigmatism results when the cornea is not perfectly spherical in shape. The result is a “lopsided,” somewhat cylindrical sphere that does not focus all of the light rays entering the eye onto a single point on the retina. This means that objects at all distances will appear somewhat blurred. Astigmatism can often occur in conjunction with nearsightedness or farsightedness, but people with perfect distance vision can also have astigmatism. Most people with astigmatism will need assistance that corrects for “cylinder” all the time, and will need both distance and close vision correction when they begin to experience presbyopia.

 

Technology and Tips

As a shooter, the inability to focus because of presbyopia is frustrating, and many chalk it up to “losing their edge” or “not having what it takes anymore.” Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and science has delivered technology to help shooters overcome the effects of presbyopia on the range.

In the past, shooters have relied heavily on multifocal lenses to provide the extra curvature that the lens in their eyes is no longer providing. Unfortunately, common multifocals, such as bifocals, trifocals or progressive lenses, only provide a few set focal points, one for near vision, one for far, and sometimes a third for in between. These multifocals typically cause side effects, including: nausea or headaches from the areas of distortion and blurriness, or neck pain from aiming one’s vision through a limited field of view.

Many other shooters resign to suffer the inconvenience of constantly switching between multiple pairs of glasses throughout the day. Fortunately, in today’s age of modern medicine, there are various ways to overcome presbyopia, such as special adjustable glasses, night vision, scopes and other optical sighting devices.

In addition to the new technology listed above, here are some other tips for coping with presbyopia while shooting with iron sights:

  • Keep Your Eyes Moist. It helps to keep your eyes moistened when you are outside in the wind. A couple of drops of Visine early in the day and again after lunch will help your eyes stay moist and keep your vision clear.
  • Contrast the Color of Your Sight and Target. Many shooters blacken their front sight post for more contrast against the manila-colored target. We typically find the traditional carbide lamp to be a better choice with its flat black finish. The spray-on products are too glossy for our tastes.
  • Prioritize the Clarity of Your Front Post. If you must choose between crystal clear focus on the front sight or target, the front sight focus is always more important. Deviation of sight alignment is far more costly than an imperfect picture of the bull’s-eye. Consequently, even the best sighting aids may allow the distant bull’s-eye to be a little fuzzy, while simultaneously keeping the front post clear. When shooting from 600 and 1,000 yards, the bull’s-eye focus has degraded enough to use what most refer to as a frame hold.

About the Author

Caitlin Abele is a shooter who works with Superfocus, the makers of an adjustable focus lens for presbyopia that is popular amongst shooters. She is also a member of Steve’s Angels, the moderators of the Superfocus Staying on Target community for shooters overcoming age-related vision changes. The Staying on Target community and OnTarget blog provides information and commentary on shooting, aging and vision and is located online at http://shoot.superfocus.com.

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