Friday, July 10, 2015

On Handguns

A friend mocks my abiding affection for handguns.  I blame it on Gunsmoke and all the other TV westerns that I watched growing up.  I think they are fun to shoot and an interesting challenge.  I have occasionally hunted small game successfully with my Single-Six.  On a good, cold day next deer season, I may take a deer with my .44.  But mainly, I just enjoy shooting handguns. 

From the .44 magnum up, handguns can generate some serious muzzle energy and begin to approach the power of lesser centerfire rifle cartridges, but most handguns carried for personal defense are pretty puny.  That's not a criticism of anyone's choices, rather it is simply an objective consideration of muzzle velocity and bullet weight relative to the average rifle round.  When you push a projectile over Mach 2, as Col. Cooper observed, interesting things begin to happen. 

I tend to prefer wheelguns on aesthetic grounds.  They have an elegant, functional simplicity that I admire.  A few years ago, I finally came into the modern age by purchasing an autoloading .40 S&W, for which I have developed some affection.  The .40 is a high-pressure round that still does not manage to be terribly powerful.  It is adequate for personal defense with proper expanding ammunition. 

I've always been somewhat dismissive of the 9mm.  It doesn't have a bad record, and it is the round used by most western military forces.  But then our military has been using a fine little varmint cartridge in their battle rifle for the last fifty years.  The 5.56 is rough on groundhogs and coyotes and will humanely take a whitetail deer out to 150 yards with good bullets and good bullet placement.  Sadly, it has also killed a myriad of God's own children in the last half century.   

The other day, my nephew bought an American-made polymer-framed 9mm.  It's essentially a Glock clone made by Diamondback Firearms of Coco Beach, FL.  I got to shooting it a little -- having never before fired a 9mm, and, while unimpressed with the weapon itself, I liked the Nine.  It's about like shooting a .22.  Right now 9mm ammunition is far easier to find and not much more expensive than rimfire rounds. 

So I bought a Glock 17. 

The Nazgul were waiting outside the store to welcome me to the Dark Side. 

(Yeah, I know that's mixing nerd-doms, but there are Nine.  Get over it.)

It took me about thirty or forty rounds to settle in with the grip and sight picture and all so that I was comfortable shooting it.  I have vast amounts of room for improvement, but the gun groups well with cheap CCI aluminum-cased 115-grain FMJs. 

Here's the thing:  it is more fun to shoot than the .40.  I still love my big .44 plow-handled single-action above all, but I can run through a magazine full of 9mm and come away grinning.  I've got a bunch of FMJ blasting ammo already.  I'll get some more.  I'll also get some expanding ammunition, just in case.  They will be light, fast bullets, which, in my opinion, is the proper formula for a defensive Nine. 

If I knew I needed a gun to defend myself, I'd fetch Geraldean, my 870.  I still prefer a long gun or .40 and above for serious social interactions, but this stupid Glock is fun. 


  1. 9MM is fun to shoot. The .357 It shoots well and is also fun. I expected more of a kick to it, but it really is about comperable to the .40, mostly because it's stainless steel and has a cushiony rubber coated handle.

    I concur, if I have the time I would definitely get my 12 gauge or Winchester 30-30. More firepower and most importantly, more accurate.

    Interesting thing about the military changing from the .45 to the 9mm:
    Turns out the SpecOps guys prefer the .45 for knockdown power.
    What it was originally designed for.

    My dream gun will be the SCAR-17H. It shoots 7.62 Rds but has the virtually non-existent kick of a .22.
    Most SEAL's prefer the SCAR over the SOCOM-16, although the SOCOM is still a fine weapon in it's own right. But it kicks more than the SCAR.
    However, the SCAR is pricey.
    I've seen it priced anywhere from 2,500.00 to 3,000.00 (the SOCOM is around 1,600.00).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mush. Always fun to talk guns.
    Besides the fun of shootin', it's therapeutic as it reduces stress. :)

  2. Sometimes, being all growed up has its advantages. Congratulations on your new tool. Something must be in the air. Quite unexpectedly, I brought home another, my fourth, milling machine yesterday.

    I need get out and shoot more. Soon as I get (insert here) finished.

  3. .357 and .38 I've had some experience with, and I agree.

    I really like the 7.62 or .308 and all cartridges based on it as it just seems to be an efficient size. I know the 5.56 is much better than it used to be with 1-in-9 twist barrels to stabilize the longer, heavier bullets. Still, we're talking 70 grains versus 168-grain bullet at close to the same muzzle velocity. It retains a lot more energy at longer ranges.

    Shoot, John, you can build your own gun! Good deal.