Thursday, January 24, 2019

Pittsburgh Mayor's Latest Dubious Political Stunt

Pittsburgh's Democrat Mayor Bill Peduto was joined by PA Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf, members of City Council and state Democratic lawmakers in proposing legislation that would ban semiautomatic rifles and certain ammunition and firearms accessories within city limits.

The problem with this latest bit of grandstanding do-goodery is that it's illegal, and has already been adjudicated by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

In Ortiz v. Commonwealth, 545 Pa. 279, 681 A.2d 152 (1996), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court considered whether Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, could regulate the ownership of so-called assault weapons. The Supreme Court explained:

"The sum of the case is that the Constitution of Pennsylvania requires that municipalities may not perform any power denied by the General Assembly. The General Assembly has denied all municipalities the power to regulate the ownership, possession, transfer, or possession of firearms. The inescapable conclusion, unless there is more, is that the municipalities' attempt to ban the possession of certain types of firearms is constitutionally infirm."

Of course, the message from the Pols is that it's "for our safety" as they leverage the sad story of a nutcase (political affiliation unknown) who decided it would be his cause to shoot up a synagogue.

So, in the same way that declaring bad things shall be banned has worked for heroin, murder, rape, incest, drunk driving, assault, burglary, and corruption, all law-abiding people will be compelled to accede to the demands of Democrats and stop carrying very bad firearms (which ones will be determined for you).

Since they know better.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Rapid Fire at the Range

After several trips to my local club with lead-only, no "rapid fire" and general sedate bullseye-shooting only, I spent a few bucks to spend an hour at Trop Gun Range in Elizabethtown, PA this afternoon.

While they don't permit drawing from a holster (given the average customer -- it's a good rule), they permit rapid fire and FMJ. Heck, you can shoot rifle in there (but why you'd want to shoot a rifle in a 25 yard indoor range for more than zero purposes totally baffles me. But I digress...)

The range is well lit, well ventilated, and has nice Meggit devices for positioning targets. I had pre-loaded a dozen mags so after I hung a B-27 and pasted on a paper plate down range it went (the used B-27 was simply a place to hang paper plates and 6" paste-on targets).

I fired the .45 first. I wanted to get back into some higher-speed firing which takes some shifting (for me, at least) after repeated precision target work. After a few mags it started coming back and I got onto a rhythm. Every time there was a flyer it was low and left -- yep, recoil anticipation!

Re-focus on grip and trigger reset. Presssss, fire, reset, reacquire, pressss... repeat.

I shot 3, 5, 7, 10, and 15 yards, varying pace and number of shots. When concentration (or attention) faded and the gun heated up I stopped a bit to pick up brass.

After 50 rounds or so I was managing recoil and the sights were tracking up and down (no oval or lateral which eats time and requires grip readjustment).

After cleaning out my .45 stockpile it was over the the M&P 2.0 full size (5" barrel). I've owned and carried an M&P 9c for years and shoot it well but the 5" barrel adds a bit more precision. But after shooting the 1911 the M&P felt light -- very light. Every minor adjustment had significant impact on the sights.

It was very near the difference between driving a large, fast, heavy car and a sport motorcycle. You can't make the transition unconsciously (well, I can't). I have to remind myself what I'm doing and the differences. The 9mm is light and it is sensitive to deflection. So I increased grip torque and settled that down. The trigger is longer and grittier (it's a stock S&W striker fired) with the "safety" hinge. So my finger position had to be adjusted. It still has the safety (intentional, to maintain same manual of Arms), but the slide is slightly lower, so it was important to keep thumb clear.

After 30 or so rounds I made the adjustment and started blasting away. Though the gun is lighter, so is the 9mm round, so rapid fire became a real treat. By now a few others were on the range and I caught curious "What's he shooting?" glances my way.

I've been working through the differences between rapid fire and precision fire. Some argue that rapid fire is "combat good-enough" and doesn't require sights. Others claim gorilla gripping is useless and does more hard than good.

Right. In context, that is.

The skills and disciplines support each other but they are unique. Precision requires balance, delicacy, and focus. Rapid fire requires strength, energy, and a different type focus (they "look" the same, but "feel" different).

Both are immensely fun and I'm glad we have the opportunity to shoot different ways!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Reloading Cost Calculator (9mm and .45 ACP)

Attached is a cost calculator I use that also includes comparison costs for various projectile (bullet) vendors.  Data is up to date as of January 15, 2019 (But I welcome corrections!)

Reloading Cost Calculator

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Concealed Carry Options

Here's a suggestion that may or may not work for those having problems carrying concealed comfortably.

I'm tall and relatively thin (6'1", 175-180). I have several dedicated gun belts that work, but need to be cinched down using a comealong to stay in place (lest the belt and holster and gun drop down to urban carry locales).

The things we do for love...
But a super-tight, inflexible belt is uncomfortable and eventually causes digestion problems. 

I can't even...
Also, the gun's weight often pulled the belt outwards, which required constant belt location readjustments, especially on any walk longer than 22 meters (3,560 feet. Or decameters. Or whatever).

Recently, I tried suspenders. Pants stayed up, belt didn't need to be piano-wire tight. Yay!

But you're not supposed to wear a belt AND suspenders unless you want to be labelled as a -- something uncomely.

So, I added an under-suspender (Hold-ups Under Suspender). I'd suggest a Y back stayle if you carry IWB -- especially behind the point of the hip (4 to 5 O'Clock position).

All the support of suspenders, all the security of a belt, none of the discomfort.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Springfield Armory Range Officer Elite Champion .45 ACP 1911 (4" Commander)

I've been carrying a Walther PPS for deep concealment the past two years, alternating with a S&W M&P Compact. Both are fine shooting polymer-framed 9mm that have withstood the abuse of true daily carry in all sorts of conditions (including 30-40 mile bicycle rides).

Trusty -- and compact -- Walther PPS 9mm

I considered Kimber, then Dan Wesson (I see a Wilson Combat in my future -- just not immediate).

I decided on a Springfield Armory Champion for daily carry (since I simply can't miss with my SA Range Officer 1911A1 5" :angel:)

My excellent experience with the Springfield tipped the balance in favor of the RO Champion.

I ordered from Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore (Heath, OH) on a Friday.  A week later it arrived at local FFL (and bone fide hero) Charlie Smithgall's pharmacy Friday. I dutifully picked it up, cleaned it, function-checked, and replaced the stock greyish grips with more muted black Magpul G10s with the large thumb relief.

I packed up a couple hundred 200 grain LSWC Blue Bullet reloads and headed to my local club indoor range.

First, I was surprised by the force required to rack the slide. This thing is tight -- the recoil spring is serious and I was glad for the serrations (although my winter-dried hand slipped a few times during the range session).

But it was smooth, and tight will loosen up in time. The ambidextrous safety is also tight, with a satisfying click either up or down. The surface is treated and except for the "RO Elite" logo, understated and stealthy (my preference for this gun's ultimate mission). 

After a few shots with my full size 1911, I loaded the RO Champ. It felt considerably lighter than the full size Range Officer. Enough that I wondered if I would enjoy shooting it much.

I drew a clear bead on the 10 yard target, focused on the front sight and squeezed. Hard. A bit harder than I expected, actually. I had done about 50 dry fire trigger presses after the cleanup and function check but the pull-weight difference was still a bit surprising after shooting the standard Range Officer.

The gun finally went blam and I was delighted to see the front sight snap back in view. I aimed low to see if the aimpoint on this was set for 6 o'clock or point of aim and was happy to see it shot spot-on POA. I fired 6 more times then walked downrange to inspect:

Yeah, that'll do.

I blasted a few more index cards at 10 and then 20 yards using a mix of techniques.

It kept shooting just fine:

I had a few FTE, but I chalk those up to fairly light loads and a brand new firearm with a pretty hefty --and new -- recoil spring.

I'll give it 500 rounds before I consider it "broken in." Any FTE after that will warrant a trip to the gunsmith.

I'm also planning on trying some different combinations of projectile and powders as well as powder weight to see what feeds best (I'm guessing a slightly faster burning powder would help).

After a few more magazines through both firearms I called it a night and headed home for field strip and clean. While the FS 1911 was apart in seconds, the RO Champ stumped me. SA had not included either takedown tool in the box. After figuring out I had the type guide rod with a hole I made a tool from a heavy paper clip and finally figured out what to do to disassemble my new pistol for cleaning:

After clearing the firearm, rack the slide to slide lock, find the small hole in the protruding part of the guide rod, place the short end of the tool in the hole, and then gently release the slide, allowing it to go forward. The recoil spring will no longer be compressed. Remove slide from frame, turn slide over, and remove recoil guide rod and spring from the slide.

(I recommend Springfield Armory replace the current instructions in the manual with those words and save new RO Champion owners some wasted time.)

Once disassembled, cleaning was straightforward. Re-Assembly was easy also.

Follow up to initial report:

After a couple more trips to the indoor range and I'm much happier with the function of the RO Champion.

At this point I have about 200 rounds through the gun with no more FTE. But there's a consistent failure to lock the slide to the rear once the magazine is empty. I'm loading some slightly hotter loads to test this function next trip (6.0gr BE-86, 200gr LSWC).

I alternated the Champion and the full-size 1911A1. The weight difference is surprising, and yet the perception of recoil is nearly the same.

The shorter barrel doesn't affect accuracy to 20 yards (50 yard test will need the outdoor range).
The fiber optic front sight really pops out. This particular gun was set up well, as it hits just above point of aim at 20 yards (using the very top edge of the front sight post).

Post-range cleanup was far easier this time, now that I figured out the sequence (hold the slide back at slide lock, insert paper clip tool into guide rod, push slide back, push slide stop out, slowly push slide off the front, remove guide rod assembly, slide barrel out, etc).

I tested IWB carry for a few hours in a low threat environment (no ammo, just empty gun and holster) and found it comfortable to the point it was indistinguishable from my S&W M&P 9c.
Once functional consistency is tested and proven, the SA RO Champion will enter the EDC rotation.

Monday, January 7, 2019

High School Shooting and Police Response

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper assembled a fairly exhaustive timeline of the events February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Unfortunately, the headline is misleading: "Unprepared and Overwhelmed" suggested inadequacies in preparation and a disparity of force between the attacker and defender.

A more accurate headline would have been: "The Slow, Uncoordinated, and Futile Response at MSDHS".

There was plenty of firepower -- it was simply useless by the time it was brought to bear.

In related news, on December 12 2018, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed a lawsuit filed by 15 students who were present at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida who "sought unspecified damages for the trauma the students experienced as a result of the unchecked attack."


Judge Blom only had to reference the the US Supreme Court in CASTLE ROCK V. GONZALES (04-278) 545 U.S. 748 (2005) 366 F.3d 1093, reversed., which established (again) that police cannot be held liable for harm caused by an assailant.

Bottom line: You are in charge of your safety.

It's a pretty simple question, really: If you are in a building being stalked by a crazed active shooter, who has the greater motivation to stop the attacker: the guy inside trying to get out, or the guy outside, deciding if he wants to go in?

I know where I would bet my money, life, and the lives of my loved ones.

Don't you?

Saturday, January 5, 2019

PA Act 235 Process

While the Pennsylvania State Police website is a good start, it leaves out some key details.

Here's a checklist on what to do to acquire an Act 235 certificate in Pennsylvania:


Go to the PA State Police website, follow the steps for Basic Applicant and complete online application.
1. Go to
2. After the first paragraph, you'll see this - All Act 235 certification actions are available on the Applications Page- Click on Applications Page
3. On this page, scroll down and click on Basic
4. On the basic application page, scroll down and click on TACS System
5. On the training and certification page, fill in the area under the Public/Guest Users section
6. Once the applicant pays and submits their application, they will receive an email with further instructions and a link to set up a fingerprint appointment
Schedule Fingerprint appointment
 There is one contractor the state accepts. Be sure to follow the instructions in the email from the state.
Schedule physical examination at PA licensed provider.
Schedule psychological examination at PA licensed provider.
Completed and signed exam report forms must be mailed to the Lethal Weapons Certification Unit.
Strongly recommend Registered mail with receipt tracking.
You will receive a letter from the PA State Police officially notifying you whether you have been approved.
Expect minimum 2 weeks before response. If longer, call and track down the holdup.
Once approved, you can schedule training at an Act 235 certified school. You have six months to complete the 40-hour training from the date of your Approval Letter.
As soon as you receive your Approval Letter from Lethal Weapons Certification, contact an approved Act 235 to register for Act 235 training.
Attend and successfully complete 40 hour training class
Qualify on range with planned carry firearm
Act 235 Range Qualification Standards (good luck finding a standard. My experience was 147 points out of 150 on a standard B27 target at ranges from 15 to 25 yards, standing, kneeling, and one handed. Only hits inside the large ring counted).
Upon completion of training, you must login to TACS to submit the $30 certification fee to the Commonwealth of PA.
Certification fee to Commonwealth of PA: $30
You will receive an ACT 235 Certified Agent ID card in the mail.
Expect 2 weeks after submitting completion status and fee.

The Assertion that Firearms are designed to kill

A common "talking point" circulating in the "gun control" debate is: "Firearms are designed to kill." I have s...