Saturday, July 26, 2008

July Midway Coupon

Code: WEB22578

Save $20 off an order of $225 or more. Expires July 28, 2008.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gas Blow-back M4 Carbine from WA (AirSoft)

Western Arms is making a gas blow-back airsoft version of the M4. Western Arms has been making high-end gas powered airsoft guns for over a decade. Until the M4, I don't think they've ever really don't a rifle before, unless you count the funky hi-cap 1911s with stocks and long barrels.

Pictures and Info on M4 at WarGame Club Shop
Pictures and Info on M4 CQBR at WarGame Club Shop
Review of WA M4 CQBR at RedWolf Airsoft

Although it's rather expensive compared to an electric airsoft assault rifle, they are a lot more fun to shoot. The gas blow-back guns actually have a little recoil, where the electric guns just kinda vibrate and make sewing machine noises.

A lot cheaper than a real M-16 or converted AR (about $10,000), and with some precautions, you can shoot airsoft guns indoors.

I'm sure it will only be a matter of time before there are longer barrels available. Edit: Nevermind, I was going backwards through the Arnie's Airsoft News, and didn't know there was a standard M4 available when I first posted.

Alliant Blue Dot Powder

I use a lot of fast-burning powder for my normal practice and competition ammo, but I couldn’t use the usual Hogdon TiteGroup for a Gold Dot replica load, because the pressure would be too high.

Blue Dot is a relatively coarse powder, whose granules resemble little disks about two millimeters in diameter. It seems to meter fairly well in my Hornady Lock-N-Load measure, with accuracy and consistency similar to Titegroup.

Although felt recoil and muzzle flip is quite mild, even with the fairly hot loads I use it for, the “boom” and fireball at the muzzle are very noticeable.

I consider Blue Dot to be a very clean powder. I have not seen unburned powder anywhere, and the powder residue is not very hard to remove. This seems sort of unusual, because I’m completely filling the case with powder. You’d think that there would be more junk left behind.

I am happy with this powder, and will probably continue to use it to make replicas of self defense pistol loads. It can’t be used to load 9mm to major, but outside of USPSA Open class, almost no one loads to that power level anyway. Hogdon HS-6, which I bought for 9mm major loads, leaves unburned powder behind. To get as much power as you get from HS-6 without the mess, you’d have to step up to the more expensive VV powders, or deal with even more noise.

Book Review: Combat Handgunnery, ed. 5 & 6

There are two editions that Ayoob wrote; the older version that I have (5th Edition), and the newer 6th edition, which is mostly the same, but with some updates. If you want to get serious about handgunning and/or keeping/carrying a pistol for defense, then you should really consider getting a copy, preferably the newer 6th edition. This is kind of the Bible of handgunning. If you've been around a while though, it may be a little bit of a waste of time and money.

Although not all gun nuts are convinced that Ayoob is the most qualified person to write a book like this, I think the information is logical and backed up by real-world evidence. Ayoob has been writing professionally for decades, most of which revolves around self-defense and handguns, and the writing in the book reflects that experience.

The book covers handgun selection (including revolvers, single-action autos, double-action autos, lightweight revolvers, micro handguns, and striker-fired autos (including Glocks), buying used handguns, selecting a defense load, selecting holsters, carry etiquette, shooting technique (including reloads, drawing from concealment, using cover, safety manipulation, "point shooting," and other tactics), "responsible customizing," tips on keeping you out of jail if you have to use a firearm for defense, securing handguns with safes and locks, women and young people and handguns, and it touches on competition.

Different ready positions, point shooting techniques, handgun grasping techniques, and stances are evaluated. Some common mistakes are explained.

The Maxing Qualification chapter may be very useful to those in law enforcement, and those that need to take a qualification course to get a concealed carry permit.

Personally, I found "Lost Secret #5," the smooth trigger roll, to be extremely useful in slow accurate shooting. Otherwise, the book is going to be pretty useless to those only interested in shooting paper bulleyes.

There are competition books ("Practial Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals," by Brian Enos, and Matt Burkett's "Practical Shooting Manual") and DVDs (the Matt Burkett Practial Shooting series) that go into way more detail on the nuts and bolts of shooting a pistol, but this is a real good place to start, and is a bargain at the price.

Book Review: The Glock In Competition

Contains a good bit of information on modifying a Glock pistol for competition, although you can find some of this information online for free. Springs, sights, tightening slide-to-frame fit, extending the ejector for frame mounted scopes, grip modifications, lowering the ejection port, weak points in the Glock design, and, of course, trigger jobs are covered.

The chart of what pistols are useful in which organization and class is pretty helpful. There are short reviews on the models 24 and 35. Towards the end of the book, information is given on GSSF, IDPA, and USPSA/IPSC. I found this to be a pleasant surprise, as I really don't know much about USPSA or GSSF, because there's not many of those clubs around here.

Reloading/handloading for Glocks is covered, with tips specific to different types of competition. The infamous Glock KaBooms are explained. If you don't reload, there's tips on buying factory ammunition.

The very end of the book is biographys of past and present Glock competition shooters, including The Great One of Glock, Dave Sevigny.

Friday, July 18, 2008

1911 Build Hits Snag

On Tuesday, I went into the local gun shop, and had the owner put in an order for a Caspian Government model frame from Midway. He said it would be a while before he knew what the shipping would run, but I didn't think much of it, and put down a $100 deposit.

Got a call from him today. Midway wants to charge over $60 to ship just a frame! Now, they do have to use overnight shipping to send a handgun across a state border, but last I checked, the cost was something like $28 plus tax.

So he's checking with Caspian, to see what they can do.

There are several things that could happen:
1. I could get lucky, and Caspian has a carbon steel Basic frame in stock, and I might actually save some money.
2. I eat the $60+ shipping charge from Midway, since the deposit is non-refundable, and continue as planned. So that's $175 for the frame, $60 for shipping, plus the transfer fee, and sales tax just for a stripped 1911 frame in the white.
3. I wait several weeks to get a frame from Caspian.
4. I order a Springfield G.I. 1911A1, strip everything off the frame, and end up with my Ultimate 1911, and have a box full of parts left over. Maybe I sell off some of the parts for less than they're worth.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Competition Shooting Book and DVD Reviews

Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals
The subject matter is similar to that of Thinking Practical Shooting. The way Enos writes in the first couple chapters, it’s a bit like Asian philosophy or something. There’s a lot of talk about focus, concentration, awareness, consciousness, meditation and all the subtle differences. I found it to be really obnoxious. It’s almost as bad as listening to a hippie explain what it’s like to be high. Fortunately, the rest of the book is a little easier to digest.

There are some good tips on how to refine your draw and presentation. There are some drills that should be helpful. It may be one of the best books on shooting technique, and has some interesting insights on which targets to engage in which order in a competition setting.

I appreciate what Enos has done for the sport, and I suppose the Thinking Practical Shooting, and Principles of Performance books that I prefer would not have existed without Beyond Fundamentals. After the second read, I have decided to recommend this book, if you think your shooting mechanics may need some improvement.

There is a lot of information in the book. Although the book is not very thick, it seemed like it took me weeks to get through it, whereas I got through the other books pretty quickly. I think that there may be more material per dollar than the others.

Burkett's Videos 1-3
I waited far too long to buy these. Seriously. I might have gotten more of my match entry fees back as prize money.

Setting up equipment. Although some of the holster information is found in the Bianchi book, Blued Steel and Gunleather (a book that's older than I am), I have not seen this much information elsewhere. He even suggests a couple models of football cleats for the USPSA/IPSC games.

There is some discussion of pistols for the games, although almost every pistol shown in the videos is of the 2011 type sold by Burkett’s sponsor SVI.

Although most of videos are devoted to USPSA/IPSC type matches, much of the information carries over to IDPA, and there is IDPA specific information.

Burkett dissects draws, movement between shooting boxes, stepping into the shooting boxes, shooting from barricades, shooting on the move (also covered in Practical Shooting: Beyond Fundamentals, although slightly different technique), kneeling from standing-start and from moving, going prone, and target-to-target transitions to name a bunch. Applied to your game, these tips should cut fractions of a second off your time here and there, and improve your scores fairly dramatically.

One thing that kinda bugged me was that he made a crack about one of his students hopping into the shooting box, rather than stepping in. I swear that I’ve seen Leatham or Miculek teach exactly that on the Shooting USA TV series.

Video 3 is an interview with Brian Enos. It is about 45 minutes long, and is not broken up into chapters, which means you have to watch it all in one lump, or note the time where you left off and fast forward to it the next time.

Burkett's Video 4
The video starts out with a review of setting up gear, grip, stance, and draw, as shown in the first three videos.

Shooting from trigger reset is discussed. I wondered where that would come in.

There is more coverage of shooting multiple targets with drills on a couple plate racks.
Bonus video is of a national USPSA match. Damn! Those open class guys can really hose those targets! The stages are pretty wild too.

Burkett Practical Shooting Manual
This one’s a tough call. A lot of the same material is in the first three volumes of his video series, and it makes a little more sense in video form than in words. There are some practice drills recommended in the book that may be helpful, and some other tips and equipment information that isn’t covered in the video series. If money is really tight, and you’re good at reading textbooks, maybe skip the videos and buy the book. Otherwise, I would say skip the book and just buy the videos. If you feel like you get a lot out of the videos and want to get a little bit more of the same, then consider getting the book also.

Thinking Practical Shooting
Mostly, this book is on being mentally prepared to shoot a match, and win it. I'm having a hard time explaining what's in it without giving it all away.

Although the author says that he didn't want to make it a book about shooting technique, there is some technique discussed, and it was good enough that I highlighted a good bit of it.

I am glad I bought this book, because I can see how this information can definitely help cut down on the number of "brain freezes," mistakes, and garden variety match screw-ups. I started highlighting on my second time through the book, and by far it is my most highlighted shooting book. There is a lot of useful information here.

The book will help you to be prepared to shoot, thinking positive about your skills, and hitting
the spots you want to shoot as you go through the stage. I can see it also helping you to get jobs, women, and success in general. . . although I imagine a lot of you just rolled your eyes at that.

The book is specifically centered on IPSC, although almost all of it applies to USPSA, and a lot of it still applies to IDPA and other "practical shooting" matches.

If you are not shooting matches yet, get out there and do it, but definitely think about getting a copy of this book.

Refinement and Repetition
It’s an introduction, followed by 80 pages of dry-fire drills, with half of those pages dedicated to recording your times. I probably could have lived without this book; I could have come up with my own dry-fire drills and recorded them in a notebook or in a spreadsheet.

Principles of Performance
The first eighty-some pages are similar to Thinking Practical Shooting. Then there’s thirty-something pages of dry-fire drills (although half of the pages are for recording your times). Last are about twenty pages of live-fire exercises, again with space for recording your times.

The first eighty pages are what makes the book valuable to me. There may be some duplication from Saul’s book, but there’s a lot of other things that Saul didn’t hit on. There is an interview with Lanny Bassham, author of With Winning in Mind, that I think comes off like a sales pitch, but contains some helpful information, and I’ll probably end up picking up a copy of the book.

Perfect Practice
Like Refinement and Repetition, this is a dry-fire drill book. There’s about 120 pages of drills with maybe 1/8 of that dedicated to space for you to record your times. I could have lived without this one also. I guess that I was looking for some novel approaches to dry-fire practice, and I guess there just isn’t any.