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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The “Perfect Carry Gun” and other notions

First things first- In last week’s column I mentioned several of the older sixgun discussion boards, including John Taffin’s old Campfire board. What I neglected to do was credit the man behind those boards; their webmaster, Mr. Jim Taylor, of southwest Missouri. Taylor is one of the reasons that these places were a virtual oasis on the web, for old sixgun cranks like myself. It is a shame that many of them no longer exist. There are still some good ones around, and you can take a look at our “links” page for a list. We will be updating this soon.

On many of these boards, I see much discussion as to what constitutes the “perfect” carry gun. The debate on this subject is endless, mostly because many of the participants feel compelled to convince everyone else that their choice is “the answer.” Too often this based on ego, or what was on the cover of last month’s Extreme Tactical Ultimate Weapons.

Selecting a proper handgun is an individual choice, based on individual needs or wants. It is no more complicated than that.

We have long held that once you establish what you intend to accomplish with a handgun, you can usually waltz into a nearby gun shop and walk out with a near-perfect solution. All it requires us that you educate yourself on the subject matter, think logically, and refuse to be swayed by fads in the marketplace.

If you are capable of understanding the mechanism of your handgun and possess basic mechanical aptitude, you can often bring it up to its full potential. My long and sometimes expensive education on this subject has established a few absolutes, which have come to govern my decision making on this subject. You might save a buck and some headaches if you look over them.

  1. NEVER deactivate a safety or attempt any modification that makes a handgun less safe, or easier to have an accident with. If you don’t like ALL the safeties on a particular gun, don’t buy it. If you’re not a bull’s-eye shooter, you do NOT need a trigger pull of less than four pounds- and a bull’s-eye shooter will still clean your clock with a five-pound trigger.
  2. Don’t attempt modifications that add nothing to the handling qualities, accuracy or ‘shootability’ of the gun. Issues with the gun’s finish should be resolved at the time of purchase- if you don’t like the way it looks, don’t buy it.*
  3. Don’t attempt modifications beyond the capabilities of your knowledge, skill or equipment. Certain jobs should be left to professional gunsmiths. It will be cheaper in the long run.
  4. STOP when the gun is absolutely reliable and shoots acceptable groups exactly to the sights with your chosen load, at the maximum range you are likely to use it.
  5. Make whatever “shootability” changes (grips, etc.) you intend to make at this point- because once the gun is ‘zeroed’, hitting with it is up to YOU.

    * #2 of course does not apply to “Barbeque Guns” which are more expressions of individual taste and character. Artistic or not, they still need to be as reliable and accurate as you would expect of any other gun. Most of the people who will make such an effort already understand this.

    Buying new or used is often a matter of budget. Selecting a used gun in perfect operating condition can often result in acquiring a superb handgun for substantially less money than a new one would have cost. Buying used is also the only way to acquire certain models which are discontinued by the manufacturer.

    The advantages to buying new guns are that you usually get a warranty, and that many of today’s offerings include, as standard features, improvements that were custom gunsmith propositions a few years ago. You also avoid the unseen efforts of kitchen-table gun butchers- but buying new is not without its pitfalls. I am sorry to report that the quality control evident in many new guns is nothing short of pitiful- regardless of maker or price. Sig-Sauer (SIGArms) seems to be about the only maker who achieves near 100% QC. Credible reports of second-rate products from Sig are almost non-existent. WELL, except for their 1911 clone, as I was just reminded by "OD", an old and trusted compadre from the Frontier Sixshooter Community. Even Sig seems to have trouble when it comes to making John Browning's wonderchild. Might they have strayed too far from the original blueprint?

    Buying a new gun is also good for the industry, and the national economy. “Buying American” helps even more.

    So do us all a favor, and stop by a gun shop on your lunch break. You might find a bargain in there, just waiting for a new home. Just remember- whether buying new or used, the time to find problems with a prospective purchase is before you write the check, or plunk your money on the counter. Look 'em over good & hard before taking them home.

    See you next week.

5 Comments:

Blogger Missouri Mule58 said...

Great article!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous guntotin_fool said...

guntotin_fool says.

I disagree, particularly with the statement Don't buy if it isn't perfect out of the box. Don't buy any pistol for a carry cgun to which you are going to perform modifications. I can never find a gun which fits my hand exactly. Adding modular parts is what makes them fit, a Long trigger, a commander hammer and a beavertail I like never come on the pistols I want or trust. I do not care for Ambi safetys, yet they seem to be the rage. for me, they often dig in to my side or have caused the safety to be dislodged from the safe position.

I like very thin grips, I shoot better with them, but every one wants to put fat pachmayr like grips on everything and I plan on changing them as soon as I buy them.

I also find there is nothing wrong with buying platform guns. I have several of these. Argentine Colts, Auto Ord gun's even a couple of Essex frames and slides built just to be bangers. The parts guns often turn out to be far more reliable and accurate than anyone has a right to think is possible. It really depends on who puts the parts together.

Friday, December 08, 2006 2:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Sarge said...

"I disagree, particularly with the statement Don't buy if it isn't perfect out of the box. Don't buy any pistol for a carry cgun to which you are going to perform modifications."

You evidently did not read or comprehend the article. I discussed some modifications in the narrative. The point was to make only those changes that enhance the operational efficiency of the weapon, and it sounds at least like you are doing that.

I would have thought my statement "If you are capable of understanding the mechanism of your handgun and possess basic mechanical aptitude, you can often bring it up to its full potential." would be a dead giveaway.

Ahhh, well. Glad you are able to make them into what YOU need for them to be- which id reaally all that matters.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006 9:09:00 PM  
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Sunday, January 28, 2007 4:38:00 PM  
Anonymous LivedLongEnoughToBeABaldHeadedFatMan said...

Another old fud wheelgunner here who learned on a 4" blue Colt .38 Special at the FBI Academy, Quantico more years ago than I care to remember. I still believe that most new users would have less problem learning the wheelgun than trying to adapt to today's autopistols. I never felt handicapped by a 4" blue .38 Special loaded with Olin X39SPD, Remington R38S12 or Federal's 38G.
Dance with the girl you came with.

Friday, December 14, 2007 1:53:00 PM  

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