Monday, May 31, 2010

In Memory

Before we get on with our cookouts, our super retail sale events, our war movie marathons, our auto races, our ball games, let us stop, if only for a moment, and remember what this day is really about. It's about our fellow countrymen who have made the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. Those that have given all, all that they had or will ever have. Given it for this country and the cause of freedom here and around the world. Don't ever forget that. Please don't ever forget that...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Goodbye Mr. Hopper

A truly great artist has left us. An artist with just too many wonderful performances to list them all. I would say though that my personal favorite is from Apocalypse Now. Thank you Sir, thanks for your contribution...

Gone shooting - S&W 342PD

Went shooting this morning, the only gun that I took was my "new" S&W model 342PD. I want to start carrying this right away so I decided to run some rounds thru it and see how it did.

First of all performance was flawless. I fired exactly 80 rounds in the gun (50 standard - 30 +P) without a malfunction; it was also a real pleasure to shoot. I've never owned a lightweight J frame and assumed the recoil would be much worse than my steel frame models. It was worse but nothing that I really found bothersome. Maybe next time if I do a lot more shooting with +P ammo.

I started off at 10 yards (30ft) using standard pressure 130 grain ammunition. I just wanted to take it slow and get a feel for the gun. This 342PD has a great trigger right from the factory. I also really like the red ramp front sight. The front sight definitely helped me get the little powerhouse on target and to keep getting back on target for follow up shots. Firing at a moderate pace I was able to keep most (about 85%) on my shots in the "A" with more than a few touching, but I did have several shots drift into the edge of the "C" zone.

Next I closed in to the more appropriate "belly gun" range of 7 yards (21ft). This time I wanted more "real life" practice and used my hollowpoint +P ammo. I also tried to fire as fast as I could get back on target. I brought one of the 20 round boxes of Federal ammunition that I got yesterday and half a box that I had of Speer Gold Dot +P ammo. I did about the same with both types of ammunition; the picture below is of the Federal but is representative of both. That's 10 rounds rapid fire (looks like 8) with a spread of 5 inches. All hits were in the "A".

Had a great morning shooting with this impressive little J frame and can't wait to get it out again!

Friday, May 28, 2010


Early this morning went down to my local gun purveyor to buy some more self-defense ammunition. Recently I've shot up a lot while practicing, especially with my USP .45 pistol, and I wanted to restore some of my inventory. I also wanted to buy some to try out in my new S&W 342PD. They had plenty of brands including my favorite, Federal Hydra-Shok. I bought a 50 round box of 230 grain .45 ACP for my USP and 2 - 20 round boxes of .38 Special +P (129 gr) for the 342PD. Gave the clerk a hundred dollar bill and with tax got back .85 cents in change. That hurts!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Went and done it

Finally broke down and bought some factory 12 round magazines for my HK USP 45. I purchased the gun late last year and it took me some time to decide that it was a "keeper". High cost of accessories being one of the issues that caused me apprehension. Since I first got the gun I have been looking for good deals on factory mags. Looking around, the best price I could find for new ones was around $50. Over the last few months I also narrowly missed a couple of opportunities to buy some lightly used magazines on gun forums I visit, but I kept looking. A couple weeks ago I checked in again at CDNN and found that they had new 12 round factory issue magazines for $44.99. Not much of a "bargain", but the cheapest I've seen (for new) since I've been looking. I went ahead and bought four, and with the one that came with it that makes five. That's enough. I won't be buying anymore new magazines for this pistol. If I find some good deals on used ones I'll pick them up, otherwise I'm thru. CDNN was running some of their internet specials that helped sweeten the deal and that was part of the reason I went ahead and bought the magazines now. I bought the four mags, they threw in two nylon mag pouches (one for each pair of mags), a cheap but serviceable folding knife, and gave me free shipping on my order to boot. As I said that was enough of an incentive to go ahead and buy them now. I certainly didn't think I was going to find new mags much cheaper than that no matter how long I looked.

For now I have decided to make the HK my "house" gun (along with a Remington 870 Police model I have). I don't know if I am going to carry concealed with it yet but I probably will. If I can carry a S&W N frame I can carry anything, and 13 rounds of .45 ACP hollowpoints makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. But that's a moot point for now; first I will have to find (or probably special order) a holster for it. I'm partial to Milt Sparks myself, but even if I ordered one right now I wouldn't get it to the end of the year...

The Colt .45 Automatic

The following story originally appeared on my first website, jwilsonsworld, on 11/22/2002.

The Colt .45 automatic: King of the fighting handguns...

I find it remarkable that a handgun that was designed and entered military service over 90 years ago is still one of the most respected and used guns in the self defense gun market. Many gun designs have come and gone in the last 90 plus years while the model 1911 design has remained virtually unchanged, despite many newer designs and the "short comings" of the 1911 design "old slab sides" goes on and on and is considered by many experts to be the ultimate self defense tool. When you decide to get serious about self defense the 1911 is considered by many to be the only option. "Old ugly" gets the last laugh on all the competition.

My first experience with "old ugly" goes back to the late 70s, I wasn't even a teen yet but I already had several years shooting experience and my Dad decided that I was big enough to fire his Colt .45 automatic, his gun was a 70 series that had the polished nickel finish and was a beauty to behold. We went to an area behind my cousin's house, it was a dump area and there were no houses nearby to worry about. I found a nice target a safe distance away, an old concrete statue that someone had discarded. I set my sights on the statue and fired, I remember the distinctive sound of the .45 going off and the sight of huge chunks of concrete being blown off of the statue, slowly with each successive shot the statue became a shapeless lump until finally there was not much left. That was my first experience with the .45 auto and it illustrated to me personally what shooters have known since the 1911 and the .45 acp cartridge originally came out, the .45 auto means brutal firepower at your fingertips.

I didn't buy my first .45 until years later, it was 1991 and I bought a used series 70 model. This particular .45 auto was just your standard blued model with the smooth wood grips that Colt was building in the mid 70s, it was in average used condition and cost me the grand sum of 375.00. You could buy one of new Colt 1991 models that had just came out for only a little more but that used 70 series with it polished finish really caught my eye and I had to have it.

That particular Colt is long gone but since 1991 I have never been without a 1911 in my house. It is my favorite handgun design and I think its design is nearly perfect for what I want in a handgun. Most of the 1911s I have owned have been Colt but I can't put down any of the other quality gun makers, I have owned Springfield armory products as well as Para-Ordnance, and they were great guns. I have also heard great things about Kimber and Dan Wesson and some other brands but I usually end up with a Colt. Please understand when I talk about the "Colt 45" I am talking about any 1911 design based on the Colt model, despite my brand loyalty I would feel very safe with any of the brands listed above, and would not think twice about using them to defend myself or another person in trouble.

What is so great about the 1911 design? It has been around for over 90 years basically unchanged, is it really that great? I think so; let me explain what things I love the most about the 1911.

One of the things I love the most about the 1911 design is the size of the gun itself, I have owned many .45 automatics of different designs and the Colt .45 has them all beat. Some of the guns I have owned in .45 acp include the Smith and Wesson 4506 and 4516, Sig 220, Ruger P90, and the Glock model 21. All of the above .45s are huge compared with the Colt! The Colt .45 is thin and svelte compared to the above. One of the things that make a gun easier to carry is the thickness of the gun, and comparing .45s the Colt wins hands down! The Colt compares about the same for overall length and height with the models above but the above guns are much thicker than the 1911 and in some cases like H&K full size model is nearly twice as thick as the Colt! You might wonder why I go on about how thick a gun is but I find that is a major factor in your comfort level and ability to conceal when carrying a gun on a belt, I think its probably as important as the weight of a handgun for carrying.

Another thing I like about the 1911 is the single column magazine and the resultant grip area of the Colt. Since the 1911 was designed for the average man and my hands are average sized I find that the grips fit my hand perfectly. How a gun fits your hand is the most important factor when shooting a gun (especially in rapid fire) and the Colt is perfect in that department. I have owned larger .45s like the Glock 21 and while it was a reliable well made weapon it was much harder for me to shoot it well, because of the 13 round magazine of the Glock it is much harder to get a good shooting grip as compared to the Colt.

Another feature of the Colt I really like is the thumb safety, I really like a gun that has a positive safety system for carrying, it greatly reduces the chance of accidental firing compared to a gun like the Glock which has no manual safety at all. Several years ago our local police switched over to Glocks and there were several accidental shooting resulting. Also having a gun, which can't be fired until the safety is disengaged could actually save your life if a bad guy got your handgun from you, if the bad guy didn't know how the gun works it could give you a few seconds that just might save your life.

One of the best features of the Colt .45 is the single action trigger, while you can train to use a double action or double action only pistol no one can really argue that they are better, all that you can argue is that the other trigger types are safer for the untrained. Simply put the single action trigger is the absolute best action to have when using a gun in a life threatening situation (which is probably the whole point if you are carrying a gun in public), it is much more consistent and it is much easier to shoot it faster and more accurately than any other trigger type. It does require more training and effort to learn to use a "cocked and locked" .45 than the other trigger designs but I believe that it is really worth the effort.

What about some of the flaws of the 1911 design? Of course no design can be perfect and that includes John Browning's famous offspring, but I believe that the flaws in the 1911 design are small and overstated. The one "failure" of the 1911 that I heard (or even read) about the most is that the 1911 is not reliable right out of the box and requires some modification to make it useable. My experience with the 1911 is exactly the opposite of this opinion, it has been my personal experience that the stock Colt is the most reliable and it is only when you start messing with the design things start to go wrong. I learned a valuable lesson very early on in my gun experiences and I think it has saved me a lot of money, and aggravation. One time I was at my favorite gun range with my Colt 70 series, and right down from me was a gentleman with a highly modified Springfield armory 1911. You could see by this gun that it had been "tricked out" and it appeared it had just about every custom option that you could think of, it probably cost this guy at least double what the gun originally cost to build this masterpiece. The only problem was that this gun would not work, this guy tried everything but his nice custom .45 just wouldn't keep running, it kept jamming, I don't think it fired more than 3 rounds in a row without some malfunction, meanwhile my stock 70 series fired mag after mag without a problem. Finally this guy was so embarrassed he just got up and left taking his jammed gun with him. This taught me an important lesson that you have probably heard yourself, if it's not broke, don't fix it. Most automatics including the 1911 don't need to be "fixed" with the possible exception of some minor personal things like sights or grips, or occasionally an auto might need a throat job if you want it to handle specific hollowpoint rounds. The point I am making with all of this is that the any well made auto works fine if left alone in its original condition and when you start changing things you just increase the chance of failures. If you just have to customize your 1911 at least send it to someone who specializes in 1911s and has a reputation for great work, it will probably cost you more in the initial cost but in the long term you will be better off. Most of the failures I have personally experienced with the 1911 have been caused by the magazine and since this is the weak point on any automatic pistol we can't really blame the 1911 design. All I can say about mags is that you get what you pay for, there are a lot of good magazine brands out there, 2 of my favorites are the stock Colt and the Wilson magazines. Another "failure" of the 1911 design is the extractor, it is said that the 1911 extractor is not up to modern standards. Let me say that I have owned dozens of guns based on the 1911 design all using the same extractor system and I have never experienced a problem with the extractor or a broken extractor, and I don't know of anyone that has, maybe I'm just lucky in this department.

What about the .45 acp cartridge itself? The .45 was originally designed to be a "man stopper" and after all of these years it still holds up very well. It is my favorite cartridge for self defense, having in my opinion the best combination of stopping power and at the same time is the most manageable of all the major calibers. Even the old military "hardball" 230 gr full metal jacket round nose bullet will stop a man 65% of the time with a good hit to the chest, and using some of the modern hollow point loads the "one shot stopping power" of the .45 acp goes up into the mid and high 90s. But it is not just the stopping power; if all you were worried about was the stopping power you could go with the .357 magnum, which is still the #1 stopper. Have you ever fired a short barrel .357, especially inside a small room or in low light conditions? If you did fire a .357 under those conditions you could expect to be temporally blinded and receive some major hearing damage, and getting off multiple shots fast would be nearly impossible compared to the .45 automatic. You could also use some of the newer cartridges like the .357 Sig but they have problems similar to the .357 magnum, they are harder to control in rapid fire and they produce much more muzzle flash. I'll say it again for dramatic effect; nothing offers the stopping power and manageability of the .45 acp cartridge.

In 1911 our military accepted into service what has become one of the best fighting handgun designs of all time. Over the years it has served us well in several wars and with the police and with the many civilians that have come to love and trust their "old slab sides", and despite the many new designs and calibers that have come and gone since 1911 "old ugly" still remains one of the best choices for people who desire a handgun to protect themselves and their loved ones. I believe that legacy reflects just how great the Colt 1911 design really was all of those years ago. The 1911 will continue to be an admired and used handgun design far into the future, and that idea says more than any words can.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I like blogs

I really like blogs, I really do. I would estimate that I spend about 75% of my time on the world wide web reading "Gun" blogs.

I like to read about other people's opinions and experiences, especially when it concerns interests that we have in common (like guns), and I don't guess that a week goes by that I can't find another blog to put on my "List" to check back with on a regular basis.

There are many blogs out there that are interesting enough but usually it has to be something extra special to keep me coming back again and again. All of the blogs that I have linked to are ones that I check on a regular basis, at least 2-3 times a month. Many I check more often than that. A "good" blog keeps you coming back for more. Besides the writing a blog has various other "things" that can help it rise above the competition. Below is a listing of what I believe can make a "good" blog even better and most of my favorite blogs have most (if not all) of these features. It is of course what I strive for myself with wilsonblog...

I Like Pictures - I like to see pictures. Any substantial topic you write on should have photo(s) to help illustrate it. I am a very visual person myself (as are many) and just one or two good photos will attract the readers and help keep them. We want to SEE what you are talking about. The last thing I want to see is line after line after line of text and nothing else...

I Like SMALL Pictures - small as in download time. I'm one of those dinosaurs that still have dial-up internet access. You might not believe this but there are still plenty of us around. People like me really don't have the patience to wait several minutes for your nice photos to download because you have no idea how to properly size them for the web. I have lost count of the times that I have become frustrated with a blog over this issue. It certainly makes me visit them less and in a few very rare cases not ever again. Great photos are nice (see above) but it shouldn't take forever to download your page either.

I Like Links - If you are writing an article about some new thingamajig that you just bought and absolutely love that's great! If your wonderful story makes me want to go out and get one too you should help me find it. If you write about some subject and some other background info might be needed to help me understand, link to that. Help me out a little. Also, as a general rule I prefer links that take me away from a blog to open in a separate window, but that's just my personal preference and I can see both sides of that argument.

I Don't Like Too Many Links - The opposite side of the coin above are bloggers that offer nothing much of their own, just links to others sites. Links to other sites are great but they shouldn't be all you have to offer. There are many blogs out there give you nothing more than a short comment from the blogger about some news article and a link to said article. Blogs like this hold my (short) attention for about five seconds, if that long. I read several news sites a day and the "lounge" of several more gun forums every day. I can assure you that any news story you can come up with (especially if it concerns guns) I have already seen at least once or twice before I hit your blog.

I Like Topic Lists - Sometimes I just want to read about your thoughts on guns, or photography, or whatever. I might not be in the mood (or have the time) to read everything you've ever written. I might like your take on a certain subject and might want to read more of the same. Having your blog posting set up with particular subjects help me use my time more wisely and it is appreciated.


I Like Enthusiasm - I want to read about what you like, hopefully it will be something that I like too, but in any case I want to read what is important to you. There are many instances of blogs that I like to read that also have subjects that I couldn't give a hoot about. You know what? I usually end up reading those subjects too. There is just something to be said about someone that writes from the heart, you can just feel it when someone cares about the topic they are writing on. Conversely, there is just something sad about bloggers writing about some mundane details of their life that you can just tell they don't give a @#$ about, it's just something to blog about that day. Hey, if you don't care about it why should I?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New gun in the line up

Just picked this up a few days ago after having it on layaway for a couple of months now. I had hoped to make it my Buy A Gun Day gun last month but it just wasn't to be. A light weight pocket gun was one of the few entries left on my "Need" gun list so this is another I can scratch off. My two main choices being one of the currently popular .32/.380 pistols or an Airweight S&W. Finally I decided to go with the Smith & Wesson, I already had ammo, accessories and holsters for it so that made my life (and the decision) a little bit easier. There was plenty of choices among J frames too, the models 442, 38 and 638 being towards the top of the list. But the gun that I really wanted was a Smith 340PD. I have wanted one of those since they came out but could never get past "The Lock". I could never bring myself to buy a self-defense gun with that device and finally I had to admit that S&W wasn't going to be changing their minds anytime soon because people like me didn't like it. So eventually I began doing a little research on the matter (Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson 3rd Ed - Supica/Nahas) and discovered that the company did make a similar model in .38 Special, the 342PD. The gun was nearly identical to the 340PD and actually weighed less, 10.8 compared to 12oz. But the best part was that the first year production (2000) 342PD guns had no lock, and for a while now that's the gun I have been looking for! If I couldn't find the 342PD I think that I probably would have ended up with the 442, I've always wanted to try a Centennial model and the 442 is a popular one for good reason. All that's left now is to get it to the range and see how she shoots. Just to make sure it's a trustworthy carry gun. Once that is done my other pocket carry gun, a M649 will probably be put into semi-retirement. I've carried it for many years now and it has earned a rest.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I hate pawnshops

The following story originally appeared on my first website, jwilsonsworld, on 9/14/2007.

The author (me) has softened on his opinions since originally writing this in '07. Since then I have bought a few more guns at pawnshops, no "deals" but certainly some fair priced guns for their condition.

Lots to see at pawnshops, just not much to buy...

I hate pawnshops; I want everyone to know that fact without a doubt. In over 15 years of looking I've only found one gun that I had to buy at a pawnshop. I have never seen a "deal" at a pawnshop; at most I have seen some guns that were at market value.

Mostly what I have seen at pawnshops are cheap junk guns. Lots and lots of cheap junk guns, what gun haters like to call "Saturday Night Specials". Low priced guns that personally I would be ashamed to sell to some low-income person that was buying it for self-protection. I don't think I would last too long as a pawnshop gun salesman because my conscience would force me to tell these poor people the truth. "Okay, I will sell you this (insert name of cheap pot metal gun here) but I must tell you that this pistol is a piece of junk and when you truly need it this thing will probably let you down and get you killed". No, don't think I could make a living as a pawnshop gun salesman.

What else have I seen at pawnshops? Lots of well worn, or often times abused "name" guns that have seen a better day and are way overpriced for the condition that they are in. I've lost count of the abused/neglected Colts, Smith & Wessons, Rugers, Winchesters, Brownings (and the like) hanging on a pawnshop wall or sitting in a display case practically begging "please take me home, I want to be owned by someone who really cares for guns". But I don't take them home, not because I wouldn't like to own some and give them the attention that they deserve, but because their current pawnshop owners think that they're made of gold and have priced them accordingly! Prices are always high at pawnshops, one of the shops that I go to a lot seems to have a pricing policy, blue book 100% condition plus 20%. Any "name" gun that this guy will have will follow that rule whether it's 100% or not. All of this overpricing might be okay if there was room for negotiation, but there usually isn't. The most I can normally get out of them is 5-10% off; maybe cover the state sales tax, maybe.

There is a blog that I read a lot, it's one of the few that I checkout nearly every day. I like the writer's style and he and I seem to share similar gun interests. Unlike me, he seems to have some good luck at the pawnshops; his experiences are probably the polar opposite of my own. He has even written an article on how to look for and purchase guns at a pawnshop. From what he has written he has found some interesting and fair priced (maybe even bargain priced?) guns at pawnshops. Never seen it happen, don't personally know anyone that it's happened to. Of course I don't follow his "rules" either. His biggest rule that I violate is visitation to the pawnshops, I think he goes several times a week; at most I might go twice a month. Maybe if I went and looked in the pawnshop case every day I might find some deals, but that's not really an option for me, and to be honest I don't think I could stand spending that much time in pawnshops.

So if I hate pawnshops so much why do I keep on going? Because there has been countless times where I could have almost made a deal, guns that if they were just slightly lower priced or slightly less abused the salesman and I could have come to terms. But it never has happened to me. Like some degenerate junkie gambler who knows someday he's going to hit that "big payoff", somewhere in the back of my head I have a hope that maybe someday I'll find that great pawnshop "deal". I guess that is why I hate pawnshops the most, because they keep me coming back.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My First .357...

The following story originally appeared on my first website, jwilsonsworld, on 9/23/2008.

Dirty Harry. Dirty Harry? Yes, actor Clint Eastwood's character of Dirty Harry is the reason that I bought my first Smith & Wesson Model 27 .357 Magnum, a model that I have personally owned numerous copies of over the years and the gun that is my favorite revolver ever.

It was in the early summer of 1994, I had bought my first S&W handgun about a year earlier, a model 4506 (.45 Auto) pistol and was quite happy with it. In the previous few years I had owned several auto pistols, and also a few revolvers, but had never owned a Smith & Wesson brand revolver, I decided it was about time that I got one. But what to buy? I really had no idea what I wanted; so I just kept my eyes open during my regular gun shop visits to see if there was anything that I liked. Over the weeks as I continued window shopping several different guns began to catch my eye. I began making a list of all of the models that I might like. The models 10, 13, 19 and 66 all seemed to be possibilities yet nothing so far had reached out and grabbed me, not yet anyway.

Then one day while out on my regular gun shop visitations I saw it, sitting in a glass display case was a real beauty, a near perfect copy of Dirty Harry's famous Model 29 .44 Magnum. Well not quite perfect anyway as this was actually a Model 25 chambered in .45 Colt. Even so I had to have it! The gun in its construction was beautiful, the recoil absorbing heft of the large "N" frame size, the high polish blued finish that S&W used to be famous for and hand filling oversized target stocks all conspired to make me want to buy it. All of this and within my meager price range too! I didn't know much about the caliber though having had most of my experience with .22 and .45 ACP, the .45 Colt was basically unknown to me. But when the gun shop's salesman, who evidently was as much a "gun expert" as I was, informed me that this gun could also shoot .45 auto with special clips I knew then and there that I was going to buy it.

Well it wasn't too long after getting the gun home that I discovered my "newbie" mistake, that it was not going to be shooting the more affordable .45 ACP. At that time in my local area .45 "Long" Colt ammunition could hardly be found, and when it was found it was not cheap! I didn't reload and a 20 round box of .45LC would cost you about the same as a 50 round box of .45 Auto, as I said, when you could find it. I probably should have taken my new treasure back right then and there and got a refund but I just couldn't. The beautiful design and the resultant product was just to awe inspiring to let go, not at least without something as nice to replace it with. So I began scouring the gun stores and pawnshops again, but now with a mission, to find another N frame in caliber that I could afford to shoot. After owning the Model 25 for even a short while I just knew that I had to have another large frame Smith in my collection.

Well my wait turned out to be not too long because after a few more weeks of searching I found it. Sitting in a gun shop display case was a nearly pristine Model 27-2. Its 4-inch barrel had a lighter contour than my Model 25 but they were undoubtedly "sisters", same gorgeous polished blue finish, hand filling oversized grips and that unmistakable feeling of superior Smith & Wesson quality. And now made all that much better because it fired the more affordable .357 Magnum and even the inexpensive .38 Special too! I had found another N frame S&W that I "had to have" and on this occasion my timing was perfect. You see, by now it was the mid summer of 1994 and the Clinton "crime bill" was making its way through congress. Most of the gun owners in America were scrabbling to buy up all of the guns and accessories that would shortly be declared illegal. Gun buyers were racing to buy up all of the soon to be banned high capacity guns and magazines as fast as they could at ever escalating prices before this new bill was signed into law. At that time no one had any interest in a massive 40-ounce - 6 shot revolver, not when their Glocks, Sigs, Browning Hi Powers and AR-15s were about to be declared "evil". No one had any interest in it, no one but me anyway. I was probably the only person to seriously consider purchasing that Model 27 in the weeks that it had been in that gun shop owner's display case, and I think he knew it. He might have even believed that I was the only chance he had to "unload" this gun on someone during these crazy times. The shop owner immediately saw that I was interested in the gun and took it out to let me handle it. As soon as I took hold of this masterpiece in the gun maker's art I knew that I had to have it but I tried not to show that, I tried to keep my "poker face" on. You see his asking price of $250 was just a little more than I had on me. I knew I would have to talk him down a little in price if I wanted to take the gun home that day, which I very much wanted to do. Without much prodding he came down to $220 and before I could quickly accept that nominal price he even offered to throw in a box of .357 ammo! I about tore my pant's pocket getting the money out! I think both sides of the deal went away extremely happy that day. The seller got to "unload" a gun he probably assumed would be collecting dust in his display case for quite a long time, and some "newbie" kid got just the gun he was looking for and at a nice price too! Everyone got what they wanted!

Since that time I have never been without an N frame .357 in my collection, as I said earlier it's my favorite revolver model ever. I have owned quite a few N frames over the years, mostly .357s in just about every barrel length and variation, but in other calibers as well. Now I can't even conceive of my gun collection without some large frame Smith & Wesson revolvers in it, it just doesn't seem right not to have at least one (or two or three) in my safe. And all started because of a great old action movie and a desire to have a gun just like the gun that Dirty Harry had...

Reruns... or should I say "Classics"

Over the next week or two I will re-post a few of the gun articles that appeared on my original website jwilsonsworld. Certainly not every thing I've ever written, just a few of my favorites...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Books - Outgunned!

After re-reading Outgunned! by Robert A. Waters and John T. Waters Jr. I must say that it is an interesting book, not a great one, but certainly will hold your attention. It is the subject matter that really intrigues me, a topic that most of the mainstream media wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Outgunned! is about private citizens that have captured or killed violent criminals in the commission of crimes. The book is a compilation of stories collected mostly from America's old west and prohibition gangster era. These stories differ in time frame and geographically as well but the one commonality they have is that in all of these true cases it was armed citizens, not law enforcement, that were finally able to bring these ruthless and violent criminals to justice. As I said this is not the greatest book, but it is worth reading if for no other reason than to remind us just how an honest, free American citizen armed with a gun can at times be the greatest asset to their country and community.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

People with guns collection # 25

From my own personal collection!"Lieutenant James Payne and Det. Albert Langtry, Detroit Police Crime Detection Laboratory, test guns found on suspicious characters" JUL 21 1943

Friday, May 14, 2010

You might be a "gun nut" when...

you still have ammo, accessories etc. for guns that you haven't owned for years! This morning I was going thru some of my "gun stuff" and found magazines for guns that I have not owned in quite a while. M-14 mags, Beretta 92 mags, one mag for a Kahr MK40 that I think I sold in 2003 or '04. Not to mention numerous holsters and other "stuff". I even have ammunition for guns I sold some time back and currently have no use for, .32ACP, .40S&W, .357SIG and more than half a can of .308 for a M1A that I sold a half dozen years ago, although I hope to be needing that .308 again in the near future...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

So long Mr. Frazetta

Just read of the death Monday of fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, he was 82. I came to know his work starting in my pre-teen years thru the wonderful paperback covers that he did in the 1960's and 70's. Exotic creatures, heroic men, voluptuous women, it was like nothing I had ever seen before. Besides being a great artist Frank Frazetta was also a great commercial artist. His memorable covers for the fiction of Edgar Rice Burroughs helped entice many (including me) to buy those books and read about the exciting worlds that were contained within. Tarzan, the Mars series, and particularly for me the Pellucidar series opened up a world of reading like I never knew. Frazetta's covers gave us a fantastic glimpse into that exciting world and made you want more. So long Sir, you were one of a kind...

Another legend gone

On Sunday the 9th another great in the world of entertainment was lost, legendary singer, actress and dancer Lena Horne died. She was 92. At the risk of being redundant, all I have to say is that there will never be another like her...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Books - The Deadliest Men

Just re-read The Deadliest Men by Paul Kirchner. This book is a collection of tales of many men (and some women) throughout history that have proven that they have the "Warrior Spirit", prevailing in armed combat. The author gives short profiles of these men and women and the deeds that have earned them a place in history. From World War I fighter aces to 18th century duelist. From the ancient history of Alexander the Great to the modern tale of a Los Angeles jeweler that triumphed against the odds in four separate gun battles. These stories perfectly illustrate the idea that ultimately it is the man (or woman) and their willingness to fight and win that decides the outcome of violent confrontations. That while training and equipment are important, it is really the attitude of the warrior, more than anything else, that decides his fate.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Shoot what you've got...

I've done it myself. I have done it a lot over the years. Finding a reason to buy another gun. I guess many "gun nuts" probably do the same thing. Always looking for that next best thing. There always seems to be "just one more" to buy.

I am certainly as guilty as anyone and probably more so than many gun owners. There are very few guns that I can honestly say I need. A .308 rifle is one of the few. But I've got a "thing" for S&W N Frame .357 revolvers. I certainly don't need another but I keep on buying them anyway. Even when the rational side of my brain tells me that I have more practical ways of spending my "gun money" I keep on buying them.

But this story is not so much about my chronic Smith & Wesson collector's disease (which could be the whole story by itself) or gun purchases in general, but more about guns that we want to use and like, but can't be happy with. It seems especially bad when concerning guns we use in a self-defense role. There has to be something better out there, there has to be. We are always looking for that new "something" that is going to make us the perfect shooter. "This new fangled Wizzzzer-9® will finally make me a super crack shot." When that doesn't pan out we look for the next new toy that will make us the shooter of our dreams, it has to. It just has to.

Instead we should have just bought more ammo and practiced a lot more often.

As I said I'm certainly no one to be casting stones. But at least in self-defense guns I have a little more control. I have used the same .45 Automatic as my main carry gun since 2003 and use it the large majority of the time. The bullets were big enough to do a lot of damage and as was able to hit what I was aiming at. That's all I asked for. That's all I needed. And while I have been tempted to upgrade over the years I never did. Maybe I was too preoccupied with collecting S&W's to worry about "THE BETTER" but for whatever reason I never felt compelled to continually trade up my few carry guns. I finally got to a point where I was happy with my choices. Maybe I am getting a little more practical in my middle (old) age. Maybe I am coming to a point where I can make decisions using reasoned thought instead of blinding emotions. Maybe. Maybe a little.

I can say I'm not as bad as I used to be. Over the years I have owned at least one handgun from just about every major manufacturer, always looking for something better. Never found better, only found different. Because as a rule most quality gun makers produce a quality product. They only differ in the details. Do you like DA or SA? Do you want a frame mounted safety or slide mounted, or none? Do you want plain or 3-dot sights? Do you want 6, 8 or 17 shots? Yes, most guns can be made better with customization but first you've got to figure out the big details of what works for you.

If you're like me, at some point you will have "enough", or you should. At some point you figure out what will work for you, stop trying to find "THE BETTER" and just strive to become proficient with what you've got. At some point you should mature in your gun ownership.

I think I am almost to that point now. I've said before in other posts that practice is more important than equipment. Maybe I'm starting to believe it myself.

So when is enough enough?

I would say when you find a gun in a sufficient caliber for your needs, that you are comfortable with AND can shoot well you should stop looking and just do your best to become an expert with that gun. A Beware the man with one gun kind of thing...

I sat down and made a gun list, not guns that I LIKE, not guns that I WANT, but guns that I NEED. It is a very short list as there are few that I really need anymore. I will be striving this year to fill that list and to become more proficient with the guns that I already have. Can't promise to completely give up that Smith & Wesson .357 "thing" though. That's just asking too much!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Yes it is the start of my bi-annual gun cleaning days! Twice a year I empty out my safe and everything is cleaned and oiled. This event usually takes a few days, (typically) one day each for revolvers, semi auto pistols and long guns. It will probably take the rest of the week to complete the task. A large portion of my gun collection is made up of finely blued handguns and they require extra diligence to keep them in top condition. I don't mind too much, it's a small price to pay to have so many beautiful and valuable guns.

This year, while I have everything out, I will probably re-evaluate my collection. There are some guns that might have to go...

Monday, May 03, 2010

Decision Time

Went shooting today, almost didn't. It has been raining all weekend and the gun range that I go to was a muddy mess. Everything was soaked, even the cardboard targets were droopy with water. I had to take two used ones and tape them together to get them to stand up. Like I said it was wet and messy and I almost didn't go, but because I didn't get to go shooting the entire month of April (also because of continual rain) I decided that I was going today no matter what. And that's what I did.

The only gun taken today was my HK USP .45, which I purchased late last year. This is the third time that I have shot this pistol. Counting today's range session I have put 350 rounds thru it including 50 rounds from my precious hollow point ammunition stockpile. To date, zero malfunctions. Today I shot from a Weaver stance and decided to shoot a little bit further out than I normally do, 50ft. I was able to keep all my shots on the 8-Inch EZ See targets but it took some effort (okay, 3 or 4 shots were right on the edge). Once again the gun functioned flawlessly. I certainly have nothing bad to say about this handgun. As a purely functional tool it has proven to be an accurate and trustworthy addition to my collection. It has performed so well that I am even considering putting it in my regular carry gun rotation.

My only complaint would have to be the cost. Even though I got this gun at a bargain price I knew when I bought it that nothing HK produces is inexpensive, including accessories. I also know how I am. If I kept this pistol, especially if I intended to use it for self-defense, that I would have to go out and buy magazines and other accessories for it.

And that's the dilemma. I really like this gun, and it has certainly proven itself. But in the last year I have made a concerted effort to standardize my guns, not just in ammunition but also in parts, magazines etc. To keep this HK means buying a whole new set of accessories that won't work on anything else. Would probably end up spending as much as the gun itself. The biggest cost factor being the magazines that will set me back about $50 each. Since I like to have at least 5-6 for any semi-auto pistol that I own just magazines will set me back to the tune of $250-300 dollars. Aftermarket mags are marginal at best but there is another option of using the factory 10 shot magazines, which can be picked up at the more reasonable price of about $30 each. To be honest I don't like that idea much either, seems like I would be giving up some of the potential of the gun. One of the things that I initially liked about the HK (compared to my Colt) was that it weighed slightly less but held 4 extra rounds, 12 compared to 8. I hate giving up some of that advantage.

But even with all of this back and forth on my part I must admit it's only the extra cost that makes me hesitate. I have absolutely no other complaints about this gun. This HK pistol has more than proven itself to be reliable and useful weapon that will not only protect my life but should also give me years of trouble free service.

So the final decision is - It's a keeper.

Maybe I could find a dealer that sells mags on the layaway plan...