Sunday, May 30, 2010

Road Trip With Babies

Finally, my family and I are taking a real vacation away from everything that is familiar, so to speak. Ten days of work free, stress free, happy go-lucky days await me 876 miles from home. But first, we had to drive the 876 miles with our 4 1/2 month old baby girl and our gregarious 2 year old son.

We got a late start on Friday; Lindsay had to work until 4:45pm. Once her shift was up, we were off to the land of Utah. First off, we had to get gasoline, check the air in the tires, and stop by the local 7-11 to get some snacks for the long road ahead. The goal was to drive all through the night and get to UT by 6 am on Saturday. We knew there would be some delays due to the holiday traffic, but some delays on a trip this long are inevitable.

We didn't expect that traffic would be so good on I-5 and most of Hwy 18. We ran into about 5 miles of stop-and-go traffic at the end of Hwy 18, just before the I-90 junction. That is where the trip started to get interesting.

Of course, Rory started to get mad. We weren't moving at all and she likes to use the constant sound and vibration of the road to sleep. Without anywhere to stop, Lindsay started doing damage control by reaching back and attempting to bottle-feed her, with so-so success. Then out of nowhere, Michael blew chunks all over himself, his car seat, the back seat, the side window, and even on Rory. He didn't quite understand what had just happened (because he's never thrown up like that before), so he started to cry hysterically as Lindsay did her best to clean him up without exiting the vehicle. There was no place to pull off, so we soldiered on.

Finally, we made it to I-90 and started to really move. It was about 6:30 pm at this point. We had been on the road for an hour, and lost 1/2 hour due to the congestion on Hwy 18. No bother. If I could drive about 7 mph over the speed limit all through Washington, we could make up the lost time when we crossed over into Hell (I mean Oregon).

Of course, the traffic gods smote us with a huge 7 mile backup on I-90 just before the Snoqualmie Summit. Going less than 1mph, and losing time fast, we decided to stop and get some dinner (we had already planned on stopping at 7pm no matter where we were to feed the kids and get them ready to go to sleep). We stopped at the Family Pancake House at the West Summit. I guess everyone stuck in the same traffic had the same idea. The place was packed. It took 15 minutes just to get seated and then we waited for another 15 minutes for someone to acknowledge our presence and at least get our order going. With the kids getting anxious, patrons walking around trying to find waiters, people complaining about the lousy service, we decided that instead of wasting time in the restaurant, we should waste time on the freeway and at least do some moving. On our way out, we stopped at a gas station for some overpriced Pringles chips and some sort of soggy sandwich for Michael to nibble on. It wasn't ideal, but at least we could get moving. We had lost an hour and a half at this point.

The congestion did not relent. It kept up all the way to Easton, where after getting through a construction bottleneck, we finally started going 60mph+ again. Unfortunately, we had to stop again at Cle Elum so Lindsay could get some emergency formula for Rory. After waiting again, and realizing we were getting really crappy fuel economy, We started driving again.

Unfortunately, my nerves were completely shot. The combination of bad traffic, bad (non-existent) restaurant service, crying children, and a stressed out wife had blown my cool to hell. I decided to just focus on driving and that's what I did. We hauled butt to Oregon, stopping once only for gas near Sunnyside, WA.

Unfortunately, I was completely spent. It was just after midnight when we got to Oregon. All told, we lost 3 hours of time and instead of being out past La Grande and on our way to Caldwell (where Lindsay and I were going to switch driving positions), I pulled off the highway just after getting to Oregon. I told Lindsay I needed a couple hours to get myself refreshed. So, she took the wheel and I told her to drive as far as she could and I'd take over. Unfortunately, the night before, I had only gotten about 6 hours of sleep and didn't get a good nap during the day on Friday. I was completely wasted.

The next thing I knew, Lindsay woke me up and said she couldn't go any further and she was stopping in at La Grande to get us a motel room for the night. Normally, I'd just tell her to switch with me, but it was already 2am and it made no sense to continue. We were supposed to be at Twin Falls, ID by then, but were only in La Grande (not even close to half-way).

At the motel, Michael put on a show. He was tired, and scared, He had no idea where he was and the motel room was completely unfamiliar - not a good combination. I had to spend about 10 minutes calming him down by rubbing his back and whispering "It's okay" into Michael's ear. Lindsay turned on the t.v. and searched feverishly for some cartoons for Michael to watch. Unfortunately, the only cartoons on at 1:30 am are on Adult Swim and it was some video that damn near gave me a seizure and showed some rather questionable images. Still, it had Michael locked in and calmed down. I was too tired to care anymore. I just wanted to get to sleep.

Then it happened. I suppose it was 3:30 am. I heard this "THUMP!!!" and immediately jumped out of bed and turned on the light. Michael fell off the bed and was pissed off. Lindsay checked him out told me to turn off the light. Fortunately, Lindsay left an extra set of ear plugs out so I put them in and went back to sleep.

What an adventure so far. Everything that could have gone wrong went completely wrong. This whole trip had gone completely sideways and now that we were 380 miles from home, there would be no turning back.

I woke up refreshed and ready to drive. Michael was doing surprisingly well for only a few hours of real sleep, and Rory was chipper as always. Even Lindsay was doing good for only 2 hours of sleep.

We got moving around 8:30 am and started off to Caldwell, ID. Finally, after and hour or so we crossed out of Hell into Idaho. Ah, speed limit 75. After a quick fuel stop at the Flying J, we made tracks for Utah. The intention was to blast through ID as quickly as possible, stopping at the I-84 weigh station to let Michael and Rory out of their seats. Michael loved the big rigs. Every time one came into the stop, he'd said "vroom VROOM" and laugh and run around. He then discovered the garbage cans and had to touch each one.

Continuing on, we stopped in for fuel just after getting to Utah and drove the last 100 or so miles uneventful. All told, our kids did really well on the second day.

Michael's car seat still smells like puke.

-James

Saturday, May 22, 2010

After Much Deliberation...

Those who have been following my blog know that as of late, I have been preparing for my next gun purchase. The debate boiled down to two completely different gun designs offered by Ruger: the LCR and the SR9c.

After a lot of thought, and a lot more research, I have decided to hand it to the Ruger SR9c. Believe it or not, my decision was not based on the automatic verses revolver debate, .357 magnum verses 9mm, or even 5 round capacity verses 10+1. My decision was based on my wife.

You read that right. For this buy, I'm taking my wife into consideration in a big way. At 5' tall, and a sliver over 100 lbs, my wife isn't exactly a big woman. I can wrap my thumb and forefinger around her wrists. When she stands next to me, she only reaches my shoulders. When we walk together, she takes 2 1/2 steps to cover the distance of only 1 of my steps. Needless to say, a 17 ounces .357 magnum would not be an ideal self defense weapon for her.

Wait! For HER?!!!

Cool your jets. This gun isn't for her - not specifically. However, when I look at the arsenal before me, I have noticed that none of my pistols is really ideal for her. My Beretta and full size Ruger SR9, while only 9mm, are too large for her diminutive hands. My .357 magnum Ruger SP101 is out of the question, and my Ruger LCP, being only a .380 still packs a wallop in the recoil department; I guess weighing in at only 9 ounces has something to do with that. The only guns she owns, that she knows she can handle are .22 LR pistols. They aren't exactly powerhouses.

Since I spend a good deal of time away from my wife when I'm at work, I sometimes lament the fact that all of my ideal self-defense pistols are not ideal for her. I'm sure that she could operate a couple of them in a pinch, but what good is a self-defense pistol if you can't get a good grip on it? That being said, the tie-breaker in this decision boils down to whether or not she can handle the weapon.

I had previously taken the opportunity to go to the local gun shop and feel a LCR in my hand. I liked it. It pointed naturally for me, and helped me develop a taste for the design. It seemed only fair to get a SR9c into my hands before pulling the trigger on my decision (pun intended).

The SR9c comes with two magazines: a 10 rounds concealed carry mag and a 17 round reload magazine. The gun also comes with a standard flat magazine plate or an extended plate for those with larger hands. The 17 round reload magazine comes with a grip adapter that slides in place to give a bigger grip area and provide more comfort. Of course, for ideal concealed carry, the flat plate is preferred, but in the case of comfort, I really liked the extended finger groove. The 17 round magazine with the grip adapter gave me the familiar SR9 grip.

I've also decided that for the purposes of concealed carry, I'm going to go with the brushed stainless model - not the blackened alloy steel. The reason is that any finished material will eventually wear off from holster use. I also like stainless guns for concealed carry because sweat and other moisture on the body take their toll on a weapon. As for stealth, as long as the stainless gun is under a garment, who's gonna know?

I liked the feel of the stubby little SR9c in my hand. The shortened slide, featuring forward serrations for better grip, is the same in other dimensions as the full size SR9. The SR9c isn't some midget version of it's full size counterpart. It's just been bobbed in two places to make concealed carry viable. As such, Ruger didn't have to reinvent the wheel to produce this weapon.

Another benefit of going the SR9c route is the interchangeability of critical parts. Additionally, any 17 round SR9 magazine should fit the SR9c. This means that, aside from a few compact 10 round magazines, I won't have to buy a whole new set of magazines for the gun.

So, that's the decision, in a nutshell. My holster of choice for this is going to be a Crossbreed Supertuck Deluxe, and hopefully, I'll be carrying this sucker by next fall!

-James

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ruger SR9c for carry? The options are Killing me

Ruger is really killing me now. They have too many great options for concealed carry and I don't have enough cash to buy them all. So, I must decide.

Ruger has had the SR9c out since the beginning of this year. I really didn't pay much attention to it at first since I was still a hater on the full size SR9. But ever since shooting my big SR9, I have fallen in love with the platform.

I still wasn't paying much attention to the SR9c because I was focusing on the option of buying a compact wheelgun for concealed carry applications. However, I'm on the fence now because for some reason, I decided to do a little reading on the SR9c and see what all the hype was about. Fueled by my own experiences with Ruger's fullsize wonder weapon, I read review after positive review about the SR9c's concealability, reliability, and firepower.

I didn't know this until last night, but the SR9c can accept a fullsize 17 round magazine, included with the weapon! In fact, Ruger also sends the fullsize magazine with a built-in grip extension so you have fullsize control after a reload. I guess the idea is that if you need to reload, you probably need to have some more control because of a target-rich environment; I don't know. But I do know that the option of going 17 rounds in a compact weapon is cool! You get the best of both worlds. You get the concealability that a smaller grip with 10 rounds give you, and the firepower of a fullsize reload, without affecting concealability! You can hide a 17 round magazine easily. Having that much firepower at your fingertips is certainly a tempting thing. Already, I can see the advantage that 10+1, plus a fast 17 round reload in the SR9c would have over the 5 rounds of the LCR with a more difficult 5 round reload. Having mastered both styles, I do prefer a quicker magazine change over a more dexterity-driven wheelgun reload.

Oh the conundrum!


Okay, so here are the specs of the SR9c, so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about.

Slide Material: Stainless Steel
Slide Finish: Brushed Stainless
Grip Frame: Black, High Performance, Glass-Filled Nylon
Sights: Adjustable 3-Dot
Barrel Length: 3.50"
Overall Length: 6.85"
Height: 4.61"
Width: 1.27"
Weight: 23.40 oz.
Capacity: 17+1
Twist: 1:10" RH
Grooves: 6
Suggested Retail: $525.00

$525 seems a bit steep, but lets remember that realworld prices will be in the $450 range, which is about how much I imagine a LCR .357 magnum will cost.

The dimensions are similar to my SP101, and the weight is familiar too. The small grip makes concealability simple. When it comes to concealing a handgun, you want simplicity - not complexity. This isn't rocket science here. The SR9c weighs about 5 ounces more than the LCR .357, but also offers 6 extra shots, which can be the deciding factor in the outcome of a potential crime being committed or whether or not you become a victim.

So, why not talk about the differences between .357 magnum and 9mm? Okay, we shall.

.357 magnum packs a punch, but out of a short barrel, as is the case with any snubnose revolver, you will see dramatic power losses as well as the speed in which the bullet travels. Out of a 2" barrel, though, the .357 magnum still has devastating firepower and 5 shots on your side is a formidable ally. The weight of the gun plays into this as well. A lightweight gun, such as the LCR, chambered in .357 magnum will probably hurt the shooter as much as the person being shot. Firing full load .357 loads through my SP101 is thrilling. The LCR could be downright scary. But c'mon. That's half the fun! Without having had the opportunity to shoot the LCR .357 magnum, I don't know what it would do. I can control my SP101 with accuracy, but it also weighs 5 ounces more. Will the 5 ounce loss in weight really affect the LCR that much? I doubt it.

9mm is a much weaker round than the .357 magnum, but there are loads, such as +P and +P+ that can bring that value up considerably. To some, the 9mm is underpowered. To me, however, all pistol loads are underpowered! Please, the pistol isn't a medium bore rifle. We carry pistols because they are handier than rifles and shotguns. We also understand that in a desperate situation, pistol on the hip beats a rifle in the safe. Additionally, my mentality is this: a pistol is used to fight your way to a rifle. If you have a rifle in one hand and a pistol in the other, chances are the pistol will be holstered in favor of the more powerful and more accurate rifle. Only when the rifle runs out of ammo or malfunctions does a pistol come back into play... unless you don't have a rifle to begin with. How many people do you see at the grocery store with rifles on their shoulders? None, I would imagine. But how many people do you see with concealed handguns? Well, if you see me, assume that I'm armed with one. Now with that said, I personally feel that 10 rounds of 9mm in the gun is more advantageous than 5 rounds of .357 magnum.

Follow-up shots are just as important as the first shot. If you can't get your second shot on target, then you can subtract 1 more round from your gun. The SR9c weighs more and shoots a much less recoil-exhibiting round; and there are 11 of them in the first volley (10 in the mag, one in the pipe). The LCR weighs less and fires are round that will sting the hand and may jump. You may need to readjust your grip to fire the follow-up shot.

I will say that I can put 5 rounds of 9mm down faster and more accurately than 5 rounds of .357 magnum. Hey, I'm only human, right?

But then there is the respect of a powerful wheelgun. Nobody messes with a revolver, especially a powerful one. There are just some things in this world you don't do, and one of those things is to mess with a man pointing a wheelgun at you. You know, just as well as he does, that he only has 5-6 shots. Don't think for a second that if you find yourself drawn down upon by a guy holding a revolver that he doesn't know what he is doing. He has likely mastered that gun and knows all its quirks and knows just how it ticks. He practices shot placement because in the revolver world, shot placement is key. Don't get me wrong, shot placement is vital with any gun, but the man wielding a revolver is intimately aware of this issue.

There is also the reliability of a wheelgun. I won't say a revolver will always go BANG when fired, but there is a 99.99999999999999% chance that it will. And if it doesn't, the shooter just squeezes the trigger again and puts the next round in line down the hole. Automatic don't have that luxury, but don't let that fool you. Any competent auto shooter knows the tap, rack, bang drill. But that takes time, and in a critical situation, time is not on your side. It's much faster just to pull the trigger again, get the cylinder rotating to bring a new round to battery and BANG!

So, we see the dilemma here. Do I go SR9c or do I go LCR?

-James

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

NUGENT: My gun control - Washington Times

Oh, Ted Nugent uses words like a sculpture uses a chisel. Read this article by Ted Nugent. I think many will agree with what he has to say.

NUGENT: My gun control - Washington Times

-James

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Are You Carrying? How Much?

I got to thinking the other day about my concealed carry guns and the various rigs and methods I use to carry. I've got some options for concealed carry that make it extremely convenient to do so most of the time. Indeed, whenever I can, I do carry. Aside from work, I carry 99% of the time, even when at home.

The subject of concealed carry is obviously controversial, and I'm not going to get into the gun/anti-gun debate. By now, you know where I stand on that. What I want to discuss is a dilemma for those who have concealed pistol licenses (cpl).

Having a cpl is like kind of like having a driver's license. It's pretty useless if you don't use it. For the concealed carry licensee, the inconvenience of getting licensed, and the expense, makes using your cpl even more important. CPL's aren't like driver's licenses though. Any idiot with a few bucks can get a driver's license. To qualify for a cpl, you must subject yourself to an extensive background check, fingerprinting, a 30 day wait, and not to mention a much higher cost - $60 every 5 years for a cpl compared to just $25 every 5 years for a WA State driver's license.

Also, imagine the implication of a cpl versus other licenses. Carrying a concealed firearm is serious business. I don't take the responsibility of concealed carry lightly at all. I'm serious about concealed carry. That means I take the time to make sure my gun, my rig, and my clothing work together to keep my gun concealed. I also take time, at great expense, to practice with my various guns. I keep my skills sharp. I make the effort to research and always increase my knowledge on the subject and the psychology of concealed carry and killing. Do I want to kill? Absolutely not! But am I ready to kill? Well, I certainly hope I am ready to do whatever is needed to stop a threat to myself, my family, or innocent people.

Exactly what do I carry for? I don't carry to appear macho or to compensate for something. No, if I wanted to do that, I'd carry out in the open and have a big hand cannon to do it with. I don't carry to make a statement. I carry because of all the people I meet, and potentially will meet, there might be some dude who is ready to go off and do something that will make national headlines. The question is, should I find myself in a situation like Virginia Tech, or a Colorado church, or a mall in Utah, (notice the pattern?), I want to ensure that I have a choice between being a victim or a survivor. With a gun, I have the ability to save my life, and the lives of others around me. But if I am unarmed, I only have the option to run away or die. And I'd hope I can run fast enough, but that's unlikely because bullets run faster than anyone.

So, now the question is this: What do I carry? Well, some people know what I carry. But a lot of people have this mentality that if you carry anything with a caliber less than .45, you are an idiot for doing so. But I've always clung to the philosophy that a .380 in the waistband is better than a .45 in the truck. Face it, carrying guns large enough to be chambered in .45 can become uncomfortable most days of the year. In the summer, I wear nothing more than cargo shorts, sandals, and a t-shirt. Ever try hiding a 1911 .45 under a t-shirt? It's difficult to do and oftentimes mandates the use of an outer shell or jacket. But then you are either uncomfortable in the heat or look obvious.

The point of carrying something small and light is that a .380, or .38 is better than nothing. Yep, carrying a pocket-size handgun, ideal for concealed carry, 90% of the time, is much better than carrying a full-size .40 or .45 only 50% of the time. So, the question is: Are you carrying, and how much are you carrying? If you have a cpl and you aren't carrying your gun, then you are not using your responsibility wisely, if at all. You paid for that cpl, you subjected yourself to a background check, and you got yourself fingerprinted in the process. USE IT!

I would urge anyone who doesn't carry their firearm 90% of the time to get a pocket-sized handgun. In my opinion, a person carrying a pocket .380 is a person who is using their cpl. The person who leaves their gun in their truck is a sheep who is choosing to be subject the whims of a bad person even though they have a cpl.

You never know when you will need a gun. Some people don't carry because they think that they are just going to the mall, or the grocery store, or to church, or to the video store, or to the park, or the movie theater. There can't be any dangerous people there. Tell that to the students at Virginia Tech. Tell that to the churchgoers in CO who were shot. Tell that the the shoppers in SLC who became victims. Tell that to the average woman who winds up getting raped in the back parking lot of some store. And then, tell that to the millions of armed people a year who use their guns to protect their lives and the lives of others. 2 million people a year use their guns to protect life and property without even firing a shot! That is why I carry a gun. Even if there is only a 1 in 2 million chance that I will ever need it, I'm going to put my money on my weapon, my cpl, my training, and the fact that when seconds count, the police are minutes away.

Carry often, train often, and keep yourself smart.

-James

Friday, May 14, 2010

Ruger LCR in .357 Magnum - A LCR For The Adults

Ruger LCR, .357 Magnum

Ruger has done it again. They took a solid gun platform and have made it too tempting to pass up. They have just introduced the Ruger LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolver) in .357 magnum. I cannot begin to describe how excited I am over this. I have been holding off on the purchase of a LCR because they were only offered in .38 +P. I don't care for .38 revolvers. I like having the option of running .357 magnum through them.

Ruger's LCR has been a breakthrough in revolver technology. They have mixed the old classic wheelgun concept with modern space age composites and lightweight materials/finishes to create something that is very compact and lightweight, yet provides a lot of punch.

The original LCR weighs in at about 13 ounces. That's just under a lb. Firing .38 +P in a package that light is a thrill to begin with. Ruger's new .357 LCR weighs a little more - 17.1 ounces. The heavier weight is due to the materials used to construct the weapon. The .38 LCR has an aluminum frame with steel cylinder and barrel. The new .357 version has a stainless steel frame, which has been blackened for stealth and ease of concealment. That accounts for the extra 5 or so ounces of weight. However, that weight increase can be offset by using lighter .357 magnum bullets. If you can shave 1 ounce off each bullet through use of lighter 125 gr or 115 gr bullets vs 158 gr, then the increased weight is null. However, I'm not going to worry much about 5 ounces of increased weight. The gun still weighs half a pound less than my Ruger SP101! Impressive.

Okay, so what are the specs then? Well, here you go:

Finish: Blackened Stainless
Grips: Hogue® Tamer™
Front Sight: Replaceable, Pinned Ramp
Rear Sight: U-Notch Integral
Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
Barrel Length: 1.88"
Overall Length: 6.50"
Width: 1.28"
Height: 4.50"
Weight: 17.10 oz.
Twist: 1:16" RH
Grooves: 6
Capacity: 5

Ruger has priced this weapon at a $575 MSRP, which means it will probably be more like $450-$475 in the real world. You can get a lighter .357 magnum from other makers, but you'll pay twice as much as this.

The 1.8" barrel takes snub to the extreme. I thought the 2.25" barrel on my SP101 was short. The LCR barrel will make this gun very easy to conceal. At 6.5" long, the LCR is 1/2" shorter than the SP101 and at 4.5" high, the LCR is shorter than the SP101 as well. The shorter grip of the LCR will help to hide the obvious grip printing issue that plagues those who carry concealed. This isn't to say that the SP101 is difficult to conceal. No, that is far from the case. The LCR will just do a better job of it. The LCR compares to the LCP fairly well too. The LCR is less than an inch taller than the LCP and is an inch and a half longer. It doesn't conceal nearly as well as the LCP, but it fires the venerable .357 magnum, which out powers the LCP any day of the week.

So, with all that said, does this mean I'll be trading in my SP and LCP for Ruger's compact wonder weapon? Heck no! There are different guns for different days and different wardrobes. The LCP is great for going fast and light. The SP101 does well as a backup when the day calls for a light jacket or even something heavy. In IWB carry, I can conceal my SP101 under a t-shirt without a problem (though I prefer to wear a light vest when carrying the SP). The LCR would theoretically fall into everything else. If the LCR conceals well enough, it could go in place of the LCP. The LCP could then act as a backup to the LCR. Heck, the LCR could be a backup for the SP101! They share the same ammo! Well, at least the far superior .357 version of the LCR shares ammo with my SP101, which shoots only .357 magnum for self defense.

I've been looking for my next gun purchase and I think I have found it.

-James

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Ruger LCP is Going Back To Ruger

I took down my LCP for inspection the other day. I do this periodically, especially if the gun is a carry weapon. While inside, cleaning out the guts and looking at the moving parts, I noticed a very small flange (not even .001") forming on the leading edge of the barrel block, where it sits just aft the slide. Strange. That wasn't there before when I polished it. It must've occurred in the last 150 rounds of firing, and I must've not caught it. I took a look at the underside of the slide hood and noticed the bluing had worn off where the barrel started "peening". There was also some metal starting to deform in the same spots.

At the very front, you can see the "peening" as the metal is flanged upward.

Under the slide hood, you can see where the barrel is making contact.

At first, I thought this could be normal wear and tear. I decided to go online and do a little research, however, to be sure. What I found basically indicated that this condition is called "barrel peening", which is where the metal of the barrel begins to deform due to repeated blows to it. Normally, I'd just knock off the area of the barrel block that has flanged upward, but I decided to call Ruger Customer Service (RCS) and seek some advice. The only reason I did that is due to another "issue" that I've noticed which is where the primer strikes occur on the back of each cartridge fired. They aren't dead center. They are close, but not completely centered.

When I called up RCS, I described the evidence of barrel peening. I asked if it was normal, and he responded that it was not normal wear and tear. He immediately said afterward that he was going to send me a free shipping label so I could send the gun to Ruger for inspection. He asked about any other issues, and I related to him the alignment of the firing pin on the spent cartridges, and that I had experienced a couple failure to fire issues in the 300 rounds I've shot downrange. He instructed me to include a note with the issues, identifying the peening issue, the firing pin alignment issue and even the light strikes and what ammo I've shot.

Now, I'm not surprised that Ruger is taking the initiative on this. I didn't ask to send the gun back for inspection or repair. The thought never even occurred to me. But I am happy that Ruger immediately did the right thing and did what any good company would do: stand behind their product.

Now, the gun hasn't gone off for inspection yet. I'm going to wait on the shipping label to be mailed to me. However, I have read in many places that Ruger customer service and support is top notch. With this barrel peening issue, it is most definitely something that the factory needs to inspect because there could be an issue with the hardness of the metal or some other manufacturing problem that may have caused bad alignment. I have faith that whatever issue this is will be resolved.

In the meantime, it looks like I will carry the Ruger SP101 again. And I mean, c'mon. Is that really a bad thing?

-James

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

This year, I am taking a minute to reflect on two very important women in my life: my mom and my wife. These two beautiful people have had a very big impact on me and helped shape who I have become as a man and husband.

Mom spent 18 years putting up with me in her house. From birth until now, she has always been there for me and has loved me unconditionally. Despite my many faults, I have no doubt there would be a lot more if Mom hadn't been there to teach me to do what's right. She taught me the value of being an honorable person and to treat women with respect. If I had the words to describe how fortunate I am to have my mother, I would express them without hesitation. But there are no words to convey that would come close to describing the positive impact she has had on me in my life. She is a wonderful person. I love you Mom.

Lindsay came into my life about 7 years ago. Since then, we have been married and have had two children. Our first child, Michael, arrived almost two years ago, and our second, Rory, arrived just a few months ago. Lindsay is a great mother. She continually demonstrates a motherly instinct that I can't begin to comprehend, nor would I try. Lindsay prepared me for fatherhood by being an example to follow. She loves our babies without question and would do anything for them. Lindsay has shown me the true meaning of through her actions and her words. She cares deeply for this family and exhibits a lot of patience when dealing with me. I can't ask for anything more because my wife has done so much to be the fantastic wife, mother, and person that she is. I love you Lindsay.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!!

-James

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Don't Be Foolish

I'm sure by now that everyone has heard about the latest senseless killing of an innocent man by the so-called Craigslist Killers. Fortunately, most have been rounded up and won't be on the streets terrorizing or killing anyone else anytime soon. With any luck, society will do to them what they did to this husband and father.

But how do things like this happen in the first place? Foolishness leads to senseless crimes like these. Don't get me wrong here. My heart goes out to the family and friends involved with the man who was killed, but this is a crime that was 100% preventable. In order to identify what you can do to avoid a situation like this, we first need to focus on the mistakes that led to this tragedy.

1. Inviting the potential buyer in your home.
2. Being completely unarmed.
3. Having your family present.
4. Not meeting at a neutral location.
5. Allowing yourself to be overwhelmed.

All of these 5 points tie in very closely, so if I seem to jump around a bit, it's just because of the very direct relationship of each point.

First off, when posting an ad in any classifieds, be it Craigslist, Little Nickel, The Daily World, or whatever, be very careful. Not all people are like you. In fact, there are many creeps out there looking for people to exploit and take advantage of for their gain, at your expense. Don't be too liberal with personal information. For instance, don't put your home address in the ad, or give out last names and such. When I post an ad on Craigslist, I simply give instructions to contact me through the Craigslist reply feature. That way, I can screen who contacts me directly or not. It may seem like a pain in the ass, but I'd rather deal in email only until I know the buyer is serious. Then I'll give my phone number and first name only.

When you do get a potential buyer, be sure they are a serious buyer. Don't allow wishy washy people to look at your stuff. If the money's not there, then we don't care about you. Tell them to go pound sand. Only deal with people who are very interested and have the money to cover the cost of your item. Don't deal with people who tell you they need a week or so to get the rest of the money. Look, if you don't have the money, then you obviously aren't serious. First come, first served.

When you hammer out a date and time to meet, figure out a location that works for YOU!!! Look, you're the seller here. Don't let the buyer dictate where you will meet. If they want your item that bad, and they are legitimate, they will come to you. That said, meet in a neutral location, preferably during a busy time of the day when you know a lot of people and cars will be around. In the case of the man who was killed, he should have met the potential "buyers" at the police station or Post Office. DO NOT give your address to anyone and don't let them come to your house. If in the event that coming to your home cannot be avoided, DO NOT LET THEM IN!!! They can wait at the door. If you are selling something that is difficult to move by yourself, get it out in the garage or in the driveway prior to the buying party's arrival. You want to be in an area you can control.

If at all possible, have someone else with you. I know this isn't ideal in many cases. That's why you meet at a neutral location with lots of potential witnesses. It's like having a second person with you. If you must have someone come to your house, ask your buddy to come over for a bit. It never hurts to have backup, especially if your buddy looks tough. He doesn't necessarily have to be present, but close enough to hear you scream if something happens. This being said, don't allow yourself to be overwhelmed. I know from experience that it only takes 2 people to load a dishwasher into a truck. If you are selling a dishwasher, and about 5 guys show up, be wary. If you are selling something of high value; i.e. a computer, diamond, camera, guns, etc, it should raise a red flag if a car rolls up and all the doors open and people start piling out. Two people in the buyer party is okay, but get more than that and they are starting to push it. Three people can easily overwhelm a single person, especially if said person was my 5' tall 110 lb wife. If the scene looks shaky, call the police.

If possible, don't have your kids around when your transaction takes place. Kids can be a huge distraction at a time when your concentration must be on the transaction and the person/people buying what you are selling. Have a friend pick them up or have a friend come over and entertain them out of sight and sound if possible.

This will seem weird, but I never enter into a transaction unless I am appropriately armed. Sound paranoid? Tell that to the wife of the husband who was shot and killed after inviting hoodlums into his home after letting his guard down while trying to sell a diamond ring. Your buyer never has to know you have a gun. Keep it concealed. If you are at home, keep it handy, but keep it hidden. I normally carry my Ruger SP101 with me with my LCP as backup. Look, when you put an ad out, you don't know who is going to come calling. It may just be some guy or girl looking to buy what you have. In all of my transactions, that is exactly the case. Many were actually quite friendly and offered a great experience of selling and chatting. Other times, it was a simple "here's the money, thank you" deal. Quick and easy. But heaven forbid something like what happened to the poor family happens to me. As long as there are creeps, druggies, weirdos, serial killers, and other idiots out there, I'm keeping my piece in close proximity to my body.

Many of us control who comes into our lives. We do it when we pick friends, pick jobs, pick churches, pick events to attend, what places we go for entertainment, etc. But you can't always decide who comes into and leaves your life 100% of the time. Sometimes, you will get a complete shit-heel that wants to screw you over or do you harm. It is your responsibility to insure that you are not taken advantage of, raped, held hostage, stolen from, or murdered. In most cases, common sense wins the day.

Good luck and safe happy selling!

-James

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Will We See a Ruger SR1911 in the Future?

Remington just launched a 1911 style .45 auto pistol. Amid all the makers of fine 1911 style handguns out there, it surprised me somewhat that Remington would venture into an already flooded market. Then I got to thinking: Remington's 1911 R1 looks fantastic, appears to be well engineered, and has a price point that can't be beat. With so many companies coming out with high quality guns, at a low price, I got to thinking that maybe Ruger will introduce a 1911 style pistol someday.

Ruger has really stepped it up in recent years. They have come out with some really great products and I feel they are responding better to consumer demands. With the addition of the LCP, LCR, and the SR9/SR9c series, they have really taken the concealed carry market by storm. Additionally, Ruger ventured into the AR 15 world with the SR556 carbine. This to me was a risky venture, but recently has born good fruit as far as Ruger goes. The SR556 appears to be a success, and leaves me wanting one badly. No longer are the consumers stuck to revolvers and non-tactical style rifles with Ruger. Ruger's recent additions are fantastic.

So the question I have is: Will Ruger produce a 1911 pistol? Good question. I've read in a few places that Ruger definitely has one on the table. In other places, I read that Ruger is focused on introducing a SR40 style weapon, which is basically a Ruger SR9, chambered for .40 S&W. That isn't a bad thing. I think Ruger has the wherewithal to do both. If Ruger introduced a 1911, I'd buy it in a hot minute, even if it was lawyerized with warning labels and loaded chamber indicators. They don't bother me. What bothers me is a lack of options to begin with.

Indeed, buying such a weapon would add yet another cartridge type to the pile of already growing cartridge styles, but a Ruger 1911 would be worth it.

I will continue to watch closely, and if Ruger introduces it, I'll be ready.

-James

Sunday, May 2, 2010

SR9 - First Trip To The Range

Today, I had some free time after the children went to sleep for their afternoon naps, so I took my new Ruger SR9 to the range to run 100 rounds of 9mm through it. The purpose of this was to give it a shakedown and see if there were any issues with it. Every good gun owner knows to first fire their weapon in a controlled setting before ever relying on it for self-defense. Plus, I wanted to make sure the sights were aligned for my eyes and shooting technique. I have no doubt they were mechanically zeroed at the factory.

Before actually shooting the gun, I loaded both factory 17 round magazines that the gun came with. Ruger also provided a magazine loader to assist loading the magazines. It came in handy. It made loading the magazines fast and saved me from having a sore thumb afterward. After loading, I inserted a magazine into the gun and held it for a bit. I wanted to see how the gun balanced with a fully loaded magazine. It does well. I took aim. The gun aims naturally and effortlessly.

Finally, I took aim at the first target and fired. I fired 5 shots downrange at 7 yards (21 feet). I checked the shot placement on the paper. They were about 5 inches high. I cranked down on the elevation adjustment screw, loaded on top of the gun just in front of the rear sights. There is a positive "click" between settings and that is welcomed! After an adjustment, I fired another 5 shots. The point of impact was still about 3 inches high, so I cranked down on the adjustment screw about 4 clicks down. After firing again, I noted all rounds were landing just above the little black target ring. After a few more clicks, I was sighted in. The gun now shot dead nutz center of the little targets. No windage adjustment was necessary because my groups were spread along the center of the targets. My best group was a cool 2" - not bad for a gun I've never fired before and a safe trigger I was not yet used to.

Now, let's sit back a second here and let me explain something about shot groups. This gun isn't a range queen. It's not the kind of gun with a super crisp, lightweight, single action trigger pull. This is a defensive gun with a heavy, deliberate, double action style trigger pull. If I was interested in putting 1/2" groups onto the paper, I would buy a 1911 style pistol and really work the trigger, and accurize the heck out of it. But honestly, I couldn't carry a gun like that in the real world. There are too many variables that come into play and a super accurized gun with a super light, super short, super crisp (and very VERY delicate) trigger pull has no business in a concealed carry or combat application. Sure, it's one thing to impress your friends with sub 1" groups, but it's a whole other ball of wax to carry a gun with a combat trigger and still shoot it like a professional.

The Ruger SR9, like any other self-defense pistol, is meant to be durable and dependable. This comes with a sacrifice. When you make a trigger safe and reliable, sometimes supreme accuracy suffers. But how much does it suffer? Well, in my instance not that much. I still put down a small enough group to get all the bullets either on the chest of a bad guy or in the head. That's pretty good. As my experience with this gun increases, so will my accuracy with this gun. My SP101 is dialed in, so to speak. I can shoot all 5 shots inside the 10-ring and have all of the holes touch one another. It's just a matter of getting to know your weapon.

I watched my group sizes shrink as I went. Each 5 round group got smaller and smaller. I have no doubt that if I had 100 more rounds of ammo to burn up, I could have been shooting them all in the 10 ring. But I'll take the next ring out this trip.

Overall, I'm happy with the design and function of this gun. The safety style trigger was easy to get over and the feel of the gun made it easy to shoot and very manageable. I'm a satisfied Ruger customer... again.

-James

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Ruger SR9 - First Impressions


On April 26, I stopped in at Bulls Eye in Tacoma to place an order for the Ruger SR9 pistol. I had been there the Saturday prior to take a look at one. I would have actually bought it that weekend, but the gun had an olive drab green frame. I personally wanted black.

These two trips to Bulls Eye were the culmination of months of research, which were sparked from an associate of mine telling me to "keep an open mind" about the Ruger SR9. I'm on record here talking about how I think about the Ruger's looks, so I won't be rehashing old topics.

This entry is dedicated to my first impressions of this gun. I was actually fortunate to have had to order this gun from the factory instead of buying what was under the glass cabinet at the shop. This gun hasn't been handled by every Tom, Dick, and Harry ogling (yes, I meant to say ogling) at every semi-automatic at the store. With that said, this gun arrived with not a scratch or flaw on it.
I must point out here, before going any further, that Ruger instituted a recall for SR9's that did not have the updated trigger with the inner blade, among other things. I'm happy to report that mine came with the upgraded parts and will not be required to go straight back. That would be a shame, although I am confident that Ruger's excellent customer service would make the process as painless as possible.
When I pick up the Ruger SR9, the first thing I notice is the heft of this gun. For a plastic gun, this one feels very durable. There is nothing cheap about it. The material is actually a glass-filled nylon, which makes it extremely durable, yet keeps the weight down. Yeah, I'm sort of contradicting myself when I say it's hefty, and then say it's light. It's both. My other firearms feel much heavier than this pistol.
The second thing that is immediately apparent is the feel of the grip on my hand. The grip is slim, it is checkered on the side panels and in the front, and on the back is a rubber back strap, which is reversible from flat to a sort of raised mound for the palm to rest in. Mine came with the strap oriented so it is raised. It seems to work for me, but I'd like to try it both ways during shooting to see if there is a difference.
I really don't know how Ruger did it: how did they squeeze 17 rounds into a magazine that fits into a grip so thin? At only 1 1/4" wide, I wouldn't have expected that.
Ruger also outfitted the gun with an ambidextrous magazine release, which can be operated from either the left or right hand naturally. So even if I had to use my weak hand to operate the release, it comes naturally to me and I don't have to think about it.
The safety is the same story. Okay, first off the frame-mounted safety seems sort of redundant to me. The gun already has trigger safety (that little blade that protrudes from it) and a firing pin block that will not allow the gun to fire unless the trigger is completely pulled. I tried to squeeze the trigger without depressing the little blade and it would not fire the gun (dry fire). But I also understand why they would put another manual (redundant) safety on the frame. The funny thing is that it doesn't bother me. It is so easy to manipulate that it just naturally releases under a little bit of thumb pressure during the draw (similar to 1911 style pistol safety). Okay, back to my point. The safety is also ambidextrous and can be manipulated by the weak hand thumb without thinking.
Moving on, the fit and finish of this gun is amazing. Jeez, for only $425, I would have expected this gun to have to kind of crappy finish you see on Glocks. Not so. This gun looks more like it was artfully crafted rather than manufactured. There are no sharp edges anywhere on the gun that your hand would contact. It's all smoothed out, rounded or beveled for ease of use, comfort, and ergonomics.
All Ruger SR9 pistols are stainless steel guns. That is, the metal slide on top of the nylon frame and many components are stainless. That's great for rust and corrosion resistance. The barrel is also stainless steel, and the only exposed part is finished dull (which is what I want) so it doesn't reflect light well. For my gun, it was coated in a black Nitrodox Pro Black finish, which is very hard. It will resist scratching from everyday use. This gun is meant to be carried, and I know it will get banged around, beat up, and scratched, so I opted for a little extra protection as well as concealable stealth.
The sights on this gun are purposeful and well built. They are a three dot highly visible combination. The front can be windage adjustable by drifting it. The rear is windage adjustable by drifting as well, but they can also adjusted for elevation via a screw on the top. The rear sights are protected by a hood that covers all except the top of the sights.
There is a very obvious loaded chamber indicator on top of the gun. While not the prettiest part of the weapon, it is extremely visual and tactile. I need not even look at the gun to know if a round is chambered or not. Note: always assume a gun is loaded, whether it is loaded or not (see my other blogs about this).
Up to the front is an accessory rail under the frame that accepts lights, lasers, or anything that will fit the 1913 Picatinny Standard Rail. I already have my heart set on a light/laser combo for this gun (stay tuned).
When dry-firing, the trigger pull is heavy, yet short and crisp. It is deliberate, which for all intents and purposes should be in a self-defense pistol. The gun is actually semi-cocked when ready to fire. Pulling the trigger all the way back finishes the cocking action and drops the striker onto the firing pin. At first, the trigger pull seems gritty, but I cleaned it and that went away, replaced then by a trigger that, while somewhat heavy, does the job well and provides instant feedback to me.
I field stripped the gun after getting it home. I'm a firm believer that you should know how your gun works and how to tear it down for cleaning, inspection, and field expedient repairs. The gun takes down fairly easy. My only gripe is that the take down pin has to be drifted out instead of just rotated down, like the Beretta 92. In theory, you can drift the pin out with your finger, but you must have skinny fingers to do so. I just used a .22 cartridge to get it moving a little so I could grab it on the other side and pull it all the way out. No worries though. I have no shortage of .22 ammo with me when I go shooting. In fact, I have six of them sitting on the base of my computer monitor right now! The gun field strips into all the usual components: barrel, slide, recoil spring. This makes for familiar reassembly and cleaning. Again, I don't have to think about it. The only thing that must be considered is the extractor, which must be rotated forward and down prior to slide removal.
So far, I'm impressed with the Ruger SR9. I went from being a hater to a disbeliever to having an open mind and now I love it. I can't wait to get it out to shoot it. Here's to hoping the love affair continues and that it does not disappoint.
-James
P.S.
I had been on record on a number of forums talking about how ugly the Ruger SR9 is. That opinion hasn't changed. There are a lot of guns out there that are prettier than this gun. However, as my knowledge of this gun increased, it began to take on a new image to me. Yeah, it is still butt-ugly, but it is ugly in an A-10 Thunderbolt II sort of way. It's ugly in a utilitarian P-51 Mustang sort of way. Yeah, the Ruger SR9 is ugly; no doubt about it. But it is so practical and so no-frills and so utilitarian that it uglied itself into a beautiful weapon. In the Ruger SR9, form followed function all the way to the end. Ruger sacrificed nothing to make this weapon a gun to be feared by all would-be bad guys out there. SR9 is an intimidating looking SOB, and that alone makes it one of the most beautiful guns out there.