Tuesday, May 26, 2015

One of Those Days

Ever have "one of those days" at the range? Yeah, that was me yesterday.
My motto is  - If you can't be a good example...
You should at least provide a lesson for someone else.
So, here is my story and lesson :-)

My Crossbreed IWB holster for my new Glock 43 had arrived, and my OWB holster from was on order, so I decided to take the new baby out for another spin yesterday.

I had my range bag all packed, and the separate target bag laid out in the kitchen by the garage door. My target bag is a largish zippered plastic bag that bedding comes in. ( I can never bring myself to throw such items away - and no, I'm not a hoarder --- yet.) I find it very handy to keep duct tape, staple gun, sheets of scrap cardboard and targets organized in for a trip to the range.

Which is all well and good as long as said bag actually makes it into the car for said trip. ARGH. Granted, I don't live too far from the range, but given the time I had, it would have been a giant pain in the patoot to run back home for my target bag. Fortunately, I have a key to the range house at the club where they keep the bases, posts and cardboard.

Which would also have been well and good, except that the club staple gun which is attached to the wall by a cable (so no one can walk off with it) was empty, and no refill box was in sight. ARGH.

But - improvise, adapt, and overcome, as they say. I rummaged around amongst the scrap cardboard in the range house, and came up with a hunk that was long/tall enough to stand on end at a reasonable height, and narrow enough to fit into the bottom of the railroad tie/ target stand in the pistol bay. Yay! Still improvising, I found a random pen in my car and made a few X's for aim points.

I wasn't doing too badly at defensive distances, and from a knee. But then, after shooting several magazines worth of ammo, and leaving the gun lay on the range barrel in the sun for a couple minutes while I collected brass, yours truly decided it would be a hot idea to reholster. 

Protip: If your IWB holster is open at the bottom, and you don't have an undershirt on, you might want to wait for the gun to cool off before reholstering. Hot barrel and slide - meet tender hip flesh. Sunnovamotherduckling!!! I've heard the term reholstering "hot" before, but this gave the term a whole new meaning. Don't try this at home , kiddies - Ouch!  Fortunately, there was no blistering, but the pain alone left a permanent impression.

    ( You wouldn't think that such a small end of hot metal could cause such pain)

   (A hot gun barrel, plus hot sun on a hot range barrel, equals hot squared, or maybe cubed)

It finally occurred to me that this string of mild mal-occurrences might be trying to tell me something, so I decided to quit for the day before I really hurt myself - LOL. Still, as the saying goes - A bad day on the range beats a good day at the office - so it was still a good trip. I even came out ahead in the brass department. I collected probably 5 times what I actually shot. But I was careful to leave a few pieces behind as an offering to the range gods who kept my bad day from becoming a terrible day. 

Final Protip: ALWAYS keep the range gods happy. You never know when you might need them :-)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Thoughts on Memorial Day

Thoughts on Memorial Day

I feel like I should put some words out there for this holiday observance. So I'll say this - Memorial Day is difficult for me - but not in the way one would expect. It is not a difficult observance because of those I have LOST, rather, it is difficult because of those whom I HAVE and love.

Like many folks in the shooting community, I am fortunate to have numerous friends, family, and acquaintances who have served in the armed forces. I have been doubly fortunate in that I personally have not lost any friends or family to the service of their country, until you get all the way back to the Civil War.

Sadly, many of those friends and family cannot say the same. "I" personally have not served, and even if I had, given my age and gender, it likely would have been during peacetime. Therefore, I cannot know at all know what those friends and family are feeling when it comes to a time like Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is a bit akin to attending a wake. One never knows what to say or do at such an occasion, because everyone grieves differently. Some would rather you not say anything - they want be left alone to drink a silent toast to lost comrades - while others would rather the life of their loved one be celebrated by enjoying the freedoms that their sacrifice helped ensure. Sometimes no matter what one says or does, it causes offense.

It has become a recent trend to admonish the general public to not wish someone a "Happy" Memorial Day - because it is not a happy occasion. It has likewise become a trend to remind people to not thank living veterans for their service during this time - because it is a time for honoring the dead. While I try to understand and abide by that advice, it does become difficult to keep ALL of one's military friends and family happy. As I said before - everyone grieves differently - and on a day like today it can sometimes feel like one is walking on eggshells in order to not cause offense.

So, to my military dear ones, I will just say this - Please be patient with those of us who do not know your loss. We  love you, and we want to understand, even if we can't.

(The marker of an unknown soldier fallen at Antietam Battlefield.
Photo taken at Antietam National Cemetery, Memorial Day 2013)

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Glocks and My Novice Shooter

Good News -- I finally broke down and bought a new 9mm Glock 43 yesterday.
Remember how I didn't buy it last month because I had to pay for my youngest daughter's prom dress? 

Well, it's a new month. And I just had to withdraw from two, and now probably three major matches, because of this upcoming surgery. (Which now I have a mid-June date for, thank goodness).
So I did the math. Turns out that match fees, plus hotel rooms, plus food, plus gas, plus ammo not used, equals one Glock 43 and holster - at least. Or that's how it works in my reckoning LOL. I can rationalize ANYTHING! But I know there will be insurance co-pays coming too, so I'm holding myself to just this one consolation prize.

It was a beautiful Tuesday off, so I went to the range. My oldest daughter, who is 23, and a 2013 Babes With Bullets Camp Alum, came along to help me break in the new gun.

She actually did most of the shooting. I took the first 12 shots (2 mags' worth) with the new Glock 43, and after that, I set her loose with all 4 of my semi-auto pistols. I figured the day was for her, and I can shoot any time I want. So you might get "my" G43 review later.

Since we hadn't been out shooting together since October, I started her off with my only full size semi-auto - my M&P 9 - which is also the gun model that she used at Babes Camp. Once she got her shooting sea-legs back, we moved her down to the Gen 3 Glock 19, and thence to the New Glock 43, and finally to the Glock 42.

Once she got a feel for each of the guns with random FMJ rounds, then we decided to start over with defensive rounds in just the Glocks, and record the results to see if she could shoot "better" with any particular gun. We had her shoot from 7-8 yards (Tueller distance), from behind the bench/shelf at the pistol range, because swapping holsters back and forth was going to be a pain, and I don't even have a holster for the G43 yet.

      Loading up the new Glock 43

She did very well - I was proud of her. And I got to watch how the guns responded in someone else's hands, which I don't ever get to do when I'm shooting alone. She handled all of the Glocks very well (and the M&P too), and she did notice the trigger pull differences and differences in muzzle flip, which I wasn't sure if she would or not. I noticed that there was significantly more muzzle flip when she shot the G43 vs the 42. But there didn't seem to be much difference in flip between the 43 and the 19, which surprised me. Nonetheless, she said she didn't find it uncontrollable.

My daughter has smaller hands than I do, so she really noticed the grip difference when going from the Gen 3 G19 to the single stacks. She liked the feel of the single stacks better. That shouldn't really have been a surprise, but it was still interesting to hear, coming from an unbiased and novice source.

So, here are the comparison targets. The G42 with 95 gr JHP, the G43 with 119 gr Speer Gold Dots, and what was left of the Gold Dots with the Gen3 G19.

       Glock 42 with 95 gr JHP

       Glock 43 with 115 gr Speer Gold Dots

      Gen3 Glock 19 with 115 gr Gold Dot leftovers

When all was said and done, she shot the best with the G42 - all shots completely on target, and nice groups. No surprise that this was also the gun she liked the best of the three. She didn't do badly with the 9mm guns either, including the new G43, and with more practice, that would probably improve. But her hands-down favorite was the .380  Glock 42 - she reported that it felt the best in her hand, and she got consistent hits with it.

I think that this might be used as a bit of a metaphor for the hordes of women out there who carry guns, but who only practice twice a year. Isn't the true measure of performance what you can manage "cold"? We can argue all day about how .380 isn't a "proper" defensive caliber, but when you get to the bottom line, isn't it all about getting your hits on target? If, like my daughter, a .380 is the gun that you get consistent hits with, even when you're rusty and haven't been to the range in 6 months, then isn't that "better" than a .40 or .45 that your husband insists is "proper", but you can't hit anything with? 

Things that make you go "hmmmmm". But what do I know? I'm neither a defensive expert nor a ballistics authority. Neither am I an instructor or a gunsmith. I'm just Jane Q. Public with an interesting observation.

When we finished up with the comparisons, we had a few minutes left before I had to get to quartet practice, so we set up one more target and let my daughter shoot whatever she wanted. She chose the G42 and a zombie target, and a fun time was had by all ... except maybe by the zombie :-)

My New Glock 43

In the last post, I told you about my novice shooter daughter's impressions and performance with my Glocks. LINK Since then, I've been able to get back to the range myself to concentrate on my own impressions of my new Glock 43 9mm pistol.

It was a pretty quiet Friday evening at the range, and I started out with a used IDPA target, at 7-8 yards. (I paced it off, but I have short legs and take big steps, so I never really know for sure LOL)  I aimed first at the top of the -0 zone, and then at the bottom of the -0 zone, with two magazines each, using random FMJ I had lying around. Here's what that looked like.

I was pretty impressed. For such a small gun, with regular 9mm ammo, I thought that was pretty durn good. The 43 does have more snap and muzzle flip than the 42, but I didn't really find it uncomfortable.

Once I had a feel for the gun, I ran some 115 gr JHP from the same distance with a new target overlay inside the -0 zone. This is what that looked like.

Granted, this was with slow, deliberate fire. Things obviously widened up considerably once I tried "panic firing" while retreating, but that is probably true of any handgun, and will only get better with training and practice.

Some observations I have...
Bear in mind that these are just the personal preferences and observations of an average Jane Q. Public shooter. I bought this gun with my own funds, from my own local shop, and I have no particular expertise. I only know what I know. And I only know what I like. Your mileage may vary.

So, my biggest dislike is the muzzle flip. It's manageable, but it's there. Because of that, I do like the magazine pinky extension. ( the gun came with one of each style of magazine). The extension gave me a little more leverage and control with my larger hands. With the G42, the extension was merely a preference of mine, but with the 43, I think it is a MUST have. I will need to get more of those pinky magazines, and if they come out with one that has room for an extra round in it, I'll like it even better. Currently, these magazines hold six rounds - which makes you no worse off than with a revolver - and with one in the pipe, you're ahead.

The sights are standard Glock sights. Some people hate them, some people love them, but for me, they are a comfortable "known quantity".

The trigger pull seemed a little stiff. The Glock website says that at 5.5 pounds, the pull is the same as the G42. It may just be that my 42 is more "broken in" and feels lighter because I've been shooting it for over a year and have probably 1000-1500 rounds through it. I'm willing to accept that.

Overall, I like this gun. That's a hard thing for me to say, since I've developed such an affection for my little G42 over the past year. I didn't "want" to like the 43. I was prepared for it to have too much recoil, so I could settle back comfortably and smugly with my pet 42, (and all the gear I've already acquired for it). But I can't do that. The G43 is actually a pretty good gun. It's only a tad larger than the G42, so I should still be able to conceal it. 

And by "a tad", I really mean "barely a smidge". For those of you who need actual measurements, according to the Glock website listing, the differences by my math (which is not Common Core math) are:

Trigger pull - same, at 5.5 pounds
Width - 0.08 inches wider
Length - 0.32 inches longer
Height - 0.12 inches taller
Loaded weight - 5.07 ounces heavier

That's it - really. For a 9 mm carry gun that doesn't hurt me to shoot.

BUT, there is a big enough difference that I need all new gear. (Figures. Good thing I like to shop - LOL)  I've got a Crossbreed holster on order, ( I like my Flashbang Ava for my 42, and wanted to try something new). I'll also need more pinky magazines before I can try out this rig in CCP for IDPA, but that will be the next step for this gun.
I'll let you know how that works out. 

In the meantime, I may see if I can get my daughter to start shooting BUG matches with the 43 since she liked it so much ... No ulterior motive there at all, nope none :-)

Friday, May 8, 2015

A "Periodic" Announcement

This post comes with a TMI warning. I will be sharing way "too much information" here, so guys (and maybe some gals?), you have been forewarned :-)

This blog has always been a bit of mental therapy for me, and I don't hold a lot back. So I confess that I've been pretty stressed out for the past three weeks. It started with my doctor finding a pelvic mass during a routine physical. Though she felt that it "might" be confined to the uterus, I had to have a full abdomen and pelvis CT scan, and then after that, an MRI -  to make sure that there was nothing else involved. And by "nothing else", I mean cancer. Yeah - the scary word.  I may have mentioned before how much of a control freak I am, so as you might imagine, all of that waiting and uncertainly has been immensely stressful for me. Thankfully, there doesn't seem to be any of that "anything else", but just a big a grapefruit-sized "fibroid" tumor. At least we are hoping that's all it is, but won't know for absolutely positive until it comes out.

So, I need a hysterectomy. And not the little laparoscopic, doing better in 2 weeks kind.  This will be the whole enchilada. A minimum of 4 weeks off work, maybe 6, and who knows how much longer before a gun belt full of lead feels "good" around my hips.

I'm waiting to hear from the surgery scheduling lady to get an exact date - probably in  June - but meanwhile, unfortunately, I'm going to be pulling out of the big matches I had scheduled for this summer. I'm pretty disappointed, as you might imagine. But life throws curveballs sometimes, and there's nothing to be done but deal with it. I'm just thankful that thus far it doesn't look cancerous. There's still a small chance though, so that's why we're doing this "soon" and not playing the "watch and wait" game.

The upside is that I won't be cycling monthly anymore. When you are over 50 and have been doing this for almost 40 years, that sounds like a good deal. I think at this point I'd rather have surgically-induced hot flashes and mood swings than change one more tampon in a nasty shooting match porta-pot.

Seriously. I have always been a "suck-it-up" kinda gal. I have dealt with menstruation in Girl Scout camp outhouses, in the weeds along mountain biking trails, during three medical service trips to Guatemala, and one to Honduras, in the deer camp outhouse, the aforementioned nasty match port-a-pots, and even on the side of an extinct cinder cone volcano. But I'm ready to be done.

I'm ready to have sanitary products disappear from my range bag, my work tote, random coat pockets and even my car console. I'm ready to stop entering question marks into my phone calendar as to when I might expect the next one, and I'm ready to stop packing for every eventuality when I leave town. I'm also ready to give my kidney function a break from the 800mg of motrin at a time that I needed to pop in order to keep moving during those times.

Yeah, I'm a little scared. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't. I've had three C-sections, so I know this is gonna suck. At least for a while. But I know I'm not the first or the last to go through it, and I'll be looking forward to having it over and getting on with my life... And think of the extra space in my range bag I'll have! :-D
Thanks for reading. I'll keep ya posted.