Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center Talo

1       The J-frame Smith & Wesson revolver is a must-have carry gun in my book.  I’ve been carrying a model 642 as a backup both on and off duty for almost fifteen years now.  There are a lot of nifty little auto pistols on the market today, but none of them come out of the front pocket quite as readily an internal hammer J-frame.  Of course, there are drawbacks to everything.  If you want a quality, 15-ounce pocket gun, sacrifices must be made.  As is necessary for reliable ignition, the DAO trigger pull on these little revolvers is heavy and that makes them somewhat more difficult to shoot.  For the sake of concealability, the stocks are tiny and even the rubber ones are hard on larger hands like mine when firing +P loads.  Another negative of small .38 Special revolvers is occasionally sticky extraction of spent brass.  This is especially true when using the hotter defensive rounds.  These guns have been popular for so many decades, I think it’s safe to say that defensive handgunners have readily accepted these seemingly necessary compromises.  Maybe we don’t have to compromise as much anymore.  Continue reading

Operation Specific Training: Practical Fundamentals

6    “You need a maximum strength prescription of ‘slow…down’.  Speed comes later,” he said in that western Kentucky accent that almost forces a sense of calm.  It was obvious this would be a different kind of class.  Operation Specific Training offers a process-oriented curriculum as opposed to a goal-oriented curriculum.  I would come to know what that meant over the next two days.

I had Internet-known Jerry Jones, the President of Operation Specific Training, for several years at that point. (Editor’s Note: We are proud to have Jerry here as a regular contributor here at Modern Service Weapons.) We had corresponded regularly on a forum and via email, but had never met in person.  I’d always found him to be exceptionally knowledgeable and truly interested in the education of others.  He’s notorious for going to great lengths to answer questions and provide assistance to perfect strangers online.  During an email exchange, I told Jerry I was having trouble with some fundamentals after surgery.  I don’t know if Jerry felt sorry for me or was just tired of reading my polysyllabic swearing, but he invited me to his Practical Fundamentals class in Paducah, KY.  It seemed like a perfect opportunity to regain some skill and maybe a little swagger. Continue reading

Out Where The West Begins: A Deputy and His R8

 

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“I think I’ll do okay,” he told me with a slowly-developing wry smile under a horseshoe mustache (not to be confused with a Fu Manchu) and an immaculate platinum four-inch brim Serratelli western hat.  I always wondered how he kept that thing so clean patrolling our infamous red dirt roads.   In retrospect, I had probably come across a little incredulous as to Garfield County Deputy Cory Rink’s choice of new duty pistol while we were discussing the dynamics of modern law enforcement shootings, split times, reloading speed and accuracy.   Rink is a unique fellow.  He’s intelligent, excellent with the public, well-versed in statute and case law, a custody/control (hand-to-hand) expert and has thrown more than a few hay bales in his life.  So, of course, he chose a unique duty gun; a S&W M&P R8.  But, still… a revolver?  In the 21st century?  He seemed confident that he’d do just fine on the range.  We’d see soon enough. Continue reading

Too Much Gun Pointing?

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[Photo Credit: Alan Diaz, Pulitzer winner, for the AP (2000)]

Merriam-Webster (online): “at gunpoint – under a threat of death by being shot.”

Executive Summary: Why are guns pointed at people? On occasion, to shoot them. More often, to compel compliance with the gun pointer’s command (to cease unlawful or threatening activity and/or to initiate directed activity). Gunpoint command/compliance as a “technique” or “tactic” is frequently unsuitable, as a failure to comply (mere flight included) ought not be responded to with the use of deadly force.  [Because the MAY and SHOULD (elements of my deadly force paradigm — see related links below) are not satisfied].  For LEOs sued for “excessive force,” the propriety of gun-pointing will increasingly be a jury question. For the non-sworn, gun-pointing is strongly disfavored even when lawful, as it requires significant training, skill, and discipline..

Recent incidents of gun-pointing revived one of my long-held (about 15 years) firearm related observations:  Guns are pointed at people way more than they need to or should be pointed — by LEOs and the non-sworn.  (For a related MSW post, click: “CONSIDERATIONS FOR THE NON-SWORN : HOLDING SOMEONE AT GUNPOINT.”  I touched on the subject for LEOs as well, click: “THREATENING DEADLY FORCE : MUSINGS ON “BRANDISHING” AND “WARNING” SHOTS.” For my thoughts on gun fighting and shooting people (who need to be shot), click: “A SHORT ESSAY : WINNING IS EVERYTHING . . . AND THE ONLY THING,” and “MAY/MUST QUESTIONS ANSWERED CORRECTLY. . .SHOOT FIRST, LIVE”). Continue reading

Glock Generations – Is There A Practical Difference?

A pair of Glock 19s, in Gen3 and Gen4. Though there are some differences, both are perfectly serviceable.

A pair of Glock 19s, in Gen3 (top) and Gen4 (bottom). Though there are some differences, both are perfectly serviceable.

With the advent of the Generation 4 Glock, I sold off most of my Generation 3 stuff.  I like the Gen4 better from several standpoints.  The dual recoil system, the addition of the texture on the grips, and the larger mag release.  I like everything about it.  I’ve lost count at the amount of 9mm and .40 caliber ammunition that I have sent down range since the Gen4 came out.  I convinced myself that the Gen4 shot softer, and that everything about it was better.

But is it? Continue reading

MADE IN THE USA : (Some) “Soft” Goods Makers

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For those who prefer to (or must) buy “Made in the USA,” here are some “soft” goods makers I favor (often after recommendations from full-time military or LEO users), along with my actual purchase examples.  These vendors make quality products with good fabrics and stitching; many are unique designs. Something (maybe everything) from each of their lines will likely interest you and satisfy your mission requirements and personal finickiness. Customer service is also top notch for all. Continue reading

The Return of the 9mm (Part Two: The 9mm Awakens)

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

The Hornady XTP bullet seen here performs fairly well in ballistic testing, though the newest designs such as the Ranger SXT from Winchester is among the best performing defensive handgun ammunition around.

Last week, I wrote about the nine-millimeter’s return to law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, who had shunned the performance of that round nearly two decades ago. While perusing some of the comments and emails I received in response, I found a link to an excellent article in POLICE Magazine titled 9mm vs. 40 Caliber. While I don’t enjoy the typical pistol caliber debate, as you can find these ad nauseum on any Internet gun forum, the article goes in depth into wounding mechanisms and the mechanism of “stopping power”. Also of note is that the article was authored by a trauma surgeon. Here are my takeaways from the piece.

Continue reading

The Return of the 9mm (or Why I Hate 40 caliber)

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One of the results of the fabled and oft studied Miami Shootout of 1986, where two FBI Agents lost their lives when attempting to take down two violent felons, was the conclusion that the 9mm round used by agents at the time failed to adequately perform its job to incapacitate its target. As a result, the .40 caliber round rose from the aftermath and eventually worked its way into law enforcement agencies across the nation, with the notion that it had the “capacity of a 9mm, and the stopping power of a 45.” But this alleged increase in terminal performance did not come for free. Over the years, the louder report and snappier recoil made it hard for many trainees and officers alike to qualify, the ammunition costs more (than 9mm), and there is increased wear on the pistol (as well as the hands and elbows of the shooter.)

Fast forward to 2014, and the same agency that shunned the 9mm two decades ago issued a solicitation for a family of 9mm pistols for its agents. This is not surprising, as I have always found the 40 caliber to have a very snappy recoil that was more fatiguing to shoot for extended periods of time than even a 45 caliber pistol. I found that 40 caliber pistols were more accurately characterized as “the stopping power of a 9mm with the recoil of a 45.” I say that in jest, but what I have learned is that with decades of advancement in ballistic technology, high performance handgun rounds in any major service pistol caliber have performed adequately in testing and the field, given the limitations of handgun calibers as a whole. Continue reading

First Look: Oakley PRIZM Lenses

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

Oakley Flak Jackets with the new PRIZM TR22 lenses, now available through the Standard Issue program for first responders.

For the better part of the past 20 years, I have been a big fan of Oakley eyewear for use on and off the range. They aren’t cheap, but good equipment is rarely inexpensive. Luckily for first responders or military, the price of much of the Oakley lineup is significantly reduced through their Standard Issue program. Those who prefer glass lenses look elsewhere, but I like polycarbonate lenses as the weight of glass tends to give me a headache over time. Oakley glasses are designed to be optically correct and offer industry leading protection against UV and debris. The only downside to polycarbonate lenses are that they scratch more easily than glass, so routine handling should be done with care.

Around the beginning of this year, Oakley released their line of PRIZM lenses, which were advertised to enhance contrast for various activities, including golf and shooting. In the past, I had preferred the VR28 lenses for high contrast, and eventually migrated to Positive Red Iridium, which also has a fancy reflective red coating. Having been happy with the Positive Red lenses, I didn’t rush to go out to try the new PRIZM offerings. Continue reading

Join the NRA

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The title says it all.

If you are not a member of the National Rifle Association, and you are a gun owner, regardless of your political leanings, you should be. I am not a doomsdayer.  I’m not a defeatist.  I’m not the kind of guy that gives the anti-gun-rights movement any more credit than they deserve.  I don’t see every attempt at a federal gun grab as being a serious attempt.  Some are nothing more than politicians pandering to their base. But, every run at gun control, whether it is half hearted pandering, or a serious attempt to take our Rights away, follows the same script.  The demonizing of one organization as standing in the way of “common sense”.  The National Rifle Association.  I swear to you some of the time I hear Washington politicians blame the NRA and they sound just like a rerun of Scooby Doo from when I was a kid.  “I would have got away with it if it wasn’t for that darn meddling NRA” Continue reading

2016: Time to Step It Up

 

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Putting in some training at home with Next Level Training’s SIRT 110.

“I don’t get to the range as often as I’d like,” I hear that a lot these days. Sometimes it’s an honest statement, sometimes it’s an excuse for errors made during qualification courses. If you carry a weapon in any capacity, you owe it to yourself to be proficient. Proficiency can’t be measured with, “good enough to pass quals”. Most basic weapons training is what the title states, “basic”, that includes police academies and basic military training. If you are content with that title, you will never advance in weapons training. Those of us who have attended additional courses should encourage others to do so.

Today we are fortunate to have a lot of very good instructors to choose from; we certainly don’t have a shortage of them. Do your homework and take outside training. During the course of instruction take notes, if you are able to record the class on video even better. Be sure to check with the instructor staff ahead of time to see if video will be permitted. You can reference the material and practice in the convenience of your garage to reinforce what you have learned. Continue reading

The Old Fat Dog and the Curly Wolf

 

IMG_5285I often caution citizens not to expect their domestic pets to be effective guard dogs.  Folks usually don’t like heavring it, but that’s been my experience after a few decades in law enforcement.  Dogs are great alarm systems if properly programed, but are rarely capable of a full-blown attack against a dedicated assailant.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gained permission to enter a fenced-in yard to search for a suspect only to be told by the homeowner that no one could survive their killer canine’s zone of terror.  One gentlemen even told me, “if he’s back there, you’re on a recovery mission [rather than a rescue mission].”  Several of those times, not only did we find the suspect in Cujo’s Corner but one time (I kid you negative), the felon was actually hiding in the dog house.  Still, police work is consistent with anomalies. Continue reading

The Apex Tactical M&P Barrel: First Look

jones-apex

Several weeks ago, Apex Tactical owner Randy Lee and I were talking on the phone and our discussion turned to new products  coming down the line from Apex.  One of the major items of interest to me was the “Apex Grade” 9mm barrel for the Smith and Wesson M&P. My association with Randy goes back a bunch of years.  I still have the early 2006 M&P that we used for the prototyping of the original Apex Hard Sear that started it all. Well, he prototyped, and I was the ape that attempted to break it.  As the conversation evolved, some hints might have been dropped, and a semi-drop in barrel arrived at my door about three weeks ago. Continue reading

The SIRT 107 M&P Model Has Arrived

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

The long awaited M&P model SIRT, dubbed the 107, has finally arrived and brings along with it a host of design upgrades.

Readers of MSW know that we are big proponents of SIRT training pistol, developed by Next Level Training, for a variety of reasons. Primarily, it allows for a high volume of training, removing many barriers to entry, and removes the possibility of introducing live ammunition into your pistol when performing dry practice. In addition, when integrated into live fire training at the range, it can bring out and correct trigger control issues in an incredibly efficient manner. Up until now, the SIRT 110 model (Glock format) was the only format available. While shooting is 99% sights and trigger, and regardless of the external shape of the tool, the skills developed by the 110 will translate over to any format pistol, there was a continued demand for other common service pistol formats. After clearing more than a couple production and design hurdles, Next Level Training has finally released the SIRT 107: the M&P Model.

Continue reading

Influences (Folks From Whom I’ve Learned)

Ernest Langdon

Ernest Langdon is the man when it comes to mastering mechanical skills that can be applied in the real world.

As we venture into 2016, I thought it might be fitting to give credit to where credit is due.  The list is not inclusive,  but gives the nod to those who put my shooting, and by extension teaching, where it is today.

A lot of guys in the shooting industry tend to make things about who they are, what they do for a living, or perhaps have done for a living the first and foremost in their resume.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  It lends some credibility that they know what they are talking about in their particular field of subject matter.  The firearms industry is one of those industries that the old adage “Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach” doesn’t hold water. Continue reading