Saturday, June 26, 2010

More M-22 testing, torture edition


Following in the best time honored Carteach0 tradition of monkey curiosity coupled with the destructive ability of a small boy, testing of the ISSC M-22 continues. This time, a torture test involving a big stack of rimfire ammunition, and the noticeable lack of a cleaning kit. 500 rounds of function testing in one range visit, without cleaning.

The pistol started out relatively clean, and lubed with a light gun oil. Nothing special was used, as might be done normally. Simply a few drops of oil on the rails and in the trigger mechanism, and a few kind words of encouragement.

tion was laid out.... 1000 rounds worth.... in the shape of Federal 510, Blazer, and some Remington Thunderbolt. 1000 rounds is a rather high amount to expect any .22 pistol to digest without cleaning, especially a blow back operated pistol. Rimfire ammunition is notoriously dirty, and tends to gum up the works in a pretty serious manner. Regular cleaning and lubrication is necessary to keep a .22 pistol alive and functioning.

The Remington Thunderbolt was something of an experiment. It happens the Carteach0 ammo locker is rather well stocked with this offering, as it was on sale at one time. Sadly, most of the .22's in the safe regard it as persona non grata, and promptly refuse to opperate once the Thunderbolt ammo hits the bench.

The M-22 is not an exception to this rule, as was hoped. Only two ten round magazines of the Remington were tried, before failures of various kinds relegated it back to the locker. Worst of all, the over sized bullets on the Thunderbolt amm
o forced another cleaning of the M-22 before testing could begin, as shaved lead worked it's way into the action.

Something noticed during this torture test, and missed in the initial review of the pistol.... the magazines have a cut out in the slot the follower button rides in. Pushing the follower down and the button to one side latches the follower down against the magazine spring, allowing easy loading. This was a welcome discovery about 200 rounds in, as loading .22 pistol magazines can be a fiddly operation, and destructive to the thumbs.

During testing there were a few failures to fire due to ammunition issues. In each case, reorienting the case in the chamber made the 'dud' fire, although a simple 'tap &rack' was all that was necessary to put the pistol back in operation. Towards the end of the 500 round run, slide speed seemed to be dropping which effected feeding. Once this was seen a few times, the test was declared done as the pistol began to have function problems related to lack of cleaning.

It was tempting to give the gunked up M-22 a few good shots of Break Free CLP and continue shooting, but that wasn't the basis of the test. The plan was to see how long the Glock-Like .22 trainer could run without cleaning, and that point was honestly reached at the 500 round mark.

One point of curiosity... could the heat have been a factor in weapon operation? 500 rounds in an hour had the pistol smoking hot, especially on a 90 degree day in full sun. It had to be allowed to cool before bagging for the trip home... it was that warm. Perhaps this might have been a factor in the functioning issues that cropped up after burning a brick of .22lr.

Overall impressions of the M-22's function during the extended run? Pretty good. Not perfect, and not flawless, but better than most other .22 autos might have done. In fact, better than any other .22 pistol in the Carteach0 armory just now. It's entirely possible a quick shot of CLP every few hundred rounds, with a cursory wipe down, might be all that's needed to keep the pistol chugging along like Thomas the Train. Next range trip, that notion will be tested.

One thing that's been proven without a doubt..... Carteach is going to need another case of good .22 ammo, and right soon too!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ISSC M-22, Review of a Glock-Like trainer in .22 rimfire

When Carteach0 heard about a possible Glock type trainer in .22 rimfire, excitement abounded. The idea is long overdue, with literally millions of Glocks in service around the world and no really good rimfire training solution out there for them. There are a few companies making rimfire conversions for the more common Glocks, although they don't seem to be readily available for some reason. The most common brand has been back-ordered for over a year, and the others are... shall we say.... rare. One can search a years worth of gun shows in vain, never seeing a single Glock rimfire conversion, while having a wide choice of the same built for the 1911.

The idea of a rimfire training option for service weapons has been around for generations. During WWII both the Allies and the Axis powers used .22 rifles in a service rifle pattern to train new recruits. When the most common police carry pistol was a revolver, most builders had a .22 version of the centerfire carry weapon. A trooper might carry a S+W model 19 .357 in his duty holster, and shoot hundreds of rounds every weekend with a K-22 that was an extremely close match. Folks who favored the 1911 platform were not left out, as rimfire conversions for the venerable old colt have been around nearly as long as the pistol itself.

Nowadays, a 1911 shooter can choose between several quality conversions, turning their full power carry pistol into a .22 with only a few minutes of slide swapping. There is also the choice of a Ruger 22/45, a dedicated rimfire pistol with the grip angle and controls styled to match the .45 1911 reasonably well. Oddly, it's usually possible to buy the entire 22/45 pistol for less than a 1911 conversion kit.

Sig Sauer shooters can turn to the Mosquito, a smaller scale .22 sold by Sig. Made of plastic and cheaply so, the Mosquito has controls that exactly match the standard P220 service weapon, and many of others in the Sig Sauer line as well. The Mosquito is a low cost option, but for a little more of the green, Sig Sauer also offers caliber conversion kits for many of the pistols. Not every pistol, but the major players in the service sidearm category surely.

Amidst all these, the Glock has stood out from the crowd. While being adopted as the issue carry weapon for many, many police agencies around the world.... a good .22 rimfire training solution to match the Glock has been sorely lacking. For those of who carry a Glock as a self defense weapon, this lack has been felt too.

So.... when word came of a new pistol on the market that might fill this niche, a little excitement might be understandable.

Introducing...... the ISSC M-22 .22 rimfire pistol.

Okay folks... hold it down.... hold it down. It's not all buttercups and sunshine.... but it's got some good points worth looking at.

At first quick glance, the M22 looks like a typical Glock. The same frame style, same blocky slide, roughly the same sights, and the same trigger with a built in safety lever. At second glance, differences begin to appear. First, the rotating safety built into the slide. Next... and a shocker it is... an external hammer.

Yes, the M22 is not striker fired. It's single action, fired from a cocked hammer. This is the single most glaring difference between the Glock and the ISSC offering. It's an understandable one though, as a single action pistol does not step on Glock patent toes, and it's quite a bit less expensive to manufacture. The upside... it has a fairly decent trigger pull, and promises a better one as it wears in. The downside... it's not exactly like the Glock, so allowances must be made in using it for training.

The ISSC M22 is rife with safeties, the most obvious one the manual safe
ty on the slide. This safety not only blocks the firing pin, but also drops the hammer. That's a nice touch. In addition there is the Glock-style safety lever in the trigger, and a tricky little (nearly invisible) rotating safety device in the trigger that takes a key to operate (which I promptly ignored), and finally a magazine disconnect.

The single action design is the biggest road block to using the M22 as a Glock style trainer. In order to treat it as a Glock, the manual safety must be left disengaged and the hammer cocked. Given the additional safety on the trigger, this is not as big an issue as it might be, but it still exists. A choice has to be made.... ignore the safety and train as if it was a Glock, or use the safety, manually cock the hammer, and lose much of the training value.

I found the M22
will fit (loosely) the holsters I have for my Glock 30 carry pistol. In shooting from a draw, there is a difference in feel between the pistols, as the G-30 is a little bulkier than the M22. Once past that, it's possible to ignore any other differences and do some fairly valuable low cost training.

As for trigger feel, they are obviously different, but not as much as one might think. The Glock is striker fired, with it's 'Safe-Action' finishing the striker movement each time it's fired. The M22 is single action, but the trigger mechanism is heavy enough, with a tiny catch to it, that makes tactical shooting comparable between the two. Target shooting, as in straight bullseye work, is a different story. There the differences in trigger come to the fore, with clarity.

One glitch noticed while putting the M22 through it's paces.... slapping a magazine home in a firm manner will cause the slide to drop, chambering a round... every time. In fact, slapping the butt hard at any time will cause the slide to drop, and the issue is more pronounced the dirtier the rimfire pistol gets. The slide release contacts the bolt face at a point where an angle has been machined into the face. This means any movement of the slide release downwards puts it onto the slope, and then down to disengage.

Is this a feature or a bug? I suppose that depends on your outlook. I was a bit nonplussed at first, as I prefer a very positive control over every feature of a weapon I am shooting. On the other hand, after I learned a firm magazine seating would run the slide every time, I found myself making some very fast magazine swaps. That is something I could get used to.

One can always lighten up in seating the magazine, as doing so with the slide retracted is a very low pressure operation.

On to the range review......

Most all .22 rimfire firearms can be quite finicky about the ammunition they will shoot. This is understandable, given that .22 long rifle ammo can be found in dozens of configurations. Autoloading pistols like the M22 are especially noted for this, as the blowback operation is sensitive to bullet weight and powder charge. ISSC recommends, as most manufacturers do, using high velocity 40 grain solids of good quality, such is CCI Mini-mags or Federal Game Shock.

Understanding this nature of rimfire pistols, my first range quest was trying various makes and models of ammunition in search of something the M-22 would shoot reliably. The process w
as enjoyable, and enlightening. The first range visit found ten different variations of .22 long rifle ammo in the bag, including those recommended by ISSC.

The results were rather pleasant, compared to the usual experience with .22 self loaders. The M22 I tried reliably shot every single high velocity 40 grain solid
and hollow point I fed it, with the exception of Federal bulk pack HP's. The standard velocity ammunition caused failures to feed in every single case, exactly as the manufacturer says it will. This is in contrast to the last .22 auto I worked with, which would shoot only one brand and type of ammunition reliably.

Most surprising was how the M22 reacted when I tried the oddball 60 grain 'Sniper Sub Sonic' load from Aquila. Not only did the pistol function, but
it even shot fairly well over the short range I was shooting. There was evidence the bullet had begun to tumble at fifty feet, but this is not surprising as the pistol does not have the rifling twist to stabilize the slow heavy bullet.

As for the CCI Shot cartridges..... it may be best if we simply don't speak of that. Attempting this round did show me one thing.... The M22 has a very nice (and wide) extractor cut in the barrel and a pocket knife easily removes a stuck case from the chamber.

All in all, initial testing burned up around 200 rounds, and the pistol continued to function well witho
ut cleaning at that point. .22 rimfire is dirty stuff, especially in an autoloader, but the M-22 managed to keep working despite the build up of gunk.

As for accuracy, the hands down winner was Federal Game Shock 40 grain solids. 1.5" groups were attainable from the bench at 50 feet, and that's about as good as Carteach's old eyes can do anymore.

While the sights are adjustable, only one adjustment had to be made. The rear sight is adjustable for windage, and a small screw driver is supplied to make those corrections. For elevation, the front sight is replaceable with various height units, four of which are supplied with the pistol. Using the same supplied miniature screwdriver, the front sight is simply popped out from underneath the slide, and a new one popped into place. The first sight I tried moved the point of impact from four inches high to dead on the bull, and took only a few moments to accomplish.

The pistol has to be field stripped to replace the front sight, and this is a combination of Glock style lever and old Walther style action. The one hand pushes down on the take down lever in Glock fashion, while the other hand pulls the slide back and lifts it off the frame, so it can slide forward. This leaves the slide, the frame, and the recoil spring. No more disassembly is required or recommended.

Moving from bench shooting to what the pistol is really designed for, it took the place of the G-30 in my holster. Another hundred rounds were sent down range in draw/fire practice, looking for parallels between the Glock and the M22. While there are some obvious differences, using the M22 as a trainer for the Glock is perfectly viable. It fit the same holster, and once the manual safety issue is dealt with the handling characteristics are the same. Most importantly, the frame angle, sights, and trigger pull are a close enough match that training with the M22 is both do-able, and valuable.

On the question of quality.... this is not an expensive pistol. The frame is polymer, and the slide aluminum. The internals are steel, with good springs. The magazines appear to be hard anodized aluminum with polymer bases and good quality springs. The slide is coated with something ISSC calls 'Ti-Clad', but my old mechanic eyes see paint. Now, it may be a high tech epoxy coating applied under static charge, but I still see paint. I suppose this is the way of the future, as Smith+Wesson uses a similar coating on their M+P line, as does Springfield on their XD line.

This finish on the slide also accounts for a warning from ISSC not to use spray gun cleaners on the M22. Having seen the results of such chemical unhappiness in the past, Carteach0 is inclined to heed their warning and not test that point.

No.... not an expensive pistol.... so it's not made of heavy machined steel nor finished in hues of blue miles deep. It's not pretty, and there is no way around that. Then again.... it's not designed to be, nor priced that way either. It's clearly designed as a rimfire trainer for Glock shooters, although it's priced at roughly half what a new Glock costs. ISSC has recommended list at $369, but the market does not work that way. Bud's Guns lists it at $323, while the M22 can already be found new on for less than $250. This puts the ISSC M22 at a price point lower than most of the .22 pistols on the market, even the Sig Sauer Mosquito, and also at roughly $100 lower than most rimfire Glock conversions on the market.

Final thoughts..... I like this pistol. It shoots reasonably straight, and is surprisingly un-picky in it's diet. As a Glock trainer, it's about 75% there. If it was striker fired, I'd make that 95%. As it is, I suspect it's the best available option for low cost rimfire training to Glock shooters. As a stand alone pistol, all Glock-like attributes set aside, it appears to be a decently made yet inexpensive firearm. I would be happy to have it live in my range bag, making an appearance every range day for a few hundred rounds of pleasure shooting and even serious training. I'll be looking for my own M22 shortly.

FTC disclaimer: ISSC supplied a loaner M22 for this review. Does this mean Carteach0 got to play with someone elses gun for free? Not by any stretch of the imagination. With the FFL transfers, background check, ammunition.... 'Ol Carteach is down a fair chunk to bring this review to print, and doesn't get to keep the pistol.... although I will surely be asking how much cash it will take to part them from this particular worn out, used up, tired old pistol (by the time I'm done with it, that is).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tactical Three Gun match! A first for Carteach0


Yesterday had me fixing an issue that's bothered me for years. While I have shot in more than a few kinds of matches, one has always eluded me... till now. For me, the Tactical Three Gun match is no longer a mystery. The day was spent at the Heidelberg Sportsman's Association, roasting in the hot sun alongside some of the best pe
ople ever met on a range.

First, a run down of the technical and gear side of the coin. (Warning: Link farm ahead).

To take part in the match to it's fullest, a shooter needs three guns (shocked.. yes, shocked we all are). The match at HSA had four classes, so a shooter could run only a pistol, or any combination of pistol, rifle, and shotgun. A contestant with only one or two of the three guns shoots the same stages, but just the portions set up for his weapon. New folks should be aware though... it seems if one shows up to a match like this without full battle gear,
he should expect to be inundated with offers to use other peoples weapons. As was said before..... good folks at that match.

First, the pistol. Depending on the match, anything will do, but to really compete the choices get narrower the higher the score card one goes. Semi-auto with a high capacity is almost a requirement, although some shooters see no reason to turn away from the perfection that is the single stack 1911designed by Mr. Browning. I chose to shoot the match with a Colt Commander carried in a Blackhawk Serpa holster. Two Wilson magazines rode the other hip in a Fobus twin mag carrier.

Next time I go..... and there will be a next time..... I may take along the Ruger P-85. It has features that work for a match like this; it's reliable, has excellent accuracy, a good capacity... and will function perfectly through the rough and tough stages designed by evil match masters.

Now, the rifle. Technically, anything will do, but a shooter would be severely handicapped with anything less than a 'tactical' carbine. Heavier battle rifles work, but the weight, length, and recoil will show up on the time clock. AR's rule the game here, in every configuration imaginable. Some form of optical sight is a huge help as well, and this match featured enough Eotech sights to equip a company of marines.

Being a contrarian in many ways, I had to be different, if only just a little. My shooting was done with an Armalite AR
-180b. Topped with an Eotech 512 on a StormWerkz mount, the rifle is accurate, reliable, and easy to run.

The shotgun.... again, anything goes, and again..... seeking higher scores narrow the gun rack on this one as well. Pump or semauto, with a higher than normal capacity, and reload storage on the weapon is no
t a bad idea. Optical sights are okay, but most of the shotgun targets are large and up close, with speed being the real factor. As with any tactical shotgun shooting, be it home defense or at a match, reloaded can be the limiting issue. Practice reloading under pressure!

My race gun for the match was nothing fancier than my house gun, a Remington 870 with a police barrel and a Knoxx fol
ding stock set. The short round count of the standard magazine could have been a handicap, depending how the stages were designed. On this day, it was not a problem, but that short magazine will grow before the next match... that I promise.

The folding Knoxx stock turned out to be a help as I lugged gear from stage to stage. Experienced match shooters used tactical golf bag carts, children's wagons (tactically enhanced of course) and even a baby stroller (also tactically enhanced). This being my first Three Gun match, I played the Noob and just carried my things. Being able to fold the shotgun stock and shove it under the handles of my range bag was a huge help.

The rest of the gear? Whatever you need to be comfortable and ready. 'Tactical' clothing generally means pockets... lots of pockets. I took advantage of the brand clothing I prefer, and used the well placed pockets as magazine holders and ammo carriers. It helps that Blackhawk designed a hidden expanding waistband into their pants, especially for chubby old farts like myself. Getting down to prone position and jumping back up goes much easier when not fighting your clothing and the match at the same time. One of these days I'll have to try out the 5.1.1 line and see if they are the same.

I even wore my lucky hat, autographed by Todd Jarrett. I could hear him whispering in my ear... " I TOLD you to hold it tighter, why won't you listen??".

It's called 'Three Gun' because each stage has the shooter using all three weapons, although from there anything goes. The rifle can be used at five yards or fifty yards, and the pistol at five feet or fifty feet. The shotgun... perhaps steel poppers, falling plates, swingers, or even tricky bird throwers. The shooter doesn't know the stages in advance of match day, so practicing has to be kind of generic.

An example of a stage (one of four): From a ready position, on the beep the shooter draws his pistol and shoots five targets (double tap all) at about 30 feet, through a window. One is a falling steel, which releases a 'shoot' target to rise from behind a 'no-shoot' target'. Once this set is fired, the shooter lays his pistol down on a table and runs twenty yards to where his rifle is staged. He readies his rifle and fires two body shots each at five targets at fifty yards... while leaning through a window barricade. He then reloads his rifle, drops to prone, and fires two head shots on each target... from under the barricade.... a gap of about twelve inches grass to wood. Then the shooter regains verticalness* and lays his rifle down in favor of his shotgun, which is loaded with four rounds. The shooter walk/jogs/sprints down a marked lane to find four targets about 30 yards down. He engages those four, and then reloads on the run till he engages four more targets at the far end of the range.

That's it; all under the clock, with a stage master following you timer in hand, and forty people watching.

The stages were an excellent and challenging mix of situations. Round counts varied, and the targets were creative indeed. Shooting a steel pistol target might cause another target to rise from behind a no-shoot. Hitting what appeared to be a steel popper with a shotgun might have a clay bird bouncing straight up in front of your eyes. A wooden 'window' standing in the field looks friendly enough... just lean on the frame and shoot the rifle targets way down there.... until one realizes half the targets have to be engaged prone and
shooting through the twelve inch space under the wooden frame. Open a door to engage the pistol targets beyond, just to have a swinging 'no shoot' device spinning wildly in front of the scoring targets.

My friends, this is fun shooting... very fun indeed. Is it good training as well? In the sense that it forces a shooter to work outside the usual box, and face new situations, I suppose it is. The added stress of shooting under match pressure tends to drive home handling mistakes pretty quickly. These could be valuable clues on area's that need work and additional training, especially for a police officer whose life might ride on his ability one day.

For my first time.... it was a great day. Not too many errors, coupled with meeting a lot of good people. The shooters (and families) had fun, even while working on their skills and competing under pressure.

Shoot for fun, for training, or in the points race.... either way you look at it the Three Gun Tactical match is a fine way to spend a day!

Now.... the match in photos, which tell the story far better than I can:

* It's my blog, and if I wish to make up words, I shall. Anybody older than forty knows what verticalness means, and understands the process.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Holy Shrinking Shotguns Batman! A range review of the Knoxx tactical folding stock


Some time ago I wrote a piece describing the evolution of an old Remington 870 scattergun into the quintessential 'household home defense' gun. It was fairly simple affair, involving nothing more complicated than replacing the barrel and adding a buttstock shell holder. In reality, nothing more is required for a home defense shotgun. More toys, gadgets, and add-on widgets can actually cause more harm than help, as simple is always better.

That said... I have taken a leap and added a feature to my Remington home defense shotgun. A folding stock, and a very special one indeed.

The Knoxx recoil reduction stock is indeed a gadget, but unlike so many... this one actually works. On top of that, it has passed the 'Carteach0 Gorilla of Doom Destruction Testing'. In plainer words, I attempted to break the stock in some very unreasonable ways. By simply pulling it apart with my bear hands (pun intended), and even beating it against a range bench (shotgun won, bench lost).

The Knoxx stock uses fairly massive internal springs to absorb and spread out the recoil pulse of the heavy hitting shotgun. The kick is still there, but instead of a
painful jab it's reduced to a long 'shove'. This technology shines in two areas; Letting recoil sensitive people shoot the thumper without fear, and aiding in shear controllability of the shotgun. It's hard to argue that heavy recoil reduces ones ability to control a weapon, and mitigating the recoil helps the shooter stay on target. This is the point behind every rifle muzzle brake and ported competition pistol.

Replacing the Remington wood with the tough Knoxx polymer and steel buttstock is a five minute job requiring only one special tool, which is included with the stock. That tool is nothing more complicated than a long allen key that makes the job easier. Replacing the forearm is a slightly longer job, and it does require a special tool not supplied by Blackhawk with the Knoxx stock. It's a type of spanner wrench designed for the Remington forearm nut, and can be found for about $25 at most gunsmith tool suppliers.

I'll save the detailed story of swapping over the stock and forearm for another post, and stick to the range report with this account.

Why move to a folding stock (aside from the 'totally cool' factor)? Well.... my thinking is this: I reserve this shotgun for home defense, and in working through the home with it I find it can be awkward, even in it's short barrel form. One almost has to do a 'Gun-Kata' to make it work smoothly and efficiently.

The problem is... even with the shorter barrel, the whole weapon is about as long as the hallways are wide. Doors are another problem entirely, especially entering a room while 'slicing the pie' with a long gun. Shouldering the weapon means sticking it out in front you about three feet, and that's pretty tough to maneuver in tight spaces.

The answer, of course, is a shorter weapon. Making the barrel shorter than 18.5 inches costs $200 in taxes and a bucket load of paperwork to do legally. Do it illegally, and the missing few inches of pipe could literally cost you your life (as has happened before).

So, the stock must grow shorter. There are three basic options when it comes to shortening a shotgun buttstock.
  • Lose it entirely, and go with only a pistol grip. This makes it as short as possible, without paying the federal taxes on a short barreled shotgun. It is a popular choice, but gives up the choice of shouldering the weapon.
  • An adjustable length stock (AKA: M-4 type stock). These too are popular, and work well within their limits. They still leave the weapon fairly long, but are shorter than a full stock version. The fun part is... just squeeze a lever and the stock can grow to full length.
  • A folding buttstock... presenting the best part of having a pistol grip stock, and the option of easily going full length when desired.
I chose the folding stock route, but only after having been introduced to the Knoxx recoil reduction stock by the folks at Blackhawk, and their spokesman Todd Jarret. Having met the stocks designer and seen it in action, I was satisfied enough to plunk down my plasti-cash and buy the tactical folding unit for myself.

I'll admit, it was the range time that caught my interest, but what really sold me on the stock? I tried to tear it apart with all my strength.... and I couldn't budge it. I like that kind of engineering and quality. It's as idiot proof as possible, and I need that in a product.

In shooting with the unit installed, it feels a little different at first. The shotgun's recoil pulse is spread out over time, instead of whacking the shooter like a punch. Return time on target is much faster, and shooting with the pistol-grip-only caused me no pain at all.

The one worry I had with shooting a pistol grip shotgun... accuracy. Yes, a shotgun must be aimed, and not just pointed. This notion is magnified at defensive shooting distances, often measured in feet instead of yards, because the shot column does not spread at short range. Shooting a full stocked shotgun from the shoulder makes the job of aiming the weapon far easier. Shooting from a low position with the pistol grip certainly makes the task of hitting the target harder. The question is... does it make it too difficult? Enough to negate the usefulness of the shorter weapon?

My theory was it would be harder to use accurately, but like most forms of shooting, practice would make it work. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind.... it's far easier to control the weapon and shoot accurately with the stock extended and the weapon shouldered. That said, with the stock folded and shooting from the low position, reasonable defensive accuracy can be attained... with practice.

In the following video, I describe some of the features of the Knoxx folding stock, and then put it through it's paces. Shooting longer distances, it's far more easier to shoot well with the stock extended. Moving to the 'up-close and personal' range of about ten feet, it was possible to lay down impressive and accurate fire, again.... with practice.

Please note the very first time I shot pistol grip only, from low position, at short range. Only three of the five rounds registered solid hits, with the last shot merely digging dirt under the target. It took some serious consideration on my part to leave this embarrassing video un-cut, but it so perfectly illustrates the point. A shotgun needs to be aimed, not pointed, and only practice will make that happen. By the second run I was better, and after five runs I had no problem hitting center mass with every shot while moving at a fair pace.

I should note... I burned through over one hundred rounds of twelve gauge shooting with the pistol grip, and my wrist feels just fine. The recoil reduction feature works.

My final thoughts? I like the Knoxx stock a great deal, and it will remain on my home defense shotgun. The folding option is simple, strong, and intuitively easy to use. For a defensive shotgun, it's a winner.

As for the recoil reduction feature, I like it enough that I expect I'll order a full length version for another of my shotguns that see's time on the trap range. I like the idea of not being mule-kicked one hundred times in a row while shooting trap, and my shoulder agrees.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The four rules... for shooters to live by


Reading a post by Richard Johnson over at 'Guns, Holsters, and Gear' this morning has me thinking about firearm safety. There is a quote that lives because of the internet; A Russian, hearing someone say some situation involving a firearm was unsafe, is reported as saying "Is gun! Is not safe!".

Now, I haven't managed to track down the source of that quote, and I'm not going to invest much time in doing so... because I agree with the sentiment with all my heart.

Is gun! Is not safe!

Speaking with Todd Jarrett about gun safety, he makes no bones about it. Things happen, and if someone shoots long enough they will get hurt, in some way, eventually. It's nearly as dangerous as walking down a city sidewalk. The thing is, s
idewalks seldom kill or maim people, but weapons can.

Firearms a
re designed to spit small pieces of metal out at very high speeds indeed. All the philosophy and history aside, the sheer physics of how a firearm works means they are dangerous. The same can be said for many things in our lives. Knives, cars, power tools, medicines, and even the thirty foot deep well pit I stared into last night.... all these are useful, and dangerous. Dangerous... if mistreated or mishandled.

To make the dangerous things in our lives a little safer, and a lot more useful, we have rules we follow in dealing with them. For shooters, Jeff Cooper gave only four rules. Following them when handling firearms, at all times, limits the odds of a tragic incident to an acceptable level. Firearms will never be 'safe', not as long as physics rule the universe, but the risk can be mitigated and controlled.

Jeff Cooper's four rules:
  1. All guns are always loaded!
  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy!
  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target!
  4. Always be sure of your target!
These rules may seem simplistic, but given a little thought they make tremendous sense. It takes violating at least two of these rules to have a truly bad day. Take a moment and think of the combination's, and what they mean. Here, a previous post on what happens when they are ignored. Glen lived to tell his tale, so learn by it.

There is va
lue to breaking these rules down and examining them. The rules by themselves are life savers, but a deeper understanding helps make them work.

1) All guns are always loaded! What this means is every firearm should be treated as if loaded, giving every consideration to where the muzzle is pointed and that it might go off at any moment. There are very few shooters indeed who have not had a surprise 'bang' at one time or another. In my lifetime of shooting, I have had five 'unexpected discharges'. Because I followed the rules, none of those incidents was even close to being tragic.

Now.... allowances must be made. In order to work on and service a weapon, there are times when the muzzle is going to cover someone, or we will need to literally look right down that hole ourselves. To make that safe, gunnies develop the habit of opening the action of every weapon they touch, looking in the chamber, sticking their little finger in the empty hole, removing the magazine, etc. It may seem extreme, but it's smart... and is generally accepted as a hallmark of an experienced and safe gun handler.

2) Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy! 'Cover' is an older way of saying 'point at', and can be looked at that way. It means exactly what it says... don't point the bullet spitting end of the weapon at anything or anybody you are not willing to put a killing hole in. Period. End of discussion. Got it? Good! Now stop pointing that pistol at me, and yes, I know you just checked the chamber. Point it someplace else before I take it way from you.

3) Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target! Again, it means what it says. Firearms are designed to do things. If they are working correctly, the way to make one go bang is to pull back that little lever under your pointer finger. If your finger is not touching the lever, they almost never go bang.

This is not to say that unexpected things don't happen, and firearms sometimes do go 'bang' for unexpected reasons. They do... it happens... because they are machines designed by humans and humans are fallible. That said, if the four rules are followed every single time, an accidental or negligent discharge is far less likely to hurt anyone.

4) Always be sure of your target! This one is not so simple. The best way to explain the rule is this; The shooter is responsible for the entire flight of the bullet, and it's final resting place. Once the projectile has left the barrel, there is no calling it back, so the shooter should know exactly where it will end up and everything it might hit in between.

What is the final backstop? Is there one you are sure of? The point is... if the shooter is not sure exactly where the bullet will rest after it's flight, then the shooter really can't say where it will end up. That is bad.... because 'someplace over that way' can so easily turn into 'someone over there'.

Now, trap shooters firing out over a large field can rest assured their shot will fall to the ground with relative safety after traveling a few hundred yards. Range shooters generally have a heavy dirt berm to shoot into, making the event a fairly sure thing. Field shooters? Not so easy... and not to be taken lightly. A stand of tree's cannot be trusted to stop a bullet, as chance takes too heavy a hand. A large body of water might suit, if there is no chance a boater might wander into the area. No... best is to see exactly the spot the bullet come to rest, and do so before ever touching the trigger.

Follow the four rules. When handling a firearm... live by these rules till they are ingrained habit. Complacency is the enemy of experienced shooters, and smart gunnies review these rules on a regular basis, and thank anyone who points out an error on their part.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The epitome of 'Pip Squeek'... RWS BB caps


What can turn up when boxes are opened?

Anything, my friends, anything.

In this case, a stash of ancient RWS .22 rimfire BB caps. Tucked away amidst other oddities and conundrums, a few tins of these came to light
as I was unpacking some ammunition brought home from storage.

Made by RWS of Nuremberg Germany, this ammunition might date from the 1920's. It's difficult to tell since it was repackaged for sale by J.L Galef and Sons of New York City.

Driven solely by the priming compound, it has a 19 grain round lead pellet driven at a nominal 750 FPS (an optimistic estimate in my opinion). Used for a gallery round, indoor target shooting, and garden pest control, the BB cap has power about equal to an older, and anemic, air rifle.

Here the RWS BB cap is lined up in comparison with a .22 short and a .22 long rifle. It won't feed through most .22 firearms and must be single fed. For someone with large paws (like me) it's a fiddly round to load.

Firing the BB cap was interesting, and required help from a trusted old jack knife. It took a while to load each tiny round, and once fired the 'case' had to be pried out of the chamber as the extractor would not grip the oddly shaped rim. It was while quietly growling my way through prying out yet one more case that I recalled the Flobert rifles and their little flip open ejectors. Those would work a treat with these odd cases.

In shooting the BB caps through a modern rifle, I found their accuracy on par with tossing a rock over the shoulder while blind folded. There was a small chance the little lead ball would strike someplace in the general direction of the intended target... sometimes. When it did strike the target (a pine board) the tiny lead ball managed to penetrate and make a small hole. Small game killing potential is there, provided the wascally wabbit sits around long enough to actually get hit, and even then might just pass away from emotional distress more than the actual wound.

A fun bit of history, and shows we are not alone in our follies. Our grandparents enjoyed theirs as well!