Thursday, June 12, 2014

Tough Day

Tough day yesterday. I spent the morning at the gun range, then played a round of golf in the afternoon (it's good to be retired).

The round of golf was forgettable, but I thought I'd pass along my notes from the range session.

First of all, I'm not a handgun expert. My (limited) military experience was with an M-16. I'm a also a long-time hunter. That means most of my 'expertise' is with a small selection of long guns. I'm a casual plinker with handguns. I do, however, have my CHL. I generally tote along a Springfield Armory XD .45, but that's a fairly large and weighty piece of iron (well, actually, polymer and steel, but it's still big and heavy regardless).  Since it gets pretty hot down here, my standard attire is usually shorts and a T-shirt. That makes the XD difficult to conceal, so my SOP is to keep it in my truck rather than on my person. However, given the latest shoot-out in Walmart, I've decided it makes more sense to have my weapon closer to hand (hey, if you're not safe in Walmart, you're not safe anywhere). So I rummaged around in my gun safe and came up with some candidates for everyday carry.

(Side note: for someone who's not a handgun aficionado, I seem to have a lot of them. I bought my first one way back when, during the gun-control debate leading up to the Brady Bill. I bought my most recent one when obama was elected president. I bought several in-between, sometimes in response to more threatened anti-gun legislation, sometimes when I spotted a bargain. I figured they were an investment, either monetarily or for protecting my family.)

I took three to the range: a Rossi snubnose .38 revolver, a mid-sized Taurus .38 revolver, and a Taurus Millineum 9mm.

Starting with the smallest, I tried out the Rossi. Like most revolvers, it was simple to operate and reliable. It went "BANG" every time I pulled the trigger. However, it felt ergonomically uncomfortable (my hands are on the large size, and the Rossi felt tiny), and shot way high (see below). In fact, the first few shots were almost off the paper. Some of that is no doubt operator error, but even when I shifted my point of aim lower it still shot too high for my taste. If I wanted to hit a bad guy center mass I'd need to aim at his crotch. Not a bad idea, but hard to remember when the adrenalin is surging.

Rossi .38 snubnose

Next up was the Taurus .38. This one felt much more comfortable, and was the most accurate of the bunch (see below.) It still shot a little high, but some practice would fix that.

Taurus mid-size .38

One thing that both revolvers had in common was plain iron sights. They shared two problems. One, they were not adjustable. Two, they were dark in color, which made them very difficult to see against the black background of the target. I think there's a little dab of luminescent paint in their future.

Finally, I hauled out the 9mm semi-auto. I had high hopes for this one. The size makes it practical for concealed carry. I test-fired a friend's a few weeks ago, and really liked it. Ergonomically it felt good. Sights were of the three-white-dot variety, with good visibility. Results, however, were disappointing. The trigger pull was smooth, but loonnngggg, with no staging. It was hard to hold the sights on target during that never-ending pull. The trigger is DA-only, which IMO is part of the problem. (My friend evidently had the more recent G2 version, which is SA/DA.)

The shot pattern was a little low and a little to the left (see below). That's fixable, either by adjusting the sights or by me learning to shoot better. But the biggest issue with this weapon was consistent feeding problems when I used an extended magazine. It worked flawlessly with the factory mag (10 round capacity), but when I inserted a 'high' capacity magazine (12 rounds - not much of an increase) it jammed when feeding a new round into the chamber. I think the added weight of those two extra rounds was just enough to pull the magazine down slightly, getting it out of position relative to the feed ramp. Bottom line - this one needs a trip to the gunsmith, and even then I'll still be stuck with that DA-only trigger. Not so good.

It was fun, however, to snap off a three-round string of rapid fire, with decent results.

At the end of the day, the Taurus .38 revolver is the leader in the clubhouse. However, I'd still like the extra rounds that come with a semi-auto, so I guess my quest will continue.


Old NFO said...

Tim, those extended mags are not all they are cracked up to be... It could be an issue with them, rather than the gun that is causing the feed problem. Just sayin...

Toejam said...


what's your take on Taurus handguns in general?

I got a deposit on a PT-709 conceal carry. I'm not familiar with Tarus, but the price is very attractive.

I've read some comments on several sites about Taurus weapons and quite a few were negative. Maybe I should look further afield.

CenTexTim said...

NFO - good point. Someone else mentioned the problem might be that the extended magazine follower spring is too weak.

Toejam - I'm not an expert, but IMO Taurus quality is inconsistent. Some individual pieces are very well made, while others might suffer from quality control issues. They are generally quite affordable, but you get what you pay for...


jeff said...

Tim I feel so sorry for you and your rough day. I too had a difficult one a few days ago, of course mine was battling with general contractors and incompetent superintendents not shooting and golfing.

My envy runs deep.

CenTexTim said...

Jeff - Shoot a few of the more incompetent superintendents. That'll encourage the rest to do a better job.

You can feel sorry for me again tomorrow - I have to play in a golf tournament.

It's a tough life, but someone's got to live it...

Harper said...

I carry a S&W Shield 9mm. They also come in .45. I love the reliability, weight and size, but it isn't any fun to shoot at the range because of the size. That is always the trade off with a carry gun. For the same reasons you mention, I think it is important to find something light and comfortable so you will carry at all times. Been carrying with frangible ammo lately, makes it really light.

Toejam said...

Thanks for the info CTT.

I'm thinking of going with the Taurus and range testing it extensively, but my real-deal handgun will be a Springfield Armory XD .40 cal.

Been waiting almost 3 months for my CCL. North Carolina is either slow in processing them or the State has an issue with me that I'm not aware of.

1) Served 5 years active USMC reserve. Honorable discharge

2) 7&1/2 years as a NJ Municipal Police Officer. Left on good terms, but due to marital problems....wife couldn't hack my 24/7 work schedule.

3) Biggest legal problem: speed ticket on the Garden State Parkway 1961.....doing 67MPH in a 60MPH Zone.

Go Figure!

Toejam said...

Postscript to last comment:

Called the Sheriff's office. The license is there and has been for 3 weeks. They claim they called to tell me 3 weeks ago. I have no record on my phone's caller I.D. HUMMMMMM?

Anyway I'm off in an hour or so to pick it up! :)

Bear said...

I also carry the XDm in the .45 flavor most of the time, but chose the Kahr CM9 as a more concealable option. It's about as small as a 9mm can be without being a Kel-Tec (which I wouldn't trust my life to). It shares a lot of similarities to the Springfields, which made it a relatively seamless transition for me to go from one to the other. Also a decent price point at under $400, and made here in America. The only downside is the 6+1 capacity, but that was the trade-off for concealability. A second mag is easy to carry.

As far as your guns go, spend some time on a Taurus owners forum, if you haven't already. When I got my Kahr, the forum I read recommeneded a few alterations to the magazine that would remedy the common problem of the follower catching on the mag release. Perhaps your Taurus mag has a similar issue.

I know a lot of fellas will steer you toward the revolver, as they generally have less reliability issues that the autos. Maybe one day I'll pick one up, but I've always been a auto guy. Looks like a good shooter though, which would tempt me to carry it despite the downsides.

As far as the Rossi, based on my admittedly limited contact with some of their long guns, I'd be hesitant to trust my life to one of their short guns. Sounds like you may have a better gun than the ones I've encountered though.

CenTexTim said...

Toejam - bureaucracy ... what can I say. Glad you finally got your CHL. As for the Springfield - good choice!

Bear - I'm not seriously considering the Rossi. It's too small for me to grip comfortably, too inaccurate, and is only a 5-shot. But I'm glad I tried it out. As for revolvers in general, I like their reliability and simplicity, but they are harder to conceal than semi-autos, and have a smaller capacity. I'll check out the Kahr line.